Jo Kwon Mini Fan Meeting

I was lucky enough to be picked to attend Jo Kwon’s (singer of 2AM, musical actor) fan meeting at his cereal cafe – Midnight in Seoul – a couple weeks ago. The meeting was to celebrate the 9th anniversary of his debut.

I applied on the 2AM Daum cafe. I was a bit apprehensive because I’m not 100% confident about my Korean skills, but also meeting someone I admire was intimidating too. Nonetheless I applied and I went.

It was a pretty chill affair, although the weather itself was far from chilly. It’s summer which means heat, humidity, and the rainy season. Luckily the rain wasn’t a problem… until I had to go home anyway.


It was held just outside Midnight In Seoul which is the cereal cafe Jo Kwon runs (co-runs? co-owns? The place was originally run by other people, I believe). About 30-35 fans total sat outside in the outdoor seating area while we waited. Actually, Jo Kwon came in rather nonchalantly. His parents and aunts were waiting inside, so he sat with them for a bit.


The whole event took about 30-40 minutes. He greeted us and answered questions we wrote on memo notes. My question was what’s his favorite musical, but he answered all the ones he has been in and one or two others lol. So actually I don’t know if it was interpreted as “What’s your favorite” or “What’s your favorite that you’ve done”. By the way, he said he’s working on a new solo album. No word yet on when it’ll be released since he’s currently acting in the musical “Evil Dead” in Seoul.

He then showed us how to make one of the cereal specials that’s on the menu in the cafe. We also each got a chance to go up and say hi/get a signature. I was pretty nervous, but it turned out okay.

That was pretty much the end of the event. A few people got selfies with him, but he looked kinda busy so not many did it. I thought he’d pack up and leave, but he actually stuck around and worked at the cafe! Granted, there were other staff members, but he helped here and there. I ended up buying one the menu items which ended up being pure sugar.


See? Tasty, but holy cow that’s just all sugar right there.

Now quite a bit after the event, maybe 30 minutes or so, I ended up getting a selfie with Jo Kwon. I had stayed to snack and also because the rain got kinda heavy. I didn’t really feel like walking in the rain (I ended up having to anyway). I felt bad about asking for a photo because he looked pretty tired, and I think he was packing up to leave. He was very kind, though, and obliged to take a photo.

Quick note: The cafe itself is nice. It’s actually split into 2 sections which are on either side of the building entrance, but share the outdoor seating area. I didn’t partake in any other food, so I’m curious about the privately labeled cereal. You can actually order it on their website, so I may give that a go one of these days.

You can check out Midnight in Seoul on Instagram and their website. If you’re in Seoul it may be fun to head on over. You may see Jo Kwon or other celebs!

Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival


Long time no blog!

So… I’m back in Korea now. (“Say whaaaaat?”)

Yep a lot has happened since my last post *cough* last year. Long story short I re-applied to the EPIK program and was accepted. I’m now living in Sejong which is right next to Daejeon. How lucky!

I’m going to try to get caught up and do a back log of some of my adventures over the past couple months, but today I wanted to show some of what I saw at the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul.


A lantern parade float

I randomly decided on Saturday morning that I should go to Seoul and check out this festival that I had read about online. A lot of my friends in the EPIK program decided to go to Jindo for the Sea Parting Festival which I a) still haven’t seen but b) forgot to chime in that I maybe wanted to go haha. So a solo Seoul (Seoul-o?) trip it is!

I was able to book a hostel in Hongdae pretty easily which was lucky since my first choice place was booked up. Well, that’s what I get for waiting until the last minute. I killed time in Hongdae until I headed over to Jogyesa Temple where the festival was being held. Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogyesa Order for Korean Buddhism. The festival is held in honor of Buddha’s birthday, which fell on May 3rd this year in Korea. It changes every year because of the lunisolar calendar, but it’s typically in May.

It was such a sight to see! There were groups playing traditional instruments, people dressed in beautiful hanbok and other traditional clothes, and so many people carrying lanterns. And the parade floats! I’d seen pictures of past parades, but it’s a whole different thing to see them in person. I can’t imagine how long those take to craft. Plus, there were people from different places like Thailand and Myanmar marching together with their own floats in honor of Buddha. The people carrying lanterns were even just handing them to people as they passed. I got 2! One I got was shaped like a lotus, and a little girl was staring longingly at it. So I gave it to her, and she traded me the one she had. I ended up having to leave 1 behind at the guesthouse, though, because I couldn’t carry it all with me (boo!).



The floats were parked and lined up on the street, so I got to take a good look at all of them. I also explored Jogyesa a bit. There were soooo many lanterns hanging, and it just looked beautiful at night.

I also went inside the temple to pay my respects. I just quietly stood in the back because people were praying and I didn’t want to disturb anyone. I did, though, take part in the Bathing Buddha ritual. The ritual is supposed to help improve happiness and peace of mind. A person takes what is essentially a long ladle and pours water over a small Buddha statue 3 times. Each time you should say each of these things:

  1. May I eliminate all evil thoughts.
  2. May I cultivate good deeds.
  3. May I help save all living beings.


Before I went back to Hongdae I walked down the street once more and came upon another celebration. There was a big stage set up with performers on stage (my guess is they were pansori singers, but I’m not sure). There was a large crowd watching, and also groups of people, both Korean and non-Korean, holding hands in a circle and dancing — or walking? They were walking in circles to the music anyway haha.

I honestly hadn’t expected the whole thing to be so lively. My initial thought was that since Buddha is such a revered figure that maybe it’d be a “tame” event, but it really was more like a party! I’m so glad I was able to experience it. If you’re in Korea around Buddha’s birthday you really should give it a go.

Gwanghwamun Square & Artbox Giveaway Winners Announced

I went over to Gyeongbokgung the other day when I had some free time in Seoul. Unfortunately, I didn’t look up the hours/days they are open. Turns out it’s closed on Tuesdays. ㅠㅠ Oh boo…

But still I had a nice walk down Gwanghwamun Square to see the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi.

*Plus* Artbox giveaway winners are announced! I’ll be contacting them shortly.

As always, thanks for reading and watching. 🙂

R16 Korea 2013

Hey, guys! Boy, it’s hot out there (“Hot summer, hot, hot summer ~”). Trying to stay cool, but this humidity is killer.

Anyway bringing you an update from the past weekend. Thanks to the Korean Tourism Organization via their program K-Supporters, I had the opportunity to go to R16 Korea. Oh man, it was something to see. I’ve been dancing for years, though never bboy, so I was really happy to get to see all these talented folks.

R16 Korea is an annual bboy tournament featuring the best crews from around the world. There are solo bboy, popping, and locking battles as well as the crew battles. Everyone brought their A-game this year.

I went Saturday to check out the solo battles. First, I just wanna say how great the MCs were. MC GO and MC Sniper were fun and witty. They brought a good energy to the event. I’d say between bboy, popping, and locking battles that the bboy ones were my favorite. Nothing against popping and locking. Just not really my thing. Still, I got to see styles I never really saw before. Issei from Body Carnival (Japan) ended up taking it all in the bboy category though unfortunately I didn’t get to see his victory as I had to leave early. Too bad!

Oh and I managed to spy Jay Park watching the battles early on. I guess the people in front of me either didn’t see him or didn’t know him. I was tempted to go up and ask for photo, but it seemed better just to let him watch and enjoy too.

Sunday before the big event I had the chance to have a mini bboy lesson with Jinjo Crew. KTO loaded some of us in a bus and we headed over. The studio is in an unassuming location, so you’d never guess these very talented guys were inside. They were all nice and took us through some basic steps and moves. I’m okay moving around doing steps, but I don’t really have the strength for locking/holding moves. There’s a lot of upper body and core strength involved. Still I had fun and I’d be interested to learn more. They also showed us around and showed off their awards which were pretty numerous. Thanks, Jinjo Crew!

Sunday was when we really saw a larger crowd. Unfortunately we got dumped on too before the doors opened, but that didn’t seem to dampen (pun unintended :P) anyone’s spirits. The crews were super energized. First, we got to see all the groups do their crew performances. Korea’s Morning of Owl had the most creative for sure. It was very much in the style of modern dance which was a big surprise. Usually crews get the crowd all riled up, but it was almost calm watching them perform.

Next came the battles. Gotta say I don’t know how they can keep their energy up for so long. Hitting the floor, jumping up, spinning, dancing — it’s a lot! Gotta say my favorites were the top 2 crews – Morning of Owl and Body Carnival. I wasn’t all that sad to see U.S.A. and Russia go. Didn’t like their attitudes all that much. But anyway it was so close between the top 2 in my opinion. Japan was consistently good, but Korea would randomly pull out these moves and you can’t help but be in awe. Morning of Owl ended up taking the Crew Battle category though Body Carnival won the Performance category.

You guys can check out some of my photos below (and on my Flickr). I’ll try to piece together some video footage too, but for now you can check out my video of the Blue Whale Brothers – Poppin J & Crazy Kyo – performing between battles.


To market, to market

Hey y’all ~

The weather’s getting a lot warmer here in Korea. Pretty soon sleeve-less shirts and sandals will be a must. I love the warm weather with just two exceptions – 1) You get pretty sweaty. >.>  — and 2) I can’t run before twilight. The heat and humidity make it kinda crummy for running, so I’ll probably have to start my night running soon.

Anyway I’m coming to you with another mini-adventure from Seoul. I went up last weekend for the long weekend because of Buddha’s birthday (Thank you, Buddha~). Mostly just chilling and taking in what Hongdae had to offer. Friday night I met with friends and we ate at On The Border in Shinchon. I don’t care if it’s a chain restaurant, it was so yummy. Saturday I spent walking around Hongdae. Last year I went to the free market (read about here ~), and I’ve been itching to go back. I wasn’t disappointed! Check out my haul:

blue purse

First this cute purse and card holder. I bought a wallet with this design last year from this artist. I use it everyday and told her so. She looked very pleased that I liked her crafts so much. 🙂 I think I’m going to need to get a new wallet before the year is out, so I hope I can see her again and pick one up.

If you wanna check her out her name is Hye Jin Lee (이헤진). She has a cyworld here – .


A crocheted animal… puppy? Bear? I think it’s a puppy haha. ^^

necklace and earrings

Last year I bought cute coffee cup earrings from this artist and I was happy to see she was back. I wore the earrings last Saturday and she was also pleased to see a happy customer. I can’t resist things with penguins so I bought this necklace and cute heart earrings.

20130522_163703A cute French flag magnet.


This iPad pouch is quite nice. Leather on the outside, cloth on the inside, and each pouch has different colors and patterns. The artist even told me that since I live in Korea, if my pouch breaks then she’ll fix it up for me. Awesome!

You can find her site – toM – here:

watercolorThe young lady who made this was very sweet. She had some rather nice drawings and watercolors. I asked if she was an art major, but turns out it’s just a hobby. She lived in France for several months and took some inspiration from her time there. Unfortunately I can’t decipher her blog name (I tried several variations). Jinkyoung ~ if you’re out there, I really like my drawing. 🙂

20130522_163437Ahhhh so cute! I can’t resist! These designs were calling my name. The characters are named Lala & Berry. Absolutely adorable. I could see these being very popular if the right people see ’em.

You can find her page at:

heart print

The man I bought this from had some neat prints. Some were like this heart, some had Korean designs, and some were just — whatever haha. He didn’t sign or number these prints though! This kind of surprised me. I only took a semester of printmaking in college, but I feel like printmakers should at least sign their work. Putting that aside though, I liked this particular one. Simple and cute. 🙂

20130522_163540Last I picked up this bracelet. The artist had a totally awesome vibe. She lived in India for 4 years and everything she made was based on her time there. If I remember right, the skull on the bracelet is kinda supposed to take away your bad feelings and the other beads bring out the positive. Loving that concept. 🙂

You can check out her site here:

I really do suggest giving this a look if you have the chance. There’s lots of talented people out there and you can get great souvenirs from your trip to Seoul. Don’t forget to explore the area too! Hongdae has lots of great shops, cafes, and restaurants. I found several places I didn’t know about before, and a couple I didn’t have time for (next time for sure!).


Until next time, friends ~

Photo Jumble – Seoul

When you move abroad you can amass a number of things, I suppose. As for me, I have taken so many pictures on my adventures. It seems I haven’t shared all that many here though. For sure I have on Facebook and Tumblr (this is mine btw). Anyway, this is a random photo post for some of the pictures I had intended to share… like forever ago. There’s quite a few so I guess I’ll start with ones I took in Seoul to begin with.

Korea House (한국의집)





Misc Palaces















I think the palaces were just Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung, though there may have been a third in there? There’s so much to see in Seoul so it’s hard to keep track. Also I took these pictures about 7 months ago when my mom came to visit me.

I have so many photos that I want to share, so I’m going to try to separate posts as neatly as I can. I hope this entices a few of you to come to Korea. 🙂

Comic World – Seoul

I went with a few of my friends to Seoul last week to check out Comic World. I’ve been to my share of conventions in the past, so I thought it’d be interesting. I knew it focused on anime mainly, but even though I don’t watch it anymore I thought it’d be a good chance to take pictures.

It takes place a few times a year at the Yangjae AT Center in Yangjae-dong. To get there you can transfer at Gangnam station and take the Yangjae line. I believe the stop is 양재시민의숲 (Yangjae Citizens’ Forest), and the center is right out the exit.

I wouldn’t call it a “convention” exactly. It’s more like a big cosplay gathering with an artists’ alley thrown in the building. Still, for a 4,000 won ticket it’s not a bad way to spend the afternoon. It only run it’s about 5:30 pm and I got there really late, so we didn’t spend lots of time there. I wanted to check out the artists’ alley, but my friends weren’t all the interested. We spent our time taking photos of cosplayers that caught our fancy. I did catch 3 Westerners cosplaying (Finn & Jake from “Adventure Time”, and a soldier), but that’s all I saw. I dunno if non-Koreans tend to participate, but it’d be cool.

Anyway here’s what we saw ~ my favorite were the “Adventure Time” cosplayers. 🙂


Hongdae Free Market

2 weeks back I was in Seoul to hang out with a few friends. As usual I booked a hostel in Hongdae. There’s quite a few in the area, and thus far they’ve all been decent enough (though some are much better than others). I’d never really explored Hongdae in the daytime. Everyone knows the area for the clubs and nightlife, but there was one thing I wanted to check out during the daylight hours: the Hongdae Free Market (홍대 프리 마켓)

I found out about it just doing a quick search for “things to do in Hongdae” on Google. The Free Market is basically an open air market set up in a park for local artists to sell their wares. Since my major was Fine Arts and I love making crafts I was excited to check it out.

Welcome to the Free Market

The market is every Saturday from March until November from 1 pm – 5 pm. It’s held at Hongik Children’s Park, right across the street from Hongik University, so it’s not hard to find. It was a great day to go. The weather was warm and the sun was shining. Just the right weather for admiring art and dropping some cash.

An intimate market

The park isn’t that big, but they pack it with plenty of talented artists showing their talents. There were so many cool things!  I wanted to buy much more than I did, but I restrained myself. All the more reason to go back, right? Of course I gotta show off the things I picked up —

This was my first purchase of the day (and the vendor’s first sale of the day as well). She said she came from California, and she was selling a variety of hand-painted shoes. I love the bright colors, and they’re actually pretty comfy! If you wanna check out her stuff she has a website –

I couldn’t resist these. The penguin is one of my favorite animals, so I grabbed this coin purse. It’s also big enough to hold cards. The camera is a neat little wallet. Both are made from felt and very sturdy. The coin purse was 10,000 won and the wallet was 12,000.

There was a woman at a table doing calligraphy on various bookmarks and cell phone straps. Turns out she teaches calligraphy to foreigners in Seoul. If I lived up there I’d love to go for lessons. Alas! I’m a bit too far south. But if you’re curious, go check out her blog – Boot Touch 붓터치. I bought a bookmark and asked her to write “happy Janelle” in Korean. 🙂 I also bought a cell phone strap for a friend. They were only about 3,000-4,000 each. They’re very cute and inexpensive gifts.

There was another woman who had lovely jewelry. I chose this bracelet made with lapis lazuli.

This is another fun purchase – a double-sided necklace. One side has the colorful glass and the other is the flat 2-toned rose.

The last thing I bought were these cute coffee cup earrings. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but I couldn’t resists these.

If you’re looking to hit up the market too, it’s just a short walk from Hongik station.

Go out exit 9 and walk straight until the 1st intersection.  Turn left and walk straight up the hill towards Hongik University. When you get to the end, right in front of the uni, turn right. The park is just around the corner on the right side. You can walk up some stairs or take the side street.

My advice is, if you like these sorts of things, take enough cash. However, if you run out there’s an ATM conveniently outside one of the nearby stores.

If you’re looking for a little more info, you can check out the website (only in Korean, sorry) – Free Market

And here’s just a few other pics I took while wandering around Hongdae ~

One of many streets with plenty of fashion to look at. A lot of the prices are low, so it’s hard to resists sometimes.

Oh, there you are, Perry.
(Phineas & Ferb reference btw)

I’m curious how one might be part of the market. I make accessories mostly for fun; however, most of the stuff I’ve made lately is just sitting in my craft basket. I may want to find a way to sell them. I suppose that’s one of my next missions!




Noryangjin Fish Market

This past weekend I had a chance to meet with up an old college friend who happened to be on vacation in Seoul. The nice thing about meeting up with friends or family while you’re in another country is that you can get a fresh perspective. Since she was vacationing she had a guidebook with her. Even though I have a couple nice books from when I first came here, I wouldn’t carry them with me now. It’s not like I’ve seen a whole ton of things in Seoul either, but I just don’t want to look touristy anymore.

That aside though I had fun hanging out that day. I didn’t get there until after lunch. It only takes 50 minutes by KTX from Daejeon to Seoul, but I like sleeping in on the weekend as much as I can. 😛

First place we hit up with Gyeongbok palace. That was my 4th time or so, but it’s still nice to look at. There were a lot of people, but it was a Saturday and the weather was very nice.



Afterwards we hit up Myeongdong. As much as I love shopping, that place has way too many people for my liking. However I’m willing to put up with it for a bit because there’s no H&M or Forever 21 (among other places) in Daejeon. Not that I went to those places this time. Once again I got sucked into several make-up stores. They’re like giant magnets for me.

Finally we went somewhere I hadn’t been before – Noryangjin (노량진) fish market. I like some seafood, but it really isn’t a big part of my diet. But it was in my friend’s guidebook and she really wanted to go, so I didn’t mind going.

Getting there is really easy. Just take the subway line wand go out exit 1 (there may only be one exit if I recall). Then you just follow the signs. You know you’re there by the smell. Certainly not that fresh, but hey it’s a fish market. We went over the bridge though I think you can go under as well.


Go to the ground floor and browse among the many sellers. You’ll see all kinds of seafood there. I don’t know if people down there speak much English, but my friend, who speaks Chinese natively, ended up speaking to a seller in Chinese in the end. Actually the seller we started talking to, who only spoke Korean, brought the second lady over to talk to my friend. We ended up buying several things: salmon (which they cut up sashimi-style for us), prawns, sea urchins, and a nice sized crab. My friend wanted oysters, but I guess you can only get them in the winter. All that cost us 65,000 between 3 people. You may be able to haggle if you have the skills (?), but I don’t.

Once you buy your food you can ask the seller to hook you up with one of the restaurants upstairs to prepare the food for you. We were led upstairs to a fairly busy place. For prepping everything we we charged 21,000 won total. Oh man it was all so good. The salmon sashimi was amazing especially with a bit of soy sauce and wasabi. I never had sea urchins before. There really isn’t mucho a taste. They’re just sorta slimy/squishy and a little hard to grab with chopsticks. The prawns were great and so was the crab. I’ve only had crab once before, and this time was really delicious albeit a bit messy.


So once you add in a few beers, between the 3 of us we paid around 33,000 won each for our dinner. Honestly for everything we got I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. If you like seafood I highly recommend giving this place try if you’re ever in Seoul. I don’t think you’ll find a better deal on fresh seafood. Enjoy!

Home Within Home

2 weekends back I went to Seoul with two of my co-workers. Our main purpose was to go see the musical Elisabeth,  but to kill some time we went to the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art. I did a quick search to find an art museum in Seoul and this one had be recommended (also it was very close to the musical venue). So kind of by chance we decided to see Su Do Ho’s special exhibit there.

It’s split to 2 floors. The bottom level is the home series where he made various home spaces from sheer fabric. It’s surprising and amazing to look at. I can’t imagine all the time and effort (not to mention trial-and-error) that went into everything. It was interesting. The Korean house spaces I thought quaint. When I saw the New York inspired spaces though my feeling was more towards homesickness. Even though I know everything was made from fabric, I really wanted to be able to touch everything — like somehow I thought the stairs would hold my weight, the door handles would turn, and the shower would turn on. Obviously, being a museum, touching is definitely forbidden. The detail in everything was really amazing though! The building inspection certificate was even stitched on with all of the wording.

The second level was a mixture of miniatures, drawings/paintings, and a video installation. The video “Gate” was rather cool.

This guy really knows how to get exact detail. The miniature house was just…. wow. If you cleaned up the mess (the building has a Korean style house crashed into the side of it), I’d love to put my old dolls inside. I honestly think, even in my twenty’s, I’d play with it.

We didn’t have tons of time, so I didn’t get to explore the rest of the museum, but I hope to go again in the near future.

You can find more info at the museum here – Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

You can get there by going to Hangangjin Station (Subway Line 6), Exit 1. Walk straight for 100m in the direction of Itaewon. Go into the first alley to the right, which will be signposted for the museum, and go up the hill for about 5 minutes.