Friday, December 7, 2012

Pepero in the nude.

Yep, it is pepero nude. The chocolate is on the inside and not the outside. It's a nice treat. I like that Koreans post the manufacture date, but sometimes it is best not knowing.  I've eaten snacks with a manufacture date of more than year prior to the day I am eating it. Eww...


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Simplest tuna kimchi soup ever 참치 김치 찌개 in pictures

When you only have kimchi and tuna what can you do? Put it in a pot and expect something tasty? Try this tuna kimchi jjigae.

Grab a cup of kimchi, a can of tuna, two or more cups of water, some gochu garu (red pepper powder) and a bit of sesame oil for other flavor and there you have it!

I would suggest adding other meat, tofu, and veggies if you have it within arm's reach! This was definitely a last attempt to nourish the stomach with nothing fresh in the fridge.


Monday, November 12, 2012

The Expat Life Video

This morning I found a video called "The Expat Life" in Seoul, South Korea on the internet. It's a professional video with future episodes to come following the lives of some expatriates in Seoul.  It highlights the lives of the characters, their reasons for visiting Korea and staying, and some of their thoughts about the future as they determine whether or not to make Seoul home for awhile longer.
I expected only a brief five minute video, but soon discovered that it was a full 20 minute plus video about expat life.  It gave me all of the warm fuzzy feelings of the memories of living in Korea.  [ I did not live in Seoul.]

After living in Korea, I find myself able to identify with the people in the video. As soon as I returned to America, I had a desire and longing to return to the motherland.  Many people I know changed the course of their lives after visiting Korea.  In fact, a three week trip led me back to Korea the very next year to teach English and learn about my Korean heritage as a Korean American adoptee. Some friends have been in Korea for several years. Some only a few months with plans to say several more.  Others returned to their states to major in Korean studies or language and fulfill newfound dreams abroad.  Whatever your purpose and goal for going abroad, it will change you.

Check it!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


My American friend loves kimchi. Her favorite place to eat kimchi in San Diego is at a place called Convoy Tofu House.

It has the most delicious sweet savory and spicy flavor. It is a darker red than the average kimchi and is always fresh. A plate of kimchi and a bowl of rice is a fantastic meal in itself.  Do you know the secret to kimchi recipe at Tofu House? It beats me! Let us know if you find out where she can buy containers of this goodness!

Tofu House is best known for its tofu stews. 순두부 찌개 Why else would it have tofu in its name? You can eat tuna tofu stew or seafood tofu stew or meat tofu stew and so much more. You can also choose from combos that give you the option to choose one stew and then an add on like kalbi or sushi.  If the regular menu items don't suit your fancy, then you can always fall back on bibimbap or dolsot (hot pot) bibimbap! Those shouldnt fail you.   
Eat the kimchi!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Food - 떡뽁이 ddukbokki

Last week I got to do some quick cooking.  I probably won't be able to cook ethnic food at my own residence for a while longer, but that week I was lucky...  My friends and I stayed in a hotel to have fun and relax before starting work and school again.  The hotel was more like a resort or suite with a full kitchen. We had a lot of fun staying up late chatting and eating ramyon and ddokbokki. We made ddokbokki two nights in a row. The first night we made it together. The second night, I had the honor of making the batch while my friends were out. It was tasty and satiating to our ravenous bellies.
The ddukbokki is made of the long rice cakes, red sauce or gochujang, and any other items we wish to add. We didn't have everything. Instead we added some onion, cabbage, fish cake or odeng, and sausage.

Preparation is easy. After adding enough water to the pan, mix in the sauce, and then add the ddukk or rice cake when the water begins to boil. As the rice cake softens (it will be hard in the sealed  cold package), chop up and add cabbage, odeng, sausage, carrots etc. As an extra add on, you can put in some ramyon. Make sure there is enough liquid mixture for the noodles to cook and soften. Once the rice cake is soft and chewable and your extras are cooked, it's all set. If you wish, you can add sesame oil for flavor and sesame seed for texture and presentation.  Total prep and cook time is under 25 min. With friends working together it can be ready in as few as 10 or 15 minutes. Team work is always best.

I hope you like this quick meal, too!

I also observed my eating out patterns and realized I frequent Korean restaurants when my friends are in the mood for it.  It is about time to share some good eats. The next time I see something yummy I will share a picture.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gangnam Style Dance Tutorials

I was sitting in a restaurant with my friend this afternoon when the Gangnam Style song came on. My friend began bouncing in her seat and performing the horse riding motion. She moved until the song ended. The song is addictive. The dance becomes contagious. 

Have you heard? Gangnam Style is the hottest thing on the block!  In fact, it's one of the hottest hits around the world. Still haven't jumped on the Korean Hallyu wave and heard the song? Don't be shy! The wave keeps growing and growing. Check it out. It will blow your mind. Then, tune up the radio and listen in. That song with some bounce and groove to get your move on is probably that strange song you keep hearing on the radio - the one full of mumbo jumbo words you don't understand. [This statement is geared towards my readers that do not understand Korean or are not currently residing in Korea. The song is that good and that popular. People hear it on radio stations around the globe.]

Need the official video memory refresher?

While watching the video and listening to the song, you might find yourself bouncing in your chair or dancing in your seat. It's difficult not to get up and want to move with it.

So? I guess it's dance time. We all want to learn the dance. Did I say "we"? I'm the last person you will find dancing to Kpop or dancing in general, but even I want to learn how to move to this one! After watching others dance and seeing my friends want to learn, I thought I would set out to find some tutorials and learn just how to do this dance.  I'm no dancer, but I compiled a few videos that serve different audiences depending on your goals or interests.

It's time to:

Find an open space.
Perhaps a mirror.
Comfy breathable clothes.
Bouncy shoes.
AND your dance moves!

~ ~ ~

This first video is an in depth two-part video. The video intros with the dancer dancing to the song. She then begins the tutorial and takes you through each of the dance moves from the very beginning step-by-step. It is detailed and slow enough to follow.

Note: In this video you will be looking at the dancer's back and following her moves.

                  Part 1
                  Part 2

The next video features an individual that wasn't a big fan of the dance or tutorial at first. As you can see she eventually gets into it. It's too catchy not to join in on the Gangnam Style dance. This is a great video for auditory learners that need an auditory explanation in order to learn. The tutorial teaches the main horse riding dance moves seen throughout the video. The dancer explains the footing and motions in more detail than other videos. For this reason alone, I give it a two thumbs up.

Note: In this video you will mirror and follow the moves of the dance teacher. Therefore, you're looking directly at her face-to-face and following the moves.

Here is a PSY Gangnam Style mirror dance practice. A bit fuzzy, but as you can see by the number of views, that doesn't hold anyone back!

Moving onto celebrities. Does anyone out there watch the Ellen Show?  Ellen loves to dance.  There's no need to second guess her interest in Gangnam Style.  Pop star Britney Spears appearing on the show wanted to learn how to dance Gangnam Style, so guess who Ellen brought on the show to teach Gangnam Style?  None other than PSY himself.

The best quote of the video: "dress classy, dance cheesy".

Here is a longer tutorial session by PSY for Michelle Park!  He's a good teacher!

I hope you enjoy these videos and find someone to learn from.  Please post your favorite tutorials or dance moves in the comment section below.

Happy dancing! ~ ~


Thursday, August 30, 2012


What have I been doing?   

I have been busy finishing up the last month of service for my volunteer service program!  It's been an eventful month both at work and personally.  I am in the process of securing a job and hopefully a place to live. Job hunting and interviewing is no task for the weak.  Must be strong and diligent.  Yours truly also needs a place to land before focusing on this blog.  I want to get back into the kitchen, but I haven't had one to use for most of the year, so hopefully we will have some Korean cooking to look forward to later on.
Check back in September for something new.

Where have I been hanging out? 

Just because it may appear that I left the Korean blogo-sphere, I haven't left the Korean community! Each week I attend a Korean meet-up in San Diego. At the meet up there are a lot of people interested in learning Korean or highly obsessed with kdramas and kpop. There is also a group of Koreans interested in learning English.  We exchange our cultures and languages and often hang out together outside of the weekly meet-up time and date. Please join if you are in the area!

What do I think about?

Korea. Korean language. Korean friends. Service. Work.  You see I haven't forgotten.

What do I plan to do in the next couple of months? 

All of the above. Plus focus on learning the language.  It's a must.  Perhaps you will read some more personal posts from me.

I will be back.

I promise.

Until then.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Artistic Observations: Meeting Yim Choon Lee, A Contemporary South Korean Artist.

Last month, a friend and I attended an artist's solo art exhibition in La Jolla (San Diego), California.  I received the opportunity to meet Yim Choon Lee, a South Korean contemporary artist still gaining exposure to the world today. In the short time I spent walking around gazing at the artwork and admiring the mind of the artist, I was surprised more than once or twice.  I visited art galleries in the past, but never attended a special artist reception with the artist present.  This was a first.

[Disclaimer: I do not have a professional background in art. I am only the lay viewer of art that on rare occasion peruses a gallery with fairly complex art designs and themes.] 

As I entered the Salazaar Contemporary Gallery, the location of the exhibition in La Jolla, I found myself walking into a small crowd of art lovers, photographers, and gallery owners. It was a classy event with wine readily available to sip on to enhance your viewing experience.  I was immediately drawn to the left where I saw a blue piece of art. The piece had an open space with large sections along the side and one in the center full of intricate designs behind what appeared to be twisted pieces on the canvas.  Upon closer viewing, I found painted Chinese characters and other unique designs along the twists.

Small section of the art piece. Notice the twists and detailed paint. 

What I observed was the result of the Yim Choon Lee’s process, “Tearing Art.”  He paints both sides of a canvas.  On one side, Korean traditional papers are placed on the surface and painted over, creating a total of three surfaces. Then, the linen on one side is cut to reveal the backside. The pieces are torn and folded to create an elaborate, beautiful piece of art.

 His information page and website as quoted says:  

“Three surfaces of the painting represent the past (traditional paper surface), present (back of canvas linen), and future (front of canvas linen). In tearing art, one painting glues together past, present and future in three dimension.” 

I continued to move around the room thinking about my own past and present glued to and molding my future, as I admired each of the pieces of art. The art was amazing in all of its three-dimensional forms. This is art I could observe with multiple senses. I stepped back to see the piece and feel the presence of the work as I soaked in the colors and design. Later, I moved in closer while I envisioned (no, I did not touch) following the twisted pieces with my finger.  I imagined hearing the artist tearing and folding the pieces of linen in a studio in his home. I was enamored by the simple yet complex works - some happened to be only black and white. [You can see them on the website. Photo not posted here.] Moving towards the back of the room, I viewed more complex pieces with very vibrant shades of color.

Viewed from a different perspective. The colors move from lighter to darker on the far end.  

Eventually, I met Katherine Kim, Yim Choon Lee’s agent. She was busy making her rounds meeting other important people.  Despite being busy with potential buyers and viewers, she still stopped to speak with me. I was greeted with her bubbly nature, a gentle touch and lots of enthusiasm.  She began to take me to some of his bigger works and answer a few of my questions.  Eager to meet the artist himself, she brought me to Yim Choon Lee, where he also warmly welcomed me with a large grin as he showed off some of his art. I greeted him in Korean, though he was shy to reply and speak in English. Our brief communication was powerful nonetheless. I immediately felt comfortable and close to Yim Choon Lee and his agent, Katherine Kim.  While looking at one piece, Yim approached me with his large grin and what felt like the innocence of a proud child, motioning me to follow him. He pointed to the detailed twists of his blue painting saying, “these Chinese characters. Painted.”  It made me smile.  The artist certainly has a lot to be proud of.

Surface details. 

As I viewed the art and spoke with Katherine, I was even more surprised to learn that the artist is a police officer by day.  By night, he uncovers the artist within. He has a college education and studied in Taiwan during his younger years. Katherine proudly mentions his many talents.  Does Yim ever sleep? 

Where did this brilliant man get the time and inspiration to do his work? Yim Choon Lee, born in 1965 on Geoje Island where he still lives today, comes from several generations of Korean traditional bamboo and paper artists.  As a child, he traveled with his father throughout the beautiful countryside collecting bamboo for his father’s art. Katherine shared that his experience learning the bamboo techniques and viewing the beautiful country as a child were a large inspiration and influence for his artwork today. Observing the colors and twists, I can see many elements of bamboo and nature forming images in my head.   

My mind was baffled by his work.

I looked around some more and returned to the artist, asking him to name his favorite piece. He likes them all, but points to the Black Hole piece and names the Black Hole series [four paintings] his favorite.  As seen on the artist statement of “Destruction and Creation,” Yim creates new art by destroying the canvas. New social norms are created by changing the old social idioms.  He beautifully bridges the gap from traditional to more contemporary art. 

            “Black Hole series portrays the human heart’s desire to express itself independently from  societal references. As a policeman in Korea, I have seen life and death circumstances which could have evolved differently. If these victims were allowed to express their feelings of frustration and overwhelming circumstances, they would not need to end their precious life.”- from the Artist Statement Page.

Black Hole (1 in the series of four pieces)

Many people can identify with this art.  The human heart in all its complexity desires to be known and expressed in some form.  Take a peek at the art yourself and enjoy the “awe” moment as you let the art help you dive deep into your own soul. What feelings and emotions stir in you?  As I think about my internship year in San Diego soon drawing to a close, I begin to process the past and present as I prepare for the future.  

So, what if you decide you want to see the art? Where can you catch some of Yim Choon Lee’s work?  You can view his art at his coming exhibition in Seoul, South Korea in September.  After observation, I presume you will be interested in meeting the artist and seeing it up close yourself.  Yim is still a newer artist and has only held exhibitions in Istanbul, Florida, and South Korea. Feel free to spread the word about his work and check out his next exhibition. You won't regret it.

You will find the exhibit in the Insadong region of Seoul. Insadong is known for its cute shops, art, craftsmen, traditional goods, and souvenirs. It has a traditional feel enjoyed by both native Koreans and foreigners. The art lover is sure to find him or herself in Insadong on trip to Seoul.  Subway stations near Insadong are Jonggak Station (Line 1), Jongno 3-ga Station (Line 1, Line 3, Line 5), and Anguk Station also serviced by Line 3. 

You also have a few weeks left to view it in San Diego. The exhibition gained so much attention and interest that the gallery extended the exhibition through August. If you're in San Diego or La Jolla, please stop by and take a look.  You can see it at: 

Salazar Fine-Art Gallery
1162 Prospect
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 551 - 8453

Find Yim Choon Lee’s page on Facebook and check out his website

Here are the friendly faces!    

The artist: Yim Choon Lee, The Business Manger/Agent: Katherine Kim

Thank you for sharing your art and introducing yourself to us, Yim. Katherine, thank you for playing a large part in sharing Yim's "Tearing Art" with the world.  You have opened my eyes to a new world of art.  


    including the Artist's Statement
Lee's Agent: Katherine Kim. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gangnam Style? What's your style?

Have you seen Psy's fun video? It's all about Gangnam style. In 2 weeks it topped over 11 million views. Crazy, isn't it?

It also made CNN news!  Check out the link here!  Josh Groban, one of my favorite American artists, tweet is quoted, "It's a Gangnam Style world, we're just living in it. Amazing video." in the short clip.  Did I mention that I really like Josh Groban?  Well, the secret is now out. Lovely voice and talented artist.
 What's your style? It's time to get dancin' to Gangnam Style.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

K-Pop Super Concert in America

K-pop Concert

Coming soon to a US city near you!

Are you ready for another K-Pop concert? Get ready for Secret, SISTAR, CNBLUE, KARA, SHINee, MBLAQ, 2AM, 2PM, and Girls Generation. Some of these stars were just here, but why not catch them again?   Get your tickets now! They're going to go fast!

Concert at the Carson, Home Depot Center.

K-Pop Super Concert in America, Carson, Home Depot Center

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sriracha: It's delicious. It's good for your health.

Do you like to spice up your food? Do you like sauce?  I always love a little gochujang added to my Korean dishes. A bit of Sriracha for added spice and saucy flavor when gochujang isn't readily available never hurt either. In fact, sriracha has many health benefits. created this infographic and asked to spread the word. Check out the benefits of sriracha and be sure to add some to your next meal whether it be your leftover plain rice, tasty meat dish, or even a bowl of ramyon. Eat up and enjoy the health benefits!

Eat Sriracha For Your Health
Created by:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A K-Pop Lover's first K-pop Concert: SM Town's World Tour in LA

Do you like K-pop? Here's the post for you. Last month, a friend was able to attend a few k-pop concerts that I was not able to attend due to schedule conflicts.
This post is written by Mandy D, a 20-something female k-pop loving American!  She writes about her first K-pop concert experience and some reasons behind her love for all things K-pop. Photos courtesy of her friend, Thuy.

Before I dive into the details of the concert, I’ll give you a little background on my love of all things K-Pop. It started about two years ago with a Korean drama called Pasta. It was one of the first Kdramas uploaded to Hulu and my being completely oblivious to the fact that it was in Korean, I thought, any show called Pasta must be amazing. That one show turned into losing an entire summer watching dramas. As with most shows, the same songs are used over and over for the duration of the series. I found one I liked on Youtube from a little drama called Coffee Prince and those stupid recommended videos in the margin led me to K-Pop. I fell in love with Korean culture, language, food and the pretty boys that infect all aspects of Korean entertainment. I went so far as to buy the magical BB cream that all of them use for makeup. Yeah, I know most have had a lot of plastic surgery and they all look very hungry, but it grew on me nonetheless.

On May 20, 2012 millions of people donned special glasses, prepped cameras with sun filters and waited anxiously for one of the few solar eclipses to thrill populations on the West Coast. More than 10,000 people skipped the eclipse and filed into the Honda Center in Anaheim, California having eagerly anticipated a once a year concert staged by SMTown. The annual tour of about six shows began a few years back and one show each time has been staged in the States. Last year, California was skipped over for the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

SM Entertainment is one of the largest entertainment companies in South Korea. Focusing mainly on musical talent, SM spends years training singers, dancers, and rap artists into carefully constructed musical groups and solo performers. Some trainees are educated for as long as seven years before releasing an album or performing in front of fans. The popularity of each group is about as obvious as expecting a massive traffic jam on the I-405 on a Friday afternoon. Each group has an appointed leader, official fan club, and even official color.

South Korea is fast becoming a factory for megastars scouted domestically and internationally. As the wave of boy bands in the United States and Europe waned in the early 2000s, there has been resurgence in the form of carefully synchronized dancing and singing Korean pop stars.  Despite controversies regarding contractual agreements, unfair pay, and labor standards, companies like SM have built massive followings and astronomically profitable businesses.

At the concert, meant to increase interest in K-Pop and appease legions of foreign fans, nearly thirty individuals took to the stage to perform their biggest hits. The theme of the concert was uniting different cultures and languages through music. Obvious enough, most of the fans were Asians and Asian Americans but the audience comprised of thousands of African-Americans, Latinos, and Caucasians. Hundreds had signs (some had lights), handmade shirts and posters while Samsung, an official sponsor, gave out free glow sticks. The glow sticks were the only souvenirs from the concert unless one made a purchase from a variety of street vendors lined up across the street from the Honda Center. To my shock, about two dozen white men in their thirties walked the halls with Girls’ Generation sweatshirts. Fans from a three year old giggling in the ladies’ room to men and women old enough to be grandparents, crowded into the arena that is home to the Anaheim Ducks. SM’s most popular groups, SNSD (or Girls’ Generation), Super Junior, and Shinee shared the stage with lesser known performers, BoA, TVXQ, EXO and f(x). I call them lesser known in the sense that the majority of fans flew to Orange County from all over the country for the three headliners. Though Super Junior was missing its most popular member along with several others, and Girls’ Generation was minus two members, the concert was an overwhelming success.

Shinee opened the show with a trio of hits including ‘Amigo’ and ‘Lucifer’. Audience members went wild for the water jets shooting up from the stage leaving every performer carefully avoiding puddles and stage crews frantically wiping the floors like grounds crews at tennis matches. Disappointing was the recognizable lip-synching. Some songs were lip-synced some sung live. Joined by a few back up dancers, the five young men energized the audience from the raised center stage with their upbeat music and dance moves. At times, I swore one looked like he was about to fall off the stage which consistently lifted and lowered throughout the show. Attempting to stray from the bubblegum pop studio version of songs like ‘Ring Ding Dong’, music technicians infused heavy rock elements into several performances leaving long periods for band members to head bang to the music. Onew, the group’s leader, got so consumed, one thought he might need a CT scan after. He performed a moving duet with f(x)’s Luna in English leaving droves of girls in a complete state of frenzy, many in tears.  

Shinee's Onew

TVXQ soon took to the stage surprising even me with their talent. Once a group of five, three members sued SM over the length of their contract and unreasonable work demands coupled with unfair wages. The remaining two, Changmin and Yunho formed TVXQ. Both complemented each other very well on stage with Yunho showing off his dancing and rapping while Changmin is definitely the guy with the pipes for long-winded high notes. A standout performance of Bruno Mars’ ‘Just the Way You Are’ with Super Juniors’ Kyuhyun left thousands of teenage girls bitterly jealous of the one they selected to serenade from the audience. The bad taste lingered into post-concert bathroom discussion. A new version of DBSK’s biggest hit ‘Mirotic’, got me so excited about the blast from the past, that I forgot completely that this used to be performed by the original group.

EXO, the company’s newest boy group, debuted five months ago as two groups, EXO-K and EXO-M. Both groups comprise of six members, many still in high school, and sing the same songs though EXO-K sings in Korean and EXO-M in Mandarin. Though this concept is pioneering in the music industry, many groups release singles in Mandarin or Japanese. Several Super Junior members make up a sub-group that sing songs targeted at the burgeoning Chinese market. Performing as EXO, both groups performed together, including first single, ‘Mama’ sung in both languages. Their skyrocketing popularity was apparent despite lip-synching. Their three singles made EXO’s performance the shortest set of the night, much to the displeasure of its growing fan base.

BoA, SM’s only solo artist to perform at the West Coast concert, performed in English and Korean was probably the least known among those who took the stage. She currently judges K-Pop star, a talent competition, and sang the theme song from the show. Her interactions with the crowd showed off her incredible English skills and it was apparent she really loves the stage. Though I am not a big fan of her music, BoA’s dancing shows off years of training and natural ability.

f(x) comprising of five female singers is one of the younger groups under SM’s label and features two California natives. This group had the least difficulty interacting with the audience in English whereas some groups relied on a translator during song transitions. Krystal, the group’s youngest member is sister to Girls’ Generation’s Jessica and both were raised in San Francisco to Korean parents. Taiwanese-American, Amber, expressed her exhilaration at performing near her hometown of Los Angeles and is an unbelievably talented rap artist. She exhibited her talent with EXO-M’s Kris and Shinee’s Key for a rendition of Far East Movement’s ‘Like a G6’. Performing hit songs like, ‘Nu Abo’, ‘Hot Summer’, ‘Pinocchio (Danger)’, and ‘Chu’ the ladies dressed in near matching outfits. A few members of Super Junior joined f(x) on stage for a collaborative effort of ‘Oops’.

Super Junior and f(x) performing Oops

Girls' Generation
Girls’ Generation, probably the female group with the most notoriety in the U.S. performed carefully choreographed numbers in everything from teeny tiny sparkly shorts to basic jeans and tee shirts. Hit singles like ‘Gee’, ‘The Boys’, ‘Genie’, and ‘Run Devil Run’ allowed the men in the audience to finally express signs of life. My high altitude seat gave me a good vantage point for people watching but the stage set up left virtually no one with a bad seat. Three members are California natives and one cover song performed gave sisters’ Jessica and Krystal (previously mentioned) the opportunity to sing together to Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’. The lack of lip-synching gave me a new respect for the group. Though I’m not a rabid fan of the lady groups in K-Pop, this one is definitely my favorite despite disappointment at Im Yoona’s absence.

Super Junior's Donghae (l) and Eun Hyuk (r) singing their disco inspired "Oppa Oppa"
Since Super Junior is by far my favorite group, I left them for last. This group was my first introduction to K-Pop with a song called, ‘Bonamana’. I was astonished at how many members this group has. Currently at twelve, I thought I would never be able to tell them apart, but the fourteen year-old in me got me so fascinated by the group that I now can identify more than half. As one member is actively serving his two year military requirement and another recently completed his service, I knew everyone would not make the trek. Leaving thousands of girls heartbroken, one of my favorites, Choi SiWon was missing due to filming of a Taiwanese drama. The situation called for the group to skip singing their latest single, ‘Opera’. As for the others, I’m not sure why they were not in attendance. Eight men paraded out on stage in similar costumes and belted out their songs ‘A-Cha’, ‘Superman’, ‘Don’t Don’, and ‘Dancing Out’. The biggest cheers of the night went for ‘Sorry Sorry’ and ‘Mr. Simple’, two of my favorite songs. Most of the fans could sing along which, for me, was mind-boggling. Through binoculars, we could see girls sobbing uncontrollably and some fans mimicking dance moves all over the arena. With jackets festooned in lights, Super Junior had the most unique outfits of the night as they danced to ‘Mr. Simple’ and it added an extra element to their superb performance. 

Eunhyuk and Donghae, both popular members of SuJu came out on stage in loud 70’s suits and performed their duet ‘Oppa, Oppa’ to crazed fans and fit the style of the song perfectly. It far surpassed f(x)’s matchy outfit that oddly reminded me of the clothes made out of drapes in The Sound of Music. As the group closed out the night, two members were honored at their last trip to the U.S. before they take a hiatus to serve out their military service. Leeteuk, my favorite member of SuJu, served as MC of the night with Girls’ Generation singers Taeyeon and Jessica. He was reluctant to leave the stage with his fellow band-mate and fans were hesitant to say goodbye knowing it would be at least two years before they perform again in California.

Suju performing Mr. Simple. 

For my first concert with K-Pop, I was very impressed. I had no idea what to expect and rate it among the best I’ve seen. Better than many Western bands I’ve seen since my first concert in the fifth grade. A week later, I was crammed into Club Nokia in Los Angeles watching my second K-Pop concert. Jay Park (formerly of Korean boy band 2PM) headlined a concert tour celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). Though the APAHM concert was significantly smaller in scale (the club holds just 2,300), the years of training are shown in artists’ professionalism, intricate dancing, and precision singing and rapping. There are plans to see more K-Pop this year and I can’t wait. K-Pop is addictive, catchy, mainstream, and utterly fabulous. Once someone is sucked into the world, there is little chance of escaping.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rain. Love and Rain.

When you saw the word rain did you first think of 비 or Rain the handsome singer?  Every time I hear the  word rain I like to think of ways to twist and give it multiple meanings- often those implying a reference to Rain (actor and singer). Who doesn't put love and rain in the same sentence? A majority of you love Rain! I read friend's Facebook statuses also referencing Rain:
- It's RAINing.
- When is The Rain coming?
- Is it Rain-ing yet?

courtesy of 

Unfortunately, this post is not about that Rain. It is about rain, the watery goodness that falls so lightly or heavy at just the right moment. It's about rain and sometimes love in the rain or love rain.  Recently, I started watching the Korean Drama Love Rain. You can thank my friend for getting me sucked into a drama. I was so proud that I hadn't watched a Korean drama in months or at all this year. Something about the violin intro also heard throughout the drama caught me. Though the drama was slow going at the beginning and follows a predictable Korean drama structure that includes conflict, love, and love triangles or squares/rectangle, I made it halfway through the show. After this weekend, I will contemplate whether to continue watching.   While watching this drama, I thought about rain as a theme or dramatic element. Because the drama's title has the word "rain" in it, you would expect rain, right? Of course. Rain is used in many dramas, but this drama uses it particularly well because of the "Love Rain" theme itself.  In most dramas you will find rain during a very dramatic or what is about to be a dramatic scene. Rain may come at the beginning of a kiss. Sometimes rain pours during conflict or perhaps conflict-turned love. Look at Jang Geun Suk's character Joon look up as the rain begins to fall right when he and Ha Na are to converse about an important matter Joon has on his heart. He came all this way to see her and what?

Oh. Is that rain?

Yep. Let's run for cover.
Perhaps it begins raining during a scene in which you see your only true love of years past enter and pass through your presence decades after your last meeting.

What? Is it her? 
Am I seeing things? I need a thorough look. 

Whoa. My love? 
This is where it started. Same color umbrella. : ) 

This drama is full of love and rain.  Don't be fooled. There is plenty of pain and conflict, but that only makes the love stronger in the end doesn't it? An element of tension may linger in the air as rain falls to rescue and soften the interaction. It becomes the beginning of a significant interaction that turns to love. Love. It's time for some love rain. What are your favorite rain scenes in a Korean drama?

Let's have a listen to the "Love Rain" song. Jang Geun Suk has a decent voice! I might have to say I like this ballad for his voice! If you're not a romantic, the lyrics are a bit cheesy. For the Korean learner, the song is slow and catchy enough to learn on your own, and the vocabulary is simple.  Happy listening!

Some vocab to know:
사랑 (saran) - love
비 (pi or pee) - rain
우산 (usan) -  umbrella
가슴 (kasum) - heart
사랑비가 내려네요 (sarang pi ga naeryo naeyo) - Love rain is falling


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SDAFF Spring Showcase

The San Diego Asian Film Foundation Spring Showcase begins this week with the opening Korean film: Sunny.  Check out the rest of the films here.  Also, look out for the other Korean film, The Front Line, another great war film.

Check out the film reviews yourself! I can't do them justice until I see the films myself. You won't want to miss them.


Monday, April 2, 2012

A night of K-pop and flash mob moves

What do k-pop, hallyu, flash mobs, and San Diego all have in common?
You can find them all in one place right here in San Diego.

Last week I learned of a Korean Culture event at The Sejong Institute of Language and Culture (SILC) of the California International Business University (CIBU) through a group posting on Facebook and some online advertisement. Though I had other plans set aside for that Tuesday, I was not able to attend to them. This became an ideal opportunity to inquire about the event. I hadn't heard of SILC or CIBU and was eager to learn more about it and the events/programs it had to offer.  Don't forget I'm quite busy volunteering my time, but in my few moments of free time I do try to keep an open ear for Korea related events. I also discovered that my new Korean friend was going to be attending the event with her English tutor.  The title of the event was K-Pop.  By attending the event I thought I would learn a little bit about kpop.  After calling the receptionist at SILC, I was told the agenda consisted of a presentation on K-Pop and Hallyu (Korean wave), a dance performance and some light refreshments to follow. I envisioned I might hear an interesting lecture on history and culture. What did I have to lose? I figured this would be a great opportunity to network with some professors and or other young professionals or students in the area interested in Korean culture and history.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a young eclectic crowd of high school-aged somethings, fun individuals in their early 20s intermixed with a few international students, professors and Koreans that run the SILC. We listened to a presentation about Kpop and the Korean hallyu. Korea's pop music has rapidly picked up popularity all over the world. Hallyu refers to the rapid spread of Korean culture and popularity across the world. The term originated in China after journalists observed the rapid growth and popularity of Korean culture in China. Many Kpop groups travel to put on shows and meet their loyal and dedicated fans halfway across the globe.  I was surprised to hear that a kpop channel has received over 700 million hits! However, after briefly thinking about it, many loyal fans are probably responsible for multiple clicks! Everyone can use a little kpop in their life!  Popular  groups such as 2PM, Big Bang, SNSD, and 2NE1 were named.

After the brief history of Kpop and short video, the real hoppin' fun began. We were introduced to the San Diego Kpop Flash Mob group started by young individuals with a new found interest in Kpop and love for dance. The group of individuals goes by the acronym SDKFM. They're definitely an interesting crowd of individuals as we can see by their Facebook page description: "SDKFM is a group of crazy (borderline clinically insane) San Diegan individuals who love Kpop and dance. We aim to spread the love of Korean pop culture in our city and have fun." As their opening statement suggests, they know how to do just that: have fun! I admire the group for their passion and desire to share their love of Korean pop and culture.  They're doing their part to spread hallyu and make it even bigger right here in San Diego. Wherever you go, you're bound to find a Korean loving soul somewhere. Check out SDKFM's Facebook page here.  SDKFM definitely got their dance on in their performances!  I only got a brief video from the "sidelines" on my cell phone, but you can hear and see the crowd joining in with a rhythmic clapping.

Fortunately, some of the videos from members went up on youtube last night. You can get a clearer picture of their moves and popping beat.  Here is one of the videos I found: 

Following SDKFM's performance to a few Kpop mixes, members of the crowd came up to show off a few of their own moves. The crowd went a little wild for an extended period of laughter and dancing.

The evening was an informative and interesting night. I learned something and met an enthusiast group of Kpop loving individuals. We were quickly pushed out of the room due to building policies and I was not able to meet any of the Sejong Institute's staff personally, but I know that I will return for the next event in May and maybe even before then for a little tour. I have a feeling I'll walk into the next event with no expectations because they'll probably be blown away by exposure to more fun local San Diegans!

If you missed any of the links above check them out again here below:

California International Business University (CIBU) :

The Sejong Institute of Language and Culture (SILC):

San Diego Kpop Flash Mob (SDKFM):

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Korean spas keep you clean and lean!

Sitting indoors on a breezy gloomy lunch break.  January/February are the months of cold weather and dry skin. All the memories of warm rooms come flooding back.  Oh how I wish I were enjoying a sauna this lunch period. If that's not the case, I can continue to reminisce about them.

I recently read the article How a Korean Spa Can Keep you Lean, Rejuvenated, and Sexy.  Need I say more about the benefits of a spa?  Korean spas are pretty awesome!!  Although I have not been to a spa in over a year since my return from Korea, I can attest to this healthy cleansed feeling you receive after visiting the spa. You don't even need the full scrub to feel clean. Sweating in the salt and coal rooms and cooling in the freezing rooms do wonders for my skin and health. Our bodies are full of toxins and dirt that are not easily washed off in a quick three minute shower.  Cleansing the pores through sweating and other processes has its benefits not only for your body health, but for the look of your skin. You'll be glowing and smiling because of it in no time! Based on this article, it looks like I'll have to head to LA and or do a little more exploring here in San Diego.

There are many other reasons I like the jimjilbang or Korean spa/sauna experience.  Check them out and get a few of your fear-filled questions answered.

Back to work!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fun with Food: simple kimchi fried rice (김치 볶음밥 )

I was in a bit of frantic rush to make triangle kimbap for my lunch the other day. It was already approaching 3pm and I had a schedule to keep. This was about to become a linner (lunch and dinner) combo. I made rice the night before with my delicious bulgogi (yumm yumm marinated meat) meal and packaged the leftovers into the refrigerator to be used the following day. I wasn't worried if the rice didn't turn out for my kimbap because I bought a fresh bag of rice earlier in the week.  It would be no biggie to heat up a new pot while preparing for the day.  (No rice cooker here folks. I've been house sitting for a week. This is where crafty improv skills come in handy.  Since I could not find a pot cover either, I used another pot to cover the larger pot. It didn't completely seal the rice cooking pot, but we got some decent rice.)

Back to that no-big-deal-because-I-had-more-rice situation. What I failed to clearly think about was my house and pet sitting responsibility to care for cats.  I set the rice on the higher counter top hidden away in the corner. Maybe I just forgot the sly nature of cats.]  Despite my good intentions to keep the house clean, the next morning I woke to a little surprise.  The cats clawed through the bag of rice and you can guess what I was sweeping up for the next several minutes.  so... I open the fridge take out the leftover box of rice and separate the plastic wrap on the seaweed for my triangle kimbap. The spoon goes into the rice and out comes a crumbly mess of rice allover my lovely laver (seaweed).  I guess the missing cover on the pot created an interesting rice consistency and texture.  No sticky rice and no more fresh rice to cook.

Now what?  I pull open the fridge and look in.  Fantastic! There are approximately two servings of kimchi left in a small plastic container. Perfect timing because I've got to clear the fridge of any suspicious (aka interesting ethnic or slightly odorous) items before the home owners return. (They're not Korean or Asian for that matter.) At this point, I'm a hungry hippo. What do you make with old rice and kimchi? Well, kimchi fried rice I tell ya!  Let's do this, I tell myself.  There's a can of tuna sitting on the counter.  What else? It seems we have nothing else, so we'll make do. 
How do you (or I) make kimchi fried rice? Here's a quick and very simple Americanized version of fried rice. 

Some basics you'll need: 
  • your old rice (밥) [1 cup?]*
  • kimchi (김치) [1/2 a cup?]*
  • sesame oil  (참깨 기름)
Some optional add ins:
  • tuna (참치), or
  • bacon, or
  • other meaty source such as chopped up spam
  • other veggies
    • peppers
    • green onion
    • take your pick here. 
*Mix and match. Choose your portions according to total serving size. 

And to top it off the proper way let's add a tasty fried egg. 

Here is a photo story of my scramble to make kimchi fried rice: 

Get your kimchi. Chop it all up. Then heat up your frying pan. Use a dab of sesame oil to prevent food from sticking to the pan.  Toss in the kimchi.  Warm up. Fry. Stir up. Warm up, fry, and stir some more.

Toss in your extras such as tuna, spam, or veggies.  Stir and fry some more. Add your rice.
Fry some more. Add some water and oil to preference if necessary and don't forget to pour the extra kimchi juice in the pan for extra color and spicy flavor!  Pack up your fried rice into a nice little mound and set it aside.
Prepare the pan and fry the egg!

And wallah.  I'll admit I was hungry and although I go for presentation this tasted just fine in my mouth and ravenous belly. Sadly, that's the same egg. Sunny side down.  No worries the sun will come out and shine again tomorrow. :  )

There you have it.  A crazy spin on kimchi fried rice.   The next one will be better, but this one is difficult to beat.  It tasted just fine in the heat of the hungry moment! 

[Photos uploaded from phone with less than 3 megapixel quality. Excuse the quality of the photos please.]

Until next time! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Simply Yujacha

With winter creeping in like a thick fog and creating a frigid chill in the air, a hot beverage to soothe the mind and body sounds just about right.  What? You say you have a slight cough or sore throat, too?  It's that time of year isn't it?

I know the beverage for you. Yujacha (유자차) or citron tea.  Yujacha is similar to what most people know as marmalade. It is made of the citron fruit. Unlike the lemon or orange, the citron fruit is a smaller somewhat longer shaped fruit with little tasty juicy fruit to be eaten. The fruit is thinly sliced and made into a jelly-like preservable substance with the addition of honey or sugar.

In November (yes, this post is getting up a bit late), I received some citron tea from someone at a small company, Dalhae Trading, in exchange for some information and quotable remarks from my post about my love for tea and omijacha. To say the least, I was very excited to receive this package in the mail!  I absolutely love tea and yujacha is great during the winter cold season.

What do I do next? I grab a pot and boil up some water. I dish two spoon fulls of this delightful substance into the mug and I pour in some boiling water. Stir it up and give it a second to flavor up the water. Then, down my throat it goes all in one smooth relaxing move.  You'll notice, if inspecting the citron tea part of the fruit or pulp is used to make the substance. This makes reaching the bottom of the mug fun because now you have a chewy bittersweet treat awaiting you.  You've gotta like the pulpy-ness to enjoy the bottom of the mug and I certainly do!

Why do I drink this? 

1. It tastes good.
2. It's loaded with vitamin C-like healthiness and used as an herbal remedy to fight off winter illnesses.
3. It soothes a sore throat and a cough.
4. Did I say, it tastes good? Yes! You should try some.

Where can I find some of this goodness in a jar? 

You can find this in most Asian markets like the tea aisles of Korean or Japanese stores.
Or you could be adventurous and try to make some yourself.  Many cultures have their own version of the citron tea used to treat the common cold.

Where can fellow San Diegans find this? 
Well, I'm still working on answering this question. However, the Vietnamese and Chinese markets both sell the Korean version of the yujacha even with pretty Korean labels.
Writing on my love for all things Korea, I'm going to be biased and say that the Korean market/store Zion Market is the best place to shop, even for tea. Granted, I've only been there once as I'm still making time to get out and explore, but it was very large and fun to explore.  Look for more on that store later.

What other creative things can you do with your yujacha/citron tea/marmalade mix? 

The sky is the limit on this one folks.  Personally, I've used jelly and or this yujacha in chicken and salmon marinades. I've also used it as a sweetener on my morning toast.
How have others used it? And what ideas have I thought of or am I going to steal and recreate on my own?
One could make rolls, cake, muffins, cheesecake, mixed beverages, and so much more. Let your imagination run wild.  Check back in the next month for some of my crazy ideas.

This tea is simply delicious and may find itself marinading and glazing multiple treats of yours. Enjoy brainstorming the many things you can do with it while sipping on a hot mug of yujacha in order to stay warm and healthy this winter!


Monday, January 2, 2012

WKB (Worldwide Korea blogger) Treats

What's better than getting paid to blog or work? Well, it could be receiving these sweet treats from the Korean Culture and Information Service aka for service as a Worldwide Korea blogger! Living overseas away from Korea we may not reap the same benefits as those able to attend cultural events in Korea. However, this year we will be united by remembering each other and looking at our cool Kpop calendars. They function as calendars, photo books, and a paper weight. Fantastic isn't it? A calendar with multiple uses. This calendar is stuffed with pictures of all the hot kpop groups and even filled with facts about Korean traditional instruments. For the Kpop and Korean tradtional music loving soul this is the perfect gift.  Thank you for this gift.

I hope that fellow bloggers will enjoy this gift and smile as 2012 kicks off to a great start.

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