Monday, October 31, 2011

Beer Hunter

Beer Hunter is a chain of pubs around town. While I've yet to check one out, their sign has gotten my attention.

Having lived in Korea for 2+ years now, I tend to laugh when I see or hear the words hunter or hunting. My students use the term hunting to talk about a popular college activity:  heading to bars in search of women.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

American Football

What a glorious day for football!

Thanks to an invitation from HG, I got to experience American football right here in Seoul. This afternoon we watched Seoul National University take on Hankuk University of Foreign Studies as the teams competed for the championship title. 

Despite the home-field advantage, and our enthusiastic cheering (Seouldae, Touchdown!), SNU ultimately lost. However, it was super fun to be a spectator and to hear familiar football expressions mixed with lots of Korean. Plus the sideline activities were highly entertaining as well.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Karl in Korea

Thanks to a tip from a friend, I caught a recently-opened exhibition featuring the photography of Karl Lagerfeld. While the fashion legend was not physically on hand, his thumbprint was on everything. From the photos themselves to how they were displayed, it was evident that things were exactly as Karl would have them.

Check out Karl Lagerfeld:  Work in Progress now at the Daelim Contemporary Museum of Art through March 18, 2012. Tickets:  5,000 won.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Strawberry Curlers

Having grown up with pink sponge curlers (you know the drill:  sleeping in them on Saturday nights, ready for church on Sunday), I have a visceral reaction when I see pink rollers -probably from bad memories of sleepless nights and those wild + crazy Miss Piggy curls. 

However, spongy strawberry curlers... totally different effect!

Which would you prefer?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Caffe Bene Christmas

While running errands this morning, I caught sight of some festive decorations at Caffe Bene^. Apparently I'm not the only one getting excited about Christmas.

^A word on Caffe Bene:  I really like this Korean chain of coffee shops. Decent coffee and gelato, waffles, pleasant ambiance -what's not to love? 

This sign posted out front of a local shop made me smile. Can you guess why?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October Christmas

To celebrate Autumn, I'm hosting a harvest party this weekend, and yet I caught myself daydreaming about Christmas a few times today. I even initiated a discussion in class on favorite holidays and got everyone talking about their Christmas traditions.

Many of you know that I listen to Christmas carols year-round, but usually I play them on low so as to avoid embarrassment and awkward encounters with my neighbors. This evening, however, I cranked them up.

Two months from today -can't wait! But really, why not get excited about it every day?
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord."  -Luke 2:10-11

Monday, October 24, 2011

Konkuk Fall

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.  -Isaiah 6:3

I'll never tire of the colorful miracles of Fall. On campus, the trees are turning, leaves are falling, and everything looks dazzling. I am amazed by the diversity of color and the richness of hues. My photos don't do the scene justice, but I'm posting them nonetheless for posterity and to give you a glimpse -especially those of you with Mediterranean climate (ahem, SoCal readers!).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sister Sunday

I feel incredibly fortunate for all the sister time I experienced today. 

This morning I was able to speak with both of my biological sisters thanks to advances in technology (hello, Skype and amazing Korean cellphone networks!). Not a day goes by when I don't deeply miss the two of them, so quality talk time is a major event.

This afternoon I spent time with women who have become like sisters to me. Not only do we possess a common faith, we've also bonded over other shared interests -books, food, and travel to name a few.

God gets all the credit. He is so personal and faithful -bringing people into our lives who add laughter, joy, love, and comfort. 

Who has He brought to you?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Summarizing The Hole

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God. -Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision  

To summarize the most inspiring book I've read this year -heck, in the last five years- is challenging; there are motivational morsels springing from every page. Yet The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns is a compelling call to action, and so, having just finished the book, I'll share some particularly thought-provoking quotes and excerpts:
We must pray constantly that God will soften our hearts so we can see the world the way He sees it. -Richard Stearns, President of World Vision U.S., 1998 - present
Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything.  -B. Pierce
Confronted with an overwhelming problem, Jesus did not ask the disciples to do the impossible; He asked only for them to bring to Him what they had. He then multiplied the small offering and used it to do the impossible. The principle here is so very important for those who are overwhelmed with the immensity of human suffering and need in our world:  God never asks us to give what we do not have... But He cannot use what we will not give.  -R. Stearns (on the miracle of the loaves and fishes which appears in all four gospels)
Imagine what would have happened in your lives if there had been no connection whatsoever between how hard you worked and the results you got, because that is exactly the situation faced by the more than 1 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day. The connection between how hard they work and the result they will get has been broken.  -President Bill Clinton
That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong.  -Augustine
My faith demands -this is not optional- my faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference. -President Jimmy Carter
The Lord Jesus told us to be the world's salt and light. If therefore darkness and rottenness abound, it is largely our fault and we must accept the blame.  -Reverend John Stott
If the Christian community is truly to be salt and light in a dark world, we will only succeed by embracing the whole gospel. Faith and works must be put back together again.  -R. Stearns
When we have enough cash, food, and possessions, we can become self-reliant. Therefore, money is not seen by God as a benign and neutral thing. Money is power, and power competes with God for supremacy in our lives. -R. Stearns
In the end, God simply calls you to be faithful to the things He has given you to do. -R. Stearns

For more information, check out:

Friday, October 21, 2011

American Icons

Can you spot the references to American pop-culture icons on this sign? I counted three.

Would love to know what's being promoted.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


At last, I've tried acupuncture!

It certainly wasn't on my to-do list this morning. But that's the thing about life in Korea... every day is an opportunity for a random twist and a brand new adventure.

After finishing my grading this morning, I set off to meet a dear friend for some Seoul sightseeing. She'd been talking up the Nam San Traditional Folk Village which I'd yet to visit, so we decided to head there. Wouldn't you know that we just happened to stumble upon a traditional medicine exhibit which, as part of a month-long promotion, is offering various services to foreigners, all for free!

I had my blood pressure taken (normal), my pulse examined (thin and weak; low energy; did you sleep poorly last night? -I was surprised at how accurate their assessment was!), and then finally:  cosmetic acupuncture. On my face. Wow. 

I am so skittish around needles and blood of any kind, but I managed to hold up pretty well; it helped that I was lying down on a cot. Fifteen minutes and 30 needles later, my face did feel rejuvenated. Can it be that I'm already hooked?

Good thing the promotion lasts for a few more weeks. Chances are I'll return for another complimentary session.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sock Drive

...give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.  -Mark 10:21b

Inspired by the accounts we read in The Irresistible Revolution and The Hole in Our Gospel (not to mention Jesus's own example and teachings), some friends and I have been contemplating ways to personally reach out to the homeless community in Seoul. 

Two weeks ago we began our now-weekly treks to Seoul Station where we visit with people and share food, clothes, and toiletries with them. We're learning as we're going. Fortunately one person in our group speaks Korean, and through her conversations with various individuals, we've gathered data on how we can better serve this community.

Our two previous visits were a little ad hoc, but since then, we've decided to focus each week on a theme. Right now we're collecting socks for our next visit (incidentally, the E-Mart by my place is having great deals on footwear; we got 19 pairs of socks for 28,000 won/$25):
In the coming weeks, we're focusing on:
  • gloves
  • scarves
  • shoes
  • coats + sweaters 

Wanted to get the word out there. If you'd like to join us or contribute in any way, drop me a line through the comments section, and I'll be in touch.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Joy of Midterms

What a difference a year can make!

We're in the midst of midterms, and I love it! Last year around this time I was stressed about creating exams. This year I'm over that stress and enjoying the flow that comes with a week of grading + no lesson planning. Bliss for me, not so much for the students.

Speaking of students, I've heard some pretty astounding excuses from a few as to why they've missed classes recently. I'm starting to feel like Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and while I don't verbalize his more memorable lines, they're playing in my inner monologue:

Ed Rooney: Ed Rooney.
Cameron: [disguising voice as George Peterson] Ed. This is George Peterson.
Ed Rooney: How are you today, sir?
Cameron: [voice disguised] Well, we've had a bit of bad luck this morning as you may have heard.
Ed Rooney: Yeah I heard, and man, I'm all broken up, boy, what a blow.
Cameron: [disguised] Yeah. Yeah. Well, uh, it's been a tough morning and we got a lot of family business to take care of, so if you wouldn't mind excusing Sloane, I'd appreciate it.
Ed Rooney: Uh, yeah, sure, no I'd be happy to, yeah you, uh, you you just produce a corpse, and uh, I'll release Sloane. I wanna see this dead grandmother first hand.
Grace: Ed?
Ed Rooney: It's alright, Grace, it's Ferris Bueller the little twerp. I'm gonna set a trap and let him fall right in it.
Grace: Ooh!
Cameron: [disguised] I'm sorry, Ed, did you say you wanted to see a body?
Ed Rooney: Yeah, that's right, just, uh, roll her old bones on over here, and I'll dig up your daughter. You know that's school policy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

High Street Market

Gotta give a shout-out to High Street Market in Itaewon. It opened fairly recently and has quickly become a haven for foreigners. The store boasts its own bakery where you can actually buy, and sample, bread that tastes like real bread with -bonus!- authentic bread consistency, too.

The store has a deli section as well as several dry-food bins where you can buy things like black beans, lentils, and granola. It also has a decent wine section which includes baskets full of damaged label bottles that are greatly reduced in price.  

I won't mention what I go there for lest my staple items sell out before my next visit. But let's just say that if you've got cravings, chances are high that High Street Market's got you covered.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Light Facing

I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness. -Ecclesiastes 2:13

My houseplants reminded me of an important principle today.

I admit, I'm not the most attentive caregiver to my plants. I often forget to water them, and I rarely prune or talk to them (a little humor there, folks). Tonight, though, I was curious about what had happened to their bright pink blooms which had prompted me to buy them in the first place. From my vantage point, all the flowers had disappeared.

Upon closer inspection I realized that all the blooms were on the side of the plants which faced out the window -a window which has tons of light stream through it every day. Aha! So, in botanical matters as well as in spiritual, facing the Light makes a profound difference^.

I did a quick search on looking for verses about light. Did you know that there are at least 204 Scripture references to light? Two of my favorites:
You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. -2 Samuel 22:29

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.             -Isaiah 50:10

And, of course, Jesus referred to Himself as the Light of the world:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. -John 8:12

I love how God can use nature to point us toward Him, deepen our understanding, and enrich our faith!

^The plant on the left looked like this after I turned it around:

...while the one on the right looked like this before I turned it around:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Luxury Yogurt

Snow Spoon has always intrigued me with its enchanting name, and yesterday while running errands in Hongdae, I finally checked it out.

The shop brands itself as a purveyor of Luxury Yogurt, and indeed the place feels quite posh. With its clean, white furnishings and crystal chandeliers, it differentiates itself from most other stores or cafes in town. And, in the event you missed these clues, the prices signal luxury, too.

Fortunately the quality of Snow Spoon's product offering is high. I tried the plain (tart) and chocolate flavors, and both were perfectly rich and sufficiently creamy. I skipped the toppings and the side dishes (pizza? pasta??), but their darling yogurt sandwiches (made with macaron-like cookies) were hard to pass up. Next time...

Sweet experience overall. Made me miss California's Yogurtland.  


Friday, October 14, 2011

Toilet Seat

Gotta love the creative minds in Hongdae. Oddly enough, although the decor caught my eye, I wasn't motivated to eat at this galbi restaurant.

Next time you're tempted to throw out a broken toilet, why not move it into your dining room?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Hole

I'm grateful to my parents for many things, not least of which is their introducing me to the joy of reading at a very early age. My love for books has grown immeasurably since.

And as a resident of Seoul, I'm grateful for free access to books in English thanks to the awesome book-exchange I've got going with some friends (side note:  What the Book? in Itaewon is a haven for English-speaking bibliophiles -a huge bookstore with hundreds of titles and a terrific staff who's willing to order books that aren't in stock.). 

I've just begun reading The Hole in Our Gospel. Using autobiographical anecdotes, Richard Stearns discusses the hole that Christians have in their lives, an emptiness that stems from ignoring the poor. He speaks from experience having gone from being CEO of Lenox, Inc. to heading up World Vision. I'm only 25 pages in and already am inspired by his story. 

I know this is going to be one of those soul-jolting, life-changing books -like The Irresistible Revolution- and I'm excited about the influences it'll have on my lifestyle and heart.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Medicinal Herb Festival

Last weekend, I had the chance to check out Seoul's annual Medicinal Herb Festival in Jegi-dong. It was a memorable experience.

The area is home to hundreds of herb shops, making it one of the more fragrant neighborhoods in town. I saw more ginseng in various forms than I've ever encountered and watched as vendors sliced and diced herbs for retail purposes. Oh, and it wouldn't be a Korean festival without the sound of samulnori drums.

However, the most memorable part was visiting Yangnyeongsi -Seoul's Herb Medicine Museum. My friend and I were treated to a 2-hour tour of the museum with our own personal guide, an older Korean woman with the knowledge base of a college course textbook. Her English was astounding, and we learned so much.

Key takeaways:
  • until fairly recently (50 years ago), scraping one's unwashed scalp with acupuncture needles was a method for disinfecting them.
  • many different animals, including deer, frogs, and bears, were used to make traditional medicines; this practice is now illegal, though still occurring in parts of Asia.
  • since my body temp runs hot, I need to avoid white ginseng and stick to red or black.
  • based on self-reported answers to a quiz, I was diagnosed Soyangin (healthy stomach, weak kidneys; aggressive and fun) and Taeyangin (strong lungs, weak liver; smart, initiative, masculine, impatient, and stubborn).

on cup:  "Hope only happens to the person who is hoping."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Been back in Korea for a week now. Probably ought to get back to chronicling the ol' Seoul adventure. There's still so much to discover and share.

After two years of residing in the R.o.K., I'm accustomed to frequently seeing peculiar things -peculiar by standards back home anyway, though par for the course here. With few exceptions, the things that fazed me in my newbie days -those first six months- don't really grab my attention anymore. 

So when I'm prompted to whip out my camera while walking down the street, you know it's something special. Like this sign I saw over the weekend while in Itaewon:

Eye-catching? Check.

Memorable? Check.

Potential to tarnish teddy bear images forever? Check.