2014 Reviewed

And here I am, closing the year in South Korea. This time last year, I didn’t know I would be here. I only started the process in late February, and expected it to take a while. It was quick. I arrived at Incheon Airport in April.


Christmas in Itaewon

Christmas dinner in Itaewon! On the way there (especially in the subway), I saw so many people carrying cake boxes. It seems like it’s a thing here to get a cake for Christmas. I think that’s lovely. I felt as if I should buy a cake, too … but that would only end up with me eating the entire cake. So, no.

My friend and I arrived in Itaewon at around 5 pm, and walked around looking for a place. I don’t remember the name of the place, but the plates say Bliss. Google says Bar Bliss WAS a gay bar in Itaewon, and has been closed for years. I don’t know where I was. It was somewhere in the main restaurant area.


christmas 2014 salad

We were so hungry! This was one of the starter salads, with mozzarella balls and balsamic dressing.  So good.

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Universal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, in Seoul

Oh, man. The Nutcracker was beautiful. Gorgeous sets, cute kids behaving perfectly and on cue (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!?), and I finally managed to connect Tchaikovsky’s music to the ballet! Growing up, I listened to The Nutcracker soooo many times. I had such a good time.


nutcracker center


nutcracker ticket


nutcracker 1


nutcracker privatebox


nutcracker end

Taking a bow at the end. When the curtain came down, the kids crouched down and waved until the end.

Pojangmacha at Yongsan Station

yongsan station

Ah, Yongsan Station.  In my first month in Korea, this place was why I was (falsely) convinced that the Seoul subway system was insanely complicated. (It’s not!) Seoul Line 1 could NOT get me past Yongsan Station, for some reason. Later, it turns out that I was on the rapid/express train. The all-stop train does all the stops. The rapid train only stops at a few stations, OBVIOUSLY.


yongsan pojangmacha

These red-and-white striped tents are right outside Yongsan Station.  These tents are called pojangmacha – they typically serve street food and soju/beer, but Yongsan Station also has a pojangmacha bar!


pojangmacha sign

Ah, nice signage.


yongsan pojangmacha decor

Here’s the pojangmacha I ended up eating at. The green box at the top contains a pen and blank pieces of paper, for you to write your message!


yongsan grill

Set A, for 15,000 won.  And with three beers, that brought the total to 27,000 won.

From left to right

1. The hollowed-out thing is garlic. Fully roasted and mild.

2. Large white thing is mushroom.

3. Small mushrooms wrapped in bacon

4. Little yellow things are ginkgo seeds, I think?

5. Squarish white = rice cakes

6. Grilled chicken

7. Grilled chicken and green peppers (cheong gochu?)

Studio Ghibli in Yongsan

I love Studio Ghibli. You have no idea. Or maybe you do. I have yet to make it over to the museum in Japan, but I’ll get there eventually.

In the meantime, Studio Ghibli has an exhibition at I’Park Mall in Yongsan, Seoul (2014ghibliexhibition.com [dead link]). It’s 15,000 won for an adult ticket, and it is totally, totally worth it. It’s a thing of beauty.

Only a limited amount of people are allowed inside the exhibit at one time. It’s awesome, not crowded at all. I went on a Sunday, and it seemed like a slow day anyway. No line, no wait.







Spirited Away is one of my favorites.



And some other photos from that day.

Making Greek-style yogurt in Korea

First: a yogurt maker from Gmarket (here’s the yogurt machine category). I bought the Daewoo DWY-SH101 (1 liter capacity) for 13,600 원, shipping included. It’s a really basic model: plug it in, a light goes on, it stays warm at some unknown temperature.

Why did I choose this particular model? Because it was the cheapest, and I wasn’t sure how far I was willing to go with yogurt-making.

daewoo yogurt


For yogurt starter, I bought a tub of Maeil Bio yogurt. It comes in two sizes – small and large. The large container (pictured below) is nearly the same size as the yogurt maker’s container! Extra container!!

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