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How Korea Has Changed Since We Came Here

March 13, 2014

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Is this how old people talk? “I remember back in my day when Korea didn’t have cheese or herbs, and taxis used to be giant a-holes! Ah. Those were the good old days!” Yeah, it is how old people talk. I don’t know why we got interested in doing this topic. ACTUALLY WAIT! I do know. We recently spoke with some newbies to Korea, and we were talking about some of the things they were getting at HomePlus, and we wanted to scold them for not being as thankful as we are for it. UUUU DON’T KNOWWW WHAT WE WENT THROUGGHHH!!! *slaps pizza out of your hands* YOU DON’T DESERVE THIS PIZZA!

Ok, but for really reals, our old cantankerous curmudgeonniness aside, we wanted to talk about a few more changes we’ve noticed in this country over the past few years. Lets go!

Alcohol in Korea

Don’t confuse this with Korean alcohol, which – for us – hasn’t really changed all too much. Soju’s still…great? Soju never changes. Hite and Cass are still bad. Makgeolli still gives us the shivers ALTHOUGH Martina just tried one with chestnut that she didn’t get all flashback sick from. That’s not the point. We’re more interested in the import stuff that’s happening here.

The beer scene is really starting to blossom. While before we only knew about Hite and Cass, maybe a Red Rock from time to time, now they have lots of IPAs in lots of different places. They’re not ubiquitous, mind you, so a regular mom and pop shop will still have only Korean beers, but there’s a blossoming foreign bar scene with cool beers being both imported AND brewed here. Itaewon has some awesome brewers making good stuff, like Magpie Brewing Co. But, if you can’t make it to Itaewon, Home Plus is starting to have lots of great IPAs on sale. Home Plus! It’s lovely!

We’re also finding some a few good cocktail bars in Korea. Not many, mind you. Southside Parlour in Itaewon is probably the only guaranteed awesome place we know that offers a wide selection of import rums and bourbons, and even homemade bitters and soda. They take their time and make old fashion drinks the proper way. We love going to Radio Garden in the summertime for yummy summer cocktails. It’s still on the more expensive side but it does a good job of offering well done blended summertime beverages. A lot of cocktails are still ridiculously overpriced and sweet and not made with the best stuff, but we’ve found some places – again – in Itaewon that really know their stuff, and some cool spots here in Hongdae as well, like The Lounge Bar located right beside our studio! Good stuff, like awesome apple martinis that take time to be made because they’re being made with real pureed apple instead of sour apple mix! It makes us happy :D

Bread

Sadly, bread here still isn’t that great. There are a couple of shops that make good stuff. There’s one down the street from us in Hongdae, and you gotta make 17 left turns then 12 right ones, swing on the blue vine, and knock six times and give them the secret password (which we won’t reveal here) that makes really nice bread. But it’s the exception, rather than the norm.

Grocery stores here now have bread sections, which is a lot more than what we can say from before, but they’re just not great. We bought a baguette from Home Plus and it could be used as a murder weapon. Nope. For people that like sweet white bread, you’re gonna love it. We like hartier, darker, nuttier breads, and they’re not easy to come by here. Korea’s getting there. Just not yet.

K-Pop and Korean Music

We talked about this in our Girls’ Generation Kpop Music Monday, and how Kpop in 2013 wasn’t that great for us. We miss the good old days of Kpop! Now, just like how Garosu-gil is overrun by franchises, Kpop is overrun by new groups. And by “new” they’re not even that new. They’re just repeating a lot of what’s been done before, with different faces.

This, to me, is the biggest sign of us being old farts. We listen to lots of music from around the world, and we know some old dudes that only listen to Metallica and Black Sabbath and say “maaaaaan muuuusic just ain’t what it usssed to be maaaaan.” They only listen to the stuff they grew up with and refuse to try something new. We’re always like “but there are so many new genres coming out, so many new things! Give it a shot!” but they’re not having it. They’re stuck in the past.

We’re not that way with Kpop. We’re waiting for something new. Give us a new sound! A new voice! I want more than just new faces and new outfits! I want to hear more than just “but they worked really hard”. I want music for ears not just music for eyes! It seems like tons of companies have said “damn, this Kpop thing is popular! Let’s make a band and make some money!” Why the hell is Jackie Chan making a Kpop band? You think he’s passionate about the industry, and has a message that he wants to share with the world, or is he just trying to cash a quick buck?

The kpop scene is too overrun with too many groups for us. It wasn’t always like that. It feels like groups are being rushed out without enough training and without enough thought and the result is a bunch of mediocre groups that can’t compete with most of the current big band’s rookie debuts. I hope we’re not the only ones that feel that way.

I want to see bands form from the bottom up, rather than the top down. Enough of big labels cultivating a group of strangers. Let’s see some friends get together that want to make great music, develop their own sounds and songs, promote themselves, and make it big on their own. That’s why we’re so passionate about the Korean Indie scene here. Korea needs a music revolution. Kpop’s formula is being exploited and mass produced. I want something different.

Anyhow, that’s enough of my neck-bearding and cane-waving. Let us know what your experience is like. We’re only speaking from the perspective of Seoullites. If you’re in Busan or Daejeon or Jeju or elsewhere in Korea, what have you noticed that’s changed? We can’t speak for everyone’s experience in Korea (obviously), so we’re eager to know other people’s opinions.

And if you don’t live in Korea, do you have a growing Korean scene around you? Any shops or local markets, or is it non-existent? Let us know! Maybe you’ll find some local Koreaphiles in the comment section! :D

Lastly, sign the petition for better cheese in Korea! You can make it happen! All you have to do is click this pretty button down here and, uhhmm, you will get more cheese…yes…cheese…

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How Korea Has Changed Since We Came Here

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  1. Something that just recently changed in my hometown is we finally have a anime/comic con!!!! My home town isn’t that large and therefore, I have always traveled a long distance in order to get to my conventions.
    BUT now there is! I’m pretty sure it will be suckish in comparison to the big city cons, but I don’t even care I can not wait to support them in this idea! The change always has to start somewhere!! (^.^)/

    2 years ago
    • I agree! While I live in Philly and have some close Anime Cons like Otakon in Maryland and the NY Comic Con, they’re expensive just for the membership fee, hotel rooms, gas for the car… If only there was one or two not far away and not in a city as confusing as NY!

      2 years ago
    • Yay! I’m happy for you! it’s the same where I live. My hometown is TINY, and I always have to travel and spend a lot of money to go to any comic con, but this year we are gonna have one! It angers me because I will be out of the country on that exact date but it’s still really good news. As you said, it’s probably going to suck a bit but hey, let’s support it and hopefully it will grow ^-^

      2 years ago
      • Yay~ someone who can relate! It really is super exciting isn’t it!! I was so shocked to hear of it and I have been trying to tell everyone I know in town about it so that if it is busy they may continue doing it! I would love to go to a con once and not stay in an expensive hote (or risk damaging my costumes in luggage bags)l! ><

        2 years ago
        • Yes to all >_< And I don't know about your place, but here transportation sucks, it takes forever to get anywhere. So much money and time… that's the curse for people living in a small town. Speaking of costumes, I've just found out that our little comic con is going to have a cosplay contest. Duh, it's comic con, it's obvious… well, I wasn't even counting on it! xD it's actually a bit intimidating, to think I will wear geeky costumes in my town, where the "muggles" I know live too… I guess I've been a comic/manga fan in the dark for so long that now it's hard to come out! lol

          2 years ago
        • YES! Transit really sucks, it must be a small town thing! I would laugh so hard if we are from the same town XD I’ll be going as “Quinn” from “League of Legends” to the convention (guaranteed the only one probably XD). I’m curious how many people will actually dress up.

          2 years ago
  2. After reading some comments I shall never complain about the half hour drive to have Korean food again. I wouldn’t say we have a growing Korean scene, I think my city has had a growing Korean community that I’ve only just discovered the past few years. It is mostly centered around the army base. There are a handful of restaurants, little markets, churches, salons, even a small community newspaper. However, I’ve yet to run into kpop at the Korean owned stores I frequent. I need to check out more of the stores, but it’s so tough cause I feel attached to the places I go to.

    2 years ago
  3. I’m from Columbia, South Carolina (a state pretty much everyone forgets about until we do something stupid) and the Korean community here is sizable but hidden. There are 3 Korean markets and 5 restaurants on one freakin’ road and tons of Korean churches, yet I have never seen one Korean person out in the public. And I’ve lived here my entire life but have seriously never seen one Korean person outside of the markets or restaurants. It’s really kinda creepy

    2 years ago
  4. #1There’s a lot of foreigner that go to Korea to be teachers, what are other jobs that foreigner can get while living in Korea, even if they don’t speak much of the language.
    #2 There is a lot of mv, tv show and movies being made, but is there a lot of filming company’s that would accept a foreigner or even and foreigner for an apprenticeship? I’m going to college for cinematography and I really like the Korean culture, and I’m hoping to have both part come together some time in the future for me.

    2 years ago
  5. I live in the DC metropolitan area. Its pretty easy to get korean, as well as other asian foods/goods. We can get asian goods art places like H mart and G mart. lol it just so happens that my neighbors (left and right to me) are korean.

    2 years ago
  6. I’ve been listening to –pop from about 2007-2008, this makes me agree completely about new bands who are just a repeat of what has already been done! I feel that older bands have really made their name in k-pop, it was easy to tell each member individually. For example Big Bang, the ex-TVXQ, even SS501. They all had their own material. NOT THAT I DON’T LIKE THE CURRENT SOUNDS, I LIKE THEM VERY MUCH!!!
    The good old days *sigh*

    2 years ago
    • “the ex-TVXQ” ??

      2 years ago
      • uh… with Yoochun (Mickey), Jaejoong (Hero) and Junsu (Xiah), as well as Changmin (Max) and Yunho(U-Know).
        All of them rather than just Max and Yunho, that’s why I called it ‘ex’

        2 years ago
      • I guess she means when they were five, but I find that the current TVXQ as a duo has been able to rise to the occasion, and this year has brought new sound and choreography to the table. I wouldn’t say their sound at present is same kpop we usually hear. I love the infusion of old school with modern in their music. JYJ, is also doing their own thing and composing the music they like. I just hope they do a comeback before they enlist.

        2 years ago
        • yeah I agree! They’re still doing great now so I wouldn’t differentiate.
          Referring to the “ex-TVXQ” felt really unnecessary I’m sure people can still understand the meaning. Just TVXQ will do~

          2 years ago
  7. No real cheese at all in Korea ?? Nowhere ? No luxury food shop to sell some ? Damn… I think I’ll change my plans of living there … ! Le fromage c’est la vie !

    2 years ago
    • Its there, just super expensive and/or hard to find. Itaewon has shops with more varieties of cheese, you just have to be willing to spurge for it. :)

      2 years ago
      • Good to know !! I’ll try to find out some when I’ll be there in April ! Actually I’m looking a lot for great wine shop / wine bar and places for cheeses. Not that I can’t live without it but I’m a wine bar owner in France and moving to korea is on my wish list !

        2 years ago
        • Haha :) except if I’m planning to do it a business, good to know there is still a lot to do ! But maybe I’m a dreamer ? Whatever I love Korea more than I love cheese ㅋㅋㅋ

          2 years ago
        • Oh that’s awesome!! Unfortunately I’m not familiar with any good wine bars…I am no help in that regard :/ But yeah, I miss the laaarge varieties of cheeses found…elsewhere. lol I’m from the States, and 1/2 mile from my house, there is a cheese FACTORY. I miss it!! ㅠ_ㅠ

          2 years ago
  8. I’m trying to decide on where in Korea I want to teach and the big brand takeover is definitely something that makes me hesitate to pick Seoul.

    Actually, maybe you’d consider doing a TLDR video on the pros and cons of living/teaching in various parts of Korea? I know I cannot for the life of me pick between Seoul, Incheon, Busan, and Jeju.

    2 years ago
  9. send some over here – LOL

    2 years ago
    • hahahah you got to ask them!! if i could, i would rather send some awesome weather to SG. SG is lacking of good weather!!

      2 years ago
  10. I hail from the Dirty South of the U.S. in a rather small city with a surprisingly large Korean population thanks to a nearby Hyundai plant. :D (Montgomery, Alabama). Seriously, we have like hardly any other multicultural pockets, then boom, huge Korean population, most of them recently come from Seoul. So just in the last 5 years we’ve had an increase in Korean restaurants, even got our own legit noraebang which is SO FUN, and we’re about to get a G-Mart. NO MORE DRIVING 2.5 HOURS TO ATLANTA! Now we just need a Korean bakery/cafe and we’ll be set. Plus, I started actively studying Korean this past summer, and I have a ton of opportunities to meet Korean people and make friends and I even attend a Kindergartener Korean class on Saturdays lol. My handful of Kpop-loving friends and I feel quite lucky indeed. Now we just need to meet / spawn more k-lovers like us. ^_^

    2 years ago
    • I seriously have a reason to go down to Montgomery now!! I’m up in Huntsville. That sounds AMAZING.

      2 years ago
    • Ah, lucky. I’m in Huntsville and off the top of my head I can’t think of a single Korean restaurant around here. Chinese, Thai, and Japanese, sure, but nothing Korean. Though we do have an Asian supermarket about 3~5 minutes away I’ve never actually been in it.

      2 years ago
      • Huntsville!! :D Yay for more ‘bama k-fans. ^_^ Yeah, I mean we seriously just got lucky with this Hyundai plant, otherwise we’d have nothing. Stop by on your way to the beach next time ;D

        2 years ago
    • I live in East Houston and I wish I was there. The closest legit Korean/Asian market is on the other side of the city, it isn’t worth the drive (dealing with traffic and the confusing roads that look like a bowl of spaghetti thus it has been dubbed the spaghetti bowl by some locals) and it would be impossible to get frozen/refrigerated stuff back to my apartment before problems arose unless I invested in a really good cooler :'( I wish they would open one closer to my apartment but it really doesn’t look like they will.

      2 years ago
      • Augh, that’s unfortunate. I forget how big a place like Houston is, heh. Though at least your state gets kpop shows. ;__;

        2 years ago
    • Same! Every Asian here, people call Chinese. -_- Except my Dad; he calls every Asian he sees Japanese, which might stem from my love of anime… haha. But surprisingly, the people I work with aren’t like that. We work with an Asian girl, whom we later found out is from Vietnam. When we first met her, I thought that might be where she was from, due to her name. And to my surprise, my other coworkers and the girl, made it a game of trying to guess what Asian country she was from, rather than just assuming she was Chinese. I was very impressed. :)

      2 years ago
      • the only progress I’ve noticed so fat is that my mom can officially distinguish Korean Chinese and Japanese languages, because I’ve liked anime since I was like 5 and at 12 started to watch Chinese and Korean dram, a few weeks ago I was listening to some kpop and my mom’s friend who was at home that day told my mom “she’s really weird listening to that chinese music” and my mom was like “no no that’s kpop it’s korean” I just love my momma hahaha

        2 years ago
        • Haha, your mom is cute. I got my mom into EYK, and a little into U-Kiss. Not sure if she can distinguish the languages, but I can by sight and hearing. I love languages though.

          2 years ago
        • Yeah, she thinks you guys are cute. I got her watching some of the WTFs and FAPFAPs, and she thought the names were pretty funny. I got her into U-Kiss because of your videos too ( like I did! ), but she doesn’t listen to their music much. She just think they’re “handsome young men”. She moved to Chicago though, so I don’t know if she still watches your videos. :(

          2 years ago
        • oh I haven’t gotten that far xd we live in a Spanish speaking country so… she couldn’t watch eyk but she knows them she’s like “are you watching that pink haired girl and her husband again?” or “is the blue dog in that episode?” hahaha she supports me in everything I have blue hair since I was 16 and she bought the hair dyes for me (not common here) I had an awkward “I’m a cosplayer” phase and she supported that as well and she’s working in another town where there’s an Asian market and brings me random stuff to try xd, I love languages too! I’d love to learn Korean and Japanese!

          2 years ago
        • Awww. That’s really sweet. What a great mom!

          2 years ago
    • I’ve been through Montgomery a few times because I have a friend who lives in Deatsville and whose dad works at the Hyundai plant and was surprised when I saw all the restaurants around there haha I sadly didn’t get to eat at any last time I went though. I live in Biloxi, MS and we actually have a small Korean population with two local restaurants, a Korean Baptist church, and a Korean mart next to one of the restaurants that’s always plastered with drama posters. Our biggest population here is Vietnamese though because of the shrimping industry.

      2 years ago
      • Also, hey right back atcha hahaha I can’t remember what kpop song it was, but one of them kept saying “Dirty South” in the beginning, and while I’m sure they meant South Korea I always used to think they were talking about us hahaha (now I’m probably going to spend like an hour trying to find that song ><)

        2 years ago
        • Ermahgerd I need to know what this song is now too hahaha.

          2 years ago
        • I seriously can’t remember it ;_; I thought it was by B.A.P or Block B but I can’t find it. It’s driving me crazy :(

          2 years ago
      • I do love the Korean mart and R&C Korean Restaurant :) There are several other Asian marts around but the others are more Vietnamese oriented. I honestly do not go out to try authentic Vietnamese food since it’s all in East Biloxi… Mostly what I get is pho at buffets which I’m sure isn’t the same (but is still really good). I’ll have to go try it sometime – my brother had several Vietnamese friends in high school so he’s had a more authentic experience (lucky him T_T).

        2 years ago
      • Pretty sure I saw a few Viet restaurants in Itaewon… I went to a Thai/Viet fusion restaurant in Itaewon butttttttttt no go on the authenticity… A for effort.

        2 years ago
    • Haha, oh no! Well there are plenty of people here who can’t tell the difference either. But I’m doing my best to educate everyone. ;D I really want to pull a Yeongguk Namja and start finding fun ways to expose random locals to Korean culture.

      2 years ago
      • I really wish they would have shows in Atlanta! That’d be so much closer :( There have been soo many groups coming but they usually stay in New York and Cali :( Only group I knew of that did a real US tour was Wonder Girls (with 2PM opening). I’m so sad I missed out on that – some friends of mine saw them in Dallas. But, I figured out what song it was that has “dirty south” in it. It’s the beginning of F.Cuz Say U Say Me from their Gorgeous album.

        2 years ago
  11. I really love brie! (When it’s melted in a sandwich with bacon and cranberry sauce…) I’m not much of a cheese person though – or a dairy person for that matter.. The only Korean people I know where I live are the old couple who run the cafe near me. I had no idea that it was a Korean cafe for a very long time, it’s right there on the street and I’d walked past it many times but I guess it just never really stood out in that way, despite having ARIRANG emblazoned over the door.

    There are a lot more Korean people in Dublin, no doubt about that. There’s a much bigger Chinese community in the North (since back in the 60s most of the immigrants to here were from the south of China and HK) than any other minority so we have plenty of good restaurants and a few supermarkets which happen to sell Korean goods too. That’s about it, really – not much to tell :/

    2 years ago
  12. Hi, I’m from Belgium and we have a total amount of 3 Korean stores in the entire country * sigh*
    It is so difficult to find anything Korean here and the websites that deliver to Belgium ar very few and sooo expensive!
    So yeah, I like all things Korean but feel like a total K-alien here ;->

    2 years ago
    • really? I thought Korean stores didn’t even exist here. We have a supermarket in my city that sells a lot of asian food products, but other than that, Korea is far far away. I heard Ringa Linga in an H&M store recently though, which made my day :)

      2 years ago
      • there’s one in Antwerp, one in Brussels and one in Overijse ; I found out through http://www.maangchi.com/shopping/belgium (love the cooking).
        We also have a very good asian store near where we live, but they have very few Korean specialties.
        I guess it’s up to us to teach the Belgians! ;->

        2 years ago
  13. Just a heads up EYK, your videos aren’t showing on any pages I open here on the website, kind of like the blank page problem you were having.

    2 years ago
    • It’s the youtubes. I keep getting a server error every time I try to open youtube, or a link to youtube. It also might possibly be google.

      2 years ago
  14. Alright, I have been noticing a definite change in America coming from Korea in that there are far more Korean exchange students coming to my school. My school seems to be the go-to place for East Asian exchange students (the Europeans and South Americans generally go to public schools) and just a few years ago our only exchange students were Chinese. However, there has been a huge increase in Korean students, coming to study far younger than before. In this year alone, there are 4 new Koreans in the 7th grade class alone, and 1 new one in the high school, which adds up to eight. Keep in mind that my school only has 250 kids, so that is a pretty big influx. Do you know of any big changes in school policies or the view of America that may be changing in Korea that is causing this? I think it’s really awesome to have so many Koreans in my school now, I can speak a bit of Korean so they are really happy that there is someone from here that they can connect with and doesn’t see them as odd or different. ^_^

    2 years ago
  15. I live in Tallahassee, Florida and there only one Korean restaurant and store. But they both are small and have limited choices. However, recently I went to Atlanta, Georgia which has a Koreatown area and I was able to try Sundubu Jigae and it was so GOOOOD. I also got a billion (7) side dishes compared to my local Korean restaurant only gives 2. That restaurant made me want to go to Korea even more.

    2 years ago
    • If you go south, stop by in Gainesville. Garlic and Ginger is a great restaurant and the Daehan Asian Mart has so many things (even fresh kimbap). Really nice people at both places. And I know Orlando has a delicious korean BBQ place. Your pic has me craving japchae!

      2 years ago
    • i live in tampa and there is a japanese store called kolbe and also there is an oriental market ect…..

      2 years ago
  16. Where I live there’s a huge Korean scene. I do mean huge. Koreans from Korea, Korean-Americans. I guess it would help explain if I tell you that I live in a university city which is huge on diversity. Anyway, there are two Korean restaurants not even 10 minutes away from the university. I haven’t been to them (yet), but people tell they’re good. There’s another one about 30 minutes away run by some really nice Korean ajummas that I’m really excited to visit. As for the Korean stores, I’m pretty sure we have those too somewhere, but I haven’t seen or heard about them. There are multiple “Asian” stores though. And, there’s this huge aisle in our Walmart just for Asian food. I even found Shin Ramyun in that aisle once.

    2 years ago
  17. Guys, this is is POP we’re talking about. I don’t listen to pop for spiritual enlightenment or life-changing epiphanies. I listen to the songs because they are fun, catchy, and help pump me up!

    On that note, I DO enjoy it when I am surprised with some deepness in lyrics, and I DO roll by eyes when lyrics are excessively dumb. There IS a certain standard that I’m used to (I think this is similar to what you guys were saying), and Kpop has not really been meeting that standard this past year. I also agree that the a lot of the new bands are just not that skilled and seem prematurely debuted. It’d be great to see more groups with the skill and confidence that BAP had upon debut.

    But if you guys are looking for a band of friends that got together, you are looking in the wrong place. Look at the indie scene more, because you won’t find a band like that labeled as a “kpop group”. =/

    2 years ago
    • Actually I hear even indie companies are starting this trainee process thing. Except they’re not as rigorous and they train their kids to make their own music or at least their own lyrics. But they’re still indie because you know them for their sound rather than their personalities.

      2 years ago
    • I didn’t mean for this to sound as confrontational and angry as it did. Sorry =(

      2 years ago
  18. I know you guys probably know the changes in Toronto better than I do since I have only lived here for 2 years but I can tell you that like 4 new Face Shop locations just opened in the past few weeks! They are taking over the city! You don’t have to go to Pacific Mall anymore you can just go to the Eaton Centre! Crazy!!! Also I went home to Halifax this summer and found out that there are at least 3 Korean restaurants there now! I’m pretty sure for my entire life there was none, there wasn’t even sushi places until I was finishing high school and by the end of college there was sushi places everywhere.

    2 years ago
  19. There is this café across the street from my apartment that is a Korean American fusion place. They have some basic American dishes like salad wraps and things like California burgers and a lot of traditional Korean food, but the fusion food is really interesting! They have kimchi fries (French fries with kimchi and cheese on top), Korean burgers (an awesome burger with things like kimchi and a fried egg etc…), and bulgogi wraps! It’s all super yummy! And if I’m not feeling that, there is a traditional restaurant two blocks away and another one a block away from that. To sum it up, my campus is awesome. :)

    2 years ago
  20. Cheese and bread are essentials to my existence… I could not live…

    So if cheese is scarce and expensive, what are they using on their pizzas?

    2 years ago
    • You should see the video they did on pizza they’re very different than what I’m used to!

      2 years ago
  21. I’m from the Twin cities in Minnesota, USA where there is a large Hmong scene. My friend and I are hoping to go to a Korean restaurant that she enjoys soon. If you are ever in Minneapolis though, you should visit The Global Market. It’s wonderful and you will love it. You can try a camel burger (the meat is a tad dry but they serve it with pineapple alone with some more traditional burger toppings). There are also Somali markets and Latino markets besides the Asian markets.

    2 years ago
  22. I’m from the GTA, and I’m 90% sure you already did a video about the two K-towns in Toronto. I do empathize with you about how you feel about the indie shops being closed down (hyper-franchising? hyper-franchisation?), Queen St which used to be so vibrant and artsy is now almost all chain boutiques and the Annex has changed a lot too they’re closing down Honest Eds and are in the process of selling all of the signs it’s a huge land mark and soon it’ll just be another apartment building :<

    2 years ago
  23. I live in Hong Kong, and since HK is fairly close to Korea, getting Korean stuff isn’t that challenging; there’s actually a street that’s full of Korean food and items (I usually go there when I want banana milk, kimbap, or those candied potatoes…). There are a number of Korean BBQ restaurants (or just general Korean restaurants), but they’re not as numerous as the Japanese ones. Korean culture is also pretty accepted, especially by the younger generation. I’d here k-pop being played on radios, on TV (music shows), and even in stores. K-pop bands occasionally drop by as well, and I’d here people talk about Girl’s Generation, SHINee, or Super Junior quite a bit.

    About the hyper-franchization… The situation is a lot worse in HK. Besides the CD stores, malls just aren’t interesting to me at all because everywhere you go, it’s like Louis Vuitton this, Gucci this, Chanel that. Either they’re all brands, or they’re expensive watch/jewelry shop. A while back, Abercrombie opened up a huge store that spans pretty much the entirety of three floors- right at the entrance of Central’s subway station exit. For the grand opening, then even had tour buses and sprayed cologne from their building. If you didn’t know where the store was, all you’d have to do is follow the stench. As you can imagine, the rent isn’t cheap; in fact, rent anywhere is expensive in HK.

    So yeah, small stores are disappearing very quickly here. It’s hard to find them at all unless you go to malls that aren’t close to subway (MTR) exits or are farther away from the more populated areas. What is interesting is that small shops have found a way to survive to down scaling to what can be roughly translated to as “box-shops”. A person would rent a store, and then he or she would divvy up the space into many rather small square cubicle spaces and then rent those out for a certain price. That way, both parties benefit from the arrangement. It’s not the best solution, but it’s better than nothing. Usually, I find rather interesting things in the small box shops; they’re a lot of fun to shop; they’re not in the big malls though.

    2 years ago
    • Well, I know to avoid the Abercrombie…
      I remember visiting HK around 3-4 years ago, and people were excited for the (I think) H&M opening there. My mom and I were avoiding that shop because we knew that it’s nothing special if we’ve seen so many of them. I even rememer going to that mall on Lantau Island and it had all these name brands such as crocs, aldo, coach, etc., and my mom was wondering why on earth people are going crazy for something like that.

      I remember my mom taking me to the street where non franchised clothing shops are, and sold really cheap clothes. If they turn that street into a bunch of franchises, I’ll be pissed since I’m expected to return next year. I’ll also be pissed if they turned those mini malls where you have to go up a bunch of stairs in franchises…

      2 years ago
  24. I remember a video where you talked about going to a Korean or at least Asian grocery store and I started laughing hysterically. While Asian restaurants and sushi places are common enough, there is a whole one Korean restaurant in the capital city, which probably means it is the only one in the entire country. As for other stores, there are some Chinese owned stores, like maybe 3 of them, but they generally sell regular cheap stuff. There was an actual Chinese thing shop, but it closed and I am heartbroken. I loved that shop. Also no Asian markets or anything like that.

    The kpop scene is…existant. A few hundred people scattered all over the contry, but barely anything happens as a group, just individuals. But with the first anime con thingy that happened last year I can say that Asian culture is spreading here, a few years ago nobody talked about anime or manga, especially kpop. I suppose it is because anime/manga are very popular among Russian speakers here and they get translated stuff from Russia, so it is spreading. And I am doing my own part in spreading the Hallyu Wave.
    But yeah, I’m inclined to say it is more non-existant than an actual thing.

    2 years ago
  25. Credit to your husband for glaring that old man down.

    2 years ago
  26. Jackie Chan is actually pretty involved with music. I mean, it does seem kind of iffy that he wants to start a k-pop band… but I’m such a Jackie Chan fan, I’m curious to see what he would do with it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL-9l6lP8w4

    2 years ago
    • apparently these kids have been training for eight years, so who knows.
      i’ll be seeing them along with exo and siwon at jackies 60th birthday charity concert and i can’t wait to see what they’ll bring to the stage. i hope they don’t suck. plus one is apparently chinese-australian. pretty stoked we have another aussie in the industry.

      2 years ago
      • If in those 8 years of training they have been studying martial arts so they can make some bad ass music videos, I’d be pretty happy.

        Let’s hope for the best.

        2 years ago
        • Lol, according the their bios the answer is YES, they have also been training at Jackie’s martial arts school in addition to music training!

          2 years ago
        • yeah i feel you. i love dancing and very strong performances and sometimes groups just don’t bring anything amazing forward anymore. if they can come up with something awesome in their physical performances, i will be so happy~

          2 years ago
  27. First of all I totally agree with you on the new K-pop groups. There are just way too many groups constantly coming out and honestly aren’t very good. There are so many groups that it’s hard for any one group to stand out. Who can remember all of those faces and wacky group names? Not me!

    I live in Kansas so the Korean scene is nonexistent, at least where I live. The Korean scene probably only exists in my bedroom when I’m watching k-dramas or listening to k-pop. XD

    2 years ago
  28. I find that bread is generally pretty bad in Asia, especially if you’re used to eating European bread. Bread just tastes either too sweet or too doughy in Asia.

    2 years ago
    • I wouldn’t say that about Japan, though. Some of the bakeries we went to in Tokyo are freaking crushingly delicious. Had the best croissant of our lives in Shibuya. Better than any we had in Paris!

      2 years ago
      • Grrrr this thing erreased my coment. So the short version: Yup japan makes a really amazing bread becouse the go to europe to learn how to do it. I met several guys in Paris lerning also how to do the french cakes. MArtin, you might have come across this in some manga or animes.

        2 years ago
      • Oh wow, I never expect that from Japan. Will definitely try some bread too next time I’m in Japan!!!

        By the way, just to notify you guys. After posting a comment in this blog, I tried to open this URL again and I got blank page. I tried using other browsers as well (I’m using Chrome, I tried Firefox too) and I still got blank page. I can see the page again when I open this URL in Chrome’s incognito mode.

        Ninja edit: it works now on my Chrome. It might be cache problem.
        Ninja edit 2: YouTube is down too. Internet breaks today

        2 years ago
      • It is a generally accepted truth in Europe that French croissants are not amongst the best. It is more of an Austrian food anyway.

        2 years ago
  29. That’s amazing! I’m glad you found that place :D

    2 years ago
  30. I agree with S&M, when it comes to the lack of originality and creativity in Kpop. After being a fan for over 14 years, the decline in the originality of Kpop is getting steadily worse and worse. Im a huge fan of the indie scene in Korea and work exclusively with some of the top indie bands as part of my job -trying to increase their international facetime with the Kpop crowd. Their music is all self-composed, fresh, and interesting. Some of the best songs of 2014 for me came not from Kpop but the Korean indie scene. I really wish that companies, and especially fans, would take more interest in the “other” genres of Korean music. There is such a wealth of untapped talent out there.

    2 years ago
    • This is great, because I wanted to address this for Simon&Martina but didn’t know how to start, now I have your post to organize my thoughts to, so thank you. Now, the problem: What if you plain don’t like that? I love Kpop precisely because it’s produced to high heavens.
      I used to follow american boy band Backstreet Boys. They at some point sued their greedy company who had been taking almost all their money and won. That’s great, but after that their music was never quite as awesome. They have been making more and more of their songs themselves and used less and less songs from famous hitmakers. Ergo, no hits. And it’s not as catchy and I’m just not feeling it as much. I still love the Boys but haven’t even tried to look for their newest album.
      I don’t care if they make their own music, play their own music, I don’t care if they lipsynch, overuse dubstep or try to outshine other bands. I don’t care if they jump into bandwagons. I like a catchy song with pretty people who dance well and sing in a pleasing manner. Look at Orance Caramel’s Catallena. It’s produced and they are definitely not authors of the song, but that is fresh and interesting to me.
      I too get sick of sexy concepts but I’m just waiting for companies to release next singles with different concepts. But the fact that there are such things as concepts to me is amazingly fun. I hope Kpop never goes away, I don’t want underground music.

      2 years ago
      • Oh I do agree with you there. There is a “something” about the craziness and spontaneity of ever changing concepts but you can also fall into a rut of bad ideas. Some artist come out with absolutely wonderful and appealing concepts one minute and the next minute I’m looking at them and going “What were you thinking??” There is a variety to Kpop that can appeal to almost anyone (if you find the right concept/artist for that person’s musical preferences) but if your are wanting to delve into more facets of the Korean music scene, I highly recommend looking up indie bands like: Crying Nut, Idiotape, Jambinai, Apollo 18, Glen Check, Love X Stereo, Galaxy Express, Smacksoft, and so many more. There is some amazing music out there, not marketed to the Kpop crowd that should be marketed to the Kpop crowd.

        2 years ago
  31. Ryn

    I live in the US, on the east coast. I’m from a fairly large city and I moved recently to a smaller city (still a city though, decent in size!). Anyway, in my hometown and in my current location there are absolutely NO Korean shops/communities whatsoever. I know there are Koreans, but there aren’t a ton of them I guess, because my hometown only has ONE Korean restaurant =( And it’s fairly new too! Where I live now, there are no Korean restaurants. There aren’t any shops either, besides Asian markets that carry a variety of Asian groceries. It makes me so sad!! I have to order everything online.

    2 years ago
  32. There really isn’t much of a Korean scene in my country (Ireland). If you want Korean good, you have to make the drive to Dublin. The other day I made the 2 hour commute just for dakgalbi XD Lol >.> x x x

    2 years ago
    • Cafe Arirang does good food, much cheaper than in Dublin – especially at lunch time. I dunno how far you are from Belfast but it’s just over the street from me haha

      2 years ago
      • Nah I’m actually in Kildare. The reason it takes me so long is simply down to buses :/ x x x

        2 years ago
    • *le gasp!* *point* Irish person! From where in the North are you from? There is a fairly good chance we are already friends because everyone has a mutual friend in the North but… *still pointing*

      2 years ago
      • Nah I’m not >.> Are you on the kpop Ireland facebook group? :) There are a good few northerners there :) x x x

        2 years ago
        • Kpop Ireland Facebook group? *looks it up* https://www.facebook.com/kpopireland Seems like a growing crowd :D

          2 years ago
        • Yaaaaaaaaaaaay! It’s working again!

          2 years ago
        • Yeah we have over 800 members in the actual group ^_^ https://www.facebook.com/groups/190552930960899/ This time last year we had less than 200 :D x x x

          2 years ago
        • I used to be, but things just got outta hand so I left it a good while ago~ I was on Running Girl though, if they ever found the footage haha

          2 years ago
        • What do you mean by things got out of hand? O_O I was at Running girl too! :D The one during the summer? :D x x x

          2 years ago
        • Wait, the first Running Girl or the second one? I was on the first haha. Well, they didn’t get out of hand but the older members felt like we didn’t really fit in anymore. Then there was a whole bloody drama that ended up with people attacking me and others on Twitter and in the end I’d just had enough – so I left.

          2 years ago
        • Ah I was in the last one. That really sucks :/ Why did you fight? Was it just over something stupid :/ I’ve never heard any of this :( Did many of you leave? It’s really sad for me to hear; we’re such a small community in such a small country, I feel like it’s especially horrible for people to feel like the only option they have is to leave :( x x x

          2 years ago
        • They had brought up the subject of someone being drunk, and I thought she was probably too young to drink so I exaggerated a bit and said something along the lines of “Isn’t she like, 12 or something?” I think she was 15 or 16 but this girl felt very offended by that so she and her friends took to Twitter. I wasn’t hurt by it or anything, but others had been talking about how they felt the younger members were kind of.. overtaking things? There were more of them than us back then and I didn’t necessarily feel that way until that whole thing happened. And then I felt like I couldn’t post anything and that I was walking on eggshells so I left the group, though one of them apologised to me after a while. I wasn’t the only older one to leave, though, others were getting a bit tired of it.

          Running Girl was the probably one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, though :)

          2 years ago
    • Daaaaamn that’s far!

      2 years ago
      • Yeah I actually made the trip on both Friday and Monday >.> I might be crazy but I love dakgabi >..> I feel like it might be but it looks like it’s got less calories than an average dinner :) x x x

        2 years ago
        • Im actually in the same boat as you. Living in rural North Carolina, the closest Korean restaurant is an hour and twenty minutes away. Even though the food isnt that spectacular, I still make the drive every Saturday. The best, and closest, place to get authentic Korean food is Annandale, Virginia. Its a very nice Korean community on the outskirts of DC. It has a lot of great restaurants, grocery stores, and small boutiques (even a Face Shop). The only real issue is that Annadale is a FIVE HOUR drive one way from where I live. Needless to say, thats a long way to go for real authentic Korean food but I still take that trip at least 4 times a year anyway.

          2 years ago
        • I also live in a small area of North Carolina, and I have to drive about 45 minutes (no traffic) to an hour (rush hour) to eat at a Korean restaurant. It’s also never cost us less than 65.00 for three of us to eat. There is a big store in the same area that is an international grocery, so I can get a lot of Korean things there and it has a small food place inside it, but with a limited menu. Wish I could make that trip to Virginia. :)

          2 years ago
        • Let me guess: Cary or Greensboro ? haha The one I mentioned above (1hr and 20min) is in GB. I actually attend a Church ran Korean school in the area on Saturdays and after school I always hit my favorite Korean Restaurant, the Super G Mart, and grab some bubble tea from the Pho restaurant inside the grocery store. Its a Saturday ritual for me. ^_^

          2 years ago
        • Actually Charlotte (I live about an hour outside). I wish there were more here, mostly so the prices would be driven down :) You must be on the other side of NC? It would take me about 2 hours to get to Greensboro…

          2 years ago
        • 2.5hrs west of Charlotte, an hour 10 southeast of Greensboro, an hour south of Cary, and 45min northwest of Fayetteville. So, smack dab in the middle. LOL

          2 years ago
        • LOL, I used to drive to Wilmington and Camp Lejeune right down past Fayetteville back when I was a youngin’ (like seriously 19 years ago…in my twenties) LOTS of small towns through there! You and I are in the same spot when it comes to eating then, having to drive for what we love. I honestly do not know any Korean people here, there is a Korean church two towns over, but I found it by accident.

          2 years ago
        • That happens to me alot! Especially in NC. Btw, I sent you a message on FB. ^_^ Check your “other” box

          2 years ago
        • Damn, that’s a long distance! Makes me feel really lucky to live about 10 mins from Annandale.

          2 years ago
        • 5 hours?! O_O Holy crap! Fair play XD Do the shops use Korean adverts? Like posters with idols on them I mean? In Dublin the only places Korean places I know of is this really nice korean restaurant called Kimchi and a Korean grocery store :) x x x

          2 years ago
        • Yes. One of my favorite BBQ places looks like those BBQ places you see in Kdramas -with beer and soju adverts all over the walls and the round metal tables. I really love the atmosphere there. They always have Kdramas playing on the flat screen tv’s and Kpop playing on the intercom system. The food is wonderful.

          2 years ago
        • aaaaah I’m so jealous >.> Kimchi doesn’t even play kpop/k-indie or anything >.> Just music from the 80s >..> dammit >.< lol x x x

          2 years ago
  33. I am pretty sure that the changes that are happening in Hongdae are due to the increase of tourism. Cus damn Myeongdong is getting way too crowded and I rather take a hike up a mountain then go there. Brands are looking for other spots to cash in on the tourist and what other place than Hongdae? Makes me sad, the unique boutiques of Hongdae always delivered something amazing to buy that few others had.

    2 years ago
  34. I love this post so much. I’ve been in Korea for five years now and during that time I’ve moved around between Daegu, Busan, Seoul, and Ulsan. The situations in Busan and Seoul have changed a lot more than they have in Daegu and Ulsan, although the situation has changed even in Daegu and Ulsan (but it also depends on where you live within those cities). If you live closer to the outskirts in the city or in the poorer areas of the cities then they still tend to still freak out and be like “Oh look! it’s a foreigner” and they still try to do the random “hello” and try to tell you all the English they know in a few seconds, though. I remember when I first went to Daegu (back in 2009), it was less than a five minute walk to work and within those five minutes it would usually be pointed out at least five-six times “oh look, it’s a foreigner!” whereas going back to that area now, it is almost never mentioned at all. It still happens in my area in Ulsan, but not nearly as much. I think it’s happened maybe 10 times in the past year, which isn’t that bad at all (compared to how it used to be)….

    2 years ago
  35. i think it is starting to change though. if u know yg’s upcoming boyband, called Winner, they were asked to write and compose their own songs, though it has to be approved by the CEO first. and they are still considered trainees too. hopefully they will start a trend of idols doing their own thing and music…maybe even coming out independent (but that will just end up as k-indie, but pretty cool if there is more indie pop or smtin)

    2 years ago
    • And that right there is why I love YG. They allow their trainees to develop their creative side.

      2 years ago
      • That’s just YG having a “backup” group for when Bigbang enlist(SM did that with SuJu/EXO and JYP 2pm/Got7), so of course they need to be just as talented which with BB they can all write songs. That’s why watching WIN reminded me of the Bigbang documentary just without two different groups. But more singers do get a chance to write and compose thankfully. Its refreshing to see multiple members from MBLAQ, BTS, 2PM, CNBlue, Winner create music and even Lay, Bang Yongguk, Zico etc. can’t wait to hear more. Hopefully female writers get more oppurtunities. Love Yenny and LE’s songs and CL did a good job too. And i know Yuri, Seohyun and Sooyoung from SNSD have written a song and so has Hyuna. There’s amazing potential in kpop its just drowned by horrible title tracks and stupid trends

        2 years ago
  36. This happened in my hometown of Des Moines Iowa. I haven’t lived there full time since I entered college 6 years ago (hmm… sounds familiar ;) ). Every time I go back I see more and more chains and big name stores in place of little shops and restaurants I use to love! Des Moines use to pride itself on local owned businesses. There is still pride in those older locally owned businesses but it is harder and hard to start something new up in the area anymore.

    Thank fully there is still certain parts of the greater Metro area that are keeping small businesses flourishing but nothing like when I was in High School :/

    2 years ago
  37. Okay before I finish watching the video, I NEEEEED to tell you a funny story about when I was in Seoul in December. So I was in Seoul with my mum’s best friend, who is basically my auntie, and she’s japanese. But she gets mistaken as Chinese, as Korean, as any ethnicity that isn’t her own. So we were on the subway and this old Korean guy looks from her to me and back and forth again, and kind of watches us as I walked over to her and told her there were two more stops left. As we were about to get off, he comes over to her and asks her in Korean something that I didn’t quite catch. Now she doesn’t speak Korean one bit so I quickly said to the man “Hanguk saram aniseyo.” (She’s not a Korean person.) The look I got from him was remarkable because he was so surprised! Best thing ever. Okay story done, back to watching the video.

    2 years ago
    • As a similar story a friend of mine (French caucasian) was in Japan with a friend (French Asian) and they were speaking French. Suddenly an uncle turns to my friend’s friend and says “you speak French, it’s amazing!” The guy, of Vietnamese descent and who doesn’t understand Japanese, turns to my friend for translation, and my friend who speaks Japanese explains in French. The uncle was mindfucked.

      2 years ago
    • I actually had a similar experience. I was with a friend running through the k-town area in NYC. It was just when I started learning korean, so my eyes were drawn to any korean signs and I was trying to read them. As we were passing outside of a building, I read the sign out loud and there was an old korean guy out front. He looked at my friend (who is chinese) first, then saw that my lips were moving as I was reading out the sign. He looked surprised, then proceeded to laugh (in what seemed like a light-hearted way). OH YEAH BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS.

      2 years ago
      • Haha, that happened to me when I was back in the States! I was in the Korean grocery store and I was reading out the names of somethings to myself to see what they were and this woman comes up to me and says “You speak Korean better than my son!” It was wonderful. xD

        2 years ago
  38. Unless the taxi change came around in 2014 I dare you to try to get a taxi on sunday 4am from Hongdae to Heukseok. I DARE YOU.

    2 years ago
    • Seriously, before the taxi strike we couldn’t get taxis at all in Hongdae. We’d have to walk to Sangsu to get a taxi, and even then it was tough. Now, no matter the time, 3AM Saturday, 4AM Friday, no problem with taxis. But we don’t live in Heukseok. I don’t even know where that is. Our home is 15 minutes away or so :D

      2 years ago
  39. Oh Hey! When I lived in Korea, I too really missed goat cheese. But its pretty easy to find goat milk, so I started making my own! Its easy and tasty! Do it!

    2 years ago
    • I JUST found goat milk back at E-mart yesterday night (during my lime finding) so I just might try that!

      2 years ago
  40. Ian

    You create a petition for better cheese sooner than a petition for ranch dressing? Its as though Simon had no input on this at all. o___O

    2 years ago
    • I’ve got my ranch fix lately: Costco has sour cream. Add some ranch packets to it and you get better Ranch than the bottled stuff!

      2 years ago