February 2008


Ever wondered what goes on in these little shacks? Answer: the cheapest and best shoe shine ever. I followed a friend to one and she had her knee-high leather boots polished to a high shine for a mere 3,500W–no extra charge for boots.

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Office workers will multitask on their lunch breaks by dropping off their shoes at the shack and grabbing lunch nearby. These shoe shine shacks provide plastic slippers for customers to wear while they wait outside and smoke or if they want to wander off.

This Korean real estate development company should have received consultation on their name. In America, “STD” stands for “sexually transmitted disease.” And while real estate can be a dirty business, a course of antibiotics aren’t needed after a “transaction.”

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Instead of a discount sale it’s “one plus one” at the food market~ which means you’re getting more product for the same price.

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This form of marketing applies to everything–bundle it up in a bag or use packing tape.

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Literally, there is a yellow brick road throughout Seoul.

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The modern path looks like this:

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I have yet to find the Emerald City…

My McDonalds delivers 24/7.  If I’m craving a hamburger, french fries or a hot fudge sundae, I can call in my order and this colorful scooter will deliver it to my door.  The food stays cozy in the cubby behind the driver.  As with other food delivery in Korea, there is no minimum, no service charge and no tipping.  Stateside, if there was McDonalds delivery in a big city, there was a $15 minimum and a small delivery area.  Still, I prefer to walk to this location since I’ll be indulging in a high calorie treat.

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Should you go anywhere “official” in Korea, you will not stand on line but you will take a number.  From the district office to the hospital, there will be one or more of these machines.   Each indicates which service is associated.  For example, there are two lines at the post office: one to post mail and a second for financial services.   

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Take a number to get your drivers license.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Korea celebrates with gift boxes galore.  Fancy foods are the gift to give when visiting family for lunar new year.  The stores are filled with aisles of options and ladies wearing hanbok to help you choose. 

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Visiting Jejudo means seeing dolhareubang/돌하르방 (literally “stone grandfather”) and eating seafood (해산물). The stone totem, often set in pairs, is said to aid fertility and stand as a gatekeeper for protection from demons traveling between realities.

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It makes sense that Jejudo is commonly referred to as “honeymoon island” because this fertility idol is often given to women and there are plenty of fresh oysters for the men.

Travel tips: going off season will save money but weather may limit your options, renting a car is highly recommended, buy citrus fruit from the roadside vendors (tastier and cheaper), you must visit the lava cave and seaside crater wearing comfortable shoes, and while there are lots of museums don’t miss the Stone Museum (돌박물관).

I’ll be visiting Jejudo for the first time tomorrow. This island off the southern coast of the peninsula is known as the “Hawaii of Korea.” Grown in Jejudo, hallabong (한라봉) gets its name because it is shaped like the volcanic Mount Halla. More expensive than mandarin oranges/tangerines/clementines (귤), they are a hybrid fruit that was created in the 197os. I hope to taste a good one while visiting there, the one’s I’ve eaten in Seoul have only disappointed. Hallabong (한라봉) are said to be bigger, sweeter, and low in acidity.

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