Bread options are getting better in Korea but it was still hard to find English muffins outside of American fast food retailers (McD, Dunkins). Nearly tempted to try baking my own, they magically appeared at E-Mart. They come whole (not pre-cut) and are quite tasty, unlike other Shany products. Look for them, sold four for 1,400W (less than $1.40 USD).

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Here’s a picture of our little tree (less than 22 inches tall). It was purchased at Daiso for 3,000w, the silver and gold balls came in a pack for 2,000w, the candy canes are handmade, the garland is a re-purposed styrofoam pouch, the star was made using part of  a kitchen sponge, and the tree skirt is actually an artfully clipped pillow cover.

It’s Halloween this weekend and this is the extent of the display at my local E-Mart. Thankfully I have thoughtful family and  friends who sent us cute baby costumes and candy corn in the mail.


Happy Halloween!

At the bookstore the other day, the children’s section featured this book:


It’s the Korean translation of Barack by Jonah Winter, illustrated by A.G. Ford and this title literally translates to “I want to be the hope of the world.”

We had a hankering for budae jjigae/부대찌개 or “army base stew” yesterday. It is a hodge podge stew made from what could be scavenged from US Army base trash during the Korean War when food was scarce. The soup base is spicy hot (made using gochu jang/고추장) with contents including sliced frankfurters, chunks of canned ham, scallions, onion, beans, cut corn, peas, tofu, ramen noodles and even a slice of American cheese. It is affordable, fun (boiled at the table) and seems appropriate to eat in light of the current economic downturn.


The lesson learned while dining out was this: if you have a baby, beware of ajumas/아주마. The waitress dropped in the ramen noodles and then walked off with my baby. We were dumbfounded and had to demand him back. My husband taught me this essential phrase: eggy manjy jimah say yo (please don’t touch the baby)…you have to say this more often than you think in Korea.

Serving sizes are smaller in Korea.  It is best demonstrated in soda cans. The fat, wide can is the standard American size. The tall and short thin cans are found here…none has more than 100 kcal…which worried me ~ is it one thousand times more?? No, a kcal is the same as a calorie.


If you’re interested in touring the DMZ with or without visiting guests, sign up through the USO (  They offer the most affordable day trip ($46 USD versus +90,000W) and they get the most access because of their close ties with South Korean military.  Plus, the guide spoke pretty good English.


Photo opportunity at the DMZ.

As an American citizen of Korean descent married to a Korean National, I have two visa options:  F-4 visas are for overseas Koreans. F-2 visas are for spouses of Korean Nationals.  Each costs approximately 30,000W and requires renewal every two years.  Not sure which category to file under, I asked the immigration officer.  TIP:  F-4 visa holders may exit and enter South Korea at will. F-2 visa holders must file any overseas trips with the Seoul Immigration Office.


We spent most of the day trying to find this building (on the outskirts of Seoul), looking for parking (lot was full and streets are one-way) and waiting for service (nearly 2 hours ~ it is said to be shorter in the morning).


BTW: Gyopos need proper documentation of their English names along with their Korean Family Registry. This is the common problem when processing F-4 visas (e.g.: demonstrate how Kim Chul-Soo = Charles Kim).


The comment box at the immigration office must hold more “Unkindness” than “Kindness” based on the remaining slips.

The new baby can have dual citizenship because baby mama is a U.S. citizen and baby daddy is a Korean national.  The U.S. Embassy requires a lot of evidence to convey citizenship to a baby born abroad.  We had to present my U.S. passport, the baby’s birth certificate in English and proof of my U.S. residency for a minimum of 5 years ~ something I never thought I’d need to prove.  They will accept tax returns or college transcripts.  Then there are three lengthy forms to fill out (for citizenship, for passport, for Social Security number).  A photograph of the baby with eyes open and no parental hands visible is also required.  The biggest hurdle is the time frame ~ you must gather all the documents and the entire family has to physically go to the U.S. Embassy within 30 days of the baby’s birth ~ to satisfy visa requirements.


Tips:  * Bring your college transcript if you plan on a lengthy stay in Korea.  Employers and the U.S. Embassy will find some reason to ask for it.

* Photo of baby: set him down on a white blanket and take the picture from up above.

* Pay the delivery service fee (6,000 W) and let the packet come to your home in under 2 weeks.

* The U.S. Embassy does not accept personal checks, bring US dollars or a major credit card to pay the processing fee of $150.

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