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July 22, 2014

Budget Travel Tip: Gangwon Shuttle Service

Traveling in Korea doesn't have to break the bank. It's also easier than one might imagine, even for foreigners. Especially for foreigners.

In an effort to increase tourism in their regions, many provincial governments have begun to offer special services to international guests. Lucky us! One such example is the Gangwon Shuttle Service sponsored by Gangwon Province. This shuttle bus is a great way for foreigners to experience Korea's most breathtaking natural landmarks as well as some of its best festivals.

The bus operates on a lottery system, as seats are limited, but it seems that the masses have not yet discovered this fantastic service, as there are almost always available seats. Still, guests are encouraged to book a few weeks in advance to ensure a spot. The cost is 5,000 won ($5USD) for a round trip ticket, which is a STEAL, and the bus goes directly to the destination rather than a bus terminal like the inner-city buses do. Also, the bus departs from Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul, making it convenient for travelers and foreign residents alike. Additionally, guests can opt to return to Seoul on the same day or stay overnight, depending on their travel preferences.

I first used this service back in January when I traveled to Hwacheon for the Sancheoneo Ice Festival and once again a few weeks ago to get away from the city and wander around Seoraksan National Park in Sokcho. Although guests are on their own when they arrive at the shuttle's destination, the guides are very helpful in explaining the destinations and answering any questions passengers may have.

It seems that the shuttle has added a number of Gangwon cities and festivals to its travel itinerary from now until January 2015. The destinations change each week, which is great for those hoping to see a lot of the province. Although I'll be the first to admit I haven't heard of some of the events on the list, they seem intriguing, nonetheless. A few that stick out are Cheolwon's Real DMZ Project, Sokcho's Korea Music Festival (K-pop concerts) and Yangyang's Salmon Festival. For a complete listing of dates and festivals, click here.

Shots from the Gangneung Coffee Festival, one of the spots featured on the Gangwon Shuttle Service itinerary. Photo

Finally, there are a few tips to follow to ensure a pleasant trip on the Gangwon Shuttle Service:

- Remember to bring your printed confirmation ticket and your passport to prove your foreigner status when you board.
- Book your seat at least two weeks prior to your desired departure date to ensure a spot on the bus.
- There's no bathroom on the bus, so be sure to take care of your business ahead of time.
- Out of respect for others, eating is not permitted on the shuttle. Be sure to eat before boarding. There are a few convenience stores where you can grab a breakfast snack near the Dongwha Duty Free Shop in Gwanghwamun.
- Take lots of pictures and enjoy the beauty of Korea!

 Surfers in Yangyang, a popular coastal destination the shuttle service will include in its schedule this autumn. Photo 

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching, unless otherwise noted. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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July 20, 2014

Top 10 Attractions at Everland Theme Park

Everland is, without a doubt, Korea's best amusement park. Modeled after Disney World- albeit on a much smaller scale- the theme park consists of plenty of fun attractions that draw in more than 7 million visitors a year. With those attendance numbers, one can only imagine what the weekend crowds are like, particularly at peak times, such as summer vacation.

Which is why I was happy to learn on on my most recent visit with my blogger buddy Ken that the park is actually delightful during the week. In fact, we weren't even bothered by the scorching summer temps, as there were practically no lines for the rides. This allowed us to see a lot of the park comfortably and at our own pace. Additionally, the shuttle bus we booked with Funko made getting there easy as pie.

Still, a weekend trip to Everland is the only option for some, so these guests should plan their visit ahead of time to get the most out of their visit. Not every attraction at the park is a must-see, but there are a few that are worth checking out.

So, which are worth waiting in those long lines, you ask? I've put together a list of the attractions that shouldn't be missed below to ensure you don't miss the good stuff.

10. Everland Tree: Upon entering the park, a gigantic, 13-meter-tall tree instantly attracts photo-crazy tourists, and for good reason. Depending on the season, the tree is decorated with thousands of real flowers, ghastly ghosts, or Christmas lights and plays music.

9. Sky Cruise & Skyway: Everland is spread out over a large, hilly area that requires a lot of walking, which can be rather hellacious in extreme weather. The Sky Cruise gondola and Skyway chair lift make navigating Everland easier. Additionally, there are some nice views to be had on both.

8. K-Pop Hologram Concert: Even if you're not a fan of K-Pop, this interactive concert experience is pretty darn cool. Guests gather in a small dark room where they watch holograms of their favorite YG artists (Big Bang, 2NE1 and Psy to be precise) perform their most popular hits. The projections are so realistic that it appears the artists are actually there. Unfortunately, they are not. Too bad because TOP was lookin' fly. Check the concert times to see when your favorites are performing.

7. Horror Maze II: This attraction is particularly popular during Halloween, when classic monsters and scary characters wander the grounds of the park, but it also operates in the summer. Guests must pay an additional 5,000 won to enter, but the fee is worth it if you're into getting spooked. Once inside, navigate your way through a madman's lair before he makes you his next victim.

6. Parades: With their impressive floats and beautifully costumed characters, Everland's parades are enchanting, to say the least. The parade themes change each season, and commit to those themes well. Ken and I watched the Splash Parade last week, which featured an under-the-sea cast, lots of bubble machines and water-spurting floats which soaked the crowds, a welcomed surprise in the hot weather.

5. Beer Garden: Overlooking the beautifully landscaped Four Seasons Garden and surrounded by quaint replicas of Bavarian shops and homes, the beer garden of the European Adventure area is the perfect spot to rest in between rides. There are a few varieties of beer on tap (not just Korean beer, either!) and some tasty barbecued dishes for sale, all of which are a step up from the sub-par amusement park grub sold in other areas.

4. Amazon Express: Similar to Disney's Kali River Rapids, Everland's Amazon Express takes riders on a wild ride through caves and rapids set in a jungle-like atmosphere. Unlike the Disney version, however, guests are covered with a waterproof tarp so that they won't get too wet. How Korean.

3. Safari Rides: Everland has two safari rides. On Lost Valley, visitors board an open-air amphibious vehicle and can get up close and personal with elephants, giraffes, zebras and flamingos. Safari World has a similar concept but uses an enclosed bus to take guests into the world of the wild's predators such as white tigers, lions and grizzly bears. The highlight here is driving alongside a ginormous grizzly who quite literally walks on his hind legs along with the bus as the driver feeds him. Families and small groups can also arrange a private safari for an additional fee, of course; kids are even given a chance to hand-feed lions. For some reason, I feel like this would never fly in America.

2. Fireworks: Each night, Everland hosts a spectacular fireworks extravaganza which combines brilliant pyrotechnics, a character performance and high-energy music to impress visitors of all ages. Get to the Rose Garden at least thirty minutes before the show starts to procure a good viewing spot.

1. T Express: Touted as one of the world's coolest roller coasters, the T Express is the number one attraction at Everland. The wooden roller coaster is approximately 200 feet tall and utilizes 5,000 feet of track. At a 77-degree angle, the first drop both terrifies and delights riders and guarantees an adrenaline rush like no other. Never has any other roller coaster I've been on made me fear for my life and crack up laughing at the same time. Because of its popularity, guests should consider picking up a Q-PASS early in the day to avoid a long wait.

While the above attractions are my personal favorites, I also should mention a few that are NOT worth seeing. The Rolling X Train, while exhilarating, only lasts about a minute and is worth riding if and only if the wait time is less than 20 minutes. On Mystery Mansion, riders are instructed to shoot green targets with a laser gun, but the task takes the attention off of the haunted house props and special effects, which aren't that impressive to begin with.

There ya have it, folks! Enjoy your day at Everland and be sure to let me know which of the park's attractions were your favorite!

Carousel selfie! 

More Information

Hours: Weekdays 10:00am-10:00pm; Saturdays 10:00am-8:00pm; Sundays, public holidays 9:30am-10:00pm

Admission: One-day Ticket 46,000 won; Afternoon Ticket (4:30pm-) 38,000 won; Two-day Ticket 74,000 won. For children admission prices and special discounts, click here.

Website: Click here

To Get There:

Subway: From Giheung StationFrom Giheung Station (Seoul Subway Bundang Line), transfer to the Yongin Everline. Take the train to the last stop, Jeondae Everland Station (about 30 minutes). Then, take the free shuttle bus to Everland.

Bus: From Gangnam Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, Exit 10) walk about 300 meters to the bus stop. Take the red bus No. 5002 to Everland. (Approximately 45 minutes).

Tour: Alternatively, you can book a discounted bus/ticket package via Funko. The bus departs from Seoul City Hall Station, Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station and Hongdae. (44,000 won for adults; 36,000 won for children)

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching unless otherwise noted. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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July 15, 2014

Memebox: K-Beauty Delivered Straight to Your Door

It's safe to say that Korea has garnered a reputation for being one of the top beauty destinations of the world. With innovative and multi-functional products and an entertainment industry that constantly cranks out new trends, the world is beginning to turn to South Korea for all their beauty needs. So much so that the nation's cosmetics exports hit a record high of $1.04 billion last year. Additionally, foreign tourists flock to Seoul's cosmetic shops pulling around oversized suitcases (I'm not joking here) to load up on bags and bags of K-beauty goodies to bring back to their homelands.

But with so many brands and products to chose from, it can be overwhelming to know which are the best, particularly when living overseas.

Enter Memebox, a Korea-based cosmetics company that is allowing the world to experience the wonder that is K-beauty one delivery at a time.

Similar to other beauty box companies like MyGlam and Birchbox, Memebox offers shoppers a grab bag- er, box- of 4-8 sample and full sized products that are all sourced, packaged and shipped directly from Korea to over 45 countries worldwide. Although the products you receive are a surprise (with the exception of a few spoilers), the cool thing about Memebox is that you can pick from a selection of fun themes like "Traveler's Beauty Kit", "Girls' Night Out" and "Hair & Body." This helps to ensure that you receive the types of products you want.

After coming across the Memebox website recently, I knew I had to give it a try. Now, you may be thinking why would I do this when I live in Korea. I love getting mail, I love surprises, and I love trying new things so the Memebox concept is just as awesome for me as it is for all of you outside Korea.

And let me tell you how excited I was when the deliveryman rang my doorbell last week. It didn't take me long to rip open my Memebox: Scentbox #3 Grapefruit and oooooh and ahhhhh at the products inside.

The first thing I noticed was the packaging. The products were neatly placed in a girly pink box and included was an English description of each item and how to use it.

What did I get, you ask?

The first thing I opened was the Mimi Lauryne's Dress Perfume Mist de Grapefruit by Evas, a citrusy mist infused with grapefruit, lilac, orange flower, violet and must fragrances that is to be used on fabrics. At first, I was a bit confused as to why a fabric spray was included in a cosmetics box but I quickly tried it out on my bedding and hanging clothes in my closet and it instantly became my favorite item of the lot. I really love the light, refreshing scent and although I wasn't expecting a product like this, I'm sure I will use it more often than something like a hand cream. The bottle is quite large- 150ml- so it will also last me a while.

The bright pink lips on the packaging of the Sun Smile Hydro Gel Choosy Fruit lip masks caught my eye next. These gel-type lip packs are enriched with collagen, vitamin E and jojoba oil and are perfect for moisturizing your pout.

Next up was the Happy Fam Deo Fresh Grapefruit.  These wipes are meant to "allow you to quickly and easily refresh your sweaty, smelly under-arms throughout the daytime," or at least that's what the description promises. Although I dare not forgo my regular deodorant in the heat of the Korean summer, these wipes are nice for freshening up on a hot day. They came in especially handy on a recent hiking trip and since their grapefruit fragrance doesn't linger, I wasn't nauseated by the smell. Also, the package is fairly small (20 wipes) so it's convenient for traveling.

The fourth and final product was the Sun Killing Grapefruit Gel (270ml) by Kael28, which is said to contain more than 16,000mg of real grapefruit extracts, functions as an all-in-one toner, emulsion, cream and sleeping pack and is suitable for both facial and body use. It's soothing properties are supposed to relieve and moisturize sun-burnt skin. Because of my ultra-fair complexion, I have to be extra cautious in the sun, but despite using sun cream, I still get burned quite frequently. So, I was happy this was included, as I'm fresh out of after-sun products. However, I found it to be slightly sticky and not necessarily as soothing as my go-to aloe, but I'm certain this product will still be a lifesaver this summer.

All in all, I was pleased with the products in my Memebox and loved the grapefruit theme... a perfect scent for summer. Also, I hadn't heard of any of these Korean brands before so it was nice to be introduced to some lesser known companies and know that if I choose to do so, I can re-order the products individually from Memebox's Memeshop. Finally, the value of the Memebox is excellent.... the combined price of all four full sized products is $52 USD so my order was quite a steal at $15 USD.

Memebox is perfect for those living abroad interested in trying out Korean cosmetics for the first time as well as for K-beauty fanatics looking to expand their collection with new brands and products.

Fortunately for Seoul Searching readers, Memebox is hooking you up with a $5.00 USD discount from now until July 31, 2014. Just use the code J0G4UJ at checkout and you'll be all set.

Although my Memebox was free in return for this post, all opinions are, of course, my own.

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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July 3, 2014

Why Every Expat Needs a VPN

So you've got your new apartment all set up. You were finally able to find fitted sheets (for an exorbitant price, no doubt), you've connected adapters and transformers as needed and you even managed to put up a few pictures of family and friends back at home to make your new living space just a tad more comfortable. Yes, it's time to relax and unwind. Soon you realize your cable is limited to Korean variety shows with the occasional decade-old made-for-TV American movie you're fairly certain no one you know has ever heard of. "No problem," you say, "That's what the internet is for."

Think again.

Netflix and TV networks like ABC and ESPN disappoint with apologetic messages notifying you that their programs cannot be watched outside the States.

"Okay... so I'll just listen to music," you decide.

Not so fast. Pandora and Songza shut you down before you can even decide on your preferred playlist.

Your breathing becomes heavier and your heartbeat steadily increases. You find the strength to stand up and barely fall to the floor as your knees give out. You manage to make it to your co-worker's place across the hall. He sees the fear in your eyes and needs no words to understand your worries. He sympathetically places a hand on your shoulder and assures you that things will be fine. Soon enough, he mentions three letters that will forever change how you know entertainment as an expat living in Korea forever: V-P-N.

Photo: Gizmodo.com

In simple terms, a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a discrete network of computers connected over the internet. Individuals can use a VPN to gain access to network resources when they're not physically on the same network (i.e. not in the same country) or for securing and encrypting their communications when using a lesser trusted public network. When properly connected, an American based VPN makes it appear as though your computer or electronic device (smart phones, tablets, etc.) is connecting to a network such as Netflix from inside the United States.

This ingenuous system allows die-hard fans to watch the World Cup live as it happens without having to deal with a crummy, subtitle-less local network. They can also listen to location-restricted internet radio and check out their favorite television programs (Game of Thrones, anyone?) as they air instead of waiting for translations or rebroadcasts. And for those that are interested in watching Korean movies and dramas, they can gain access to sites like Netflix that provide an extensive selection of translated Korean programs.

There are a number of VPN services to choose from, but I recently began using PrivateInternetAccess.com after becoming an affiliate with them. I was surprised by the simplicity of the set up process using their easy-to-follow tutorials and wondered why I hadn't signed up years earlier, before I became clueless as to what's going on in American pop culture.

In addition to using a VPN to watch shows and listen to music on both my computer and iPhone, I can also rest easy knowing that my internet connection is secure, which is necessary since I pay my bills and do my banking online.

And the very best thing about PrivateInternetAccess.com's VPN service? The price!! To get to access all your favorite movie streaming sites and ensure a secure internet connection only costs $6.95 per month or $39.95 for a year.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a VPN today and you'll be thanking me when the rainy season (aka movie-watching season) rolls in.

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July 2, 2014

IVI: Giving Developing Countries a Shot at Saving Lives

Recently, there has been a number of startling cases highlighted in the international media concerning one of the biggest measles outbreaks in the US since the early 90s. We're seeing up close the effects of how a single child not being vaccinated can lead to hundreds being infected. Fortunately enough, most Americans have access to health care facilities and although treatment is costly and burdensome, the measles-related death toll remains low.

What many don't realize, however, is that the majority of those living in other parts of the world do not have such access to health care, or even have the choice to vaccinate their children. (It is believed that up to 30 million children of the world are unimmunized.) As such, the vaccine-preventable diseases typhoid fever, dengue fever and cholera affect over 26 million people annually, killing up to 300,000.

Photo: IVI

As a former nurse and medical volunteer in poverty-stricken areas of the world, this public health issue is one that I hold very close to my heart. Which is why I was honored and excited to be invited to the launching party of the International Vaccine Institute's "Choose Your World" campaign.

Based in Seoul and established in 1997, the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is the world's only international organization dedicated exclusively to manufacturing and introducing new and improved vaccines against enteric and diarrheal infections, Japanese encephalitis and dengue fever, among others, to protect the poor and vulnerable in developing countries. One of IVI’s most important contributions is the development and licensure of Shanchol™, an oral cholera vaccine, which is approved by the World Health Organization. Clinical studies show that this affordable vaccine has a higher long-term effectiveness compared to other cholera vaccines.

Photo: IVI

At the event, I had the pleasure of meeting the IVI staff, who hail from all the corners of the world and collectively possess a passion and enthusiasm for making a positive difference. One way they hope to spread the word about their organization, as well as this public health crisis, is through their "Choose Your World" campaign, which launched today.

In addition to using traditional and online media outreach, IVI teamed up with NYK Media Group to produce an entertaining yet heartwarming video that introduces not only IVI and how its vaccines are used worldwide, but also the big difference that even a small donation to the organization can make. I could go on about how well the video was made but I'll let you see for yourself. Check it out below:

So, in the name of making a difference, I challenge all of you to sacrifice that over-priced cup of coffee or craft beer and donate the $5 to someone who needs it. Like the video states, you'll be feeling loved and loving for days to come.

For more information on IVI, visit their website, Facebook and Twitter channels.

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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June 25, 2014

Muuido Island: Sea and Sand for the Weary Waegookin

Maybe it's just me but the weather has been especially pleasant here in Korea for this time of year. The rainy season is starting a bit later than usual and the temperatures, particularly in the mornings and evenings, have been enjoyable. Hope I'm not jinxing anything here.

A couple friends and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and planned a weekend camping trip to Muuido, a small island located near Incheon International Airport. The peninsula's western coast often catches a lot of flak for its less than impressive beaches and lackluster views. As we soon learned, however, Muuido is just as enjoyable as the country's better known coastal destinations and is the perfect place to waste away a lazy summer weekend.

After meeting up at Gongdeok Station and picking up some last minute provisions at E-Mart, we hopped the train and took it to Incheon International via the airport express line.  After a quick bus transfer and a short ferry ride (3,000 won, round trip), we reached the island unscathed by the menacing seagulls that flock the harbor area in search of shrimp flavored potato chips from unsuspecting passengers.

At the dock, a kind gentleman correctly assumed we were heading to Hanaggae Beach, and quite literally pulled us onto his bus. When we reached the beach, we paid the admission and tent fee (2,000 won/person and 10,000 won/tent) and scouted out a location to set up camp. There were a number of other foreign visitors occupying the tiny beach shacks near the shore (30,000 won/night) but we opted to join the mostly Korean camping area set back a bit further from the coastline.

Although I've been camping in Korea before, I had forgotten how seriously the locals take the activity and was once again impressed by the professional equipment, cooking rigs and expertly set-up tents- no, settlements- that scattered the area. Public bathrooms and washing areas were also located nearby, making the beach even more convenient.

We left our stuff at the tent (theft is incredibly rare in Korea) and let our stomachs lead us to an unassuming restaurant, where we wasted no time in ordering a gargantuan bowl of bajirak kalguksu, a salty soup of fresh clams and knife-cut noodles. We slurped up spoonful after spoonful as we watched the fog roll in from the sea.  Fortunately for us, it cleared out by the time dinner was over.


Although there are a few spots worth visiting on Muui Island, Hanaggae Beach is the main attraction so we didn't bother venturing out on this trip. We opted out of the zipline and horse rides that are offered at reasonable prices and instead picked up a few beers at the beach's convenience store, which sells everything from hiking gear to fireworks to cup noodles (a staple Korean camping snack). We claimed our spot on the shoreline and threw back a few brews as we watched nearby families build sandcastles and a good looking group of Spaniards kick around a soccer ball.

As the sun began to set, the tide began to lower and we knew we were in for a show. In fact, watching the tide on Muuido is one of the highlights of staying overnight on the island. It goes out so quickly and so far that visitors can walk out a good twenty minutes before once again reaching the waterline, which we did. The sky turned shades of purple and blue and reflected on the barely-there sea, making us feel like we were walking on clouds. On our walk back, we noticed that each step we took on the silky mud illuminated the bio-luminescent algae that inhabits the island's unique mud flats. Our discovery led us to dancing on the shoreline, and when others realized the neon glow sparking from under our feet, they joined in.


As the skies grew darker, those near us set off fireworks and cooked slices of samgyeopsal, pork belly, on portable grills. One family even released sky lanterns which floated above us until they disappeared over the mountains. Buzzed on cheap beer and the salty sea air, we turned in early for the night to the sound of a grandfather rattling off stories about the good ole days, no doubt, to any of his family members that would listen.

In the morning, we took a final walk out on the mud flat and watched adults and children alike gather in groups to dig up the island's famous clams. From the looks of things, they were doing well, as some families were hauling full buckets of shellfish back to the beach. I, however, was more concerned with avoiding the giant slugs, snails and tiny crabs that were so many in number it was impossible to not step on them.

We packed up our things, looking only slightly less experienced than the pros that surrounded us. Soon, we were off to the capital, and the real world, but felt far more refreshed than we had been when we first arrived, thanks to Muuido's famous healing mud, the tasty seafood and the culminating beauty of the Korean coastline.

More Information

To Get There: Take the subway to Incheon Airport. From the third floor, go to bus stop number 5 and take bus #222 to the Muuido ferry (the driver will announce the stop.) Follow the road to the ferry dock and purchase a ticket. From the dock, take the green #1 bus to the last stop, which is Hanaggae Beach.

Ferry Hours: 7:00am-7:00pm (Weekends 19:30) / 30 min interval on weekdays / 15 min interval on weekends

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching.  Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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June 19, 2014

Deulmusae: A Whole Lot of Penis in Pocheon

The penis. As unattractive as it may be, it has remained to be an important symbol of strength, fertility and power in cultures all the world over since the beginning of time.  From ancient Pompeii to Egyptian hieroglyphics to the costumes of modern day tribesmen of New Guinea, phallic imagery has been used unabashedly. Unsurprisingly, the penis has played just as an important role in Korean culture.

One of the more notable legends is that of a young virgin who was left by her fisherman lover on a rock and was swept away to sea in a storm. Villagers believed that a series of unfortunate events (a lack of fish and a poor harvest) was brought on by the girl's vengeful ghost. To appease her spirit, villagers "erected" a number of wooden penises to keep her content in the afterlife. Their attempt was successful, which eventually led to the construction of Haeshindang Gongwon, or "Penis Park."

Farther down south on Jeju Island, giant stone statues known as hareubang ("grandfather") can be found standing tall along the beaches. It's believed that newlywed women who touch these statues' long, broad - and extremely phallic- noses will be blessed with fertility.

Yet, there are fewer places to have a unique encounter with Korea's penis culture than at Deulmusae (들무새), a rustic restaurant tucked away on an obscure country road in Pocheon, about an hour and a half's drive northeast of Seoul. Despite its obscurity, the restaurant is easily recognizable upon arrival. In fact, it's impossible to miss the welcoming trail of jaji ("penis") that line the path to the two story restaurant and cafe.

Opened in 1996, Deulmusae wasn't always a tribute to the male member. In fact, it wasn't until a Buddhist monk visited one day and noted that the restaurant had too much female/cold energy (what we know as yin). He added that the land's vaginal appearance only worsened the conditions. After consideration, the owner decided to balance the energy by incorporating phallic imagery into the restaurant's ceramic ware. Not long after, visitors (mostly of the senior citizen variety) from all over the region began flocking to Deulmusae and soon enough, the place was covered in wood. Literally.

In addition to the ceramics, which are crafted and fired on site, phallic woodwork and sculptures constructed by a local artisan create a natural, if not blush-inducing, atmosphere. The work, as quirky as it may be, is beautifully crafted and is truly art. The only exception is the anatomically awkward fountain of a male who spurts water from his genitals in the courtyard.

Deulmusae offers a variety of dishes to please all palates, that is, if diners aren't distracted by the ever-present genitalia. The Deulmusae Course Lunch Set (20,000 won) includes corn soup, and a trio of a fried fish filet, a pork cutlet and a Korean-style hamburger steak. The meal is served with a colorful salad, rice and coffee or tea. The Haemul Pajeon (savory pancake topped with seafood) is good and conceals the plate's ceramic labia, a real surprise when discovered.

The beverage list is extensive and the patio provides the perfect place to enjoy Deulmusae's traditional teas and cocktails. The jujube and ssangwa teas are spicy and medicinal but refreshing and the Dutch coffee is an excellent afternoon pick-me-up. Cold drinks are served in cups based on diners' genders: females are served their beverages in penis cups while males are given vaginae. (Yes, that's the plural form of vagina... I checked.) Straws are placed strategically to allow for some interesting photo ops with friends or a really- like, REALLY- awkward family dinner. The city of Pocheon is famous for its makgeolli (rice wine) so try the restaurant's corn variety, which tastes especially good in the fresh, countryside air.

Don't miss out on your chance to load up on one-of-a-kind souvenirs near the counter. Deulmusae's famous hand-made phallic ceramic ware can be purchased in the form of tea cups, pitchers and key chains and there's even flesh-colored, all-natural penis-shaped soap for sale. Despite its realistic appearance, it smells like flowers, fortunately enough. Be sure to check out the world map- made entirely from ceramic willies- before heading home. And don't be camera shy- the restaurant owners encourage voyeurism.

Pocheon may be a bit out of the way, and certainly isn't the biggest city in Korea, but is definitely worth a visit to have lunch at Deulmusae. After all, it's not the size that counts, but the way it's incorporated into a themed restaurant that really matters.

More Information

Address: 700-33 Gwangreungsu Mogwonro, Soheuleb, Pocheon City, Geyonggi-go
Phone: 031-544-1001; 031-544-0070
Directions: From Uijeongbu Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), take Bus #21 (Station #08-117) and get off at World Mart (Station #40-177).  Walk about 50m and follow the yellow sign that says Deolmusae (들무새). Additionally, you can take bus #3201 from Seoul Kyungdong Market (Station #75-049), Cheongyangni Transfer Station (#75-096) or Wangsimni Station (#40-176) to World Mart Station (#40-177).

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching.  Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
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