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July 7, 2016

Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel: A Getaway Without Getting Away

Situated on the slopes of Mt. Achasan and shrouded in nature, the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel is the perfect place to escape the hubbub of Seoul.

Eager to get away from Itaewon, I packed my bags and headed there this past weekend for a bit of a staycation with some fellow travel bloggers.

Upon arrival, I realized that this hotel is particularly convenient for business travelers, as it is just a short cab ride (or subway ride, with Gwangnaru Station easily accessible by the hotel’s free shuttle) from Gangnam, the business center of the city.

Photo: Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel

We made our way to club check-in on the seventeenth floor where we were greeted with extremely friendly receptionists who informed us of all the important things we needed to know—mainly the times for happy hour and breakfast.

The clean, bright rooms were a bit on the small side but what they lacked in size made up for in ambience, as the mountain views were stunning. The bathroom was sufficient, offering a large tub and waterfall shower that looked out into the room. (A blind provided privacy when necessary.) Amenities were plenty and the free Wi-Fi made it easy to live-blog throughout my stay.

After getting settled in, my blogger buddies and I spent an afternoon at the LetsRunCCC OTB center in the basement of the hotel before exploring some of the hotel’s other facilities such as its fitness center and six restaurants, including Clock 16. This classy dining spot serves a semi-buffet, slightly different from the classical buffet style, and offers gorgeous views that overlook the Han River.

Unfortunately the pool—which is highly raved about—was closed on this visit… will have to return once renovations are completed.

We were extremely impressed with the hotel’s Aston House—a gorgeous villa that overlooks the Han River that can be rented for weddings and special events. The marble bathtub screamed luxury, and the rather luxurious furnishings provided a nice setting for an impromptu photo shoot.

Photo: The Soul of Seoul
Also set away from the main hotel building was Pizza Hill, a restaurant with lots of outdoor seating that serves up pizza and beer. (And, until October, visitors can get unlimited BBQ and drinks for two people for 70,000 won.)

Happy hour was held in the hotel’s club lounge and consisted of a nice assortment of finger foods that appealed to all palates, as well as a varied selection of alcoholic beverages. We grabbed a table at the window to take in the views and sipped on our pre-dinner drinks. Breakfast the following morning was also served here, and offered a mix of Western and Korean dishes and unlimited coffee (which some of us were in desperate need of after a long weekend of horse racing, eating and drinking).

Traditional hospitality, excellent modern facilities, a comfy room and a tucked away locale provided the perfect combination for a very nice weekend getaway. Whatever the reason for your stay, Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel will make your stay a good one

More Information: Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel

Address: 177, Walkerhill-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, Korea (21 gwangjang-dong) ; 서울특별시 광진구 워커힐로 177 (광장동,쉐라톤워커힐호텔)

Telephone: +82-2-455-5000, +82-2-2022-0000

Website: Click here for price and room information or to make reservations.

Get ThereClick here for transportation options.

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

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June 23, 2016

How to Get SHEETFACED with Korean Sheet Masks

As a model and pageant queen veteran, Sarah Oh really knows her stuff when it comes to the best beauty products out there, especially all those highly coveted K-beauty items. She is quite active on her beauty blog, Oh My Gloss!where she shares her expert beauty tips and tricks, as well as her favorite products. 

And, lucky for you guys, she is sharing some of her know-how with Seoul Searching readers. Check out her guest post below.

Hey guys, Sarah here, and today I’m going to tell you the best way to get #sheetfaced, K-beauty style!

This is a weekly/daily ritual for K-beauty lovers all over the world. The act of getting 'sheet faced' is simple. You place an essence-soaked sheet mask on your face and then resume whatever you’re doing while your skin soaks up the skin softening and brightening tonic.

That's the gist of it, but for the K-beauty enthusiast like myself there are a few extra steps to get the most out of both luxury and dollar sheet masks. Here are some of my tips and tricks to achieve K-beauty worthy skin!

Step 1: Scrub-a-dub-dub 

Like any skincare routine, cleansing is the first step. In my opinion it's the most important and tedious of all the steps. Putting a sheet mask on unclean skin is a HUGE NO-NO. Even if you're not wearing makeup, washing your face is always a must. Dirt and oil have no place in achieving glowy-dewy skin. A good clean will ensure that your skin will absorb the essence and nothing else.

A gentle scrub is a great way to prep the skin so that new skin cells can marinate under the sheet mask. I love using the Mamonde Lotus Micro Mask to Foam cleanser (13,000KRW). I don't use it every day, but on the days when I do a mask I use this first. It works as a mud pack and it washes off to a foamy scrub, so my skin feels extra clean. I would suggest removing makeup on the eyes and lips separately with a makeup remover.


Step 2: Pregame 

After cleansing it's important to balance the skin back to its natural pH, but more importantly toners can give your skin the first shot of what it needs to look and feel fresher after cleansing. In the same way pregaming ensures a fun night out with your friends, pregaming your skin with a toner before getting sheet faced will provide the best sheet mask experience!

I like to use the Eucerin DermatoCLEAN Clarifying Toner (26,000KRW) to remove any leftover cleanser that I might have missed and help my skin breathe better. Then, depending on my mood, I either apply Rose Water Toner from Mamonde (15,000KRW) or the Hanyul Red Rice Essential Skin Softner (35,000KRW). If I'm feeling super fancy that day I use the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (96,000KRW/75mL). Now it's game time!

Step 3: Get #SHEETFACED 

This is the fun part. After completing steps 1 and 2 you can reward your skin with a sheet mask of your choosing. There are hundreds of masks you can choose from to suit your skin's needs.

Here are some things to look for in a good sheet mask. First, the mask sheet itself has to be good quality. This means that it adheres well to the skin and is absorbent enough to hold the essence in the sheet and not drip off. Second, there has to be a lot of essence. Usually in the directions it says to apply the mask for 20 to 30 minutes. I usually have it on for longer and when the mask feels a little dried out, I can use the extra essence in the packet to re-hydrate it. Also, you can use the extra essence before you apply the mask and after taking off the mask. Gently pat it on your face, neck, and décolletage.

I personally like the Innisfree Its Real Squeeze Mask sheets (950KRW), Dr.Jart+ Dermask Reset Your Hydration Mask (3,500KRW), and the Mamonde Skin Fit Masks (4,500KRW). As you can tell by now, I really like the brand Mamonde.

Finding a good sheet mask can be a trial and error process, but I'd say that 98% of the time it is a very pleasurable experience. There are various types of sheet mask types such as cellulose, hydrogel, and cotton. Try out different ones to see what texture you like best.

One tip for the summer is to put your sheet masks in the fridge to get an extra cooling effect. After taking off the sheet mask apply a moisturizer or cream of your choice to lock in the moisture and essence from the sheet mask.

Getting sheet faced is as easy as that! You can do it as little or as often as you like and you will always end up with envy-worthy skin.

Don't forget to get more K-beauty tips at Sarah's blog. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram!

Words by Sarah Oh for Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless reauthorized. 

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June 19, 2016

A Day at the Horse Races with LetsRun CCC Walkerhill

Horse racing in South Korea has an interesting history that dates all the way back to the late 1800s. Going to the races has become a rather popular hobby among Koreans of all ages, and most of the most notable races are held at LetsRun Park Seoul, or Seoul Race Park.

Established for the 1988 Summer Olympics, the park is an expansive facility and is host to many of Korea's most valuable thoroughbred horse races including the Korean Derby and Grand Prix. Despite this, however, it is located a bit of a distance away from Seoul itself.

Fortunately enough, there are 32 off-track betting (OTB) centers that cater to horse race lovers in Seoul, Busan and Jeju, including one that opened earlier this month at the Hotel Sheraton Grande Walkerhill that accommodates foreign visitors exclusively.

I've always loved going to the horse races, and did so every Thanksgiving with my family growing up as a kid. So, I was excited to check out the new facility with some of my favorite K-blogger friends this past weekend.

Let the Races Begin

After checking in to our rooms at the Walkerhill, we took a group tour of the LetsRun CCC Walkerhill OTB facilities.

The first thing I noticed about the facilities was how perfectly clean and inviting they were, not to mention high-tech. Immediately upon arrival, a giant, interactive touch-operated screen allowed us to learn more about the horses, the facility and tips on betting.

The public betting lounge, which boasted big screen TVs, super comfy seating for around 40 and a concession stand that provided free beverages, was at once impressive and luxurious—not the kind of environment one might expect.

Because it is new, the room was relatively empty, but we were able to mingle with a few other expats who were trying their luck at the races. The other bloggers and I agreed it would be a great space for big get-togethers and parties.

We also had a look around the six VIP rooms which were each named and themed after a different world city. (Paris and New York were my personal favs.) These rooms, though smaller, allowed for more privacy and were equipped with everything one might need for an afternoon of racing.

And They're Off

I was surprised to learn how easy it was to not only understand how the races worked, but also how to place a bet. After this briefing, we put our newly learned betting skills to the test back in the public lounge.

There were plenty of English-speaking attendants on hand who were quick to answer any questions we had, from clarifying the details of the bets to what physical characteristics we should be looking for when the horses are walked around the paddock before the race (mainly a nice glossy coat and a big rump).

The service, we soon found, was absolutely impeccable, and the attendants' willingness to help out made us feel more confident in placing our bets. Soon we were betting left and right. Some of us won, others (including myself) did not. But considering the minimum bet was a small ₩500, it was all in good fun.

Furthermore, because we were playing against other betters rather than the house, the experience was a new one unlike going to a casino.

Despite our lack of betting know-how, all of us had an absolute blast. The novelty of the experience added to the excitement, but the venue itself was the perfect location for an afternoon of good, clean fun.

Get Into the Action

To celebrate the opening of the new facilities, the LetsRun CCC Walkerhill OTB center is offering a special promotion for non-Korean visitors. From now until June 30, 2016, you can take advantage of free admission, lunch, coffee and beverages.

Furthermore, upon your arrival, you'll be provided with a ₩5,000 won betting voucher to get you started. Be sure you pick up a program at the desk, as it has extremely easy-to-follow directions and explanations of the type of bets and betting process.

So round up your friends and experience the joy of horse racing before this offer expires!

More Information

Address: Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel Matthew Suite, 177, Walkerhill-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, Korea (21 gwangjang-dong)


January - March: Friday, Saturdays & Sundays 9am - 6:30pm
April - June: Friday 11am - 7:30pm; Saturdays & Sundays 9am - 6:30pm
July - August: Fridays & Saturdays: 11am - 9:30pm; Sundays 9am - 6:30pm
September: Friday 11am - 7:30pm; Saturdays & Sundays: 9am - 6:30pm
October - December: Friday, Saturdays & Sundays 9am - 6:30pm

Get There: Click here for precise directions

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

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June 9, 2016

I Went to Okinawa, Did Nothing—And Loved It

I consider travel and vacation to be two very different activities. I usually prefer the former, which involves integrating oneself in the culture, meeting the locals, learning a bit of history and getting off the beaten path. Traveling, to me, means attempting to blend in and wanting to leave as an altered and more educated human being.

But sometimes it's okay to go to a place and not travel. Sometimes its necessary.

Not remembering the last time I took a real vacation, I seized the opportunity to do so earlier this month over the long holiday weekend.

I impulsively booked a rather affordable plane ticket (around $300US) with Peach Aviation, packed a bag, went to Okinawa and did absolutely nothing.

In fact, this was the first overseas trip I've taken where I didn't move more than a mile from my accommodations. Because I didn't have to. And, if you're seeking a bit of rest and relaxation, I highly suggest you do the same. Here's how, in four easy steps.

Step 1: Sleep

Unlike the big cities in Japan, accommodations in Okinawa are pretty affordable. I had an Airbnb coupon and put it to good use reserving a quaint little studio apartment in Onna-son. Nao, the owner, prevented any transportation headache I may have had by picking me up directly from the airport, as I had missed the last bus.

His place was clean, comfortable and reminded me of the cute beach-themed condos I used to stay at in Destin, Florida as a kid. It had everything I needed for the three nights I was there (including some amazing coffee) but the best thing was that it was extremely close to the beach.

Step 2: Relax

By chance, I happened upon Hotel Moon Beach on my first full day in Okinawa. This huge resort is packed with facilities and exudes all the vibes one might expect to find in paradise.

I met up with a Marine friend of mine who had just been transferred to Okinawa from Seoul, and we parked it for an entire day under our rented umbrella (¥2500) on the hotel's private beach (¥500 admission). We occasionally took a dip in the ocean (which is protected from sea snakes and jellyfish by a net) or the palm-tree lined infinity pool (¥1000).

I may or may not have had a couple tropical cocktails from the pool's bar and a few cans of Orion, the local brew, that I picked up from the convenience store in the lobby. I also did a bit of shopping for local crafts, and snacks for my co-workers.

The weather, for the most part, was great, but it did rain one afternoon. When I tired of reading at the covered pool, I spent an hour at the hotel's onsen (hot springs, ¥1600).

In the end, I had the full resort experience for a fraction of the cost. And, unlike any place you'd find in Korea, Hotel Moon Beach had no crowds! (Nor was a swim cap required!)

Step 3: Eat

For lunch, I opted to eat at the hotel's outdoor cafe, which served up basics like hamburgers and hotdogs, but also local specialities like soba and taco rice.

For dinner, I did a bit more exploring (though all the restaurants were located within the five minute walk between the hotel and my Airbnb).

Because there was limited English signage, I'm still not quite sure of what the names of the restaurants were, but they all served up similar fare. Sample the island's best known dishes, such as bitter gourd stir fry, "sea grapes" (a bubble-like seaweed native to the island that pops when you bite into it) and the oh-so-amazing Aguu pork.

Just off the main street at the entrance of Hotel Moon Beach is a pork restaurant (look for the red sign) that serves up a killer Okinawan style soba with tender slices of pork and pickled radish. Try it with the Monuku seaweed croquettes. For sushi, walk less than a minute across the street to the restaurant just to the right of the "shooting bar." The sushi melts in your mouth, and the local Okinawa veggie tempura is a perfect side dish.

Step 4: Repeat

Sleep off your food coma. Don't set an alarm. Wake up when ya wake up. Do it all over again.

Okinawa has a very rich cultural identity, is fabulously lush with plenty of outdoor activities ranging from trekking to surfing to diving, and has some of the best food in Japan. Do I want to go back and experience it all? Heck yea! But do I feel guilty about not being a "traveler" on this past trip? Not one little bit.

After all, it's important to remember to treat yourself from time to time. You deserve it!

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

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June 8, 2016

Seoul's Hipster Hangouts: Sangsu

After exploring Hapjeong, one of Seoul's most popular hipster hangouts, it's time to move toward Sangsu, one of my personal favorite neighborhoods, thanks to its cool cafes, indie vibes and relative anonymity.

As the sun sets and the crowds begin to fill the streets of Hongdae, let your stomach lead the way off the beaten path.

Around the World Eats

Grab a bite and a beer at Reggae Chicken Sunshine, a popular go-to for fried chicken with a twist. Big portions are fried and slathered in a spicy curry sauce in the restaurant's signature dish. The flavors are enhanced by the establishment's decor and soundtrack, which are an ode to Bob Marley.

Just down the road is Gusto Taco, arguably the best place in Korea to get legitimate Mexican food. The tacos, which are built on warm corn tortillas made in-house, are the star item here, but the margaritas ain’t bad, either.

Leave Mexico and enter France at Publique, just around the corner. Here, fluffy croissants, ciabattas and cakes are made fresh and use quality ingredients, with a number of them being vegan-friendly (including the delectable Fougasse aux Olives). Despite being one of the top bakeries in the area, there’s nothing pretentious about this cute, casual space that also serves coffee, seasonal drinks and a small selection of sandwiches. Be sure to grab an extra baguette to take back for breakfast.

Image: Grey Suitcase
If ice cream is more your thing, go to Fell + Cole for Seoul’s most inventive. Owned and operated by San Francisco native Tristan Choi, the creamery uses all natural ingredients to make small batches of “artisanal gastronomic ice cream.”

But don’t expect just regular ole chocolate and vanilla here. Rather, anticipate adventurous flavors such as “Grapefruit Champagne Sorbet” with candied orange peel, “Hokey Porky” which has bits of candied bacon and “Lebanese Rosewater.” One taste and you’ll never think of ice cream the same way again.

Sangsu Sights and Sounds

Further into the thick of Sangu’s cafe streets is Palm Palm Piano Dining & Bar, a former piano academy that doesn’t really have many other associations to the musical instrument. What it does have, however, is an elegant, classic interior furnished with imported vintage pieces and is lit by a fantastic chandelier that attracts couples like moths to a flame in the evenings.

Fans of My Love from the Star might recognize the place as the restaurant where Cheon Song-yi (Jeon Ji-hyun) and Yoo Se-mi (Yoo In-na) chow down on chimaek, but the food here is more European-Korean fusion, and includes dishes such as pork medallions wrapped in prosciutto, chicken strips drizzled with yuzu dressing and tasty bacon-wrapped chestnuts pan-fried with rosemary.

Next door is Yri Cafe & Bar, yet another popular hangout for Sangsu’s creatives. Shrouded in an expansive music and book collection, and outfitted with inviting classic wooden furniture, the venue is a quiet, cozy hermitage where patrons can spend an entire afternoon contemplating the complexities of life. A decent beverage and bar snack menu (which includes homemade citron, ginger and quince teas) make Yri Cafe & Bar a nice, chill stop on your stroll around Sangsu.

To get fully immersed into everything that Sangsu stands for, wrap up your walk in Jebi Dabang. Filled with the spirit (and decor) of the 1970s, this neighborhood gem is part cafe and bar, part concert hall, and is entirely a haven for the city’s artists and intellectuals who yearn for the atmosphere of pre-mainstream Hongdae.

Free performances are regularly held on weekend nights in the basement, while the first floor seating provides an intimate view of all the musical action down below. It’s an ideal place to soak up the indie spirit of Sangsu, a neighborhood that has been successful in holding tight to its indie roots in a city that is constantly becoming more commercialized.

Image: Seoul Selection

To Get There: Take the Seoul subway to Sangu Station (Line 6).

Map: (Includes destinations in Hapjeong and Sangsu)

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

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June 3, 2016

A Taste of Korea's Modern Cuisine at Poom Seoul

I wouldn't call myself a foodie. I don't use pretentious adjectives to describe lettuce. I don't pontificate about the ingredients of the barbecue sauce on my pulled pork sandwich, or the perfect picking season for truffles.

That being said, I DO appreciate good food and value quality, fresh ingredients. Sometimes to an unhealthy extent (which you know if you follow me on Instagram).

Which is why I was incredibly giddy when the Korean Food Foundation invited me to join them on the 2016 Seoul Press Tour with a bus-load of other passionate travel bloggers.

Our day began with a fun and informative trek around the Seoul Fortress Wall, where we learned about its construction and renovation over the past few centuries. We walked through Naksan Park, and were treated to some rather spectacular views of the city before exploring Ihwa Mural Village, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seoul.

It had been a while since I last visited the area, and was surprised to be introduced to a new "living museum" owned and operated by Mr. Honggyu Choi. About five years ago, Choi, one of Korea's best ironware designers, became involved in an unusual project--transforming Ihwa-dong, a poor hillside village, into an artistic neighborhood.

Choi's Ehwa-dong Village Museum Project is made up of five museums: Sujak, a sewing museum; Choiga Hardware Gallery, also known as the Blacksmith’s Museum; Ehwa Dong Village Museum, which exhibits parts of residents’ lives; Gaeppul, a wine opener museum that also displays keys; and Hyewha's well known Lock Museum.

We were also able to explore some of Choi's other projects and nearby buisnesses, such as a quaint cafe set in a traditional house, and a small but inviting steakhouse. Other highlights included seeing traditional Korean wedding clothing and items that were actually used by Choi's son when he got married.

I don't know how Mr. Choi manages to keep tabs on everything. His continued efforts really speak volumes about his work ethic and his passion for maintaining the traditional feel of the once-crumbling neighborhood.

Afterwards, we were transported to Poom Seoul, a fine-dining restaurant situated on Namsan Mountain that serves up banga cuisine (cuisine of the royal or noble class) with a modern twist.

My fellow tour mates and I exchanged travel stories and bonded over our shared love of food photography as we munched on an amuse bouche of dried jujubes and pinenuts. The ambiance (and view) of the restaurant provided the perfect setting for the beginnings of a great lunch.

In no time, our seven-course mean began to arrive, dish by dish, served up with an endless flow of "dandelion sake," a semi-sweet but deceptively strong beverage.

The first course, as simple as it was, was probably my favorite. Abalone, shrimp, octopus, cucumber, pear and pine nuts sat atop a poached egg in a light citron sauce. The flavors were clean and worked well together, and the broth was a nice, cool treat after our trek in the sun. The hanu (Korean beef) and dessert platter (yuja sherbert, omija jello, and a duo of tasty rice cakes) were other highlights.

I took time to savor each little bite of the spread. The seasonal ingredients were of the highest quality, something that most restaurants fail to prioritize.

After our meal, we were able to have a quick chat with star chef Younghee Roh, who is most known for pioneering the high-end Korean cuisine trend before it gained global recognition. It was really a treat meeting someone so influential in Korea's growing food scene, and being able to sample modern Korean cuisine.

The lunch went by far too quickly, but fortunately enough, I don't live but just a short walk from Poom Seoul. No doubt I'll be back very soon.

Many thanks to the Korean Food Foundation for the wonderful opportunity!

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

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June 2, 2016

Gross or Great? 8 of Korea’s Most Bizarre Foods

Every country has its fair share of… “delicacies”… and Korea is no exception.

While some of the country’s dishes are downright scary (both in appearance and taste), others are just unfamiliar concepts to the Western palate that work surprisingly well. Nevertheless, they are all components of Korea’s rich cultural and gastronomic heritage that should not simply be brushed off.

Below are eight of them. But I must warn you, reader: these dishes aren't for the faint of stomach.

Beondegi (번데기)

If the thought of roasted silkworm larvae doesn't turn you off, then the distinctive smell will.


And to make matters worse, beondegi boast a rather memorable flavor combination—a roasty, chewy, insecty fusion that leaves one hell of an aftertaste. These little guys are also sold canned, stewed in a buggy broth. On the upside, insects like beondegi, are a high-quality, low-fat protein that can boost your energy. So much so that scientists say they could potentially be the next big superfood.

Which I suppose is why Korean parents often give them to their kids as snacks—without telling them that they’re eating bugs, of course.

Seonji Haejangguk (선지해장국)

Coagulated ox blood hangover soup. I know your mouth is watering already.

After a night of too much drinking, Koreans often cure their hangovers by slurping up spicy, hot soup. (Which, I can personally say is quite effective.) But this particular variety, which features a moldy, gray, sponge-like chunk of coagulated blood, isn’t my bowl of soup.

Dalkddongjib (닭똥집)

This little treat translates literally to "Chicken's House of Poo" which, in essence, is chicken anus, a popular drinking food among Korean “salarymen.”
Dalkddongjib is usually steamed or stir fried and is made with a seemingly harmless mix of oil, chillies and sesame seeds. The dish is a bit on the chewy side, but the flavor, I have to admit, isn’t bad at all. Then again, I guess anything is good when accompanied by soju.

Gejang (게장)

Instead of being cooked, these little crabs are seasoned in various sauces, such as soy- or chilli pepper-based sauce, fermented a bit and eaten raw. The entire creature is meant to be eaten, but the shells are still quite hard.

This dish is especially popular in Korea, and even has an entire alley dedicated to restaurants that serve up the speciality.

Hongeo (홍어)

Speaking of fermented seafood, hongeo, or fermented skate, is another one of the more bizarre—and one of the strongest smelling you will find in the entire world.

Image: Zen Kimchi

Skates, which look similar to rays, don’t urinate like other fish. Instead, they pass uric acid through their skin. When it is fermented, the uric acid breaks down into a compound which smells exactly like ammonia. The smell of this fish is so strong that some suggest inhaling through your mouth and breathing out through your nose to reduce exposure to the odor.

But, like chicken feet, they offer plenty of collagen, which might just be why Koreans have amazing skin.

Sannakji (산낙지)

Live octopus is perhaps one of the most famous on this list, thanks to its appearance in multiple travel shows, as well as Korea’s most famous movie, Oldboy. (Watch below. Really.)

When ordered, the chef will chop up the tentacles which will continue to squirm around when served. Diners then attempt to pry the bits of moving, sucking tentacle from their plates, dip them in a variety of sauces and finally revel in the strange taste sensation. Surprisingly, however, there’s not much flavor… but it sure is fresh.

Chewing is the most important part of dining on live octopus, as there have been cases (approximately 6 a year) in which the octopus has used its suction cups to grab on to the eater's esophagus, thus choking him or her to death. Who would have thought that octopi could make their way to the top of the food chain?

Boshintang (보신탕)

To set the record straight, yes, dog is still eaten in Korea, despite what the government or media says. That being said, it is not a dish that is commonly eaten, and when it is, it’s usually by old men. For "stamina."

In fact, most young Koreans are appalled at the fact that eating dog is still legal, especially considering the incredibly sad and abusive practices that are carried out in dog farming. It's quite common to see animal rights organizations out and about, protesting dog farming, and if my guess is correct, the whole practice of eating dog will be outlawed within the next decade or so.

Gaebul (개불)

Take a look at this delicacy in action. Would it surprise you that this little creature is eaten as an aphrodisiac… for men?

Gaebul is a species of sea worm whose phallic appearance has earned it its nickname of “penis fish.” If that weren’t enough, chewing on gaebul results in an explosive spray of…salt water. This is also what it tastes like. Enough said.

Is your appetite adventurous enough to stomach these daring dishes? Which would you try? Leave them in the comments below.

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

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