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August 28, 2014

Sampling Seoul: A Night Dining Tour with O'ngo Food Communications

Korean cuisine, much like the country's people, is vibrant, flavorful, eclectic and packs a lot of punch. It's so diverse that it would take years to try each banchan (side dish), variety of kimchi (there's over 200!) and regional and seasonal specialty. Fortunately for gastronomes eager to sample Korea's tastiest cuisine in a limited amount of time, O'ngo Food Communications offers a number of food tours that take all the guesswork out of the search for the country's best restaurants.

This week, I joined O'ngo on their highly popular Korean Night Dining Tour, an activity that consistently ranks in the top 5 list of things to do in Seoul on TripAdvisor.  After meeting my tour mates- a diverse group of friendly Singaporeans, Germans and Australians- and our enthusiastic local guide Gemma, we hit the streets of Jongno with our mouths watering and our bellies growling.

From the get go, Gemma gave us fun tidbits about the landmarks we passed and the streets we wandered, including Galmaegisal-gil, the first stop on our tour. This street, a cramped alley of tiny restaurants, smoking grills and boisterous businessmen perched on plastic chairs downing soju, was incredibly picturesque and captured the true essence of the city.


We took our seats at an unassuming corner restaurant, the first in the city to serve galmaegisal, pork skirt steak. The table had already been prepared for our group, and the servers were kind enough to do the cooking for us, a big plus for foreigners less versed in the art of table grilling. Gemma explained how to wrap the perfectly cooked pork in mustard greens and sesame leaves, adding just the right amount of mung bean and sesame powders, salt, and ssamjang (dipping sauce), all the while devouring it in one bite.


Suddenly, the entire table was quiet as we stuffed our mouths with the deliciousness that is ssam (lettuce wraps). But, the silence wouldn't last long, as Gemma didn't waste any time in serving us cojinganmek, a "bomb" shot of Coca-Cola, soju, and beer. We were all a bit flushed and full by the end of the meal, but it was soon off to the next stop.


Weaving through Insadong's alleys, we found ourselves at a hidden tteokbokki joint. The rice cake snack we sampled was a twist on the original, and rather than being spicy, was sweet and soupy, and was mixed in with carrots and fish cakes in a soy-based broth. Although I still prefer the original, it was nice to try something new. We slurped up the tasty dish, and washed it down with few shots of maehwasu, Korean plum liquor.


We managed not to stumble to our next destination, a pojangmacha, or tent bar. Gemma explained to us that these quintessentially Korean drinking establishments are expected to be extinct within the next ten years, as the government has been doing away with them, firmly believing their existence tarnishes Korea's image as a clean and forward-moving society. (They've yet to understand the fact that they're one of the favorite places of foreign tourists and residents to experience the country's culture.)


We may have looked a bit out of place to the elderly gentlemen that surrounded us, but we were welcomed with smiles and hospitality. Despite the warm summer weather, the generous portions of dakbokkeumtang, or spicy braised chicken stew, hit the spot and was the perfect companion for the somaek (beer and soju cocktail) that Gemma so impressively whipped up for us. By this point, we had all bonded, not necessarily because of the alcohol, and were having a great time exchanging funny travel stories and telling jokes.


It didn't take long to reach Gwangjang Market, one of Seoul's oldest and most famous traditional markets, particularly popular for its food. The market was packed and scents of fermenting seafood, fried goodies and spilled alcohol permeated throughout. We were led to a three-story restaurant and were quickly served up plates of bindaekduk (crispy savory pancakes) and mixed jeon (fried veggies, meat and seafood). By this point, I wished I had worn elastic pants but still managed to shovel down a few bites. Gemma poured us bowls of makgeolli (Korean rice beer) and taught us a few basic drinking games. We couldn't stop laughing at our ineptitude to play, yet were still probably the tamest group in the entire place.


After a night of drinking games, wandering Seoul's streets, meeting new friends and gorging on the city's tastiest treats, we parted ways. Half of the group headed out to Dongdaemun for some late-night shopping while the rest of us, practically in food comas, went home. 

Overall, I was extremely impressed with O'ngo's Korean Night Dining Tour. Even after living in Seoul for five years, I was introduced to neighborhoods I had never visited and dishes I had never tried. The guide was fun and helpful, the tour well-structured and organized, and the price excellent for the value. It's the perfect tour for those wanting to make the most of a short trip in Seoul, but is also fun for long-term expats like myself looking to learn more about the hidden gastronomic gems of the city.


Photo courtesy of Chang Thuy.

More Information

The Korean Night Dining Tour runs daily at 6PM and is three and a half hours long. The tour begins at the O'ngo Culinary School, located just a few minutes' walk from Insadong. The cost is $88 USD per person and there are discounted rates for those not drinking alcohol, kids, and groups of eight or more. For more information about O'ngo or to make a reservation for this food tour, click here and fill out the form.


*Although this post is sponsored by O'ngo Food Communications, the opinions are, of course, my own. 

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

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August 24, 2014

Korea's Best Grocery Delivery Websites

Seoul is, without a doubt, one of the most convenient places to live in the world. It's a 24 hour city, with businesses remaining open until the wee hours of the morning. It boasts an incredibly efficient and affordable transportation system.  And you can get just about anything delivered to your house. Including groceries. Which is particularly handy when you live in the hilltops of Gyeongnidan like myself.

Below is a list of helpful websites to use when you don't feel like hauling around heavy bags of veggies or fighting ajumma in chaotic supermarkets.

iHerb.com

Although I live in Itaewon and have easy access to a number of international markets, I prefer shopping on iHerb.com for the price, selection of food and quick delivery. iHerb.com is based in America and prides itself on having the best overall value for natural products in the world. You can find just about anything on iHerb, from user-reviewed breakfast foods and baking items to vitamins and toiletries. One of my favorite brands to order is Bob's Red Mill; I'm particularly fond of their gluten-free bread mixes, steel-cut oats, and soups. I'm obsessed with their hearty Vegi Soup Mix for $5.37 USD which sells at Itaewon High Street Market for the equivalent of $10.69. And I won't even get started on the mark-up of vitamins in Korea.

Surprisingly, the shipping is crazy cheap- a flat rate of $4.00 USD for up to 15 pounds. Shipping takes about a week and despite the more complicated customs process as of late, all you need to complete your order is an ARC number (either yours or a co-signer's).

First-time users can use the code STJ541 to save up to $10.00 USD on one's first purchase. Be warned, however, that once you start using iHerb.com, you WILL become addicted.



Gachi CSA

Korean farms use 15 times more pesticides than those in the United States.  Scary, I know. Fortunately, for the health-conscious, there's a new farm-to-table initiative quickly gaining popularity in Seoul. Gachi CSA is a food delivery system that provides residents in Korea with trustworthy, local, organic produce directly from local farms straight to your doorstep.

Gachi offers a base basket of local, seasonal fruit and vegetables in two portions: one for couples, the other for families. The Couples' Basket contains 8-10 different items and is priced at ₩27,000 per week, whereas the Family Basket contains 10-12 different items and is priced at ₩35,000. These two baskets both have a time-frame option of month share, half share and full share (1 month, 3 months and 6 months respectively). For an additional fee, add-on options such as snacks, juice, bread and meat can be added.

Gachi posts recipes using ingredients of their weekly boxes on their Facebook page and those interested can register for the service at their website.



High Street Market

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of High Street's prices are a rip-off, but for those items that can't be purchased on iHerb- i.e. perishables- their website comes in handy. High Street has a great selection of meats, including harder to find options such as pastrami and chorizo. Additionally, High Street offers whole cooked turkeys and hams, which is particularly convenient if you're hosting a holiday party. (Just remember to order a couple weeks in advance.) They also have a good, albeit expensive, variety of cheese, which is nice for those living outside the city with a lack of access to the unprocessed stuff.

The delivery fee for orders under ₩120,000 is ₩3,000- not a bad price, considering they ship all over Korea, including Jeju Island. Check out High Street's online store here.



Waeg Farm

Located in Gyeongju, Waeg Farm is home to 7 goats and former university teacher Doug Huffer, who has made goat cheese available for purchase on the internet in an otherwise goat cheese-less country.  Each 200 gram container of goat cheese costs ₩10,000 and shipping is ₩4,000, or free if you order 4 or more containers. Additionally, Waeg Farm sells their own farm-grown veggies, so inquire as to which are available.

Visit the Waeg Farm website or Facebook page for more information and photos of their oh-so-adorable goats.



Alien's Day Out Bake Shop

Vegans with a sweet tooth will be happy to learn about Alien's Day Out Bake Shop. Opened by Mipa, food blogger and owner of PLANT Cafe in Itaewon, the online store offers tasty cookies, muffins and cakes at prices comparable to other bakeries around the city, but are made using organic, unrefined cane sugar and organic soy milk.

Some of Mipa's especially yummy goodies include pumpkin cranberry oatmeal cookies (₩7,000 for 6 cookies) and banana chocolate nut muffins (₩9,000 for 4 muffins). She also has a nice variety of cakes on sale that start at ₩30,000 and should be ordered a week in advance.

Alien's Day Out Bake Shop ships all around Korea for ₩4,000/order and delivery takes a few days. Visit the website to place your order or visit PLANT's Facebook page for more of Mipa's treats.



ExpatMart

For those looking for authentic Indian groceries, spices and sauces, ExpatMart is the place to shop. While the website offers a variety of curries, flours and varieties of rice, it also sells fresh items. Hard-to-find produce like cilantro and okra can also be purchased on ExpatMart, which is perfect for those hoping to whip up some Mexican or Southeast Asian cuisine. Additionally, halal meats are available, making this website a go-to for Muslim residents in Korea.

For orders over 70,000 won under 22kgs, shipping is free. A ₩4,000 shipping fee is charged for orders under ₩70,000. Browse the Expat Mart website here.



Happy shopping!

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


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August 17, 2014

5 Day Trips from Seoul

Korea is a rather small country. In fact, it's possible to travel from Seoul in the north to Busan on the southern coast in a matter of a few hours by KTX, the nation's high speed train. So technically, any city could possibly be classified a day trip. However, there are a few destinations located particularly close to the capital and are all accessible by Seoul's efficient and affordable subway, making them the perfect day trips to get a feel for life outside the big city. Check them out below.

Incheon

Home of the “world’s best airport,” Incheon is the port of arrival in Korea for international visitors. But its much more than an airport; it was a city of great importance in the American/UN victory in the Korean War, it was home to the majority of Chinese immigrants not so long ago and its port is responsible for ushering in the modernization of Korea as a center of industrialization.

For foodies, Incheon is a must-visit destination for fresh grilled seafood and jajjangmyeon, a dish of black bean noodles that originated in the city's Chinatown, a picturesque (though not so authentic) neighborhood of snack vendors, souvenir shops and art galleries. Red lanterns and Chinese murals decorate the streets, adding to the quaint atmosphere.

Just a short bus ride from Chinatown is Wolmido, a Coney Island-esque locale that boasts an amusement park as well as the entertaining games, performers and cotton candy stalls one would expect to find on a boardwalk. For those seeking a bit more quiet, hop a ferry to Muuido, a tranquil island of sandy beaches and hiking paths.



A friendly vendor serves up lamb skewers in Incheon's Chinatown.

Chuncheon

Located east of Seoul, Chuncheon is a city for nature lovers and those eager to get a breath of fresh air. One of the perfect places to soak up the city's natural beauty is Nami Island, an idyllic stretch of land made up of tree-lined nature paths, water-side picnic spots and nature-inspired sculptures and artwork. Rent a bike or partake in one of the many water sports available on Nami.

Don't leave Chuncheon without sampling dalk galbi, the city's most famous (and my personal favorite) Korean dish, made of stir-fried chicken and veggies in a spicy sauce. Chuncheon's Myeongdong neighborhood has a street dedicated to the dish, but don't fret about which restaurant is the best. They're all good. I assure you.



Families and couples enjoy a stroll down Nami Island's tree lined walking paths.

Paju

When I first visited Paju, I was surprised at how bright and colorful it was, considering its proximity to the North Korean border. In fact, Heyri Art Village is the definition of cheerfulness, with its quirky museums, beautifully landscaped parks and funky modern architecture. The village is also a popular filming location for a number of K-dramas, music videos and movies so Hallyu fans might recognize certain spaces and places.

If you manage to not spend all day in Heyri, go bargain hunting at the Paju Premium Outlets, which houses over 200 shops including Polo Ralph Lauren, Lacoste and Tory Birch to name a few. The outlet mall is spacious and not nearly as crowded as the stores in Seoul.



Colorful and quirky cafes, museums and galleries abound in Paju's Heyri Art Village.

Yongin

Many tourists usually make their way to Yongin, as the city boasts some of Korea's most famous attractions.

The Korean Folk Village is set in a natural environment and contains over 260 restored traditional Korean homes from all regions of the country. There is also a variety of workshops where traditional handicrafts are made. Additionally, visitors can watch reenactments of important cultural ceremonies and partake in fun activities around the village.

For thrill-seekers, Everland is an impressive theme park with attractions for the entire family. The T Express is one of the world's biggest wooden roller coasters and alone, makes the one hour trip from Seoul worthwhile. Attached to Everland is Carribean Bay, Korea's best water park complete with water slides, wave pools and plenty of areas to soak up the summer sun.

Although not technically in Yongin, but in the general vicinity, is Suwon's Hwaseong Haenggung, a former summer palace of Korean royalty. Unlike Seoul's palaces, each room of the complex is decorated in the style of the period in which it was first constructed, which makes it far more interactive and interesting in my opinion.


A woman dries chili peppers at the Korea Folk Village in Yongin. Photo

Pocheon

Like Paju, Pocheon is located rather close to the DMZ, but despite the obvious military presence, there is still a number of ways to enjoy what the city has to offer.

The Pocheon Art Valley, located in what used to be a granite quarry on Cheonjuho Lake, makes for a great family picnic spot. Interesting sculptures and art installations (including a makgeolli igloo) are also sure to be the center of all your selfies. However, if you'd like a more memorable meal, head over to Deulmusae, a family-run restaurant that serves up traditional Korean fare on ceramic plates in the shape of genitals. (See what I mean here.)

Finally, the city's Herb Island is in major need of some renovations and upkeep, but does have some pretty gardens and quaint restaurants and shops. The ideal time to visit is spring, when the flowers are in bloom. Otherwise, it's a bit on the creepy side.



Experience the grandeur of nature at Pocheon Art Valley. Photo

Other day trips worth mentioning include Ilsan Lake Park, Icheon Ceramic Village and the DMZ.

Which day trips are your favorites? Which did I leave out? Leave them in the comments box below.


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

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August 13, 2014

Ben Heine: Penciling in Seoul

Multidisciplinary artist Ben Heine has been on the radar of art enthusiasts and contemporary artists alike for a few years now. He has proved himself to be one of the more unique artists of the decade with his unique ability to mix traditional mediums to create modern, visually striking images. In addition to photography and drawing, he's also a musician.

His creativity has impressed millions and has brought Ben to all corners of the globe, including Korea. Last year, he held "The Universe of Ben Heine"- his first exhibition in Asia- at the Hyehwa Art Center. (I could kick myself for not knowing about it when it was on!) With such interesting pieces using a number of artistic techniques, he attracted a lot of attention from his Korean audiences; particularly of interest were his works featuring some of Seoul's most famous landmarks.



Arist Ben Heine poses with a guard at Seoul's Gyeongbok Palace on a visit to Korea in 2013. Photo: Ben Heine

As busy as this multi-talented artist is, Ben kindly took some time this week to discuss his art, his experiences in Korea, and what he's got planned for the future.

Seoul Searching: In a nutshell, who are you, where do you come from and what do you do?  

Ben Heine: I'm an artist best known for my original series "Pencil Vs Camera", "Digital Circlism" and "Flesh and Acrylic". I was born in 1983 in Ivory Coast and currently live and work in Rochefort, Belgium. I have a degree in Journalism and I am a self-taught person in drawing, digital photography and electronic music. My creations have been exhibited widely in Europe and more recently in Asia. My favorite art movements are Surrealism, Pop Art, Geometric Abstraction, Expressionism and Social Realism. I started creating electronic music in 2011. A documentary about my work was released in 2012.



Heine is best known for his unique, original art series that include "Pencil Vs Camera" (left), "Digital Circlism" (top right) and "Flesh and Acrylic" (bottom right). Photos: Ben Heine

Your "Pencil Vs Camera" pieces have become incredibly popular, all the world over. How did you get started using this particular and rather unique form of art?  

I was tired of separating my 2 passions (drawing and photography). I really wanted to mix both of them. This is how the Pencil Vs Camera concept was born in 2010.

Your work has taken you to all corners of the world, including Korea. What sticks out in your mind the most about the time you spent here? 

OK, I stayed a lot in Gangnam when I visited Seoul. I was impressed by the high number and the beauty of all the futuristic buildings in Gangnam... truly impressive. I also enjoyed visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace and Cheonggyecheon, where I made Pencil Vs Camera images. More generally, I really loved how the traditional meets the modern in Seoul.



Heine's "Pencil Vs Camera 76" features a dragon attacking Seoul's Gyeongbok Palace. 

Your sketches of Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Cheonggyechon Stream in downtown Seoul are incredibly imaginative. What was the inspiration behind them?  

Gyeongbokgung Palace was the place of different wars and tragedies (first constructed in 1395, later burned and abandoned for almost three centuries, reconstructed in 1867, then destroyed by Imperial Japan in the early 20th century...), this is what I wanted to express by showing the building being attacked by a giant dragon. Fortunately the building has been gradually restored back to its original form. The other creative project I made at Cheonggyecheon shows space shuttles taking off from the heart of the city. It is about underground life and new technologies in Korea.



Heine hints at Seoul's propensity for new technology by placing rockets in the city's Cheonggye Stream in his "Pencil Vs Camera - 77".



Ben Heine incorporates drawing and photography into his popular "Pencil Vs Camera" series. Photo: Ben Heine

You've no doubt inspired a lot of people with your exceptional creativity and notable talent. What else do you hope to accomplish through your work in the future?   

I really want to progress in electronic music. This is something I started 2 years ago. It's far more complex than graphic art, I hope I'll have enough time to develop new musical concepts.


Heine's talents are not limited to the field of art; he's already tackling the music industry with his original electronic tracks. Photo: Ben Heine

You can view more of Ben Heine's art on his Flickr stream and his website. You can also check out Ben's music on SoundCloud.


Words and interview by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Images by Ben Heine. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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August 9, 2014

Ideas and Tips on Gift-Giving in Korea

If you’re new to South Korea, you’ll notice the hundreds of specialty shops that dot the city streets that offer more goods and gifts you could ever hope to buy for yourself. A great way to take advantage of these amazing shops and indulge in their wares is to immerse yourself in the rich tradition of gift-giving.

Many Asian cultures value modesty and graciousness as staples of their culture, and South Korea is no different. This translates into the gift-giving culture as a wonderful way to express gratitude towards others who have shown their kindness. If you are new to the culture, here are a few tips to help your gift-giving in South Korea go smoothly.

The first thing you should understand about the gift-giving culture is that Koreans pride themselves on modesty and humbleness. Gift-giving is a way for Koreans to show respect, keep good kibun (being in a good state of mind), and show modest graciousness. The emphasis on modesty and appreciation lends itself to the way gifts are given and accepted. For example, gifts are given with both hands, and are never opened in front of the giver.


Colorful and elegant bojagi, or Korean gift wrapping cloth, illustrates the importance of the gift's appearance. Photo

Presentation and Selection of your Gifts

Make an effort to wrap your gifts nicely. Presentation and packaging matter almost as much as the gift itself. Yellow or green-striped wrapping paper is a traditional wrapping design in Korea, and you may want to avoid wrapping gifts in dark or red paper. Red is associated with unpleasantness and isn’t used in gift wrapping.

If you are sending gifts to South Korea as a thank-you or follow-up to a business meeting or visit, try using an international gifting service like GiftBasketsOverseas.com so you can send big baskets of flowers or blossoming shrubs. You can’t send these types of preferred gifts overseas yourself, and these services ensure the package arrives undamaged and perfectly wrapped with bows and ribbons.

Even though Koreans take great pride in their own culture, regional gifts from your home country or town also make great gifts for any occasion. If you aren’t sure what to get, a great resource is to search “regional gifts” on Amazon.com. They have thousands of selections of items you may not have even known exist from your home region!

If you’re already in the country and are at a loss at what to bring the hostess of next week’s dinner party, food can always be your go-to. There has been a bit of a cupcake renaissance in Seoul, and cookies, flowers and candies can be a sweet way to offer your thanks.


Gift baskets are always a safe choice for any occasion. Photo

Understand the Cultural Taboos and Traditions

In most Asian cultures, giving sharp objects is symbolic of severing the relationship, and the same idea applies in South Korea. While giving a newlywed couple a new set of expensive kitchen knives may be commonplace in other areas of the world, you may want to avoid it in Korea. In fact, you may want to stick to the Korean wedding tradition of giving cold hard cash to the bride and groom.

Many Korean holidays, like Chuseok, are celebrated by exchanging gifts. Wine, fruit and other culinary delicacies are great ideas for these holidays, but don’t discount the value of giving money for celebrations like New Year’s and weddings. Money is actually the preferred gift for many family celebrations.

As a house-warming gift, candles with a big box of matches and laundry detergent may seem odd in your home country, but they are the traditional gifts in Korea.

You may feel like there are rules for every situation and celebration, but gift-giving in Korea is really only centered around one aspect- showing thanks. Understanding the culture and traditions may make your experiences easier, and choosing what to give someone in any circumstance may quickly become second nature. So use the helpful tips, and enjoy your next gift-giving experience!


Pretty envelopes like the one pictured above can be purchased in just about any of Korea's stationary stores and are used for giving money on New Year's and at weddings. Photo


How is your country's gift giving culture different from Korea's? Leave your comments in the box below.


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August 6, 2014

Dae-oh Book Store 33 Cafe: A Place of History, Culture and Family

When I first moved to Korea, I spent every minute of my free time getting lost in the neighborhoods of Seoul. Wandering the unknown became a hobby and through it, I was able to learn a lot about my new home and discover many a hidden gem, whether it be a cafe, an interesting sculpture or a peaceful green space to sit and rest for a while.

As time went on and I grew accustomed to my new city, the neighborhoods lost a bit of their magic and I became slightly jaded. Over the past few weeks, however, I began to miss those afternoons spent in solitude and discovery and decided to get back to exploring the streets of the city. The historic district of Seochon-dong was first on my list. I had no expectations, which is probably why I was so delighted to have stumbled upon Dae-oh Book Store 33 Cafe.



Although Dae-oh is certainly no secret, it's obscure location keeps it off the radar of tourists and residents alike. Opened in 1951, it is the oldest second hand bookstore in the entire city and its worn signboard and rickety yet charming facade validate this fact. After the owner passed away, his wife, Kwon Oh-nam, decided to keep the bookstore open for business against the wishes of her family, as it was all she had left of her dear husband.

The years passed and as customers began shopping at larger book franchises and on the internet, the business suffered financially. There were times when Mrs. Kwon could only make a few sales a month. Still, dedicated to her husband and intent on maintaining Dae-oh Book Store for the sake of history and culture, she was able to keep it running. About a year ago, she and her family decided to transform the store into a cafe. One member of her family that has been particularly active in keeping the business' legacy alive is Jang Jai-hun, her twenty-year-old grandson.



I had the pleasure of meeting Jai-hun on my visit to the shop and he was eager to tell me more about the bookstore, the cafe and the hundred-year-old hanok (traditional Korean house) in which the two are housed. Jai-hun told me that at times, there were up to 9 family members residing in the small home. Despite the years that have passed, the house has remained relatively the same, and the furniture, decor and knick-knacks used in the cafe are the family's actual belongings.



I ordered a watermelon juice- the cafe's signature beverage- and it was served on a wooden tray with a map and the story of the home, and a dalgona lollipop, old-fashioned Korean candy made from burned sugar. I took a seat at a small desk overlooking the home's courtyard. Looking around, I felt like I had traveled back in time to the years of the Korean War. Hanji (Korean paper) dolls, an antique wardrobe, wooden sticks once used for ironing and black and white photos all contributed to the homey and nostalgic atmosphere.



The courtyard was just as quaint, with its old water pump, kimchi pots and chili pepper plants. Visitors can also peek into the kitchen and spot old appliances and vintage records. Attached to the courtyard is the remains of the bookstore, a small room which contains hundreds of fading comic books, text books, story books and magazines.





I noticed that there were a number of posters hung throughout the hanok indicating that Dae-oh Bookstore was a filming location for the Korean drama Shark as well as the backdrop for fashion shoots featuring modern hanbok (traditional dress). The photographs are a testament to Dae-oh's importance to the community, even today, as a landmark of the historic Seochon Village.



Jai-hun also told me that he hopes Dae-oh Book Store 33 Cafe can be a space where culture and art thrive, like many of the galleries that surround it. From time to time, there are concerts held in the courtyard and photographs and paintings by local artists hung on the walls.

Whatever the future of Dae-oh Book Store 33 Cafe may be, one thing is for certain: it will always be cherished as a landmark of history, tradition and family.



More Information

Address: 33 Nuha-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Phone: 010-9219-1349

Hours of Operation: Tues.- Sun. 11am-10pm

Website: Click here to visit the cafe's Facebook page.

To Get There: From Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul Subway, Line 3, Exit 2), walk straight for about 400 meters. Turn left onto Jahamun-ro 9-gil after reaching Broccoli Accessory. (If you reach Tongin Market, you've gone too far.) Walk 100 meters and take the second right onto Jahamun-ro 7-gil. Dae-oh will be on your left. For a map, click here.

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


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August 3, 2014

Blogger Beauty Night at Piccasso Studio

It has occurred to me that many of my recent posts have pertained to Korean beauty. I should make it clear that Seoul Searching is not converting into a beauty blog- I'm far too unqualified for that to even be an option. The reason for the increase in K-beauty posts is because Korean cosmetics and beauty trends are becoming so in demand at the moment that I have had a number of opportunities recently to learn more about these trends and products and want to spread the word on to you guys.

The most recent opportunity to crop up was an invitation to a makeup class specifically for bloggers given by Yoohwai Top to Toe at the Piccasso Studio in Apgujeong in celebration of the launch of the new global store, PiccassoBeauty.net.

Although the brand name may be unfamiliar to most living outside Korea, Piccasso is the leading supplier of false lashes and professional makeup brushes on the peninsula. They've been around for about 20 years and are the go-to product for Korea's top idols and entertainers such as Ji Hyun-chun, 4minute's Hyuna, Kim Tae-hee and Park Shin-hye. So, always on the lookout for new products and makeup tips (I need all the help I can get!) I was super excited to attend the class and meet some fellow bloggers.



After arriving, we were treated to some snacks and wine and got to know one another before the class began. Soon enough, our teacher walked us through the entire process of applying everyday makeup- from how to cover up those pesky under-eye circles to ways to make our noses look thinner and 'higher', a beauty feature coveted by Koreans.



The last bit of the instruction, and the part I was most looking forward to, was a tutorial on how to apply false eyelashes. Although I had attempted the feat before, I had never done so successfully. As such, I never bother with wearing them, even on special occasions, as I'd rather not take the risk of them falling off halfway through the night or gluing them on crooked. I learned, however, that the process is actually a lot easier than I imagined... the application just takes some patience and practice.



After the instruction, we split up into groups and were told how to improve our personal makeup look. We were also given the chance to put the eyelashes on ourselves and although mine weren't perfect, they weren't terrible, either. Picasso's eyeMe lashes made a big difference- I did in fact look more glamorous and feminine than when I first walked through the studio doors. Additionally, the lashes were very natural. Maybe I will give false lashes a second chance after all.



Piccasso was kind enough to send all of us home with one of their foundation brushes, a brush pouch, four sets of eyeMe eyelashes and a bottle of wine. Though I probably won't be drinking it before I put my makeup on. Fortunately for you, I'm not the only lucky one here!



PiccassoBeauty.net is offering all Seoul Searching readers a 5% discount on all of your online purchases. All you have to do is enter the coupon code 'seoulsearching' at check out to receive your discount. Additionally, you can get free shipping on all orders over $70USD until August 14th. Don't miss out and find out for yourself why Korea's top beauty icons choose Piccassco.

For additional information on Piccasso, check out their blog and Facebook page.

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

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