Thursday, December 31, 2009


The Avatar craze has obviously hit Korea. Mark really wanted to see it on IMAX 3D, but online tickets were sold out for a week straight. There are only limited tickets left to purchase at the theatre the day of the show. Yesterday, he went bright and early to Yongsan Station to purchase tickets. The only ones available were at 11:10 at night. So, we napped during the day and sucked it up.


The theatre is so high tech and cool looking.



We were shocked that the entire huge theatre was packed on a Wednesday night so late. We didn't get out of there until 2:15! Don't these people work?!?!

Here we are, the big nerds with 3D glasses. I ended up actually really enjoying the movie. It was just so pretty -- the forest scenes were my favorite.


300 Won Wing Night

If you haven't noticed yet, Mark and I are on our Christmas break right now. We have 11 glorious days off work. Instead of going somewhere warm and glamorous, we decided to stay in Seoul to save some cash. It's been relaxing so far, but we've also managed to keep busy.

A bar in Itaewon (the foreigner's area) has a 300 won chicken wing night on Tuesday nights. That equates to about $.25 chicken wings. Usually, we can't go since we work so late on Tuesdays, so we decided to take advantage with some co-workers and SangKwun this week.

Here's the group.


SangKwun had never been to this bar before and was blown away by all the foreigners there. Literally only about 10% of the patrons were Korean.

The bar offered many different chicken wings, from hot, mild, honey garlic, and teriyaki. There was also an "Insane" option. Everyone there thought it wouldn't be too bad since we're all accustomed to the spicy Korean food. But apparently there was true truth in advertising... everyone was dying and the pics were priceless. Here are some of my faves.




We even had to make a special request from milk... everyone was sweating and tearing up so badly.


It's safe to say we'll never be ordering the "insane chicken wings" at the 3 Alley Pub again. Despite the pain everyone was in, we had a lot of fun and it was a great way to spend a chilly night in Seoul.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Let It Snow... Let It SNOW

K: We've felt very fortunate to meet so many kind Koreans while we've been living here. Two nights ago we went with SangKwun and his friends for some drinks. When we mentioned that we love shabu shabu, one of the friends -- we failed to get his name... names don't seem very important here -- told us he wanted to treat us to his favorite shabu shabu restaurant.

So yesterday, we met him, Baek, and SangKwun in Sinchon for a shabu shabu lunch. He's the guy on the right.

We loved that the restaurant brought out a HUGE mound of fresh veggies to cook. There were loads of lettuce, fresh pumpkin, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, potatoes...

We also got some thinly sliced beef. Then we threw it all in the pot and mmmm...

It was the perfect meal for such a chilly day. When we entered the restaurant, there was just a light dusting of snow. But when we exited, we were met by some pretty serious flakes! YAY!

The streets of Seoul look so pretty covered in white.

We decided to walk off our lunch on Yongsei University's campus. That was where SangKwun's friend went to college. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering.

I loved seeing the greenery with snow.

If you look closely, in the middle is an old fashioned building. I love the mixture of the old and the new.

Here we are, a little chilly, but thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Here's me and SangKwun. He wasn't faring so well. Guangzhou, where he normally lives, is warm year round. He said he was wearing short sleeves before he boarded the plane. His teeth were really chattering!

After our walk, we visited a board game cafe for a game of Monopoly. These are essentially places with a ton of board games where you can get a little coffee or tea. Amazing idea if you ask me.

SangKwun had never played before, so it was all new to him. He did fairly well and ended up in 2nd place! Here's a shot of him planning and Baek mortgaging everything.

I don't think I've ever played an entire Monopoly game from start to finish where everyone goes bankrupt but that's what we did. It took over 2 hours!

Mark was the proud winner. I would attribute his success to a lot of hotels and some free parking luck.

I hear there's a lot of snow back in the Midwest as well. Hope you're all enjoying it as much as we are!

Christmas Day in Korea

K: This, by far, was the quietest Christmas we've ever celebrated. While we missed spending the time with family, it was kind of nice to have a relaxing holiday.

Mark's mom had sent us some Christmas morning pancake batter and syrup. (The syrup was MUCH appreciated... syrup is ridiculously expensive here for some reason.) So we got up, had some pancakes and opened some presents my mom had sent in the mail.

It's kind of strange in Korea... Christmas is nowhere near as commercialized as back home. And Christmas day isn't for families -- yeah, kids believe in Santa and get gifts, but once you get older -- the day is for couples. So the big thing to do on Christmas day is make reservations at a swanky place with your date.

So only SangKwun flew in for the day. He told us the only reason he came was because he knew that Christmas is for families for Americans... which made his special trip to Korea even more special. We met him for bulgogi and bowling. (Not very Christmassy, but a lot of fun.)

SangKwun and Mark made a bet about who would win the bowling game. The loser had to drink a bottle of soju. Here they are looking perky before beginning.

It soon became apparent that SangKwun is a much better bowler than Mark or me. Mark will be drinking a bottle of soju at a rapid pace soon. :)

We gave SangKwun a sweatshirt for Christmas and he presented us with this bottle of cognac and chocolates. After SangKwun headed home, we drank a little cognac... it made me feel warm and tingly, but it's definitely something to be drunk slowly.

Hope all of you had a very merry Christmas!

Christmas Love Letters

There's nothing as cute as a handwritten note from a little kid. We got several of them this year from our students. These are the things I plan on stuffing our suitcase full of when we return home.

Here's one from one of my 4 year olds, Brian. I can just imagine all the effort that went into writing this.

Here's one to Mark from one of his 6 year old students named Lydia. She's very cute and obviously adores him. I think there are some people who may disagree with her on the never cutting his hair thing, though. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Talent Show: Ryan and Julia

Two of my students participated in the talent show. Ryan performed "The First Noel". He did a great job. Julia ended the show with her magic act. I might be biased but I think she was the best one in the school.

A Little Britney Christmas

K: This is one of my new students in Sun. Her name is Chloe, and she's so adorable. I was so surprised when she got up in front of the entire school for the talent show and sang Britney Spears for all of us. Possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Sun Class's Christmas Party performance

K: Here are the 4 year olds performing two songs for the Poly Christmas party. They have a musical English teacher who taught them the songs. It's pretty cute.

"12 Days of Christmas"

M: My kindergarten class sang the "12 Days of Christmas" for the school's Christmas party. I was very impressed with how brave the kids were. There was no way I would have gotten up in front of the whole school and sang a song when I was just 6 years old, not to mention a song in a foreign language.

Mark wrote the part above, but this is Kim now. Mark is too modest to mention that he did EVERYTHING to get these kids ready. He taught them the song, practiced with them, found the music for them to sing to... I was really proud of all the hard work he put into it. They looked so good because they had a fantastic teacher. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Magic

K: After many children-less Christmases, Mark and I had forgotten how magical Christmas is for these little guys. We've had so much fun talking with our classes about the holiday. Man, seeing the excitement on their faces is priceless.

Today was hands-down one of my favorite days as a teacher. I spent my morning discussing exactly how the whole Santa and flying reindeer thing works with the kiddos. Check out the video to see some of my 5 year old class's Christmas wishes and their explanations of how reindeer can fly. LOVE IT!

Also, I'm not sure if you remember my video post from about 8 months ago of my class, but isn't it amazing how much they've progressed in English? It's crazy to think that this is their second language, and most of them can already read, write, and speak fairly fluently.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More visitors!

Got an email from my brother, Kevin, today saying that he and his wife booked tickets to Korea for the beginning of March. CAN NOT WAIT!!!!

Merry Christmas to US!

I know we've tried this before, but we're going to give learning Korea another honest effort via Rosetta Stone. Yesterday, we went to the mall with the intention of buying each other Christmas gifts. Over lunch, I was complaining how embarrassing it is for me to have Koreans talk to me and that I can't understand a single word. And I hate having to admit that I don't speak Korean and seeing the shock on their faces. Plus, I have two VERY good reasons to learn the language... my brother and my father. To be able to communicate with them, even on a basic level would mean a lot to me.

So we decided to give ourselves a joint gift of the Rosetta Stone.

::photo via Rosetta Stone's website::

The version we bought off Amazon over a year ago must be a really old version. This new version is SO MUCH BETTER! You can use a headset and speak and it tests your pronunciation. Plus, it came with these nifty little CD's to download on our iPods. I think that'll be a good way to get some extra practice on the subway.

Also, that class when we first arrived in Korea and spending time in Korea has helped give us a foundation to be able to use the program. It's kind of fun to realize how much we know and connecting the dots. Wish us luck!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Poly Christmas dinner

This year our director decided to take the staff out to a nice dinner for Christmas. We went to a steak buffet that had just opened in Sadang. This was the interior of the restaurant -- in the back was the salad bar which included this cheesy pasta with potatoes that was to die for.

We had not adequately prepared ourselves for the gluttony that ensued. Below is a shot (by Ellen) of the plate we received. Little did we know that they would come out with steak after steak this size or bigger... all different cuts of meat and seasonings... Since being in Korea, Mark and I have not eaten huge portions of red meat like this, and found it hard to eat this much meat in one sitting.

But we really tried. :)

Afterwards, we went with some co-workers to a bar and a Noraebang to burn off some of those calories.

It ended up being a really fun night. Hard to believe it's almost Christmas. After Christmas break, it'll only be a couple short months until we're back home!

Thanksgiving Dinner

In my last post, I mentioned that both SangKwun and Birth father came to Korea for Thanksgiving. Turns out it was just a very odd coincidence, as they had no idea it was Thanksgiving back in America. They took us to a seafood buffet, which was really good, but not the traditional Thanksgiving dinner I was craving.

The following weekend, we went with some co-workers to Chef Meili's... an Austrian restaurant in Itaewon (the foreigner area). I finally got some of the turkey and stuffing I was longing for... but it came at a price... about $36 for the meal - not including wine. Ouch! Turkey is really expensive here because it's all imported.

Here we are waiting for dinner.

The meal was plated, so what you see below is what you get. It was delicious, but kind of had me wanting seconds, and thirds...
Yeah, I was also kind of wondering where the rest of the pumpkin pie was... This whipped cream was phenomenal, though. It was fruity flavored.

All in all, Thanksgiving in Korea was a lot of fun, but I can definitely say that both of us will be looking forward to a heaping plate of Thanksgiving goodies next year back home!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Wish we were home to celebrate with family and friends, but we'll be celebrating with the other family this year. SangKwun and Birth Father flew into Korea and are taking Mark and I out to dinner tonight. Guessing we won't have turkey, but I'm sure it'll be a good meal! I'll be sure to post pics!
I am definitely THANKFUL to have such wonderful people supporting me no matter what my location! Enjoy the day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Obama does Korea!

Welcome to Korea, President Obama!

"President Lee will present Obama with the credential for taekwondo black belt holders, a taekwondo suit, a black belt and two English-language books on traditional Korean culture and food.

Obama reportedly practiced the Korean martial art for four years in early 2000s when he was the senator of Illinois.

Michelle Obama is not coming to Korea this time, but first lady Kim Yoon-ok will send her cookbooks on traditional Korean cuisine."

Do you think Michelle will be preparing a nice meal of kimchi jjigae for the fam anytime soon? Actually, if the news isn't overblown, as American people, your primary concern is probably whether or not he'll bow... and if he does, how low will he go?!??! :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Korean cooking

Mark found an awesome Korean cooking blog with video demonstrations. The host is this adorable Korean lady who lives in Toronto. She's so spunky and cute and the recipes we've tried so far have been amazing. You can check it out at Maangchi if you're interested!

The first thing we tried was kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae -- 김치찌개). It was so tasty... but I only recommend it if you can handle some spiciness.

Tonight we experimented with panfried tofu in soy sauce (dubu ganjangjolim -- 두부 간장조림) and breaded cod fillets (daegujeon -- 대구전). It was really good, except the cod had tiny bones in it. Next time we'll have to get the boneless cod.

Tomorrow night we're going to make stir fried noodles with meat and vegetables (japchae -- 잡채).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009


A lot of American holidays have gone uncelebrated while we've been in Korea, but we didn't miss a beat this year on Halloween.

On Friday, our school had a Halloween party day for the kids. All the kids and teachers dressed up. For the first time for as long as I can remember, Mark and I didn't play on the Asian/Caucasian theme. I really wanted Mark to dress up as Godzilla and stalk around the subway so I could take pictures of everyone's reactions, but Mark didn't think it was as funny as I did. Luckily, he wasn't a total party pooper and wore spandex and fake muscles. :)

Here we are ready for the day.

Then the kiddos arrived. I loved chubby little Andy squeezed into his superhero costume.

And here are two little princesses, Judy and Chloe. I swear, about 95% of the girls dressed up as some sort of a princess.

Here's Mark with the girls from his class.

And with the boys from his class.

Each of the teachers was responsible for a station. Some teachers did jack o lantern carving, some did pin the hat on the witch, and some ran the "touch the dead man's body" station. Mark and I got lucky and got to take the kids trick or treating to some neighborhood shops. It was pretty fun.

Mark got really into his costume and posed with all sorts of batmans and superheroes.

Batman even hung out with a unicorn.

A lot of the Korean teachers chose to be very scary characters. Eunice, in particular, dressed up as a very convincing witch. She stayed in character -- hunched over -- all day. Her claim to fame was making about 3 or 4 little girls scream and cry.

Then we had a teacher's costume contest. Each of the kids got a sticker and could put it on their favorite costume. There was some stiff competition between a ninja, Freddie Mercury, Minnie Mouse, Batman, a nerd, a bumblebee, and Poly student, Shrek, and a robot.

The kids must've been impressed with his monster biceps and spandex, because Mark was crowned the winner. Check out all those stickers!

The following night -- on actual Halloween -- we had a party at our apartment. We even had some international guests! SangKwun and Emily flew in from China for it.

Here I am with some of the girls.

Here I am with Emily and her little sister.

SangKwun borrowed Freddie Mercury's stache. It looks so natural, doesn't it?! ;o)

Happy Halloween!