Korean Book Review: The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness

the girl who wrote lonelinessA while back I reviewed the popular Korean novel Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung Sook. This time I read the English translation of her next novel The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness. This book was published in English last year but was actually written before Please Look After Mom.

The protagonist is now a successful writer in her 30s, but she reflects back to the time when she was a poor teenager working in a factory in Seoul. She lived with other family members in cramped conditions where everyone struggled to make ends meet. Continue reading “Korean Book Review: The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness” »

Hot Springs in Korea


I love going to hot springs. I’m not talking about the hotel resorts with communal water spas where everyone has to wear a swimming costume and there are water slides and lots of ‘family fun’ involving rubber dinghies, arm bands and floats. In fact, call me grumpy, but anywhere that advertises itself as ‘family friendly’ makes me turn and run screaming for the hills. No, my ideal water-related getaway would be a quiet (preferably empty of fellow bathers, but that’s asking a lot) hot spring (men and women separate) with various baths offering a range of health benefits. Continue reading “Hot Springs in Korea” »

onyang hot spring town


For a trip away from Seoul, Onyang hot spring town is only a couple of hours away. It’s possible to get there by subway (line number 1 to Onyang Oncheon Station) making it a popular day trip for Seoul’s pensioners who can travel on the subway for free! Onyang is in Chuncheongnamdo province and is the oldest hot spring town in Korea. It’s where the Joseon kings went to relax and get away from the stress of the capital and restore their health. It’s other claim to fame is that the famous Admiral Yi Sun Sin grew up in nearby Asan so there is a large shrine dedicated to him that’s worth visiting too.

Continue reading “onyang hot spring town” »

The Growing Popularity of the Doshirak Korean Lunch Box

paek Jong Won

During lunch hour in the business areas of Seoul, the local shikdangs are packed with office workers. Eating out is pretty reasonable, but prices have been going up and people are looking for cheaper lunch options. So we have seen the rise of the doshirak lunch box.

Some diligent office workers manage to make their own doshirak at home every morning. A homemade lunch is probably healthier and definitely more convenient since you don’t have to go out and find somewhere to eat every day. So Mr. Kim recently announced that he too would like to take a doshirak for lunch. But since he isn’t diligent, I have to make it for him …


I bought a very snazzy (and expensive) Japanese thermos bento box with three containers one for soup, one for rice, and one for all those ‘delicious side dishes’ (leftovers in the fridge). And now I have entered the interesting world of doshirak culture. Continue reading “The Growing Popularity of the Doshirak Korean Lunch Box” »

Korean film review: The Throne 2015

the throneI just watched the beautifully made and moving film The Throne (Sado 사도) directed by Lee Joon ik. (he also directed one of the most popular Korean films King and the Clown 2005)

The film is set in the late 18th century of the Joseon Royal Court during the final 8 days of Crown Prince Sado’s life which he spent dying in a rice chest with no food or drink and little air. The film stars Song Kang Ho as the strict King Yeongjo and Yoo Ah In as the Crown Prince whose fate was to die on the command of his own father. The film was one of the top films in Korea in 2015 and was the country’s submission for best foreign film at this year’s Oscars.  Continue reading “Korean film review: The Throne 2015” »

Yi San Review (MBC 2007)

Yi San MBCSo I’ve just finished watching the marathon of 77 episodes of the drama Yi San (MBC 2007). The drama is based on the late Joseon king, Jeongjo (r.1776-1800) who along with his grandfather King Yeongjo (r.1724-1776) is considered to be one of the most successful kings of the Joseon period.

In a nutshell the drama is about the struggles of the king as he tries to modernise and reform his government and country while constantly under the threat of assassination from enemies in his own government. He has to deal with betrayal from members of his own family. But there’s romance too between Yi San and Song Yeon, his childhood friend, who eventually becomes his concubine Ui Bin. Here are my thoughts on the drama and my 3 favourite scenes.  Continue reading “Yi San Review (MBC 2007)” »

2016 Year of the Monkey

japsangThis year is the Year of the red monkey (Fire Monkey), the 9th animal in the zodiac. And people born in the year of the monkey (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004) are said to be intelligent, witty, curious and playful.

So monkeys have pretty good personality traits. But not all the animal signs are considered equal – some are more popular than others, with the Dragon said to be the best of all (fertility rates in China tend to go up in the year of the dragon) Continue reading “2016 Year of the Monkey” »