Is this the essential Korean gift?

deer tissue holder

As Christmas approaches I’m still on the hunt for last minute gifts and I think I’ve found a winner. People must get through quite a lot of toilet paper or toilet tissue (sounds better) in Korea, because toilet tissue is not just found in the bathroom… It can be found in restaurants, around the house and office and can even be given as gifts. But a roll on its own is not very glamorous. So welcome to The ‘Reindeer Safari Tissue Holder‘. I think this could be the perfect gift and it really makes me smile. :) Continue reading “Is this the essential Korean gift?” »

Mid Joseon Kings in Sageuk Drama (1494 – 1649) YEONSANGUN to KING INJO


Yeonsangun (r. 1494 -1506), King Jungjong (r.1506-1544),King Injong (r. 1544-1545)
King Myeongjong (r.1545-1567); King Seonjo (r.1567-1608); Gwanghaegun (r.1608-1623); King Injo (r.1623-1649)

Wang-ui namja (2005) Posterking JungjongKing Injong
Mandate of Heavenheojun5705goddess_of_fire-king injong

In this post I’ll take a look of each of the kings of the mid-Joseon period with the help of the film King and the Clown (2005), and the dramas Dae Jang Geum (MBC 2003), Mandate of Heaven: The Fugitive of Joseon (KBS 2013) Heojun (MBC 2000), Jung Yi: Goddess of Fire (MBC 2013), and War of Flowers (JTBC 2013). For other posts related to this topic see my post on Overview of Early Joseon Kings and Joseon Kings Overview

This period lasted just over 150 years with 7 kings. We start with the troubled and tyrannical Yeonsangun who was violent and cruel and caused huge hardship for his people by taxing them heavily to pay for his lavish lifestyle. And we end with the weak and indecisive King Injo whose lack of diplomatic skills leaves him struggling with the Qing Dynasty and the Manchu wars. Continue reading “Mid Joseon Kings in Sageuk Drama (1494 – 1649) YEONSANGUN to KING INJO” »

10 Korean gift ideas to send home for Christmas


The Christmas shopping season is here again. But when I’m looking for small gifts or stocking fillers that are unusual or only available in Korea, it’s not always easy to know what to get. I get overwhelmed in the large markets like Namdaemun and I do more and more shopping online these days, but I also have a few favourite places I like to browse every year for gifts: the stationery and gift section of YP Bookshops and Kyobo bookshops; Alpha Stationery shop (Myeongdong branch is the biggest), Hangaram Stationery Shop in Express Bus Terminal, the National Museum of Korea gift shop, and of course the local supermarkets have stuff to offer depending on what you’re looking for.

Here are ten small items I chose – some are practical, some traditional, others cute or just quirky or just for fun for stocking fillers or hamper goodies. (SPOILER Alert for any family members who may be reading this post ;) ) Continue reading “10 Korean gift ideas to send home for Christmas” »

Where can I buy ingredients to bake Christmas goodies in Seoul? In Baking Street!

bangsan market

Kim Sam Soon, the cute, chubby pastry chef from the drama My Name is Kim Sam Soon (MBC 2005), welcomed me into a shop in Baking Street in Bangsan Market when I went on my hunt for ingredients to make festive goodies.  With Christmas coming I am in the mood to bake – I love anything to do with marzipan. But the trouble is the local supermarkets NEVER have the two main ingredients  I need - icing sugar and ground almonds. I just assumed I couldn’t buy them here. But now I have discovered that they ARE available – in fact pretty much anything to do with baking is available in Baking Street! Continue reading “Where can I buy ingredients to bake Christmas goodies in Seoul? In Baking Street!” »

The best kimbap shop in Seoul? Teacher Kim (Kim Seon Saeng 김선생)

I’ve mentioned before how I like the kimbap shop Kim Ga Ne (I recommend the spicy anchovy and chilli kimbap). But recently I tried Teacher Kim’s kimbap (김선생) and oh, this kimbap is so good….

It was 5pm and I wasn’t really hungry as I had had a late lunch. But I was walking past the Kim Seon Saeng shop, and it looked very inviting so I though I might as well get a couple of kimbap and SAVE THEM FOR LATER. But when I got home, I opened the box JUST TO TRY ONE SLICE and ended up eating EVERY BIT OF KIMBAP IN THE BOX. I usually go for something spicy, but this time I tried the basic vegetable kimbap. (2,900 won)  It has less rice and more  crunchy vegetables than usual, so the texture is light and fresh. The vegetables are finely sliced rather than chunky which I really liked too. Divine. 김선생 Kim seon saeng are here on Facebook.


Continue reading “The best kimbap shop in Seoul? Teacher Kim (Kim Seon Saeng 김선생)” »

Korean Liquor Competition Winners at COEX Food Week 2014

Korean drinks festival

This weekend was the 2014 Korea Food Week at the COEX convention centre. But, looking through my photos it appears that my biggest area of interest of the day was the alcohol zone. What a surprise. The drinks festival included the winning entries from the 2014 Korean Liquor competition. And it introduced visitors to the Grand Masters of the traditional craft of rice wine and liquor making.

Alcohol production in Korea is very extreme. On the one hand are the companies producing HUGE amounts of cheap soju that are available EVERYWHERE in the region and which everybody drinks. Then on the other hand are the exclusive boutique style producers who can only make small batches of their product to sell very locally. Continue reading “Korean Liquor Competition Winners at COEX Food Week 2014” »