Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Notes for the 27 Feb 2013 update

Plenty of new content for you today! The Great Deskwarming Time concludes this week, so here are the updates:

“Changes every semester” – Some details about the upcoming school semester and how every one of them has been different so far.

“Takingover as coordinator” – Thoughts on becoming Coordinator for Cheorwon and meeting the new arrivals.

“Rememberingthe Crew members” – Many of us are leaving this week, so I’ve been thinking about all the fun we’ve had here.

“Tricks and treats for the eyes: The Trick Eye Museum” – About me and Rochelle’s trip the Trick Eye museum in the Hongdae area of Seoul. It actually happened at the beginning of the month, but I didn’t sort through the pictures and write the post until recently. Enjoy, for it ranks as one of my favorite outings for us. Good luck with getting there too.

Upcoming: Writing activities, Krock, reflecting on US and Korean culture

Tricks and treats for the eyes

At the Trick Eye Museum near Hongdae Station

Another one from the “delayed weekend destinations” file.

The Trick Eye’s a topic attraction among Koreans and foreigners alike. Too bad finding it is more difficult than necessary. For such a famous place it sure is hidden in the already dense and bustling Hongdae area. People looking for the museum will find few markers or signs indicating its location. Rochelle and I got out there and went up and down the side streets for the better part of an hour looking for it ourselves. We finally happened upon the 서교 Plaza (Seogyo) that houses the museum and went in with high hopes. It’s in the basement of the building and has the Santorini Café inside it as well, so look for Santorini café signs as well.

It was as good as the pictures we’d see from others who had been there! We enjoyed the artwork and making funny poses with them. There isn’t too much that I can add here about it because the Trick Eye’s all about using art to make optical illusions. My favorite pictures were of the torture wheel and the bank vault, but all the pictures looked good. Some seemed to make for more interesting pictures than others. Imagining breaking out all that money felt good.

I’d recommend Trick Eye for anyone looking for a good afternoon jaunt. It makes for a fine dating venue because of all the opportunities for photos and conversation, so get down there with your boy or girl for fun time!

If you go:


The price is 13,000won per person. Kids may be cheaper.
It’s near Hongdae Station’s exit 9.
Excellent blog post about the place.
Good directions above.

Changes every semester

Day 1 of the 2013 school year: 4 March 2013

Every school semester is different here. The past three semesters have seen three different teaching schedules, three different co-teaching schemes, and three different sets of co-teachers. If there’s there’s one thing to emphasize about the teaching life here, it’s be ready for change at every turn. It’s no use fighting the changes or pining for the old days; just press on and adapt to whatever’s thrown at you. This semester brings more changes, but apart from school starting next week, there are only a few things I know for sure:
  • No teaching 3rd grade HS
  • JB as main co-teacher for 3rd semester in a row.
  • All the MS classes will take place on Thursday and Friday mornings
  • Two new HS co-teachers
  • Mr. Choi and Mrs. Jeong (both HS English teachers) are leaving

It’s been like this every semester thus far: No one knows anything until the last minute. No one’s mentioned anything about what the timetable will look like or how the co-teaching scheme will go down. The scheme doesn’t matter too much since it hasn’t changed much since August 2011: I run the classes and the coteachers back me up. This translates to designing the lessons and leading the classes while they provide whatever translations or backup that may necessary. It’s around 60/40 in MS and 85/15 in HS.

I’ll miss working with Mrs. Jeong, for we had plenty of fun teaching the HS 1st graders. We taught that joint double Korean/Chinese class together and helped the kids write excellent comparison paragraphs. She brought in many effective writing activities that we used throughout the year. I remember how hesitant she looked about when she first asked about them. She said she didn’t want to burden me with them because they were to be part of upcoming standardized tests. Burden? For this certified English teacher? Of course not! I jumped on those activities and we all had a good time. I’d been eager to more writing work with the students and was happy to see another teacher interested in it as well. The writing focus actually boosted the students’ speaking abilities because they had more practice with using English and forming sentences.*

Despite the uncertainties, I’m going to make this the best semester yet. The past semesters have been good, but this one will be even better. We’ve a good group of kids coming through the ranks. Not only that, but I’ve a better understanding about how school works and can roll with changes more easily. This past month’s proven good for revamping lessons and getting the goals laid out for the new semester. I now have the first couple weeks of classes drafted and ready to roll. The fun begins Monday!

*Expect a future post about this stuff.

Remembering the departing Crew members

While at dinner last night, Gracie asked us all to say a few words about our departing friend Kirsten. She asked each of us to say one thing we’ll remember about her and to tell a story about her if possible.

The conversation spurred a series of thoughts about what I’ll remember most about those who are leaving. Admittedly, it is hard to say one or two things about any of them because they’re a fine bunch of people who’ve helped make Cheorwon a great place to live and work.

l  She always had something interesting to say. I don’t her ever being at a loss for words about anything. She could take any topic and make it compelling. During one of the last times we hung out, she talked for 15 minutes about cleaning apartments and how some people aren’t as clean as they appear. I never expected that. 
l  Always brimming with energy and wanting to play drinking games. He also served as Coordinator and organized the Cheorwon Olympics.
l  Her gregarious and outgoing nature. She’d say “Oh, you have to!” in her native New Jersey accent and you’d feel the Jedi mind trick working.
l  Her smile and her enthusiasm for hot sauce.
l  His ability to say the angriest things in voices that were funny as hell. He’d get mock angry and get us all laughing.
l  Her warm personality and celebrating Diwali at her Uncheon apartment.

Farewell, everyone! You’ll be missed here. It seems crazy to say “Goodbye” in this hyperconnected world of ours because of how we can write emails to each other, but it is tough to think about how we won’t see each other again for a long time, if ever. With any luck, we’ll all get to see each other again! Make no mistake; though you won’t be here in Cheorwon, the memories live on.

Taking over as Cheorwon EPIK Coordinator

With Matt leaving, I’m taking over as EPIK Coordinator for the Cheorwon teachers. He took the job after Jerusha moved away last year. The Coordinator job involves helping with any job issues that may arise with us and communicating with our higher-ups at the POE. The job involves a pay raise and direct involvement in the community here.

Though the position does not depend on seniority, I stepped up because in the wake over our biannual changeup, at 1.5 years in, I’m the one who’s lived here the longest. Everyone else has been here for 6 months. This means that, without sounding too self-aggrandizing, I’m the bridge between the “older” Cheorwon of Kirsten/Matt/Jerusha’s time and the “newer” Cheorwon. Actually, this is only half-true, for we still maintain contact with the “older” Crew members via Facebook and email, so they remain a part of Cheorwon life. A few of them still live in Korea too. And that’s a good thing, for they’ve built up plenty of knowledge and wisdom about Cheorwon and life in Korea. Surely we’ll hear more from them in the future.

Still, as Coordinator, we’ll be carrying on with several key Cheorwon traditions:

l  Rafting in the Hantan River – We need to make up for not doing it last year.
l  Cheorwon Olympics – Our “Sports Day.” Korean schools usually have a Sports Day for the students and teachers.
l  Le Club de Cheorwon – The name of our weekly “meetings” that Kirsten started last year. Generally Le Club means dinners, games, and drinks.
l  Pub Golf – Round 2 will happen this spring!

These were either already in place and started during the past 1.5 years and they’ve all resulted in good times all around. I’m excited to take over the position because it’s a new challenge and it means more responsibility. It’s merely one more way of serving EPIK and Cheorwon. I’m happy to help.

As Coordinator, the first order of business centers on the biannual Cheorwon Welcome Dinner that we’ll be having this Sunday in Dongsong.* Maria from Gwanin suggested it the day and venue. Historically, we’ve held the dinner in Sincheorwon during the week, but I figured it best to change because of the following reasons:

l  All of the new people for Cheorwon will be based in Dongsong and it will thus be easier to get them to dinner there than in Wasu or Sincheorwon.
l  The other new people will be in Gwanin and Uncheon and both towns have bus lines to Dongsong.
l  The Sunday meeting time allows us to meet sooner than we would if we’d chosen to hold the dinner after school hours.
l  As Monday is the first day of school, we can answer any questions they may have about what the first days are like.

All in all, I’m excited for the changes that this semester brings and can’t wait to make it the best one yet.

*Though it is called the Cheorwon Welcome Dinner, we welcome our new friends from the Gyeonggi-do towns of Uncheon and Gwanin. They are close enough to Cheorwon that we consider them part of our Crew here in spite of having a different EPIK program.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Krock 4: Chang Ki-ha and Faces

Another group I need to get some records from!

Chang Kiha & Faces (장기하와 얼굴들), "싸구려 커피" (Ssaguryeo Keopi/"Cheap Coffee")
From the Youtube post:

The song is about the "880000 Won generation", or the Korean people in their 20~30s right now who, thanks to some pretty terrible labor law practices, can only get part time jobs or internship that, if lucky, pays about 880000 won ($880) a month. So they live in terrible apartments (with damp flooring made out of vinyl) and can only afford to drink 'cheap coffee' while having nothing to do all day.

there are many other genres of music in korea, simply kpop may refer to the idol musics bands like snsd, bigbang, wondergirls etc,,, but these types of korean music is called korean indie or K-INDIE
I've heard the term "880,000won Generation" before. It refers to the amount of money that many twenty-something Koreans earn per month.

Jang's lyrics ring true in my experience. I haven't known too many Koreans who are in this spot, but his lyrics can apply to plenty of people I knew back home in Milwaukee. He's right to note the damn vinyl floor coverings in the apartments here. They can get sticky at times. Most apartments have vinyl flooring that's made to look like wood paneling. My place has it too. The song's about more than cheap coffee--it's about the loneliness and the frustration of having nothing to do but sit around. I've been there a few times in the past, especially in Milwaukee. I wasn't poor or anything, but there were times when there wasn't any money to spend that day because I needed to buy groceries or needed to pay the bills.

Also, I've written before about coffee in Korea. Cheap coffee does indeed taste cheap, and though I enjoy coffee every morning, I couldn't tell you too much about this blend or that blend. Most of it tastes similar, but the French roasts and the breakfast blends tend to go down quite well.

Note the excellent recurring descending guitar lick!

Chang Kiha & Faces, 별일 없이 산다 장("I live in peace"/Byeolil Eobsi Sanda)

A good driving rock song with some snaking bass lines. I bet it’d be even better live because the clean production saps away some of the song’s power. It sounds good and clear, but sometimes more grit is needed. Another one to look up the words for.

"그렇고 그런 사" / "A Twosome"

Awesome retro surf guitar here! Bouncy and fun to play. Call it a rock and roll cousin to Secret's "Move."

To end the post on a funny note, here's "I've Watched TV," a funny number about--you guessed it!--watching TV. It has a catchy piano melody and some slow ringing guitar in it. Enjoy!

Cover of 1st album. This is a good look at the clustered and compressed neighborhoods typical of Seoul.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Krock: Shin Joong-hyun and Yup Juns - Volume 2

This one’s much shorter and not as adventurous as its predecessor. As the story goes, Shin was approached by the Park Chung-hee administration about writing a song that praised the regime and he declined to do it. He instead wrote the song “Beautiful Mountains and Rivers,” (“아름다운 강산”) a loping psychedelic ode to the Korea’s beautiful landscapes. As The Shame Threshold blog writes,
The song is pretty epic. The version on this album is one of the shorter ones I have come across, clocking in at 7:56. Most versions of the song seem to hover around 8-10 minutes long.  While the version on Vol. 2 is probably my least favorite and most straight forward, it is still an amazing accomplishment and it is no wonder SJH continued to rework and revisit this song throughout his career. The song is punctuated by long, groovy psychout guitar solos, beautiful vocals, and a wonderfully circular song structure.  The song conjures images of Korean hippies spinning around atop a beautiful pastoral hillside until they fall down only to stay on the ground and stare at shape shifting clouds.”
“Beautiful Mountains and Rivers” is indeed an expansive and pretty number. The ending of it is particularly interesting because it sounds as though the track’s skipping, but it’s just the group grooving on the closing riffs. The rest of the album can’t measure up though. Aside from the closing song, the closing ballad “I” (“”) the other six songs sound uninspired and lack the rhythmic twists and turns of the earlier songs. It’s as if the group was under pressure to deliver tone down their delivery. The songs aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re perfunctory. Maybe Shin and his crew lacked ideas? Maybe they were too spent after crafting “Beautiful Mountains and Rivers”? Since G-Market sells this cheap, the ~$6 cost makes up for the brevity and the dip in quality. The opening and closing songs make up for the lackluster inner tracks.

As a side note, Shin later rerecorded an expanded version “Beautiful Mountains” with the group Music Power (뮤직 파워). It has a lusher sound with horns and pianos. The background vocals add a nice touch of warmth as well. Shin plays a driving rhythm guitar on it and leaves the soloing to the other instruments and singers.

I’m not sure which is the better version, for both have their merits. The rocker in me tends to go for the stripped down original version, but the pop fan likes the revised Music Power take on it.

아름다운 강산 Areum Daun Gangsan /"Beautiful Mountains and Rivers" 

"뭉치자" / Mungchija

Krock: Shin Joong-hyun and the Yup Juns - Volume 1

I mentioned that I'd write more about Shin Joong-hyun and his band the Yup Jeons. Shin's been called the "Godfather of Korean rock" and him and the group lay down some quality grooves together here. Here's the full review.

As with most things these days, it started with a Groove article about an upcoming Korean history book. It mentioned Shin Joong-hyun and his influence on Korean rock music. The article triggered the thought that for all the Kpop I buy and enjoy, rock and roll will always appeal more. Reading about him combined the two big passions of music, and so I did a bit of research on what records were out there. I bought the Volume 1 album without hearing a note of it. A description of the song "Beautiful Woman" and how the song got banned seemed like enough to go on.

I tracked down three albums from him and this group: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Instrumental Best. Of the trio, Volume 1's the best, but all 3 have their merits.

The Volume 1 LP's full of funky rocking grooves. From the opening "Beautiful Woman" to the Hendrix-style "Sunrise," it is 45 minutes of classic rock bliss. Actually, classic rock wouldn't accurately describe all the heavy funk bass lines and soulful singing. Think Isaac Hayes' album Hot Buttered Soul and you'll get close. As good as Shin's guitar work is, Lee Nam-i's bass and Kwan Young-nam's drumming shine as well. They make a good rhythm section here. "I Don't Know" rocks like any number of blaxploitation soundtrack songs and "Lady" rides a tense crescendo into a driving chorus a couple of times. 

The version I'm describing's actually a recent American reissue. It features expanded, all-English liner notes, and an LP-style jacket. The notes help explain the story of the record and what Shin was thinking when he recorded it. Much as I like the translations of the lyrics, the Korean lyrics would have been good to have, even if American listeners may not be able to read them. They'd certainly help with learning Korean.

Volume 1 didn't take off like the band expected, so the group ended up issuing a rerecorded version of it instead. It had more fuzz guitar overdubs and a different, flatter mix than the original issue The cover’s also different. All of the songs I've posted here have come from version two because version one can't be found on YouTube. The rerecorded version’s available for much cheaper in Korea than the original version, but the original has a fuller sound and better packaging. It also appeals to my record collector sensibilities, because I’m a sucker for the words reissue, limited release, and original mix

"미인" (Me-in "Beautiful Woman")

"나는 몰라" (Na neun mol la/"I Don't Know")

"긴긴 밤" ("Gin gin bam/"Long Long Night")

"설레임" (Seolleim/"Anticipation")

Monday, February 18, 2013

Advice for newcomers to Korea from Cheorwon veterans

EPIK teachers come and go every 6 months due to how our contracts are set up. Teachers either get contracted from February to February or August to August, so the time has come to say goodbye for those who are leaving. This time's an especially big exodus, for no less than 4 of us in Cheorwon (plus 2 from nearby towns of Gwanin and Uncheon) will be leaving. Dongsong in particular is losing 3 teachers; all two year veterans at that.

I asked the departing members of the Cheorwon Crew what wisdom they'd like to pass on to the newcomers. Coming to a foreign country to begin a job's a big undertaking, so I hope this advice helps...
  • Say yes to everything. Yes, this includes the 3rd round at the noraebang or doing extra work for classes. The first six months aren't the time to get finicky about contractual clauses. Saying "yes" is how you gain face and build relationships here. All of the things you do will pay off down the road. Nina writes, "Sometimes it's really awkward to go out of your comfort zone, or you're tired or whatever, but now is the time to do it. You arrive not knowing anyone and having all those crazy weird experiences in the beginning help you build lifelong friendships."
  • Coming here to save money is great, but don't over-analyze expenses. Our salaries do quite well in covering utilities and day to day living expenses. Not only that, but Korea offers many cheap opportunities for fun. My dad's fond of saying, "Work hard, but don't kill yourself." Nina echoed this idea by saying "you are in traveled halfway around the world, so go out and have fun!" 
  • Talk to the kids outside of school. Get to know your students outside of class as much as possible. Esther mentions that she enjoyed going on trips with her students because she saw them outside the classroom. They weren't following a script and freer with their conversation, so their personalities could come through better.
  • Remember the excitement of the first week. The land will be strange and you most likely won't know any Korean, but fear not: It gets better. In time you will become more familiar with your surroundings. Those crazy Korean letters will become understandable after a time as well. 
Good luck!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bus fare rising soon

Dong-A article in English:

Intercity bus fares will rise 5.8 percent and those of express buses will go up 4.3 percent from March 2, the first hike since August 2010.
The Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs Ministry on Friday said the minimum intercity bus fare will be raised from 1,200 won (1.11 U.S. dollars) to 1,300 won (1.20 dollars). The Seoul-Yeosu line fare will rise 5.3 percent from 24,400 (22.61 dollars) to 25,700 won (23.82 dollars), and that of the East Seoul Terminal-Chuncheon line will go up 6.3 percent from 6,300 (5.84 dollars) to 6,700 won (6.21 dollars)....
Thanks to my buddy Chris for the article.

Friend's mom's restaurant: Bukjigu Jangguchigu in Insadong

Eun-jin had told me months ago that her mother owned a restaurant near Anguk Station, but I'd never taken her up on eating there until now. While planning the weekend, I figured we'd need something else to do besides see 63 City, so going here took care of two things: keeping in touch with a good friend and sampling more delicious Korean food.

A quick call to her set everything in place. 

Rochelle and I rode the subway from Yeouinaru to Anguk and Eun-jin met us there. Where she took us exceeded my expectations on every count. When she'd mentioned her mother ran a restaurant, I'd thought she ran a small neighborhood cafe of some kind because Eun-jin didn't talk too much about it. Little did I know that her mother runs one excellent traditional Korean restaurant in Insadong! It is called Bukjigu Jangguchigu. It has rustic wooden beams everywhere and the place feels like a cozy cabin. I loved it right away for its intimate atmosphere and inviting decor.

The food tasted every bit as good. We ate a chicken and vegetable dish called dalkgalbi bokkeum tang (닭갈비 볶음탕), a dish that looked like dalkgalbi, but wasn't quite the same because it had slightly different ingredients and it came covered in a spicy red sauce.   Eun-jin recommended it to us by saying it's her favorite thing to eat there. We loved it too. As usual, the dish came with a big assortment of sides. And what's more, a big haemul pajeon (Korean pancake) arrived as "service," or a free bonus! Haemul pajeon means seafood pancake. Their large size makes them a meal in itself! We dove into that as a sort of dessert and left the place feeling full and happy from the good times. 

Tis was a great outing because Eun-jin's a good friend and we don't get to meet too often because of our busy schedules. As it happened, Eun-jin's friend joined us and told us about her upcoming wedding, so we enjoyed hearing that too.

*Sometimes restaurants and businesses will give free stuff as "service" or "Seo-bi-seu" for various reasons: liking you, sales promotions, being a frequent customer, etc. It's one of the many things that makes this country great.

Links to the restaurant here:


Seoul sights: 63 City

63 City action

"With 63 floors measuring a height of 264m, the 63 Building is Korea’s tallest and most recognized building. The 63 Building boasts spectacular views of the Hangang River and the surrounding mountains of Bugaksan Namsan and Gwanaksan. 63 Building has undergone considerable renovation and the basement floor boasts convenient facilities including 63 Sea World, 63 IMAX theater, Korea’s greatest buffet restaurant “Buffet Pavilion,” and a host of other restaurants."

I've been wanting to go here since my recruiter sent a Korea travel guide in the mail and after many weekends of not going there, we finally went. Woohoo for getting stuff done and boohoo for procrastination.

63 City's like Seoul's equivalent of the Willis Tower in Chicago, only it has many more things inside it. Whereas Chicago has Willis Tower's Sky Deck and the Shedd Aquarium, 63 City has the Sky Art observation deck and Sea World in the same building. The place also has a food court, a wax museum, and an IMAX theater inside. I must say, the Koreans know how to build a tourist destination. 

Rochelle and I were mostly interested in Sky Art, which combines the 60 story high observation deck with an art gallery full of pieces from around the world. It featured mostly drawings and paintings from Europe this time. Though many looked interesting, a few didn't quite catch our eyes. We did see a Dali piece though. I don't know too much about art, but I do enjoy Dali's surrealistic pieces, so that was good to see. The real thrills lay with the observation deck: We'd come up on a sunny but hazy afternoon and even the haze couldn't stop us from seeing for miles all around the city. We looked out upon Seoul from every direction and found it inspiring. As noted before, the city's a crazed mix of old and new. The contrast between the new concrete high rises and the older neighborhoods looked especially great from 60 floors up. It looked as though the new complexes would swallow the old neighborhoods whole by squeezing them out of the sun.

We enjoyed seeing the city from these new perspectives and plan on going back again to check out the Sea World and the Wax Museum. It makes for a great afternoon out. Highly recommended to anyone in Korea. In fact, there were many families and couples there alongside us, so it's a popular attraction for Koreans as well. Many of my students have been there and they said they enjoyed it.

Directions: It's within 15 minutes walk from exit 5 of Yeouinaru (여의나루) station, but it's also on 3 bus lines. There's a free shuttle as well.

Cost: 12,000won/person for Sky Art. Other stuff is extra. I bought 2 tickets with my card and the lady dropped 2,000 from the price, so perhaps you can do the same if you go with another person. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A sunny afternoon in Jeongja-dong, Seongnam (Food and sightseeing)

An article in the Korea Joongang Ilbo clued me into this upscale neighborhood that lies south of Seoul. The paper runs articles on various area from time to time and this one looked good because of it looked like a prime place to spend an afternoon. Though the article didn't talk as much about the nearby Tan stream and park as it did the food, both deserve special mention. We'd come to Jeongja-Dong primarily for the food and found ourselves enjoying the surround area as well.

We'll surely come here again to spend an afternoon or evening. The area's every bit the ideal for urban living: multi-use apartment buildings, abundant green spaces, wide sidewalks, shops, restaurants, and schools were all within walking distance of the subway station. The stream boasted large grassy areas and long, straight bike and walking paths. Jeongja-dong looked like the visions of neighborhoods detailed in the book Suburban Nation; indeed, the place felt like Korea than it did the USA. Living here doesn't come cheap, but the convenience factor's strong.

View from a convex bridge

A shot of one of the apartment courtyards.

This Is Jjamppong

Jjamppong's something I've eaten a few times and always found it a bit too spicy. JB the coteacher's a fiend for it, so I've eaten plenty of it with him. The dish is fiery, yet after having spent more time in the country, the time felt right to give the dish another go. It helped that Rochelle had never eaten it before. She wanted to go there, so we did. This Is Jjamppong makes it a bit differently, as we saw when we looked at the menu.

From the article:

A special jjamppong (Chinese-style hot noodles with vegetables and seafood) place should be added to the list of fusion cuisine list, located a few walks from Naroo. Ordinary jjamppong comes with a spicy broth that is purported to ease hangovers. This Is Jjamppong, however, adds a little twist by adding cream. Kim Dong-han, who lives in the area, has become a believer in cream jjamppong, eating it every time he has a hangover. 

“When I first looked at the cream jjamppong, I wondered how it would be different from Italian cream pasta,” said Kim. “However, the cream jjamppong surprisingly had the spiciness of ordinary jjamppong and soon became the go-to food for me to cure hangovers.”

Out of eight different types of jjamppong, the cream jjamppong is the one that surprises customers the most based on its dramatically different taste and appearance. 

We ordered the aforementioned cream jjamppong and the "clear" jjamppong (맑은 짬뽕) that came with a white broth instead of the red broth. I ordered the clear one to temper the spiciness. The staff looked pleased to have us there and nearly fell over themselves asking if we were okay with eating spicy food. That was nice of them and they liked it when I told them I'd heard about the restaurant in the newspaper. 

The food arrived and we started eating to find that perhaps they'd dialed back the spices for us because neither dish registered much on the spice scale. Perhaps they used different noodles? It doesn't matter much to me, for I enjoyed both variants. It made sense that the "clear" jjamppong wouldn't have as much spice to it because of the different broth. The cream jjamppong tasted great: a cross between the venerable Asian dish and a fettuccine Alfredo. It was rich and hearty with flavor. We liked that one.

Total cost? A reasonable 15,000won.

Directions: go straight out of exit 3 of Jeongja Station. Keep walking until you see it on your right. The sign is in Korean, so look for 이것이 짬뽕, which means "This is jjamppong" in Korean.

The Seongnam Cafe Street

This area's packed with places to eat. To get there, follow these directions that Rochelle found:


Jeongja Station (Seoul Subway Bundang Line), Exit 5.
From the subway exit, turn around and cross the road.
Turn left onto Neuti-ro Street (느티로), and go straight for 60m.
Turn right before the Paragon Apartment Building 101, and go straight for 160m.
Cross the road at Paragon Apartment Building 104 to arrive at Budang Jeongja-dong Café Street.

We did just that and hung out at Azabu to munch down delicious fish-shaped pastries for a while.

As a side note, this trip marked one of the few times where we didn't have trouble finding anything. Normally every excursion to a new place involves checking maps, asking directions, and wandering slightly aimlessly, but not this time!