Saturday, May 28, 2011

5.28.11 The Dichotomies.

A few dichotomous observations about our new home...

Korea has aggressive environmental policies and a plan to reduce carbon emissions 30% by 2020, but you are hard-pressed to find a public trashcan on a city street.

The children spend incredibly long hours at school, yet they are some of the happiest and most secure kids I've ever met. 

You can buy the latest cellphones on just about every block, but it is impossibe to find shoes larger than size 9 without making a trip to a special store.

Shih Tzus and Maltese are all the rage here, but much of the population reacts to our friendly and outgoing 10 pound Jack Russell as though she was the hound of the Baskervilles.

Korean women generally do not show cleavage or bare shoulders but they routinely wear 4 inch heels and skirts so short they should be classified as belts.

You can watch topless softcore porn on tv, but they censor cigarette smoking in movies and TV shows.

They espouse strict moral codes regarding premarital sex, but the shopping district of our city has about a dozen lingerie shops that stock some seriously racy stuff.

You can pick out your prostitute through the storefront windows where they are on display every night, but they censor porn on the internet (and it can be hard to find condoms).

Black clothing, black nail polish, black hair, black patterned stockings, fiercely strappy/bondage-ish shoes and boots, skull and skeleton jewelry and accesories, heavy eye make-up, and pale-as-death skin are all major parts of Korean fashion, but the idea of a Goth subculture is all but unknown. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5.14.2011 Black-Clad Braiding

There are a number of good posts on ye ol' Internets about how to subtly incorporate your dark/punk/gothic/geeky tastes into your work wardrobe. This is not a problem for me, personally. Unlike American schools, where they expect teachers to take a vow of celibacy and frumpiness as well as poverty, my hagwon embraces fashion and the female physique. Toe-baring platforms? Short shorts? Skull-printed T-shirts? My co-workers wear all these and more.

After a solid month of wearing all black and progressively shorter skirts, the only even remotely negative comment I've gotten about my wardrobe was when I wore a T-shirt I bought down in Gaeksa, which features a Día de los Muertos-style skull on the front. The problem was not with the skull, or with the fact that the skull had "Pimpers' Paradise" printed on its teeth (something I only realized later). No, the problem was that the skull had a unlit cigarette in its lipless mouth.

They censor cigarettes on TV in Korea. Did you know that? They don't blur it out if someone is just holding it, but as soon as it nears a mouth, it becomes a fuzzy spot on the screen. It looks like people are smoking transluscent Tribbles.

Anyway. My point is that my school is awesome. But one thing did have to change before I came to Korea - my hair. After years of dyeing it funny colors, including maroon and Dimetap purple, my hair was bleached and battered into returning to its natural light-brown state. Boooooring, especially when contrasted with my lovely black lacy frilly things. The burning question is, how can I keep things school-appropriate (i.e. no purple or mohawks) while maintaining a consistently fresh and creative look?

The answer: braids. I'm not the only one to have discovered this - I'm well aware that braids, especially incorporated into ponytails, are a trend in the U.S. right now. But if you put in a little time and effort on these more advanced braids, I can pretty much guarantee that you won't meet anyone with the same look. I'm not going to do a tutorial myself - I'm still just a beginner - but here are some resources that I've found helpful.

Dreamweaver Braiding

Pretty much the first braiding website everybody recommends. Here you can learn just about every braid under the sun, starting with the basics: the three-plait braid, the French braid, and the Dutch braid. If your hair isn't butt-length, those last two are your friends, because they allow you to fake hairstyles that would normally require Rapunzel-like (Rapunzelian? Rapunzel-esque?) locks.

This website also offers instructions for a cascading crown, one of my favorite braids of all time. The students at my school love it - they call it "Rebecca Teacher's princess hair."

Fairy-tale or Waterfall Braid
If you like to wear your hair down, this is the braid for you. The bottom strand is dropped repeatedly so that the hair falls through the braid to frame your face. Or, to put it another way, the braid passes laterally through the hair without disturbing its flow. It's complicated. This video will help.

Herringbone Braid
Also known as the Fishtail Braid, this braid isn't really a braid like the others. It looks very simple, but it's quite time-consuming because you're crossing fewer, smaller strands. I'm still practicing this one myself.

Taping Braids

This method for incorporating ribbons helps to secure the braid. I've heard it's very useful for camping. I've used it when visiting theme parks, to keep things in place on rollercoasters.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

5.21.11 Sorting the Trash

No, this is not a post about the rapture that is supposed to happen today. I mean sorting the trash for recycling. As you can see from the picture, without a good grasp of hangeul it's not that simple. Even purchasing trash bags is difficult - you can't find your basic Hefty Bag anywhere here. Our handler, Kate, mentioned in passing that we had to use the "white bags" because we live in an apartment. Eventually I searched the internet for an English explanation. Here's what came up:

"Korea uses a system called "jongnyangje" for the effective collection of garbage wastes and the reuse of natural resources. All garbage you produce must be disposed of properly, and you may be fined otherwise. Garbage must be separated according to whether it is "common garbage" (ilban sseuregi), food waste (eumsikmul sseuregi), recyclable (jaehwal yongpum), and large waste objects (daehyeong pyegimul). Ask your neighbors, your city or neighborhood government authorities, or the management office in your apartment complex about disposal days and proper methods of disposal.

Purchasing Garbage Bags
In cities, regulation garbage bags may be purchased at supermarkets or convenience stores in your neighborhood. In rural areas they may be purchased at the local government offices or through the local women's association(bunyeohoe). There are generally six or seven sizes; 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 liters, and prices vary according to size.

Disposal Procedures
(1) Common Garbage: Use regulation bags and place outside. Ask the building owner or a neighbor about where to place them. If you don't use regulation bags, your garbage will not be collected.
(2) Food Waste: Remove all moisture and anything that cannot be eaten by livestock, then use a regulation bag for disposal. In areas where there are collection boxes dedicated for food waste disposal, you do not need to use regulation bags. Food waste produced by families and restaurants have high moisture levels, making incineration difficult, and the moisture continues to seep out in the landfill, which in turn pollutes water resources.
(3) Recyclable Items: Materials that are recyclable such as plastic, cans, bottles, and paper should be put in a clear plastic bag or even a sandbag-like bag and put in the appropriate spot on collection day. Spray cans, cooking-gas cans, and other such things can explode, so put a hole in these to make sure they are completely empty
Paper: Tie newspapers, calendars, magazines, or notebooks in 30 cm bundles. (Ensure cartons are cleaned before disposing of them). 
Glass: Wine, soft drink and medicine bottles must be cleaned before disposing of them. 
Scrap iron: Metal chairs, albata (German silver), stainless steel, etc. should be collected separately. 
Cans: Beer, soft drink and powdered milk cans should be compressed before disposing of them. 
Plastics: Detergent and shampoo containers should be disposed of only after they have been rinsed with water
(4) Large Waste Objects Televisions, washing machines, other home electronics and large items of garbage that cannot be placed in bags should be placed in the collection spot after attaching a sticker purchased at your local dong office or where you purchase your regulation bags."

So that's cleared up - sort of. We are still trying to figure out what "remove all moisture" means exactly...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

5.14.11 We're Legal! Also, More Food...

We haven't done a documents post in a while, because the majority of the paper chase happens before you get to Korea. There are, however, a few other documents you'll want to get once you arrive.

You are required to undergo a health check within 30 days of arriving. Our handler, the indispensabe Kate, was very proactive on this, and we went in for our tests during the first week that we were here. It was a very basic physical; blood and urine samples, height, weight, pulse, blood pressure, eye test, and chest x-ray. Unfortunately, the clinic we went to first was not certified for government health checks, so we had to go do it all again about 10 days later. The second time they did all of the above plus hearing and color-blindness tests. I failed the color-blindness test utterly (in fact, I failed it so soundly that I think it is actually a cruel joke. There is no number in the dots, and everyone is in on it but me. You guys are mean...).

While we were waiting for the results of those tests, our employers did criminal background checks through Korean law enforcement and Interpol. Luckily, Becky's sordid past as a black market mongoose wrangler didn't surface (thank goodness for the witness protection program).

Once all of those checks came back negative, we were issued our "Certificate of Alien Registration" cards. With these in hand, you are ready to take the final step in becoming a fully functional hangul-illiterate waygookin - which is having someone who speaks Korean take you to the bank so you can set up an account. Kate and the director of our hogwan took us to Joenbuk Bank today, so we can now be paid for our endeavours via direct deposit. You can see our alien cards, debit cards, and passbooks (they still use passbooks here!) in this picture, along with a beautiful fan that Becky got on our last trip to the Hanok Village.

Now, on to the part of the post you are all actually interested in - food. We have a lot of catching up to do, so here goes (all of the pictures will enlarge when you click them once or twice).

Here is another chigae (stew), but this one has pork-filled mandu (dumplings) in it. Like everything here, it is served insanely hot - usually still boiling when it reaches the table (my Aunt Susan would love this tradition). The dolsot (thick-walled stone bowl) that it's served in really holds the heat. We often have to wait 5 minutes or so before we can even try to eat it. Luckily, they always serve several side dishes with every meal. In this picture we have two kinds of pickled radish and kimchee (of course). This is a perfect dish for a rainy day, and our local gimbap shop serves a big bowl of it for 3500 Won ($3.21). I eat some kind of chigae about once per week.

This is a Korean omelette. The red sauce on it is just ketchup, but the filling is a bit of a surprise - spicy fried rice, bell peppers, and, of course, kimchee. Like everything else I've had in Korea, it is served quickly, and well prepared. Although it looks very large, the eggs are spread very thin during cooking; my guess is that it only contains 2 eggs. Whenever I get the urge for breakfast foods, this is the solution. If you are squeamish about trying new foods, I recommend this one. It is quite similar to omelettes in the West, and a gentle introduction to Korean ideas about spiciness. The texture is just like the omelettes at your local Waffle House, but less greasy.

Another good choice if you're not excited about jumping right into the deep end of Korean cuisine is pizza. It's like American pizza, but the crust is a bit softer and sweeter - many have sweet potato in them. This one is a bulgogi (beef barbecue) pizza with "cheese bites" in the crust. It was delicious, although it was a bit more expensive than the usual pizza here - it was 12,500 Won ($11.46). We had this for dinner the other night, and there were no leftovers at all. It is a nice combination of Korean and American cuisine, without ruining either set of flavors. When you are missing Pizza Hut, this is a good solution (there is Pizza Hut in Korea, but it is quite a bit more expensive).

This is the fried chicken I mentioned in an earlier post. It comes from BBQ Chicken, a chain here in Korea, and it's a bit like the sesame chicken you would get at a chinese place in the States, but with more fire to it. Sweet and spicy, with a lovely crunchy texture, it is served with a side of pickled melon - a remarkably good combination. They carve chickens differently here, however, so the only pieces that are immediately recognizable are the legs. They tend to chop breasts and thighs in half, so you get some odd little pieces, but all are delicious. This has forever supplanted KFC, Church's, and Popeyes in my heart.  It's not a food you can be dainty while eating - it requires many wet naps to clean up your fingers afterward.

The dish that Jeonju is famous for, bibimbap, is available all over the place, and it is amazing. The dolsot version has a raw or nearly raw egg added to it just as it is served, and the hot bowl cooks the egg. This particular batch came from our favorite little gimbap shop and it is not served in the dolsot, so the egg is fried, sunny side up. It is a lovely presentation when it hits the table, but I didn't remember to take a picture before Becky started stirring it. You are seeing here it as it looks while you're eating it. Very yummy, and quite good for you, too, or so our boss believes. She is quite motherly, and wants us to eat more vegetables...

I saved this one for last, so that the more squeamish readers could just turn away. This is Soondae. It's a sausage made by stuffing pig intestines with noodles, then soaking it in pig blood and spices. You boil it in a salty brine until it is an alarming purplish black, then serve it with slices of pig organ meat - heart, liver, kidney, and some other bits I couldn't identify. All of this is salted and dipped in a sweet/hot chili sauce. This is drinking food, Korean style. It goes well, I am told, with both beer and hard liquor, and it is a staple of the late night crowd. I have had it twice - the first time was not great, but the second time I finally figured out how you are supposed to use the salt (that's what the foil packet contains) and sauce, and it was delicious. Almost as alarming to look at as the cup o' bugs, but much tastier. Friday is a huge fan of the kidney bits.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

5.11.11 One Month

UPDATE: Blogger dropped this post, and the lovely comments that went with it. I'm trying to put it back together from an earlier draft, but your comments are gone - sorry!

We have officially been in Korea for one month now. Here is what we have learned so far.

1) Don't come to Korea if you have a seafood allergy.  If it doesn't have seafood in it, it has seafood on it or next to it. Failing that, it was at least stirred with the same spoon as seafood, somehow. This is, after all, a country in which "boiled fish paste" is a staple. 

2) Don't come to Korea expecting it to be like America, but in a different language.  Based on what we have heard about other ESL teachers, the "Ugly American" is alive and well in Korea. Here's a tip for those of you considering an ESL job - the food in Korea is different. So are the apartments. And the bathrooms. And, like, almost EVERYTHING. So if you are not amenable to change, stay home - stop making the rest of us look bad.

3) Don't come to Korea expecting it to be a third world country.  They have some of the fastest internet in the world, well-developed public transportation in most cities, and two cell phone stores on every block (I think that one's a law or something...). Many of their social programs far exceed those offered in the U.S., and their education system is kicking ours in the pants on a daily basis. They dress better than us, eat better than us, and live a bit longer, too. Also, Koreans are not ignorant of the fact that some Americans see Korea as a backwater, and they get offended if you treat them as if it is. Believe me, they speak more English than you speak Korean, so be polite.

4) Small children and dogs are the same everywhere.  They are a pretty consistent source of delight, and often the best avenue for first contact with adults. If you make friends with the dogs and the kids, the adults are more likely to chat with you.

5) Having a small face is a big deal in Korea.  By any beauty standard Becky is easy on the eyes, but by Korean standards she is cuter than kittens in a yarn factory. Strangers frequently tell her in glowing terms what a small face she has, and she hears daily (literally, daily) that she is 예쁜("yep pun" pretty). In addition to a small face, pale skin, gothy wardrobe, and being a C-cup doesn't hurt...

6) Nascar should inport Korean taxi drivers.  In the U.S. they say "rubbin' is racin'." In Korea, that's just a trip to the supermarket. I have a lot of windshield time, some of it at pretty high speeds, and these guys give me grey hair. When caught behind a line of cars at a stop light it's common for them to shift over to the parking lane, roll past all the cars waiting and then race ahead of them when the light changes. Left turns on red and splitting lanes are not unusual, and u-turns can be made anywhere, without braking. That said, I will give them credit for honesty - not one cab driver has tried to drive us around to run up the meter. 

7) Koreans won't ask you if you want something to eat.  They usually just hand you something and say, "here, eat this." They are generous to a fault. We feel guilty about how much our boss and coworkers feed us. In fact, our boss is worried that we arent eating enough, and she is constantly asking what we had for breakfast. She has no idea how much healthier our diets are here than they were in America - I've eaten more fresh, well-prepared vegetables in the last month than I did in the previous decade living in Laramie. 

8) A  ("yo" Korean mattress) is the most confortable bed I've ever had.  A yo is basically a pad that goes on the floor - no frame, no box springs, and it folds or rolls up when not in use. Ours is latex foam, but you can find them filled with a number of different things, from cotton to red soil (it's supposed to be very good for your health). What makes it so lovely is that it goes directly on the ondol (heated floor). On chilly nights your comforter traps the heat from the floor, keeping you toasty. Which leads us to #9...

9) Don't forget to turn off the heated floor before you leave for work.  The floor is heated by the same system that makes hot water for showers and dishes. It's an on-demand system, so you turn it on when you want hot water, then turn it off when you're done. If you leave it on all day (like we did today) the floor and room get very hot, and you come home to an 85 or 90 degree apartment. Our cat thinks it's awesome - she was sprawled in the middle of the warmest spot like a puddle of fur. 

10) Korean children find me fascinating.  The kids here are generally very sweet, and like all children, they can be charmingly blunt. One of the first days I taught, a pack of litle girls (ages 5-7) surrounded me and started petting my arms while chattering loudly in Korean. One of them looked up at me while tugging gently on my armhair and said, "what?" This is how our littlest students usually ask "what is the English word for this?" Without much thought I said, "fuzzy." They found this word unbelievably hilarious, and almost everyday one of these little girls will pet me while saying "fuzshy" (they have trouble with Z and S sounds).

One of the boys I teach (about 11 years old) looked at my blue eyes very intensely one day and said, "wow, like the ocean!" This lead to all of the kids getting out of their chairs and surrounding my desk so that they could look at my eyes very closely.

Two nights ago I got the most amazing fried chicken on the way home (part of another post, soon). While we waited for it (because like virtually all food in Korea, it was made fresh when we ordered it - I haven't seen a single heat lamp since we got here) there were 4 little girls in the restaurant. They were the owners/employees children, and they all looked to be sisters or cousins, ranging from about 4 to about 8 or 9. We had our dog, Friday, with us, and they were all enthralled with her. While the older kids played with her and fed her treats, I sat down on the curb. After a few minutes, the youngest girl decided that I was ok, and came and climbed into my lap. She, too, petted the hair on my arms, measured how big my hands are compared to her own, and basicaly made me her personal jungle gym. When her mother (or maybe it was her aunt) came out to give us our order she refused to get off my lap so that I could leave, doing that dead weight thing that kids do, while giggling. So cute!

There was an 11th point on this list, but Blogger decided to lose this post and the only draft I have saved is this one. That bit of wisdom will just have to come up again in a later post (especially since I can't recall now what it was...).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pics Around Jeonju

Just a few fun signs and products we've found here...
Beer bangs are literally everywhere ("bang" means "room" in Korean) but they still make me giggle a bit. It's even funnier when you realize that it's pronounced like "beer bong.
Sometimes a sign gives more information but still leaves you puzzled. I don't know if this is a European-style pub that doesn't charge a cover, or a pub that promises you can drink your pint without being bothered by Eurotrash.
Not sure what this is about, but it smelled good.
This needs to be imported to the US. It would sell mad in the 'hood. 
They actually could teach American pizza places a thing or two.
This is actually a liquor/convenience store chain, so some truth in advertising going on here...

5.8.11 Hangungmal jeonhyeo motaeyo - "I can't speak Korean at all"

Yesterday, we got into a taxi and I told the driver where we wanted to go - Home Plus (it's kind of like WalMart, with somewhat higher quality products).  There was, as usual, a bit of confusion about our destination. When he figured out my terrible Korean accent he asked to confirm, "Homuh Ploosuh?" To which I responded "Yes... ... Hai...Yeh!" (I got to Korean on the 4th try...)

I have always prided myself on speaking well and being quick on my feet, but here I am just another waygookin who doesn't speak the language. Most of the time, all I can say is "jal moreugeseoyo" ("I don't understand"). In general, the people we interact with are very nice about it. Granted, most of them are business owners that we are giving money to, but we have encountered very little overt unkindness to us for being foreigners. The one glaring exception was the crossing guard who lost his shit on us last Friday for crossing as the walk signal was flashing, but in a city where traffic laws are basically ignored most of the time, he seemed more like a petty rulemonger than a xenophobe. 

In an earlier post on this blog, I listed some survival Korean phrases that I had studied before coming here. Now that I've been in Korea for a bit, here are my tips on a few other language skills you need.

First and foremost, learn the hangul alphabet. Even if you don't know what 99% of it means, it is still very helpful to be able to sound out signs and labels. For example, 김밥 means "gimbap" which is a delicious sushi-like dish available in convenience stores and many local restaurants. Other favorites include 비빔밥 ("bibimbap," rice and vegetables), 김치찌개 ("kimchi jjigae," kimchi stew), and 팥빙수 ("patbingsu," sweet red bean paste and fruit served on shaved ice). Being able to sound out these and other foods is a real asset. 

Secondly, learn to count in both the native Korean and Sino-Korean number systems. The old "hana, dul, set, net..." that you learned in Tae Kwon Do class will not do you much good in Korea, as they use the other system ("il, ee, sam, sa...") to count money. Don't think that you can skate by without learning both systems, however, because they are both required. For example, when telling time they use one set of numbers for the hours and the other for the minutes. Learn both, and you will be much less confused than we were about prices for everything (and we are still working on getting the numbers down). 

Lastly, add this phrase to your list; kuhnyang kugyong halkkeyo - I'm just looking. 
Koreans have a very different attitude about customer service. You don't even have to enter a store to be approached by the employees, and it is really handy to be able to thank them, and tell them that you are just window shopping. 

Learn these phrases and you'll feel awkward a bit less often.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

5.3.11 A Sample of Korean Clothing

My best Wednesday Addams impression.
Hi folks! Just a quickie post to demonstrate the goth-friendly fashions I've been talking about. A few nights ago, Linus bought me this black dress with cream lace trim down in Gaeksa (downtown Jeonju). How much did it cost? 26,000 won - less than $25.00. That's a heck of deal by American standards.

It's hard to tell in this photo, but I've started dressing like a real Korean girl now. That is, I'm dressing the same as I always have, but my hemlines have risen a good four inches. This particular dress falls about mid-thigh, and would be totally inappropriate for teaching in the U.S. When I wore it on Monday, however, none of my co-workers batted an eye. Of course, I was wearing opaque leggings underneath, but I bet I could get away with just tights.

Here are some skirts on sale in Gaeksa. I think they were all less than 10,000 won. The gray tulle one I'm holding up is exactly like the one I already bought, only mine is slightly darker in color. 

I guess the thrust of this post is, if you want access to purdy clothing AND the chance to dress creatively at work, you should probably come to Korea.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How to Get Food in Korea, Part 1

Food is everywhere in Korea. You are going to want to try some. Here's how.

Different Kinds of Food

We have spotted several varieties of food shops in Jeonju.

Basic Korean Restaurant - The size of the average Korean restaurant ranges from small to downright hole-in-the-wall. Our favorite falls in the hole-in-the-wall category, seats about eight people, and is much beloved for its speedy service, fantastic food, and resident adorable baby. At the average Korean restaurant, even if you can't read the menu, you can safely order: gimbap, the Korean version of sushi; bibimbap, a rice and vegetable dish that's as tasty as its name is fun to say; and kimchi jigae, a fabulous soup that contains kimchi, a little pork for seasoning, and a lot of chili paste. Prices will range from 4,000 won to 8,000 won per person, so the basic Korean restaurant is dead cheap.

Kimchi jigae. It is the bomb.

Traditional Restaurant - This is easy to spot. If you look through the window and the tables are about a foot off of the ground and everyone is sitting on the floor, it's a traditional-style restaurant. Some restaurants use a mixture of Western- and Korean-style seating - in this case, the traditional seating will almost always be on an elevated wooden platform. Before entering a traditional seating area (or the whole restaurant if it's all traditional-style), take off your shoes. If you're not accustomed to sitting on the floor, be sure to change position often, otherwise your leg will probably fall asleep (mine always does). Serves the same food at the same prices as the Basic Korean Restaurant, but you can also get a more elaborate meal of bulgogi.

Bulgogi is frequently crazy big. It is often cooked on a burner set in the table, and the wait staff will come by and stir it for you periodically until it's done. While you wait, you can munch on the five to twenty-five side dishes (I am not exaggerating) that come with it. Most are kimchi-esque things, but occassionally you will get something a bit more challenging like dried bay shrimp (crunchy) or pickled eggs and onions (oddly sweet). Once the main dish is done, you scoop it into lettuce leaves and add condiments. This is a serious meal - set aside an hour or more, and wear lose pants.

Fried Things Shop - Also known as "Things-On-a-Stick Shop." This sort of shop will always have either pictures of fried things in the window, or the actual fried things. Our personal Fried Things Shop offers squid-on-a-stick, chicken-on-a-stick, noodles wrapped in seaweed and fried, rice cakes in red sauce, fried hard-boiled egg, various other unidentifiable fried things, and my favorite, double-breaded corn dog. On a stick, of course. Most of these shops also serve non-fried things and have a few tables in the back for those who want to sit and eat, but don't mistake it for a basic Korean restaurant, as they will look at you like a crazy person if you walk into a Fried Things Shop and ask for bulgogi. Most things cost about 1,000 or 2,000 won, so if you're long on hunger and short on won, this is the place to go. Over the long haul, though, your cardiologist might disagree.

Snack Shop/Coffee Shop - Similar to the Fried Things Shop, but offers fewer fried things and more sandwiches, desserts, and coffee.

Full-Service Coffee Shop - Just like in the West, except that here they probably serve patbingsu, an incredible confection of ice cream, red beans, fruits, cornflakes, rice cake, and ice that should be introduced in the U.S. immediately. Some will also serve dan-pat-chuk, a warm, sweet, red bean soup that is perfect for slightly cold days. Or slightly hot days. Whenever, really. Coffee shops can be pretty expensive, so it's best to limit visits.

Rice Cakes Shop - My personal favorite! Easily identifiable by the outside table covered in packages of rice cakes. If you've ever had mochi, you have some idea of what a Korean rice cake is like. If not, then the picture to the left should give you some idea.
Fillings range from red bean to cinnamon sugar to weird savory things that Linus and I generally don't care for. Since I have post-meal rice cake cravings every day, we go to this kind of shop a lot. A package of eight or ten big rice cakes or a gazillion little ones costs about 2,000 won.

Bakery - Bakeries are hot in Jeonju at the moment. We have a bakery in our neighborhood, and there's a chain bakery called Paris Baguette on our route to work, so we've had plenty of opportunities to do a little taste-testing. All the breads are really fresh and good, but it's the desserts that will blow your mind. Also, the variations on what I like to call "hot dog bread" - that is, bread in which hot dogs or sausage are incorporated in some way - can get pretty interesting. Prices in these range from less than 1,000 won to about as high as you want to go.

Street Food - Basically Fried Things Shops on wheels, these stands offer about the same fare as the FTS, but possibly at slightly higher prices.

Pizza and Chicken Shops - These are specialty shops. The chicken shops are expensive - about 12,000 to 16,000 won a bucket - but the pizza shops are quite reasonable. The pizza here is pretty different from home and probably tastier. I sure wouldn't trade my Korean sweet potato pizza for some Little Ceaser's (at least, not yet).

Fancy Restaurants - We haven't been to many of these, but we know they exist because our director bought us lunch at one. Prices are high, but the food is unique and excellent, so if you've got money to burn they're worth a visit.

Western Chains - They exist, but why would you go?

Despite all this fabulous food at low prices, Linus is losing weight. I am not, because I inhale rice cakes like oxygen. But I can still fit into wee Korean sizes, as I will demonstrate in the next post!