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Seoul – hello

So I’ve been in Seoul about three months and haven’t blogged once about it. Instead I’ve blogged about Hong Kong, San Francisco and Colorado. It is a big like putting a heroin addict in a room full of gak and then still finding it there three months later.

Seoul is everything I love in a city. It is big, it is messy, it is an absolute mystery. It is completely and utterly different from anything. In comparison China is easy and Japan is boring. It has history, a lot of it. Cultural and sociological hierarchies are drilled into everything. Everytime you see the oldest guy in a lift slam straight through everyone to get out first (including the pregnant lady) it is not because it is rude; it is because people think a bit different. Importantly, not wrong but different.

Also people here love drinking. I love drinking. And food when drunk. Seoul has a lot of that as well. So why haven’t I blogged? The simple reason is I want to do Seoul justice. It is a magnificent complicated place and there are nearly no proper food:culture resources on it in English. And the lack of English ties in with one of the reasons it is so great: because there are no expats. Koreans have their own little fiefdom and I regularly spend days without seeing a white guy apart from me. You end up strangely nodding when you do cross paths with another whitey.

This is the roof of our flat, Itaewon is basically where the tower on the right is

Pretty much every single foreigner lives up in Itaewon and nearly 99.9% teach English. Oh and they are American. The first thing every Korean asks is “are you an English teacher”? No.

So what I want to do is properly give Seoul its due. And that is hard, especially through a lens of food when you can’t even order because you don’t know how to say anything. It has taken me three months to kind of pluck up the bravery to begin as unlike Hong Kong, Europe or the most of the rest of Asia there are no resources to rely on.

I am not saying there are no blogs, there is actually a pretty big K-blogosphere but the kind of food:culture hipster international food trend rubbish I read and write doesn’t quite fit in. Blogs where people get emotional about wonton noodles and organic produce. So that’s the aim. But first for those who, like me, come here and wonder where the hell to find food:culture opinion stuff, this is what I have gathered so far:

An Alien’s Day Out - a vegan in Seoul. Near impossible so ambitious.
Pikelet & Pie - food and beautiful pictures
The Seoulist – a relatively new website but I love their excited attitude to Seoul
Seoul in the City - a Korean American returnee
SeoulSuburban – riding the Seoul metro to all of its stops.
SeoulEats – one of the reasons I eventually found myself in Seoul was a food tour with this guy

There are a series of big publications like Seoul Magazine, 10 Mag etc. which cater to the wider expat crowd. And a lot of fun vlogs about Korean culture like EatYourKimchi and helpful guides to Chris in South Korea and the Marmot’s Hole. Any and all other suggestions more than welcome. Especially insanely foodie ones.

10 Comments

  1. Thanks for linking to both our magazine (SEOUL) and my personal blog. And that a really nice photo, especially considering the sans-tripod constraints.

  2. “So why haven’t I blogged? The simple reason is I want to do Seoul justice. It is a magnificent complicated place and there are nearly no proper food:culture resources on it in English.”

    I feel exactly the same. I’m hesitant to blog about Seoul because it’s such a complex place and I can’t even pretend to fully comprehend it language, food and culture wise. But after searching high and low for reliable information in English and often failing to find anything, I feel compelled to share my experiences, however superficially.

    Thanks for including me, I hope to post some more interesting stuff soon.
    I hope winter doesn’t diminish your love for Seoul, and I hope you share some of your experiences soon.

    • Yup, there really isn’t anything proper in English which is kind of remarkable. I can find thousands of blogs on Japan, hundreds on China and erm a couple on Seoul. Most of them are simply about teaching English here which I find hard to relate to.

      Looking forward to reading some of your adventures around Seoul soon. And I am planning to get Jen to cook a big xmas dinner sometime soon for those few blogs we do read. You should come!

  3. Great start to what I hope is a set of blog posts that give some idea of what it is like to live, eat and drink in Seoul. I know it’s in Korea, I know it’s very big indeed. I know nothing nothing else about it. Which of course makes it particularly desirable. I’m glad I can live it vicariously though you. I’m off to click round the links you left now. Glad allis as good as you hoped it to be.

  4. Glad to hear you are enjoying living there. Korea is a complete mystery to me, but thankfully we have you to share it with us.
    Looking forward to reading everything.

    • 3 months in and it is definitely still a mystery to me. However, I at least feel a little at home. That said when one stop along of the metro yesterday and was straight back to being completely out of my depth.

  5. Itching to get there. The husband went on his own in a tae kwon do pilgrimage a few years ago (and also to visit friends- who were teaching English). He loved it. Can’t wait to go.

    • I do kind of feel I should try tkd being its homeland. However, the food is keeping me occupied. Definitely worth visiting but wait until spring. Winter is coming and it is cold!

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