Meat. Meat is life. I love meat. Give me a veggie salad and I will bite you.
Send me to a place where I can unlimited options for a single price and I’ll consider not haunting you after I die of happiness.
Yup. You read that right. For a single price, you can have much meat as you want, along with the necessary banchan (반찬 ‘sides’) and additional food options as you want. This particular one I always go to has it all: meat, good kimchi, even ice cream and fruit!
This place is Meat-ing. Those who are familiar with Korean culture may be snickering at the punny title but for those of who don’t get it, be patient. I’ll do another post about dating soon.
Anyways, back to Meat-ing.
One of the things I love about this place is how easy it is to get to. Just get yourself to Children’s Grand Park Station (어린이대공원역 Line 7) and walk out exit 4. Just walk straight out and you’ll see this. Like, it literally takes two minutes.
If you miss this, I really can’t help you.
You go up a set of honestly some dank looking stairs. Don’t worry – no one is going to jump out and murder you with a cleaver. But there’s a lot of dirt on those stairs so try not to fall.
It’s a short walk up the steps and you’re there! Just walk in and let them know how many there are.
The one thing I love about this place is just how spacious it is. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when my friends and I had to wait for a table. Granted, there was never more than four of us at a time but I’ve definitely seen large groups while I was there and it never felt too crowded. This has also become quite a popular place for foreigners so none of that “Oh, alien!” stares to worry about. Bonus!
Now when you walk in and sit down, some of you may be like “So…now what?” Fear not, my darlings. I am here to guide you.
The first thing you want to do is decide if you want to drink soda or not. Because this place also has the unlimited drink option. If you look next to the grill, you’ll see a menu with side options.
The most important part is at the bottom. The one where it says 2,000 won followed by “unlimited beverage refills”
The best part? It’s only an extra 2,000 won for the entire table, regardless of how many there are. So if you go with, say, 4 people- thats each person paying only 500 won extra for unlimited drinks.
They have the classic Pepsi and Cider (Korea’s Coke & Sprite) but they also have Mountain Dew and even both yellow and orange FANTA.
Now for the most important part: the meat.
Most neat buffets serve pork. This is simply because pork is cheaper and easier to self-serve. They have it in various forms and the classics such as sausages, samgyeupsal, and pork galbi are a given.
What I love about this place, though, is that they serve duck. Yes, that is correct. Duck
I love duck. Like, you have no idea. It’s so succulent and tender and it’s supposedly good for your digestive system as well. This is usually my ultimate reason to come here. I mean, pork you can get anywhere. But duck? Not so.
In Korea, you share everything. That means you get enough for everybody. I had a friend who made the mistake of only getting enough for herself. I gently guided her back to the meat section (meaning I grabbed her hand and dragged her back hard – plate and all) and stuffed her place with enough for everybody. That’s how you do it in Korea.
Just make sure y’all don’t get too greedy now. There’s 5,000 won charge for excessive leftovers. Remember: you can always go back to get more if you still hungry!
Now onto the sides.
When you eat meat in Korea, the vegetarian sides are very important. I, for one, take kimchi very seriously. Luckily, this place has one of the best kimchis I’ve ever tasted. There’s also lettuce for those who like the lettuce wrap, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and onions. They even offer the brown marinade to dip the onions in: a classic Korean side dish.
But I would say the most unique part about this particular restaurant is the fruit. This right here is a huge deal. Why? Cuz when you in Korea, fruit is damn expensive!
The fruit is seasonal and subject to change depending on where you go. I’ve been here all seasons and I’ve seen watermelon, oranges, and even kiwi pass through. The apple, however, seems to always be there.
But don’t worry, my junk food aficionados. There’s also ice cream!
The buffet also offers a variety of fried foods and, of course, the rice. This is pretty much a given in all meat buffets though the type of fried food they serve will vary. Here, it’s mostly dumplings and spicy rice cakes but I know another place that serves pizza and fries. But quite frankly, I go for the meat so…
Once you sit down, you’re given a limit of 2 hours to stuff your face. Sometimes, during the weekday lunch periods, they tend to be slow which means they’re a bit more lenient with you lingering after your meal. During the dinner rush, though, be prepared to move once you finish that last piece because they will side-eye and judge you out tha door if you don’t (they’re actually quite nice, though. I promise).
This place really has it all: easy to find location, quality servings, and comparable prices (10,500 won until 5pm and then 11,500 won for dinner). So if you and your friends are in the area and got some big eaters in the group, I’d say check it out!
Hours: 11am – 11pm (NOTE: on Mondays, they don’t open until 5pm)
I had my soul sapped out of me for a good week. Maybe more.
Military concerts – concerts and performances held by the soldiers during their enlistment period. They’re usually carried out near their division barracks, which puts them outside of Seoul by a good hour or so. They are free, since they are sponsored by the public, and a fun way to meet up with other fans. Not to mention a welcome when le fangirl thought she wouldn’t see her favorite idol for two years.
They are also the bane of her existence.
*DISCLAIMER: I am NOT AT ALL criticizing these military concerts or the idols who partake in them. The whole point of this is to relay my own experiences and point out, though the idea sounds awesome, just keep in mind – it has its bad sides. It’s not for the weakhearted. It takes dedication! It takes strength! It takes a willingness to get up at 3 in the morning just for the SMALL chance that you will make it into the venue. IT. MEANS. WAR!
…just kidding…sort of.
I would also like to point out that this is not the same case for all idols. Not everyone’s oppas will join the military band and perform for the public. In fact, up until now, such cases were rather rare (if any existed). Cassiopeia just got really lucky…or unlucky. Depends on who you ask…
Why do we have it?
Actually, let me rephrase: Why does the South Korean government force every able-bodied adult male go through a rigorous, not-so-fun life of rationed meals, strict roll calls, and strenuous physical training for 21 months?
Well, the answer is rather simple, albeit sad: South Korea is still technically in a war. That ceasefire in 1953 was really just an agreement to not take out the big guns (literally and figuratively) and kill each other. But, you can’t trust nobody in this big, beautiful world so as my mother always says “Be prepared!”
That’s really the whole point of this dreaded enlistment – the idea that IF Korea were to break out into war, the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) will be ready! (my battle face)
But it’s not just gun-toting and barking orders these boys do. Sometimes, they provide public service as well, like working in government offices, carrying out civil duties (i.e. traffic patrol, clean-up, etc) and even promoting cultural events and social welfare to the general public.
That last one is where the military band comes in.
Now the truth is, I’m not extensively familiar with the South Korean military laws. I am Korean but alas, I am female. I have no immediate male siblings, my male cousins already served their time, and I really had no reason to care until my boys started their time in the barracks. So, if you want a history lesson on where and when the military band was established, I cannot help you. What I am guessing is that it’s fairly recent thing because I don’t recall hearing anything about any other celebrities doing this in the past. Actually, up until a few years back, I think it was even illegal…
What I do know is that the job of the military band is to provide entertainment to the mass while promoting well-being and South Korean culture. And the 26th Division Military Band Unit was no different.
Except they had Jung Yunho.
I’m just going to point out again that this does not mean your oppa will follow the same path and join the military band unit (though for a singer, it kinda makes sense). We were all surprised, too, when it was announced Yunho would be joining the band, and even then we (the fans) weren’t sure if that meant we’d be able to view his performances. I remember that T1Story &… concert – Yunho’s final one before enlistment – and we were all so sure this was goodbye for 21 months. I remember all the tears, the crying, the goodbyes we said to each other because we thought this was it for the next two years: no more performances, no more spazzing, no more reak dance moves, no more U Know Time…
And then it was announced Yunho would be performing in the military band unit of the 26th Division in the city of Yangju. Needless to say, Cassiopeia was hyped! This meant performances, right? This meant we could see him, right? This meant we could enjoy the magic that is U-Know Yunho and it’d be just like seeing him in concert again! Right?
Well…not exactly. And this is where the hard truth begins.
First, and foremost, these concerts are FREE. Let that beautiful word sink in: F-R-E-E – free. No money. No cash. No moolah necessary.
Now, you know that annoying voice in your head? That annoying one of reason that sounds like your mom, or your pretentious sister, or that philosophical kid in your debate class that just wouldn’t shut up about how psychologically realistic he was? You know that voice?
The one that always says: Nothing in life is free.
The event was free, yes. You could just stroll right in and be allowed to grab a spot. But that also meant everyone else could, too. I’m sure you can guess what happens as a result.
Lines. Long lines. One with over 1000 fans alone, all hoping to get in and see Yunho. A lot of these fans would come in from China and Japan, too, and come one, two, three days beforehand to line up and wait to enter into the venue. Some fans tried to make it easier by organizing a line-up where they would put up a post and you sent in a photo of it to them, and they would provide you with a number of entry. But no one knows ahead of time who, when, or where that’s gonna happen until it does and once they do, its a rush!
No, really. Have you seen 300 fangirls running in the same direction?
Now these concerts are located about a good amount of time away from Seoul. Most were in the city of Yangju and if you look on the Subway map, its near the very end of Line 1 (Dark Blue Line) and that’s just the station itself. The venues (ya know, where the concert actually is) were all about an hour or so away from said station. That’s even more time trying to get there. And public transportation in these areas is sparse. Buses took a good 30 minutes in between and who knows if you could even get on it. So the obvious answer to me is cabs. 15,000 won and a good conversation to boot…not to mention I cut out at least half of travel time (cabs take a more direct route than buses do).
Add to overnight accomodations (unless…ya know, you want to sleep outside…where it’s dark…and cold…and creepy AF) and food…lots of food actually…and having to get up at 5 in the morning for attendance check…
And to think, some people come from other countries just for this, too. My goodness.
So, the concert itself may be free, but the time you invest just to get a spot is incredible and the money you spend on room and food and…
Well, that’s just dedication, I guess.
The photo above is from the Ground Forces Festival in Gyeryong. Another huge military event that Yunho performed that. I had my soul sapped out of me for a good week. Maybe more.
And can I just say – country taxi drivers are just the cutest, if not tad predictable. This was usually what the conversation would be like when you get into a cab…
Ahjussi: Where to?
Me: *name place* and step on it, please.
Ahjussi: Is there some sort of event there?
Ahjussi: Is it Uknow Yunho?
Ahjussi: That guy is amazing! People come from all over the world come to see him! You know I just picked up a group of Japanese ahjummas for the very same reason?
Me: Doesn’t surprise me.
Ahjussi: So you’re just gonna stay out all night?
Me: That’s the plan.
Ahjussi: Why do so many people like him anyway?
Me: Would you like the reasons in alphabetical or chronological order by rank?
I recall another story of a friend who walked out of the station and a cab driver called them over to “hurry up! You have to see Yunho! Quickly!”
Like, she didn’t even say anything. They just knew. Such is the ahjussi way.
Then there’s the external factors which you have no control over. Weather (rural areas gets really, really cold at night), the crowds (these are for the locals, too, you know), and sometimes, the people themselves. Some people can get cray and just overall inconsiderate when seeing their favorite idol is on the line. Even just getting something with their faces on it is a big deal. You’d think it’d easy to get a flyer or a freakin’ pamphlet and it would be…if people weren’t grabbing stacks of 50 at a time.
But in the end, it’s pretty worth it. Call me biased but Yunho’s performance are amazing! He really puts his all when he performs, even while on duty. I bet he’s been practicing, too.
And this, too…
And the atmosphere. I’m not gonna lie – after the first one, I mainly started going, not just for him, but for the fans, too. I mean, yeah, we have problems and can be crazy and block each other on Twitter but in the end, we’re all together to support this guy. The cheering, the fan chants, just the overall feeling of being with people who are just. like. you. That moment when you look around and see all those lights flashing. For him. Together.
And hyper Yunho is always the best.
What’s not the best is after it’s all over and you have to get home. Hate to say this but the cab drivers at this time are not so cute. They charge an exorbitant amount for short distances or refuse to take you unless you’re going long distances that guarantee enormous cab fees. The other option is to wait for the bus which get packed with other fans going the same way.
Then there’s the fact that after these performances, you’re starving. You’re tired and sleepy, if you’re like me, absolutely done. Just so done and hangry. Convenient store food can only hold you over for so long.
That’s why I was really grateful for the last concert. That one started at 3 and ended right around dinner time. Took me and my friends a while to get to the restaurant we wanted to go, too, cuz like I said, them taxi ahjussis not so nice. But we eventually managed and celebrated our final time in Yangju with a bowl of pork soup. Courtesy of Pork Soup Restaurant in Yangju~
Overall, it’s…a crazy experience. You really have to commit, at least for one night and it really takes so much from you. But what you give up, you get back in spades when you see your oppa giving his all for his fans. So to the question is it worth it? My answer is a resounding YES. With Yunho, at least, I was never disappointed, and the memories are something I’ll always cherish (and probably bore my kids with in the future).
I’m not gonna lie, though. I am so ready for Yunho to come out resume his activities as an idol. And then Changmin, and then…
PS: all photos and videos which are not mine are being used with the full knowledge and permission from the rightful owners. Be sure to thank them when you have the chance. You’d be surprised at how hard it is to get good quality images!
Hey, guys! Jen here! My first post about living in Korea. And since it’s my first time posting, I decided to write about my very first…housewarming and sleepover. Hee.
Yup. I’ve been living in Korea since 2014 but this was my very first housewarming party and sleepover I’ve been to since I first moved here. Why did it take me so long?
Well, for the housewarming, it really does need a person who just moved into their own place recently. I came here as a college student so obviously, the people I first had the opportunity to meet weren’t really buying up apartments. In fact, many Koreans continue to live with their parents after they graduate, some even after they find a job and fully capable of taking care of themselves. This is a dwindling as more and more young Koreans would rather be independent and on their own rather than taking care of their parents. But just remember, it’s not weird to be 24 years old and still have your umma cooking your breakfast. In fact, the only sure way of knowing they are fully adulting and living in their own place is if they are married – and even then, there may be a parent in there, being taken care of by their dutiful children.
So anyways, those in my age bracket weren’t really at that place where they were finding jobs and asserting their place in the world. In fact, this friend – the one who had the housewarming – I didn’t even meet until late last year. She lived in Seoul then but then found a job at another international school in Bundang – a rather ritzy part juuuuuust outside of Seoul (like 20 minutes) and naturally got a new place there. And naturally, she needed to have a housewarming. And naturally I was invited (cuz the party don’t start til I walk in )
Now before you go “Oh, pffft, I know what a housewarming is” let me pause you right there. Housewarming in Korea is very different from those in the states (not sure how they do it in other places. Sorry). In America, housewarming is more for the host: it gives them a chance to show off their home while also subtly beg the guests to help out by bringing gifts that will help them settle into said home. Gifts like home decor items, food stuff, and even cleaning supplies are given and much appreciated.
In Korea, however, it is more about the guests. That means, you don’t invite anyone over until you have your furniture set up, all your pieces put together, and good silverware to serve the guests with. And don’t expect anyone to bring food: that is all on the host. In Korea, it’s considered bad form to not have any goodies to share with guests, and if you’re having a party, you better buy and prepare everything. My friend is from America as well but she was determined to do everything as Korean as possible. She got the samgyeupsal (sliced pork for grilling), the kimchi (the only veggies I willfully eat), and the alcohol (also a must). She even got an electric home-grill to cook the meat (also very common and very useful).
Another common and useful Korean item to have are low tables, or takja (“탁자” – table). Elaborate and separate dining rooms are things of the wealthy Koreans – just like dryers, ovens, and bathtubs – so people usually eat in the kitchen with a small table to eat on. This means that not only is the table not big enough to fit all those people but it’s also kind of insulting to have them eat on it – like, you can’t have your guests eat in the kitchen.
So the must-have item for pretty much every Korean (or those living long-term in Korea) is a low table. These are usually wooden and have collapsible legs which you can tuck in for easy storage when not in use. My waesukmo (‘외숙모’-maternal aunt by marriage) has one as well and she whips it out every seollal (설날- New Years) to serve the food on. You set it up in the sitting room area and just bring the food over. It’s just a convenient item to have when you have more guests then your chairs allow and it’s more comfortable for you and the guests. Cushions are also common but these are more optional: Koreans have no problem sitting on the floor and for those who must, there’s always furniture nearby to make them comfortable (usually a couch or bed).
Now, of course, being a party, the most important question – what do you bring as a gift to a Korean housewarming?
Koreans are very particular about gifts – there are certain items which may or may not be appropriate depending on your age, gender, and relationship to the host. Sometimes, it’s even considered rude to bring a gift. Luckily, that’s not so in cases of housewarming. Gifts are appreciated – just depends on what kind.
My first advice is, when in doubt, go with flowers. I’m serious. You can never go wrong with a bouquet of flowers. No matter the occasion or your relationship, flowers will always be appreciated. And Koreans don’t really have pollen allergies so you don’t have to worry about that.
To tell you just how okay flower bouquets are, I’m gonna tell you about a scene in the Korean film, My Love, My Bride where the newly wedded husband’s ex-girlfriend comes by for a post-dinner meal at the house with a bouquet of flowers. Now, if a hussy with a motive that has no business there can seem polite with a bouquet of flowers, then gosh darnit, so can you!
Another common gift item are medicine packs, particularly the good stuff, such as ginseng. You can never go wrong with these especially if there’s an over-30 somewhere in the house. These are also expensive but see it as a good investment if you plan to go into a long-term relationship (of any kind, really) with said person. You will always be remembered as the blessed one who was generous and kind-hearted enough to think of someone’s health. That goes a long way in Korean society.
Now, me, being a poor college student, and the host, being a basic white girl, meant I didn’t have to think too elaborately for my gift. So I actually got her a typical American gift – well, American in a sense that it’s a common gift idea in America. I got her a bunch of cleaning supplies and stuffed them all into a pretty trash can. But, of course, being in Korea meant all the items I got were from Daiso (the Korean dollar-tree basically) about a 10 minute walk from where I live.*Just FYI: do NOT think this is an appropriate gift for a Korean if you ever get invited to a common Korean household. A gift like this could actually seem very crude and insulting, not to mention it makes you look cheap – three things Koreans do not appreciate).
After that, it was as simple as finding the place, going in, helping her clean up, and enjoying all the meat, rice, and kimchi she prepared. Unfortunately, most of the guests had to leave before we could really dig into the alcohol but nonetheless, we had a very good time.I would say the first housewarming I went to was fun. We had some good talks and good food – I mean, really what more do you need?
Since I lived over an hour away from where my friend lived, and since I refused to be that person who has to rush to catch the last train, I chose to sleepover. Here’s a tip: the subway in Seoul ends earlier on the weekends. That means either you plan to leave early or make necessary arrangements if you can’t. An hour cab ride would cost a good 15 to 20,000 won (about 15-20 USD) so be prepared.
Overall, it was a fun night. And it being Saturday with school barely started thus our lives filled with no (t too many) worries, it was a chill, relaxed evening of fun. My only regret is we couldn’t play the card games my friend prepared – she’d gotten a pack of Drunk, Stoned, and Stupid – but that’s okay. There’s always next time. 😉
Dalsuni and Bapsuni, AKA: Ren and Jen – two girls made of sugar, spice, and everything salty. Currently living in Korea (Ren in Busan, Jen in Seoul) and absolutely loving it here! They made this blog just to share their life stories and have a place to talk whenever they want, wherever they want! “Suni” (pronounced soo-ni) is a shortened Korean slang word for bunny. It’s commonly used as an endearment term for girls by their loved ones, mainly attached to a word that means something the girl loves. So read on to learn more about each suni, and what they love and what they do.
Dalsuni, AKA: Ren – “dal” is Korean for moon, which has been an obsession of Ren’s since early childhood. Every notebook she’s owned since 1st grade has been covered in intergalactic bunny doodles. If it’s got a moon and stars theme, sign her up! Bunny was also one of her childhood nicknames that has endured to this day and can be seen in almost all of her online screennames.
Growing up a mixed kid in the southern US, Ren got into K-pop and eventually K-culture while trying to connect with her own. At the tender age of 12, she accidentally downloaded some K-pop and it was down the rabbit hole from there! Ren stans multiple groups now, but DBSK was the group that started it all off with their debut when she was 13. DBSK is such a huge part of her life that she even has a tattoo dedicated to ot5. Other than DBSK, her current top loves are Monsta X, BTS, Block B, VIXX, Dean, Jay Park and Hyuna. An official ARMY and MONBEBE, those two groups hold a special place in her heart along with DBSK. As an I-fan, Ren is able to offer insights into the differences between I-fans and K-fans, as well as overall life for a foreigner in Korea. Are the “fads” and fanwars you see on AKP really happening irl? How do you buy concert tickets or join a fanclub? Is the fanclub even worth the money spent?
Other than K-pop, Ren loves cooking, skincare, videogames, sci-fi, and animation. Her dream is to open a true Cajun restaurant in Korea and spread the love of good home-style American cooking. Before Korea, Ren attended a cosmetology school and is obsessed with trying new skin products, so you can expect a lot of honest reviews about what to spend money on and what to skip. Sensitive skin and want to try out that new Korean facemask you’ve seen plastered all over the internet? Have to stay within a budget and want to know if the product actually does what it says? Ren has the answers and the VIP memberships at various brands to find out. When not cooking for friends, immersed in a good sci-fi novel, or binge watching a new show, she’s at the pc room trying to get the golden D.Va guns. If it’s nerdy, Ren’s into it.
Bapsuni, AKA: Jen – “bap” means rice and/or food in Korean. In other words, Jen lives for food. She knows all the best eats: where it’s good, where it’s cheap, and how to get there! Meat-lovers rejoice for she is one of you and hits up meat-buffets like her second home (like, they know her there. Don’t judge). She also loves nothing more than to chill back at a cafe afterwards for some good cake and conversation.
But don’t think eating is all she does. This girl has another love in her life: DBSK (that’s really how she and Ren met). A fan since 2004 (she was 10!), she has been an avid follower of the group since and loves them now, post-split and all. Unlike Ren, Jen chooses to love one group only (actually two now but she just can’t pick a side) but don’t think she knows any less about K-pop and the Hallyu Wave in general. Her massive collection of albums and DVDs is enough to tell you she knows how to get the good stuff, and she makes it a POINT to go to all the Korean events that’s happening with any of her boys. Concert? So there. Fanmeeting? Yup. A free event which will require some overnight roughin’ it just to make sure she can get in? Well, she did it before and she can do it again. Knowing and understanding Korean also gives Jen an advantage, and she’s been sharing and translating news updates and SNS posts for years. She even translated an entire musical script once! As a veteran fan, she knows all the insider tips and tricks to make the most out of any fan event. And as a Korean with a deep, ingrained understanding of Korean culture and mindset, she may even be able to answer all those nagging questions you’ve had about Koreans in general. Like, why do they not want their idols to date? Why is the military enlistment such a big deal? What’s the deal with all the drinking games? And most importantly, um…why do they freak out about foreigners (oh, come on. Don’t pretend like you haven’t noticed).
Together, these two sunis hope to present their stay in Korea: the good, the bad, and all in between. With two such different people working together, you can expect different perspectives, ideas, and even opposite sides on the going-ons of Korean daily life. But perhaps that’s what makes this blog so interesting -anyone is welcome no matter their history, preferences, or ideas. So check it out, stick around, and leave a comment or ten. Welcome to SuniSuni~