Store Wars: Line vs. Kakao

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Before going to Korea, I told my family that I need to have a picture with that “Big-Brown-Teddy” in Myeong-dong. Yes, that was Brown from LINE and I won’t go home without having a picture with it. Also, I told myself that I need to buy that “Pink-Thingy” from KAKAO for my best friend. Yes, that was Apeach- (Jin Young for Agases).

I wasn’t really a “fan” of these applications, as I don’t use it and didn’t know the names of the characters. But seeing their stores in almost every place in Korea, I finally realized what I was missing out.

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LINE and KAKAO characters are both very popular in Korea. These characters have been featured in various cosmetic items, making them as covers for their hand cream, cushion and even face mask. And, it doesn’t end there!

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Coming to LINE STORE in Myeong-dong, I was in awe. The store itself looked like an amusement park, the only thing missing are the rides! Brown, the LINE bear, was in the middle of the store entrance- and people would line up just to get a picture with him!

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LINE stationary items, essentials, toys and accessories were displayed at the ground floor. There was even a LINE cafe together with it! At the second floor, more LINE characters were waiting to take a photo! They were all so cute, I had to stay there for a long time. Displayed were LINE shirts, hoodies, and various apparels.

Next, the KAKAO store.

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Coming to COEX mall, I accidentally bumped into KAKAO store. There’s actually not much difference between KAKAO and LINE store items but, regarding their “ambiance”, this particular KAKAO branch was rather a “typical” one.

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KAKAO only had one floor in COEX and it was filled with people admiring the cuteness of these characters. The cashier was also having a great time! (You know what I mean ^^)

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Majority of KAKAO’s items though were stuff toys- of the different “emotions” of their characters.

So, with this, who won the “store wars”?

Both of them!

Of course it really depends on which app are you most familiar with. But the fact that both LINE and KAKAO jumped out from that mobile application barrier, turning them into one of Korea’s most popular characters where people around the world can recognize, makes them both successful and worth visiting when you come to Korea.

Written Krew Member Maxx Chua

The Perks of Studying Korean

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Kamusta ka?, did you understand that phrase? If you did, then you might know Tagalog. I will assumt hat you are fluent in English by being able to read this post! You know, living in the Philippines has its advantages and it is because we are exposed to a bilingual type of environment: where people can speak two languages fluently.

In turn, it is easier for us to converse with other people. But as a Korean fan, did you know that adding Korean to our everyday language, is even better! Let me tell you how.

Asides from simply understanding what Song Joong Ki is saying in dramas and knowing what B.I was rapping about in “Rhythm Ta”, learning Korean can help us express ourselves more, increase our intellectual capacity- not to mention even decrease our chances of dementia and help us be ready for our “globalized” world.

There are some words in a certain dialect that cannot be translated. Can you please tell me how to translate, “kilig” in English? Nothing, right? You’d probably describe the feeling rather than a translating the word. How about “멍 (meong)” in Korean? I can’t think of an English word; “dumfounded“, “stare“, “Song Ji-Hyo“?

With this you get to express yourself more because you don’t need to find an equivalent meaning or explain yourself in long sentences when the word that you want to say is right in front of you! You might not notice how many times you already said “aigoo” during your stressful moments.

Another is that learning Korean can help deepen our cognitive ability. It can helps us in multi-tasking, thus expanding the capacity of our brain to work. Studies also show that learning another language helps decrease dementia because it helps our memory. What is it that we do when we learn Korean? We memorize, we recall and we adopt. That’s what exercises our brain constantly.

Lastly, learning Korean can help us as we enter a globalized world. Admit it or not, in finding a job, it would be an asset if you know three (3) languages- or more. Not just that but, if your boss finally assigns you a project in Korea, you won’t think twice because you can converse confidently in Korean!

There’s definitely a number of things you haven’t realized you’re gaining in studying Korean. Sometimes, a drama can get you a job, a song lyric can help you with your memory and a Korean word can help you express yourself!

Face it, there’s more than just understanding what Song Joong Ki said.

Written by Krew Member: Max Chua

The Ultimate Weight-Loss Secret: KPOP

 

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It’s nearly the half of 2017 but have you already started your fitness journey?

Don’t fret, it’s not too late! I got you covered! I’m here to unravel the ultimate weight loss secret and that is “KPOP”. Yes, Korean Pop!

So how do you lose weight with it? It’s when you:

  1. Dance to KPOP. img_79302

Dancing is considered a cardio workout and that means “an exercise that raises your heart rate” (Health Status, 2015). Not to mention an added heartbeat from fangirling over your oppa’s voice, dancing to KPOP would get your body moving and sweating in no time! Almost forgot, random dancing is considered “dancing”. (High five on that!)

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  1. When you listen to KPOP.

If dancing is not your thing then use KPOP as your workout music! Studies show that people who listen to music while exercising: walking, jogging, lifting weights, etc., tend to increase their endurance by up to 15% (Live Science, 2009). Also, music gets you in your zone, encourages you to move more and lessens the possibility of any distraction getting into you. So focus, Jimin (BTS) might get mad!

  1. When you enjoy KPOP.img_7930

Lastly, losing weight should be a “journey” not a race. Most of us are easily stressed-out when the scale doesn’t budge! So, enjoying KPOP- dancing to it, moving with it, living with it, is just the easiest way to lose weight. Merely because you don’t feel like you need to lose weight- you’re not pressured because of it. Rather, you’re enjoying and having the time of your life! And, both are very important keys that many miss out with weight loss.

So, I hope you learned something from me! KPOP does help you lose weight in a fun way!

Start your fitness journey by enrolling at the Korean Cultural Center’s KPOP dance classes! The online registration is at May 10, 2017 and stay tuned for more updates through KCC’s Facebook page!

*** To encourage you, I actually lost 10 pounds in 1 ½ months just dancing to KPOP, playing badminton and eating right! I didn’t feel stressed: no counting calories, no weight lifting, no [insert-stressful-exercise-here]! I just randomly danced to KPOP and enjoyed my weight loss journey- it is called a “journey” after all. ^^

Written by Krew Member: Max Chua

Gwangjang, food jjang! Experience Seoul taste in a market

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Located at Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 광장시장 (Gwangjang Sijang) or Gwangjang Market is known for their delicious Korean street food!

Considered as Korea’s first market, it continues to be one of the most popular tourist destinations of Korea (Visit Korea, 2017).

There is no food greater than street food and tasting Korea’s local flavors allows one to experience the Seoul culture through eating — I couldn’t think of any better way to!

Gwangjang market offers a wide variety of food from Oemok (fish cakes), Mandu (dumplings), Sundae (blood sausages), Naengmyeon (cold noodles), Kimbap (seaweed rice roll) and more!

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Food stalls would even post tarpaulins of them being featured on particular local variety show to attract tourists! Actually, if I were you, you’ll enjoy this market more if you watch Running Man Episode 186 (Shim Eun Kyung), one of my favorite Running Man episodes!

But, more than these facts, why do you need to stop by Gwangjang Sijang anyway?

Here are my reasons:

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  1. Deliciousness-Overload

What’s good about Gwangjang street food is that each stall offers a different type of flavor! No stall is the same! A mere ddeokbokki (rice cake) can be done in Chinese style — using sweet chili sauce, or Korean style — chili sauce made from gochujang and sugar!

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  1. Cheapness like no other

Another joy of eating street food is that your wallet won’t be complaining even after eating 10 (ten) dishes!

Bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) is a must try in Gwangjang! It’s the first thing you’ll see upon entering the market — that is if you went to the right entrance! That onion-vinegar sauce just matches the crispiness of the pancake!

Bindaetteok only costs 4,000-5,000 Won, Kimchi/Meat Mandu costs around 5,000 Won, Mayak Kimbap (drug kimbap) for about 2,500 Won. Where else can you eat something that is both cheap and delicious? Face it, this is the best place for pigging-out!

  1. Meokbang on Insta-bang!

For those of you who don’t know “meokbang,” it means “food program.” The term comes from “먹어” (meogo) meaning “eat” and “방송” (bang song) meaning show or program. In my own term, meokbang means, “make-them-jealous-of-you-eating” program! I remember those Running Man episodes where Jae Suk would munch on Mandu and I would get hungry- well, who’s eating it now! Kidding!

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Gwangjang Market is the best place for you to “meokbang”. You can eat a lot, post a lot without spending a lot!

If you’re coming to Korea this year, I hope you can drop by Gwangjang Market- it’s definitely street food heaven!

Written by Krew Member Maxx Chua

(위) Arii Hills: Skywalk, Zipline & the View

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During my free time in Korea, I accidentally browsed through a Korean article about Arii Hills: Byeongbangchi Skywalk located in Jeong Seon, Gangwon-do. I didn’t know anything about Korea having a “skywalk” and was pretty excited about it. I told my mom about this and, surprisingly, she agreed to go — immediately, the next day! My mom even studied the route and intercity bus schedules. Who’s a Korean fan now, mom?

So here’s how we went:

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We took the bus from Dong Seoul bus terminal to Jeongseon intercity bus terminal. It costs about 19,300 won each person.

Printed on the ticket is your destination, time and date of departure, platform number, and seat number but you can actually just sit anywhere!

Arriving at Jeongseon terminal, you can take the Arii Hills resort shuttle bus or take a taxi — we did the latter because patience was not one of our “virtues”.

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We finally arrived at Byeongbangchi Skywalk, and tickets were worth 1,000 to 2,000 won per person, depending on age. Before entering the skywalk, we had to cover our shoes with blue “shoe-clothes” to protect the tempered glass we were going to walk on.

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As we enter the skywalk, it actually felt more like an “extended balcony”. Yup, it’s a “U” shaped structure and according to their website, it only measures 11m long! We were a bit disappointed and my mom was a little “mad” but, the view was priceless- and that calmed my mom. If you’ve gone to Cebu’s Crown Regency skywalk, that’s way more thrilling and that’s what a “skyway” should be. Regardless though, the experience was still worth it.

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Unfortunately, after spending about 10 minutes on that “balcony” (I’m sorry), my mom was still not satisfied with “just-the-view”. She told me, “Take the zipline! That way our four hour ride would pay off”. I was taken a back and I literally said, “What? I’m not yet ready!!”

If you’ve rode a zipline before, you probably know that it takes about 10 minutes to decide whether to go or not, another 10 minutes in hesitating to buy the ticket and 20 minutes to sync-in your mental, physical and overall “body system” that you’re going on that ride! Not to mention an extra 5 minutes for prayer and confession!

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Eventually, after all that “chaos,” I decided to go.

Here’s the fun part! I was supposed to ride alone and was scheduled to ride at 1:50 pm. However, the shuttle which was going to fetch me after the zipline, will arrive at 2:30 pm. So, if ever, I had to wait for 37 minutes since the ride only lasts 3 minutes. My mom was hesitant with this so, guess what, my family joined me in zip-lining! Now I know those scaredy cats love me more than their fears. “#Grateful”

The Arii Hills Zipline costs 40,000 won per person. There are four zipline stations and all three of us rode on the same time! This way, you get to enjoy it with your family!

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You’ll be sitting on a “swing” type of chair and you’ll be riding together with your bags. The ahjussi will give you instructions- in Korean, but, if you can’t understand just remember, “pictures are worth a thousand words“! So, you’ll get it!

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Whoooosh!

“Ahhhh”

At first, you’ll feel the butterflies in your stomach and that cold rush of the wind! After a while though, I gently opened my eyes and, wow, you’ll be amazed of the beautiful scenery! Riding that zipline, I felt so “stressed-free” and definitely felt blessed! I couldn’t say anything else but, “Thank you, Lord.”

While riding the zipline, don’t shout too much because someone would be taking your picture from below! You don’t want that “perfect-O” from your mouth! Laugh at me now.

Going to Arii Hills, taking the skywalk, enjoying the zipline and loving the scenery, was definitely a great way to see the other side of Korea! Indeed it was a great opportunity for us to bond as a family, face our fears and discover the hidden treasures of Jeongseon, Gangwon-do. You should go too!

By the way, did you get the blog title? Arii Arii”. ^^

Written by Krew member Max Chua

Fantastic Eats and Where to find them-in Korea.

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Whenever we go abroad, my family and I would just “go with the flow” and eat in  restaurants where it is convenient for us.

So, here is where the tide took us. Unfortunately, I cannot remember all Korean restaurants we visited but, here are some that might kick start your food trip when you visit Korea.

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  1. Kimbap Chingu, Myeong-dong.img_1463

If you want to eat light or simply craving for kimbap, “Kimbap Chingu” is the place to be. They have a variety of kimbap flavors including bulgogi, shrimp and kimchi. Unfortunately, the weather was bad and it was raining hard during the time we ate there so we ended up ordering spicy tofu stew and dumplings instead!

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The menu is in Korean and i-mo will give you a “check-list” to put in your order. After eating, you go to the cashier to pay.

*In Korean restaurants, you don’t say “ajuhmma” to the female servers, rather you call them “i-mo” for respect.

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  1. Food Cafe, Dongdaemun

Near the vicinity of Doota Duty Free, “Food Cafe” is a great place to satisfy your katsu cravings! Side dishes are “self-service” so, if you ran out of kimchi and pickled radish, shouting “i-mo” would be a no-no. We ordered omurice, which was delicious; curry katsu, perfectly fried and of course spicy tofu stew. I love the spicy tofu stew (chige) so much I had to eat it in almost every meal!

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Don’t worry, the menu has “subtitles.”

*Fun fact, for some reason, waiters of this particular branch were very good at Mandarin.

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  1. Han Il Jang, Jeongro 3-ga

My mom’s definition of Korean food is “gogi“(meat)- period. I think it was only on our third day in Korea where we found out about this gogi restaurant near our hotel! What’s unique about this particular restaurant is how they grill the meat — slightly tilting one side of their skillet downward, allowing the oil to drop on a saucer while cooking the meat. Pretty smart, right?img_2100

About ten side dishes were served and you also have toimg_1071 go to the cashier to pay for the bill.

  1. Song Ok, Gangnam-gu

Because we were so tired in finding a particular store in Gangnam-gu, we accidentally stopped by this place! They offered bibimbap which was delicious and the fun part was how i-mo was waiting for me to say “chal meokkaseumnida”.

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  1. Food Capital, Lotte World

Of all the restaurants we tried, “Food Capital” is definitely one of the best. Over 30+ food varieties from about 10+ different stalls (brands), they offered jajangmyeon, jjamppong, sweet and sour pork, katsu, and anything you can imagine! Of course, in a Korean setting!

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Upon choosing from what I call the “glass-menu,” you have to pay at the cashier.
The lady would give you a buzzer for each meal you ordered. Take note, you don’t get your food from the same stall- it depends on which restaurant you ordered your food! The “glass-menu” tells you that so, better read it well! We didn’t know about this so we had to guess from the 10+ stalls!

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  1. COEX Mall Lower Ground, Samseong-dong

The hidden gem of COEX Mall- the food court! It’s not your average food court, it’s a food heaven! From hundreds of varieties, we ended up getting from “Kushideli”: fried calamari and tempura; “Genzi-Ya”: maki haven and from “Carpaccio”: sushi and more sushi! The perfect example of “pigging-out”.

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You definitely have to visit these restaurants when you come to Korea! I know there are more gogi places, jjamppong restaurants and the like but, I hope this can help you know where to start.

Enjoy food trippin’ in Korea!

Written by Krew Member Max Chua

A K-chef’s must guide: 3 things your fridge’s got to have.

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While every Filipino household would always have suka and toyo;

Oyster sauce and rice wine for Chinese;

Sake and mirin for Japanese,

Of course, Koreans also have their own favorite seasonings.

Have you tried cooking Korean food? I cook Korean dishes every time I’m craving for a hearty meal or when I am “influenced” by K-dramas. Yes, Kim Bok Ju made me crave for kimchi bokkumbap! There was even a time when I was so desperate to taste that spicy ddeokbokki and that salty-sweet omurice that I had to immediately get the recipe and cook it. Back in the days, Korean restaurants were hard to find so, I had to make them from scratch.

So, here’s Korea’s top three favorite ingredients that every K-cook’s got to keep in the fridge, especially when the craving calls and when the tummy calls for mommy!

  1. Gochujang (고추장)8801007166452

Yes, Gochujang (고추장) is that spicy red paste included in almost every Korean dish! You can make chige (stew) with this; ddeokbokki, bibimbap, or even as a dip for your gogi (meat)! You can get this for less than 200 pesos, depending on the size, and you can make a lot of Korean dishes with this. Now, store it in your fridge!

  1. Sesame Oilgr1000

That savory smell of sesame is the secret to almost every fragrant Korean dish. Mostly, cooks use this for kimbap but you can also add this to your kimchi bokkumbap. Sesame Oil is also used as a sauce and marinade for meat- added with garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. Korean side dishes like sigeumchi namul (spinach) and sukju namul muchim (mung bean sprouts) are also seasoned with salt and sesame oil after blanching. So, now you know!

  1. Kimchi (김치)kimchyuglyveg

Personally, anything I eat with kimchi  makes the food “Korean” to me. Kimchi, because it is fermented, doesn’t go bad easily. You can store it for months and still use it to make a lot of Korean dishes. Fun fact, the older the kimchi, the sour it gets.

Boiling kimchi and gochujang together would make you kimchi chige (stew). This combination can also be the soup base for any of your favorite Korean stews. Kimchi can also be a side dish, a filling for your kimbap and you can even make pasta sauce with it!

These are just a few from a number of Korean ingredients but, I hope you can start working with these on your next dish!

*images taken from Google.

Written by Krew Member Max Chua