Will Travel For Fandom: What You Should Know Before Making Your Dream Trip Happen

Ever wondered what it’s like to fly out of the country for the love of fandom? Here, we give you the lowdown on traveling for what you’re most passionate about – K-Pop!

 

It’s not impossible.

The first thing you should know about traveling for fandom is that it’s not impossible. If mutuals on your feed can do it, then so can you! As cheesy as it sounds, believing that you will be able to travel to see your faves someday will motivate you to achieve your goal.

Traveling while achieving some #FanGoals sounds like a great idea!

 

You don’t have to be rich.

This is probably the biggest misconception of most fans. While traveling will always involve money, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be rich to be able to do so. Being wise with your spending habits is the key to feed your travel fund. For more helpful tips on saving up for fandom, read this: IPONING 101: The K-Pop Stan’s Guide To Saving Up.

Former Krew member Lei, a Melody, travels whenever she can to support BTOB. “I work two jobs. I scrimp on other things like clothes, shoes, bags, and others. I’ve learned to let go of them. I use just one bag for work and don’t buy a new one until it’s broken. I’m also my family’s breadwinner. I cover my brother’s tuition, our house loan, and other expenses. It’s hard to balance life with fangirling, but if you really want to, there’s always a way.”

 

Don’t be afraid to travel alone.

For some, especially first-time travelers, traveling alone can be more daunting than exciting.

If you’re going on a solo fan pilgrimage and the nerves are catching up on you, go and find ways to get some company during your stay. Book a shared dorm at a hostel and make friends with your roommates. Chances are, one of them is also a K-Pop fan!

I opted to stay at a hostel in the zippy neighborhood of Itaewon. There were six people (me included) in the room I occupied, and there was not a day that went by that I didn’t have a K-Pop fan for a roommate. The first one was a huge Wannable from Taiwan and another, who came later, was a Chinese NCTizen.

You can also check on mutuals if any of them will be in Korea around the same time as you or search on SNS if there are fans who are also looking for a concert buddy on D-Day. Of course, you still have to be cautious of who you talk to online, so run a thorough check on their profiles and never disclose any of your sensitive information to them. If you don’t want to fuss over looking for a companion, you can simply make new friends at the event!

 

Be smart. Avoid scams.

The situation: Tickets to the concert or event you wish to attend sold out in a flash. Don’t panic! Before resorting to resellers, wait it out and revisit the ticketing website after a few days. Some people may have cancelled their tickets, which you can now avail.

Ms. Nicole, the Public Relations Officer of KCC, scored tickets to G-Dragon’s Act III: M.O.T.T.E World Tour in Seoul after slots re-opened, due to people cancelling their ticket purchases.
G-Dragon Act III: M.O.T.T.E World Tour in Seoul

Also, it’s best to have your name printed on the ticket, as some organizers are stricter than others and will definitely check if you personally bought the ticket you’re holding. There have been instances when fans who bought from resellers were denied entry to events, since the name on the ticket they have doesn’t match with the ID they presented.

Now, if resellers are your only hope, check on their legitimacy before paying for the ticket. Visit their page and read reviews of customers who have purchased from them. Are the reviews positive? Negative? Mixed? Questionable? You may also drop the reseller a message to strike a chat with them. Are they accommodating? Do they sound trustworthy? Are they the type who’d be open to price negotiations? These are questions you have to ask yourself when purchasing a ticket from a reseller.

Here’s a clever technique Krew member Dawn used to check the legitimacy of a reseller’s claims: “I gave the the reseller a condition. I asked her to send me pictures of her holding the ticket next to a glass of water just to make sure that she actually has the ticket and that she’s not just fooling me into buying a ticket that does not exist.”

Fansigns are a bit more complicated to get through; however, buying in bulk will give you higher chances of getting a fansign pass, so be ready to shell out a chunk of your money, as trying your luck at fansign lotteries can get extremely costly.

Ms. Pao, KCC’s Events Coordinator, suggests buying in stores that are not near the city center for increased odds of winning in the fansign lottery. She met her ultimate idol Kim Jaejoong at a fansign event in Korea in 2013.

 

Timing? Play it by ear.

Ms. Nicole, a Hottest, didn’t miss the chance to be part of 2PM’s 6Nights Concert, just before members Taecyeon and Jun. K enlisted for Korea’s mandatory military service.

Needless to say, the best time to travel for fandom is when your fave group is holding a series of concerts, celebrating their anniversary, or making a comeback. But it’s not everyday these happen, so it would be smart of you to review your bias group’s past schedules, see if there’s a noticeable pattern in their activities, then plan your trip accordingly.

I just really wanted to be in Seoul for the anniversaries of my two favorite groups – SHINee (25 May) and SEVENTEEN (26 May). I’m glad I got to celebrate these special days in the company of fellow Shawols and Carats.

Any avid K-Pop stan would know that some events are announced out of the blue, so always stay tuned for event updates from entertainment companies, official SNS pages of the group you follow, and reputable news sites.

Here’s a tip: Be on the lookout for events happening on the dates you chose to travel. I was beyond thrilled when it was announced that Day6 and Nell would be holding separate concerts at the 2018 Seoul Jazz Festival (SJF), which fell on the first weekend of my trip last May. While SJF wasn’t the main reason why I went to Seoul, attending it definitely made my visit even more memorable. Never did I think I would see two of my favorite Korean bands perform full concert sets live on the same day!

There are some fans who wouldn’t book plane tickets until they score tickets to the event they want to attend. But if you’ve already bought return tickets and no event falls on the dates you’ve chosen, don’t be discouraged! There are a lot of fun activities for K-Pop fans that you can try on your trip like taking a walking tour of the entertainment agencies’ offices (Who knows? You might be able to spot a celebrity!), taking a stroll down the K-Star Road in Gangnam and snapping a pic with the Gangnamdol of your bias group, singing your heart out at a noraebang, and dining at an idol-owned or idol-themed restaurants and cafés among many others!

 

JYP Entertainment’s former office building in Gangnam. The agency has just relocated to a new HQ in Gangdong-gu.
The K-Star Road is home to a line of “GangnamDols” – statues erected in honor of some of the most popular K-Pop acts today.
Take a bite of these sweet artist cupcakes sold at the SUM Café in SMTOWN@coexartium

 

Being part of the official fanclub of your bias group has its perks.

If you’re dead set on visiting Korea to participate in your bias groups’ activities, you might want to consider signing up for the official fanclub. Every group has their own recruitment period, but most happen in the first half of the year, when things are just about to pick up steam.

Some of the advantages that official fanclub members have are being able to access exclusive content in the Fancafe, getting first dibs on artist merchandise and certain event tickets (including concerts and fan meetings), being prioritized at music show recordings, and more!

I capped off my recent Seoul trip at 17’s Cut, an exhibit organized by Pledis Entertainment to commemorate SEVENTEEN’s third anniversary and to showcase the artwork of members Mingyu and The8 (Xu Minghao). The event was announced a few days before my trip, and its opening day coincided with my last full day in Seoul. As an official Carat, I got to participate in the preselling period. Ticketing was still intense, though, and tickets for my chosen day sold out in a minute! I ended up extending my trip, since I scored slots beyond the duration of my intended stay in Korea.

 

Widen your horizons.

Sure, South Korea is the mecca of K-Pop, but it’s not the only place where you can experience the hype of your fandom while traveling. Every year, countless K-Pop concerts and events happen around the world, some of which you can attend for cheap and visa-free too!

The first time I traveled for fandom, I flew to Taiwan for SHINee. I was a K-Pop newbie when they kicked off their fifth world tour in Seoul during the second half of 2016 and I knew nothing about how ticketing went abroad, so I missed a couple of their stops. By early 2017, I was getting hopeless. Although I saw them at One K Global Peace Concert in Manila, all I could think about back then was how I had to see them in a solo show before any of them enlisted in the military, which I knew would be soon. So when it was announced that they would come to Taipei in June last year, I didn’t dare miss it. Not one bit do I regret taking that trip. It was the last time I saw all five members of my first love in K-Pop share a stage live.

Dawn, a die-hard EXO-L, on a post-concert high in Thailand. “Attending an EXO concert in Korea is the dream, but airfare is too expensive and I’m really worried about being denied a visa. Availing the S.M. Global Package wasn’t an option either, as there’s no guarantee that I will get a visa. So following friends’ recommendations, I went to The EXO’rDIUM in Bangkok, and it was really fun! I got to experience everything I wanted at an EXO concert: lightsticks changing colors, water effects for certain stages like “Light Saber” and “White Noise”, and, for the first time, Zhang Yixing! I couldn’t ask for more.”

Lei meeting her ultimate bias, BTOB’s Ilhoon, in Japan. I was supposed to leave Japan after a week of attending BTOB promotions, but I missed my plane. I had even said goodbye to Ilhoon already, so he was taken by surprise when he saw me again at Tower Records’ polaroid event. I was really happy, since we were wearing outfits of the same colour and he initiated a heart pose!”

 

This is YOUR trip.

“Sayang pera!” “Di naman yan praktikal!” “Puro ka K-Pop!”

Those who travel for fandom, especially for K-Pop, are often met with snide remarks from people who have never felt a strong urge to take a trip for something they are truly passionate about. Don’t let what they say spoil your plans. First and foremost, they’re not paying for your trip. You worked (and dreamed) hard enough to deserve this, so go and have fun!

Traveling for fandom is more than just seeing your faves staging a concert. It’s also an opportunity for you to widen your worldview, heighten your appreciation for other cultures, connect with people from different walks of life, and experience something out of the ordinary.

 

Don’t rush it.

If things around you aren’t favorable at the moment, don’t force yourself into taking a trip that might compromise your academics, your job, your financial state, or even your safety and security.

Travel only when you’re completely ready and able, so you can make the best out of your trip.

 

PS.

If you need some advice on traveling for fandom that you can’t find here, don’t hesitate to drop me a message on Twitter (@andybidibidis_) or Instagram (@lilili.right.here). I’d be more than happy to help you! 🙂

 

Words by Krew member Andy Flores | Photos from Andy Flores, Lei Reyes, Nicole Del Rosario, Dawn Naval, and Paola Ebora

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Shopping Tips in Korea

Travels always incorporate shopping – it may be for the reason of wanting to get a souvenir from your trip or bringing home some ‘pasalubong’ for your loved ones! Whatever your reasons are, if you will be doing it Korea, here are some ways to maximize your budget.

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  1. Tax-Free Shops (Duty-Free)

You can easily get your branded favorites at huge department stores that offer tax-free items. These chains are operated by big Korean companies like Lotte, Shilla, and Shinsegae. You can find them in the busy downtown districts or even at the airport! Once you purchase at a duty-free shop, you just need to keep the receipt and claim your item at the airport (there’s a designated area for the duty-free products) after passing through the immigration. (Process may differ from one location to another so make sure to ask the information desk of the duty-free shop.)

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  1. Tax Refund Shops

‘Tax refund’ process is actually easier than most people think. There are shops that already indicate they are ‘Tax Refund/ Tax-Free Shop’ and will give you coupons that you need to present once you pay for your items.

Here are the steps:

  1. Make sure that the items you bought accumulate at least 30,000 won (1,500 PHP) and a maximum of 200,000 won (10,000 PHP) on single receipt purchase. Also, the total amount of all your receipts would only reach 1,000,000 won (50,000 PHP) for the entire duration of your Korea trip.
  2. Keep the receipts along with the purchased goods. You must present the VAT refund receipts to the customs officer to get the Customs Export Approval stamp. You may use the kiosk for a total refund of less than 75,000 won (3,750 PHP). There are also tax refund booths that would assist you in the process.

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3. Traditional markets or shopping streets

If you are sick of processed goods, then the traditional market is the best place to be. Aside from supporting small businesses, you can also get items at a lower cost. Also, there are items that you can only find in these places so keep an eye to it! The best part is that compared to huge shopping malls and shops, you can ask for discounts here! 좀 갂아주세요. (Chum- Kakkajuseiyo – Please give me a discount!) As for the shopping streets, holidays also mean bigger discounts for shoppers!

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  1. Souvenir shops in famous landmarks

You are pretty much lucky if you read through until here. Even though there are ‘tax-free and tax refund shops,’ you can notice easily that souvenir and some goodies are still cheaper on local stores located at famous landmarks. I, myself got to experience buying the same item with a doubled or tripled price from the tax refund shop than in a local store. Make sure to check the prices of the items you are eyeing to score the cheapest ones!

Written by Krew Member Mikay Javier

IPONING 101: The K-Pop Stan’s Guide to Saving Up

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“I-announce niyo na yung ticket prices, please, para makapag-ipon na ko!”

“Ang lapit naman ng ticket selling! ‘Di pa ko nakaka-ipon! T.T”

“Ang mahal naman! Wala pa ‘kong pera!!!”

Do these sound familiar? You must have cried something similar at least once in your life as a fan, and I could totally relate!

Being a K-Pop stan is costly. This is something I learned the hard way when I entered the fandom a little over a year ago with a decent account balance, only to feel as though I’ve gone bankrupt a few months later with more artist merchandise than money in my possession.

True enough, it’s all fun and exciting until you realize that you pretty much have nothing left to spend for more important things and – well, let’s all be honest here – more K-Pop. So what’s the right thing for a fan to do? Iponing, of course!

Saving up has since become more than just a habit to me; it’s a lifestyle, as it should be for you. After all, how else would you fund that gorgeous comeback album or that much-coveted concert ticket? If you’ve got better ideas, let me know. But for now, here are some tips on mindful saving and spending for K-Pop fans:

Don’t wait. Just start.
There’s no better time to start saving up than NOW. Even though it has not been announced that your favorite group is coming to the country or that they will be releasing a new album soon, it would be smart of you to grow your fandom fund as early as now, so when the time comes, you wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to afford joining a group order or being part of #TeamBahay – slash – #TeamLabas.

Set a goal
All of us have something we want to save up for, and for fans, it’s most likely a concert, a comeback album, or a dream trip to the mecca of K-Pop and K-Dramas, South Korea.

Now, think about what yours is and focus on that goal. Make a rough estimate of the price that comes with it, then use it as your target. It may seem tough to achieve at first, but not impossible. You’ll feel much more motivated to save up if you have a definite goal in mind.

Decide on where to keep your savings
So is it the old school glass jar or cutesy piggy bank for you? Whatever you choose, know that deciding on where to keep your savings is crucial. Make sure it’s accessible and convenient yet secured.

Personally, I prefer keeping my savings in the bank. I have an account that I maintain to fund my wants and wants only, which includes my K-Pop splurges. This prevents me from touching the amount I have in my actual savings account, which I consider strictly off-limits.

Compromise, not sacrifice.
They say a bit of sacrifice goes a long way. But don’t you think “sacrifice” is too dramatic a word? If anything, it makes the whole idea of saving up more daunting! So I say compromise – not sacrifice.

How? Well, there are “little” things you spend on daily that you can get through more cost-efficient means. Start keeping track of your expenses, and check which items you can cut back on or, better yet, ultimately stop paying for.

For instance, instead of buying coffee at your favorite café, why not just make your own brew at home? Ever considered bringing packed (and healthier) meals to school or work? How about bringing your own bottle of water or snacks to curb those sudden cravings?

While the small stuff you spend on may not be that noticeable in your everyday spending pattern, such expenses add up in the long run. Think about it, if you get your caffeine fix for P120 every weekday for six months, that amounts to P15,480, which is more than enough to cover an SVIP ticket to your favorite group’s concert, or, maybe, even a roundrip ticket to Korea!

Control
Control is a word I find synonymous to discipline, and saving money requires a lot of it.

Before you buy anything – and I mean anything – hold a mental debate whether or not you need it. If you hesitate even just a bit before saying yes, then, perhaps, it’s more of a want than a need, and you’re better off not buying it at the time being.

There are a lot of purchases I made in the past that I totally regret now. So save yourself the guilt, and just give up on that item you know wouldn’t come in handy in the near future.

Put your skills and free time to good use
Earning some extra on the side helps A LOT. It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you’ve got skills you know you can use to earn money, make good use of them.

For instance, if you have a proclivity for making fan art, then why not sell some unofficial merch? A friend of mine, who has a good hand in graphic design, produced bags, coin purses, and banners  – all printed with a design she made – to sell in time for a boy group’s then-upcoming concert. She did it out of fun, so she was really taken by surprise when the items sold out quicker than expected. She even had to make another batch to meet the demand!

What’s great about this is that you get to make money while doing something you enjoy (hone your skills even!), and that in itself is already gratifying.

Learn to let go
When I started my K-Pop collection, I thought I will never part with any of the items I’ve got. Albums, posters, magazines – name it, I probably have it. Or at some point, I did, because I’ve sold some of them now.

Yes. I hear you. How could I?

To be honest, it took me a while before I decided to put some of the merch I had on sale. I had a hard time acquiring them, they cost a lot, and they reminded me of the good ol’ times when I was head over heels in love with the artists they feature. But the thing is, they just take up space. I touched most of them only once, and that was when I took them out of their packaging. Some even remained unopened!

It then occured to me that, perhaps, they’re better off with other fans, who would actually use them and not just stash them, away and out of sight. So I took pictures of the items, posted them on Twitter and various K-Pop buy-and-sell groups on Facebook, and waited for interested buyers.

While I didn’t get the same amount I bought the items for, I got part of my money back, made some fans happy, and cleared a bit of space for future (hopefully useful) purchases.

Take care of yourself.
You might find this a strange tip to include on this list, but hear me out: No matter how tight things can get, you have to take care of yourself first and foremost.

If you think skipping meals or stressing yourself by working overtime regularly is the answer to your money woes, you’re wrong. You’re only making things worse for yourself, and the last thing you’d want to spend on are hospital fees and medication. So no matter how cliché the saying “health is wealth” is, believe in it.

Find ways to make saving up fun
Saving up isn’t exactly the most exciting phrase out there, so why not spice up your game with money challenges that will make saving money more fun for you? From saving an amount in increments to saving a particular Peso bill, there are several challenges that financial advisors highly recommend and swear by. Feel free to look them up online, choose what you think is the most doable for you, and jump right into it!

So that’s pretty much it! I know that tips are easier said than done, but trust me when I say that your hard work will pay off, and once you achieve your goal, it would be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.


Written by Krew member Andy Flores

Colours of Autumn—What is it like in Korea?

Inviting and beyond beautiful—that’s how I describe Korea. The warm people, scenic places, array of tempting food, trendy music and fashion, values–rich dramas and remarkably advanced technology are just some of the many reasons why Korea is a must on your travel bucket list. But what’s more interesting about the country is its four distinctively unique seasons: the spring (봄), summer (여름), autumn (가을) and winter (겨울).

Colours of Autumn in Korea
Korea is an invitingly beautiful country that besides the warm people, beautiful places and rich culture, what’s more interesting is its four distinctively unique seasons: the spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Korea is especially more beautiful during the autumn when trees change into palettes of yellow, red orange and brown. The autumn season, which lasts from the months of September until late of November, is considered by many as the most pleasant time of the year. Beautiful autumn hues paint the entire nation with golden ginkgoes, coppery–orange zelkovas and red maple trees under the clear blue sky along with the cool weather is such breathtaking scenery to enjoy and appreciate.

The National Museum of Korea is also a great place to enjoy the autumn season as its surroundings are ornamented with beautiful autumnal trees.

During the fall foliage’s intense colors, Koreans are looking forward to the beautiful season and spend time with their family outdoors, whether just a casual visit at city parks or hiking at one of the country’s famous peaks.

Autumn in Korea is a time of falling leaves which paints the entire nation with vibrant yellow, red orange and brown.

With the royal palaces, mountains and other popular attractions carpeted with spectacular fall foliage, each year the season continue to attract crowds of people. Situated in the city of Sokcho, the Seoraksan National Park is one of the most well–known autumn foliage destinations to visit to where you get to see and experience the grandeur of autumn in Korea. The picturesque park is incredibly famous amongst mountain climbers not just because of its many trails and granite summits but as well as the sceneries that can only be seen during the season. Nami Island, which is gracefully floating in the Cheongpyeong Lake and just 63 kilometers away from Seoul, is also famous for its piles of vibrant foliage during the autumn, not to mention the magnificent Ginkgo Tree Footpath and the Metasequoia Lane, which were the famed locations of the hit Korean drama, “Winter Sonata.”

Appreciate the Namsan Mountain’s splendid autumn by riding the cable car up to the view deck grounds of the iconic N Seoul Tower.
The peeping N Seoul Tower that proudly stands tall on the captivating peak of Mt. Namsan.
The autumn-painted inviting city of Seoul as seen at the top of the Namsan tower.

Downtown of the inviting city of Seoul, it’s no excuse not to visit the captivating peak of Mt. Namsan in the autumn. Crowned by the iconic N Seoul Tower, the mountains and its surrounding park lure trekkers, backpackers and tourists alike to witness the splendid changing of the season in the heart of Seoul. Setting aside the worthy hike, visitors can also appreciate the season through the Namsan cable car that awaits them from and to, and vice versa, right to the view deck while enjoying the stretch of thick and crimson–colored bushes of old maple and pine trees.

Witness the royal guard changing ceremony at the Gwanghwamun gate of the Gyeongbok Palace in which in the Joseon era it’s traditionally held at different times of the day.
In hanbok, the traditional clothing of Koreans, travel through time with free admissions to Korea’s grand palaces across the city of Seoul.
The Hyangwonjeong Pavilion stands lovely on the artificial Hyangwonji island within a garden lake and has the wooden Chwihyanggyo bridge that connects it to the Gyeongbokgung palace grounds.

Grand palaces built during the reign of Joseon Dynasty are also great destinations to see the season’s colorful transformation as they are all majestic in the fall. Like the road along the Deoksugung Palace’s stone wall ornamented with tall ginkgoes, the traditional structures of the Gyeongbokgung Palace in a backdrop of impressive red and gold landscapes, the tranquil lotus pond of the Changdeokgung Palace adorned with autumnal leaves alongside the Huwon garden, and the notable Korean Folk Village which is as well stunning during the fall charm artists, photographers and tourists alike from across the country. Moreover, a walk and forest bath to the Seoul Grand Park is another way to embrace the nature and enjoy the scent of the autumn trees. If you just want to explore the metropolitan city of Korea, Seoul is just a huge autumn foliage landscape wherein lovely spots, gardens and parks are quite colorful places to visit and stroll about.

Besides the time of falling leaves, autumn in Korea is also the season of bountiful harvests as mandarin oranges, apples, pears and persimmons ripen and add color to the foliage.

Korean fall is not only about the time of falling leaves and a sign before the cold winter sets in but also it’s the season of bountiful harvests. The rice fields started to turn to tints of gold while the sweet jujubes, apples, pears, and persimmons, which is a symbol of autumn in Korea, are all ripening and add rich color to the foliage.

With the crisp, cool weather that the autumn breeze brings, it’s best to enjoy the season’s fresh and bountiful harvests including some of the most tempting traditional food in a hanok-style Korean restaurant.
During the autumn season, Koreans are looking forward to the annual traditional holiday of Chuseok in which it’s not only celebrated as thanksgiving but most especially a custom to pay respect to their great ancestors. Photo shown is the charye-sang, a table setting for the ancestor worship ceremony during the Korean Thanksgiving Day. (© Official Flickr page of the Republic of Korea)

Furthermore, another reason to enjoy Korea’s autumn season is the holidays and many festivals that are lined-up particularly for the public to delight in and appreciate. Chuseok, as one of the exciting festivities, is an annual traditional holiday and a major harvest festival that every Korean celebrates not just for thanksgiving but most especially to pay respect to their ancestors. It’s held around the autumn equinox, the season’s biggest custom is also a feast of Korean traditional food and beverages such as the sweet songpyeon rice cakes as representative food, hangwa and sindoju. Also, the holiday is a celebration of old traditional games including archery and the Korean wrestling ssireum, along with the folk dance ganggangsullae.

Seasonal sweet hotteok pancakes filled with various nuts are a must-try delicacy and street food in Korea especially in the fall.

Aside from the customary offerings, roasted chestnuts and ginkgo nuts as well as the hotteok which is a seasonal sweet pancake filled with mixed nuts are best enjoyed in the fall and a must-try Korean street food enticingly serve by the street vendors called pojangmacha.

Array of beautifully-seasoned kimchi sold at a traditional market in Tongyeong.

One more reason why autumn is an exciting season in Korea is the Kimjang, in which it’s the traditional way of making the kimchi wherein Korean families usually gather in group to prepare and make the healthy fermented dish. Kimchi made in the fall is said by many Koreans to be the best kimchi to serve all throughout the year.

The Andong Maskdance Festival, one of the most exciting autumn festivals in Korea, showcases the folk dance heritage and cultural mask dances of the country. (© Official Flickr page of the Republic of Korea)

The season wouldn’t be more exciting without the celebration of the autumn festivals such as the Andong Maskdance Festival showcasing the folk dance heritage and cultural mask dances of Korea, and the Suncheon Bay Reeds Festival which naturally showcases the charming fields of brown reeds which are also home to rare birds and other wildlife. Besides, the much-awaited celebration of the Seoul Lantern Festival which lights up the downtown Seoul to a glistening paradise, particularly the Cheonggyecheon Stream, with hundreds of colorful, uniquely designed and well–lit lanterns.

Fascinating fall foliage of Mt. Namsan in vibrant colors as seen from the observatory of the N Seoul Tower.
Golden-yellow ginkgo leaves start to carpet the streets as autumn fade in late of November. (© Korea Clickers—Official Facebook page of the Republic of Korea)
Just few steps away from the beautiful summit of Mt. Mireuk in Tongyeong. It’s worth noting that Korean autumn is as well the perfect season to go for a hike but expect showers ahead of your climb.

Autumn foliage in Korea is without doubt a magnificent spectacle. But whichever season you choose to travel to, you will definitely going to have a great time exploring the lovely countryside of Korea all year round.

 

Written by Krew Member Jap Vergonia

5 SIMPLE TIPS BEFORE STUDYING IN KOREA

[KCCBanner] 5 Tips Before studying in Korea.

You might have thoughts about studying in Korea. Whether it’s to further pursue your degree there, study their language or whatever your reasons, I’ll share with you my 5 tips before studying in your dream country, Korea.

1. Study a little Korean

When your about to study abroad in general, it’s important to learn the basics of their language. I have a friend who studied in Korea and knowing how to read and write Hangeul really helped her a lot.

Given that majority of the lessons will be taught in Korean- it’s good to be ready! Also, studying a little bit of Korean in advance gives you an “edge” versus your classmates. It also allows you to be more confident that you won’t get lost anywhere in Korea! Just in case~

2. Visit the school

As much as possible, it’s best to check the school and the dorm you will be staying at beforehand. This way, you can already get a glimpse of your “living-expectations” and adjust to whatever it is you might be needing.

Tour around the school so you’ll know where to go and allow yourself to get the school’s “vibe.” When you do this, you probably won’t have a hard time during your first day in class!

If you can’t visit the school, make sure to read A LOT about it because studying in Korea is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity that can’t be wasted just because of a “wrong school” choice -no offense. Make sure the school caters to your academic needs, matches your standards, and is considered an “expert” in whatever it is you want to study.

3. Anticipate the difficulties

It is not easy studying abroad. I ask my friends a lot about their experiences studying abroad and most of them tell me they cry on the first week. I’m not scaring you, I’m just saying you have to be ready- heart, soul and mind. 

Encountering language barriers or possible miscommunications are inevitable. Missing your family and friends is normal. Allowing yourself to give up during these “difficulties,” is definitely a no-no. Remember, these “challenges” are part of the journey itself and you’ll eventually be thankful for it because, it’s the one that builds you up and makes you stronger.

4. Clarity of the “dream”

Before studying in Korea, or in any other country, you have to be clear of why you want to study there. You have to know your “reasons”. Doing this allows you to conquer #3 easily! Why? Simply because when obstacles come, you won’t let them get in your way because you know your purpose. You have a “goal” in studying in Korea (or any country) and you won’t let anyone miss your chance to win the prize.

5. Believe in yourself.

Lastly, telling yourself that you can do it, that you will “survive” and that you will achieve your goal are important. The power of your mind is the best weapon you can use over your doubts, homesickness or even your “#3”s along the way in studying in Korea (or abroad).

Connected to #4, remind yourself of your purpose and support it by being your own “number-one-fan”. If you believe in yourself, you’ll be surprised with the amazing things that are about to come your way.

I hope my simple tips before studying in Korea helped you!

Are you planning to study in Korea? Tell us where you plan to?

God bless!

Written by Krew Member Max Chua

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

(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