I think someone in Korea assumed that “face” would be good to include in a sportswear company name, learned from The North Face. Whenever I see ‘Red Face’ or “Black Face,’ I just shake my head. Oh Korea.

Several of my girlfriends and I have had laser hair removal done in Cheonan, Korea. We all went to 연세엘레핀 in Bulgdang-dong, close to Ssangyong-dong. You don’t have to make an appointment; you can walk in. They don’t speak much English, but they’re used to foreigners and are very helpful and kind. This place removes hair from faces, armpits, legs, bikini areas, and more, with prices starting at 120,000₩ for five treatments. Treatments are 8-10 weeks apart, so give yourself at least 10 months to complete treatments.

I decided to undergo these treatments because (1) shaving, tweezing, and waxing unwanted hair gets old, (2) the price is reasonable [prices start at £50 a session in the UK], and (3) it’s really quick and relatively painless.

From what I can understand, lasers selectively target and eliminate dark, coarse hairs while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged. Each pulse of the laser takes a fraction of a second and can treat many hairs at the same time. Small areas such as the face can be treated in less than a minute, and large areas, such as the back or legs, may take up to an hour.

Before I started treatments, I was told that I had a ninety percent chance of permanent hair loss after five sessions. I have completed three sessions so far, and I would say I’ve had 80% hair loss so far. The procedure works best on those with light skin and dark hair, as the laser can better target hair roots under those conditions.

If you do want laser hair removal done, do not pluck or wax the area for six weeks before treatment. Also, avoid sun exposure for six weeks before and after treatment. Sun exposure makes laser hair removal less effective and makes complications after treatment more likely.

As for the pain… I was repeatedly told that the laser treatment produces an irritating or painful feeling similar to the snap of a rubber band against the skin or a series of pricks with a warm needle. At its most painful, I think it feels similar to tweezing or waxing, but repeatedly to the same area for a minute or two at a time. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all though, and it’s only a bit hot (which they try to help with fans directly to the area).

Walking directions:

Walk from Lotte Mart in Ssangyong-dong towards Buldang-dong (i.e. Galleria), on the right side of the street.

Take a right where you see the opening to large apartment complexes on your right.

Use the crosswalk to cross the street. Take a right, walking around the park (keeping it on your left), and continue straight.

You’ll see a building on the left side, where 연세엘레핀 is on the fourth floor.

Address:

802 Buldang-dong, Seobuk-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do

층남 천안시 서북구 불당동 802 불당센터프라자 4F

Phone:

041-622-7501

Made a late January trip to Beartree Park (베어트리파크), made popular by Korean drama, My Princess. I was eager to see the cute moon (or Manchurian black) bears, but found myself wandering the park for at least an hour looking at the botanical gardens, unique (often bear) statues, and non-bear creatures (e.g. koi, white peacocks, beagles, deer).

First, I saw the baby moon bears. Oh, they were so cute! And so close! I was really tempted to reach down and pet them, as only a wall of glass (maybe six feet high) and thin electric wire separated us. There were no employees around to stop me, but envisioning a baby bear (accidentally?) mauling my arm squelched any desire I had to pet one.

As I walked through the park, ignoring unavoidable goat bleats, I wondered what the bears were being raised for. Hopefully not to be someone’s dinner, as I have heard that one can purchase and consume bear meat in Korea. I saw more pits of bears, the bears getting older and bigger the further I walked. I’m sad to say that the pits seemed overstocked with roughly 20-30 bears in each. Their pits seemed bare with very little replication of what their habitats would be like in the wild.

The bears do seem healthy though. I really enjoyed being able to see them so up-close. I heard one can pay extra in the spring for an “animal experience” (동물체험) to walk baby bears, but it’s really only for children.

Tickets in months November to March are 8,000₩ for adults. April to October has different prices depending on the days. It’s 10,000₩ during the week and 13,000₩ for admission on weekends and holidays. Place opens at 9 AM and closes at sunset.

How to get there: Take a bus or Mugungwha train to Jochiwon (조치원역). I took the train from Cheonan for 2600₩. Exit the main doors and take a left along Jochiwonro Road. Turn right at the first four-way intersection and take bus 960 in front of Sejong Post Office Bus Stop. Get off at Beartree Park Bus Stop. Or take a taxi from the station for around 12,000₩. Be careful leaving because the buses stop running before the park closes. If that happens to you —like it happened to me— an employee might be nice enough to drive you to a bus stop that is running.

Address:
217 Sinsong-ro Jeondong-myeon , Sejong-si
세종특별자치시 전동면 신송로 217

Phone number: 866-7766

Hey guys, baseball is back in Korea! Fortunately, I live in the city with the best baseball fans in Korea. Baseball is so much fun in Korea, and the best place to experience it is with the Lotte Giants in Busan. The stadium is big and provies you with a city view of tall apartment complexes and mountains.

The fans really are the best. Whether the team is winning or losing, you’ll experience the loud singing and cheering. After a few innings (and drinks), you might even make some new friends.

You can bring in outside drinks and food. They’ll check your bag at the door for glass, so purchase drinks in plastic containers only. There are a lot of savvy older Korean people who will approach you on your walk to the stadium, selling things such as chicken, kimbap, pork, pizza, beer, soju, soda, etc. Prices inside the stadium are not unreasonable as well.

As for tickets, you have four options:

  1. You can purchase them at a Busan Bank (as a customer) the day before a game.
  2. Use Internet Explorer and go to giantsclub.com. The website is in Korean and you will be required to type in your ARC card number. I’ve never successfully gotten this to work…
  3. Buy tickets at the box office on game days (my most preferred option). The box office opens 3 hours before the game. I’d recommend going early on weekends.
  4. Buy tickets from scalpers. They’re usually near the box office. Look at the tickets to make sure they’re the correct date.

Ticket prices are 7,500₩ for outfield or upper-deck seats. Seats on the 1st or 3rd base line are around 10-15,000₩. Seats in better spots are around 25,000₩.

Check out the schedule from Busan Haps here.

Directions to the stadium: Take Metro Line 3 to Sajik, exit 1. Walk out and turn right. Box office will be up the ramp.

In early April, I went to the 52nd annual Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (진해군항제) also known as the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival. I don’t mind crowds and always have a good time at festivals in Korea, but surprisingly, I’ve never been to this festival before. It was great!

The city boasts that they have the most cherry blossom trees in the world. There are apparently 360,000 trees blossoming at once, if you’re curious.

Friends were discouraging me from going to the festival. Before I went to Jinhae, people were telling me that it would be too crowded (“everyone will be in your pictures” and “it’ll be so difficult to get there and back”), that the flowers had blossomed too early, and that it would rain. I still went, and I’m happy I did.

There were a ton of people there, but again, I don’t mind crowds. Probably less people there than usual, because it did rain for a short period of time. We just sought refuge from the rain in a tent, drinking makgeolli. Not a big deal.

The view of the trees around the stream was beautiful, and I also really enjoyed the view of the city from Jinhae Tower. The city was very easy to walk. I’ve been told foreigners can rent city bikes there for 1,000₩ with your ARC.

We opted to stand on the one hour bus ride between Jinhae and Busan both ways, so we only had to wait 15 minutes to leave. Bus rides between Jinhae and Busan (Sasang Bus Terminal) are totally reasonable at 5,100₩. We opted to stand, but we actually sat on the steps of the bus (not too uncomfortable) and then on our way back, we sat on the floor of the back of bus (much more uncomfortable). But, meh, we had a good time. 

While in Daejeon, I found the best restaurant to eat 칼국수 (kalguksu). There were no other foreigners there, but Koreans definitely knew about it, as we waited for 45 minutes to be seated.

It’s a bit of a walk from Daejeon subway station, but I recommend taking the journey to find 오씨칼국수. Koreans traditionally eat these handmade, knife-cut wheat flour noodles served in a large bowl with broth and various ingredients. The restaurant serves the noodles, 손칼국 (5,000₩) with small clams, but also seafood pajeon 해물파전 (8,000₩), a bowl of clams 물총 (9,000₩), and clam soup 조개탕 (25,000₩).

If you go, don’t forget to grab a ticket right away, and wait for your number to be called. Have fun pulling your kimchi out of a large pot and cutting it at your table! (No, seriously, it’s fun.)

Address: 304-36 Samseong-dong Dong-gu, Daejeon

Phone: 627-9972

In Korea, it’s common practice that the female does the gifting on Valentine’s Day (and males return the favor on White Day [March 14]). This year, I treated my boyfriend to a holiday in neighboring city, Daejeon.

After thoughtful reconnaissance behind the Daejeon bus terminal, we found the best love motel, MS Motel (엠에스모텔). Granted, the name isn’t particularly clever and the outside decor isn’t the most awe-inspiring, but I promise you it was the best inside. We popped in and out of several motel rooms —and this was the best by far.

I suggest getting the best room (60,000₩ a night), which has two extremely comfortable queen sized beds, three showers, one bathtub, and a 3D TV. If you ask nicely, the employees will help you order delivery, and you’ll have food straight to your room (a major plus in my eyes).

Today is 블랙데이 (Black day)! Koreans celebrate this day (“Singles’ Day”) by eating black noodles called 자장면 (jajangmyeon). Hope you enjoy the little comic strip my students and I made today to celebrate.

Today is 블랙데이 (Black day)! Koreans celebrate this day (“Singles’ Day”) by eating black noodles called 자장면 (jajangmyeon). Hope you enjoy the little comic strip my students and I made today to celebrate.

Busan Tower (부산타워) in Yongdusan Park (용두산공원) is a must-see destination for visitors to Busan. I suggest going to the observatory at the top (designed after the baldaquin of Dabotap Pagoda in Bulguksa Temple) where one can see a 360 degree view of the entire city. For a few dollars more, one can check out the modest musical instrument museum and cultural relic exhibit hall in the same vicinity.

It’s not very tall. It stands at 120 meters tall, compared to the N Seoul Tower’s 237 meters, but on a clear day, I find the view much more impressive.

Directions: Nampo Station (Busan Subway Line 1), Exit 7. Go 350m on Gwangbok-ro Street towards Yongdusan Park. You’ll need to go up the line of escalators on the right.

Operating Hours: 09:00-22:00

A message from Anonymous
What do you recommend packing for a first teacher living a year in S.K? What clothes, etc?

First of all, I recommend bringing at least $1000 USD of spending cash for the first month. Pack toiletries as if you were going on vacation, just so you have enough until you are fully settled into your apartment.

Between Costco, Gmarket, iHerb, and foreign marts, I’ve found that most things can be purchased here -especially if you’re willing to pay more. I believe in the old adage that if Koreans can live without it their whole lives, you can probably live without it for a year, but I’ll still humor your question with an educated response.

Bedding: I have never wasted precious luggage space this way, but friends swear by packing their favorite fleece blankets, jersey sheets, or fitted/flat sheets. All these items can be extremely difficult to find and/or expensive in Korea.

Birth control: If you prefer a certain brand of condoms or pills, stock up in your home country and bring them over.

Board games: Games to play with friends or with your students, I’ve brought cards (e.g. Uno) and board games (e.g. Apples to Apples).

Clothes: If you are bigger or taller than the average Korean, may want to bring a year of swimsuits, shoes, socks, underwear, bras, jeans, and/or sports gear (e.g. cleats and pads). Korea brags that it experiences all four seasons. Prepare for a bit of snow, a bit of monsoon, a bit of humidity, and a bit of sweltering heat. Ladies, lean towards being more conservative on your top half (wear cardigans with those tank tops), and gentlemen, you’ll look further out of place with baggy pants. 

Comfort foods: I like to bring my favorite spices and hot sauces from home. I don’t know the laws of what is legal to bring into the country, but I have definitely had meat (i.e. Spam and beef jerky) confiscated from my luggage at the airport.

Electronics: If you really want to bring your favorite hair straightener or gaming console, read your cables. If they say anywhere on them “Input: 100-240v,” you can plug in your electronics with a little plug adapter. If you don’t have that cable, you should buy a power converter.

Toiletries: Deodorant is becoming more readily available, and womens’ make-up is plentiful —but many of your favorite brands may not be available in Korea. I, personally, bring over Tom’s apricot deodorant and Bare Minerals make-up, because I’ve never seen either in Korea.