Korea Travel Tips

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13th June 2007

There are various kinds of restaurants you must try when you travel to Korea. For example, Bul-go-gi and Gim-chi are Korean traditional food. But if you have already tried them, how about visiting a special restaurant called Min-dle-le-young-to? I recommend this restaurant because it has romantic decorations, a unique system for using snack corner, and spaces for cultural activities.

Min-dle-le-young-to has romantic and pretty charming decorations which can make you pleased. when you first see the Min-.dle-le-young-to building, you must think it is just like a small cozy palace, especially the Min-dle-le-young-to in Dae-hak-lo. It will be fascinating enough for you to go in. And if you go in, you will see handsome or pretty workers wearing cute clothes which have red and white dots and welcoming you with a big smile in their face. The inside interior of Min-dle-le-young-to is also very beautiful; a wooden table with a flowerly table clothes, soft comfortable sofa, art work frames hanged on the wall and shining round stone floor, etc. And even with a quiet classic music they put on you might enjoy the romantic atmosphere in the restaurant.

There is special system which is different with all of other restaurants for using snack corner in Min-dle-le-young-to. At first, when you choose the menu, you will find out the dishes are a little bit expensive. That’s because they include the ‘cultural fee’; which they call, in the prices of the dishes. Once you pay the ‘cultural fee’ which is included in your dishes’ price, you can freely use the beverage corner three times, and choose one desert. It just look like a small bar. They offer you various kinds of teas and beverages in the beverage corner. For instance, they have green tea, ice tea, cherry coke, soda, cocoa tea and so on, which we are already accustomed to, and some special teas which are only in Min-dle-le-young-to, like Min-dle-le-young-to tea. The Min-dle-le-young-to tea tastes very special, little similar with Korean traditional tea; a bit bitter. And there are three options you can select from the snack corner; Korean instant noodles, ice bars, and grain breads. When I went to Min-dle-le-young-to, I was always too full to eat noodle or bread so I chose ice bar. You may feel the freshness of fruits if you try their ice bars. This unique system of Min-dle-le-young-to will offer you a satisfying and full meal.

Min-dle-le-young-to also has space for cultural activities. It has a small library where you can freely borrow books inside. And it has seminar rooms which you can use for a seminar or a discussion when you have reserved it. Moreover it has a music shop, where you can buy music tapes or CDs. You probably also can listen to music which you are interesting in and it will please your ears. In other words, you can spend all the time to enjoy these cultural things in Min-dle-le-young-to.

As you can see, people go to Min-dle-le-young-to because of beautiful decorations for enjoying romantic atmosphere, special use of the snack cornerand the space you can freely use for cultural activities. I think it will be a special experience in Korea, if you go there. Min-dle-le-young-to opens at 10:00 am and closes at 9:00 pm. Meals range from 4,000\ for Espresso Solo to 70,000\ for Gung-jung-chuk-je; for four people. To get to Min-dle-le-young-to, take the subway’s light blue line, line number four to He-hwa. Then get out to exit 2 and walk through the big street and you will find KFC. After you walk in the small street between KFC and Sam-teo-pa-lang-sae theater around 150m, then you’ll find it on the left.

Jin-Yeoung Park

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The Best Cafe for Foreigners in Korea

2nd June 2007

Everyone wants to have a memorable experience when they visit another country, and there is no better way than visiting good places while traveling. If you have a plan to visit Korea in order to make a special memory, you should go and taste in the unique cafe “서울서 둘째로 잘하는 집(Seoulseo duljero jalhaneun jib).” “서울서 둘째로 잘하는 집” is one of the best cafes for foreigners with its calm and relaxed atmosphere, traditional tea smells, and delicate cuisine.

First, it has a tranquil ambiance to be relaxed. The cozy sofa, natural decoration, tone-downed yellow light, and whispers of traditional Korean music in this cafe offer a comfortable mind to you, tired foreigners, because of the fatigue from a journey. Deep and soft sofas differ from other cafes. Then look around the cafe, and you can find simple decoration with old telephone, books, and paintings. Those are not sophisticated but indeed attractive. How about misty yellow light? It makes your eyes pleasant to appreciate all these atmospheres. The murmuring music sounds also reach your ear while you’re sitting on warm sofa. The traditional Korean music that is a long and distant sound with Korean string instrument makes you laid-back. Restful couch, simple and modest ornaments, soft and dim light, and breathe of pleasant music are enough elements to love this cafe.

Second, there are always traditional tea smells. “서울서 둘째로 잘하는 집” has six different kinds of Korean traditional teas and these aromas soothe your physical, mental exhaustion. For example, one of Korean teas ‘쌍화탕(Tsanghwa tang)’ which is served in the café is famous for therapy method as a folk medicine with a special fragrance like Chinese herb medicine smell, but never tough to savor. Furthermore, all Korean herb teas are not too strong although it has bitter taste; instead, they are usually sweet-smelling. Thus anyone can try to smell and enjoy them at will. These various traditional soothing smells are not only one of the extraordinary point of the cafe, but also another attraction point for foreigners who hesitate to visit where in Korea.

Lastly, the essential reason that you should visit the cafe is the cuisine. No doubt, 90% of visitors come in to the cafe to taste ‘단팥죽(Danpatjuk)’, the most popular item on the menu. It is a Korean style soup made of red bean, and Korean used to eat since long time ago. Although people make it artificial way now, ‘Danpatjuk’ of “서울서 둘째로 잘하는 집” is all made through hand-made process. It means that you can just taste its flavor as well as artisan’s soul. ‘Danpatjuk’s mystic flavor, excessive sweetness which has long aftertaste and unique color ‘deep purple’ tempt the appetite. It also seizes your sensitive palate with its special texture which is thicker than liquid like fluids or baby formula. In addition, the ingredients of 단팥죽 are full of nutrients; chestnuts, pine nuts, walnuts, jujubes, and the core ‘새알(Se-al)’, which is a chewy, sweet white wheat ball. Once you taste it, you’ll never forget it and miss it a lot. The extraordinary flavor of craftswoman, splendid color, and the finest ingredients of ‘Danpatjuk’ are the fundamental reason that you should absolutely go and enjoy this cafe.

As you have seen, the attractions of “서울서 둘째로 잘하는 집” show you why you shouldn’t miss to visit here when you travel to Korea. It has everything for foreigners; agreeable mood, several special fragrance of traditional teas, and unique menu ‘Danpatjuk’. It is open from 10 am to 10 pm every day. Traditional teas range from 4,000 to 5,000 won, and a light meal of ‘Danpatjuk’ costs 5,000 won. To get there, take subway line number 5 and get off at the station ‘광화문(Kwanghwamun).’ Then go out through the exit number 3, and you can find a bus stop straight ahead of you. Take a green local line bus number 11 and take off at ‘금융연수원(Korea Banking Institute).’ The restaurant is located right next to ‘KBI’.

Park Ji Yeon

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An-myeon-do Island Travel Essay

23rd May 2007

Located off the west coast of Korea, Anmyeondo Island, connected with Nammmyeon in Taean, is the sixth biggest island in Korea where boasts beautiful large beaches and abundant pine trees lined along the beach, creating picturesque scenery as well as have fresh marine products like spiny lobster, various kinds of fishes. Tourist, mostly family members, friends and couple come and enjoy watching excellent sunset, catching shellfish and taking Dead Sea’s mud spa.

Almost all the people visiting Anmyeondo Island come and see so beautiful a sunset. The visitors come to Kkotji Beach located on west coast of Anmyeodo which boasts one of Korea’s most recognized sunset locations. The best time for seeing a sunset from the beach is between about six and seven in spring, but it depends on season; about five thirty in winter and around eight in summer. Especially the beautiful view of the sunset, which the sun gets down between Hal-mi-bawi Rock and Hal-a-bi-bawi Rock located near the beach, attracts numerous photographers in all seasons and creates an enchanting background for many movies and dramas. While the sun sets, the blue sky turn into red, yellow and grey, and the deep blue ocean become even more calm and peaceful. Moreover, the beach has perfect condition with its gentle slope, clear water and its suitable water temperature so that you can enjoy swimming as well. Especially in spring, the beach becomes even more picturesque. From the roadsides to the beach, blossoms of various types of flowers such as forsythias, azaleas, pansies and tulips decorate everywhere. While seeing a gorgeous sunset, not only you can breathe a fresh air but also smell sweet fragrance of flowers and feel cool wind sitting in the ocean that give you unforgettable moment while staying here.

There is a very unique experience for visitors to catch various kinds of shellfish in a sandbar. When it ebbs between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the large Kkotji beach turns into the enormous sandbank where the fresh marine products like clams, mussels and small octopus are easily accessible so you can slightly dig a mud and catch them. You’ll get them more near the Halmibawi Rock and Halabibawi Rock than any other spot. You could hear people’s shouting when they get them. You may make a big shout naturally catching them like other people because it’s weird and fun experience. Before getting into the mud, you need to take off your shoes in order not to lost them and need a basket to keep a sea food you get. After three hours later, sea-water naturally comes into seashore so you can spend three hours having this experience. Especially for children, while playing with mud, touching and catching various sea food, they automatically learn nature experience which they hardly have in city. Sometimes you can see many women putting mud on their body for taking care of their skin. As you know, mud makes skin tight and relaxed. I felt touching the soft deep dark brown mud feels like touching a tofu, and touching sea food like small octopus feel like slippery and sticky. I usually eat them as raw or bake them with charcoal. When you chew them, it’s glutinous and rich. Catching numerous shellfishes by self and touching gentle mud give you extraordinaire experience you’ve never had in the central city.

The last thing tourists do in Anmyeondo is taking Israel Dead Sea mud spa. Actually, most of them take it at the end of their tour in order to improve their tired and fatigued skin and body. Walking down to the south seashore about 15 minutes from Kkotji Beach, you can see the Ocean castle where offers natural spa program. If you take Israel Dead Sea mud, first your body will be scrubbed with Dead Sea salt and seaweed mud. When the grained salt, which feels like soft sand, scrubbed on my body, impure things on my skin seemed to be vanished, and when glutinous rich seaweed mud, which feels like soft ice cream, rubbed, I felt refresh and my skin renewable. Those have no fragrance, and don’t have stimulus on your body. Next, you are offered hydro massage which add moisture to your skin smoothly in order to get rid of salt and seaweed, and then the masseuse begin the massage gently with natural black mud. While you lie on the mud tub wearing mud on your skin, the masseuse gives you aromatherapy on your face those make your body relax. Have a luxury spa experience on your skin with gentle Dead Sea salt, rich seaweed mud and whisper lavender aromatherapy to relax your body before getting out of Island and those won’t make you feel waste of money.

In conclusion, feel free to visit Anmyeondo Island, where tourists are always welcome. Once you visit in Anmyeondo Island, you shouldn’t miss on seeing the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen or catching a variety of shellfish at the enormous sandbank. Spa facilities open daily at 9:00AM and close at 9:00PM on week day, but close at 10:00PM on weekend. Dead Sea mud is 120,000 won/ 80 minutes and 160,000 won/ 110 minutes. Numerous accommodations like pension and inn are available around the beach area, and prices depend on season. If you prefer something else rather than raw fish dishes, you can choose a variety of Korean and western restaurant near the spa facilities. To get to Anmyeondo Island, take the express bus named Anmyeondo at the Nambu bus terminal- line 3- and one way for Anmyeondo is 9400won, or if you want to directly go to the Ocean castle where you can take spa, take a shuttle bus at 9:00a.m, in front of the jongkak station — bus service is only once a day in the morning-and then you can walk up 15 minutes to the beach. For round trip, it costs 26000 won for adult and 17000 won for children age under 11. It takes 2 hours and a half to get Anmyeondo from seoul. When you get off the bus, there is a tourism office in front of the terminal so you can reach various information you want to know such as accommodation, restaurant and some interesting place there.


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Samsung Guksu Korean style noodles

23rd May 2007

Do you want to experience the great flavor of Korean style noodles? You can feel a wonderful Korean noodle restaurant in Samsung-Dong, Seoul. The restaurant, Samsung- guksu, is a small restaurant, but it is comfortable to have lunch or dinner, and it has reasonable price. Samsung-guksu will give you a good experience of traditional Korean noodle’s taste, traditional Korean alcohols, and beautiful night view of Samsung-Dong.

To begin with, The tastes of traditional Korean noodles in Samsung-guksu will fascinate you. The restaurant was renovated, so it is new, but the main chef of that restaurant keeps the place and the noodle’s taste for more than 30 years. In Samsung-guksu, the chefs make noodles and dumplings by hand every morning, and they know the best ratio of flour to water when they knead , so the noodles and dumplings are really soft and smooth. When you bite them, you may be stunned by the their tenderness. And to make the soup they boil chicken bones for a long time; it makes the taste of soup very rich. This milk-white colored soup will give you much more plentiful taste than light soup made of anchovies. This Korean traditional noodle is much less salty than Japanese noodle, and has more delicate flavor. The noodles are served in ceramic bowls and these bowls can keep the warmth of soup very well, so they can keep the best taste of noodle until when you finish the meal. I believe that this noodle’s deep taste will be great impact to you who are familiar with that of Italian noodles or Japanese noodles.

Next, if you like to drink alcohol, you should not miss the chance that you can meet the traditional Korean alcohols sold by Samsung-guksu. The Samsung-guksu has several traditional Korean alcohols that tourists must experience. Especially, the Ginseng alcohol and Bokbunja, a kind of mountain berries alcohol, are what I want to recommend you to drink. These drinks are made by the owner of Samsung-guksu, and take about 1 year to make. The bright yellow color of Ginseng alcohol and dark purple color of Bokbunja alcohol are enough to enchant people. These are as strong as a wine, but the tastes are totally different. Ginseng alcohol is a little more bitter than white wine, but I am sure that you can enjoy its bitter taste, and Bokbunja alcohol is a little sweeter than red wine, but not as sweet as ice-wine. So, you may drink these drinks during your meal, as you drink wine, and Both have sweet smell, so this will give you the appetite. Having experience of these two drinks will be the finishing stroke of Korean food travel, and I assure you that you will find those drinks some time again.

Finally, you can meet a beautiful, and modern night view of Samsung-Dong there. The restaurant is located on 3rd floor, but the building is on a hill, so I think its height is as high as 5th or 6th floor. And one side wall of the restaurant is made of glass, so people can enjoy the view of Samsung-Dong very well. You can see the Youngdong way that is the biggest road in Samsung-Dong, and many buildings around the way. Because of the streetlights, you can see the people walking the streets or taking buses, and you can see the light from buildings is decorating the dark sky of Samsung-Dong lovely. Many people and cars are moving vigorously on the street, but the street is rather quite than crowded. This view gives me a peaceful feeling even though we are living in a very busy and crowded society. It is not a traditional or sightseeing place, but the clean, wide way, a lot of cars, energetic people and the lights from up-to-date buildings will change you the shabby and poor image of Seoul that you have seen at an old films of 1950s to the very modern and prosperous image.

In conclusion, you should not miss the chance to visit Samsung-guksu for having an excellent traditional Korean noodle and Korean alcohols. Moreover, you can enjoy a wonderful night view that shows you the remarkable development of Korea there. Samsung-guksu opens daily at 11:00 AM and closes at 11:30 PM, but you can only order meals until 10:30. Meals range from 5,000 won for Cal-guksu to 20,000 won for Su-yuk which is sliced steamed pork meat. Drinks range from 3000 won for Soju to 12,000 for Bokbunja or Ginseng alcohol. To get to Samsung-guksu, take subway line 2 and get off at Samsung subway station. Then come out of the subway station through gate 5 and walk along Youngdong way to the north, the direction of Bongeun Temple. You can find Samsung-guksu about two hundred meters away from the Samsung subway station.

이재호 (Lee, Jaeho)

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