2015 BIG BANG Comeback!

You know what, I'm not scared to admit that I actually really like Big Bang. I remember when they first debuted back in 2005 or 2006 and thinking that this band was absolutely laughable. However, since then, the group has really done a great job of shedding that corny bubble gum pop label and have become one of the most respected K-Pop acts throughout Asia. G-Dragon (far left) has become one of, if not, the best producer/performer combos in all of Korean show business. He typically writes, produces, and performs in all of Big Bang's songs. That is really impressive considering that the majority of their songs become mega smash hits throughout the world. Respect.

Anyways, like I said earlier, this group has really come a long ways since they were just little hip hop gangster wannabe rappers. Some of these guys have gone on to become ridiculously famous solo performers, actors, fashion icons, etc. This makes me respect the group even more since it proves that these guys are actually talented and can flex their versatility within many facets of the entertainment world. 

It's been about three years since the unit, Big Bang, has released any group activities. I think the entire K-Pop world is waiting with bated breath to see what they will do next. Well, time to wait no more! Big Bang will officially be making their debut this year and will probably destroy all of the music charts in Korea, China, Japan, etc. as fully expected.

In my opinion, their last album, "Alive", was one of their best pieces of work to date. The album was critically acclaimed and produced some of the biggest hit singles that the group has ever seen, such as "Blue", "Monster", "Bad Boy", etc. Rival executive, JYP, otherwise known as Park Jin Young, even went as far as to say that "Bad Boy" was the BEST song that he heard the entire year. That's a huge compliment, especially coming from a rival executive and record company. This makes me excited to see what G-Dragon and the guys have in store for their next album. It's been three years in the making and I'm sure they got some good songs up their sleeves. My only issue is that the group has slightly shifted toward a more EDM/Techno feel the last few tracks (i.e. GD x Taeyang's track "Good Boy"). This type of music is usually a little too loud for my taste, but they seem to always release a solid hip hop track or two on every album. 

Anyways, in anticipation for their 2015 return, I highly recommend you guys check out their most recent "Alive" album. Like I said, this was one of my favorite albums from the group. You can click the photo below to check out the track listing and album details. Get ready for the comeback Big Bang fans!

By YG Entertainment [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Why Kimchi is a Superfood

Have you ever tried traditional Korean food? No, Korean food isn't just barbecue, fried chicken, and soju. Traditional Korean food is actually super healthy and comes with a litany of side dishes called "banchan". These side dishes usually consist of various vegetables, lean meats and fish, and hearty stews. However, no Korean meal is complete without the main star of the show, Kimchi! Koreans have been eating Kimchi for thousands of years and was recently named as one of the World's Healthiest Foods. Today, I want to discuss the benefits of eating Kimchi and why its considered to be potent superfood.

What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a spicy fermented side dish that is typically made of cabbage. Now, for those that know what Kimchi is, you might automatically think all Kimchi is the white napa cabbage version, but this is not true! Kimchi is just a term to describe the way a side dish is prepared and fermented using spicy red pepper paste, ground pepper, salt, sugar, etc. Although the cabbage version is the most popular, there are dozens of forms of Kimchi, such as Kimchi made of radish, scallions, leafy greens, cucumbers, etc. In order to make Kimchi, you need to prepare it with the proper ingredients and then it is fermented in special fermentation jars for months at a time. The longer the better! The final taste should be a little salty, spicy, and sour. It works as the perfect compliment to meat and rice. 

What Makes Kimchi A Superfood?

The average Korean eats about 40 pounds of Kimchi each year. So, why do Koreans love eating this spicy fermented side dish so much? Well, it's got to be because of its amazing health benefits! 

According to Health.com, Kimchi is packed with essential Vitamins A, B, and C, but that isn't the most impressive part about Kimchi. Kimchi is prized because of its high levels of "good bacteria" or probiotics. The fermentation process of Kimchi contributes to the formation of lactic acid bacteria, which is known to help with digestion, prevent yeast infections, reduces the risk of certain cancers, such as colon and bladder cancer, etc. 

Here is a list of the nutritional benefits of Kimchi from Lifehack:
  • Rich in Vitamins A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), and C
  • Rich in calcium, iron, and dietary fiber
  • Contains natural probiotics
  • Lowers cholesterol 
  • Can help with improved eyesight due to high levels of Vitamin A
  • Keeps your skin and hair healthy due to the selenium found in the garlic in Kimchi
  • Helps prevent cancer
  • Can help you lose weight due to low calories and fat
  • Can help prevent peptic ulcers
  • Strengthens your immune system due to high levels of Vitamin C
  • Many more!
After reading the health benefits of Kimchi and why it is considered a superfood, I hope you guys are willing to try and buy a jar of Kimchi at your next grocery store visit! Enjoy!

The Truth About Teaching In Korea

If you're a fresh newbie out of college, enjoy traveling, or just want some new excitement in your life, then teaching English in Asia is definitely an awesome route to go. The biggest draw to teaching English is the ability to make and save a ton of money right away. You don't really work too many hours a week and you get paid a lot to teach something that is essentially second nature to you. 

One of the best places to do this sort of gig is in South Korea. Korea is definitely a place where foreigners can actually make a pretty decent living year in and year out. Also, Korea has a relatively low cost of living, so foreigners are able to save a substantial amount of money each month. Couple that with the fact that Koreans are very eager to learn English and the culture has a big Western influence, then you can see why the number of foreigners moving to Korea is increasing each year. However, moving to Korea to teach English isn't all rainbows and unicorns. Here are some things you should know before teaching in Korea. 

Workin' Hard for the Money

Koreans pay a premium to learn English. So, it's pretty awesome that you can just show up, teach a little bit of English, and then call it a night. This is really fortunate considering that Korean people are statistically one of the hardest working people in the entire world. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Korea ranks second behind only Turkey for the highest number of hours worked per week. Teaching English sounds like a cakewalk compared to what Korean office workers go through each week. 

But, before you hustle on over here, you got to know, first and foremost, that teaching is not as easy of a job as you would think. Yes, you don't work many hours, but it's also a very labor intensive job. You are constantly on your feet, have to stay on top of your teaching game, monitor little children, and think of fun lesson plans to keep your customers (parents) and boss happy. Teachers in Korea really do work hard for their money. I like to compare teaching English to working a job as a waiter in a busy restaurant. Yes, the hours fly by, but by the end of the day you are just mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. Also, for those that have never taught little children before, I highly suggest either gaining some experience beforehand or asking a ton of questions before coming over to Korea, which ties perfectly with my next point...

Getting Used to Little Kids

Before I moved to Korea, I never really had any experience working with children...boy, was I in for a rude awakening. Something that I learned right off the bat was that some kids can be straight up rotten. I always thought that little kids would be sweet, respect their teachers, and work hard, especially in Korea. Now, there definitely are some kids that are like that, but you sure as hell will cross paths with some kids that are conniving, lazy, mean, or just plain rude. This is something not many people are prepared for before they become newly minted teachers and, to be honest, not a lot of people can hack it. It really takes someone who is mentally strong, works hard, and actually enjoys teaching to be able to really shine in Korea. This is something that I had to learn the hard way, but after going through the fire I realized that teaching can actually be extremely fulfilling. 

Culture Shocked

The next tip I want to share is being prepared for culture shock. This one is pretty obvious. Anytime you travel to a new country, you need to be aware of the social customs of that particular country. This is very important to follow in countries like South Korea where Confucianism (respecting elders or superiors) is still the predominant mindset of the people. If you are coming from America or Canada, you may soon realize that teaching English isn't just a typical teaching job. Most Korean English academies are actually just big businesses and you need to think of them as that way. This means always respecting your boss/superiors, keeping yourself in a presentable manner, and not doing anything outwardly offensive or attention grabbing. Essentially, what I'm saying is, you need to learn how to work hard, keep your boss happy, and fly under the radar at all times. 

Big Brother

Speaking of cultural differences, Korea is a country that is absolutely obsessed with surveillance cameras (also known as CCTV). This is something that I had no idea about before moving to Korea. Almost every Korean restaurant, bar, business, public transportation, etc. will be equipped with a CCTV monitor. 

Now, these cameras do have a ton of great benefits (such as theft protection, security, etc.), but something you need to always be aware of is the constant big brother presence. Even if you go to your local convenience store to buy a snack, you are either being watched by their CCTV cameras or, at the very least, being filmed. How does this relate to teaching? Well, depending on where you work in Korea, you may or may not be monitored via CCTV. I have heard about a lot of schools across Korea that keep CCTV monitors in the classrooms to check in on students, ensure safety within the school, etc. If this is something you are uncomfortable with, then coming to Korea may not be the answer for you. To me, it is more important to keep an open mind and simply abide by the rules of the country. If Koreans truly believe that these CCTV monitors help within their daily lives, then there's got to be some sort of plausible benefit that they have in mind. When in Rome, right?

Teaching English in Korea can be a very rewarding and lucrative career. However, it's definitely not without its faults or limitations. It's important to know some information before signing your name on the dotted line and moving to Korea. I still love everything about teaching and living in Korea, but I can clearly see that it's not for everyone. Just make sure to do your due diligence and make the best choice for yourself. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

By G0h4r (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

5 Best Things About Living in Korea

In my opinion, moving to a new country is awesome. Yes, the first few months are hectic and your mind is constantly spinning, but once you adjust and settle in, it's all gravy from there. Korea is one of the easier countries in Asia to become accustomed to, especially as an expat. After living here for a while, you start to notice that Korea really does some things a lot better than back home. Here are the 5 best things about living in Korea.

Korea is Awesome

Korea might not be as big a country as China or Japan, but it really does have some incredible benefits that might make you want to live here. Without further adieu, here is the top 5 list of best things about living in Korea.

1) Absolutely NO Sales Tax or Tipping
You read that right. Here, I'll write it again. There is absolutely zero sales tax or tipping in Korea! That means you can walk into any store, bar, or restaurant and literally pay the exact price that is listed on the menu. This makes life a lot easier when you decide to go out and enjoy the night. Instead of wasting time figuring out how much to tip or being surprised at your final bill total, you can just go home in peace knowing that you paid exactly what the store/restaurant asked you to pay. Also, whenever you decide to order food delivery, you can just give the delivery guy the final bill total and he'll even come back and pick up your trash/leftovers in a few hours -- all for no extra charge! How amazing is that? This is also a great way to save some extra dough on the side. Why doesn't America do this again?!

2) Shipping Is A Breeze
Since the entire size of South Korea is roughly the same size as the state of Kentucky, shipping from any part of the country to your doorstep is a breeze. Back home, if you want your merchandise within a day or two, you probably need to sign up for a premium online delivery service like Amazon Prime or pay for next day shipping direct from the store. However, in Korea, since the country is so small, you can get pretty much anything you want shipped to your front door in no later than 3 days. I once bought an entire mattress, sheet set, bed frame, etc. online and it got shipped to my house within two days AND the delivery man set up the entire bed and cleaned the trash. I actually wrote an article about how amazing online shopping in Korea is. Be sure to check it out!

3) The BEST Customer Service in the World
Korea is a country that lives and dies by customer service. Just due to the sheer density and close proximity of people living together in a small country can really take competition to another level. For example, just on one street alone, you might find about 4 fried chicken joints, 2 bars/pubs, 12 karaokes, and 3 cafes. Some of these stores are right next door to each other too! The thing that keeps all of these open is their unique customer service. One way Koreans show appreciation to their customers is to give things out for FREE. This "service" may come in the form of a free plate of appetizers, free booze, free makeup, free refill, etc. Essentially, they will do anything to make sure that you become a repeat customer. This is probably one of the best parts about being in Korea. Score one point for the customers!

4) Korean Food
How could I even make this a top 5 list without mentioning Korean food! Growing up in the States, eating Korean food in a restaurant was always a treat. Since K-Food isn't as widespread as Japanese, Thai, or Chinese food, Korean food is a bit harder to find and a lot more expensive. For instance, if I wanted to get a nice Kimchi stew meal here in Seoul, it would only ruin me about $4 or $5 and that includes the NO tip and tax rule that I mentioned earlier. If I bought the same meal back home, that meal would EASILY run me $15 or $16 and I would probably have to pay a 10% sales tax and 20% tip on top. Geez, talk about a ripoff! All I wanted to do back home was eat a nice hearty Korean meal, but it usually means I need to sell a kidney so I could have extra money to pay for it! Living in Korea has fixed that problem in a heartbeat. 

5) Technology 
Korea is known to be the most wired nation in the world. What does that exactly mean? Well, it means that about 85% of the entire country is connected to some form of high speed internet or data plan. Pretty much where ever you go in the country, there will be some kind of connection to the internet (via WiFi or cellular data). A big trend here in Seoul is actually watching live HD TV programming on your phone in the subway. Seoul subways are huge WiFi hubs and people are constantly connecting their devices underground. I always see people catching the latest baseball game or watching their favorite Korean dramas on their way home from work. Pretty awesome stuff. Also, Korea is home to Samsung and LG, so there are always new innovations from these companies that get tested out on the Korean market first. Those curved UHD TVs that we've all been seeing on the market lately...well, let's just say that's old news here in Seoul!

These are my top 5 best things about living in Korea. This list is obviously not the end all be all. If you have any suggestions that I might have missed, be sure to leave a comment! 

By John (originally posted to Flickr as Kimchee) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Various [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

5 MUST VISIT Neighborhoods in Seoul

Seoul is rapidly growing into an international powerhouse. The Seoul Metropolitan Government stated that roughly 10 million tourists came through Seoul to check out the various sites, sounds, and food. Although Seoul doesn't have a shortage of touristy things to do (i.e. multiple palaces, Seoul Tower, limitless shopping, etc.), the best part of Seoul is actually hidden within its neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods will obviously be a lot more popular than others, but this also means more tourists and people in general. Two things I despise with a passion. So, if you ever have a chance to visit Seoul, I want to give you the real inside scoop and tell you the 5 absolute must see (non-touristy) neighborhoods to visit in Seoul! 

I Just Landed in Seoul, Now What?

As soon as you land into Incheon International Airport, you got to make the journey into the city center. Be sure to download a foreigner friendly subway map on your smartphone prior to coming. This map will be your best friend when visiting Seoul. Now, once you drop off your luggage, it's finally time to go explore. Head over to your nearest convenience store and make sure to buy a T-Money subway card, so that you can replenish your subway card with money if you ever run out. Let's get started!

1) Sinsa-dong / Garosu-gil
This neighborhood is easily becoming one of my favorite places to visit in the city. It is part of the affluent Gangnam (cue Gangnam Style) section of Seoul. Sinsa doesn't receive as much foot traffic as, let's say, the actual Gangnam subway station area, but Sinsa isn't a pushover either. One of the biggest attractions of this neighborhood is the artsy Garosugil street. This street is lined with incredible shops that are designed by local artists, so the overall vibe and look of Garosugil is unlike any other in Seoul! Tons of cool little clothing shops, art halls, restaurants, and unique bars in the area. A definite must visit!

How to get there: Subway Line #3 (Orange) to Sinsa Station, Exit 8

2) Anguk
Now, this area is a critical part of Seoul. The majority of tourists come to Korea to visit Gyeongbokgung/Changdeokgung Palace, Gwanghwamun Square, and maybe see some traditional Korean markets. What these tourists don't really know is that heading to these direct subway stations on the subway map is the wrong way to go. There's actually a quiet little neighborhood located at Anguk station that can hit all of these spots within walking distance and isn't nearly as crowded as the main drags to these tourist spots. Anguk is stationed right in between the two main palaces, the main square, and some of the most famous traditional markets in Seoul (Gwangjang Market and Insadong). The neighborhood leading to these areas is also filled with cool little mom and pop restaurants and cafes. This gives you a chance to get away from all of the noise and crowds while taking your time in walking over to these tourist areas (whenever you feel ready).

How to get there: Subway Line #3 (Orange) to Anguk Station, Exit 3 (Changdeokgung Palace) and Exit 6 (Insadong)

3) Hapjeong
One of the most recognizable and most visited neighborhoods in Seoul is Hongdae, which is short for Hongik University. This area's got it all - from foreigner friendly restaurants to night clubs where the party doesn't stop till the sun comes up! It's a big time College area that's filled with drunk 20 somethings just trying to have a fun night out on the town. The main downfall of Hongdae is the sheer amount of people and overcrowding that goes on. It's seriously a nightmare to walk through this area on any given weekend night. Most businesses started to realize that rent and space in the ever popular Hongdae area was soaring through the roof, so a new breed of store owners started to spread to the next closest neighborhood. Enter Hapjeong. Hapjeong has recently experienced a huge boom in the trendy bar and restaurant scene and the public is starting to take notice. It's totally a hipster heaven at the moment and people just can't stop raving about the new found bar/restaurant scene that's blossoming there. I recommend checking it out immediately.

How to get there: Subway Line #2 (Green) to Hapjeong Station, Exit 3

4) Yeoinaru
Now we're getting into the fun stuff. This has got to be my favorite area in Seoul by a long shot. It's a part of the Yeouido financial district of Seoul, which is known as Seoul's Wall Street. This is a really well built and clean cut part of Seoul. It is also home to the recently built IFC Mall, which is just a jaw dropping gorgeous mall. However, the best part of Yeouinaru area is the Hangang or Han River Park that is at the edge of the subway station. Hangang Park is an awesome place to take a date, go for a run, have a picnic, or just go to relax. It's essentially a wide open space that sits right in front of the Han River that cuts through the entire city. It is an absolutely stunning park, especially at night when all of the buildings light up across the river. I actually made a blog post about this on my travel photo blog. You can check out my Hangang Park article here

How to get there: Subway Line #5 (Purple) to Yeoinaru Station, Exit 3

5) Hyehwa / Daehangno
I know what you're thinking. How the hell do I pronounce that?! It's actually pretty easy and is pronounced HEEYEH-HOOAH (but try saying it fast). Kind of a tongue twister, but you just got to get used to it. Hyehwa is an incredible neighborhood mostly because of Daehangno. Just like how I mentioned that Sinsa had Garosugil, this area also has a cool street called Daehangno. The word Daehangno means "College Street" and here you're going to find amazing restaurants, cafes, and the best part of all, musical theaters. This area is just full of artists and you'll see tons of street performers singing, doing magic tricks, putting on free plays, etc. Daehangno is most famous for its live musical theaters. Here you can catch some of the best live musicals or performing arts shows in a cheap and intimate setting. These shows are mostly put on by up and coming artists or amateurs. It's a great place to take the family or even a nice 2nd or 3rd date with someone special. 

How to get there: Subway Line #4 (Blue) to Hyehwa Station, Exit 2

There you have it! These are my 5 favorite and underrated neighborhoods of Seoul. As you can see, I'm not the biggest fan of any tourist traps or overcrowded areas, so I hope you enjoy these areas as much as I do. If you think I forgot any cool neighborhoods, feel free to leave a comment! 

Creative Commons Licensenvivo.es, 5gig This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Korean Plastic Surgery - Good or Bad?

Plastic surgery. These two words are starting to become synonymous with Korea and not in a good way. With the recent success of KPop and KDrama taking over the world, the pressure for these Korean actors/actresses/singers to look beautiful has gotten out of control. They are the faces of multi-million dollar companies, so it's only natural for them to want to keep their best assets (their face) in tip top shape. However, I really think this taken on a negative effect on Korean or general society as a whole. 

What's Wrong With Korean Plastic Surgery?

To be dead honest, the Korean superstars aka "idols" in Korea are absolutely gorgeous. How is this bad? Well, for starters, it definitely alters the standard perception of beauty within society, especially among young impressionable teens. These teenage girls (and some guys) literally obsess over their favorite idols' clothes, makeup, hairstyle and facial features. These teen girls/guys will do anything to look like their favorite stars. Plastic surgery has become so prevalent in Korea that some high school girls actually ask and receive the surgery of their choice as a graduation gift. Something about that idea is just disturbing to me. Whatever happened to teens asking their parents to help pay for their first car, buying new clothes, asking for concert tickets, etc.?! 

The plastic surgery craze in Korea has also gone mainstream and is now widespread/easily accessible. Korea's plastic surgeons are well regarded for their value and expertise. This has led to women from various neighboring countries, such as China and Japan, to flock to Seoul just to get a quick and cheap procedure done and then fly back home. The Chinese plastic surgery tourists that come into Korea make up about 70% of ALL foreign patients that get plastic surgery in Korea. I know that this unexpected plastic surgery craze has become an economical windfall for the country, but something about being known for fake beauty around the world is very unsettling to me. Korea is a land full of beautiful mountains, scenery, history, culture, etc. and yet Korea's biggest tourism niche is its plastic surgery market. Insert disappointed emoticon face here.

Another reason I think plastic surgery is bad is because it is contributing to the loss of Korean natural beauty and identity. I honestly don't know why most Korean women are so quick to pull the trigger and get plastic surgery. In my opinion, some of these women (and this goes for all women around the world too) need to look themselves in the mirror and realize that they should be proud of their natural beauty. I don't care what any of these actors and actresses look like on TV, which might explain why I look like such a bum most of the time (hehe). But the important point is...I DON'T CARE! It seriously hurts me to see Korean people reject our natural distinct Korean beauty in order to look better based on other people's opinion. Looking the way we do is what gives us and our country a unique identity. However, some people just want to look "better" I guess...This also reminds of an article I read about Julie Chen (famous TV news reporter) and how she felt that she was pressured to get plastic surgery. Early in her career, her boss really pushed her to get plastic surgery based on what he thought the viewers would consider "beautiful" for an on-air TV personality. This made me very angry at the time since he pretty much said being Asian wasn't good enough. I didn't know if I was more pissed with Julie Chen for succumbing to her ignorant boss's request or her boss acting like an asshole and essentially telling her that being too "Asiany" is bad. 

Personally, I find people to be more attractive if they love and are confident in who they are. That, to me, is true beauty. These KPop idols I see on TV really have no self regard or confidence for who they are. They are obviously supremely talented individuals; however, they still succumb to the pressure just like Julie Chen did and end up getting plastic surgery for the sake of others. Also, what's worse is these KPop girls all look EXACTLY THE SAME! They all get the same surgeries by the same doctors and ultimately look like identical twin sisters. Friggin ridiculous if you ask me!

To me, trying to achieve that everlasting goal of beauty is just a pipe dream. All these stupid actors and actresses that we see on TV are just what you think they are...fake. They are manufactured to look the way they do, act the way they do, and essentially do everything the way they do. Yet, teenage girls and women in Korea seem to be enamored by this concept of beauty. My only question is why don't they realize just how beautiful they already are! Maybe it's easier said than done, but I feel like women in Korea should focus more on trying to be more confident in themselves, rather than trying to change who they are on the exterior. This is just my two cents. I would love to hear your opinions. What do you all think about Korean plastic surgery and its benefits/negatives? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

CC Image courtesy of Korea.net  / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
CC Image courtesy of wasabcon (http://wasabcon.tistory.com/466) [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Creative Commons LicenseAllen Skyy This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

3 Reasons Why Online Shopping in Korea is the Best

I'll be the first to admit, I'm addicted to online shopping. I'm always snooping around Amazon looking for any cool new gadgets or whatever they might offer on discount. It's actually pretty sad considering how broke I am. I of all people definitely shouldn't be spending money so frivolously on things that I might or might not need. But...that's besides the point. I thought shopping online was awesome back in the States, but Korean people take online shopping to the next level! Here are 3 quick reasons why online shopping in Korea is simply the best.

The Benefits of Online Shopping in Korea

Let's take a look at some of the reasons why Korea's internet shopping game is on point.

1) Delivery is ridiculously FAST
Shipping is such a pain in the ass back home. It's either you sign up for Amazon Prime or you're out of luck. Usually, standard shipping rates are about five bucks a delivery and take a week or two to get to your door. Things are much more efficient here in Korea. Let's say you order a package from G Market (Korea's version of Amazon) on a Monday, you'll see that package delivered straight to your doorstep either on Wednesday or AT THE VERY LATEST that Thursday of the same week. A two day turnaround is almost unheard of back in the States without selling one of your kidneys to pay the shipping premium. I'm seriously still in awe at how fast my delivery comes as soon as I hit that "purchase" button on shopping websites here. I LOVE YOU Korea!

2) You can shop from ANYWHERE
As most of you know, Korea is a huge technology breeding ground. It's home to Samsung and LG and also boasts one of the fastest internet speeds in the world. In Korea, internet based services like WiFi and cell service are provided in every crack or crevice of the country AND at blazing speeds. This is an amazing benefit since I could essentially hop on the subway, weasel my way onto a 5G WiFi network, and finish paying for an online order all before I get to the next subway stop. Now that's what I call efficiency! This also leads me to my next topic...

3) Paying is so convenient
Online shopping here works the same as back home where you can either use a Visa, MasterCard, or some other Korean issued credit card. However, there's one added bonus. Let's say you're in the middle of a crowded subway car or working out at the gym and you forget your credit card. If you ever decide that you really need to buy something right away (i.e. expiring discounts on electronics, movie tickets, concert tickets that sell out fast, etc.), Korea lets you pay for online purchases with your cell phone. Most websites like G Market just let you check out using your phone number. Once your phone receives a confirmation text message, you can enter the unique confirmation code that was texted to you and voilĂ  your payment is automatically tacked onto your next cell phone bill. Sweet!

If any of you guys are into online shopping as much as I am, you gotta come check out what Korea has got going on. It will seriously amaze you at how convenient, easy, and fast it is to get your order from your computer straight to your door. 

CC Image courtesy of Nemo
Creative Commons LicenseSean MacEntee
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

4 Reasons Why Korean Fried Chicken is the Bomb

If you've never heard of Bon Chon Chicken or Kyochon Chicken, I highly suggest you run to the nearest internet connected device and Google where the closest store is to your location. I think people in America are slowly starting to discover the best kept secret on Earth -- Korean fried chicken. I just recently tried these succulent, juicy, and ridiculously (emphasis on the ridiculous) crunchy chicken wings and they changed my life forever. My sister first turned me onto these wings after she had her first Bon Chon experience and she couldn't stop raving about them ever since. After hearing about all of the hype, I decided to give these little suckers a try. Once I finished my first batch of Korean fried chicken wings, I realized that these were the best wings I have ever tried in my life and could EASILY be the best in the entire country. Here are the reasons why I believe Korean fried chicken is the best fried chicken in America. 

Why is Korean Fried Chicken the Best?

1) EXTREME crunch 
A lot of chicken wing restaurants in the country tend to heavily batter their fried chicken to give it extra flavor and crunch. However, Korean fried chicken separates itself from the rest of the pack. Now, I have no idea what their frying technique is, but I can assure you that these wings will break like glass once you bite into them. They somehow transformed the skin into a candy like substance that shatters once it hits your mouth. They also were able to retain the chicken's natural moisture, so the meat stays juicy while the exterior provides an indescribable crunch. 

2) No mess 

Another reason why I think these fried chicken wings are the best in America is because the sauce is somehow embedded into the crunchy skin. Most bars and restaurants tend to fry the chicken wings and douse wing sauce onto the meat, which leaves your mouth and fingers very messy while eating. However, Bon Chon/Kyochon has reinvented the way we think of sauces. Their sauce seems to be infused into the skin of the chicken or is some form of adhesive glaze that just leaves your fingers very clean when you dig into these morsels of goodness. 

3) Less greasy and fatty

Bon Chon/Kyochon claims to have a secret double frying method that makes their wings "healthier". Although I am skeptical of these claims since pretty much anything deep fried in oil adds tons of unwanted calories and fat, I do feel like their wings ARE less greasy and fatty. If you're a chicken wing fanatic, you know the difference between good and crappy wings. I've tried some in dive bars where the skin was still soggy and chewy and it just ruins the taste of the wings. Bon Chon/Kyochon, through some crazy ancient Asian frying method, almost obliterates the fat off the skin and leaves it as a crunchy outer crust. It's heavenly.

4) Unique and Asian-y Flavors
I know most Korean fried chicken joints only have two flavors, but they are absolutely delicious. The first is a non spicy Soy Garlic, which kinda tastes like a soy sauce mixed with teriyaki. This one is not spicy at all. The other flavor is just called Hot and Spicy and I'll admit that it'll get you sweating once you eat it. The first wing isn't so bad, but then the spiciness DEFINITELY creeps up on you. Watch out for those creepers. The only issue is that these wings probably have crack in them and you can't stop eating, even if it's fire in your mouth. At least its delicious fire. 

I am glad Korean fried chicken is starting to get some recognition around the country. Koreans absolutely LOVE fried chicken and will usually do anything to get their hands on their hands on these bad boys. If you want to see what else Koreans love, check out my list of 30 Things Asians Love. Until then, happy eating!

Creative Commons LicenseArnold Gatilao
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.