Tartine Coming to Seoul

Along with beer and coffee, bakeries in Korea have come a long way. Long-time expats will inevitably have a bakery story, featuring some half-baked aberration that still haunts their dreams. Some folks, perhaps scarred by a congealed-cheese-and-cold-hot-dog danish, or layer cake topped with tomatoes, find it hard to believe that the average bakery today is light-years distant from the bakeries of yore, but if you haven’t ventured into to bakery for a while, it could be time for a re-visit.

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Imjin River Classic Commemorates Korean War Hockey

In the bitter winter of 1952, Canadian soldiers stationed near the frozen Imjin River did what Canadians do whenever they have lots of ice and a little free time.

They played hockey, eh.

Soldiers from the the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and the Royal 22nd Regiment (the Vandoos) fought side by side on the front, but during breaks from the fighting, faced off against each other in friendly hockey games, to put the war behind them for a while by enjoying the great Canadian pasttime.

On Friday, January 19th, the Canadian Embassy and the City of Paju, in cooperation with the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic Games, are hosting a commemorative hockey game near the site of the original games.

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Korea This Week: November 6th – 12th

Reading Together

I came across this piece on how some groups are responding to declining rates of book readership in Korea. One company called Trevari organizes book discussion groups, which readers can join for a fee, and provides a meeting location, mentoring services, and other support when requested.

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Korea This Week: Gordon Ramsay Shills for Cass, Zainichi Woes, Sino-Korean Ties Thaw


Gordon Ramsay Shills for Cass

In a new commercial for Cass beer, pitchman and respected chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay takes a large swallow of beer, grimaces in ostensible pleasure, and proclaims it to be “bloody fresh!” The commercial is hoped to raise the international profile of Cass beer, though, as it enlists a chef renowned for his attention to quality to shill for the Korean equivalent of Budweiser, the ad has also noticeably lowered the foreign beer-drinking public’s estimation of Ramsay’s ability to credibly rate beer.

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Korea This Week: K-drama remake, airport plastic surgery, and a new penis taboo

Coffee, Newspaper, and a Face Lift?

One of the things I love about Korea is how fast you can get certain things done. Repairmen often come the day you call them. Products ordered online cross the country in a day or two. Fried chicken is rushed to your door by a motorbike driver with a loose interpretation of traffic laws.

The list goes on, but a plan by Incheon International airport to open a plastic surgery clinic seems to have pushed the quick service concept a bit too far. The idea was to open the clinic in the transfer area, so that patients could receive treatment without having to pass through immigration and officially enter the country.

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Accidental Island

I had gotten on the wrong boat.

I purchased a ticket to Binjindo—the most famous of the islands of Korea’s Hangryeo Marine National Park–but instead boarded a kind of a multi-island sea bus transporting the venerable inhabitants to the villages dotting a handful of the other islands, where they scratched out a living from farming, the odd bit of tourism, or whatever the sea managed to provide. And as it was the last boat of the day, there would be no getting to Bijindo.

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There, and Back (and There) Again

It was a rather strange place to be practicing my fledgling Korean skills: atop a volcano on the southeastern coast of Iceland.

We were slowly making our way across the glacier covering Eyjafjallajökull, a subglacial volcano that made news in 2010 after an eruption that halted air traffic in Europe for over a week. My top priority as lead trip guide was ensuring the safety of the guests, followed closely by ensuring their happiness at all reasonable costs. One of my guests, a waifish woman nearing 60, realized she had left her sunglasses roughly a half mile back up the trail at our lunch spot. I was not entirely sure I could guarantee the safety of this particular hiker, considering her questionable physical state and less than ideal snow-hiking gear, but I figured I could at least make her happy. After assuring her it was no inconvenience, I set off back up the snowy incline to look for her glasses.

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Korea This Week: October 2nd – 8th

Pop Still Eating Itself

A Korean lawmaker has recently charged Chinese content producers with plagiarizing Korean television programs. The Korea Times piece notes that the increasingly “brazen” plagiarism is occurring on the heels of the Korean government’s decision to install the THAAD missile defense system, which China opposes and which led to a series of boycotts that included Korean dramas and other pop culture content.

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