23 April 2008

Tips for Dudes Visiting Seoul

In honor of Ian Oppa's and Dani Henney's (Cyndi's brother) visit to the Motherland, I've decided to put together a post specifically for dudes.

Here's my list (in no particular order) of things you can do in the Motherland, which are typically deemed socially unacceptable in the Homeland.

1) Hold another dude's hand.
In America, a dude is not allowed to show physical signs of affection to another dude unless he is in a relationship with the dude or the physical contact is in a manly sports context. In the Motherland, however, dudes are allowed to hold hands as a simple sign of camaraderie. Now, I don't want to give you the wrong impression. It's not like guys are frolicking about the streets of Seoul, swinging their arms together. It's just not that big of a deal to see guys holding hands or with their arms linked. Twice now I've seen ajusshis with their arms linked and it's the cutest thing!

2) Wear a shiny metallic suit.
If you're a young salary man or a mobile phone salesman you are entitled, if not obligated, to rock an obscenely shiny metallic suit, accessorized with a pink tie. Call me old fashioned, but I don't think that business suits should be shiny. Sadly, the shiny suit is quite popular here. Back at home, you're probably asking yourself, "What's a shiny suit?" Trust me, you'll know what I'm talking about after you spend a few days in the Motherland.

3) Not gawk at a girl in a mini skirt.
While in Seoul, you will undoubtedly see young women in very short shorts or mini-skirts and high heels. Now, though it may seem to the contrary, these young, nearly exposed women are not inviting you to gawk or leer at them. It's a woman's right to dress as she pleases. If she wants to wear a skirt so short that she has difficulty going up a set of stairs without exposing her pansu, then that's her prerogative. Though we are in no way more conservative back in the Homeland, men are prone to staring, whistling, or making animals sounds at a girl in a short skirt. Please refrain from such behavior (both here and back home).

4) Disregard the "Ladies First" principle.
If you have had a long day at the office or need to rush off to an important appointment/cigarette break, don't waste your time or energy holding doors for feeble women. If you're on the subway, definitely don't feel obligated to give up your seat to an ajumma with a heavy shopping bag. Those ajummas are tougher than they look. Plus, you can always pretend to sleep and keep your seat the whole ride home.

5) Rock the skinny jeans.
In Korea, skinny jeans aren't just for Hollywood hipsters or emo kids. All young men can work it out in a trendy pair of skinny jeans.

6) Carry a murse.
You no longer have to cram all of your odd and ends into your little cargo pants pockets. It's completely acceptable for you to carry around a man-purse. I'm not just talking about a duffel bag or a messenger bag. I've seen guys carry around a LV tote, a knock-off Bottega Veneta bag, and non-descript black bags. You're probably saying to yourself, but I don't carry enough things to warrant a purse. Trust me, once you start carrying a purse, you'll find things to fill it with: digital camera, hand lotion, Clorox Bleach pen, Nintendo DS, Sudoku book, a snack, etc...

7) Carry your woman's purse.
It's not a big deal. Just do it. Naturally drape it around your arm. Don't hold it away from your body as if it were a dirty diaper.

8) Dress like your woman.

Couples like to dress alike in couple T-shirts or other matching ensembles. Don't see it as a symbol of emasculation. It is a sign of your good fortune to be dating a woman as lovely as that girl in the matching pink hoodie.

9) Stare at yourself in reflective surfaces.
Don't feel shy about checking yourself out in the train window, the elevator's metallic doors, your cell phone... it's no big deal here. A dude is allowed to showcase a little vanity without being branded a metrosexual.

10) Have a Korean girl drink you under the table.
A man's not a man in Korean unless he's able to swig down some disinfectant, or as they call it in Korea, soju. As much as you may think you can drink, don't be surprised if a petite Korean girl out drinks you. These girls may act coy, but they are just being naesoong. They can probably out drink you and still wake up for their 9 am class the next morning.

22 April 2008

An Interview with Doogal* (My Lil' Sis)

As you may recall, my sister made her first (and perhaps last) trip to the Motherland in March.
Tips for my Lil' Sis
We got our beauty on
We ate some chicken

My sister is often quite blunt, so I thought it'd be interesting to hear what she thought about the Motherland. I should warn you that my sister's comments may sound rather judgmental. I disagree with a number of her statements, but I understand where she's coming from.

Her trip to Korea was marred by bad weather, a recent aversion to pork, motion sickness, and my work schedule. My sister's trip was especially affected by a terrible encounter with a woman in the Namdaemun market.

First of all, shopping in an outdoor market on a rainy day is a BAD idea. It was pouring, and my sister's umbrella accidentally dripped a bit of rain water onto a woman's table of merchandise. She promptly pushed my sister and scolded her in Korean. Now, if you've met my sister you know that homie don't play that. Of course, my sister immediately said "Excuse me" and started waving her finger in the air. On top of that, when the ajumma pushed my sister, she fell into another vendor's table. This ajusshi then pushed my sister away from his merchandise. I thought all of this was going to escalate into a brawl, so I quickly ushered my sister away and tried to blame the whole incident on cultural misunderstandings. Of course, shortly after my speech on behalf of these irate vendors, another ajusshi nearly doused me in rain water as I walked by his stall.

I'm continually meeting friendly Koreans, but I have to say that the ajummas and (middle-aged, married folk) can be quite off-putting. I know that given all that they've gone through (war, economic hard times, etc) ajummas and ajusshis feel a sense of entitlement or perhaps a constant need to protect themselves, but is it really necessary to push down a wide-eyed foreigner just to get yourself a seat on the train?

Anyway, check out my interview with Doogal below. (My comments are in purple).

1) What was your first impression of the Motherland?

It was a bit intimidating considering the only time I've seen lights like the one by your house was in Vegas. Korea is very dirty and the people suck (Gross generalization!) But the transportation system is convenient (True.)

2) What were the highlights of your trip?
Shopping and more shopping! Not really the food! I had fun walking around with cyndi for our history tour. Oh yeah and I like taking sticky pics. I've been telling my friend about selca ("Self-camera" photos). Hahaha.

3) What aspects of the Motherland were hard for you to adjust to?
The people and the food.

4) What are your recommendations for first-time visitors to Seoul?
Tourist stuff the first two days and then do all the shopping and eating.

5) Was it hard for you to enjoy Korea given your limited Korean?
Yeah I think a week was perfect the only bad part was that u had to work but I think I did as much as I wanted to do (Dude, you didn't answer the question. I guess I'll answer for you. Yes, it can be challenging to get around if you don't know a little Korean).

6) How did it feel to be in the Motherland?
It wasn't at all what I expected. I don't know. When I saw the commercial on tv, [Korea looked] country (I think she means "rural") but when I got there I didn't really like it. I guess I'm really not as much of a city girl as I thought (Ditto. Forgive us, Motherland. We are simple island girls).

7) What surprised you about the Motherland?
The people and the culture; how dirty everything is since [in the Homeland] Koreans bitch about how dirty stuff is, but hey Korea looks pretty crappy and smells like crap too (That's pretty harsh. Obviously, I did a pretty bad job of showing you around the city. Note to random strangers who read this blog: I will agree that some, ok, many of the streets in Seoul are pretty dirty, but there's much more to the country. Your perspective of the country is limited when you only travel by subway.)

8) Would you ever return to the Motherland?
Yeah I want to but only for the shopping not really interested in anything else.


You can check out the video for some photos from the trip. The photos are a bit sparse, because you forget to take photos when you're immersed in shopping :)

*My sister does not like her alias, so I will hereby refer to my dongsaeng as Doogal (except for the video; It's too much work to change the name in the video). Jeez, neither Cyndi nor Heng were ever this demanding.

21 April 2008

Annalog Eats: Cupcakes from Shinsegae

My sister can attest to this: I'm a terrible source of info for visitors to Seoul. In fact, my top three favorite spots in Seoul are simply:
1) Kyobo Bookstore
2) The Food Plaza in the Shinsegae Department Stores
3) Kangnam Undergroud Shopping Center

I realize that given the Motherland's rich culture and history, my list seems pretty lame. I hope to explore more of Korea's historical sites in the forthcoming months, but I'm pretty sure that my top 3 list will remain the same.

Though Korean department stores can be quite nice, I usually avoid them because the crowd of shoppers can be overwhelming and much of the merchandise is overly priced. There are only two reasons for me to stop in the department store 1) To escape the heat 2) To check out the delicacies in the food marketplace.

The food plaza generally features an array of artfully displayed Korean and foreign food items from various vendors. The food is overpriced, but as I've mentioned before, I'd rather splurge on a little cake, then a pair of designer shoes.

I especially like to drool over the beautiful cakes and pastries.

A few weeks ago, Cyndi and I discovered a cupcake vendor in the Myeondong Shinsegae Department Store. The cupcakes are made by One, a company that claims to make "Contemporary American Style cupcakes." (In case this impresses anyone, I should note that One is affiliated with the Chosun Hotel.) I was pretty ecstatic to see cupcakes in Seoul, but at soon as I laid eyes on the colorful cakes, I knew that I was in for a big disappointment. The frosting appeared grainy and the cake appeared dry. Nevertheless, I couldn't stop myself from buying a box (4300 won per cupcake).

Though the cupcakes were sub par, I did appreciate the pretty packaging. For 300 won extra, the cupcakes are wrapped in an adorable little brown box, tied with a pink bow. The alternative is a white box (no charge), which, as the saleswoman pointed out, will likely cause your cupcakes to tumble about and smear the frosting. Um, I guess I'll pay the extra won and preserve the appearance of my expensive little cupcakes?

I really hoped that the cupcakes would be semi-decent, but sadly, they didn't even come close. I'd rather drop 6000 won for some Duncan Hines cake mix in Itaewon than buy a cupcake from One.

If you want to watch me eat an over-priced cupcake or see Piggy before all of her hair was shaved off (I'll explain later), check out the video:

18 April 2008

Annalog Eats: Dalk Kalbi

I finally got around to putting together the clips from my sister's visit to the Motherland. My sister's not big on spicy food, so we ended up eating a lot of non-Korean food. While in Kangnam, we tried some dalk galbi (marinated chicken). The chicken was a little too spicy for my sister, but she seemed to enjoy the haemul pa jun (seafood pancakes).

Check out the video for more details.
I'll post more pics from my sister's visit in the next few days.

13 April 2008

Fan Mail?

Yeah, I'm as surprised as you are.
Cyndi recently got this email from a fan back home. Admittedly, he's still in elementary school, but obviously he's wise beyond his years, and knows a good blog when he reads one.


Dear Cyndi,
Please tell...ahem...Annalog,that america didn't get leona lewis cds as soon as she did and that she should try listening to chris brown. he's awesome!how is piggy?He/she is sooooooooooo adorable! XD Oh and tell Annalog to try using a cd player for the love is a song cd.hope u feel better after the hot laser(s) attack...her blog about the lasers was funny but i should'nt be laughing...and i could go on and on about her blog but just one more thing...please ask her if she likes the song bleeding love by leona lewis.
Cutie B
P.S. still laughing about piggy's video and the armpit pain(which i shouldn't be laughing at)and your addiction to those picture taking machines.

Dear Cutie B,

  • I read that the Leona Lewis album is flying up the U.S. music charts. I also heard that her U.S. album featured a couple of new songs. I guess I'll have to get a copy of those songs through my dear friend, Mr. Lime Wire. I do like "Bleeding Love." I even tried to sing it at the karaoke, but then, people's ears started to bleed, so I had to stop. My favorite Leona song is "Better in Time."
  • I don't have a CD player in Korea, so I haven't been able to play the mini CD. :(
  • We've fully recovered from the laser attacks, but we do have to return next month. (Yikes!) Sometimes it's hard to be a hairy girl. For future reference, if your future wife or girlfriend has hairy armpits, please do not judge her.
  • Piggy is doing well. She'll see you in September. In the mean time, maybe you could start learning to sew some dog clothes ;)
Thanks for reading my blog. Other than my uncle, I think you just might be my #1 reader. Cyndi & I will be sending you a few Korean trinkets in a few weeks. Hope you're studying hard and having fun!

:) Annalog

05 April 2008

Lasers are hot...literally

Our foray into cosmetic procedures continues...

Heng told us about a laser hair clinic in Kangnam that charges 100,00 won (approx $100) for 5 sessions. $100 and I may never have to shave my underarms ever again? I'm in!

After a very superficial search through Google, I learned that under arm hair removal can range from $250-$350 for just ONE treatment.

(Cyndi says that they use a Soprano XL laser)

Today, Cyndi and I went for our first session at Kangnam Won in Seollung (exit 7, Apex Tower, Fourth Floor). Don't be put off by the fact that it's a plastic surgery office. (I'm not judging anyone who's gone under the knife, but I am not at all interested in cosmetic surgery. My cosmetic enhancements stop with braces and "scalings.")

As I mentioned, each under arm treatment is 20,000 won, and you are to pay up front for 5 sessions. Other areas such as legs or arms will cost significantly more.

I knew going in that lasers are hot, but dang, the laser was searing! The entire treatment only took about ten minutes, but it was some of the most painful ten minutes of my life. I always thought that I had a high threshold for pain, so when I looked over at Cyndi's pained expressions, I naively told myself that it wouldn't be as bad.

I am an idiot.

I was yelping like a little girl. It was as if someone was rolling a very hot curling iron against my arm pits. At that moment, I wanted to yell, "Forget it! I'll just move to Europe and stop shaving my under arms. The pain's not worth it."

The physical pain lingers for a few minutes after the procedure, but the memory of your agony will probably haunt you for awhile.

They say that the pain will lessen with each session, but I'm skeptical. They also noted, almost accusingly, that it was more painful for Cyndi and me because our hair follicles were particularly thick. The staffs' repeated assertions that our hair was particularly thick made me feel like they were judging my overly hairy American under arms. I'm sorry, lady. In America, our milk comes with an extra dose of hormones. I can't help it if I'm Harry in comparison to the average Korean woman.

I have no idea if the treatment will actually rid me of all my under arm hair. Frankly, I'm doubtful. My under arms still have a lot of stubble, but I do have four more torture sessions to go. We will go in once a month, so I hope to have baby smooth under arms by the time I head back to the Homeland. I'll report back with an update next month.

Besides the searing pain, my only gripe about the clinic was the service. I hate it when people treat me like an imbecile just because I can't speak Korean very well. My slow response to her instructions probably furthered her low opinion of me. When your armpits are burning, you'll find that your ability to respond properly may slow for a bit.

On the other hand, if I had to remove hair all morning, I'd probably be a little disgruntled as well.

Tips for under arm laser hair removal:
1) Be sure to wear a sleeveless top.
2) Shave the hair before your treatment.
3) If you get the hair removal treatment on any part of your body that may see the sun (i.e., legs or arms) be sure to apply sunscreen daily (even if your limbs are covered).
4) If the lady tells you to flip over, respond promptly or she'll think you're an idiot.

04 April 2008

American Mom

축하합니다 to my mom for passing the American Citizenship test!

03 April 2008

Meet Piggy

DATE OF BIRTH: January 19, 2008
BIRTHPLACE: Seoul, South Korea
BREED: Part Teen Wolf, part Pot Bellied Pig, part Frog
ACTUAL BREED: Yorkshire Terrier
LIKES: Royal Canin Puppy Food, water, squeaky toys, fingers, and sleep
DISLIKES: vacuum cleaners, baths, soiled newspaper, and falling off the bed

Henney has a new sister, and her name is Piggy!

Assuming that Piggy doesn't grow exponentially within the next five months, Cyndi plans to carry Piggy onto the plane when we head back to California. Fortunately, California doesn't require that dogs be quarantined when entering the state.

Piggy has a tendency to wake up too early for my taste and is not fully potty trained, but other than that, she's proving to be a good roommate. Plus, she looks so cute in a cap!

A word of caution:
Puppies are significantly less expensive in Korea so it is tempting to get a puppy. But, before you purchase a puppy on a whim ala Paris Hilton, research different vendors. Be wary of vendors with dozens of puppies because the dogs likely came from a puppy mill. It's better to purchase a puppy from a small pet shop that only carries a few puppies at a time. Also, this may sound very callous, but if anything is wrong with your puppy, according to Korean law, all vendors (private sellers and pet shops alike) must give you a refund if you contact them with your concerns within 14 days of your purchase.

01 April 2008

Sticky Pic Time!

We're kind of obsessed with these sticky pic machines. The Japanese machines are especially cool because they have platforms that widen the posing options. Unfortunately, we can never seem to get the hang of the editing options, whether the instructions are in Korean or Japanese. There are just too many options.

I'm determined to master one of these machines before I head back to the homeland...