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11 responses

  1. SL
    10/25

    Great post Christine Ka’aloa! You from Hawaii? I was raised there…

    For many good reasons, I have personally built a new “Yelp” like local directory search site in ENGLISH for South Korea called CoreaLocal. The site is finished and super clean. Also, it is FREE to join and you can even log-in with your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ account.

    At the moment, there’s not a whole lot of listings yet but as we all contribute to it, it should become meaningful and helpful to fellow English speaking folks who live in or visit Korea.

    Reply

  2. Richard
    10/02

    Sorry – not a grrrl, a guuuuy — but I think this suggestion serves both gender adventurers in Korea equally well. Many comments in your blog note the language challenges in Korea, which is unquestionably true. But here’s a tip. Learn Hangul phonetics anyway — 24 letters, extremely logical, few pronunciation exceptions, “scientifically” designed to make everyone literate in about half an hour. Why? Because in the modern Korean commercial culture, a remarkable share of the words you’ll encounter in stores and restaurants are actually . . . wait for it . . . transliterated English! (or Konglish, or whatever, but the point is you stand a fighting chance of figuring out what it means). And of course, over time, being able to read phonetically means learning Korean words as well, so it only gets easier. Since Koreans are generally very friendly and happy to do business with you, they’ll do their very best to help, and if you surprise them by saying something unexpected in Korean, all the better.

    Reply

    • Christine Ka’aloa
      10/09

      @Richard: Apologies for the delayed response…
      Yes, EXCELLENT tip! Learning Hangul phonetics is a great tool, not only for pronunciation but for fooling a Korean into understanding your English! lol. Actually, I’ve used it to speak English when I don’t know the Korean word for something. Immensely useful because some Koreans actually know English but don’t always recognize the English pronunciation. I completely agree with you on all counts. When I first arrived in Korea, I knew some hangul but I never thought to apply it in the senses you’ve just explained and only over time, did I actually catch on as to how useful it could be even if I wasn’t well-versed in Korean!

      Although I think Koreans are more tickled when they hear ‘foreign-looking’ foreigners attempt Korean. Not so much Asian looking foreigners. I get confused a lot w/ Korean or Koreans occasionally think I’m another Asian ethnicity, so I don’t always get the warm joy when I use the language and don’t speak it well. So in some cases, I actually reverted to pretending I knew less Korean than I did or pronouncing it really badly so they’d get the clue and… “Ahhhh” . LOL.

      Reply

  3. guest
    09/10

    You forgot to mention that Daiso is from Japan originally.

    Reply

    • Christine Ka’aloa
      09/10

      Yulia: Thanks for that contribution! Only recently after researching a possible trip to Japan did I realize that Daiso originated there! Very interesting.

      Reply

  4. Conor
    04/07

    Was concerned when I saw only six, thought you meant only six altogether! Good choices though, and none of the crusty, bucket sized ‘foreign food’ stores on sight! I remember it took me two months to find out places like smart even existed!

    As for Ashley…not sure how vegetarian they are…might need to pick and sniff a lot of their dishes first….

    Reply

    • Christine Ka’aloa
      04/16

      @Conor: oops, apologies for the delayed response. Oh definitely not only 6, but those 6 were the ones I visited the most. 😉 But the list is open for additions if you’ve got some good ones! True, Ashley isn’t quite full veggie, but damn, they come close to the concept ‘international salads’, like cous cous and normal vegetable dishes! I don’t know why ‘salad’ is a hard concept in Korea.

      Reply

  5. Gray
    03/05

    You are so right: As tourists, we hate to see big chain stores “ruining” the exotic beauty of whatever country we happen to be visiting, but man, when you need them for something, they’re a godsend. How fickle we are!

    Reply

    • Christine Ka’aloa
      03/09

      @Gray: Yes. We like to have our cake and eat it too. Damn us!

      Reply

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