Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Party, Party, Party!

It's December and my end of year party schedule is in full swing...

Last night I headed down to a Wedding Hall in Yeoksam-dong to celebrate the ending of 2011 with a bunch of bloggers and the lovely folks at Nanoomi and TNM.


There was a great spread put on to feed the hungry netizens who attended, plus live music from Magic Donkey and a number of "interesting" interpretations of various songs by some of the bloggers present.

It was great fun to meet up with the various Nanoomi bloggers who attended, and it provided a wonderful opportunity to come together to produce our own animal themed Christmas poses.

TNM Party

I've chosen the "startled badger", Joe from ZenKimchi has settled for "worried mongoose", whereas Martina and Simon from Eat Your Kimchi have settled for "rabid hamster" and "confused giraffe". Thanks to the lovely Shanna from Hanguk Drama for the photo.

A great night spent with genuinely lovely people. Plus I won a strange looking plastic ball and an adobe mug and mousepad for being able to spell the word "reader". A good end to 2011!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ranger Ajosshi

Earlier this month I had a chance to meet up with the one and only Qi Ranger for his Your Neck Of The Woods video series. We spent a very pleasant afternoon gorging ourselves at the OKitchen and then wandering around the neighbourhood. Watch it if you dare (WARNING - contains me).


Soupy Dumplings

I've been a little lax on posting this month. Too many things to do and not enough energy to blog about them. Then again I'm not quite sure how interesting my ramblings on the finer points of subtitle formatting  and children's theatre would be to you all.

It has been a funny old year. I've gone from being a full time performer to a freelance writer/director in the past eight months. The children's book series I've been writing is into the illustration stage, so I get to marvel with delight at how my ideas are being transformed on the page and in the next couple of months I'll be working with a composer on the songs for the books. It's all very, very new and all very, very exciting. I've got other projects lined up for next year, but they're still under wraps, at least until contracts are signed and announcements are made.

In other news I should be filming a documentary with KBS in the coming weeks. They want to bring together a group of foreigners to eat Korean food around the peninsula. I'm not quite sure what to expect or where exactly we'll be going, but it'll be fun exploring the country with a few fellow foreign foodies.

As the year winds down I'm looking forward to some robust Korean cuisine. Soups, stews and teas to warm the stomach and the spirit.

UPDATE: Looks like I'm dropping out of the KBS documentary. Too many schedule clashes and not enough money to turn my life upside down... Ah well, it gives me more time for Christmas shopping and watching Tintin.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blurry Heavenly Goodness

I've been rushed off my feet these past couple of weeks doing many things paid and unpaid that allow me to survive. The rest of my adventures in Jeju are coming, but first a short detour into deliciousness.

Dinner at the OKitchen in Itaewon is always a delight and with my father arriving in Seoul for a few days was a good excuse to pay a visit...

Blurry Heavenly Goodness

The Seafood Plate:

Top row left to right - herring, mackerel, flatfish ceviche (with lime and coriander).
Centre row left to right - crispy gizzard shad skin, oyster, sea squirt.
Bottom row left to right - flatfish, pacific saury with seaweed, grey mullet with schezuan pepper.

The seafood plate at the OKitchen is always a delight. There are old favourites that often appear alongside exciting seasonal oddities. The flatfish ceviche and the crispy gizzard shad skin are my favourites, though the oyster was highly praised by my dining companions.

 Blurry Heavenly Goodness

Beef tongue with assorted pickles and a jeotgal dressing.

The thin strip of tongue mixed with the radishy fermented dressing was tasty, but nothing compared to the small circle of confit tongue topped with mustard seeds. Heavenly mustardy fatty goodness.

 Blurry Heavenly Goodness

Goat cheese and sweet pumpkin tart with three citrus dressing.

Garnished with a gorgeous radish from the OKitchen farm, this cinnamon scented slice of tart was perfectly pared with a lemon, orange and grapefruit dressing.

 Blurry Heavenly Goodness

Potato gnocchi with pesto.

Simple, tasty, chewy parcels of potato goodness lathered in pesto and sprinkled with cheese. Perfect for a cold November night.

 Blurry Heavenly Goodness

Bayleaf sorbet.

The OKitchen refuses to rest on its laurels, producing a light and sweet palate cleanser.

 Blurry Heavenly Goodness

Pork belly confit with persimmon (half dried, grilled and gastric), parsnip purée.

The star of the show. I'm not sure why more people aren't doing this. Pork and persimmon are a match made in heaven. Plus the OKitchen is possibly the only place in Korea that offers parsnip in any way, shape or form.

 Blurry Heavenly Goodness

A trio of desserts.

All magnificent, with special praise going to the omija sorbet. These photos may be blurry, but the food, as always, was heavenly. OKitchen remains my favourite restaurant in Seoul and gives incredible quality and variety for ridiculously cheap prices. Visit their website here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Too Much To Bear


To finish off our first day of Jeju exploration, we headed to the Teddy Bear Museum on the south side of the island. A chance to dry off, warm up and enjoy the thousands of bears and bear related exhibits at this quirky yet adorable place.


The museum has plenty of antique bears and a huge number of plush ursines from the last 100 years, but the stand out exhibits are the bear related art works...


Whether you're in the mood for a little Van Gogh.


Celebrating a royal wedding.


Reliving The Seven Year Itch.


Or celebrating the fashion industry.


They also have a couple of traditional Korean tableaux, including a wedding scene...


And the famous women divers of Jeju.


It's still good to see old friends on display and the museum is well worth checking out if you want to see a furry Mona Lisa or a Louis Vuitton clad teddy.


Plus in recent years they've installed their own special theatre so that you too can experience Elvis Bearsly live in concert. He's a class act!

In the interests of transparency I should tell you that my trip to Jeju was kindly paid for and provided by and KOCIS, but all views expressed in this post are entirely my own. Much more to come...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Trails?

Jeju HDR

We made our way out into the wet and windy Jeju afternoon weather, boarded our minibus and headed off to one of the Olleh trails on the north of the island. I'd heard a lot about the trails over the past few years and had built certain romantic images in my head - a beautiful solitary trail, with birds singing and crabs scurrying, with the mountains on my left and the sea on my right I would wander along marveling at nature's bounty.

 Jeju HDR

What I didn't expect was a little red pavement bordering an occasionally busy road. Disappointed? Just a little... Still the view of the rocky beaches and the ocean waves was pleasant enough, as long as I didn't look on the other side at the cars, gaudy restaurants, pensions and building sites.

50% romance, 50% disappointment.


Still I did enjoy walking past Jeju's miles and miles of dry stone walls. I love a good dry stone wall. I really do. They're far nicer than brick or concrete, they blend in with the landscape and they remind me of walking through some parts of the English countryside (as do the thatched cottages on Jeju). It was also good to hear from our tour guide that it's not just the elderly keeping the traditions alive, that young islanders are also learning the dry stone wall craft enabling this elegant segregation solution to survive.


And we saw a dead snake.


As we walked along the trail we kept seeing these two little cartoon characters. A stone grandfather and a diver - who looked like she'd stepped straight out of a Miyazaki cartoon. Very cute. I've been assured that there are prettier trails than the one we walked on, but I have to say I was a touch disappointed by our Olleh experience. As the wind blew harder and the rain pitter pattered on our heads, we decided to head somewhere warmer and drier on the south side of the island...

In the interests of transparency I should tell you that my trip to Jeju was kindly paid for and provided by and KOCIS, but all views expressed in this post are entirely my own. Next up - Elvis lives!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Voting For Jeju

Jeju HDR

Next up was a stop at a government building to hear about the campaign for Jeju to be voted as one of the "New 7 Wonders of Nature". We headed down to a basement conference hall, vitamin c drinks were thrust into our greasy little hands and we met 강성후 - head of the task force for the Jeju New 7 Wonders campaign.

강성후 (in the green jacket) and our fabulous translator 지은

November 11th is decision day (voting ends November 10th), so if you want to vote for Jeju, then you don't have long to do it. You can find all the details on how to vote by phone or on the web on the above link.

Why vote for Jeju? Well, it's a bloody beautiful island that deserves recognition for how gorgeous it is. Let's get one thing straight - it's not Korea's Hawaii. That's an insult to Jeju's own particular features (though I must say I also love Hawaii, especially Hanauma Bay). The Jeju committee offers five reasons as to why Jeju should be one of the final seven:

"1. Jeju is the only candidate boasting a harmonious coexistence of people, nature, culture and a prehistoric heritage in a single location. (Jeju is the world's first and the only area that received a triple crown as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2002, a World Natural Heritage in 2007 and a Global Geopark in 2010.)
2. Jeju is the only candidate boasting all seven key factors for tourism. (Scenery, an island, a volcano, beaches, caves, waterfall, sand, forests.)
3. Jeju is the only East Asian candidate among the 28 finalists. Its selection will boost the image of East Asia in the World.
4. If selected, Jeju will contribute greatly to the preservation of the environment as a capital of Environmental Protection.
5. Selection will lead to an increase in global tourists to Jeju and neighboring East Asian tourism sites."


It was interesting to hear 강성후 talk about Jeju, he and his team are obviously passionate about the island and about winning votes for Jeju to make sure it comes within the top seven. I really hope it does, as it could give Korea and Jeju a boost in tourism and recognition (Plus they've promised to make me an honorary citizen of Jeju if they win!).


You can vote on the web or by phone, but if you live in Korea you can also text your vote. Send a text message with the word "Jeju" to 001 1588 7715. It costs about 150 won per vote (at least that's what they told us).

Obligatory team picture (remember to enter 7715 for Jeju after a beeper sound?)

I asked 강성후 what he thought was the most beautiful part of Jeju. He chose the Yongcheon cave, unfortunately that wasn't on our schedule... We left him and his team to keep on campaigning and made our way outside into the wet and windy Jeju weather for the next part of our trip.

In the interests of transparency I should tell you that my trip to Jeju was kindly paid for and provided by and KOCIS, but all views expressed in this post are entirely my own. Vote for Jeju! Go on,  you know you want to!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Joys Of Jin Air

Jeju HDR

Our trip to Jeju started on Friday morning...

After meeting at the KOCIS building near Gwanghwamun we were whisked off by bus to glamorous Gimpo airport. It seems so small compared to its younger, bigger brother in Incheon, but that plays to its advantage - no treks searching for the right gate, no long waits and a mercifully short security check.

We had flights booked on Jin Air, a budget airline that is a subsidiary of Korean Air. There's no seat reservation and so boarding becomes very much like trying to get on a subway or bus in Seoul (you've got to fight hard if you want to get a window seat). The chairs are compact, the choice of drinks is limited and the flight attendants all wear peculiar lime green polo shirts and caps that make them look more like fast food restaurant cashiers than airline employees. It certainly has a budget feel to it, but the staff were friendly and the flight is very, very short. Not quite as swanky as its parent company, Jin Air still does the job (though they might want to splash out on some new uniforms).


Our first meal in Jeju was at the airport's fourth floor "gourmet avenue" at a pleasant enough Korean restaurant.


I opted for a spicy cabbage and beef rib soup, which was tasty, but perhaps not a Jeju delicacy. With lunch out of the way it was time to leave Jeju airport and head to the city...

In the interests of transparency I should tell you that my trip to Jeju was kindly paid for and provided by and KOCIS, but all views expressed in this post are entirely my own. More posts to come.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Love Jeju

Jeju HDR

I'm just back from a fantastic three days on Jeju island thanks to the lovely people at and KOCIS. A small group of bloggers was given the opportunity to explore the island, eat some great food and learn a little more about Korea. I'll be blogging about our trip over the next few days, but if you fancy getting a head start on things then you can go here to see some photos from our adventure.

If you have a spare moment then you may want to visit here for info on how to vote for Jeju in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. I'll be talking about the competition in another post, but it's a good opportunity to give Jeju a boost and let the world know about this beautiful island.

In the interests of transparency I should tell you that my trip to Jeju was kindly paid for and provided by and KOCIS, but all views expressed in this post are entirely my own. Jeju is a bloody marvelous place and I'll be heading back there as soon as I can to explore some more. Stay tuned for updates on the teddy bear Elvis tribute, a sneak peak into the Pheonix Island resort, the truth about Hallabong and how I learned to stop worrying and love Kpop...

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Weekend Of Jeju And Kpop

Thanks to the generosity of KOCIS and I'm off to Jeju for the weekend to experience the joys of the Olleh Trail and to see if I can get my hands on some roast pork, pheasant dumplings, abalone porridge or raw horse.

I haven't been to Jeju for about seven years, so I'm looking forward to exploring the island again (though the weather forecast is decidedly wet), plus on Sunday afternoon we get to go and see SBS Inkigayo being filmed...

I'm hoping against hope that Dal Sherbet won't be singing this monstrosity whilst I'm there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Night Fishing

iPhone Film Festival - Paranmanjang from iPhone Film Festival on Vimeo.

If you have a spare half hour, then sit down and feast your eyes on this slightly fuzzy copy of 파란만장 (Night Fishing), a short film directed by Park Chan-wook (Thirst, Oldboy, JSA) and his brother Park Chan-kyong (Anyang Paradise City). Shot on an iPhone 4 (though spruced up with various lenses), this odd story of a man and his lakeside misadventure offers a glimpse into the minds of both directors.

It's very much a film of two halves - with Chan-wook giving us a haunting first fifteen minutes in which a middle aged man goes night fishing and finds himself entangled with a mysterious spirit, then Chan-kyong allows us to witness a shaman ritual in his honour where his family seek some sort of closure after his death.

There are no subtitles here, but it's still a good watch without them and a chance to see these two brothers working together. While many of you have probably heard of Park Chan-wook and perhaps seen one or two of his relatively well known films, I'd also urge you to seek out Park Chan-kyong's Anyang Paradise City (다시 태어나고 싶어요, 안양에). The glimpses of shaman ritual in Night Fishing are explored further in his first feature length film, where he mixes his own footage of traditional ceremonies with moments of drama. It's an astonishing piece of work that may not charm every viewer, but will reward those with a little patience.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Best K-pop Medley Ever

I popped into a dumpling restaurant for lunch yesterday and saw this playing on the tv. Quite possibly the best K-pop medley ever sung. I'm a sucker for relatively elderly choirs singing pop songs...

It's from a show called 남자의 자격 - 청춘 합창단 which features aging rocker 김태원 conducting an amateur choir. It's not quite Glee, but it has its moments. Still it's not a patch on the documentary Young@Heart. Their version of Coldplay's Fix You remains one of my favourite covers.


 Seek out Young@Heart if you can. One of the most beautiful documentaries you'll see.

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Cheap Eats In Itaewon

Noodle Box

New restaurants and cafes seem to be springing up all over Itaewon at the moment. As I wander down alleys and side streets I keep spotting new places to try; and right out on the main strip, sandwiched between Panchos and the KB Bank, I discovered a new take out noodle place that offers a box of South Asian goodies for far less cash than most other eateries.

  Noodle Box

Noodle Box franchises have popped up in Hongdae, Shinchon, Gangnam and Itaewon, offering a small selection of noodle and rice dishes starting at 5,700 won. To celebrate the grand opening of the Itaewon branch every main course on the menu has been brought down to 5,000 won, I'm not sure how long the discount will last, but it certainly offers a thrifty alternative to Buddha's Belly, Wang Thai or Pattaya. I opted for the Pho Xao, described as "Vietnamese Pad Thai. Fried flat rice noodles served with pork, mussel, plus vegetable combination."

  Noodle Box

Low prices also mean self service down at Noodle Box, but for 5,000 won I was happy to make the short trek to the counter. My noodles arrived promptly in their own special box (how appropriate!) and when I opened up my small cardboard parcel of delight I was greeted with a burst of fragrant steam. So far, so good. It turned out to be a tasty little package and worth the price - choice morsels of pork, a few mussels and plenty of beansprouts, but my only complaint would be that the noodles were a tad too chewy.

  Noodle Box

Noodle Box offers a decent meal at very low cost and adds a touch of asian flair to the row of kebab shops that adorn the strip between the subway and the fire station. Certainly a good option for those on a budget or in a hurry, and may well offer a little nostalgia for those who used to get their noodles in boxes... To get to Noodle Box, head out of Itaewon station past KB Bank and this cheap little eatery will be on the right hand side. If you hit Mr. Kebab, you've gone too far. Visit their website here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

First Itaewon Freedom, now this:

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

Itaewon can be a very odd place at times and today was no exception.

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

I'm not quite sure what happened or why, but outside the firestation on the main strip, there was some sort of flashmob/photoshoot/music video/mass hysteria involving a decrepit popstar, three firemen and a group of youngsters dressed like rejects from a Grease audition.

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

 I stayed for only a few minutes, but the memory has been seared into my brain and will haunt me for decades to come.

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

And now a glimpse of the dancing, lip syncing, k-pop horror itself...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Greek Tragedy?

Greek Tragedy?
This photo accurately reflects my feelings about this plate of food.

Last night I met up with some old friends for a glass of wine, a bite to eat and a natter about the comings and goings of 2011. We decided that the Santorini's new restaurant on the main street might be a good place to try. I'd been to the Santorini behind the Hamilton hotel a couple of years ago and not had a wonderful experience, but I was willing to give them another go, especially in their new location.

Unfortunately... more of the same.

Our waiter, when asked for salads with no dressing explained that all salads were pre-dressed; and after being informed that I had an egg allergy and couldn't eat mayonaise, she brought me a plate of food with a big dollop of mayonaise rich coleslaw...

I ordered the mixed grill for 25,000 won: A chicken kebab, some lamb gyros, a "meatball" which looked and tasted suspiciously like a burger, fried potatoes and pitta bread. The meats weren't bad, perhaps a little too salty, the fried potatoes were passable, but the pitta bread was so tough that I feared for my teeth.

Then there's the price... A little steep considering that the Turks are selling good quality kebabs and other bits and pieces round the corner for much less. As @mrpfisher said on twitter last night:
"Tried it last weekend. Wasn't massively impressed, certainly at those prices. Hope it's better for you!"

I had kept my hopes up for Santorini, but I fear I won't be darkening their door again. Perhaps not a Greek tragedy, but certainly a disappointment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seoul Is Changing

Red Skies in Seoul

Something strange is happening to this city...

At the start of August I left rain soaked Seoul for ten days in rain soaked Edinburgh and when I came back I found myself in what felt like a different place.

As we flew into Incheon, everything seemed so clear. I could see every boat, every road, every nook and cranny of this crowded and chaotic peninsula, and as we drove into Seoul the skies were blue and I could see for miles and miles.

How odd.

This may not be so noticeable for relative newcomers, but after a decade living under the yellow haze of pollution, looking up at the sky and seeing rather indistinct shadows and a blurred sun, this past month has come as a revelation. We've had our good days and bad days, but late August into mid-September has given us some stunning skies and some gorgeous clouds. I don't remember enjoying the heavens so much in the last eleven years and I'm thankful that I can look out across the Han river every morning on my way to work and enjoy the view.

Maybe it was the ridiculously long and ridiculously heavy monsoon season, maybe Seoul is getting cleaner, maybe the sky gods are smiling down on us... Whatever the cause may be, it makes me happy.

Long may these clear skies reign, before Seoul changes its mind and the smog comes back again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wine Gift Time

One of Korea's big two holidays is coming up this weekend, and with the arrival of Chuseok (the Korean Harvest Festival) comes the arrival of the annual Chuseok gift from my present employer. In previous years I've received frozen fish, frozen steaks, seafood powder, olive oil, and a set of soaps, body-washes and toothpaste that still hasn't been used up entirely...

Chuseok Wine

 This year it was pretty easy to guess what I'd received from the box.

  Chuseok Wine

Sure enough, a quick peek inside revealed two bottles of rioja, plus a fancy schmancy corkscrew and pourer. Often we share gifts with my in-laws, spreading the fishy, beefy, soapy love around, but this year I think we'll be keeping these bottles for ourselves.

A quick search on the internet reveals that these two bottles go for a total of about 70,000 won in Korea... another quick search on the internet reveals that they go for a total of about 20,000 won back in the U.K...

Hopefully one day wine prices in Korea will settle down, so that my need for decent wine can become an affordable habit. Until then I'm still very grateful that my employer wants to send me a bottle or two to celebrate the harvest.

You can catch me wittering on about Chuseok tomorrow morning on TBSeFM during my regular 11.30 Korea Only slot on the 1013 Main Street programme...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My New Favourite Korean TV Programme

We've only recently got a streaming iptv service and as I was flicking through the few free channels we have access to tonight I discovered 한국인의 밥상 on KBS1.

Thursday nights at 7.30, it's every Korean food addicts dream. Half an hour of a rather elderly slightly famous man (I know his face from somewhere) travelling round Korea and finding the best that Korean dinner tables have to offer. Tonight's episode was salt, samphire and seaweed focused, with some beautiful shots of beautiful food.

Plus there's no audience sound track, no dramatic oohing and aahing over everything and they don't show the same shot three times in a row. It's proper adult television meant for those with a serious interest in food. I am in love...

If like me you grew up with a love of serious food programmes for serious foodies, then this may well be the show for you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Idiocy In Theatre

I sit here in front of my computer when I should be sitting in seat B24 in the circle of the large theatre at the new Yongsan Art Hall. I should be watching a Sherlock Holmes influenced magic concert starring 최현우. I've walked out of a couple of plays before, but this is the first time I walked out of one before it even started...

First if all I should say that I'm very happy that Yongsan has an art hall and that it's located in Itaewon. I'm also very happy that Yongsan residents get 50% off tickets to any show there. Thank you Yongsan, that's great, it's super, it's absolutely wonderful and I love you dearly. However, there are a couple of things that need to be sorted out.

First - If you want people to come and see your shows then you should really start advertising them ahead of time. As you can see from your pretty little website, the only thing advertised is the aforementioned Arthur Conan Doyle based extravaganza. Beyond the middle of September? Who knows? It's just a glorious field of 준비중입니다 signs. I'd love to start booking tickets for upcoming shows, but that's not going to happen if you don't tell me what's going on. I was lucky enough to stumble past the Yongsan Art Hall last Saturday and noticed that something was actually on. Lucky me.

Second - You don't have any English pages on your website. That's ok. I'll live with that, I'm a big boy and I'll do my best to navigate through the internet using my stumbling Korean. However, when it comes to booking tickets, rather than booking online or by phone, I find it's much easier to come down to the box office and book face to face. That way if the staff member and I have any communication problems we can use the miracle of body language and other tried and tested techniques to get the message across. However, when I tried to go into the theatre to buy tickets last week, I was told I had to book by phone (in Korean) if I wanted to get my Yongsan resident discount. I'm a Yongsan resident... I live in Itaewon... I am standing in front of you with a pile of cash and my alien registration card... Would it be so hard to take the booking? Really? Really?

Third - I booked by phone yesterday. You said you reserved a seat for me. You said I could pay at the box office. I got to the box office today and you had no record of my booking. You sold me a ticket anyway at the box office. Even though the last time I went to the box office you said I couldn't buy my Yongsan resident discount ticket at the box office. You seem to be contradicting yourself...

Fourth - I'm a poor artist so I went for the cheap seats up in the circle. Normally I love the circle, you get a great view of everything, a little bit of distance from the stage and a chance to throw chewing gum into the hair of those in the pricier seats below. I was happy with seat B24 up in the circle - on the little auditorium map it looked like a great seat with a great view. Perfect, Yongsan Art Hall, you've given me a great ticket at a great price and I get to watch a tiny cherub faced Korean man pretend to be a Victorian detective whilst messing about with cards for an hour and forty minutes.

I get up to the circle fifteen minutes before showtime and things start to seem a little less perfect. You seem to have put a rather large clear plastic barrier in front of the circle seats. You seem to have done it for safety purposes and yet you don't seem to have noticed that this rather large and obtrusive plastic barrier obstructs the view and significantly diminishes the enjoyment of the circle seated spectators, especially for those looking to involve themselves in a Moriarty antagonizing wizardry related experience.

For the first time in my life I walked out of a show before it had even started and I went back to the box office where you told me that you didn't give refunds directly before a show starts. I explained myself and you gave me a refund. This time I was very happy that you contradicted yourself.

I go to the theatre so that there is no barrier or screen between myself and the performer. I have been to hundreds of venues where audiences in the circle have been absolutely safe without the use of a large plastic barrier. You may be worried about safety (and that's a good thing to worry about), but you also have to worry about the audience experience of a show. If I want to watch a man in a deerstalker produce a rabid phosphorescent hound from a hat, then I want to do it without having to squint through plastic.

Sort yourself out Yongsan Art Hall. I'm only saying this because I love you and I want you to succeed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We're off on tour, so if you happen to be in Edinburgh this week then stop by the King's Theatre and say hello to the Mokwha Repertory Company.

We'll be performing The Tempest on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (13th-16th August) at 7.30 pm. There'll be Shakespeare, Shamans and English Supertitles. Full details at the Edinburgh International Festival website here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Radio Days

Well, it seems that every Wednesday morning just after 11.30 you'll be able to hear me waffling about Korea on TBSeFM's 1013 Main Street program.

I'll be on this morning if any of you care to listen in and I'll be talking about the joys of ddeok-galbi, one of my favourite meaty Korean dishes.

Listen in if you dare...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Things I Have Been Eating

I've been out and about doing exciting things this month (sitting in front of a computer endlessly writing, translating and editing play scripts and children's books), but I have found time to eat a few delicious things.

For your delectation a short summary will follow:

Food in July

First off a delicious spicy beef noodle soup with added cactus. A new branch of 밀사랑 has opened round the corner from Suji's in Itaewon and they serve a mighty fine bowl of 백년초육칼국수. It's a fairly fiery concoction and I was warned away from it by the staff, but while it does have a kick it's no stronger than your average 육계장. My only advice would be to wear a dark top or put on one of their aprons, because spicy soup, noodles, slurping and light coloured clothing can only lead to shameful staining.

Food in July

Next up deep fried mudfish from the Shinchon branch of 춘향골 남원추어탕. Perhaps not to everyone's tastes, these freshwater mudfish are deep fried whole and perfect with a bowl of dongdongju.

The mudfish soup at this place is also well worth a try, a really comforting bowl of thick fish soup with a hint of lemon.

Food in July

The arrival of Jester's Pies in Itaewon seemed to be cause for celebration, but when I sat down to try a couple of meat filled parcels the other week I was a tad disappointed. The rather chewy beef reminded me of airplane steak both in texture and flavour. Maybe I got a duff pie... I hope I got a duff pie...

Food in July

Here's a chorizo quesadilla from Taco Amigo. Greasy, but delicious, though a little pricey. I'm not going to head across the road to Taco Bell, but I'd love a lunchtime set that comes in under 10,000 won.

Food in July

Next up a pricey plate of pasta from Sortino's. 18,000 won for a no frills four cheese linguine. Tasty, but with my downgraded income this year, not worth the price.

Speaking of prices - I popped into Edward Kwon's The Spice on Saturday lunchtime in search of gourmet goodness, but the prices there have turned prohibitive. On the weekend, lunch starts at 49,000 won for three courses. OKitchen only charges 22,000 won for five courses at lunchtime and I'd rather get two meals there than one at The Spice. The price hike may also explain why there were only two diners in the restaurant at 1.00 on a Saturday...

Food in July

Food in July

Finally spring rolls and Penang curry from Buddha's Belly. I needed a little shelter from yesterday's storms and this coconut beef curry did the trick.

Next week I'll be spending most of my waking hours in Daehangno putting the finishing touches to my translation of The Tempest for the Edinburgh International Festival. Any restaurant recommendations around the theatre district?