Yo American Men! Why haven't you thought of this???

November 29, 2012

The other night oppa took Jeyong, Lee, Jordan, and me out to dinner for fresh BBQ'd eel.  First of all, I have to say the Japanese Unagi have NOTHING on how the Koreans serve eel up.  Seriously... KILLER!  Each of us were served at least half an eel, cut into bite sized morsals, baked to a crisp mouth-melting perfection and then drizzled with a light sweet plum sauce.  Yes.... yum. 

Afterwards, oppa took us to a traditional Korean tea house where we had a variety of delicious herbal and fruit teas.  When we arrived there the first room you enter is the garden room.  There you can warm yourself by a large charcoal filled stove and you can also partake in an awesome Korean tradition:  making sugar candy.  So, oppa proceeded to whip us up some, after which we munched on while drinking our tea. 

So, what's the big hype?  Men... pay attention.  This sugar candy thing is mindblowingly awesome for us ladies.  Why?  Because it's sexy AND cute!  Thus my conclusion that Americans should adopt this tradition.  If you have any doubts..l try it and see how the girls respond ^^.

Now, for the tools and the how to....

All you need it sugar, a tiny pan and something to stir with, a piece of polished stainless steel (like a cheap tray) and another piece of stainless to press the mixture down when you pour it into the tray. Put a few tablespoons of sugar in the pan and put directly on the stove top and stir constantly until it turns into a milky caramel color, then pour onto the stainless plate and press down flat. It becomes instantly brittle.  Scrape the hardened sugar from the pan and proceed with the munching.  ;P


KikinitinKorea... Laughing from Experience ^^

November 26, 2012
When my friends and family back home ask me to describe my job…

For those of you who have no idea what it's like over here and want to see our reaction to it (in a sarcastic, humorous sort of manner)... please visit KikinItInKorea's tumbler site.  No lengthy posts there... just a number of spot on one-liners that had my belly aching from laughing so hard.  Enjoy!

Princess Syndrome

November 25, 2012

So, Saturday I woke up with some serious stomach cramping and before I knew it I was all but running to the bathroom.  By noon I wasn't feeling any better, so I texted Jeyong (who just happens to work for a doctor) and he came over with an assortment of medicines and JUK (rice porridge).  Soon after my oppa texted me and asked how I was and I told him my tummy was sick.  Within 10 minutes he'd called Jeyong to find out what was going on and had hit the road to pick up more stuff for me.  Less than 20 minutes later he was on my doorstep with some traditional Korean medicinal tea, some well-being sweet bread, and some home-made sweetened nutty rice cakes.  He only stayed long enough to make some hot water and pour me a glass of tea and then was out the door.  I curled back up on the sofa and went back to sleep after drinking a glass of tea.  I ended up getting sick twice and felt bad all day, but this morning I woke up feeling like a new person.  My oppa and adeul are THE BEST!!!!  Today was spent drinking tea, munching on rice cakes and a little juk and watching football ^^. 


Celebrating Thanksgiving in Korea Japanese American Guam style

November 23, 2012

 Confused much?  Cuz I am LOL.  Actually, my Korean friend Mr. Choi asked to go out on another date and so, we rounded up Jeyong (One of my Korean male friends that speaks great English and I hang out with all the time) and Lee (my soju drinking buddy/partner in crime/sister in another life) and headed for Andong.  As most of you know I have a love for speed and things that go fast.  So, having been moseying around the countryside at speeds that would make my grandma wanna pull out her shotgun and kill the driver just to rid the world of one more annoyingly slow car on the road.. well, last night was like a non-stop adrenalin rush.  Finally, a car (new Audi A6) with a decent engine that hits you low when it accelerates, goes from 40 kph to 180+ kph faster than I can say "more please" and is smoother than a shot of Maker's Mark ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ.  Yes, it was that awesome for me.  

So, we hauled it to Andong to a posh Japanese restaurant, where we feasted for over an hour and half on a prix fixe dinner of raw fish, shellfish, and various side dishes.  Everyone but our gracious host (who obviously was driving) had some soju.  We then rounded the corner to the coffee shop, after which we made our way to another Japanese restaurant/bar where we feasted on a fruit platter and soju for dessert.  I think our Thanksgiving dinner went from 6:30 to 1:30am LOL.  Which, considering there are two people who are native English speakers and two people who are native Korean speakers and only one person who is decent in English there... that's an insane amount of time spent talking and laughing.  ^^  Killer night!  I am glad I went, because otherwise I'd have had a sad Thanksgiving.  

Date and Interview

November 19, 2012

View from my office

This weekend I had a job interview in Gwangju as a researcher for a gigantic performing and visual arts complex that's being built right now.  The job entails researching artists around the world, specifically in areas where the voices of a specific segment of a society have been lost or buried.  I would also be responsible for translating and editing papers.  I had a great time in Gwangju.  My coworkers and director also took me on a fishing trip to 장흥 (Jangheung) harbor, which is one of the oldest harbors in South Korea dating back to the Chosun Dynasty. 

We got up before the break of dawn to travel 1.5 hours to Jangheung.

Where we went fishing...

This is Sehyeong-ssi, who is a director (musicals) and my future coworker.

View from the front of the boat as the sun rises.

The sun is rising and I am happy, because it's FREEZING!

Lines are cast :)

Scored my first fish... an ANAGI, which is in the eel family.

Do Kyun and Sehyeong are taking a load off and enjoying their 담배 (cigarette).

The floats are holding nets up.  These nets are where they are harvesting seaweed.

There are hundreds of islands around this area.

Sehyeong shows off his catch.

Do Kyun's got something!

Oh!  It's another Anagi!

Oooohhh... Sehyeong caught a flying fish!

Picture taking everywhere!!!  LOL

Director's fishing vessel... where all the 술 (sul- alcohol) was being stashed!

Snack time consists of rare Mongolian Vodka, a nice Chinese liqueur and fresh sushi cut from a fish the director caught.

Sehyeong caught a starfish LOL.

Do Kyun looks out from the nose of the boat as we travel to a new location.

Where we just came from.

I am an island of myself ;)~

Back on shore.

My soon-to-be coworkers.

Our catch... not so impressive, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Caught taking a SELCA (self-camera picture).

So, here's more info: 

The director of the project is famous here.. he is the one that started the annual Gwangju Biennale AND he wrote the book and started the museum on Nam June Paik, who I'm ashamed I didn't already known since he is so closely tied with artists that I connect with.  My director is amazing! 

So, the opportunity is radical and rare, as I'm sure you could imagine.  The director is trying to reinvent the idea of the museum.. so that it resembles more of the core values of PS1 in NYC.. where art is made and reflects a collaboration between cultures, communities, and locations, but within the physical space of the museum compound. 

The art displayed is not something purchased and then transported, but is more of an installation in that it is site specific.  I can relate to this even more having been involved in the public works projects in Indianapolis with the IMA and with my own sculptures.  Thus, the opportunity to be a part of such a revolutionary concept in South Korea is one I find difficult to say no to and, honestly, would be an idiot if I did. 

I have to find a way that I can still carry my friendships and relationships with me and balance them out with my new lifestyle in Gwangju.  Balance, as you may remember, is not an AVA friendly word LOL.  Anyway... I miss everyone tons and I appreciate your thoughts and encouragement regarding this.  I'll let you know what happens!!!

Much love...


My date with Mr. Choi...

So, there's this man at the gym that I see all the time.  His name is Mr. Choi and he knows absolutely NO English.  Anyway, Mr. Choi, with the help of our Kwanjangnim Kim, asked me out on a date.  Securing a day and time is no easy feat, as he's incredibly busy.  So, two weeks after asking me to go out we finally managed to commit to a date.  Kwanjangnim Kim went with us to a Sogogi (Korean Beef) restaurant and acted as an interpreter.  He was more excited to be having delicious expensive beef, but gets a kick out of playing the role of cupid (or so he says). 

Like me, Mr. Choi enjoys his meat rare to the point of almost mooing.  We also ate fresh raw beef liver, which was soooo delicious!  After dinner, Kwanjangnim went back to the gym and Mr. Choi walked me home.  I had a great time and we already set another date for this Thursday. 

My Pepero Day basket... November 11th (11/11) is Pepero day, a holiday fabricated by Lotte to sell more Pepero chocolates.  Anyway, when I got to the gym on Friday there was this huge basket waiting for me... from Mr. Choi.  He was already cleaning up, as he had to go to Daegu for a wedding, so he asked the Kwanjangnim to give it to me.  Like almost all Korean men, he felt uncomfortable expressing his emotions to me, so he left it up to the Kwanjangnim and the basket itself to convey his sentiments.  Then ran out of the gym before I could say thank you LOL. 

Since Mr. Choi was thinking of me during Pepero Day, I thought I'd make him a little present... so I drew his portrait.  It's not something I spent a ton of time on, so it's not the quality I'd like, but I wasn't feeling too hot that weekend and needed sleep.  Also, I had spent that Saturday visiting Gyeongju with the boys high school and some other english teachers on a field trip, so I was pretty exhausted from that.  Anyway...

I KakaoTalk texted a picture of the drawing to Mr. Choi and he loved it so much that he made it his profile picture!  LOL... cute.  Then the next Monday I gave it to him at the gym. 

This is a picture taken in Gyeongju at one of the famous burial mounds.  The leaves were changing, but within one week all the leaves had fallen.  :(


Links for making Gochujang (고추장) and Soybean Paste

November 5, 2012
In the even you can't find them, you can make them.  But, I highly recommend ordering on the internet instead.  Gochujang is THAT good ^^.

Gochujang Recipe

Doenjang (Soybean Paste) Recipe


Ava's Oyster Stew with a Korean Kick (Recipe)

November 5, 2012

Ok, so this weekend I stayed in Yecheon and relaxed (sort of).  Instead of galavanting all around SoKo I decided to keep it local and cook up some "Western" food for my friends.  Saturday night I made Fettuccine Alfredo with mushrooms and marinated pan-seared chicken, which turned out good.  This is somewhat difficult to pull off here, since buying enough cheese for a pizza costs almost as much as your heating bill!!!  But, where there's a will there's an A-va. 

Last night I decided to not play it safe with my cooking and opted for an Oyster Stew, since the oysters are so plentiful and delicious looking.  I enjoyed modifying my recipe so it had a Korean flair to it and with good results, I might add.  My Korean and American friends both shoveled the stew down in record time ^^.  You know this Southern Girl was very happy with that outcome! 

So... for my friends that were interested in the recipe, here it is.  Please note that you can add more or less of any vegetables or substitute as you like.  I have a hard time measuring, so I am giving approximations.  Unless baking, I'm more prone to estimating amounts and going by feel rather than precision.  Also, pre-chop vegetables, pre-cook potatoes, pre-rinse oysters, etc... it makes life easier!


1 medium Onion (chopped finely)
2 sticks Celery (chopped finely)
3 pcs. minced Garlic
1/4 lb Butter
1/4 cup Flour
5 medium White Potatoes (peeled, cut into small cubes)
1/2 lb shucked Oysters with Juice (or more, if you like)
1 lb sliced/diced Mushrooms (your choice on what kind.  I used native Korean mushrooms)
1 can Heineken Beer (or your fave... just remember, oysters are delicate in taste, so the beer shoudn't be too heavy)
1 heaping tablespoon Gochujang 고추장
3 cups Whole Milk (or 2 cups milk, 1 cup cream)
1 cup fresh chopped Parsley
Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste

~Cut vegetables before-hand: onions, celery, and garlic can go in same bowl. 
~Peel and dice potatoes and cook until just tender.  Set aside for later. 
~Drain oyster juice through fine sieve and reserve in a bowl for later use.  Wash oysters thoroughly.  Set them aside in a bowl.  Pour some Heineken over them, mix, and let sit.
~Dice mushrooms and reserve in separate bowl.


Melt the butter in a large pot over a medium heat.  Add flour and reduce heat to med/low, stirring constantly (yes, we're making a roux).  Stir mixture until the color becomes a reddish brown, then add onion/celery/garlic mixture and increase heat to medium.  Stir constantly and cook for approximately 3 minutes.  Add the strained oyster juice and mix thoroughly.  Cook for 2 more minutes. 

Next, slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly.  Then add the mushrooms, gochujang (고추장), potatoes, and 1/2 the can of Heineken.  Stir the ingredients together until the soup becomes a nice creamy orange color (make sure the gochujang (고추장) is thoroughly mixed in).  Turn heat to med/low and let simmer. 

After 10 minutes taste the stew and add salt and pepper as needed.  Let simmer for 30-45 minutes on med/low heat.  Stirring is the name of the game in this recipe, so do it often and keep adding more Heineken while it simmers (one can should be plenty for this, but it's your call!!! ^^). 

Add parsley and oysters to stew 10 minutes before taking off the stove.  Oysters are delicate and should not be overcooked.  When the edges of the oysters curl and their bodies swell (when pressed with a fork they are still soft/fork tender) they are cooked just right. 

Serve with fresh crusty bread (French baguette is nice).



Jagalchi Fish Market Video

October 25, 2012

Chuseok Traditional Drum Dance in Hahoi

October 25, 2012

Busan Bound....

October 22, 2012

This school week wrapped up with a bit of friction between a female administrator and myself.  Sadly, the English department (IE my koteacher and myself) is the last to know anything about what goes on in the school, so we were under the impression that we had no classes Friday, since the school had organized a field trip to the amusement park in Daegu.  This also meant that I believed Ssam (short for teacher) Heo to be in Daegu.  Friday morning I texted my koteacher (Jeniffer) to let her know I would take a vacation day (she had suggested the idea to me) and imagine my surprise when 8:30 rolled around and it was Ssam Heo knocking at my door.  Well, apparently only 4-6th grade went.  I told him to head to school so he wouldn't be late and I would ride the bike in. 

I got to school before 9, so everything was ok, but all of the male administrators were gone, so only the female ones were left.  The female admin reprimanded me when I came in and said something about me having a fourth period (I'm not even 50% sure of what she said) and I replied 아니요, which is a polite way of saying NO... and then she blew up at me in front of the other teachers.  The  remainder of the day I kept a low profile and asked Ssam Heo to tell her I'm sorry and try to apologize to her or find out what the hell I said that caused such a big reaction.  Regardless, the atmosphere is still weird even today (Monday), so it's troublesome. 


That afternoon, Nina, Jonah and I had made plans to take the bus to Busan.  Jordan was to meet us the following day.  So, we hit the road.  Blame it on me that we ended up taking the wrong bus and landing in Pohang LOL... but, in my defence I was only listening to the bus attendant's advice and got on the bus at platform 2 ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ,  Anyway, it made for an interesting experience and we finally made it to the jjimjilbang in Busan around midnight.  The  next morning we woke up to a spectacular view along the beach.  We ate some ramyun at the little cafe and headed out to do some sight seeing. 

Once we'd explored the beach, we decided to go to Shinsegae department store, which is the largest department store in the world.  It has a jjimjilbang with a 5 star rating (couldn't go personally, because they don't allow people with tattoos inside), a golf course, a skating rink, event hall, etc.  Not to mention a crazy amazing food area in the basement, where you can get just about anything and everything (except oatmeal, dammit). 

Around 5 ish we bid farewell to Shinsegae and took the subway to Jagalchi Fish Market, which is the most famous in Korea.  There we were greeted with stand after stand selling a jaw dropping assortment of seafood.  Even more impressive were the containers of squid packed in ice, which covered a section of floor the size of a basketball court! 




For dinner we decided to have the king crab, which had caught my eye earlier.  The king crab was 60won per kilo and we scored a whopping 2.4 kilo crab for dinner.  My friends had never experienced pulling crab meat directly from the shell, so I taught them and Nina had never had crab meat period!  (How is this possible?) and she soon fell in love. 




The rest of the night we spent roaming around that section of Busan.  We left and made our way to the beach, where we drank and relaxed before heading back to the jjimjilbang... only to find out that they were booked for the night.  We spent another 45 minutes trying to find a place to stay and finally Jonah scored us a room at a hostel not too far away.

This actually turned out to be a nice place, so there's a chance we'll go back there next weekend when the National Fireworks Festival is going on. 





The next day we got up and went to the Busan Aquarium.  Not much to tell, if you've been to an aquarium, then you already have an idea of what it contains.  It was nice, though!  Then it was back to Shinsegae, where I had ZERO luck finding anything.  At around 5 we regrouped and left for the bus terminal... all buses to Andong were SOLD OUT.  So, Daegu it was.  And from Daegu to Andong.  And lastly Andong to Yecheon by taxi.  HOME!!!! 

So, it was a great weekend with lots of adventure and experiences.  We've all agreed that Busan and Daegu beat Seoul as far as our favorite cities.  Busan I like more, because of the variety of things to do and Daegu, because of my awesome motorcycle friends living there. 

Next weekend we'll be hitting the fireworks festival, so bac to Busan again ^^.


Ava Larkin

Ava Larkin Artist, Sculptor, Singer, Language Freak, Motorcycle Enthusiast, and about everything in between... currently teaching English in South Korea. http://motojezebelle.tumblr.com/