Tuesday, November 29, 2016

10 Trendy Cafes in Seoul You Should Visit (Part 2)

As a continuation of a two part series of my café hopping in Seoul, I will share to you the other half of the 10 trendy cafes I visited as part of the Café Show event at COEX. For the part 1, CLICK HERE

6. Red Plant Coffee Roasters
Tagline: Energetic Roastery Café

There in the corner of the street at Mapo district in Seoul stands a small, cozy and relaxing coffee shop called Red Plant Coffee roasters. If you walk along that street, the building is very small but it’s impossible you can’t see the striking red letters of the shop’s name.

This place is ideal for a one on one talk, there’s also a space outside of the coffee shop where people can occupy, sip a cup of coffee, and talk while watching the passerby. It is one of the best places in Seoul you would love to spend your afternoon.

To go to Red Plant Coffee Roasters, you can navigate to this address:
(Café)53, Yanghwa-ro 7 gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

7. Wangchang Co.

Tagline: Dark Roasted Coffee that Touches You

If you can’t read Korean, you would probably find it hard to locate this shop because the name of the shop is written in Hangeul. This coffee shop is just in front of the Red Plant Coffee Roaster, it’s also small and a little bit congested considering that this coffee shop has a lot of local patrons.

The roasting laboratory is also inside the coffee shop, you can even see the roaster from the outside because they put it in a room with transparent glass, so everyone can actually see what’s happening during the roasting process. It looks traditional because of the wood element. Aside from the paintings on the walls and beautiful lightings, there’s nothing really interesting in this shop.

To go to Wangchang Co. coffee shop, you can navigate to this address:
27 Worldcup-ro 8 gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

8. Namusairo Coffee

Tagline: With a various season Menu

For people who love to experience Korean traditional lifestyle, Namusairo is the place to be. This place is very near Gyeongbokgung palace, so it’s a perfect place to visit after a tour at the palace and the Gwanghwamun Square.

Namusairo is situated in a place where there are a lot of buildings with old style architecture in the neighborhood, therefore you wouldn’t surprise if it appears as a traditional house. It’s a Hanok inspired café with a lot of rooms inside. From the outside, it looks small, and when you enter at the counter area where people order, it is a small area too. I think it can only accommodate up to 6 people. But when you go at the back, there’s a yard where you can sit and relax while sipping your cup of coffee. If you come by group, you can choose one of the room available inside. It is very ideal for study, chit chat and for relaxation.

The coffee at Namusairo are a little bit pricey though, but that’s because they use expensive and aromatic type of coffees. You can’t also underestimate their bakery as it offers a variety of cakes and sweets.

To go to Namusairo, Take subway line number 3 (Orange Line) and get off at Gyeongbokgung Station, go to  exit 7 and walk through the main road to the left at Saemunan-ro 3 gil, then turn right and walk for about 5 minutes. If you get lost, you can also navigate to this address:
21 Sajik-ro 8 gil, Sajik-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

9. Coffee Tour

Tagline: Coffee Guide for your life

At first, the name of the coffee shop does not make sense. The name Coffee Tour, according to the barista, was derived from the fact that people from around the world who have interest in coffee, either for business or tour, have this coffee shop in their itinerary. So I’m guessing that people go to this place to tour and learn more about coffee.

I personally like this coffee shop because it’s cozy and peaceful. They have couches where you can sit and relax while reading the book. I love the classical music they play on the background because it’s so relaxing. If you want to review or study your lessons, you can go to this coffee shop. I like also the packaging of their beverages. It’s stylish and classy at the same time.

If you wish to go to Coffee tour, you can navigate to this address:
1F, Sajik-ro 10 gil 12, Jongro-gu, Seoul

10. Rusted Iron in Dumbo

Tagline: With a various season menu

From the outside, Rusted Iron looks so robust and strong. It’s a coffee shop you think men would love to go. But in the inside, it’s so soft and calm and peaceful. It’s a three floors building, the basement have a cool space for intimate talk or a lazy afternoon coffee session. The first floor is where the counter is located. There’s also a space where you can sit down but most of the room is occupied by the counter. The second floor is another room for the customers.

Aside from the charming atmosphere of this café, the price of the coffee and other beverages are very reasonable considering the fact that the area where it is located is still part of Seoul. I had my hot Mint Mocha Latte for only 4800 won.

If you want to go to Rusted Iron in Dumbo, Get off at Ttukseom Station on Line Number 2 (Green Line) and go to exit 2. Once you exit, turn right and walk down the street. You can also navigate to this address:

656-834, B1, 1F, 2F, Seongsu 1(il) ga 2 (i) dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul

Saturday, November 26, 2016

10 Trendy Cafes in Seoul You Should Visit (Part 1)

When I arrived in Korea roughly 4 years ago, I was oblivious to the fact that coffee shops exist almost everywhere in this country. As time goes by, as I explored so many places of Korea, I realized how Koreans love coffee. I had once a conversation with a random Korean guy and we talked about the coffee culture of Korea, and he said that the number of coffee shops in this country show how much Koreans value coffee, in fact, most of his friends even prefer to drink coffee than to eat a full meal. If it’s true, then it must be crazy.

I would like to believe that I am exaggerating, but you walk at random streets in any cities of Korea and you will find a coffee shop in every corner. In Seoul alone, there are hundreds, or maybe thousands of coffee shops exist. I personally categorized these coffee shops into mainstreams, themed and trendy. Mainstream cafes are the ones with known names like Starbucks, TomNToms, Angel in Us, Twosome and more. Themed cafes are coffee shops with, well, themes. I’ve been to Camera Café in yangpyeong, I also tried Bau House dog café. I know there’s cat café in Myeongdong, there’s even Hello Kitty Café, Sheep café, Raccoon Café and a lot more. Then there comes the Trendy cafes, the one I like most. Forget about the mainstreams, forget about the themed, because for me, real coffee lovers go to trendy coffee shops.

Trendy cafes are nice because you can see an aspect of personality in the coffee shop. These cafes offer not only a quick relief for the thirsty, or a treat for the sweet tooth, or a quick fix for the caffeine addicts but a different kind of ambiance unique to the characteristic of the shop. That is why in this review, I will focus more on the ambiance than the coffee and food aspect.

I was able to visit 10 trendy coffee shops in 2 days in Seoul as part of the Café Show event at COEX. They offered a free tour bus to bring people to different spots in Seoul for coffee shop visit. They provided a map and a list of coffee shops to visit in downtown area. The tour bus only brought us to the destination, and we have to locate the coffee shops on our own. The google map was a great help for us to navigate to the destination of the coffee shops we chose to visit.

Without further adieu, here are the top 10 trendy cafes in Seoul you should visit if you are in the area.

1. Anthracite Coffee Roasters

Tagline: Small Steps to Big Change

From the outside, it looks bland, rusty, old and uninteresting. But when you get inside the coffee shop, there’s a welcoming feeling that magnetize people to get inside, have a cup of coffee and relax. The moment I opened that heavy, rusty sliding metal door, I smelled roasted coffee. Their bakery offers interesting set of cakes for the sweet tooth. I like the carrot cake, it tastes just the way I like it.

Anthracite for me is like a time machine, once you entered, you will be taken back into the past. I like the transparency though. You can see everything inside the café, from the roasting process of the beans to the way the barista prepare your coffee. You can sit in front of the counter and patiently wait for your orders while watching the staffs make your coffee. Nothing fancy about the tables, the chairs, the interior design and everything inside the coffee shop because they’re all old and recycled but interesting and beautiful. They serve their coffee as fresh as possible as it is being roasted right within the coffee shop using the big old roaster which you can see while sipping your hot coffee. The second floor of the building looks like a very old building and the owner didn’t mind to renovate it because in all fairness, it looks unique and interesting the way it is. The thatched roof, the broken cinderblock walls and the whole old school ambiance add to the whole coffee shop experience.

To go to Anthracite Coffee Roaster, you can get off at Sangsu Station which is in line number 6 (Brown Line),  go to exit 4, once you exit, continue to walk until you reach 7 Eleven convenience store, from there, turn left and walk down the road. When you reached the corner of the road, turn right and walk about 15 meters. You can also use Google Map to Navigate to the location of the coffee shop using this address:

Tojeong-ro 5-gil, Hapjeong-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 마포구 토정로5길 10

2. Bean Brothers

Tag Line: Your Personal Coffee Guide

Bean Brothers is another interesting coffee shop in the area. From the outside, you will know that the feel would be Industrial. It’s plain, rusty and what else can you expect from an old garage converted into coffee shop.

The interior design is so cool though. It is a place where you would want to bring tons of your friends to drink coffee or tea. The barista are all accommodating, the counter is strategically located in the middle of the room so people from any side of the shop can see the baristas taking orders, preparing the drinks and even the roasting area has transparent glass for people to see. I also like how they put quotes or words of wisdom or whatever you call it all over the café.

They serve hot coffee, freshly roasted right within the premise, some non coffee beverages and freshly baked goods for the coffee goers to enjoy while talking.

Bean Brothers is located very near Anthracite Coffee Roaster. The nearest stations are Hapjeong Station or Sangsu Station.  Use your google map to navigate to this address:
35-1, Tojeong-ro, Mapo-gu , Seoul 121-897

3. Café I Do

Tag Line: Italian Coffee and a Dessert, A Perfect Couple

If romantic place is your thing, then Café I Do is definitely the place you should visit. The big red gate is a head turner when you walk along the street where it is located, so it is impossible you would not notice it despite the fact that it is squeezed in between offices and some regular buildings.

After entering the red gate, a different kind of feel welcomes you. If the red gate and the name of the shop imply a romantic feel, the wooden element of its porch would definitely remind you of a home in a province. When we entered the shop, the interior design, the tables, the chairs and everything inside gave a cozy feeling of home. This is a perfect place if you want some small talk with a friend.

To go to Café I Do, the nearest station is Exit 6 of Hapjeong Station. Use your Google Map to navigate on this address:

 1F, 410-10, Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

4. Five Brewing

Tagline: The Very First Brewing Coffee Shop in Korea

From the outside, it gives a youthful vibe. It looks like a coffee shop where students or young people would love to go.

Just don’t mistake this coffee shop as a library though because there are a lot of books inside. The wood element is so strong in this café, making it appears minimalist, but with all those displays and decorations, you can’t deny the artistry of the interior design.

The coffee roaster is sitting happily right in the counter area where everybody could see. It is indeed a perfect place for an afternoon coffee delight.

5Brewing is just near Exit 6 of Hapjeong Station. Use your Google Map to navigate on this address:

55-12 Eoulmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul

5. Belief Coffee Roasters

Tagline: Specialty Coffee to Please Your 5 Senses

Right in the corner of the street near Hapjeong Station, there stands a spacious coffee shop where you can study, talk and just sip a cup of coffee. With accommodating baristas and staffs, Belief Coffee Roasters is a place where you can get a much needed welcoming feeling.

As what they promised, their coffee is not only for the tongue but for all the 5 senses of the body. Their bakery is something you should try too, the macarons are selling like hot cakes.

To go to Belief Coffee Roasters, use your Google Map to Navigate to this address:

50, Yanghwa-ro 11 gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

I will feature the last 5 trendy coffee shops I visited in Seoul in the part 2 of this post.

CLICK HERE for part 2

Monday, November 21, 2016

Philippine Lanterns Shine Bright at Seoul Lantern Festival (서울빛초롱축제) 2016

The annual celebration of lantern festival in Seoul, South Korea has finally ended for this year 2016. It was a month long display of bright and colorful lanterns at Cheonggyecheon Stream. Every year, the Seoul Lantern Festival opens every first Friday of the Month of November and ends on the third Sunday of the same month. There were various displays of eye enticing lanterns from the Cheonggyecheon Plaza all the way up to the Supyo Bridge. It took me one hour to check out all the lanterns in the 1.2 km stream and it was indeed an epic sight to look at.

The theme for this year’s Seoul Lantern Festival was “Lightened Hangang River Where History Flows”. It’s a homage to the infamous Hangang River, or “Large River”, which is considered to be the lifeline of Seoul . The lanterns they exhibited were all about the historical, cultural and the stories surrounding the Han River.

There were displays of lanterns about Seoul’s surrounding areas in the past and during the Neolithic ages. The lanterns served as the life size dioramas of what Seoul looks like in the past and how people lived during the pre historic era.

Some interesting stories, legends, beliefs and folklores from the past were also featured in the exhibit. So basically, it’s all about telling the history of Seoul and the Han River in the guise of fabulous lanterns and colorful lights.

Aside from that, there were lanterns from some parts of the world too. I saw one from Japan, from China and of course, from the Philippines. The Philippine proudly showcased its colorful Parol shining brightly on top of colorful lanterns. People were so amazed with the Philippine lanterns as it looked jolly and attractive.

There are also various activities at the Gwantonggyo Bridge and Gwanggyo Bridge Gallery. The hands on activities included were floating of wishing lanterns, writing of wishes at the Hanji, and a lot more. There were booths in the area where people can buy the materials needed to participate in the event.

If you wish to experience Seoul lantern Festival next year, make sure you visit Seoul in the month of November.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Reading “No Couches in Korea” on a Couch in Korea

I received a copy of “No Couches in Korea” from the author himself Kevin Maher who sent it all the way from Macau. As soon as I received the book, I immediately opened it and read the first few parts of the book. The premise of the book is all about the journey of an English teacher in Korea in the year 1996 when English language was still new to Koreans and white foreigners were being stared at like a star in a circus. I was excited to read the book because I know as a migrant worker in Korea, I can maybe relate to it. While I find myself ironically reading the book in the comfort of a couch in Korea, I read some parts of the book during a subway ride, and everytime I read something about Koreans, of how the characters described them in the bad light, I felt like reading them aloud in the public just so Koreans know how foreigners generally think of them.

However, as the setting of the story was in the mid 1990s, I didn’t put a high expectation on the book because I know for sure that in the past two decades, Korea has changed a lot. Although there are some parts of the book that made me think I experienced the same thing, I found most of the details in this book about living in South Korea in the 90s interesting but not applicable in the modern age. I guess Maher has intended market for this book, and although I am a foreign worker here in South Korea, I just think I am not a market of this book. If I remove all the dramas and love story, picking only the parts that detail the character’s journey in South Korea, I guess English teachers in South Korea would find this helpful. This will give the overview to the first timers of what they will about to experience as soon as they arrive in South Korea. But then again, this was in the 90s, I don’t know how much has changed since that time.

The book only features two major places in South Korea, the Busan and Seoul. Other places like Seoraksan and Gyeongju were mentioned but not really detailed. If there are other places mentioned, then I may have missed it, which means this book is not for the wanderlusts. I’ve been to Busan twice and I’ve been to some of the places Kevin mentioned like Haeundae Beach and the Nampodong Street. I must say that while he did not really talk that much of the must visit places in Busan, his story makes me want to go to Busan again and check out the places and bars he mentioned especially the Blue Note. Next time I go to Busan, No Couches In Korea will surely comes first to my mind which means the book did  a great job introducing Busan to me and maybe to the other readers. However, it would be good if instead of the work dramas and ordeals with roommates and the little western community, the author could have allotted more pages about his experience in other places aside from Busan.

As I’ve said, the setting of the story was in the mid 90s, so I considered this book a history book rather than a guide book because some nuances in the Korean culture have changed already in the past two decades. For example, they don’t call it Pusan anymore but Busan, the travel time from Busan to Seoul is no longer 6 hours, Koreans are no longer staring at the foreigners and so much more. But I must say I’m glad I read the book because Kevin’s account about the 1990s Busan could probably not be seen in any Korean History books. It was an actual event, actual people and actual places narrated in the perspective of a foreigner. While you can’t use this book as a guide for living in Korea in this era, it’s a perfect manual for somebody who wants to know the event that took place in the city in the earlier years.

Overall, I think it’s an interesting read. Although it’s not 100 percent all about Korea, I still find it interesting because reading the book brought me to the time no one in this era would have known.  It’s like making a pathway to an unknown street. I rate this book 7/10 for an effort to illustrate Korea before the kpop, k dramas and hallyu wave entered the scene.

If you are interested about this book, check KEVIN MAHER's homepage


Friday, November 18, 2016

The War Memorial Museum of Korea (전쟁기념관)

The war memorial of Korea

Just recently, I had the chance to visit War Memorial Museum in Seoul. I had been to the War Memorial Park which is located just outside the building of the museum for the nth time, but never had the chance to enter the war museum. Before, I don’t understand why there’s a need to have a war museum. I just thought it’s too violent and unusual, but things had changed when I visited the Indepence Hall of Korea in Cheonan. I now understand the information that war museums would like to convey. The Independence Hall of Korea showed what happened during the Japanese-Korean war, but The War Memorial Museum in Seoul is all about the North and South Korean war as well as war against the Chinese communist. I just realized that South Korea has been through a lot of war in its history, no wonder why they require Korean men to undergo military service, maybe in preparation of whatever kind of war that may come to them in the future.

Our tour guide, a Korean guy named Jaemin of Loving Korea, in his military uniform, diligently explained to us what happened during the North and South Korean war. I was late during the tour, so I think I missed a lot of his explanations and fun (or not) facts about the war that has transpired ages ago. The war museum is a huge building, or should I say a huge military history museum.

The tourists with the tour guide

The museum is divided into different halls. I shared the tour with several other foreign nationalities and Jaemin took us to the Exhibiton 6.25 room and to the adjacent halls which hold different documentations, statues, interactive demonstration and dioramas of what really happened during the war. We also watched a 4D documentary footage in black and white showing the main battles and the events that happened during the war. It was a terrifying footage because we didn’t just see it, we also felt it. The cold, the eerie surrounding, the fear and the struggle, I felt it by just watching the documentary.

Actual photos captured during the war

There are also activities and interactive amenities inside the museum, it’s still all about the war but it will help you learn in the fun way. The actual photos, maps, artifacts and footages are all over the hall, you could not miss single information if you will just take time to check it all.

Statues depicting the war

The good thing about the War Memorial Museum in Korea is that, you can enter for FREE. Our tour guide, Jaemin, said that their government spent a lot of money just to establish a museum like this because it will help reminds Koreans about the war that happened before. However, this may look like a history museum, but it is still relevant nowadays seeing that South Korea is still not in good terms with North Korea. In short, the war is not yet over. Although there’s an on going negotiations and both countries are currently in agreement with establishing a Demilitarized zone, one single mistake may ignite the fire between the two warring nations. The way Jaemin described the ordeals in the Demilitarized zone, I can say that the war between North and South Korea is still on going. The war museum is the living reminder of the real struggle of this war.

Interactive amenities at the war memorial museum

I’m glad I was able to enter the museum. Just outside the building, there are other things you can see. Aside from the statues, buildings and different symbolism, you can see the display of different military equipment. If you want see what’s outside the war memorial park, you can CLICK here to visit my previous post about it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Outstanding Pictures of SUPERMOON as Seen From South Korea

The SUPERMOON which appeared yesterday has been the talk of the town and in the social media. Everybody is making a BIG deal about it because this is a rare event on planet earth. Supermoon is the same moon that appears every night in the sky, except that at this particular moment of time, the moon is closer to earth. If the moon is closer to earth, it is 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the usual moon we see everyday. The reason why everybody suddenly turns into sky gazers is because Supermoon appears rare in a lifetime. Last night's Supermoon was one of the closest distance between the moon and earth, the last time this happened was in year 1948. So if you missed it like I do, we could not probably see the same phenomenon any time soon.

However, there's technology and digital camera, and there are good photographers who were able to capture the photo of Supermoon. If you missed it and if you like to see it again, I will share the photos with the permission of the photographers here.

This one was taken by Ms. Lois Patol in Suwon. She said it was cloudy that night and there's no way to take a good photo of the moon. She waited for one hour until the sky became clearer and she never wasted  single time to take a good shot of the Supermoon. It's still autumn here in Korea, therefore she included the fall foliage silhouetting their pretty pointed leaves against the bright moon in the sky. 

Photographer Mherl Mharl Teano Jara suddenly became poetic after he captured the beautiful moon with his camera. God knows how long he waited to get a good shot of the moon. He started at 8 pm, but because the sky was cloudy, it's almost impossible to see the moon that night at Cheongna area of South Korea. He was determined to see the moon, he obviously could not stand by outside looking up the sky because it was too cold last night, probably a close to zero temperature, but what he did was, he checked once in a while if the moon has appeared. Luckily, at around 11:50, the moon peeked for him and this is what he got!

This is another interesting photo captured by Rey Zamora at Siheung around 7:50. The night was young and the sky is clear, he braved through the cold weather and finally captured a simple but detailed image of the moon.

Photographer Allan Lafuente took this photo in Incheon City. With an ISO of 3100, Aperture of f/8 and shutter speed of 1/60 sec @200 mm (Image area DX), he was able to come up with this 3D-ish image of the supermoon.

Another photographer from Incheon City took a photo of the Supermoon in a different set up. It was too cloudy at Incheon city that night, so he decided to include other elements like this leafless tree because Fall Season is coming. He said that this is a ghostly shadow of the Supermoon.

So there you go, despite the cloudy, dark and cold night, they still managed to capture the Supermoon for our memory's sake. Hopefully another Supermoon will happen soon, that time with a good weather and a clear sky because looking at the moon at the closest possible distance is an opportunity we should not miss.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

EVENT: International Forum on Migration for Filipino Migrants in South Korea

The Inter-Agency Committee for the Month of Overseas Filipinos (IAC-MOF) in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, Filipino Korean Spouses Association, Filipino Photographers in South Korea, Filipino EPS Workers Association and Pinoy Iskolars sa Korea present the International Forum on Migration event in South Korea.  With the tagline “OFs as Bearers: Tunay na Malikhain, Matatag at Masipag”, the event will be held on November 27, 2016 (Sunday) at KEB Plaza from 9 am up to 5 pm.

Every Filipino migrant in South Korea are invited to join this event. They have invited several keynote speakers to speak about life of Overseas Filipinos. Dr. Cora Alvina, the Chairperson of Gawad ng Manlilikha ng Bayan Executive Committee will be one of the speakers. Professor Stella Go, Chairperson of Philippine Migrant Research Network (PMRN) will talk about the enduring values and traits of Overseas Filipino. Ms. Jasmine Lee will also talk in the said event.

There will also be an open forum after the program where attendees can discuss with the speakers about issues, information and other things related to the Filipino Migrants in South Korea. A film showing activity will feature a Filipino movie called "Imbisibol" as a treat for the attendees.

Aside from that, these are other benefits and services that you can get when you attend this productive and once in a lifetime event.

1. Free lunch and unlimited snacks
13.Filipino FILM SHOWING

Other government agencies like BIR, DTI and DOT will soon confirm their attendance for the said event.

For those interested to attend, mark your calendar on November 27, 2016. To get to the location, take Subway line number 2 (green line) and get off at Euljiro 1(il) ga station, go to exit 5. Another alternative would be Jonggak Station on Line number 1 (Blue line) and go to exit 4 or 3. You can also get off at Myeongdong Station, go to exit 6, when you see Uniqlo shop, just walk straight.
See you there!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

11-11 is Korea's Pepero (빼빼로) Day

It's November again and this is the time of the year when the Korean cookie stick called Pepero(빼빼로) are everywhere. If you think this is some kind of a cookie stick apocalypse, well, not really. Blame it on the 11-11 date.  Usually during this day, you can see a pile of pepero boxes decorated with ribbons in the form of heart. There are also flowers and chocolates and other elements that represent love. You can’t deny it, love is in the air every November 11 in Korea. I think Koreans are enjoying it because people are buying the pepero boxes so that they have something to give to somebody on the special day. After all, a small box of pepero costs only 980 Korean won, it’s pretty cheap.

The Pepero day is considered to be a love day in Korea, this is on top of White day and Valentines day. Like any other countries, Korea celebrates Valentines day every February 14, during this day, the girls will give gifts to the boys as a sign of love and appreciation. In return, the boys will also give gifts to the girls during the White day which is celebrated every 14th of March. Pepero day is just like Valentines day and White day, they celebrate and commemorate LOVE in Korea every November 11 of the year by giving or exchanging sweets to friends and special someone. And if you are wondering why they are celebrating every November 11, it is because the date 11-11 resembles to the Pepero stick.

According to the legend, the Pepero has actually nothing to do with love or showing affections to loved ones. Rumor has it that the event started when two female middle school students exchanged Pepero stick on November 11 to wish to each other that they will both become tall and thin just like the cookie stick. As time goes by, exchanging of pepero does not necessarily mean you wish somebody to become tall and thin. Nowadays, it means showing affection to somebody. Whether to a friend, to a crush, to parents or simply co-workers, pepero symbolizes your appreciation to the recipient.

As for me, we should celebrate LOVE everyday. We should express it not only during valentines day or white day or let alone Pepero day. It is the only language that everybody could understand. However, joining the bandwagon will not hurt. I have seen a lot of people buying boxes of Pepero, and I guess it would be fun to join the crowd. Whether it’s a fad or a legit occasion, if you feel like celebrating the Pepero day, go on, it's a fun thing to do.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Philippines Joined Food Week Korea 2016

The venue for Food Week Korea 2016

If I have to list things I like about Korea, I could come up with bunch of items, and Korean food would surely top the list. I am not a foodie type of person, I choose what I eat, and most of the time, I am not experimental when it comes to eating. I prefer to eat what’s familiar to me and sometimes refuse to try foods that are strangers to my taste bud. Eating Korean food was and is still a challenge for me, although I have a safe list of Korean food that I like, there are Korean dishes that I could not really take, one example is Kimchi. Yes folks, I still don’t like kimchi, even after four years of meeting it everyday on the dining table. I eat kimchi if it’s on a dish like Kimchi chigae, budae chigae and Samgyupsal, but eating kimchi alone is not something that appeases my appetite. I know I have to awaken the foodie part of me because I like to eat, except that I just can’t eat everything. While I can say nothing’s wrong with that, I just felt like I missed the adventure of trying to eat food from different parts of the world. So when I learned that Korea will be hosting a Food Week, I registered online because I want to introduce myself to the food of the world.

The Food Week Korea was held last November 2 to 5, 2016. I attended the last day of the exhibit. Korea invited different delegations all around the world to represent their respective countries and exhibit anything related to food at the COEX convention and Exhibition Center located in Seoul, South Korea. So basically, it’s about bringing the food industry of the world in one roof and I know I should not miss that opportunity. When I arrived at the venue, there were a lot of people seeing that it was the last day of the exhibit. I had to patiently wait for my turn to get a visitor’s ID because there was a long line. Both foreigners and locals were so much interested to see what’s in the exhibit.

Different people from different walks of life attended Food Week Korea 2016

I could not exactly figure out the demographics of the visitors because there were a lot of people. I am guessing most of them are gastronomes, I saw how everyone was interested to check the food products on display. I also spotted gourmets, although I was just judging on the way they dressed and the way they approached business representatives, but I am sure rich people who are interested in food would not want to miss this event. Or maybe just curious people like me. Whatever you call it, we are sharing one roof for a gastronomic indulgence.

I must say that every country was well represented in this exhibit. The booths were divided so that participants from one country can all go together in one lane which I think was a practical way for the benefits of the visitors. Attendees who want to take the opportunity to develop business relationship to international clients can easily approach and choose a company from a preferred country.

Representative from Region 12 of Philippines

I arrived a little late for the event, it was almost lunchtime when I arrived and a friend who has arrived in the venue way earlier than me ushered me from the entrance the moment I got my ID. I was starving when I arrived and I was glad there were food everywhere, it was not that difficult to grab something to eat. However, I was more interested to meet the Philippine representatives so we went directly to the booth. And look what I’ve found, food products from the Philippines, and not just Philippines, it’s from my own province, the SOCCSKSARGEN region. There were dried mangoes, dried papaya, dried pineapple, dried banana and coffee. I was so much interested with the coffee and asked the Department of Agriculture representative to help me plant coffee when I go back home. I think I can produce coffee beans if I have the right materials and inputs on how to grow it.

The Philippine booth at Food Week Korea

Aside from food products from my region, there are also booths of famous food brands from the Philippines, like Mama Sitas. I think every Filipino knows Mama Sitas, they brought all their products to present it to Korea and other international visitors. I met the brand Manager and talked to him for a while, he showed me some of their products and gave me samples. I can feel his desire to reach out to Filipino workers in South Korea and introduce Mama Sitas. So maybe, in the future, every Filipino in Korea who wants to cook Filipino dish can easily cook with the help of Mama Sitas product if it becomes available in the market. There were several Mama Sitas products in Asian Stores, but you cannot always guarantee the stock availability.

Mama Sita's representative at the exhibit

There are also other Philippine local food products like the Buko juice from Batangas, banana, pineapple, and calamansi. It was a joy watching foreigners and Koreans enjoying the free taste of Filipino food products. Everybody likes it especially the coffee which really inspired me more to become a producer of coffee beans in the Philippines.

Philippine Food Products

I also checked other booths and introduced myself to other food products of other countries. I saw the food and tasted some food products from Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.

Koreans enjoying free food taste
The biggest chunk of the pavilion I think goes to the Korean food. Let’s give it to them, they are the host of this event, so it’s just appropriate they take the bigger part of the venue. I think every province of South Korea has a representative. I didn’t know there’s “food specialty” in the provinces of South Korea. I used to believe that the food you can buy in Seoul is also available in Taean or Busan or Daegu or any part per se. I just learned that Korean provinces have specialized food products.

At the Korean food booths

The event was so interactive. There were games in some of the booths and there were prizes too. I joined some of the games and won some prizes which are actually food products. At the end of the day, I was able to bring home an apple, a peach, two packs of rice of different kinds, and freebies from Mama Sitas. I also bought some products like the apple juice because they’re selling it at a discounted price.

I think what I like the most is the ASEAN-Korea Center. It’s an area where you get to eat a meal from two different countries. They’re giving away coupons at the entrance for free if you download a particular app and they give two random countries for you to try their food. I especially requested if I can have Philippines, and they gave me Philippines and Thailand. Of course, I first visited the Philippine booth and they served Sinigang na hipon, Champorado and Adobo rice. My thai food set composed of a spicy thai noodles and a pork curry. I also checked out other food from other ASEAN countries but I was not allowed to get from them because I only got two coupons.

Philippine representative at the ASEAN culinary

It was a unique experience for me to attend this one of a kind event. It was a great learning opportunity, a possible business idea, and a food trip kind of event and I think it’s a good way to not only promote food products of one country but also open new avenues and opportunities to food industry all around the globe. Hopefully I can attend this event next time, not as a visitor but an exhibitor.