Just got through a very busy week.  I had something scheduled almost every day before starting work.  But it’s all been quite exciting.

On Tuesday, I met with the manager for the dining division of a major Korean food corporation.  He’s enlisted my help in working on research for expanding one of their new restaurant concepts overseas.  It looks like the beginning of a great new partnership, and I’m happy.  He himself had just started at the company a couple of months ago and was surprised that all these great plans were created with no market research performed.  Yeah, yeah, we’ve always suspected and complained about the notion that Koreans market to foreigners arrogantly without any consideration for what the foreigner desires–particularly in tourism and food.  So you can believe that I’m mega-thrilled that this one corporation has someone in their midst who is actually trying to do the smart thing.  He’s an intelligent worldly fellow.  I hope I–and my fellow food buffs–can be of service.  And I hope that it’s a sign of good things to come.

On Wednesday, I was the guest for “Soul of Asia” on TBS eFM radio for the second time.  This time it was more about Internet-related topics and my win against the School-which-must-not-be-named.  They had a contest to win a box of upscale chocolates, where the audience had to give the answer to a trivia question.  The question was “What is the name of the special burger that Joe ate at the W Hotel?”

I got to choose the winner, and a good number of people entered the contest–a helluva lot more than who has entered Seoul Podcast contests.  With the Seoul Podcast, you basically just enter the contest, and you win.  That’s how many people we get.

I’ve agreed to do a regular food spot on the show each Friday.  I think we’ll start next month.

On Thursday, after work, I rushed up to Itaewon for a book release party at the Hamilton Hotel.  My good friend Moon Gwang-lip had published a book, in Korean, on Itaewon.  There was a four-page section in the book about me, scary pictures included.  The pics were taken this past summer when I was in my redneck summer phase.  At the party, I got to meet a lot of interesting folksies.  I hope the book does well.  Gwang-lip deserves the praise.

I had to leave the party early because Eun Jeong and I were planning to get the paperwork part of our marriage done on Friday morning.  I skipped out on the subway and decided to take the bus back to Anyang–the preferred way to travel at night.  I got a little confused with the subway exits, but I did get on my bus and promptly plugged my iPod earbuds in, listening to Ron Moore give his commentary on the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica.

I then looked up.

“Hmm… Seoul Tower is closer than I remembered it.”

I realized that I had gotten on the bus going the opposite way.  I got off at the next stop, which was Namdaemun Market.  The way the bus route goes, I figured out, was not a pure backtracking route.  So I couldn’t get a bus on the other side of the street going back to where I wanted to go.  So I hailed a taxi back to my starting point and got a bus back.

That put me home at 1 a.m.–an hour and a half later than I planned.


Well, Eun Jeong and I ended up in a little argument, which I suspected and have gotten confirmed now, was a case of cold feet.  So we skipped the marriage stuff on Friday.

On Saturday, we did what Eun Jeong said was the strangest couple stuff for Valentine’s Day.  Yeah, we’re a strange couple.  She’s not romantic at all.

At all.

She hates it when I buy her flowers or candy.  She hates corporate manufactured holidays.  Yet at the same time, she says, “I wonder what (insert couple pairing here) are doing for Valentine’s.”

Saturday, we started with some toast and Eun Jeong’s homemade jam.  I used the coffeemaker that Ian gave us to finally make us some really home brewed coffee.  Good start.

We were supposed to check out a wedding venue that morning, but both of us were not in the mood.  I went back to sleep for a while, and we got ready.  We ventured up to Seoul.  She was in the mood for Thai food, and we hadn’t had Thai in a couple of years–can you believe it?

We tried out the tiny offshoot of Buddha’s Belly in Noksapyeong.  Even though we were happy to have something that tasted Thai, we were disappointed with the place.  But we still enjoyed each other’s company.  We then walked around Itaewon, exploring the restaurants–noting the ones we should have gone to instead–and spent some time at What The Book bookstore.  We didn’t find anything worth buying, but it was fun to browse.  Next door was my old fave, the Foreign Food Market.  It has expanded since I was last there.  They had no space to expand horizontally, so they have expanded vertically.  Their shelves are tall.  Their merchandise has expanded.  Again, I wanted to buy lots of stuff there, but I was disciplined.  Eun Jeong had a lot of fun there, and she’s starting to understand why I love ethnic grocery stores and markets.  The whole time, she was picking stuff up.

“What’s this?  Oh, what do you do with this?  How does this taste?”

She’d ask this to me or to whatever person was nearby.

We bought some cardamom (for making Thai tea), some incense and a funky Indian-made incense burner.

Our last stop was her favorite food in Itaewon–Sultan Kebabs.

She was impressed that they had done so well as to make actual seating in the restaurant.  The proprieter, who I mentioned in my latest Seoul Magazine article, was in a more jovial mood than usual.  And he’s very outgoing all the time.  We ordered our kebabs, and his staff put them together.  Last time Eun Jeong was there, it was an outdoor operation, and he did everything himself.  He gave me a high five on the way out.

Eun Jeong and I caught the bus back to Anyang.  At Indeogwon, she wanted to try a noodle bar that she heard was good.  We shared a bowl of noodles and headed home.

It was a great Valentine’s Day!

Don't make mistakes other travelers have made!

Get regular emails with insider tips on how to maximize your visit to Korea. Sign up now!

Tour Tips Newsletter

You have Successfully Subscribed!