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Little Prince Kids Restaurant Korea Locations

It’s such a drag when web links change. Ugh. I just went back to check on the Little Prince Kids Restaurant and found that their main web page was gone. It links to a medical page now.

I updated my original post with the link to their Naver page, but I always find Naver hard to navigate. That’s a bit of irony, don’t you think?

One thing about Korean websites is that they use Flash like crazy. They love to run little animations in the page and put content in a Flash template. The problem with that is it makes using a translation support tool like Google Translate rather useless. Google can’t translate text in a Flash format. Therefore, I have no hope of reading the message on the page. Or, it takes me HOURS to work through tiny segments of text by sounding out each Korean word.

By contrast, Japan web developers don’t seem to have such a love affair with using Flash so Japanese sites are easier to translate and understand. The English translation and grammar are by no means perfect, but you can still understand the basic message or sentiment and enjoy Japan even as a foreigner.

On the plus side, through my efforts with the Little Prince web search, I came across a listing of all the locations of the Little Prince Restaurant throughout Korea. There aren’t just one or two. There are dozens! There’s even one in Orange County California that opened in July 2010.

Here’s a list, based on my rough translation with the limited aid of Google Translate. It lists the city where each Little Prince is said to have opened and the date it opened.

I should preface this by saying that I have not been to these locations so I can’t exactly confirm their existence, but if you’ve been to one of these, leave a comment below and we’ll confirm their existence together!

I also came across the menu for Little Prince Cafe in Korea so I’ll include that after the list.


Cheonan, Gyeryong [2011-07-09]

Inchon in Bupyeongjeom [2011-05-03]

Chuncheonjeom [2011-04-23]

Busan Nampojeom [2011-03-05]

Wonjujeom [2011-01-29]

Seoul Sindangjeom [2011-01-15]

Sangmujeom Guangzhou [2010-12-13]

Bucheon Sangdongjeom [2010-12-03]

Busan Seomyeonjeom [2010-09-16]

Buksuwonjeomyi [2010-08-10]

Chonbuk Gunsanjeom [8/3/2010]

Ansanjeom [2010-07-17]

U.S. CA [2010-07-16]

Gyeongnam Gimhaejeom [2010-06-29]

Chonbuk Iksanjeom [2010-05-19]

Cheonan, Asan [2010-03-29]

Suwon Yeongtong [2009-12-19]

Seoul Sinchonjeom [2009-11-14]

Incheon Geomdan [2009-10-21]

Yicheonjeom [2009-09-12]

Dongducheon [2009-08-27]

Inchon nonhyeonjeom [2009-06-13]

Seoul nowonjeom [2009-05-25]

Ilsan [2009-04-16]

Seoul Mokdong [2009-04-09]

Ulsan [2009-03-21]

Sinjeju [2009-01-31]

Kyungpook Gumijeom [2008-12-16]

Haeundaejeom [2008-11-12]

Seoul National University [2008-09-05]

Pyeongchang Phoenix Park [2008-06-21]

Jeonjujeom [2008-06-20]

Pyeongchonjeom [2008-04-24]

Uiwangjeom [2008-04-16]

Chang’an in Seoul [2008-03-28]

Seongseojeom [2008-02-02]

Changwonjeom [2008-01-19]

Bundang [2007-12-14]

Cheongjujeom [2007-11-01]

Jingshan [2007-10-13]

Paju Geumchon open [2007-04-27]


A Good Day For Blogging

A Tokyo sky in December 2006.

Sunday, June 19, 2011 — Yesterday was a good day. It was a productive Saturday on the blog front. I actually got two whole posts from my old Japan blog up and wrote a new post to go along with it. I’m feeling really good about it and I hope I can keep the pace going over the next few weeks.

A few years ago, when we first moved to Japan, I started writing a blog to document our adventures and new experiences. It was just a small endeavor on iWeb and I wrote mainly for family and friends as a way to keep in touch with them.

As it developed, I realized that there were limitations with iWeb and, though it was very easy to use for an inexperienced blogger like me, it wasn’t handling the huge amounts of photos I was including. After a bit of research, I finally ended up starting a new blog on WordPress. I had hoped to just repost all my old entries to the new blog, but it’s not been as easy as all that.

The fact that we then moved to Korea and now are living in Texas has also hampered my speed in getting this project done. It’s been three years. That’s pretty sad.

I have dozens of new places and experiences to share from both Japan and Korea, and I’m going to try to get up at least one new post every week.

If you see lots of newly posted entries with older dates, hopefully it will make sense now as to what I’m trying to do.

I hope you enjoy reading a little about my past experiences and my first impressions of living in Asia. It’s always a fun trip down memory lane for me.

Let me know what you think.

Origami Revisited

June 18, 2011
Four years have passed since I wrote my first post about origami. I went back and read it today. It was hard to imagine that I was ever at a point where origami was new to me. Someone who’s grown up in Asia would likely never understand or be able to imagine not having an intimate knowledge of origami. They’d probably read my post and think it sounded crazy. They’d probably think, “How could someone look at origami paper and not know it is origami paper??!” It’s one of those environmental/cultural things that you would not even know you know because it is so familiar to every part of who you are.
It would be like looking at any every day object, a kitchen sponge, for example, and not knowing it’s a sponge. But, if you’d never seen a sponge in your life, think how you might look at it and be interested to learn what it really was. It’s sort of how Ariel in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” felt about the snarfblat and the dinglehopper.

Nowadays, origami has gained much more popularity in the US. I’ve seen a number of origami kits for sale in bookstores, and there are a few more books around about how to fold origami. I even downloaded a very interesting origami App for my iPhone last week. I actually thought of this idea a couple of years ago, and now it’s cool to see that someone has actually created one. The App features video of someone folding a variety of animals and designs. It’s very interesting to watch. Something like this would be great during a long airplane ride so you could watch the video and then fold the item.

Still, even with the stronger awareness that I think people in the US have about origami, I’m sure that it doesn’t even come close to equalling the appeal and impact of origami in Japan, Korea and China. You cannot go into a convenience store in either Japan or Korea and not find a pack of origami paper for sale. The 7-Eleven stocks origami regularly for its customers. It’s that common. I would go so far as to say that every native person living throughout Japan knows about origami and could fold at least one design. That’s 1.3 million people who have at least a basic awareness of origami. In my observations, it is that pervasive.

I wonder if half of the 3 million people living in the US have a basic awareness of origami? It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to say that this could probably be true. I think we are familiar with the idea of it and, if asked what origami was, I bet at least half of Americans would know the answer. But, I really doubt that all of them would be able to fold at lease one design. That seems like a stretch to me. What do you think?

Yes, I’d say that my outlook on origami has most definitely changed over these last four years. Since I bought my first pack of origami paper, I have bought dozens and dozens more. I have been to origami museums in both Japan and Korea. I have seen elaborate origami creations. I have been to craft stores with rows of paper in every color and size. I have seen thousands of cranes, folded by school children throughout Japan and sent to hang in a memorial in Hiroshima. I have taken folding classes to learn to make elaborate origami ornaments. I have learned to fold dozens of designs as have my children. And now, I am even a mommy who folds origami to entertain my kids and pass the time while we wait in the doctor’s office or the airport.

I understand, now, that origami is not just a pursuit for geniuses of spatial relations.
It’s a form of creativity, of creation, of making something out of nothing.
When you have learned to fold a specific design and can sit quietly, focusing on the details of a perfect crease, folding and manipulating a plain piece of paper to create an intricate and meaningful design, it is a very calming event — almost therapeutic.

It’s also a challenging puzzle of artistic expression because we may see an object in life, like a cherry blossom flower or a pair of eyeglasses, and try to create folds to reproduce it. It’s imaginative.

It’s also a useful tool because we can fold cups, or envelopes or chopstick rests when any are needed in a situation.

And, it’s practical, because we now often fold mini books and use them for note-taking, list-making or just fun.

I have been amazed and inspired by some of the things people have made from folded paper. It’s probably too grandiose to say that origami changed my life. I don’t suppose it actually did that. However, I would feel comfortable saying that being so thoroughly exposed to origami enhanced my life.

And, as if I needed any excuse to shop, I’ve also had a ton of fun shopping for new origami boxes to house all of our amazing patterned paper — though my husband probably wishes that was not the case. But it is.

Little Prince Kids Restaurant in Korea

People who’ve never been to South Korea may not realize what a modern, upscale and high tech county it is.

The focus on child-centered themed restaurants and cafes is one of my favorite things about this incredible city. These eat-and-play restaurants entertain kids in a safe, well-designed environment while parents can stay reasonably engaged as well. Kids’ cafes and restaurants are highly popular in South Korea and are found throughout the country in unexpected places.

As a foreigner, the hardest part is finding them, but once you do, you’ll discover hours of fun and enjoyment for your kids and yourself.

It may surprise you, but kids’ cafes in Korea are actually known for having tasty, quality food! Americans might be shocked at the notion. After all, our country’s most popular example of kid-centered, eat-and-play restaurants is Chuck E. Cheese, or as my husband calls it, Chuck E. Disease (have your kids ever NOT ended up with some cold or virus after spending an afternoon here?)

At Chuck E. Cheese, and a small number of places like it, pizza is the main menu item, and it usually tastes like cardboard. The salad bar, which is usually the only healthy option, offers wilted lettuce and carrot sticks. Ok, granted, I may be exaggerating just a bit to make my point, but truthfully, the experience with its blinking, beeping, whirring lights and endless, mind-numbing sounds is nothing like the more tranquil, wholesome, educationally stimulating cafes for kids in Korea.

Hopefully you’ve read my previous entries about the Hello Kitty Restaurant and the Dalki Cafe so you know what I mean. These places do an amazing job of catering to moms with their tasty coffees and fruit drinks for sipping while the kids play, or the mini computer stations where you can surf the Internet while the kids ride the indoor train. Moms can also find an assortment of magazines to read while the kids play house or build with blocks. All the while, caring and friendly staff members are assigned to look after the kids while they play. For dads, there’s also a beer and wine selection and private dining rooms where they can even steal away to take a nap — I often see them asleep on the floor and get such a laugh.

Additionally, the toys are clean, the floors are usually spotless, the bathrooms are pristine and the food is well-balanced and delicious, if a bit pricey at times. Video cameras are placed throughout the facility with monitoring screens near every dining table so that moms can still keep an eye on kids from a distance.

Case in point, The Little Prince Kids Restaurant in Seoul’s Yangcheon-gu, Mokdong, located on the southwest side of the Han River and seen in purple in the map outline here.

Yangcheon-gu has three separate dongs. Mok-dong is one of them. Wikipedia says that “Yangcheon-gu is home to mostly middle and upper-class families and is considered one of the best wards in Seoul to live.” About Mok-dong, Wiki says it “is famous for its education and good schools, including Yang-Chung High School, which has more than 100 years of history. For this reason, it is home to many upper class people. Many broadcasting stations are clustered in here, including CBS, and SBS. The region was usually used for raising horses in Joseon Dynasty, before it was developed by government in 1980s to provide housing for increasing population of Seoul. The name Mok means tree, probably named due to abundance of trees in the region.”

Now that you know where Mok-dong is, are you wondering why you should take a trip over there?

The Little Prince Cafe will be worth the trip.

Check out these photos of the classy-for-moms but totally-awesome-for-kids interior!

You can see more about the Little Prince Kids Restaurant online by checking out their website on Naver.

Little Prince Kids Restaurant Info:

Address: Seoul, Yangcheon-gu, Mok 1 dong, Hyperion II, 2nd floor above the GS25

Phone:  02-2652-7001

Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Two-hour play time limit with purchase of food.

Station: Cafe is between Omokyo Station and Mokdong Station.

See the location on a map here.

Walking from Omokyo Station (Seoul Subway Line 5) towards Mokdong Station, the Hyperion II is on a street corner on the left. Look for the GS 25 convenience store and the tall Hyperion Towers. The Little Prince is above the GS 25. There is an Emart across the street from the Hyperion II.

Howlin’ Halloween Fun for Kids in Seoul

If you’re looking for some Halloween events for your kids in Seoul this year, here are a few places you can check out.

BEST EVENT: Everland Theme park
Happy Halloween and Horror Night
September 10 to October 31, 2010
Visit the website now to hear the Happy Halloween song!

Everland goes all out for Halloween, transforming the entire park into a wonderful Halloween festival. There are pumpkin patches, great photo opportunities with kids, and a wonderful parade (as seen above.) Kids can wear costumes if they like. You can also purchase Halloween capes, hats, and pumpkins at the gift shops. This was a great event for my whole family!


Lotte World
2010 Halloween Party
September 3 to October 31, 2010

There are some Halloween decorations but they weren’t as elaborate as Everland’s. Still, Lotte World is a more manageable size and is indoors. The parade was colorful and interesting, but not one of the best I’ve seen. Halloween merchandise is for sale at the park.


Seoul Land Themepark
Seoulland Halloween Festival
Ghost Hunter
September 9 to October 31, 2010
Seoul Land is a fun place, but ranks third on my list of fun theme parks in Seoul.


Nanta Show Halloween Party
I absolutely love the Nanta show and think it’s a very worthwhile event for the whole family. We took our three young kids to the show and we all adored it. It’s very entertaining for all ages. A Halloween party show sounds fun.

You won’t find high rise apartments decked out in Halloween style, but there’s no reason you can celebrate this holiday with some decorations of your own. Go online and print some fun coloring pages. Let the kids do the decorating. Gather some friends together for a private Halloween party.

Halloween Printables for Kids (Coloring Pages, Decorations & More) | FamilyFun

Halloween Crafts and Activities –

Free Halloween Craft Patterns at

There are many wonderful festivals and holidays in Korea to add to your list of celebratory events, but if you still wish to expose your kids to a taste of home, I hope these ideas will help satisfy that desire. If you find more fun events to share, send me a comment anytime.

Gyms and Play Classes for Kids in Korea

In recent years, families in South Korea have begun to adopt America’s fascination with mini gyms and play and music classes for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even school age kids. This phenomenon is due in large part to an increased number of overweight children. Korean children’s lives are highly centered on studying and educational pursuits, sometimes into the late evening hours of the day. They have little free time to run and play. That, combined with more Westernized dietary habits is beginning to have an effect on young people’s health and more children are showing signs of obesity.

Parents have started to combat this trend by embracing fitness centers and gyms for children which have flourished in South Korea over the last decade There are lots of options for parents. One benefit for foreigners is that many of the gyms also use the opportunity to teach English to Korean kids. This makes participation by English-speaking kids very easy.

Here are some choices for you to explore:

Gymboree Play & Music
This U.S.-based fitness and developmental play program for children entered the Korean market around 2002. Now there are 60 clubs across South Korea. Below is a list of locations near you.

The Gymboree location in Hannam Dong runs a class by English speakers. Many foreign children attend that class.

You can also follow Gymboree Korea on Twitter: @GYMBOREEKOREA

South Korea (

Central City
103-1 Central City BPC, 19-3 Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
5F Hanyang Town, 665-1 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
Lotte World
2B-11, 2F Lotte World Shopping Mall, 40-1 Jamsil-dong, Songp
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F Hanil B/D, 214-406 Icheon-dong, Nam-gu, Daegu,
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Sigma B/D, 936-16 Daechi-Dong, Gangnam-Gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Mijin Sports B/D 88-5 Sinjeong 2-dong, Yangcheon-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F, 102, Complex #1 l’park, Jeongja-dong, Bundang-gu
Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Joil Plaza, 61-1 Haan-dong, Gwangmyeong-si
Pricing and Schedule Information
8F Myeongseong B/D 1041-3 Hogye-dong, Dongan-gu
Anyang-si, Gyeonggi-do
Pricing and Schedule Information
#801 Damoa Plaza, 959-4 Yeongtong-dong, Yeongtong-gu
Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F Jekang B/D 289-10, 3-dong, Seongsu 2-Ga, Seongdong-Gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
5F Byucksan e-orange Plaza,1435 U-dong,Haeundae-gu, Busan,
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Boramae Academy Tower, 395-69 Sindaebang 2-dong, Dongjak-
Seoul, South Korea
Pricing and Schedule Information
#213, 2F, Culture Academy Center, CitySeven, Dudae-dong,
Changwon-si, Gyeongsangnam-do
Pricing and Schedule Information
6F Choice B/D, 475-18 Oncheon 1-dong, Dongnae-gu, Busan,
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Taeho B/D 87-1 Eungam 1-dong, Eunpyeong-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F Winners B/D 336-2 Sanggye 2-dong, Nowon-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F Hours B/D, 912-2 Dongcheon-dong, Buk-gu, Daegu,
Pricing and Schedule Information
2F Mapo Shin Yeongjiwell, 461 Gongduk-dong, Mapo-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
6F Hyangwon B/D, 304-12 Dangni-dong, Saha-gu, Busan,
Pricing and Schedule Information
6F Royal Plaza, 1062-4 Jung-dong, Wonmi-gu, Bucheon-si,
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F West Wing, Taeyoung Plaza, 73 Juyeop-dong, Ilsan-gu
Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do
Pricing and Schedule Information
Busan Namgu
#202 Taegang Plaza, 73-1 Daeyeon-dong
Nam-gu, Busan
Pricing and Schedule Information
#507 LG Palace, 165-8 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-Gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
5F Samsung B/D 63-1 Dongsomun-dong 3-ga, Seongbuk-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
9F Seongbo B/D, 455 Cheonho-dong, Gangdong-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F BYC B/D, 1257-7 Dal-dong, Nam-gu, Ulsan,
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F Kumpo B/D, 567-3 Sinmae-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu
Pricing and Schedule Information
6F Yojin Tower, 973 Hwajeong-dong, Deokyang-gu Goyang-si
Pricing and Schedule Information
5F Ace B/D, 889-1 Wolgye-dong, Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju,
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Yuseong B/D, 71-1 Ilsan-dong, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do,
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Iris Plaza, 29-6 annam-dong, Yongsan-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
6F Tpoia B/D 14-51 Gayand-dong, Gangseo-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F, 1198-3 Igok-dong, Dalseo-gu, Daegu,
Pricing and Schedule Information
#609 Jangeun Tower 706-3, Gojan-dong, Danwon-gu, Ansan-si,
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F Changseon B/D, 1132 Sanbon-dong, Gunpo-si, Gyeonggi-do,
Pricing and Schedule Information
2F Daesung Skyrex 107-1 Guro-dong, Guro-Gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Daseon B/D, 203-22 Ssangyong-dong, Cheonan-si,
Pricing and Schedule Information
Guri Namyangju
5F Daeseong B/D, 199-1 Gyomun-dong, Guri-si, Gyeonggi-do,
Pricing and Schedule Information
8F Susung B/D 229-15 Suyu-dong, Gangbuk-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
#3, 5F Saerom Plaza, 212-4Yongjong-dong, Gyeyang-gu, Incheon
Pricing and Schedule Information
7F Kumho Tower, 2277-3 Hwamyeong-dong, Buk-gu, Busan
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F Rodeo Plaza, 1463-2 Guwol-dong, Namdong-gu, Incheon,
Pricing and Schedule Information
#403, 108-5 Garak-dong, Songpa-gu
Pricing and Schedule Information
#601, 6F, Deoksan Bestcore, 1256-3,4 Oe-dong, Gimhae-si,
Pricing and Schedule Information
8F Hoejae B/D, 793-3 Kumho-dong, Seo-gu, Gwangju,
Pricing and Schedule Information
6F Picasso B/D, 1014 Dunsan-dong, Seo-gu, Daejeon,
Pricing and Schedule Information
648-12, I-dong, Nam-gu, Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do,
Pricing and Schedule Information
#501 Daeil Plaza, 528-3 Cheoncheon-dong, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si
Pricing and Schedule Information
2F Taesan B/D, 1480-4 Yeonhyang-dong, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F BYC B/D, 792 Seosin-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk
Pricing and Schedule Information
7F Songsanjungang Plaza, 732-3 Millak-dong, Uijeongbu-si,
Pricing and Schedule Information
3F Buphwa B/D, 581-4 Sinan-dong, Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do,
Pricing and Schedule Information
#311, #312 Samsung Chereville, 371-1 Jangan-dong, Dongdaemun
Pricing and Schedule Information
6F Dongbang Tower, 930-3 Sang-dong, Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do,
Pricing and Schedule Information
#305, 3F, Prime Tower, 880-4 Seoksa-dong, Chuncheon-si,
Pricing and Schedule Information
5F Jungsu Plaza, 1080-20 Pungdeokcheon-dong, Yongin-si,
Pricing and Schedule Information
4F, Eojin B/D, 255-2 Sangin-dong, Dalseo-gu, Daegu,
Pricing and Schedule Information
7F Neo Plaza 87-7, Bansong-dong, Hwasung-si, Gyeonggi-do,
Pricing and Schedule Information
Gymboree Korea – Homeoffice
2F gangnam B/D 1321-1 Seocho-dong
Seocho-gu Seoul

A second option is My Gym, another U.S.-based franchise, which has programs for kids 10 and under.

The first franchise opened in September 2003. There are two locations.
Kangbyun Center in Gui-ui dong Gwang-jin Gu, and Chungdam Center in Chung-dam dong, Kang-nam Gu.

Kangbyun Guui Center Address:
202 Samsung chereville, 199-18 Gu-ui dong, Gwang-jin Gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
TEL. 02-3425-2033

Chungdam Center
1-10 Chung-dam dong, Kang-nam Gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
TEL. 02-545-7665 FAX.02-553-1981
E-MAIL. jjalsun

Parents can also do birthday parties for kids here. It can be difficult to find fun spaces with English-speaking staff for birthday parties for kids in Korea. My Gym offers birthday packages packed with fun. I love that the party food on the kids’ plates includes half a banana and fruit! They’re drinking milk, too, instead of soda.

At the Chungdam location, ballet classes are also offered.

My Gym in Korea is also looking for English-speaking instructors and you can find recruiting information on their website.

A third choice for moms and babies is Mana Moro. It’s website bills it as an “enlightening place for mom and baby.”

It is located behind My Gym in Gangnam.
Address: Gangnam-dong 1-10 B1
Phone: 02-545-7665
Classes for moms and babies are offered daily.

With these many options, you’re sure to find a class to meet your needs. An added benefit is that by getting out into the community and mingling with other parents, you will make some great new friends for both you and your baby.

I Drive Like a What?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Would you think that someone who was born and raised in America but lived oversees for only four years would experience culture shock upon return? I wouldn’t have. I guess I was expecting a little adjustment time, but nothing as complex as it has been. I’m not sure if it’s just being back in America that’s making me experience this. It could be that I moved to Texas, my first time in this state other than passing through for a conference once in Austin,  and maybe I am simply figuring out what it means to live in this big, steak-eating, gun-carrying, truck-driving Lone-star state. Truthfully, I like it here so far. It’s not much different from anywhere else in America from a big picture perspective. The stores and restaurants are mostly the same, the interstates feel familiar — for the most part, America is America. It’s the details that really stand out. For one thing, there are a lot more Mexican restaurants here than in other states I’ve visited.

Coming from the fast-paced, high-rise, densely populated, reserved culture of Asia, my strongest, first impression of South Texas is, “Where are all the people?” There are no people! All I see are cars. The little people are all insulated in their glass bubbles. In some places I don’t even see many cars. It’s almost like there’s a city-wide party and everyone is attending but me. I often ask my husband, “Is there some event going on that I don’t know about?” We’re just so used to seeing a whole lot of people everywhere, at all hours, every day. The lack of people is really noticeable to me. Then, when I do see a car, it’s usually a giant, larger-than-life truck barreling towards me in the rear view mirror. Living in a country with small cars and narrow roads has really altered my view of what a “normal” sized car looks like. I never felt afraid to drive in Tokyo or Seoul, but Texas scares me to death.

Today I dropped my husband off at work and drove back to the hotel on a minimally utilized highway to avoid the interstate. (I never would have avoided the Interstate before.) Because this road I chose is not busy, pick-up trucks usually go about 80mph in this 60mph zone. This morning I found myself alone on a stretch of the highway with one other car. The driver was going at a slower pace than most. I thought to myself, “Now this is my speed. I am totally comfortable driving alongside this person who is going a reasonable speed.” I felt happy. “Maybe not everyone has to barrel down the highway here. Some people are, thankfully, more sensible.”

I wasn’t always such a slow driver. I used to drive fast all the time on the highways of Nashville, but this is one thing that I guess really rubbed off on me in Asia. The speed limit rarely exceeds 80 kilometers at its highest, which is about 50 mph. On open interstate roadways, it sometimes goes up to 100 km, that’s about 62mph. In most places we drive 25 to 40 kilometers, that’s 15mph and 25mph respectively. That probably sounds unbearably slow, but with the narrow roads, daredevil motorcyclists, and fearless pedestrians, it never seemed slow, and sometimes 40 km was even too fast. Plus, everything is so densely packed that things are very close to one another distance-wise. Here it feels like I drive f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get somewhere. In the same amount of time, 15 minutes, I drive around 25 miles. In 15 minutes in Seoul I could drive about 6 miles.

So, today, I had a shocking revelation. I’m still sorting out how I feel about this. As I drove alongside my peaceful roadway companion, feeling happy, I turned my head, eager to give a nod to convey my approval and a wink as if to say, “Hey, we’ve both got the right idea.” To my utter shock, the driver was an 80-year-old woman with an oxygen mask. I did a double take to make sure.

I guess living in Asia has changed me in many ways. One is that now I drive like an old lady, literally.

One More Last Time

September 10, 2010 – Once again I find myself readying for a move across the ocean. So much goes in to this process with respect to filing papers, making moving arrangements, scheduling pick-ups, clearing out our apartment, boarding our Korean kitty and obtaining customs papers for him, and a hundred other details. But beyond all these relatively meaningless, though tiresome and stressful, hurdles we have to jump, the thoughts that really fill my mind are those of living in Korea and what that has meant to me personally, and of course its impact on my kids.

It’s strange to leave a place so far from your home, in this case, America, when you know that you will likely never return. I hope that I will always maintain a link to Korea. It’s a place where I have connected with many wonderful human beings and a place that I have come to admire in ways I never could have predicted, but will I ever reside here again? While I would certainly be willing to do so, the fact remains that there is so much more to do in this world — so many places to live, so much more to see. Will Korea be a place to which I will return? Will I have the opportunity, the time, the desire? Honestly, I don’t see that in my future. While I would love to come to Korea and visit again in a few years or a decade to see more of the amazing growth and change happening so quickly in this country, I will probably be no more than a visitor if that time should come.

The strange thing about leaving Korea is how final it feels. It really does feel like the end of something that has been my life for the last two years. When I’ve moved around the US, I never experienced this phenomenon. If I leave Florida, will I ever visit again? Of course! I have family, friends and history there. If I leave Tennessee, will I ever visit again? Of course! I have family, friends and history there. But leaving Japan and leaving Korea are so much different than that, even though I do have family, friends and history here as well. When I think about the likelihood of returning to Korea, this is the answer that runs through my mind: Will I ever pay a huge amount of money to fly 14 hours in a cramped aircraft with three kids on a 24+ hour travel itinerary making three or four plane transfers only to arrive in Korea for a two-hour bus drive to Seoul where I won’t have a car and will spend the next two weeks getting over jet lag just so that I can visit some attraction/store/palace/park/temple that I didn’t get to see while I was living here for two years? Ummm……no? See, it feels so final. But I can see reasons for a return for professional reasons. If the opportunity presented itself at some time in the future, I would certainly come back, but who can predict what the future holds, which brings me back to the feeling that this exodus has such finality.

So, what does one do with the knowledge that they are leaving a place to which they will likely never return? I’m sure each person would have his or her own way of dealing with that. For my kids, this brings a yearning desire to visit KidZania again, followed closely by Everland and then Lotte World — basically, it’s the amusement park circuit. When I suggest a trip to an ultra unique museum, like the Rice Cake Museum, they strenuously balk.

For my final trip to Gyeongbokgung and the National Palace Museum last weekend, I didn’t even SUGGEST they come along because of our last trip to a temple a few weekends ago. The reaction went something like this: “Oh my gosh! Not another temple. If I have to see another one of these I’m going to THROW UP. I mean it, THROW UP!” So, that didn’t go well.

For my husband, the final days are best spent trying to unwind from the whirlwind pack out of the house, maybe even trying to take it easy for the last few days, catching up with some friends and colleagues whom we will miss and dotting all our “I”s. There’s still not much time to rest with trips to customs, shipping off the car, and farewell luncheons, but more field trips or shopping trips are not on his list.

For me…well, let’s face it, I’m a little more frenetic than most. My list of places to see is a page-and-a-half long. I never made it to the Blue House, Tam Tam Zoo Zoo, the Korea House, the Drawing Show, Miso, the revolving restaurant at N Seoul Tower, the maze of alleyways I always intended to explore in Dongdaemun, the Korean Arch d’Triumph, Suwon Castle, the chinese medicine museum, the Firefly festival, Guillaum’s French cafe in Hannam, Western Macaroni and the flour theme park at Heyri Art Valley, English Village, the midnight markets and night-time-only department stores, and dozens more things. Clearly there’s not enough time in a life to experience all there is to do in Seoul, but I wanted to try. It’s a city of contradictions and curiosities. Korea is one of the top exporters of cutting-edge technology and yet, elderly men and women peddle their wares in old, worn market places just like they did hundreds of years ago. It’s a country that has been beat down by China, Japan and even its own people and yet its citizens are the most patriotic I have ever seen. They rejoice on a national level when one of their own accomplishes something great and if one brings disgrace they mourn and cry together in shame taking on the responsibility for the shortcomings of a single Korean person. Can you imagine if a single American person did something shameful and people everywhere apologized for his or her actions? In Korea, this happens. It’s both strange and awe-inspiring.

My list of unseen wonders has been written in vain. My last weeks in Korea have seen day after day of rain, starting with the first typhoon to hit since we’ve been here. Typhoon Kompasu tore down many of the few remaining trees in Yongsan and a week later, debris is still being removed and damage repaired. Yesterday, rain. Today, more rain. Tomorrow, rain again. These aren’t exactly the conditions suitable for sightseeing. My little daughter says that Korea is crying because we are leaving. I like that idea.

So I will rest. I will reflect on my time here, and I will savor every last experience: the last dinner at a real Korean galbi restaurant, the last walk down Ichondong Main Street, the last stroll down Itaewon to browse the carts of vendors along the sidewalk, the last mad-dash through the intersection where every car is in a free-for-all race to get a lane on the other side of the light, the last delectable meal at Italonia, the last shopping trip to Emart, the last latte at a Korean Sutarubaksu, the last “anyeong” to a friendly ajima who talks to Kiki, the last chance to pay my bill with Korean Won, the last time to be annoyed at honking cars and people who walk in the middle of the street, the last time the guard at my apartment will bow or salute with a smile when we come home or go out, the last elevator ride to my apartment, the last time to watch the neon party boat sail past our living room window along the Han River, the last time to cross one of the 27 unique bridges over the Han, the last…. It makes me understand so completely the words of my daughter when she was three years old and her daddy pushed her in the swing. “Ok, last time,” he said, “now, that’s enough.” She said, “Just one more last time, Dad.”

Yes, that says it all. Just one more “last time,” please.

Packing Up in Seoul

September 8, 2010 — Packing day has arrived. They say moving ranks among the top of the list for the most stressful things you can do in life. I agree, that’s probably true, but, also, it doesn’t seem like it should have to be so stressful. In my most recent experience, I’m happy to say that this time, it was a relatively painless and simple process. I’m sure that’s due in large part to the fact that we were lucky enough to have movers come and pack everything in our house. My only job was to be on hand to answer questions, oversee packing and make sure everything got listed on the packing list. Of course, I usually spend weeks getting ready in advance for “pack out day.” Well, maybe “weeks” is a bit optimistic. I spend as much time as I’m given advance notice that we’re going to move. In Japan and Korea, that hasn’t been more than a few weeks, but after having moved when my first child was a mere 6 weeks old, another time when my mother passed away, and another time while I was pregnant (and terrified of giving birth in a foreign country) this move has felt like a piece of cake.

The Korean packers were so easy to work with. Their English fluency is much higher than that of the movers in Japan. Being able to communicate is a definite advantage. They also skillfully wrapped everything in brown paper and cardboard so there’s limited damage to the items as they make their way across the ocean on their long journey. I was pleased to see what care they took with all our possessions.

The moving crew came a day early to “pre-pack” a few things, which I later learned meant, “pack up as much of the house as we can possibly do in one day.” I’m glad I was prepared from an organizational standpoint, but we weren’t ready for that emotionally. It was a bit harder on the kids than I expected. Still, it worked out for the best because the movers finished packing us out a day early and there was a huge rain storm the next day. Luckily we weren’t moving out in flood-like conditions. It did rain a little, but it was not too bad. It’s rained every time I have moved.

Have you ever wondered how people in high-rise apartments move their goods in and out? It’s quite ingenious. A huge ramp is raised to the level of the apartment, the windows are removed and everything is hauled up or down on a sliding platform. The movers offered to let me ride it up to our apartment, but I didn’t feel like dying that day so I said, “No, thank you.”

After the boxes are lowered, each piece gets packed tightly in a large wooden crate and each crate is nailed shut. The crates are stenciled with our name and new address and then hauled to the shipping dock where they’re loaded on a ship and brought over the ocean to our new continent.

Here are some moving day photos. It’s so strange to see the house packed away in mounds of boxes.

We live on the third floor so the lift doesn’t have to go very far. But, do you know what happens when you live on the 15th or 20th or 30th floor? You just use a longer lift. See it in the pictures below? This one goes up really high!!

Now we’ll stay in the Dragon Hill Lodge on Yongsan until our travel day. We’ll have several more days to say good-bye to Seoul and our friends.


I Love Egg. Do You?

It amazes me what my kids uncover on You Tube. I know I should be more worried about them clicking around randomly but my oldest daughter is a great You Tube cop. She keeps my younger, more naive girls in check. Of course, I’ve given them plenty of guidance about how things that look cute on the thumbnail may be questionable. Anyway, that’s beside the point. My 8-year-old was watching Korean counting videos and came upon some really cute animations that demand to be shared with all my friends here. One of them is Love Egg and the I Love Egg brand.

Since discovering this Korean animated character, my girls can be heard singing the “I Love Egg” song in the morning, in the afternoon and at night. Yes, the constant tune of “I Love Egg” that resonates down the halls of my high-rise apartment in Seoul, Korea make me begin to experience some very strong feelings. In fact, I’m beginning to Hate Egg, until I catch a glimpse of that cute little creature with her yummy yellow middle bouncing around in a mermaid costume, a hula skirt or a strawberry suit.

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Love Egg and her friends as they present the song that’s sweeping across the nation (well ok, just my house maybe). Here is “I Love Egg.” We are fortunate (or unfortunate, you decide) to have a full English version of this song, so you can enjoy it in both Korean and English. The choice is yours.

Here’s the Korean version with some cute sound-effect words. “Pang pang!”  

For a list of 13 more adorable, funny and strange I LOVE EGG episodes, check out NEWGROUNDS’ website.

If you want to meet Love Egg and her lovely friends, visit the Korean I Love Egg website (with English translation available on the page) where you can download wallpapers and read the comic strips found only on this site.

You can also visit the I LOVE EGG site in the UK where Coolabi is the foreign licensing agent for iloveegg. Their site has links to all the animations as well as some cute online games that kids will enjoy.

Hope you enjoy learning about I Love Egg. Share a post below and tell me what you think.