Category Archives: Blog Posts

The Koreans’ concept of personal space – why getting run over or bumped into is guaranteed in Korea

www.tastyoldcabbage.comWhen Koreans cut you off in line (especially by ajeemas, the older Korean ladies), hit you with their umbrella or don’t hold the door open for you then DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY!

They do it to each other too.

Also, let’s pretend you have a problem with the ticket machine in the train station and you try to figure it out with the help of a train station guard. Be prepared to have all eyes on you. Koreans are not shy when it comes to staring. In this case (which happened to me) they will come up close, almost resting their chin on my shoulder, to listen and witeness the situation. At first I thought they would wanna help but… nope.. they just wanted to know what’s going on.

On a rainy day – watch out for those dangerous umbrellas.

Sometimes people here lack the awareness of space and would not pay attention to the others in the street. That’s exactly when I usually get hit by an umbrella 😉

Their concept of personal space and awareness of their surroundings are different from ours. This is because they live in a CRAZILY CROWDED country: states that “South Korea is known for its population density which is more than 10 times the global average.”
—– More than 10 times the global average (!!!) ——–

it’s not you – it’s just ‘the Korean way’

It happens to me here all the time that some Koreans bump into me, step on my foot, close the door in my face, hijack the seat on the crowded train that I already made an attempt to take over or cut the line at Daiso (famous Korean dollar store) pretending I wasn’t already putting my goods down for the casher to process… (that is when I am tempted to give them my best German stink eye)

Unbelievable things like that WILL happen to you and you WILL get frustrated, however, always keep in mind it’s not you, it’s just ‘the Korean way’.

You are one out of 49,158,901 in a country that is slightly larger than the U.S. state Indiana.

Good luck everyone with not getting the door slammed in your face 😉

Shopping fabric in Korea

This post is for all of you with DIY skills out there.
Are you one of the gifted people out there who know how to sew? Wow, I am jealous 😉 It’s truly an acquired skill and not mastered easily (at least not for me). Here is my insight on shopping fabric in Korea for you.

As far as I have learned the number 1 place to go for fabric shopping is the Dongdaemun market in Seoul. Here is a map of the area (that I found to be very useful before I went for the first time) which can be overwhelming due to its size:

However, if you don’t wanna travel all the way to Seoul try your local market. The markets usually have little fabric shop stalls. The shop owners do not only sell the fabric but also handcraft curtains, table runners or pillow cases for you. You don’t necessarily need to speak Korean to communicate which surprised me to be honest. The lady who I will ask to make a table runner for me spoke with hands and feet to explain to me what she needs in order to make the perfect table runner.

If you live in Area I, I can recommend to check out the Uijeongbu market. I went and took pictures of how you get to the fabric part of the market and also took some snapshots so you kind of get a feel for what to expect. Here we go:

Enter the shopping district behind the department store Shinsegae which is located right next to Uijeongbu train station. There is a horse statue and a “rodeo rider kind of statue” as well:

Here is a picture:

Start at that rodeo rider statue. - shopping area Uijeongbu

Then walk straight up the street between the “ba gooni” clothes shop an the rodeo rider. See pic: shopping area in Uijeongbu

You walk straight up that street until you see “Lovely Coffee” (on the 2nd floor) and “Collectte” (on 1st floor) on your RIGHT. See pic: shopping area in shopping area in Uijeongbu

Right across from “Lovely Coffee” and “Colectte” you find the entrance to the fabric seller part of the market on your left and that’s where you find all the little fabric shops.

Here are some snapshots of what the fabrics I saw: shopping area in shopping area in shopping area in shopping area in shopping area in Uijeongbu

Sure, it’s not Dongdaemun but it shows that the local markets offer a selection of fabrics too. And that might prove to be just good enough for a last minute living room project 😉

A big shout out to all of you people with craft skills out there. I am always impressed by all the DIY home projects I get to see. Pretty cool!

Happy sewing.


When life in Korea really SU**S

www.tastyoldcabbage.comI am sorry for the choice of words in the title of the post. You won’t hear (or read) me speak like that very often, however, these days are different…

I have to start a couple of days back in time with this story.

A couple of weeks ago I got a text message from my sister in Germany. In that message she explained that our step mom had to be rushed to the ER and that they plan surgery due to the suspicion of bone cancer.

I was shocked.

Do you know that feeling when your gut turns into a tight knot? Everyone who knows me well knows that my emotions are tightly connected to my stomach. If I feel sad or angry my stomach starts to ache badly.

I felt helpless and scared. Due to the time difference I couldn’t even get my sister on the phone since it was nighttime for them. The time difference can be exhausting. It’s 7 hours to Germany where our German family and friends live and at least 13 hours to where our American family and friends are. Getting a hold of anyone during the week is pretty difficult.

It is a one or two day long travel to Germany and it takes two to three days to travel to our family on the East Coast from here (including the time to react to an emergency, book flights, plan for everything and the solid travel time).

And we haven’t even spoken of the money yet. Who cares in moments like that about the time spent on a plane, right? But the travels are expensive, especially the short notice ones..

My initial reaction was: I want to go and be with her to help her through the time of waiting for the results and distract her as much as one can distract a person with such worries.

Now all I could do from here instead was to wait, pray and see.. After the emergency surgery and a couple of days spent with worries we finally got to hear that it is not cancerous and that a couple of additional surgeries will take care of my step mom’s health.

No need to describe to you how relieved we were.

Today we woke up to an urgent sounding email from a close friend.

It just stated CALL ME in the subject line.

I immediately got that feeling in my stomach again. Within 15 minutes we managed to get connected with him. He informed us that his wife, mom of three and dear friend of ours got rushed to the ER. She is in the hospital now waiting for brain surgery and an updated evaluation on her health…

My stomach is sill aching from his call that we received hours ago and my mind is racing. I can’t tell you how helpless and restless we feel.

This is not about me, of course not!

It is about our dear friends that we want to travel to and be with in these difficult hours and days. However, it is not that we are separated by a state.. we are separated by landmasses and the Pacific Ocean.

THIS HAS GOT TO be one of the hardest things to go through when living that far away from your loved ones.

In my last podcast episode I started talking about challenges that come with a move to Korea. Now this one couldn’t wait for the next episode, this one I had to get out NOW.

www.tastyoldcabbage.comWe enjoy our life here a lot, however, we are far away from our loved ones. We can only show via telephone or video call how much we care and are there for them. This is close to torture, especially, when all you want to do is drive through the night to go and hug them, be there for them, watch their children, make ironic and inappropriate jokes about health and life together..

All we can do from here today is to send our love their way and keep them in our prayers and thoughts while we are waiting for news.

Please, if you move that far away from home (it could be anywhere. Not only Korea.) Just know that this is one of the biggest challenges that come with living your life far away from your loved ones.

What I will do today?

I will go outside and make this day count. I will be kind and understanding with the people who surround me because that’s what will go a long way.

I believe that this is like a butterfly effect: treating others like you want to be treated will be passed on and on and eventually reach our friends far away. Other people (may it be strangers or friends and family) will be there in person for them treating them as kindly as we would, helping them and supporting them through these rough times.

Also, always keep in mind that we are all far away from our loved ones being stationed here in Korea and that we need to be each other’s family and friends. Go make it count!


Dragon’s Beard Candy

Do you like stories from ancient times and far away countries? Then you want to know about the Dragon’s Beard Candy one.IMG_7609

The myth has it that Dragon Beard Candy made its debut in ancient China during the Han Dynasty when a court chef performed before the Emperor. The cook made candy out of sugar (or honey) turned into a dough like consistency. He pulled and stretched the dough until thousands of fine and sticky strands of sugar appeared. He then wrapped peanuts or chocolate with the powdery strands.

Since the fine strands looked like hair to the Emperor and because they were sticky enough to  stick on one’s chin, the Emperor gave it the name Dragon’s Beard Candy.Dragon's Beard Candy

Maybe you tell your kids (or your spouse ;)) the story before you go take them to see how they make Dragon’s Beard Candy in Insadong (neighborhood of Seoul) and then prove them that it really can stick on your chin and looks like an old dragon’s beard (if you wanna impress any further please learn how to spit fire.)  —>


Here are two videos I took of the guys making Dragon’s Beard Candy in the streets of Insadong. They don’t only show you how it’s made but also perform for you by singing and counting along. If you ask me how I like the candy I would honestly say “get the one with peanuts in it” and “It is interesting but will definitely not replace my favorite candy in the world: German chocolate” 😉

Click and look at how they are making it

Click here: Me getting a sample 



Life is a podcast

Life is a podcast

Life is a podcast

I am working every minute on my podcast and it is incredibly exciting to see all the details coming together. I will get my intro and outro music before the weekend, which means the podcast will be up and running in less than a week.

Fingers crossed that everything is going according to plan!

The top ten things to pack for your new duty station Korea

You have your orders and are ready to pack up and move, now what to bring?

our beloved mattressthink about what to bring before you pack

I’ve been there. We were living in a small apartment in Kansas City before and weren’t as much concerned with whether things would fit into our new Korean home but more with what we should go buy before we leave the States. However, I’ve learned a lot so far about what families wished they had brought with them and I want to share it with you in my list of top 10 things to bring.

01. Bring your own mattress
The housing office gave us furniture including a bed and a mattress, which was very hard and stiff. Whereas some people prefer that, I don’t. I was so happy when we got ours.

02. Bring all your 220v stuff (kitchen ware, hair dryer etc.) in case you have been stationed in Europe or other countries before, that use 220.

03. Electronics
If you hold off on the purchase of a new camera or another gadget. Don’t! Many people believe Korea is much cheaper than it really is (especially when it comes to electronics). If you find a good deal for your favorite DSLR camera at home, go get it in the States.

04. Unlocked phone
If you just got a new phone before you found out about your move to Korea then don’t worry, see if you can get it unlocked and you will be good to go here.

05. Ladies, bring the bras and panties!
If you are bigger than a size 6 or 8 or if you are small but have a bigger chest in general, go shopping to your favorite lingerie shop before your move to Korea and bring ‘em all along. Sure you can always order them online later or find some in the bigger PXs here, however, the selection is limited. In any case bring your “glamorous starter kit”.
If you are of a smaller build than you will be just fine here.

06. The same goes for shoes.
If you wear a size 8 or bigger then you won’t have much luck finding some here. Again, you can always go to the bigger PXs like the one in Yongsan (Seoul) or order them online, however, if you are particular about the style of your shoes. Bring all your favorite ones.
If you wear shoes smaller than size 8.5 you will have plenty shoes to choose from.

07. If you have small children or are expecting, bring the kid’s furniture. (Especially baby furniture). According to “The Seoul Survivor”, a guide published by the American Forces’ Spouses’ Club, the Furnishing Management Office does not have cribs, toddler beds, changing tables etc.

08. Don’t plan on bringing appliances; the housing office will provide washer, dryer, refrigerators, dishwasher etc. If you leave appliances in storage make sure they are stored properly, so they don’t rust or get moldy over the time you are here in Korea.

09. Bikes
If you have bicycles, bring them. (Bring helmets too, you’ll need them here. Koreans are interesting drivers and not very used to bicycles on the road.) Koreans love hiking, walking and biking by the river. They have built trails by the river for walking and biking. Also you might live very close to base and only have one car, then a bicycle comes in handy. Your husband could bike to work if you need the car to go on a longer drive.

10. Bring your rugs
Floors are generally not covered with carpet here in Korea. So if you like the cozy feeling of walking on a soft rug, then make sure to bring yours.

An extra but important side note:
Leave some stuff at home!

Now this has to be one of the most important advices I can give you: Leave some stuff at home!
Generally speaking, the apartments here are small and don’t offer storage space (like a basement room for bikes or boxes). That being said, if you currently live in a house and have it fully furnished then you probably don’t want to bring all of the furniture, since you most likely will end up in a smaller place. Think about which furniture items you can’t live without and leave the rest in storage.

To finish this post, it’s needless to say to make sure to bring the stuff that makes you and your family happy.

I for example brought my shell decoration and my lotus flower shell candleholder, as well as the antique wine glass ‘balloon’ from Germany. I also brought my colorful filing system from home, the rug that our dog loves to hang out on and many other small decoration items and kitchen stuff that remind me of our last duty station or important places and times in our lives. It’s the little things that make us happy and make our new home cozy.




From favorite pictures and your traditional Christmas table set to the can’t-live-without-crafting- tools for the passionate ‘crafties’ among us, BRING IT!

Not only that holiday decoration items and craft supply stores are harder to come by here, it is also important for us to bring what’s dear to our hearts.
In this very new, very different environment it is essential to create a feel good home for our loved ones and us.

Now, happy packing!


the upcoming podcast and I

Hi – So great you stopped by!

Jessy - When in Korea ...My name is Jessy, I am a newly wed who married into the Army, a media fanatic, writer and researcher by trade, a passionate culture explorer and currently stationed in South Korea.

When I graduated from high school I packed my bags to leave my hometown in Germany and since then they never got unpacked again.

Over the past ten years I have lived and worked in 5 different countries and Korean will be the sixth language I plan to master (Shamelessly showing off my talent for languages. Note: Please be impressed right now…Okay done.)

The WHY and what it has to do with who I am

Before I came here I had tons of questions about the country, the culture and life in South Korea in general. I simply wished I would have had someone who could just talk to me about Korea and give me an insight on what life is like there. That’s why I started this podcast and blog.

I am learning each day about life here, becoming an entrepreneur and about my new life as a military wife. My world has once again turned upside down, but this time I want to take you along for my journey.

      My goal is to learn as much about this country as possible, to share it with you and to       make my and your (!) stay an amazing one.

I want to help at least one person with the information I share. May it be with the decision to come here (or even with the decision not to), with adjusting to life in South Korea or with entertaining those who have already lived here for quite some time.

I will share my experiences, research and personal views on life in Korea with you. This site is not related to the US Army in any way. It is a personal and passionate project with a lot of love for CULTURE, LIFE, the MEDIA and the MILITARY FAMILY.

Who is this podcast for?

Well, by now you know that I am an Army wife so naturally this podcast provides lots of information specifically of interest for my courageous fellow families in boots.

However, it’s an open house. Everyone who wants to know what life is like here and who wants to learn more about the country has come to the right place and will benefit from the podcast.

No risk no fun

Have I done such a podcast project before? Nope. (I plan one in German but that is a different story.) Honestly, I am a little intimated about taking on such a project. There is always the risk of failing expectations. However, “no risk – no fun!” right?When in Korea ...

I am putting this project together because I believe there is a real need for an entertaining and positive way to inform our military families and everyone who wants to come live here about South Korea and prepare them in a way for what to expect.

It’s not easy and sunny here all the time. I know that from experience, however, I am convinced that this country CAN be an amazing experience for a lot of people (not for all, unfortunately). I want to help with that while I personally live life in Korea, learn about the culture and make my first steps into the blogging and podcasting sphere. All this I will share in real time with you.

Oh and have I mentioned that I LOVE doing this anyway?

Support and goals

By following my blog and subscribing to my podcast you help me reach my goal: to help others and give my passion for Korea, real life experiences and media a meaningful and entertaining outlet.

Let’s see how much I will learn about this country, how many people I can help, entertain, get together and how many podcast episodes will get produced.

           Where this project leads me to, I don’t know yet, but I am determined to find out.

If you like what I do please subscribe to my podcast in iTunes (here:, leave an iTunes review, follow my blog or come over to Facebook and join me there.

Your support will help me reach more people and share the message.
Long live the Kimchi!