Highway Rest Stops, Korean Style

I wanted to use this powerful blogging platform to share with you one of my favourite tourist attractions in South Korea: the humble highway rest stop. I don’t know if it’s because of the relief from getting out of a car during a long trip to stretch your legs or the delicious offerings that they have but somewhere in the middle is sweet, sweet paradise. In Korean, these little pockets of roadtrip heaven are called a ‘Hyugeso’ or 휴게소 in Korean!

You can only really access these stops if you’re heading out of town. Most bus trips that are long enough will take a 15 minute rest at one of these places. My face literally lit up when I heard the announcement that we were about to pull into a Hyugeso over the weekend. We travelled from Yeosu to Seoul which is about a four hour drive so a stop for hotdogs and walnut cakes was a necessity! However, the short allotted time period will make you feel like you’re on a reality game show where you have to see how much street food you can consume in 15 minutes with a toilet break thrown in somewhere. Continue reading to see the rest stops in all of their glory.

img_9035

It is widely known that when the sun starts to set in the mountains, it is time to stop at a ‘Hyugeso’ and eat until your heart’s content. It’s a very famous proverb first used during the Goreyo dynasty. That’s a ‘chicken or egg’, ‘car or rest stop’ question we don’t have time to answer here today and I am obviosly joking.

img_9016img_9018img_9032img_9022img_9017img_9025img_9026

So, let me introduce you to the main reason I love Hyugeso’s: walnut cakes. In Korean they’re called ‘hodu gwaja’ which translates to walnut snacks. (The word ‘cracker’ really undersells the soft pockets of heaven that you will find in your $3 bag that you will inevitably buy after reading such an influential blog post as this). The walnut cakes are filled with sweet and silky red bean paste and are best served hot, fresh from the Ajumma selling them to you. These are tricky to find beyond the confines of a Korean highway rest area but, in my not so humble opinion, it’s worth organising a quick bus/car getaway to try them out. Or even worth an impromptu South Korea trip you didn’t know you needed. Not really. But really.

img_9037

Have you tried anything at a Korean highway rest stop? Let me know what your favourite snacks are and I’ll be sure to give them a try! Leave a comment below!

What Christmas (kind of) looks like in Seoul

Merry Christmas one and all! This year, I spent Christmas day with my dreamboat boyfriend in my literal fairytale land; IKEA! But not just any IKEA, IKEA in Seoul! IKOREA! We traversed through the psychological minefield that is IKEA and avoided collecting unnecessary cheap items along the way. However, we did stop for a feast of traditional Christmas day Swedish meatballs and salad. It was very difficult to say no to my second family, cake, but I soldiered on sans cake and continued to lug home a giant blue IKEA bag full of sheets and pillows and complimentary Christmas decorations.

49178432_285215975471876_258789268690829312_nIMG_20181225_182024.jpg

We travelled home to assemble our new LACK table, a name which completely undersells this bad boy, I mean…it has a shelf. A whole shelf. How could it lack anything… apart from real timber, a lifetime guarantee and structural integrity? It’s fantastic. Then, we feasted on another traditional Christmas day meal: fried chicken and pizza. There is a chain restaurant here in Korea that sells amazing fried chicken and incredible pizza for about $20. The food chain is called ‘Come and claim your reduced life expectancy’. It’s a hoot. It’s important for this unimportant story that I tell you that we ate said chicken on pizza on aforementioned LACK table. This photo is not really “blogger” worthy but it just sets the mood. This is my real life, how could I think about aesthetics when I had all of this food in front of me?

IMG_20181225_192646.jpg

Finally, we ventured back out into the ice cold outside world and travelled to Cheonggyecheon Stream to see all of the pretty lights along the river and of course the gorgeous Christmas tree of lights. It was a human hot pot with almost every South Korean couple turning up for the occasion. You can see all of them in these images below.

48422549_1996841323730361_1009509497166626816_n48395250_204813957130521_6203793741803683840_n48896856_1066141936878772_110205128488779776_n48429885_133136210936829_7393399906410430464_n

I had a beautiful Christmas season both in Melbourne and in Seoul. I am so lucky that I was able to spend time being festive in both places with all of the people I love. If you want to see how I celebrated an early Christmas with lunch in Melbourne, check out my previous blog post to compare and contrast and discuss the cultural differences with whoever is closest to you, perhaps your Starbucks Barista. I wish you an insightful and intellectually stimulating conversation. Be merry and be healthy in this new year and may all of your wishes and short-term goals come true! Let me know how you spend your December holiday time from your part of the planet!

An Australian Christmas

Hello Follower. That’s right, you are the sole follower of this blog. Welcome to what an Australian Christmas looks like! It was full of turkey, alcohol, Bailey’s cream and a Disney movie to help us digest the four years worth of food we ate in one sitting.

LRG_DSC02410LRG_DSC02446LRG_DSC02469

A FEAST

LRG_DSC02513

Plum pudding time

LRG_DSC02529

Presents, Tangled and empty champagne glasses

LRG_DSC02502

Saying Annyeong to Melbourne

Last week, I had to say farewell to the people in my Melbourne life and prepare to welcome a new life in Seoul. We celebrated on a gorgeous (yet intermittently-rainy) Melbourne afternoon with a picnic in front of the Royal Exhibition Building (Victoria’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site). I am now in my new home in Seoul writing about this picnic and I am so glad that I was able to celebrate with a truly Australian-style picnic. Dips and crackers, vegemite cheesy scrolls (handmade), yo-yo biscuits, choc-chip cookies, fruits and delicious Pimms cocktails. My posts on this blog shall now be Koreany ones and I shall be chronicling my life as an English teacher in Seoul! Enjoy!

IMG_8894IMG_8896IMG_8900IMG_8914IMG_8910

Gami – Chimaek in Melbourne!

Johanna shared a sketch with you 1046525791_276177716577050_8519110753087651840_n

Hello, Chickens. Last night, my hardworking design pals and I went out to eat so much chicken and beer that I am still feeling the food baby triplets kicking a day later. We all recently completed our Industrial Design Honours projects and had been threatening the idea of a Korean chicken and karaoke night for eight months. (You know, one of those, ‘Oh, gosh, wow, yeah we gotta do that’, kind of circular discussion that never amounts to anything. UNTIL NOW!) We finally did it but replaced the Karaoke part with ten pin bowling. Bowling and Karaoke are basically the same things – hard work and elbow grease will make you a pro but being inadequate and embarrassingly losing will still lead to fun times and mandatory tequila shots all around.

We ate our long-awaited Korean chicken at Gami and I’m happy to report that they serve up a good time and a good chicken. I’m yet to have chicken like this in Korea because these chooks tasted like they had been on a 7-day spa slash yoga “journey” in India and were reluctant to return home. The ones that didn’t extend their Eat Prey Love holidays ended up at Gami and boy am I glad they did. Washed down with some cold beer, kimchi pancakes and shots of straight soju, we had quite the time. Check out Gami’s website here (even if you’re not in Melbourne) it’s such a cute site, wow!! I also didn’t realise how many locations they have in Australia! Go and have a yummy meal, people! They’re great!

46516882_2005937819485428_3261035657010610176_n

Whole chicken (ft. bones) – Garlic Soy (left) and Sweet Chilli (right)

46519363_206666796892310_6860667886889861120_n

We went for another round of self-discovery chick this time with original (top) and really mother f***ing spicy flavour. The spicy chicken sat in a bath of chilli and got lost in its thoughts, letting its fingers go pruney and sultan-ry. Then the chicken was all like, ‘oh gosh, I’d best get out of this chilli-filled tub and slap my frock on, I have a chicken social event to get to’. Little did that chicken know…

Thank you Chris for letting me use your photos! ^_^

The Seoul of Melbourne

Over the next few months, I am aiming to photograph the presence of Korean culture in my home city, Melbourne! Bursts of Korea are scattered around Melbourne’s CBD and I thought it would be interesting for people who haven’t visited to see! I snapped only two different places today after my morning class at University but I will try to get a better, broader collection and update this post in the next few months as well as more specific posts in future about where to buy soju, where to eat BBQ etc. Stay tuned for more to come!

IMG_4312

My go-to Korean grocery store near my university (Russel Street, Melbourne)

IMG_4304

IMG_4296

I spotted this little restaurant on the way to the dentist yesterday! I will have to go there after class one day!

IMG_4307

Russel Street! My favourite street in Melbourne for Ramen and Asian culture!

Come back soon for more images!

Space Lee Ufan – Museum Walk – Busan

During a trip to Busan last year, I had to complete a “Museum Walk” for my ‘Art after 1945’ class at KAIST (great class, highly recommend)! We were to go to at least one gallery, write about a piece of art and show the ticket stub to prove that we actually went there! I obviously went to more than one gallery while I was in South Korea so I had to pick just one to write about.

South Korean Lee Ufan (이우환) is one of my favourite artists and I thought I would share the essay I wrote about the Busan space and the specific painting I chose to write about. For the first time on Jo So Ko, I will be using images from other sources (OMG what!?). All image sources and references will be at the end of the essay! Enjoy! Please don’t sue me, I don’t have the resources. (I have since learned how to properly cite an in-text reference so please forgive me, I will endeavour to fix it soon!)

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 1.54.11 pm

Space Lee Ufan – Busan

‘From Line’

1976

Wandering through the light, airy rooms of the Space Lee Ufan in Busan was a highly transcendental, meditative experience. All of the works of Lee Ufan work collectively to tell a greater story of time and space, however, ‘From Line’ is one that was particularly captivating. ‘From Line’, painted in 1976, consists of delicately painted vertical blue strokes that take its viewer on a captivating journey. This has a similar effect to the colour field paintings of Mark Rothko from almost two decades before this work was painted. The Space Lee Ufan itself is also what I imagine the effect the Rothko Chapel (pictured below) might have on its audience, a similar spiritual engagement between the artist and the viewer. Lee’s paintings invite his audience to travel within themselves and reveal thoughts and emotions that may otherwise remain hidden – at least that is how I have experienced his work in the past.

rothko-chapel

Lee was a key figure in the Mono-ha movement in Japan in the late 1960’s. During the context of post-war Japan, Lee and the other members of the Mono-ha movement challenged the idea of representation previously portrayed in Western art. The relationship between space and matter was explored by using materials from the natural world with little manipulation. On the other side of the world, the Minimalist movement was taking off in the United States and had similar principles to those of the Mono-ha and Gutai groups in the East. The influence of Lee Ufan’s work during this period in history is still easy to appreciate in our modern world as the ideas explored transcend the notion of time.

Interestingly, Lee Ufan paints his works from directly above the canvas. He places the canvas on the ground beneath a wooden bench upon which he lies. Supposedly, Lee has preferred this technique since he was a child as he feels like he fully emerges within the work. This technique is similar to the painting process of American artists from the 1940’s abstract expressionist movement and later, the 1980’s postmodernism movement. Jackson Pollock, for example, was famous for his action paintings where his canvas lay flat on the ground as he painted standing up, often walking over the strokes he paints. Similarly, Jean-Michel Basquiat adopted a similar working style by placing his large canvases on the floor of his New York Studio in the 1980’s.

This process of painting is vastly different when comparing the likes of Jackson Pollock (pictured below), with his layered webs of dripped paint, to Ufan (pictured below) whose paint strokes are placed ever so delicately. It seems as if Ufan were to make one slight mistake, he would have to start from scratch all over again. Whereas, Pollock was probably not privy to this concept of “starting over”, based on the nature of his work. While Pollock expressed the inner turmoil from his psychiatric state to apply paint, Lee Ufan explored the art of calligraphy and understanding the relationship between the “mark making and the medium of paint itself”. It would be interesting to have the two painting side by side to see how their understanding of their medium and their mental state influences the marks they make on their canvases despite working in similar ways.

Jackson Pollock (below)

pollocksignature

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 1.56.07 pm

Lee Ufan (above) (very hard to find an image of Ufan painting while suspended above his canvases, actually, finding any image of Lee Ufan is VERY difficult).

Having experienced Lee Ufan’s collections at both the Lee Ufan Museum in Naoshima (Japan) and Space Lee Ufan in Busan (South Korea), it is important to describe ‘From Line’ in relation to the works as a collection, from the viewer’s perspective. Walking through the adjoining rooms within both museums, it becomes clear that these pieces belong within the same art institution. It is almost a meditative experience, the increasing simplicity of each piece clarifies the viewer’s mind.

I am incredibly honoured that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience Ufan’s work in this capacity and only wish I could further explain the way the works in his museums make me feel. I truly feel at peace in the presence of Ufan’s work and I hope to experience and be once again captivated by his careful brush strokes and sculptures. On this visit to Busan, I had to take time to think about exactly why I love his work. I had to ponder this for a long time and I eventually decided that it is because his work is not so much about the work, or the technique, it is instead about the viewer. About all of the people who often need a pre-fabricated ground from which to build an understanding of their inner thoughts and the world around them. In some ways, Ufan has the very complicated task of simplifying these ideas for a universal audience. I don’t think of it solely as a piece of art but also a form of self-reflection and a chance to feel gratitude for all of those you love in your life. So, beyond the precise blue faded strokes and generous usage of the canvas, I believe that ‘From Line’ exceeds my simple understanding of artistic principles like composition and tonal value. These principles are overpowered by my desire to contemplate and reflect.

Written by Johanna Quinn 2017

References

Gayford, M. (2017). Solitary Soul: Interview with Lee Ufan | Apollo Magazine. [online] Apollo Magazine. Available at: https://www.apollo-magazine.com/solitary-soul-interview-with-lee-ufan/ [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017].

Ocula. (2017). Lee Ufan – Artist Profile, Recent Exhibitions & Artworks. [online] Available at: https://ocula.com/artists/lee-ufan/ [Accessed 26 Nov. 2017].

Ocula.com. (2017). Lee Ufan at Kukje Gallery | Ocula. [online] Available at: https://ocula.com/art-galleries/kukje-gallery/artists/lee-ufan/ [Accessed 26 Nov. 2017].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2017). Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1225?locale=en [Accessed 26 Nov. 2017].

 

Image Sources

Space Lee Ufan – Busan Museum of Art (2017). From Line, 1976. [image] Available at: http://art.busan.go.kr/spaceleeufan/eng/index.jsp [Accessed 1 Nov. 2017].

ROTHKO CHAPEL, BY MARK ROTHKO. (2017). [image] Available at: http://www.markrothko.org/rothko-chapel/ [Accessed 29 Nov. 2017].

IEMA (2016). Forgery scandal surrounding Lee Ufan’s work grows in Korea with three arrests. [image] Available at: http://iema.in/blog/forgery-scandal-surrounding-lee-ufans-work-grows-in-korea-with-three-arrests/ [Accessed 27 Nov. 2017].

Phadion (2017). Pollock signature misspelled in the Knoedler case. [image] Available at: http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2014/june/12/pollock-signature-misspelled-in-the-knoedler-case/ [Accessed 27 Nov. 2017].

 

Read more about my visit to Busan last year

 

Train to Busan | Gamcheon Culture Village

And read more about Naoshima, Japan, where Ufan’s other art site is located (on my other blog about Japan called Jopan!)

Summer in Seoul: Royal Food

We ate Royal Food like a couple of Royal Korean Emperors and Empresses and boy did we EAT. We ate a LOT. I’m not exaggerating. So much so that, as the meal went on, my enthusiasm for photographing the food faded as my belly became fuller and fuller… and FULLER. Also the images look hella yella (=really yellow toned in Australian) so please excuse the weird colour of these images.

I could not tell you the names of all of these dishes. I mean, I could go and look the names up on Google and write them down beneath each picture… but we all know that we will NOT remember the names and it will be a huge misuse of my precious holiday time… just take my word for it, it was all delish.

At the end of the meal, the lovely Ajumma serving us kindly offered to roll us out of the building and onto Cheonggyecheon like a pair of royal bread rolls. We gracefully declined her offer out of politeness and concern that she would crack a hip. Fortunately, the restaurant overlooked Cheonggyecheon (a masterpiece in landscape architecture and urban planning), and we were able to walk off our enormous meal without any additional rolling assistance.

Round 1:

DSC02989

Okay, this was the best Japchae of my entire life:

DSC02994

DSC02997

Okay, I’ve lost track of the rounds…

DSC03014

DSC03010

DSC03020

DSC03033

DSC03044

Final round aka “sorry, no crib for his bed, food consumption does not compute”

DSC03052

DSC03055

Is it legal to leave yet? It should be like when you get a vaccination at the doctor and they make you wait for 5 minutes to make sure you don’t pass out. I feel like there should have been a lounge for a post-royal food siesta to make sure we didn’t plummet to our deaths on the elevator ride.

DSC03063

Cheonggyecheon!

DSC03065

DSC03070

There is a law in Korea that states ‘thou shalt not sit on the banks of any Korean river (or in any open space for that matter) without a lover by their side’. I wish I was joking. This is a real law and the punishment for all you single rulebreakers is a lifetime of loneliness.

DSC03073

Misty clouds to cleanse the palate after what felt like a 300-course meal. I highly recommend a Royal Food experience if you travel to Seoul and you want to taste all of the flavours of Korea in one sitting. It was the tastiest night of my entire existence.

DSC03079