The K-Star Road is a special project in Gangnam for foreign tourists looking to experience the Korean (or Hallyu) Wave. Does Gangnam sound familiar? Probably! This is the Gangnam from PSY’s song “Gangnam Style.” This area has always been associated with being stylish and trendy, and many of the films and dramas you’ve seen have been shot here. This place is also home to a lot of your favourite idols’ talent agencies. All of this makes it the perfect place for the K-Star Road!
The K-Star Road starts from Apgujeong Rodeo Station and goes all the way to Cheongdam Crossway. To make it easier for first time visitors, it has been divided into 4 zones (A, B, C, D). As the name suggests, this road lets you follow in the footsteps of your favourite idol by visiting the shops and restaurants frequented by them. It takes you to places where you can experience Korean culture in person.
A very popular attraction on this road is the “Gangnamdol,” a big bear-like doll that represents an Idol group. There are eighteen such installations along the road, each one representing one of the popular groups, including Super Junior, SHINee, BTS, Girls’ Generation, and EXO to name a few.
They also have a Gangnamdol HAUS where you can buy miniature figures and magnets of your favourite Gangnamdol.
The KBS Song Festival wasn’t a festival at all when the show first began. Premiering on TBC broadcasting station as the TBC Broadcasting Awards in 1965, it was designed to be a music award show honoring an array of artists, presenting the winners with their rightful trophies. The show primarily gave awards to male and female solo artists at the time because there wasn’t a huge emphasis on groups within pop culture. The late singer Choi Hee-Jun was the first to win an award on the show in 1965 with “Every Corner of Korea,” and Yoon Si-nae’s “Passionate Love” became the last to win in 1980 before TBC merged with KBS and the title changed to KBS Music Awards.
While the show lasted for fifteen years under TBC, it continued another twenty-four years. Broadcasting annually on KBS1 on December 30th, it served as an excellent way to show appreciation and recognition to the songs that filled the hearts of listeners everywhere, paving the way for all the new tracks that would be released in 1981.
During its run on KBS1, the arrival of groups came to fruition. In 1998, H.O.T became the first group to win the notable KBS Music Award with their song “Hope.” Two years later, pop group G.o.d scored a win with “Lies.” Turbo member and Running Man star Kim Jong-kook became the last artist to receive a KBS Music Award in 2005 with his song “Lovable.” After 2005, KBS moved the show to KBS2 and rebranded it completely, shifting the focus to a festival.
The start of the annual KBS Song Festival in 2006 could be summed up in one phrase: Go big or go home.
The festival had a runtime of just under four hours and consisted of 20-30 performers, allowing each artist almost thirty minutes of stage time depending on their popularity and amount of songs. They also accounted for special stages, such as covers, dance routines, and collaborations with other groups; a practice that is still present in today’s KBS Song Festival.
KBS stayed true to its award show roots by having 2-3 hosts per year guide the viewers through the program. From 2006 to 2011, they mostly hired famous TV presenters such as Han Suk-Joon and Jun Hyun-Moo; but in 2012, they introduced different artists and actors to host, such as Park Bo-Gum (Encounter) and singer Suzy.
Hosts weren’t the only changes made in 2017. The lineup of artists was scaled back by a significant margin, keeping it contained to eight groups, two singers, and contestants from KBS2’s survival show, The Unit. Due to an ongoing network strike, the stage saw drop in size from 2015, utilizing the same one used for both the KBS Drama Awards and KBS Entertainment Awards. It didn’t hurt the song festival, but instead gave it a much more intimate feeling.
That leads us to where we are now with the KBS Song Festival being one of the most anticipated shows airing during the holiday season! Fans of the festival are shrouded in mystery as to who will be invited back in years to come, and there’s no doubt that some familiar faces will show up again, but will we get the chance to see someone new?
We can only wait until December to find out, but don’t worry about needing a live stream to witness all the fantastic madness. KBS is so kind as to upload the entirety of the festivals in two parts on their YouTube page!
Who are you hoping to see at this year’s festival? What have been some of your favorite performances? Let us know in the comments below!
Gyeran-mari (계란말이) is a popular banchan, a Korean side dish, often served with rice. It is a literal “egg-roll,” not what we think of when we go to a Chinese restaurant, but a rolled omelette. It’s a very popular side dish for lunch boxes because it is attractive, nutritious, and still delicious at room-temperature. It’s also an anju, a Korean term for “food consumed with alcohol,” frequently found at pojangmacha, street stalls or small tented spots.
You may recognize this side-dish from watching K-dramas. It’s often in characters’ lunch boxes or meals. In the popular K-drama Boys Over Flowers, the main character Geum Jan Di included gyeran-mari in the meal boxes she made for her love-interest Gu Jun-Pyo. Honestly, all of the meals were my favourite part of the series! I always wanted to eat them.
Gyeran-mari is a popular dish because it is so versatile. It makes for a nutritious meal at anytime, especially breakfast. You can also prepare it ahead of time, pack it, and take it to work or school for later! It travels well and tastes yummy at any temperature.
If you are familiar with making omelettes or even sushi, preparation of this dish will come naturally to you. It can also be compared to tamagoyaki, the Japanese omelette, but usually gyeran-mari contains more ingredients. You can add vegetables, cheese, meats, or seaweed!
Since I began learning how to cook Korean food, gyeran-mari has become one of my favourite Korean dishes to make. I like to eat it for breakfast, late-night snack, or anytime that suits my fancy! It’s such a versatile dish and you can make it as simple or flavourful as you desire.
Gyeran-mari requires egg and several finely diced ingredients, and usually gim (seaweed).
3-4 large eggs
Any diced/shredded vegetables of your choice (onions, carrots, Korean zucchini, scallions, peppers, etc.)– I’ve even added kimchi before which gave a lot of good texture and spice to it!
Diced protein/meat (imitation crab meat, ham and bacon are popular choices, but this is not required)
pinch of salt and pepper (and any other additional seasonings such as spices or sugar)
(optional) cheese — I really like adding this! If you grew up eating American omelettes, you’ll enjoy this.
(recommended) Gim– I always add this; this is my personal preference!
(optional) Ketchup or sriracha for dipping
Prepare your ingredients.
Crack your eggs into a bowl. Add any seasoning you wish, such as pinch of salt and pepper.
Whisk the eggs.
Add ingredients to the eggs, then whisk again to mix well with the eggs.
Heat and oil pan (non-stick or square pan is especially helpful!)
Pour only about ¼ of the mixture into the pan until there is a nice thin and even layer in the pan.
Add the gim when it is half-cooked.
When it appears almost cooked, begin rolling the egg. Two spatulas or chopsticks will be helpful.
When it is rolled halfway, move the egg-roll to the right side of the pan and pour another thin layer of the egg mixture on the left side of the pan. Make sure that the additional mixture is attaching to the already existing egg-roll.
After the additional egg-mixture has had a chance to cook for a bit and it is about halfway-cooked, begin rolling again.
You may repeat this process again until you have used all of your egg-mixture.
Try to square up your egg-roll into a rectangular box with spatula. Flip it over and cook on each side.
Once you have used all of your ingredients, turn off the heat and move your egg-roll carefully to a cutting board.
If you have a rolling mat for sushi, wrap your egg-roll in that while it cools and it will help to maintain the shape of the egg-roll!
Give 5-10 minutes to cool before cutting. If you begin cutting prematurely, it may fall apart.
Once it is cool, use a sharp knife to cut into bite-sizes, about 2–3 centimetres (0.79–1.18 inches) pieces.
Coffee and tea are both very popular in Korea. Not only can you find an assortment of coffee and tea shops, but each brings their own flavor and spin on the bean. There are also candies, cakes, or cookies made with coffee or tea.
If you don’t like the bitter taste of coffee or the tea is too sweet, I recommend you check out these treats below!
Traveling is already a challenge but traveling as a vegetarian or vegan is a whole different beast. On top of navigating a different language, culture, and status quo, us vegetarians have to figure out what we can and cannot eat so we don’t end up surviving off of protein bars for a week (been there; done that; never again).
While most countries, including the United States, aren’t usually a vegetarian’s Eden, South Korea was named one of the worst countries in the world for vegans—not surprising when you take into account that most of the country’s culinary mainstays are barbecue and seafood.
So, in a country with a deep-rooted love for meat and animal products, what does a vegetarian have to do some get some grub around there?
Homegrown plants and vegetables make up the menu of Sanchon, a veg-friendly restaurant in Jongno-Gu, Seoul that was inspired by Kimyunshik, a Buddhist monk who was considered to be a leader of the Korean vegetarian movement. The restaurant offers temple side dishes that change seasonally, using ingredients from the mountainous landscape in the surrounding area.
So you made it all the way to Korea, which means you’re going to eat Korean food! And luckily, Oh Se Gae Hyang, located in Jongno-Gu, Seoul, has got the goods. This casual restaurant features vegan takes on some delicious Chinese and Korean dishes, including Korean BBQ (!), naengmyeon, deongjjang chigae, soondubu, bulgogi, jampong, jjajangmyun, and tangsooyuk.
It appears that us vegetarians should stick strictly to Jongno-Gu, Seoul, because it’s currently three for three on all restaurants vegetarian. Balwoo’s menu is chock full of vegan Korean food and traditional temple food, which guests can enjoy a la cart, buffet-style, or as a 10-course meal. Table for one, please!
If this name sounds familiar to you, it’s
because there might be a Loving Hut location in your backyard! The first time I
visited a Loving Hut was in Seattle. This international chain first opened up
Gangnam and brings some of Korea’s most popular fast-casual meals like Korean
fried chicken to vegetarians and vegans.
What if I told you there was a place that could meet your every Instagram aesthetic dream? I’m talking about a place with such detail and uniqueness, some would even say it’s out of this world.
No, I’m not talking about a BTS concert, I’m talking about Seoul’s very own cartoon cafes named YND239-20 and YND223-14! Both are named after their street address located in Yeonnam-dong. The cafes have a one of a kind feel that transport guests into a cartoon world while they get their caffeine fix. Pretty neat, eh?
Let’s dive deeper into these oh-so perfectly curated cafes! The smashing success of the first cafe, YND239-20, led to the recent opening of a second location–YND223-24. The new location boasts more crowd-friendly space than the original location as it not only has a larger dining room, it also has a gorgeous cartoon rooftop!
It’s not just nice to look at, the drinks look delicious too! Let’s also talk about what makes its cartoon styling so appealing and realistic: Contour. I think its true allure lies in the simplicity and minimalistic artistry of the detailed contour.
Not in Seoul, but dying to visit? I have good news for you! According to CNN Travel, the marketing manager, JS Lee, has mentioned talks amongst the owners to turn it into a franchise and perhaps take it to areas outside of Korea. How sweet would that be? The world united by its shared love of Instagram worthy cafes!
Three weeks ago you were given four recipes for soups to help you get through sicknesses and the cold days of winter, but sometimes soups are a bit too heavy on the stomach when you just want something warm to pick you up.
Here we have four light treats that will boost your mood as well as help your body fight off the nasty colds that may burden you during these cold months.
Starting off this list, we have yujacha, a tea made with the marmalade consisting of the Yuja fruit and honey. Since ancient times, it has been used to heal respiratory issues, such as coughs and sore throats, and was commonly brewed as a remedy for seasickness. The vitamin C content, about 90 mg per teaspoon of marmalade, is able to stimulate the immune system of the body, helping to prevent infections and other diseases as well as relieving chills and headaches. It also acts as an antioxidant to reduce oxidative stress in the body. Anti-inflammatory properties in this tea also make it a trusted remedy for fever. The stimulant nature of yujacha and its essential oils can help to boost circulation and improve discoloration of the body and skin. One of the key benefits of yujacha is that it is a trusted digestive aid and stimulant. A glass or two of this flavorful tea will help regulate your bowel movements and reduce symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Try making your own by following this recipe.
Next, we have insamcha, a tea made from insam or ginseng, a fleshy root herb, that had been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for various illnesses. Ginseng has the ability to boost the nervous and immune system, strengthen and build muscles, treat stomach disorders and prevent vomiting and nausea, and much more. It can also make you more resistant to sicknesses like the cold and flu, treat postmenopausal symptoms in women, treat diabetes, infections, and headaches. Due to its potency, it is not recommended for those suffering from high blood pressure. Since ginseng is a stimulate used in many energy drinks, it is important to avoid drinking during the night as it may cause insomnia. Click here for an easy recipe!
The last tea on the list is more of a punch with a sweet snack. Baesuk is a Korean punch which is traditionally made by poaching or steaming Korean pear (bae; 배) filled with honey, ginger, jujubes (Korean dates) and pine nuts. Served hot, it is commonly used as a remedy for the common colds, sore throats, or coughs. The ginger is believed to aid with keeping the body warm, the honey is thought to soothe the throat as well as suppress coughs which has been proven through scientific studies, and the Korean pear is said to help with digestion. Here is a recipe to try this at home!
Lastly, to go with these teas, you need a sweet snack and there’s nothing better to go with healthy Korean teas than the nutritious Korean rice cake, yaksik, which quite literally means “medicine food” (yak meaning “medicine” and sik meaning “food”). The amazing nutritional properties in the sweet rice used to make yaksik is that it is gentle on the stomach and it coats the stomach which makes this snack great for those who struggle with digestion problems or frequent heartburn. In addition to sweet rice, jujube (daechu; 대추) and chestnuts are added to yaksik. Jujube has long been known to be an anti-aging food in eastern medicine and it also has calming effects that can help with nervous tension, anxiety, and insomnia. Chestnuts have tons of vitamin C and vitamin B which help to also strengthen your stomach, especially with diarrhea. Finally, this dessert does not contain any flour so it is nearly gluten-free other than the soy sauce used in the recipe is made with wheat, so be cautious if you have Celiac Disease or are sensitive to gluten. To learn to make yaksik yourself, click here.
Warm, delicious, and nutritious! What more could one ask for in treat?! Even when you are sick, you sometimes can not help but crave something sweet and hopefully, these four recipes will satisfy those cravings as well as help you fight off the colds, but if warm soups are more of what you’re craving, check out part one here. Be sure to stay healthy and snack happily during this winter season!
Make sure that you’re all warm this winter season!
In my gift guide for SMTOWN’s Gift Shop, I noted that the shop itself is part of a much larger exhibit. It was constructed by SM Entertainment to essentially flex their accomplishments and sell unique merchandise to fans in an innovative and entertaining way. One facet to the SMTOWN experience that I would love to visit one day is SM’s cafe and market.
SMTOWN’s cafe, like most cafes these days, prioritizes striking aesthetics before hitting your taste buds with flavor. The idea is a smart one: the cafe welcomes you to enjoy everything with all five senses.
You see your favorite idol’s desserts (the themed cupcakes are a must-have); taste the eccentricity on your tongue, smell the sugary goodness, and do so all while listening to your favorite SM anthems on full blast. It’s an immersive concept that’s designed for K-pop fans. As a die-hard Shawol, one day I’ll pay this lavish cafe a visit and report back with a full account of what it’s like to step foot inside SM’s universe. Until then, live vicariously with me through this wonderful walk-through of SMTOWN’s Café by YouTuber dearnessie. From EXO seaweed snacks to Red Velvet nuts: it’s K-pop heaven for foodies!
To see more of what the SMTOWN Cafe & Market has to offer, check out their Instagram. For even more snacks, follow SnackFever on Instagram for daily updates of what we’re munching on!
Most people are familiar with instant meals like Minute-Rice and Cup Noodles. However, did you know that there’s a large variety of Korean instant meals, too? Here are just a couple of instant meals that could satisfy your hunger in minutes!
What’s better than chewy rice cakes in a sweet and spicy sauce? Chewy rice cakes in a sweet and spicy sauce that can be prepared in mere minutes, of course! Tteokbokki is a classic amongst South Korean dishes and can be found in almost any Korean store or street stand that sells food. In fact, this dish’s immense popularity has even lead to many instant variations of the dish being released. Now, if you crave tteokbokki, all you need is some hot water and patience.
Korean instant food usually comes in the form of noodles or tteok, but curry is packaged carb free. Instead, instant Korean curry is made to be heated up and poured over already cooked rice. While it doesn’t necessarily require rice, if you happen to have rice, this quick meal is perfect!
Bibimbap is a dish that consists of numerous toppings upon a bed of rice. These toppings usually include seaweed, sliced beef, tofu, pepper paste, and numerous vegetables. With this being said, some might believe it’s impossible to create an instant, convenient version of bibimbap, considering all the fresh vegetables and products that go in it. However, by freeze-drying multiple ingredients, instant bibimbap is possible, and is absolutely delicious, complete with toppings like kimchi and pepper paste!
With a delicious black bean sauce, jajangmyeon is a hybrid of Chinese and Korean cuisine that’s made its mark on the population of Korea. Jajangmyeon’s popularity has lead to many instant variations of the dish being created. As a result, you can now have a delicious bowl of jajangmyeon ready to eat in the form of ramen, or even in a microwaveable bowl!
Most popular amongst this list, Korea’s variety of instant ramyun provides tastes ranging from mouth-wateringly savory to mouth-meltingly spicy. Want something cheesy? There’s a ramyun for that? Are you craving kimchi? There’s a ramyun for that too! In any case, ramyun is always a good choice of a meal that can be prepared in a short amount of time.
All of these dishes, of course, are best enjoyed when the time is taken to properly prepare them, but some may not have the time nor money for them. As a result, these instant alternatives were created to provide the same tastes in a short amount of time and a low amount of money. So next time you get a craving for Korean food, enjoy one of these quick picks from us!