5 Perfect Korean Cafes for Children

Parents can be on a tight schedule balancing a busy work schedule and taking care of their children. When they need a place to get work done out of the house or are meeting up with friends, and need to bring their kids with them, there are cafes that can accommodate both the parent and child. South Korea has an abundance of these cafes, known as kid cafes. These are places for children to play while they are watched by staff, and there is another quiet area for the parents to work or even have some time to themselves.

  • Plouf

In Cheongdam, Plouf is a cafe where you can watch your children have fun in the pool while you chill by the side and relax. It’s 45,000 won for kids and 15,000 won for adults, and for adults, one drink is included. Plus, the food is amazing and served in large portions. After the kids are done swimming and eating, take them over to the shower to wash off, and then over to the spa for them get the royal treatment. The spa gives them a little foot bath and a face mask. The price may look a bit steep, but it is totally worth it for how much the children will be entertained.

  • Teddy Bear Zoo

The Teddy Bear Zoo Kids’ Park is in the wonderful Lotte World Mall. So after shopping for some time, let the kids take a break. This kids’ cafe is unique because of its stuffed animal zoo. They have everything thing from a tiger exhibit to a petting zoo where children can also ride the animals. Separated spaces are available for the smaller kids as well. After the time at the zoo, there are also extra activities to do like play in the sensory pit or even a place to bring their drawings to life on-screen. The price covers two hours: 7,000 won for adults and children can range from 9,500 to 19,000 won while any toddler younger than twelve months is free. Last but not least, there are massage chairs for the parents while the kids have their fun time. 

  • Tayo Kids Cafe

Tayo Kids Cafe is based on the popular children’s show, Tayo the Little Bus. There are multiple branches located throughout Korea. The interiors and activities at these cafes vary from little cars to ride to sensory pits, trampolines to ball pits, it engages the children in different ways. The cafe is geared more towards a younger audience. The prices change depending on the Tayo Kids Cafe branch that you visit; for example, there could be memberships available that give discounts on the prices for children’s tickets.

  • Smart Brick Kids Cafe

In Gangnam, hidden is a place called Smart Brick Kids Cafe. This is geared more towards children three or four-years-old and up. It’s in a basement, so there is not much natural light coming in, but the high ceilings and great lighting make up for the location. There are legos, a kitchenette, books and more for kids to play or read. For the older kids, there is a gaming room on another floor for them to escape to. You can also host birthday parties for your kid that others would envy!

  • Petit 5

Kids like acting like their grown-up, even when they are so young. Petit 5 in Itaewon, creates the perfect blend of the adult cafe image with the children’s. The atmosphere is that of Parisian flair and a cafe for adults, but looks can be deceiving. Your kids will love the playhouses and kitchen, while you enjoy delicious pastries. Unlike most kids cafes, Petit 5 allows one hour slots for playtime with great prices: 5,000 won for each child, and adults can go for free.

With everything going on in your life as a parent, kids’ cafes can be a great escape for both you and your little ones. You’ll be able to do what you want at the café while your child gets to have the time of their life playing.

Have you been to a kids’ cafe before? Would you want to go to any of the ones talked about here? Let us know in the comments!

Cover Image: (x)
Written by Avery Souders

6 K-Drama Outfits that Come with Tropes

What is your favorite drama? Is it a historical drama, modern romance tales or rich boy meets girl? No matter what drama, there can be some recurring plot points and themes. The love-triangles, rare otherworldly love interests, the occasional emotional cheating, and all sorts of misunderstandings that tend to happen. Some tropes can be identified by what the actors are wearing. Here are six outfits to keep an eye out for when watching your next K-drama! 

The Laid-Back Style

The laid-back style can consist of simple clothing like sweatpants, a baggy shirt, or neutral colors. This could indicate a transformation scene later on, and who doesn’t love a good transformation scene? These transformations are as old as time, and common in rags-to-riches dramas. You can find these scenes in Boys Over Flowers, Oh My Venus, and Fated to Love You. A rich guy meets a girl and transforms her in order to meet their mother’s standards or perhaps this change happen out of revenge. A famous twist comes from She Was Pretty that changes the trope: While other transformations happen to either convince someone that the female lead is rich, Kim Hye Jin cleans herself up to show others who she really is. 

  • The Messy Bun and Pajamas 

The in-between stage where the female lead is questioning her feelings usually involves either ramen or a notebook and pajamas. Messy hair and a comfy pair of pajamas is an indicator that something is going to happen. In this clip from What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, Kim Mi So is sporting a ponytail but is still in her comfy PJs as she pines about Lee Young-Joon.

  • The Other Well-Dressed Male

Familiar with love triangles? If there’s another guy introduced early on that isn’t explicitly stated as the main lead’s best friend with no specific interest in the female lead, then there is most likely going to be a love triangle. They can be styled in various ways, like in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon; in which Gook Doo is styled similarly to Min Hyuk but the key is that his outfit is simple enough to not overpower the main lead but stands out to make you remember him from the rest of the background characters. This is an important rule went spotting another love interest. 

  • The Rich Mother Aesthetic 

All dramas need good antagonists, and the rich mothers tend to pop up more often than not. This trope tends to appear next to the transformation trope, though not all the time. These moms make for some of the most frustrating antagonists, but also some of the most stylish. They can be seen wearing flashy jewellery, blazers, some fur overcoat, and often a pencil skirt. A classic example being Gun Jun Pyo’s mother in Boys Over Flowers. She looks rich and acts like she rules the world, vicious and willing to do anything to keep her son from being with Jan Di. 

  • The Best Friend with Cute Outfits

Side characters deserve better in dramas, but alas, they usually don’t get much development. However, they do tend to get cute outfits! Over time the styles have changed from the colorful tops from the 2010s we got from Boys Over Flowers to the fashion-forward dresses in She was Pretty. What could these cute outfits mean? A typical story structure is to have the lead’s best friend fall in love with one of the other lead’s friends; and it’s specifically for a close friend, not someone like a coworker. This trope can either turn out great or end up with a lot of pain for the friend. This is seen in Fight for My Way, where Seol Hee goes through a tumultuous relationship. 

  • The Mature Reunion Outfits 

The mature reunion outfits usually appear near the end of a drama. After a long fight or split, the two leads meet again. These various things could have made them part ways either an engagement to another woman, friendships collapsing, or a torrential break-up. This trope is a nice way of wrapping things up but also leaves room for the question of whether or not there will be a sequel. Reunion outfits can either be more mature to show a passage of time. Think along the lines of skirts and suits. As seen in this scene from Tempted (also known as The Great Seducer), Soo Ji and Shi Hyun meet after being separated for years. Their outfits matchup and the ending leaves you craving more. 

There are countless outfits to analyze and ponder about. Who knows? Maybe those earrings could represent a character’s status and future plot points. It’s interesting to see recurring themes in dramas that have had an impact on fashion. What are some recurring outfits (that come with tropes) that you’ve noticed in dramas? 

Cover Image: She Was Pretty (MBC)
Written by Stephanie Lemus

Global South Korea: Paris

Paris, the famous “Ville de Lumières” or “Ville d’Amour”, is amongst one of the most popular places to visit in the world. Around 18 million tourists visit the city annually, mostly for sightseeing the incredible art and architecture preserved there, or to shop in the hundreds of highly popular boutiques. A city of fiery passion, tourists aren’t the only ones to seek adventure in Paris, as many come to be taught in different areas Parisians are famous for: from cuisine, to fashion, to animation. Paris is home to some of the best schools in Europe. 

Amongst these people lies a big population of Koreans, making up the third largest Korean community in Western Europe, and two-thirds of these live in Paris. This has resulted in one of the many subcultures found in Paris, and although it isn’t a predominant one, there are many hidden gems around Paris linked to Korea. 

  • Boutiques

There are K-marts all over Paris. The biggest three are K-Mart 15, which is in the 15th Arrondissement, the most populated area of Paris; K-Mart Opéra, right by the Palais-Royale; and K-Mart Champs Elysées, located in one of the most famous streets in the world for shopping. 

WOOYOUNGMI is also found in Paris, a famous designer brand founded by Mme Woo, the first designer of prêt-á-porter of men’s clothing from Korea. She designs two collections a year and presents them in the Paris Men’s Fashion Week. 

Other sorts of Korean shops around Paris include MiiN, a Korean Cosmetics store; Taiyou, a K-pop/K-Drama merch shop; and Asia Music World, which has a huge collection of K-pop albums, as well as original and unique merch. 

  • Gastronomie

Paris is known for its amazing food, and its haute-cuisine reputation. Any Korean restaurant in Paris knows they have to meet an extremely high standard to remain open, making them some of the best Korean restaurants to visit outside of Korea. There is a large range of restaurants, from Korean BBQ, like Jeongane; to bibimbap, like JanTchi… whatever your preferences are, or wherever you find yourself in Paris, you are sure to find a lovely Korean restaurant waiting for you with open arms! 

  • Centre Culturel Coreén 

The Paris Centre Culturel Coréen (Korean Culture Centre) was formed by the Korean Embassy in 1980, and since then its aim has been to make Korean culture see the light in France, as well as exchange artistic qualities between the two nations. The Centre organises many events over the year, from Korean movie nights, to calligraphy lessons, to Korean classes, to all sorts of festivals. 

There are many current projects going on, and every month events are put on for all sorts of audiences. From July to October 2019 there is an exhibition on the memories of the Korean resistance of 1919. 

On October 13, 2019, a Pansori⁠—a traditional theatre spectacle with one singer accompanied by a gosu drummer, and minimal decor⁠—will be performed by Min Hye-sung and Choi Hyo-dong. 

From October 28-November 5, 2019 the 14th Korean Film Festival of Paris will be held, being one of the biggest Korean Film Festivals in Europe, and the biggest in France. It will take place in the Publicis Cinéma at Champs Elysées, showing everything from documentaries, to short films to Korean classics, to popular modern films…an event worth checking out! 

  • K-Pop

Paris has had its share of K-pop stars visit and hold concerts, and with it being one of the most famous cities in the world, there have been some amazing moments in K-pop history. 

In 2012, when PSY’s song “Gangnam Style” became a much-adored global meme, around 20,000 people came to see him at Trocadero, by the Eiffel Tower, to see him perform the iconic song. 

When BIGBANG’s G-Dragon and Taeyang went to Paris Fashion Week in 2014, it blew everyone’s minds. Thinking about it, two of the most crazy and unique Korean fashionistas belong in the biggest fashion show of the world! It leaves us wondering when they will model at the event…

On October 14, 2018, a small concert was held to represent friendly relations between France and South Korea. The concert was to show the “Resonance of Korean music” and there were acts of both traditional music and modern music. Artists include BTS, MoonGoGo and Black Spring, who performed in front of Korean President Moon Jae-in and 400 other French and Korean officials. 

And that concludes the list of Korean things to do in Paris! There is so much to do, and Paris has such a great transport system (or beautiful streets to walk in) that doing most of it can be done! Have you ever been to Paris? What seems most interesting? Let us know in the comments below! 

Written by Lucille Bamber

Silence of the Lambs: ASMR Cooking

If you enjoy cooking and ASMR, then you have come to the right place! ASMR has been a trendy topic this year—from many content creators on YouTube of this genre gaining more and more attention to celebrities filming auspicious ASMR videos—the gentle sounds keep attracting curious people all over the world. No wonder they are so popular; many people have very hectic lifestyles nowadays, so to find a way to relax just by tuning out all of the unnecessary noise and letting in peace for a few minutes helps a lot.

In the midst of many ASMR videos out there, some offer more than just a way to sleep. Cooking in ASMR is relaxing and functional at the same time, offering good quality audiovisual content. Let’s take a look at some Korean YouTube channels that are known for ASMR cooking!

  • ASMR Cooking with HANSE (한세)

As any other video focused on cooking, there are many shots of cutting, mixing, whipping, boiling and so on, and they all make a wonderful collection of sounds for you to listen. The videos are mostly of desserts and drinks that are poured in a variety of interesting glass shapes. Cutting different foods with a sharp knife is also one of the ASMR videos that the majority of the viewers seem to favor. The neutral background and cooking materials help to create a relaxing atmosphere, not leaving any space for unnecessary distractions.

HANSE also uploads some bloopers to show that every shot you see is not always perfect on the first try and can look clumsy, which adds some humor and reality to the content. Because of that you don’t have to feel bad when you try to recreate the perfect recipe you saw in a cooking video and it doesn’t go your way, HANSE will assure you: accidents happen, and it is okay!

  • Wife’s Cuisine (아내의 식탁)

If you don’t plan on dozing off while watching, then this YouTube channel will most likely keep you wide awake. The production quality of these videos and how all the meals look will keep your eyes glued to the screen. The attention to detail, homey atmosphere and skillful cooking of delicious-looking savory foods will reel you in and make you want to take a bite, so it is recommended that you watch the videos with a full stomach.

Cho’s Daily Cook (초의 데일리쿡)

This YouTube channel has both sweet and savory videos to look forward to. The most popular ones have a cute theme to them, such as a “Shiba-Inu” honey rice cake, Hello Kitty cheesecake, or some squishy chick bread rolls. Videos about savory meals usually have the pleasant sounds of sizzling, and the process of cooking is very good for learning new cooking tricks. The owner of the YouTube channel introduced it as a way to show the joy of cooking and creativity that comes with it, and the content itself leaves many feeling cozy and relaxed.

  • Kimi ASMR

The videos that the channel shares have a very unique start. If the ingredients can be grown in a garden or found in the forest, they will most likely appear as a part of the video and the effort put in the work is enough to intrigue more than just ASMR fans. From seeking them out to harvesting, then using them to make some natural, homemade goodness, Kimi ASMR connects the cooking even closer to nature, giving the viewers wonderful cooking and nature sounds to listen to.

  • Honeykki (꿀키)

Honeykki makes videos that vary from ASMR focused only on cooking, to many vlog type of videos called “What I Eat in a Day” where she does everything in ASMR, creates a cozy mood and it almost feels like you are a guest at her house, waiting to eat a meal together while it sizzles in the pan. You can see glimpses of her puppy either barking quietly, snoozing or playing somewhere. When the food is ready, there is always a drink she makes to complement the whole meal. 

It is very important to be able to sit back, breathe in and relax, get away from the busyness of life. What is good about ASMR cooking, is that it is also helpful for people who would like to learn how to cook, but are worried that the process might be stressful.

ASMR has the power to relieve that stress and maybe even help you find a new hobby, so watching these videos is a good start! Did you feel the tingles or was it your stomach rumbling? Tell us in the comments below!

Written by Ruta Balzekaite

Spotlight on Artist Chris ‘Royal Dog’ Shim

Art builds bridges between different ideas and cultures. They help create understanding and appreciation for what the focus of the artwork may be. Nowadays, the world is more interconnected than it has ever been and in turn, has become a smaller place because of the ease of communication. Artists’ work takes on many forms in a variety of mediums. From coffee used to paint to acrylics and tin foil to marble, almost anything can be used to make art. Graffiti is not often mentioned when listing off artists mediums. While spray paint is used in many cases to tag walls with names, one artist is changing the game for murals and graffiti. 

Chris Chanyang Shim, also known as the graffiti artist Royal Dog is an LA-based painter from South Korea. Shim was inspired to become a full-time graffiti writer because of a Korean anime called Hip Hop, by Kim Soo-Young, he used to read when he was younger that had a focus on the hip-hop scene. With the use of flashy writing and the hip-hop stylization, he began to spray paint.

Sometimes, when you think about spray paint, the idea of various tags of names scrawled throughout cities comes to mind, however, Shim is vastly different. His style is focused on the photo-realism of what is depicted in his drawings. He has completed some works portraying famous rap icon, but most of his pieces show a model in a hanbok. The models he uses are not famous, but people he may know or have seen. 

As referenced in the article Korean Graffiti Artist Chris Shim Paints the Ideal of Multiculturalism by Heewon Kim, Shim’s interpretation of multiculturalism as it is put simply “these two elements will go beautifully and uniquely with each other.” Many of the models are black women and children; understanding that he is not appropriating the Korean traditional clothes for mainstream use, but enhancing both the beauty of the women and the hanbok. The Korean calligraphy and addition of flowers also add the impression of traditional painting. 

His most recent piece is located in Chicago. This work features former first lady Michelle Obama dressed in a deep red hanbok with the moon behind her. “I usually try to not paint somebody famous because I always say ‘It’s nobody and everybody,’ when people came to ask me who I’m painting. I asked people why I would paint her. I didn’t know much about her but after all, I would say I painted her because she’s everybody. She was born South Side Chicago, as a black woman…And she became a lawyer, writer, and first lady” (Facebook). The way he phrases this statement captures exactly what he wants his art to represent.

Shim realized the beauty of both his models and Korean culture. Two differing images that are not often seen together, yet bring to life a beauty and appreciation for all.

If you liked the artwork, follow Chris on Instagram @royyaldog!

What are some of his pieces that you liked? Do you think his art, or art in general, helps create a bridge between cultures? Or even any type of art? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Avery Souders

10 Amazing Covers by K-Pop Superstars

There are many songs that will go down in history, have impacted a generation, or have been just great to dance along to. It is no surprise that many of them have been covered by artists and fans all over the world. Some of these covers are by Korean superstars who, in many cases, have outdone themselves in delivering the music with their own touch. Here is a list of the top covers done by your favourite idols!

  • Sign of the Times – Woo-sun & Chan-sol

Harry Styles’ comeback after One Direction’s split made a lot of Directioners heart flutter; with the main song, “Sign Of The Times” (2017), being everything fans ever wanted, expected and needed. In Superband, a Korean show described as a “hidden musician discovery project,” Kim Woo-sung, lead singer of K-pop group The Rose, and Lee Chan-sol, a solo singer, cover the song with a simple keyboard and guitar as a background, and they do a brilliant job. Woo-sung’s unique indie voice, along with Chan-sol’s more clear voice that harmonises perfectly, creates a perfect balance from the smooth beginning to the build-up at the end. A performance full of emotion, passion, and raw talent. 

  • Creep – Hyun-woo, I’ll, Hyun-sang & Jin-ho

Radiohead’s “Creep” (1993) is one of the most melancholic songs out there, and one of the most covered ones, too. There have been many alterations in the covers, from jazz to classical, yet none have come close to projecting the emotions the original version gives. However, these contestants of Superband certainly put up a fight to leave their mark. Ha Hyun-sang, a solo singer, has a very controlled voice, using it to his advantage in the quieter parts to fully attack in the last bit of the song. I’ll, a solo singer, provides a simple keyboard melody, yet his backup vocals and harmony get under your skin and make your hair stand on edge. Cellist Hong Jin-ho’s incredible skills on the cello, along with musician Kim Hyun-woo’s indispensable double bass acting as the backbone of the group, maximise the melancholic feel to the song. 

  • Y, ¿Si Fuera Ella? – Jonghyun

“Y, ¿Si Fuera Ella?” (1997) is a Spanish song by singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz. It is one of those songs every Spanish person knows and cherishes, and could be considered an ‘unofficial national anthem’ of Spain. Kim Jonghyun from SHINee wrote a Korean version of this song. Although the original message is slightly different, both versions are about a male lover being heartbroken due to a woman. The dramatic themes of the song are perfectly portrayed in Jonghyun’s version, and his honey-like voice could not fit more perfectly. Jonghyun also starts the song quietly, almost like he’s singing to his lover who is asleep, making the dramatic buildup and the musical crescendo even bigger and more impressive. Alejandro Sanz tweeted about this cover in 2015 – six years after it was released – linking the Spanish world of music with the Korean world of music. 

  • Hey Jude – Young K & Dowoon

The Beatles are adored globally, being the biggest boyband in the world, and “Hey Jude” (1968) is one of their most recognised singles. Young K from DAY6 made a cover of this song in a live session with KBS2Radio, accompanied by fellow bandmate Dowoon. Young K’s clear and spectacularly-controlled voice really do this song justice; while Dowoon’s funky beats on the Cajun and deep backing vocals provide a raw personal twist to the cover as well as add some fun and personality, which is what The Beatles would have loved. 

  • I Will Always Love You – Ailee

“I Will Always Love You” (1974) was originally written and performed by Dolly Parton, and later popularised by Whitney Houston for the film The Bodyguard. Ailee performs a version of this song that is both true to the song, and true to herself and her style. The large vocal range is no challenge for Ailee’s voice, which is powerful both in the lower tones and remains just as powerful in the higher notes. She also shows no fear of the tone change in the song, as she does that perfectly, and adds another in her own version. 

  • Halo – Hyolyn 

“Halo” (2009) was written specifically for Beyoncé’s famously powerful and unique voice, which is often described as soul and gospel combined. This, however, does not intimidate Hyolyn, who tackles this song in an outstanding manner. Despite not having a background in soul and gospel, this song does not sound empty when she sings it with such strength and passion. The video clearly shows she loves the song, enjoys singing it, and that love is translated in the way it is performed. 

  • Father – Bada & Insooni 

“Father” (2017), originally performed by Insooni, is an extremely emotional song. The story of a girl singing to her father is significantly more touching when you realise Insooni’s father was African-American, and being mixed race brought a lot of problems to the singers’ life. Bada sings this song with Insooni in Fantastic Duo 2, a Korean TV singing broadcast, where she was a judge for the season. Bada’s clear voice, along with Insooni’s soulful harmonising make the performance very memorable. During the performance, Bada literally breaks down crying, yet manages to keep her voice in complete control. The emotion is well-portrayed, as many of the audience members are left in tears, too. 

  • Empire State of Mind – Cho A, Hye Jeong, Yu-na

Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” (2009) is an iconic song about one of the most important cities in the world. When AOA members Cho A, Hye Jeong and Yu-na covered the song in New York in 2015, it became an iconic moment in K-pop. Cho-A’s powerful voice, along with Hye Jeong’s distinctive (and very controlled) voice and Yu-na’s charmingly soft voice, make the perfect recipe for a complete and beautiful harmony. Alicia Keys would be proud of the cover!

  • Flashlight – A.C.E 

“Flashlight” (2015) was a song written by Jessie J for the film Pitch Perfect. The song showcases good voice control and a fairly wide vocal range, which is what the members of A.C.E. show perfectly. Each member has their own strengths that they are not afraid to show, but they never intend to outshine their fellow members, and the others are always supporting each other via the backing vocals. The great teamwork singing this song is clearly shown when the complicated song is delivered so movingly. 

Just Dance – SHINee

Last but not least, is SHINee’s cover of “Just Dance” (2008) by Lady Gaga, one of the most memorable and iconic songs of the ‘00s. The mixture of the techno effects on their voices, the impressive dances, the funky outfits, and the groups coordination gave us an unforgettable performance, and proved the group was (and is) worthy of the title “Princes of K-pop.” It’s just a shame we still haven’t gotten a Gaga and SHINee collaboration – the stage presence and outfits would be too much for us to handle! 

This brings us to the end of this list of covers by K-pop superstars! A few other notable covers include “Despacito” (DAY6), “My Heart Will Go On” (Bada) and “Marry You” (The Rose)… There is a big variety of songs showing how globally aware the world of K-pop is through covers of your favourite songs by your favourite Korean artists! 


Here’s a hilarious clip of Highlight covering “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” 

Have your favourite K-pop stars covered songs you’ve enjoyed? Do you prefer the original versions or the covers? Let us know in the comments below! 

Cover Image: Jonghyun of SHINee (SM Entertainment)
Written by Lucille Bamber

Hot Takes: Mind If We Mandu?

The sound of packaging ripping open to sweet and salty deliciousness is music to our ears, but every now and then, we love to indulge in snacks that take a little more heat. While these Korean bites take a bit more effort, it only means the results are that much more delicious!

What are mandu (만두)? Mandu are Korean dumplings that come with a multitude of fillings. Some of the most popular fillings include beef, vegetable or kimchi but also shrimp! There are many ways to prepare them; it really all depends on preference!

  • Mul-mandu (물만두) are boiled in low heat until the insides are done – low heat is used so that the fillings don’t ooze out of the dumpling.
  • Jjin-mandu (찐만두) are steamed in a steam pot or bamboo steamers.
  • Gun-mandu (군만두) are fried in a pan. Traditionally, just one side is fried before water is added to steam the rest of the dumpling. Alternatively, you can just fry all sides of the mandu until the insides are done!
  • Gullin-mandu or Gul-mandu (굴린만두) are dumplings that don’t have a wrapper – the fillings are just shaped into a ball and then boiled or steamed.

Mandu can also be deep-fried or baked in the oven, although the oven bake technique does require a lot of trial and error before one can get a perfect consistency. We recommend briefly boiling the dumplings before baking them. Solely baking them results in an experience like “trying to bake lasagna without boiling the noodles first” as Lauren from FriedGreenKimchi describes. The dumpling wrapping is called mandu-pi (만두피), and the fillings can easily be made at home as the ingredients consist of flour, hot water, and some salt only (Here is a recipe by KoreanBapsang!).

Mandu are often named after their most prominent ingredient, here are some examples: Yachae-mandu (야채만두) refers to dumplings that only contain vegetables and are thus suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Hobak-mandu (호박만두) are temple food, and they only have two fillings: zucchini and shiitake mushrooms; however, these dumplings are usually filled with zucchini only. In regards to fillings made at home, you can be as creative as you want and try as many combinations as you wish. The outcome? Many different flavors and consistencies!

Mandu in soups is an obvious choice and a favorite of many, but what about adding tteok (떡) to your mandu? Tteokguk is a traditional rice cake soup that is usually served on Seollal and also New Year’s Day as it symbolizes growing one year older. The soup has different versions depending on region: while South Koreans usually eat this soup with rice cakes only, North Koreans enjoy it with solely mandu. And in the middle regions? You just add mandu and rice cakes!

Tteokguk was made initially with pheasant broth, but nowadays beef or anchovy broth is more common. Sliced tteok and some garnishes such as seaweed, eggs or beef brisket are added to the soup, and the mandu make a great addition as they blend in well with the broth and tteok. (Seriously, is there something that mandu can’t do?)

Other than soup, you can add your mandu to another soup-y dish. You’ve guessed it: Ramen! Spicy ramen, chicken ramen, vegetable ramen, kimchi ramen—the possibilities are endless. Choose your combinations well so that both of the dishes complement each other.

Need something refreshing in summer? How about bibim-mandu, a salad with mandu and a spicy bibim-sauce? Typically, fried mandu are used for the salad as they don’t tear as easily as boiled or steamed mandu, but for an extra crunch, you could also add deep-fried ones! The bibim-sauce is made with gochujang (고추장), rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sugar, and sesame oil. As for the salad, it’s pretty customizable and all up to you. Whatever you prefer goes into the salad! Sue from MyKoreanKitchen suggests using lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers. Other options could be bell peppers, corn, or even kimchi.

As aforementioned, you could bake your mandu – how about overbaking them with some cheese and adding a spicy tomato sauce? Bibigo has a similar recipe, in which the mandu is fried before adding them to a skillet with fried onion and bell peppers. Then, simply add grated cheese and some gochujang! This dish is perfect for anyone that loves cheese, and a lot of it (seriously, who doesn’t love cheese?).

For all the dessert lovers: sweet mandu! This variation is called mandu-gwa (만두과), which are dumplings filled with jujubes, cinnamon powder, and honey; and then coated with rice syrup! However, jujubes aren’t as easily accessible for everyone so you can easily swap them with dried apple slices, for example. Or create your own versions of sweet mandu! FriedGreenKimchi made some with Nutella, peanut butter and jelly, and another version with strawberry and chocolate!

Mandu can be whatever you want them to be—a cooking project with friends and family or a quick (late night?!) snack—it all depends on whether you’re making them yourself or buying them from the Asian market. The good thing about making them yourself is also being able to freeze them and eat them later. On top of that, you won’t have to defrost them after freezing—just boil them in hot water!

As frozen mandu don’t take a long time to cook (ten minutes tops!), you can have them at any time of the day for a quick snack or a whole meal. Coming home from work all tired? Boil some mandu! Not in the mood to cook? Boil some mandu! Want a quick but hearty snack? Boil some mandu! Seriously, keep a bag of mandu in your freezer at all times.

What are your favorite fillings for mandu? Have you ever made your own? Share your combinations with us!

Here are some other articles from the Hot Takes series:

Cover Image: (x)
Written by Tran Trieu

Food Tour with Ahn Hyo Seop

Ever wonder what your favorite K-celebs are eating lately? Look no further than their social media! The familiar faces we know and love from Korean entertainment occasionally turn to SNS to share photo-worthy foods, delivering a double helping of aesthetics and taste, and giving fans a closer look into what they’d most likely be found eating for lunch. Let’s take a trip through treats from Korea and beyond, and who knows? Maybe we’ll find our next spark of snackspiration!

Ahn Hyo Seop has gained popularity for his roles as Park Chul Soo in My Father is Strange and Yoo Chan in Still 17, or as a member of the project group S.O.U.L for the YouTube drama Top Management. He recently finished up his role as Cha Min on the widely-popular Netflix drama Abyss, and has definitely been keeping himself well-fueled during all of these endeavors! We’ve compiled a list of highlights from his food adventures, so get ready to add these snacks to your must-try list!

  • Birthday Cake

Hyo Seop celebrated his 24th birthday in April with a big group of his friends, who had custom sweatshirts with his name made for the occasion and brought him a delicious looking cake to enjoy! This is one example of a unique cake, which is one way to show your appreciation for someone on their birthday. 

  • Solo Ramen

Hyo Seop is showcasing the beauty of the solo ramen restaurant phenomenon popular in Japan that is becoming more common in Korea. In these restaurants, individual test-center-esque tables allow for a private dining experience. This is the perfect place to go for a quick bite to eat on your way to school or work (or when you don’t want anyone recognizing you during your late night snack sessions!)

  • Seaweed Soup

Hyo Seop’s mother made him this 미역국 (mi-yeok-guk: seaweed soup) in Canada. 미역국 is a soup that is traditionally eaten on birthdays, although it can be enjoyed throughout the year or as a side dish. It usually is made with seaweed, broth, and some type of meat. Just be sure to leave this out of your meal before an important test or interview, as Korean superstition says this will cause you to slip up (slippery seaweed) and fail.

  • Cone Sushi

At first glance, this dish may seem like something completely foreign, but it’s just our good friend sushi! This is cone sushi, a type of sushi that is wrapped in a sheet of delicious fried tofu. It is often found in local Japanese lunch spots and is a popular filling snack in Korea. It can also be wrapped in a cone-shaped sheet of seaweed, more similar to traditional sushi, but Hyo Seop opted for the more fun and tasty version!

  • Banana Juice

We are big juice people: apple juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and…banana juice? Hyo Seop has introduced us to this delicious treat, and we are so thankful! This creamy, sweet drink is a great dessert treat, but is also healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast! The next time you wake up craving ice cream, try this out instead for a filling and nutritious alternative. 

  • Tonkatsu

If this article hasn’t made you hungry yet, that’s about to change. This is tonkatsu, a popular Japanese dish of fried pork cutlet and a delicious Japanese worchestire sauce for dipping or pouring. It’s incredibly savory and salty comfort food that can be served with just about any side dishes. Hyo Seop is enjoying this majestic meal with rice and a few Korean side dishes. We know what we’re having for dinner tonight! 

  • Brooklyn: The Burger Joint

Although it is rare, sometimes you’re just not in the mood for kimchi and bibimbap for dinner. If you’re planning a trip to Korea and are worried about missing the taste of home, have no fear! Seoul is an incredibly global city with cuisine from all over the world and Brooklyn: The Burger Joint is just one example of that. Don’t let the name deceive you: this restaurant is located conveniently in three different places around Seoul, not NYC. Here, you can pick up a satisfyingly savory burger and fries, both of which are often praised for being the most authentic American found in Seoul. 

  • Rabbit Latte

We all know K-celebs are often incredibly busy and are in big need of a pick me up. Here, Hyo Seop opts for an artistic latte, topped with a cute rabbit. Hyo Seop apologizes for eating the rabbit in his caption, but we can let this one slide—we understand the need to get your caffeine in as soon as possible!

As you can see, Hyo Seop is no stranger to a delicious and filling meal, sweet snack, or nutritious and energizing beverage. We hope this list helped you understand more about what Hyo Seop is getting up to in the food world recently-which food are you dying to try? Let us know in the comments below!

For more food tours, click here!

Cover Image: Ahn Hyo-seop (Starhaus Entertainment)
Written by Abby Kotar

Character-Themed Cafes You Should Visit in South Korea

Cafes are traditionally a quiet place to sip on your coffee while you get some work done or have a light snack while meeting with a friend. With cafes increasing in popularity and with so many to choose from, how do you pick one? If you’re looking for a unique cafe that’s more vibrant and fun then you should check out these character-themed cafes!

  • Remi Cafe

This magical girl cafe was inspired by the Japanese anime Ojamajo Doremi (Magical DoReMi) which is about a group of elementary school girls who become witch apprentices, working hard to become full witches while keeping that a secret makes for some magical mishaps! They use little wizard Remi and friends as their mascots!

Those with a sweet tooth, beware! The sweetness from the menu and decor may make you indulge a little too much!

You can live out your dreams of feeling like a magical girl in this lovely cafe located in Hongdae! Not only can you get delicious food, but also props to play with and truly have an experience!

  • Ryan Cafe

The cute lion character created by KAKAO has gotten his own cafe and of course all his friends are invited as well!

This adorable cafe is located in Hongdae, Seoul and displays the popularity these characters have gotten since their initial release as emoticon characters in 2012!

Ryan is definitely the main decor theme of the cafe, but the cuteness of his design justifies it!

There are also a few Ryan statues that you can take your picture with! Have fun and try to find them all throughout the cafe!

  • Le Chantreville Cafe

This sweet and sugary cafe is located in Jung-gu, Daegu. They make beautifully decorated cakes for any occasion, both plain and character designs!

Many of the desserts found at this cafe have Peanuts characters on them; especially Snoopy.

You can also find Sesame Street’s Elmo and Cookie Monster on cakes, making it even more delicious by adding cookies—double yum!

Have you ever seen the 1996 film Matilda? If so, we’re sure you remember wishing as a child to have some of that delicious chocolate cake that Bruce got to eat… Well, you’re in luck! Le Chantreville has got you covered!

You can even ask them to decorate a cake anyway you like! The best way to ensure you get your favorite character on your favorite dessert!

  • 동성로 stove

While you’re in the Jung-gu district, might as well check out this cafe dedicated to the Peanuts characters, and hangout with Charlie and the gang!

You can enjoy not just cakes with their faces on them, but thick pancakes shaped like your favourite duo with strawberries and cream!

Perhaps with an ice cream cone and a handful of halved cherries…

…Or on their own with syrup, Nutella, butter, or even whipped cream! A delicious way to start your day!

There’s even cheesecake that looks like a slice of cheese!

동성로 stove is a quiet and relaxing café to enjoy all these delectables. The decor is simple and fresh, perfect for getting some work done or having a deep conversation.

  • Hello Kitty Cafe

On Jeju Island, which is most famous for their green tea, has a cafe dedicated to the Japanese character Hello Kitty!

The drinks look mouthwatering and are served in adorable cups! (Even the napkins are cute!)

You can enjoy a piece of cake and wash it down with Hello Kitty latte art!

The decor of this cafe will have the Hello Kitty die-hard fans screaming—it’s just so enchanting!

If you’re a fan of green tea and Hello Kitty and trip to Jeju Island should make it into your travel list!

  • Moomin & Me

This cafe located in Seoul, is centered around the characters from the Swedish book and comic series, Mumintroll (Moomin), created by Trove Jannson. It also was adapted into a TV series in the 1960s and has kept evolving into the series we know today!

Moomin is a unique made-up character which resembles a hippo, making dishes more fun by adding his unforgettable appearance to them!

You don’t have to worry about eating alone for you can always have one of the characters keep you company!

  • Cafe Majo & Sady

Majo and Sady are the main characters of a webtoon that was first created in 2010 about a married couple and is still as popular as when it was first released. Majo is a stay at home husband who loves and obeys his wife Sady’s every command. It explores the ups and downs of marriage and explores the love and relationship of this couple!

You can enjoy an Americano with cotton candy and a scoop of ice cream! Along with a side of toasted marshmallows!

Perfect for breakfast dates with friends or that special someone!

It’s also a perfect place for dessert! You could share or have it all to yourself!

There are many character-themed cafes in Korea, especially in Seoul, leaving you many options to choose from when you come to visit! Each cafe offers something different and unique, which will make each visit memorable and not as if you have already been there! There’s a place for every person, decide where you want to go based on your favourite characters, and have a great time sipping coffee and eating sweets!

Written by Ashton Carson

Go Higher and ‘LALALAY’ with Sunmi

Sunmi is well-known as an artist who uses her platform for good, always sneaking messages about confidence into her lyrics. Her newest comeback with “LALALAY” is no different. Similar to her last comeback, “NOIR,” which talks about the pressures of social media, this time around Sunmi wants to “LALALAY” and let loose. Coming off of her solo world tour, Warning, just two months ago, she’s back with another single full of quirky visuals and an addictive hook.

With lyrics that talk about struggles with the public’s opinion about her, Sunmi reminds herself to forget about everyone else and let go, living in the moment. The chorus repeats the lyrics “nal la la la la la la lay,” which is sure to be stuck in listener’s heads for hours after release. The lines, “Even if I burst” and “whatever happens, I’m going to run” is Sunmi telling herself to be free and not overthink when the public has negative opinions. 

“LALALAY” is a high-energy track with tropical and dancehall influences, and is a perfect single to end the summer. Intense triples and a funky bass start off the song while lighter beats and a funky saxophone fill the chorus with an addictive melody. 

On the word “higher,” the beat drops, which comes up a few times within the bridge as well, fitting the song’s message. The instrumental makes for a great, fun dance track that Sunmi herself wrote and co-produced. When asked about her inspiration for the song, she mentioned the leg of her tour in Mexico, loving their confidence and infectious energy.

The visuals of the music video are full of fun and quirky scenes that fit well with Sunmi’s brand, and very similar to past music videos such as “NOIR” and “GASHINA.” To go along with the “going higher” concept, butterflies are common symbolism throughout the video, from the suitcase she comes out of at the start to her room of butterflies on picture frames. Also in line with the concept, Sunmi flies on an airplane with her “followers” during the bridge, all sporting the same blonde hair color and style as her. The clothing and backdrops in the video are full of vibrant colors, adding to the appeal and making for a nice summer vibe.

While her tour may be over, you can still support her single over your preferred streaming site or watch the music video on YouTube. Her promotions for “LALALAY” are only for two weeks, so if you find yourself in Korea during this time, you can find her at all your weekly music shows. This is Sunmi’s second comeback in 2019, and she’s already teasing her next release, so get ready!

Cover Image: SUNMI (Makeus Entertainment)
Written by Chey Olexa & Justine Shaffer