Monday, December 30, 2013

TBS eFM: Movember In South Korea

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com


Movember is a time of the year when men around the world grow out their facial hair. BUT, some of these men are not only looking silly for an entire month but are also raising money for charity. It turns out Movember is actually an NGO from Australia that raises millions of dollars every year for mens' cancer and other health initiatives. I spoke with a Movember representative and men here in Seoul about the fundraiser and how they're raising money through beer sales and a "shave-off" ceremony at the end of the month to benefit organizations right here in Korea.

TBS eFM: Korean College Entrance Exams

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com


Korea's College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) is a pretty big deal. One whole day of testing that some say will determine the rest of your life! I spoke with Koreans and expats here in Seoul to see if they thought the test was necessary, or if there might be a better way to get students into the right colleges. Many I spoke with thought the test went too far and doesn't actually force students to learn anything other than how to do well on a test. An expert from a local university also told me the test doesn't always do a good job of predicting students' success rates in college, so perhaps a reworking of the CSAT is in order.

TBS eFM: Halloween In Korea

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com


Halloween is a huge holiday in the United States and other Western countries, but is it celebrated here in Korea? I went out Halloween weekend to interview Koreans and expats about their Halloween activities, and I found the tradition is alive and well here in Seoul, albeit largely supported by foreigners and their Korean friends. Some of the Koreans I spoke with who do not celebrate Halloween cited a conflict with their Christian beliefs and that they didn't think many Koreans knew a lot about Halloween, just that it was celebrated by Americans and other foreigners, thus making it popular.

Monday, December 16, 2013

English Touring Musician Stuart O'Connor



Listen to my interview with Stuart O'Connor on the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com



A good friend of mine recently took an English musician under his wing and invited him to play South Korea for almost two weeks. I caught up with singer/songwriter and London native Stuart O'Connor after one of his last Korean shows in Hongdae, the capital of Seoul's indie music scene.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

TBS eFM: Korean Charitable Giving

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com



For the U.N. day for the eradication of poverty, I asked expats here in Seoul what, if anything, they knew about the Korean government's charitable contributions to help the poor both here and abroad. Most people had very little information to go on, and it also turns out Koreans don't give as much money to charitable organizations as you might think. Take a listen here to find out the whole story.

Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

TBS eFM: Should Hanbok Change?

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com


Hanbok is Korea's traditional clothing used for holidays and special occasions. The fact that it is old gives the clothing power in Korean culture. Yet, some people, including the Korean president's Hanbok clothing designer, say changes need to be made in order to make it more attractive to younger generations. These changes range from small adjustments to make the garment more wearable to new designs that would allow you to wear traditional Hanbok out for a night on the town. I asked Koreans and expats living here in Seoul if changes are in order or if making Hanbok different would lessen its cultural importance. Take a listen here!

Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com

Friday, November 29, 2013

TBS eFM: Seoul's New Tourism Police

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com


Seoul has formed a special police unit to handle the complaints of tourists visiting the city. Many I spoke with talked about being ripped off by taxi drivers or just the difficulty of buying or returning items without being able to speak Korean. Take a listen here!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Korean Adoptee Raised In The Netherlands

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com


I met Ruthy van den Born while living at a guest house in the Hongdae area of Seoul. Like so many Koreans in the last 40 years or so, she was born in South Korea but given up for adoption to a foreign family.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

TBS eFM: Chuseok Holiday

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com


Korea's Chuseok holiday has been called "Korean Thanksgiving" because of the large emphasis on family time, but there's more to this holiday that puts millions of Koreans on the roads, in planes and on public transportation to make the trip back home. But, most foreigners use the holiday for anything but family time, and I spoke with people to find out how they spend their vacation.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TBS eFM: Hangul Day (Korean Writing System)

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE. Find more podcasts & other fun stuff from my life in Korea at www.SeoulItUp.com


Korea has a lot of interesting holidays such as White Day (Valentine's Day for men), Children's Day, and yes, a day for celebrating the writing system for the Korean language. I interviewed foreigners studying Korean at universities here in Seoul to find why they chose Korea, what they like about Hangul, and what they wish they could change.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Gap Year" Traveling To South Korea

Listen to my report on TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe to my Spreaker profile HERE.

I recently met a German student named Dominic who is traveling around the world for his "gap year" - a term many Americans might not recognize.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

TBS eFM: Koreans Satisfied With Marriage

Listen to my interview on TBS eFM with the player above or subscribe to my podcast on Spreaker HERE.


New data shows that the majority of Koreans report they are satisfied with their marriages. I discussed this trend during my weekly segment, "Chance Encounters," on TBS eFM 101.3 in Seoul.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

PodCast Interview: Seoul's 48 Hour Film Project

Listen to my interview with 48 Hour City Producer Joseph Kim using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


The 48 Hour Film Project is a worldwide program that gives ANYONE that chance to assemble a team and create a piece of cinematic history in a two day period. Teams compete all over the world, including right here in Seoul.

Friday, September 13, 2013

TBS eFM: Korean Marriage & Birth Rates

Listen to my TBS eFM interview using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


Korean men and women are waiting later and later to get married. People are also having less children, something that has caused the government to start giving benefits to couples with large families. I spoke with the author of a new study on the topic and also men and women living here in Seoul.

TBS eFM: Fukushima Radiation

Listen to my TBS eFM interview using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


The Fukushima nuclear power plant has been leaking radioactive water since 2011. For my recurring segment "Chance Encounters" I spoke with experts about how this could affect Korea and also interviewed people living here in Seoul about what they think about the problem.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

TBS eFM: Is "Fan Death" Real?


Listen to my "Fan Death" report for TBS eFM using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


Recently, I interviewed Koreans and foreigners here in Seoul about whether they believed in the Korean belief known as "fan death" for my recurring segment "Chance Encounters" on TBS eFM.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

PodCast Interview: Justice For North Korea


Listen to my interview with Justice For North Korea using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


Justice For North Korea is a Seoul-based organization that I was first introduced to more than two years ago when I taught English in Korea. I was asked to perform music for one of their street events, and I've now performed with them twice since coming back to Korea.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

PodCast Interview: Super Sonic Music Festival

Listen to my Super Sonic podcast using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


I recently had the chance to attend Seoul's "Super Sonic" festival, a two-day concert packed with both Korean and foreign artists.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TBS eFM: International Students In Korea

Listen to my TBS eFM report using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


The Korean Immigration Service has released new figures showing a 4% decrease in international students studying in Korea. I spoke with some of those students here in Seoul to find out why they chose to study here in South Korea.

Friday, August 16, 2013

TBS eFM: Seoul's Smoking Restrictions

Listen to my TBS eFM report using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


I now do a weekly segment on TBS eFM called "Chance Encounters." Here's my first report for the morning program "This Morning" on Seoul's new smoking restrictions and how people are dealing with them.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

PodCast Interview: Comedian Dan Wiberg, Korean TV's "Hitler"


Listen to my interview with Dan Wiberg using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


Here's a very conversational interview with my old friend, Dan Wiberg. Dan is a university professor here in Korea but also does comedy and a bit of acting. He recently made his Korean television debut in a very interesting way. Check the description of this episode for a link to a compilation video of his talking scenes, which you will also hear at the end of our chat. It's well worth your time.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

PodCast Interview: The Band Members Of Colin Phils

Listen to my interview with Colin Phils using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


Since I've been back to Korea, I've interviewed a lot of people, but always one on one. To try something a little new, I saw a great band named Colin Phils play last weekend at Club Freebird here in Seoul. I refer to Colin Phils as an "indie jam band," a title the band says sums them up pretty well.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

PodCast Interview: Han Joo Lee Of The Yogiga Expression Gallery



Listen to my interview with Han Joo Lee using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


Looking to hold an indie music show in Seoul? How about a psychedelic soundscape performance known as "bulgasari"? Or maybe something entirely different?

You'll find all these events, and more, just a stone's throw away from Hapjeong station, in a tiny basement venue called Yogiga Expression Gallery. Han Joo Lee is the driving force behind Yogiga, though as he admits, the eclectic entertainment options available are a result of collaboration with both Korean and expat bands, performance artists and promoters.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Survey: Seoul's Smoking Restrictions

I've teamed up with an English radio station here in Seoul to do a story on the city's new smoking regulations. I'll be recording street interviews, but you can also have your opinion counted by completing our online survey. Takes two minutes - http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Z7TQW9C

Sunday, July 28, 2013

PodCast Interview: English Church Services In Seoul

Listen to my interview with Anna Chung using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


I grew up in rural Iowa, in a small town of only 1,200 people, and while I've never thought of myself as religious, I've attended quite a few church services. As a child, I usually spent my summers participating in our local Methodist church's "Vacation Bible School," and I also spent a year going to Catholic school where I learned about confession, first communion and how to recite my "Hail Marys."

Monday, July 22, 2013

PodCast interview: "Edutainer" Ashley J. Whiting


Listen to my interview with Ashley J. Whiting using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


I've run into more than a few people from my past while living in South Korea, including today's guest, Ashley J. Whiting. We went to school together in Boston at Emerson College, and while both of us decided to work in the English sector here in Korea, her position is very different than your typical English teaching job. Ashley is an "edutainer" and I caught up with her to talk about working in the theater department of an English village outside of Seoul. Find more information about her job at, visit http://www.gev-edutainers.com/

Monday, July 15, 2013

PodCast Interview: Kevin Heintz of Magna Fall


Listen to my interview with Kevin Heintz using the player above or subscribe via the iTunes Store HERE.


Growing up in rural Iowa, I would sometimes load my car with friends and drive the 30 or so miles to music venues in Des Moines, our state capital, or Ames, home of Iowa State University. A few of those concerts featured the band Ephraim Zenh, lead by guitarist / lead vocalist, and Iowa native, Kevin Heintz.

Much to my surprise, I ran into Kevin in 2011 while I was playing music on the street in Seoul. Both of us had moved to Korea to teach English, and with our free time, had formed bands with friends. I ended up leaving South Korea to teach English for the Peace Corps in Colombia, but Kevin stayed in Korea where he continued to teach and play music in the Seoul area.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Flying To Seoul Days After Korean Plane Crash



I have some pretty bad luck when it comes to flying. I've had a plane's wing hit the ground during landing, I've fallen asleep during short layovers, and about two years ago, I landed in Seoul the day North Korea attacked an island just west of the airport. And now, I'm flying back to South Korea days after an Asian Airlines flight from Seoul to San Francisco crashed on landing, killing at least two people.

I'm not too worried about this as it looks like the pilot was inexperienced and will probably take the blunt of the blame for this one. And, after my first arrival in Incheon airport (where I was greeted both soldiers running around with machine guns), I feel like my triumphant return to Seoul would be a little less triumphant if it wasn't accompanied by some sort of traumatic event.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Preparing For Seoul Street Music

I usually hit the streets of Hongdae after dark, but here I am using at the
Hongdae subway station playing a fundraiser for the human rights
group "Justice For North Korea."
Before I joined the Peace Corps, I taught English in Seoul. I lived in Nowon-gu (northeast part of the city) and would take the subway for about 45 minutes every Friday and Saturday night to reach Hongdae. Why did I do this? Because playing on the street in Seoul is awesome.

PodCast Interview: English Radio In Seoul



For our inaugural episode, I spoke with friend and former Arirang Radio colleague, Jooch Nam. He describes the current climate of English radio in Seoul and how difficult it is for expats to get the necessary visa to work for Korean radio stations. The easiest way past the red tape? Marry a Korean.

http://www.spreaker.com/user/seoulitup/english_radio_in_seoul


Monday, July 1, 2013

Citibank - Perfect For Americans Living in Seoul?

When I lived in Seoul in 2011, I seemed to find a Citibank ATM about everywhere I went. Apparently, they're offering free money transfers between the U.S. and Korea if you have a bank account with them in BOTH countries, plus you can use their ATMs. Does anyone have experience using this service?

Transferring money from Korea can be somewhat easy, but most people get charged $20 or more for the transfer, and the exchange rate used can vary a lot from bank to bank.  If you're moving to Korea from the United States, it's probably a good idea to open a Citibank account before you leave and visit a local branch when you get there.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Buying Tickets To Seoul

After checking out Kayak.com and the other sites most people use, I found something new that got me a one way ticket from Des Moines, Iowa, to Seoul, South Korea, for just $577.

Google's new flight tracking service (www.Google.com/flights) shows daily or monthly flight data and includes a graph to easily find the best deals when searching on multiple days. When you choose an itinerary, the service sends you directly to the airline website. No fees are collected by Google, and you are guaranteed the lowest price by booking directly with the airline.