Women in Korea- Gender Discrimination?

So…I want to touch upon a rather sensitive topic: women in Korea. Admittedly, there are many things I want to discuss such as discrimination, sexual harassment, and more, so please bear with me ranting about something I believe strongly in…


I want to talk about this because in my Advanced Korean class today at orientation, we had to discuss a few topics, in Korean of course, and one of them was about how Busan recently implemented a women-only subway car. Another Korean-American girl spoke up first, saying how she didn’t understand why only women had a subway car reserved specifically for them and that she thought that if women had one, there must be one for men too because otherwise it’d be “gender discrimination.” I honestly couldn’t help but to roll my eyes at this. I had so much I wanted to say but I couldn’t express myself in Korean that well so the teacher gave me permission to speak in English. I had so many thoughts because what she said really set me off and therefore I could barely say everything I wanted to. I wish I could have said more and I regret not having the confidence to speak my full mind in front of the class. As such, I’ve decided to write this post…

Before I begin, I highly recommend reading this article. It’ll give a brief overview of gender equality in Korea. Now, please understand that it’s not like Korea is filled with misogynistic values. There are many people in Korea who believe in gender equality and it has made numerable accomplishments in moving forward since a long time ago, but what I’m talking about is based around what I’ve read/heard about and experienced. So, I’ll discuss a bit about Korea’s gender inequality for a bit before discussing the women-only subway car.

Basically, Korea is still centered around old traditions in which women are expected to take care of all household duties and to bear sons. I can’t even begin to tell you how irked I would sometimes get when my dad, after finishing his meal, would just leave without even taking his plate to the sink. It’s like what, 5 feet away from his seat? But he doesn’t do anything because he’s a man and we women are expected to clean everything up.

Women are also expected to look “beautiful” but are judged as being vain when they show any interest or attempt to improve their looks. I would go a lot further into this but then this rambling would become a full discourse…

BUT, women nowadays are more educated than they were compared to Korea from like 100 years ago and Korea even elected its first female president, Park Geun-Hye (who is  however currently facing impeachment). But, there are very few women in higher seats of power and women still face many issues such as a pay gap and more.


Also, even though Korea is regarded as a safe country with very little violence, there are still many cases of women being beaten, raped, and assaulted. Oftentimes women in these cases will have no ally and many people online will blame the victim, saying they were wearing skimpy clothing or that their actions have brought shame to their town/school, which just sets my skin on fire. Many women have reported being harassed on rush hour trains, such as men using cameras to take pictures up women’s skirts or copping a feel on super crowded trains. In response, Korea decided to test run the women-only subway cars during rush hour, which leads to what I really wanted to talk about today.

This concept was actually tried in Seoul before Busan and was meant to provide women (especially those who are pregnant or have young children) with a safe place to obtain a means of accessible transportation, but it was met with mixed reviews. Some women felt it was necessary and others said it was discriminating against men (rolling my eyes rn). I however, believe that these subway cars are absolutely necessary in areas with severe rush hour crowding, and maybe even in remote areas.

The main criticism about the women-only subway cars, as I stated before, is that they discriminate against men. They probably think, “If women can have a car all to themselves, men should have one too!” Oh, I’m sorry, let me play the world’s tiniest violin for you boohoo. Get real. It’s not that men don’t face sexual harassment either, but it’s just that women are more highly targeted and need a safe haven. It is specifically women who are looked upon condescendingly and are attacked simply because they are women, which is why men don’t need their own little car specifically because it would then only serve to cater to their sense of male superiority and other misogynistic tendencies.

Personally, I’ve met with many, many weird men approaching me on the subway back in the States and was even followed once. Many of my friends have said they’ve experienced similar events. Therefore, having a women-only car would make many more women feel safer. It’s not to say that this is a fix to the problem that is sexual harassment caused by male superiority. It’s simply a temporary band-aid until we can slowly convince others about the importance and necessity of gender equality. We need to teach society to not tell girls not to go out at night because it’s dangerous, but instead tell people, namely men, not to rape/assault others. It should be a given that we as humans teach and learn that hurting others is not okay in any form.

So yeah…I had a lot to say. I was actually surprised that the majority of people in my class were nodding and agreeing with what the other girl said. I almost thought I was crazy for my opinions but I was like NO. I need to get my opinion out there. Also, shoutout to my BFF and women studies pro Megumi-chan for her second opinion in all this <3.

Anyways, I promise to write about something a bit more light-hearted and relevant to EPIK next. Please do write in the comments what your thoughts are about women in Korea because I will gladly participate in some civil conversation regarding this topic 🙂


Official Start of Orientation

So, Day 1 of orientation will be hectic…well let me rephrase: every day of orientation will be hectic. You’re surrounded by people nearly 24-7 and for introverts like me, I need some me time in order to recharge my social skills, so be prepared to keep your “ON” switch powered for a while.

What I describe about the rest of orientation is just what I experience. I was in class 1 so my schedule can be different from what you may experience. Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up and find that breakfast was a western meal. There were eggs, potatoes, and even pancakes! After breakfast was class time, where I met the rest of the people in my group. We had introductions, a brief overview of the program, a very short Korean quiz to determine our placement in our Survival Korean class, and then a campus tour.

After that was lunch and then the welcoming ceremony at Mano Hall. We got to see some of our coordinators (well, I did) speak and see the officials of EPIK. After that was a Tae Kwon Do demonstration, which was absolutely stellar. It consisted of mostly a group of men breaking boards and some fruit with their kicks but it almost seemed like they could pull off the impossible. It even felt extra immersive at times because splinters of the board and fruit would fly about and even reach the audience!

After that was a lecture on Korean history. Well, Korea has a history of well over 5000 years so the lecturer had to squeeze what he could into less than 2 hours. It was interesting to hear and I learned a few things that even I wasn’t aware of, such as the fact that the first Korean to win an Olympic medal won it during the Japanese occupation. You’ll hear more about this from the lecturer 😉


After that was the welcoming dinner. Word of forewarning: don’t take too much food from the start of the line. There are so many delicious dishes and you’ll want to try a bit of everything, so make sure not to take too much like I did! I still ate everything but I was stuffed! Some interesting dishes they had included raw beef/yukhoe/육회, but they also had dishes I was familiar with, such as fried shrimp/새우튀김, sushi, and more.  After that I went out for some bingsoo, which is Korean shaved ice and is the yummiest dessert in existence. I shared the strawberry one and we devoured it all in like 5 minutes haha. I know I said I ate a lot of dinner, but I have a separate stomach for dessert 😛

Day 2 consisted of the health exam. Since I was in class 1, we went first so I was glad I didn’t really have to wait. You just get your height, weight, vision, blood pressure, hearing, blood, urine, and chest x-ray tested. You’re not allowed to eat/drink the night before the exam so be prepared to be hungry. You do get a snack and water once it’s over, but a lot of people, including me, were completely famished. Also, don’t forget to take the 50000 won to the exam or you’ll have to wait in line all over again!

We had nothing else planned for the morning so I slept until lunchtime. It was nice <3. After that were a few more lectures, one being about rules/regulations and the other about TEFL in Korea. The rules/regulations lecture was more a briefing about the logistical aspect of EPIK, like what your pension pay is, information about the residency form, and more. I found it extremely helpful and had almost all of the questions I had answered. The TEFL in Korea lecture was a brief overview about what it’s like to teach TEFL in Korea. It concluded with the lecturer giving a lesson entirely in Korean to give us a feel of what it’s like to be a Korean student learning a language they cannot completely comprehend. I, however, understood it all and ended up feeling a little bored.

After that was dinner and then Survival Korean class. I was placed in the advanced room in which we’re not allowed to use English. We spent the time introducing ourselves by drawing our hobbies, age, where we’re from, etc on a sheet of paper and presenting it to the class…all in Korean, of course :D. I had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to my next class.

I went out again that night for some more bingsoo. I had coffee bingsoo (pics above!) this time and I think I liked it better than the strawberry one!

Information of the next few days of orientation will be up soon!

Arrival in Busan and the Checking into Orientation

I meant to write sooner but not only am I tired, but the internet connection here isn’t exactly reliable, which I’ll discuss in a bit.

I took the KTX to Busan from Seoul station and it took about 3 hours. It was pretty nice inside because it had a space for me to store my big suitcase and room overhead to store some carry-on luggage too. Also, just a heads up…KTX is not a bullet train. Those are Japanese and the KTX is just a Korean train line.

Anyways, I met up with another EPIK member and I helped him get a taxi to the orientation site once we arrived at the station in Busan. I was a bit worried about finding a taxi, but once you exit the station, there are some taxi drivers waiting to just escort you to a cab right away. I made sure to have the address of the orientation site on hand to show the driver and he took me there right away after stowing away my luggage. I was also very amused during the ride because many people in Busan, as well as in many other areas, have thick accents. I had a bit of trouble understanding the driver at first, but he was very friendly. And of course, he asked me how old I was and if I was married…which is natural in Korea haha.

Also, just an FYI: if you take a taxi to the orientation site, make sure that the driver drops you off in front of the dorms. I have the driver the dorm address but he dropped me off at a random spot in the university and I was left asking passerby where I was. Luckily, I found my way through the campus.

Another FYI: when you’re packing, separate your items so that everything you’d need for orientation is in one bag, and everything you don’t need immediately in the other. This is because the dorms are small and you will have to leave any unneeded luggage in a separate but secure building. If you forget an item in your suitcase that you need, you can always ask a staff member though.


Anyways, Busan University of Foreign Studies is a beautiful campus. It’s located in the mountains and has an incredible view, especially so on clear, sunny days. The only downside is that because it’s on a mountain you have to climb up and down everything. Not to mention all the stairs. And let me tell you: my legs and glutes are super sore. But, at least it’s a nice way to get in a work out! I’ll have buns of steel by the end of the week at this rate lol.

Once you arrive and finish checking in, you’re allowed free time for the rest of the day until dinner. All meals are buffet style so you’ll want to go to the cafeteria early to beat the rush. There are no other events planned for the rest of the day so I went with some people to a cafe and had some froyo at a cute cafe called A Twosome Place. To find it, turn left once you reach the main gates of the BUFS campus. I find that the left side has more to look at than the right, but I didn’t go too far so who knows what you might find if you go further?

Be prepared to feel like a high schooler once you arrive. You’re shuttled to and fro from lecture to meals. They also emphasize the many rules and regulations and you sometimes feel like the staff members don’t trust you to act like an adult. It’s understandable though because we represent not only our countries but the EPIK program as well. So to be on the safe side: just don’t do anything stupid.

The dorm rooms are a decent size and you will share a room with another person of the same sex. There are 2 beds, 2 desks, 2 chairs, 2 closets, and 1 shared bathroom. The bathroom has a shower, but no bathtub and as is common in most Korean bathrooms, the shower is connected to the rest of the bathroom. There’s no shower curtain or door or anything so the water gets all over the floor. As such, I recommend bringing a pair of flip flops or sandals you can use in the bathroom because you may or may not want to use the pair that come with the room…

The dorm has wifi, but only at the 1st floor lobby. Otherwise you’ll have to use a LAN cable to connect to the ethernet in your room. You’ll be given this when you check in (along with a few other goodies like a thermal mug, calendar, muffins, and more!).

The dorm also has a laundry room, indoor gym, and convenience store at the basement level of the dorm building. I cannot begin to express my joy of discovering that the laundry rooms here have DRYERS. Do all your laundry that you can while you’re here because it’s highly likely that this is the last time you’ll have access to a dryer while you’re here in Korea! It’s also cheap: a total of 2,500 won for 1 round of washing, drying, and some detergent and a dryer sheet.

I feel that I’ve been so blessed on my journey so far. I was able to enter this program, had no one sit next to me on the plane, met relatives who helped me with my monetary needs, and now I have no roommate. Her name tag is on my door but no one showed up and it’s the end of the 2nd official day so I guess something happened. It’s nice because I can shower when I want and talk with my parents in my room freely, but it does feel a bit empty by myself here..I’ll go into further detail about the actual start of orientation in another post, so look forward to it! 😉

Chinese Food…in Korea

I know what you’re thinking. If I’m in Korea, I should eat Korean food, right? Well, think back to your favorite modern Korean drama in which people order a certain popular noodle dish called Jjajangmyun/짜장면, which is basically just black bean noodles. Jjajangmyun is originally a Chinese dish and many Koreans eat Chinese food/중식 regularly.

So, today my uncle took me to a famous Chinese restaurant in Gasan-dong/가산동 called Sam-Pal/삼팔, which means 3-8. Not sure why, but when do we ever really fully know the reasoning behind shop names?

Finding the restaurant was a bit difficult but eventually I met up with some other relatives when I arrived and was told that this restaurant serves authentic Chinese food that isn’t served anywhere else in Korea. My relatives ordered all the food, leaving me surprised with just how many dishes kept coming out. I wanted to take more pictures but with 9 of us eating at the same time, it was a bit difficult to do so.

Some of the things I ate included lamb skewers/양꼬치 (couldn’t take a picture of this fast enough!), and of course, jjajangmyun. There are a few dishes I don’t know the name of but they were interesting and delicious nonetheless. The top left picture was pork and tofu wraps (the square thingies), and I have no idea what the top right is. I just know that you wrapped the spicy meat in the white bun. The middle left is deep fried pieces of egg and was rather interesting. It’s super sticky and you have to dip it in the small bowl of water because it’s so hot. I’d never had it before so I was very amused. The middle right is abalone stir fry/전복 and it was really good. I’ve have abalone in America before, but the freshness is off the charts here in Korea. The bottom picture is eggplant stir fry/가지, deep-fried pieces of chicken, and the spicy seafood soup/짬뽕.

I was actually really surprised with how tasty all the dishes were. I’ve had “Chinese” food in Korean restaurants before in America, but this restaurant’s dishes tasted quite different even though they’re the same thing. The seafood soup was a lot spicier and richer, the abalone more tender and not as chewy, and the deep fried eggs were crunchy and sweet.

And of course, we downed it all with some Chinese beer. For an after-dinner activity, we went to karaoke/노래방 of course lol.

Overall, I’m super stuffed and I would highly recommend this place…if you can find it XD

Takeoff! Arrival in the Motherland

I would have posted a lot sooner but jetlag was a lot worse this time around compared to a few years ago…whoops

Anyways, my flight  was on the 14th- Valentine’s Day. I ended up taking quite a bit of luggage- 3 suitcases, 2 carry-on bags, and a small purse. I paid an extra 200 bucks but what can I do? All that’s in them is clothes lol.

The flight lasted 14 hours and I was lucky in that the seat next to me, behind me, and in front of me were all empty. I was able to stretch out quite a bit and was quite comfortable. The only problem was that I could barely sleep. On the plus side, the meals on Korean Air are decent, my favorite being the bibimbap (I forgot to take pictures! T-T) which came with a side of seaweed soup/미역국.

After landing in Incheon, I sent my luggage ahead of me (quite pricey- about 300 bucks!) and now I’m in Ilsan with some relatives. I was a bit worried that I would feel completely out of place and that my stay would be extremely uncomfortable. Well, I’m glad to say that that’s not the case. My relatives have treated me extremely well and I’m going to have a larger family meeting with some other relatives tomorrow.

As for jetlag- it’s tough. Really tough. When I went to Korea 5 years ago, I had no problem getting used to the time gap. But this time it was really hard to get accustomed to. I was super tempted to take a nap because I was just so sleepy, but I endured and just stayed awake until around 10pm before passing out. I know that if I did take a nap, I would regret it because I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. So here’s a tip- don’t nap. I know that sleeping pills are an option, but with the EPIK health exam being just a few days away, I decided to abstain.

I’m feeling a lot better today though, 2 days after I landed in Korea. I explored a little bit today too. My mom’s friend took me out to eat in Hwajeong, a neighboring district to Ilsan. We went to a little restaurant called 널븐 뜰/Wide Garden and I ate 멧돼지 떡갈비/Wild Boar Tteokgalbi. It was soooo good. It came with a variety of vegetable sides, which I nearly completely devoured. I was told that it’s ideal to come here in the spring because the small building is surrounded by pear trees and has a nice yard (hence the restaurant name), so I think I would definitely want to try coming to this place again later on.

Right next to the restaurant was a little cafe called Cafe Blossom and it was extremely cozy inside. There was nobody else inside and the coffee was also delicious. I ordered a cafe latte and enjoyed the warm atmosphere with my mom’s friend.

I went to WesternDom afterwards for some shopping, which is supposedly a famous shopping area in Ilsan. I bought some cute socks (10 pairs for 10,000 won, which is about 10 bucks!), hand cream from Innisfree, and a pair of gloves because my hands were so cold. Did I mention that it’s super cold in Korea??? As I was walking around, I felt a little awkward just because everyone wears makeup and dresses well whereas I only put on lip balm and wear for comfort- cardigan and jeans- but I guess I’ll have plenty of chances to learn some fashion tips??


I’ll be heading down to Busan on Sunday for orientation. I’m super excited and I hope everything goes well! I’m still feeling anxious about the health exam, but I guess I’ll face that hurdle when I get there.

T-6 Days

OMGosh how in the world did time fly by so fast. I feel like I have so much left to do but so little time to do it. I still can’t really believe that I’m going. I’ve been spending my last few days in the U.S. lounging around and playing games and it reeeaallly hasn’t hit me yet that I’m going to be leaving my family for a whole year, maybe even more. And it just blows my mind.

I’ve been packing a little bit day by day, but today I realized, again, that I still have too much in my suitcases…and all I’ve packed so far is just clothes T-T I need to take out more but it’s so hard since I feel like I’m not even taking that much…my clothes just take up more space because they’re all bigger than other people’s clothes…sigh…I can’t make my packing list post just yet since I don’t even know what to take yet, but what I have done so far is compartmentalize all my stuff.

One large suitcase is filled with clothes I won’t need immediately. The other large suitcase is filled with work appropriate clothes for orientation, as well as gifts for relatives/my CT and my toiletries. My carry-ons will be reserved for casual clothes and valuables for while I’m in Seoul with relatives. This way I won’t have to open all of my bags to find what I want to wear. But, I’ll probably have to take everything out AGAIN tomorrow to take out even more clothes.

The only other problem I have is who is going to pick me up from the airport. My relatives in Korea I plan on staying with can’t take off work to pick me up when I arrive so they told me to take a bus to their neighborhood…and I would do that if I wasn’t:

1.) Alone

2.) A woman

3.) Carrying 4 pieces of luggage

4.) Not completely competent in Korean (I know, I’m a disgrace as a Korean-American)

So….wish me luck in getting to Busan safely pls..