Kopitiam Cafe (이대):

This has slowly become one of my favorite cafes and a staple visit every time I’m in Edae. It’s huge (two floors plus rooftop terrace), has a nice selection of coffee, juices, and smoothies, and specializes absolutely delicious kaya toast which is a Singaporean coconut jam served with toasted bread and butter. The cafe also offers an equally delicious cheese kaya toast option. The cafe is a great place for studying as well since it has fast wifi, an abundant amount of outlets, and multiple private little study nooks with desk lamps. I definitely recommend checking this cafe out if you’re ever in the Edae area! It’s right near exit one of Edae station on the first side street on the left once you exit the station.


Around The World In 80 Days: South Korea

Spring In South Korea
Photo Credit: (Kim Suk Eun)
Morning Mist
Photo Credit: (Sungjin Kim)
Seoul From Namsan
Photo Credit: (Brad Hammonds)

The photographers deserve credit so DO NOT remove credit information. Thank you.

Man Crush Monday: Kwon Ji Yong (G-Dragon of Big Bang)

Birthday: August 18, 1988

Most Likely Known For: Leader of Kpop Boy Group Big Bang

Currently: Promoting MADE with Big Bang

Career Info:

Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Kwon Jiyong began his career at age five as part of the group Little Lula. After releasing a Christmas album, the group’s contract was terminated by their record company, which Kwon described as “shock[ing].” Although he vowed to his mother that he “wouldn’t do it [becoming a singer] again,” he was scouted by SM Entertainment while on a ski trip with his family. He was a trainee under the record label for five years (from 8–13 years old), specializing in dance before he left as he was unclear about what he wanted to do. 

In third grade, Jiyong was introduced to the American rap group Wu-Tang Clan by a friend. Inspired by their music, he developed an interest in rapping and began taking classes. Under People Crew's tutelage, he participated in the release of the Korean hip-hop Flex album in 2001, becoming the youngest Korean rapper at just 13 years old. Although he wrote his own lyrics for the song, he admitted that his English was weak and the story behind the lyrics actually meant “I’m young, but I’m the best.“ Kwon Jiyong caught the interest of Sean of the hip-hop duo Jinusean from YG Entertainment, who later recommended him to CEO Yang Hyun Suk. After signing a contract with the record label. Kwon Jiyong spent the first year cleaning the studio for the other artists in the record label and fetching them water bottles during dance practice.[3] He and another trainee Dong Young-bae, originally planned to debut as the hip-hop duo GDYB, with him choosing the stage name of G-Dragon ("Ji” is pronounced like “G”, and Yong is Korean for Dragon). After six years of training, Kwon made several featured appearances on other artists’ albums and even released several singles with Dong Young-bae under the name “GDYB.” G-Dragon made his official debut as the leader of the group Big Bang in 2006, after six years of training under YG Entertainment, with Dong Youngbae (who chose the stage-name Taeyang) and three other members (T.O.P, Daesung, Seungri).

Aside from Big Bang, G-Dragon also made several solo appearances. After helping produce Taeyang’s debut album, he recorded his own version of the album’s lead single “Only Look At Me” (Korean: 나만바라봐; Revised Romanization: Naman Barabwa), titled as the “Only Look At Me Part 2” to the song. The single was released digitally. Along with Taeyang and T.O.P., G-Dragon was featured on singer Lexy’s song “Super Fly” for her album “‘Rush’.” In May 2009, he collaborated with the Japanese boy band W-inds. for their single, “Rain Is Fallin’/Hybrid Dream.” After Taeyang released his solo effort, G-Dragon released his debut solo album Heartbreaker, featuring collaborations with several artists, including Teddy of 1TYM, Taeyang, Kush, CL of 2NE1, and Sandara Parkof 2NE1. Initially scheduled to be released in April, the album was pushed back to August to coincide with his 21st (Korean years: 22nd) birthday. The album marked a change in G-Dragon’s appearances as he dyed his hair blonde to match its concept. Propelled by its lead-single of the same name, an electronic pop song, the album sold over 200,000 copies and went on to win Album of the Year from the 2009Mnet Asian Music Awards.

On October 5, 2011, it was reported that G-Dragon was tested positive for marijuana. His urine test came back negative but a weak positive for marijuana was detected from testing the content of his hair. The tests were done in early June and the results came back in August. As it was a first offense with a minuscule amount, it resulted in an indictment and he was not charged. He allegedly accepted an offered cigarette from a fan in Japan during a party back in May. He was the only one at the party who was later tipped off to Korean authorities. He confessed that he smoked the cigarette that was offered to him, but after realizing it was not a normal cigarette, he threw it away.

The scandal caused a halt to his promotions, and YG Entertainment issued a statement that he was being given time to reflect on his mistake. Because he was not charged, he did not lose any endorsers and later made his first public appearance after the scandal at the 2011 MTV EMAs with his group Big Bang.

It was announced in March 2012 that G-Dragon’s solo comeback would be scheduled in the later half of the year to coincide with his birthday. He continued to collaborate with other artists while recording materials for his album, including an appearance in Pixie Lott’s upcoming Japanese album, along with fellow member T.O.P.

G-Dragon released the music video for his song “One Of A Kind” from the album of the same name on August 24, 2012, on YouTube. The song earned him two “Best Hiphop / Rap Song of the Year” awards from Korean Music Awards and Rhythmer Awards.

In January 2013, in support of his album, G-Dragon embarked on his G-Dragon 2013 1st World Tour, becoming the first Korean solo artist to embark a 4-dome tour in Japan and the second Korean solo artist to have a world tour (the first being Bi Rain). After touring extensively, G-Dragon went back into the studio to record for his second full-length studio album. YG Entertainment later announced that Grammy Award-winning musician Missy Elliott will be featured on the album. Elliott previously announced in January 2013 via Twitter that she had contributed two tracks (“Chugalug”, “Niliria”) both of which were produced by Teddy P.

His second album, Coup D'état, was released in 2 parts online, with the full album being released September 13. The album featured collaborations with a star-studded list of artists and producers, including Missy Elliott, Diplo,Baauer, Boys Noize, Sky Ferreira, Siriusmo, Zion.T, Lydia Paek, and label-mate Jennie Kim. G-Dragon and Missy Elliott performed the song “Niliria” at the KCON 2013 in LA. Tracks from Coup D'état topped major Korean music sites. A total of seven tracks were placed from one to seven on the Mnet charts upon release, while six tracks from Coup D'état were also placed within the top 10 of the Gaon Singles Charts with “Who You?” being number one. The album also topped the iTunes charts in several countries. The music video for “Coup D'Etat” was released on YouTube on September 1 while the music video for “Crooked” was released shortly after, on September 4. The success of Coup D'état lead to G-Dragon winning a total of four awards at the 15th Mnet Asian Music Awards: Best Male Solo Artist, Best Music Video for “Coup D'etat”, Best Dance Performance for “Crooked”, and the highest award, Artist of The Year. He later took home the World’s Best Entertainer and World’s Best Album at the World Music Awards.

They called for an official end to the Korean War, the signing of a peace treaty and the reunification of Korea.

On May 19, Women Cross DMZ was warmly greeted in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, where they held a symposium with north Korean women’s organizations and then visited a hospital, kindergarten and other facilities. They also visited the birthplace of Kim Il Sung, leader of the Korean Revolution, and joined an international women’s march for reunification and peace on May 23. A roadside sign read, “Let us reunify the divided country as soon as possible!”

The delegation had planned to walk across the DMZ into south Korea on May 24, the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament. They started their walk, singing and carrying peace banners, together with north Korean women. However, the south Korean regime barred them from walking across the DMZ and passing through Panmunjom, where the 1953 armistice had been signed ending combat in the Korean War.

South Korea instead sent a bus that ferried the delegation to a customs area connected to Kaesong Industrial Zone. South Korean police and army cars flanked the bus, joined by U.N. Joint Command officials outside the demarcation line.

They were then greeted by hundreds of south Korean women, who joined them in walking the one and a half miles to Imjingak Nuri Peace Park in Paju for a welcoming ceremony. Some 1,000 people sang, “Our Wish Is Unification.” (Hankyoreh, May 25)

The delegation promoted the need for a peace treaty, not just an armistice, to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War.

I Feel This.

For the past few weeks I’ve been battling a middle ear infection plus effusion, which basically means I’ve been in debilitating pain and unable to hear out of my left ear. (It does do a crackling thing anytime I move my mouth, which is also pretty janky.)

After the first doc I saw opted to treat me with “observation,” which let things get worse, my second doctor at a second hospital wrote me a few prescriptions. I tried to ask about them but we had a language barrier, as illustrated. Luckily, my dear old dad is a pharmacist and he cleared me to drug up.

Back to the cartoon. I found through Reddit a young American expat in Seoul who has been illustrating her Korea experiences through cartoons. Her name is Bethany Ellington and you can check out her blog here. I’ve really enjoyed her observations, and a lot of them align with the reactions we’ve had since moving here.


GBWC 2015 Preliminary Round Winners, South Korea:
Rolling in from Daejeon, S. Korea’s 5th largest city, is this pair of winners!

Basic Division
Lightning Gundam Full Burnern (???)
Builder’s age: 13

Standard Division
R-Kyakyang TETRA Shield ver.
Builder’s age: 41