Thursday, December 28, 2017

5 Ways to Learn Korean In Pyeongtaek


With 2018 knocking on the door it's time to start on your resolutions early. Since we all live in Korea, I think it's fair to say studying Korean is on most of our lists. South of Seoul is here to help you connect with the resources you need to improve your language skills. Our volunteers have tried all of these study options and found them to be both reliable and helpful. Each solution has a different strength and all of them are affordable and accessible.


Pre-registration required.

Let's start with an affordable program sponsored by the local government. PIEF is an amazing organization working to make sure Pyeongtaek residents have access to affordable language classes (and much more).  They have locations in both Songtan and Paenseong, but we are only listing the Paengseong classes since that's what has been advertised publicly. Of you live in Songtan please contact their center directly for information on classes.

This semester they are offering both morning and evening classes which will be helpful to people who work morning or nights. They are also easy to access from either Camp Humphryes or Pyeongtaek Station.

WHERE:
Paengseong Location Near Camp Humphreys
(The 20 bus from in front of McDonalds near Pyeongtaek Station)
COST: 
25,000 won for 10 classes (Crazy affordable)
Payment Method: 
Card (Easy to pay)
WHEN: 
January 17~March 28 (Wednesdays)
TIMES: 
Morning 10AM~12PM (Basic)
Evening 7PM~9PM (Basic & Intermediate)

TEXT BOOKS:
You can buy books for these classes from Brooklyn English Used Books in Paengseong near the Camp Humphreys walking gate. The store is listed in the South of Seoul app.

Pre-registration required.



Speaking of Brooklyn English Used Books, you can also study Korean there for free! Well, you will most likely need to buy a book but after that Diana fills your head with tons of useful Korean knowledge for FREE. She is amazing. Takes you under her wing and makes you feel at home. The only drawback is that these classes are only in the morning, however, this is perfect for those working nights.

These classes are always listed in the South of Seoul calendar so they are easy to find.

WHERE:
COST: 
Only the cost of materials. Class is Free.
WHEN: 
Thursdays and Fridays
TIMES: 
Morning 9:30am-11:30am
TEXT BOOKS:
Available in the store.



No matter how many classes you take, sometimes you need extra help. That's when you need to call in the professionals and invest some dollars. Jennifer provides custom classes that help you address the individual issues that you face. She is creative and encouraging in her approach. Some of our volunteers have studied with her for years since they need advanced studies classes simply can't provide.

We highly recommend this option for those who plan on being in Korea over time, those that are preparing for Korean language exams, need to improve their writing skills, and for those who wish to progress past basic level.

WHERE:
Varies, but usually near Pyeongtaek Station
COST: 
30,000 won an hour
Payment Method:
Cash or Bank Transfer



Ok, let's say you want to get a better visa and learn Korean for realz realz. What you need to do is get signed up for the KIIP language classes. These classes are trial by fire. Your teacher will not speak any English, your classes could be 2-8 hours long, and it's quite likely that none of your classmates speak English either. It's one of the best experiences you can have, but it's brutal and amazing and terrifying. 

These classes are offered online as well as at Pyeongtaek University and near Osan Station. You will need to make an online ID to get signed up. You will also most likely need a Korean person to help you with this. It's a challenge that can be overcome with the right help. We can't recommend this enough, but it's also seriously hardcore. This is for people on a mission.

WHEN:
Read the Banner for Registration Dates Dates.
You need to register on the website for an entrance test.
After the test you will register for classes. 
Exact dates and times only available after you register.
COST:
Free except cost of the book.
BENEFITS:
Points for better visas, knowledge of the culture, friendships, excellent Korean skills, and more.



Let's say you have no time and no money. You can still learn. Just pull up YouTube and start following Talk to Me in Korean. Watch all their videos and follow along. Hands down, this is one of the best resources for learning Korean online. Their information is accurate and informative while also being entertaining. If you watch their videos and do their workbooks you are going to have a lot of success. We have used them to supplement our studies and truly appreciate the work and effort they put in. 

The videos are also accompanied by an excellent blog resource so they truly do have you covered.


There you have it. A little something for everyone. Now you don't have an excuse not to get started! Go forth, learn, explore, and love life south of Seoul.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

5 Japanese Ramen Restaurants in Pyeongtaek


For those in the know, there is a big difference between Japanese and Korean ramen/ramyeon. They are like night and day. In the South of Seoul app we refer to Japanese style as ramen and Korean style as ramyeon. This refers to the slightly different pronunciation between the languages. You can read more about it here.

For a very long time Pyeongtaek was nearly void of viable Japanese style ramen. However, like with everything else in the area, that's no longer true. New places are popping up every few months. We now have at least 5 solid places to slurp on a big bowl of warm broth and noodles. We couldn't be happier about this. Oddly, we haven't found a clear favorite yet. Each ramen joint has a slightly different strength.

During winter, Japanese ramen can be an excellent way to warm up and most restaurants offer both non-spicy and spicy versions. A little something for everyone. Most of the restaurants also have English menus. If they don't, just use the photo translate feature in your translation apps.


1. Hotto Hotto Ramen
Songtan near Osan AF Base

This is the newest addition to the ramen list and it's good. Very good. They put a great deal of work into their soups and other dishes. This particular version is based on the Okinawa style. In addition to being delicious, it's beautiful to look at.


2. Higashi Ramen
Pyeongtaek Tong Bok Market

Hidden between a Japanese snack bar and the board game pub, this little gem has some excellent noodles and a few tasty versions. We HIGHLY recommend searching this place out even though it can be hard to find. They have a variety of broth styles that differ from other shops and we have been happy with all we've tried.


3. Raku Raku
Pyeongtae City, AK Plaza Area

This has been a favorite in Pyeongtaek for awhile. A true neighborhood joint. The place is also super cute with tons of memorabilia and notes. Like all ramen joints in the city, there aren't many seats. The owner is also really great. Our friend lost money on the floor and didn't realize it. Another guest turned it in to the owner and he checked CCTV, saw it was my friend sitting in the seat, and when she came back many weeks later he gave it back to her. Basically, delicious food and great people.


4. Omoya
Songtan near Osan AF Base

This is sort of Japanese and sort of Korean style. It's a little half and half but still enjoyable. They also have quite a few other things on the menu and more places to sit than many ramen shops. It's a great place to go late at night with friends.


5. Japanese Ramen
Pyeongtaek City, AK Plaza Area

This is the most inconsistent of the ramen shops but it's location makes it useful. When you are near Pyeongtaek Station, this is an affordable place to grab a simple lunch. They tend to be pretty quick with the orders as well, so you can be in and out. There are days it's truly lovely and other days it's just sort of O.K. On all days it's better than fast food.
Now it's time to go try them all and leave your reviews in the South of Seoul app. Just go the app, open the listing, and click the star in the banner. You can tell us all what you thought. Remember to include useful tips like where you parked, if they had chairs for kids, or other details you found important. Reviews help us build a beautiful life together. One Star reviews with no explanation may be rejected.

For address and WAZE directions to anything on this blog download the South of Seoul App from either Google Play or Apple App Store. 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.southofseoulz

Why we do this:
We made the app to accompany the blog because it's easier to keep update with current information. In the past we've tried keeping the information on the blog but it's too hard for us to maintain the information in two places at once over time. Since we compile and write blogs around a full time jobs without compensation, we need to do it the most efficient way possible with as few steps as possible. 



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pyeongtaek Best of 2017: Years Top Rated Places


The South of Seoul app turns one this month and we are celebrating by sharing what you voted as the best of the best this year. Choices were made based on four factors:

1. Star Rating
2. Number of Reviews Posted
3. Content of Written Reviews Posted
4. Facebook Polls When Needed

It's been an amazing year and we are quite impressed with the number of reviews people have left this year. It's hundreds. This information is extremely valuable to both the businesses you visit and the new people moving to Pyeongtaek and we are excited to be able to share who has risen to the top.

To start off, we are leading with the very best. Best Overall User's Choice Award goes to a business that has served our community with great commitment, joy, and service. A business that has received 25 perfect reviews in the last 12 months. It truly couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. The owner, Sam,  continually goes out of his way to build up and support the English speaking community in Pyeongtaek. He offers unique drinks like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, he donates to food to the local animal shelter, he remembers all our drinks and names, he is open early and closed late, and he does it all with a smile.

The 2017 South of Seoul's 
"Best Coffee Shop" and "Best Overall" Awards 

The business that everyone in town agrees with is Sam's Attractive Coffee. Although this is a "chain" shop there is nothing average about it. The owner, Sam, goes out of his way to create a space where we all feel at home. He even has unique seasonal drinks like Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread, Peppermint and more. None of these drinks are available at any other Attractive Coffee, he makes them just for us.

However, it's more than the drinks or affordable prices that keep everyone coming back. It's Sam's commitment to the community and the effort he puts into helping everyone feel at home. When Sam came to Pyeongtaek he didn't just open a coffee shop, he created the heart of a community.


Sam's Attractive Coffee
Area: Paengseong, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 25
Rating: 5/5 Stars


2017 Best Pub/Bar & Grill

One of the most reviewed categories this year were the pub/bar & grills. The competition was as stiff as many of their drinks. Braai Republic and Loft 33 need to be mentioned because their reviews are amazing and plentiful, but the small edge in star rating pushed the final winner to the top. The final winner was...

Louis' Bar & Grill
Area: Paengseong, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 19
Rating: 4.9/5 Stars


2017 Best Dessert Cafe

For those that don't know, not all cafes focus on coffee. Some of them are all about the desserts. In 2017 Cafe Maree impressed us all with their attention to quality. This dessert cafe is as near to French dessert perfection as you can get outside of France. Their pumpkin pie is the best we have ever had. The desserts aren't cheap, but they are worth every won.

Cafe Maree
Area: Songtan, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 7
Rating: 5/5 Stars


2017 Best Mexican /Tex Mex

This is one of those difficult categories where people are very hard to please, yet Loco Tacos has managed to create some very loyal followers. So loyal that their erratic hours and closing during the winter (this is their hobby and not their income) hasn't killed the love for their tacos. We recommend following them on FB to know when you need to rush over and fill up your belly.

Loco Tacos
Area: Songtan, Pyeongtaek
"Best Mexican/Tex Mex"
Reviews: 6
Rating: 5/5 Stars



2017 Best Italian
The first true New York Italian eatery in Pyeongtaek, the winner of this category was pushed ahead by the sheer number of reviews. Pyeongtaek might be covered in pasta restaurants, but this one stands out. The chefs cater to the Western palette with their meatball sandwiches, chicken parm pastas, garlic knots and more. A great place for a date or to take the family. 

The Stoop
Area: Paengseong, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 13
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


2017 Best Thai Food

There are actually quite a few different Thai restaurants in Pyeongtaek. This year Thailand2 was the one that stood out to the most users. The owners must be doing something right because second place went to Thai corner which they also own.

Thailand2 (Thai2)
Area: Songtan, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 7
Rating: 4.8/5 Stars


2017 Best Indian

We are blessed with a multitude of Indian restaurants in Pyeongtaek. Over the years, even with stiff new competition, Moti Mahal - the oldest Indian restaurant in town -remains the community favorite. They have two branches, this one by Camp Humphreys and another near AK Plaza. Both restaurants are spacious, making it the perfect place for social dinner gatherings. A close second runner up was Mito Cha Indian in Songtan. They only lost be user review numbers. We also recommend going to check them out if you live nearby.

Moti Mahal
Area: Paengseong, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 10
Rating: 4.6/5 Stars


2017 Best Sushi

The new kid in town made some noise this year. In the past, Oishi in Songtan was the place to be, but Sushi in Jay has made their mark and become the new king in town. They focus on US style sushi rolls and meals. South of Seoul users love the convenience, the food, and the friendly staff.

Sushi in Jay
Area: Paengseong, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 14
Rating: 4.2/5 Stars


2017 Best World Cuisine

We admit this is a weird category, however, we felt it was necessary because there are a number of unique world cuisine restaurants in Pyeongtaek that can't be categorized with anything else. We are lucky enough to have Mongolian, Caribbean, African, Peruvian, and more represented in our area. This is why we decided to create a category just for them. 

The winner of this category doesn't just stand out as a unique menu, it is also one of the top restaurants in Pyeongtaek and maybe even Korea. The Peruvian chef who opened the restaurant brought his A game. This is a MUST try if you are a foodie. The place is small so make sure to make a reservation if you have a group. In the summer it can be hard to get a seat but don't give up, it's worth the wait.

Ceviche 210
Area: Songtan, Pyeongteaek
Reviews: 7 
Rating: 4.9/5


2017 Best Burger(s)

In the past two years burger joints have been popping up almost faster than we can keep up with. It's hard to know where to start. For this choice we had to move away from the app reviews and go straight to the people. Twice this year we have run Facebook polls to ask about the best burgers and both times a food truck won out. Happy Food Truck is absolutely the crowd favorite. It's so popular that we decided to add them to the South of Seoul Pyeongtaek Directory despite the fact they don't have a standard shop. 

That said, in the most recent poll you can see Tailgate Tavern near Camp Humphreys and Bro's Kitchen near Osan AF Base are closing in fast. We highly recommend that burger lovers also check out these two locations as well. It's going to be exciting to see how this plays out in 2018.

Happy Food Truck
Location: Paengseong, Pyeongtaek


2017 Best Brunch

Brunch has become a bigger and bigger thing over the last few years. Many local restaurants offer delicious versions during the weekend. However, there is one place that offers mind blowing options (the banana french toast) every day that they are open. This is fancy brunch and it has some very serious fans. In a Facebook poll we ran, Regina's Delicatessen had nearly double the votes of anywhere else. They speak English as a first language so it's easy to call ahead to confirm their hours. It's a very small shop and sometimes they close for catering or because they have sold out.

Regina's Delicatessen 
Area: Paengseong, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 7
Rating: 4.9/5 Stars


2017 Best Kids Play Cafe

Every parent needs a place where they can go to have a bit of rest while the kids go wild. In Korea those places are the Kids Cafes. In Pyeongtaek the cafe of choice is Jump Nori, a place where parents can have a nice beverage and watch their kids bounce their little hearts out. The perfect place for mom group meetups and birthday parties.

Jump Nori
Area: Paengseong, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 7
Rating: 5/5 Stars


2017 Best Sauna / Jjimjilbang

It will be a miracle if any other sauna/jjimjilbang in Pyeongtaek ever wins this category. This wood fired, outdoor traditional sauna is unique and a wonderful part of our community. There are only a handful of these left in all of Korea. Once you go here you will fall in love. Even though there are only three reviews, you will be sold as soon as you read them. This is a MUST have experience when living in Pyeongtaek. Plus, at this sauna there is a locker room but no shared baths so if you are concerned about extended public nudity you don't have to worry.

Traditional Sauna
Area: Countryside West, Pyeongtaek
Reviews: 3
Rating: 5/5 stars


2017 Best Neighborhood For A Night Out

Pyeongtaek is a big place with many different areas for a fun night out, recently we asked the members what place they loved going to the most. The hands down winner with twice as many votes as the rest, was Sosabeol. This was a big surprise to use since it's not near a subway stop or one of the US military bases. That means people love it enough to make an effort to get there. The area has everything you might want: bars, bowling, archery, cafes, movie theater, and much more. It's crazy busy and bustling every time you go. Just remember that parking is terrible so take a bus or a taxi to make it easy on yourself.
Food + Fun: Sosabeol, Bijeondong


___________________________________________________


Thank you to everyone who reviewed business and participated in Facebook polls this year. Again and again new arrivals in Pyeongtaek have said that the reviews in the South of Seoul app have made their lives easier and more enjoyable. Your contributions matter.

If you haven't reviewed places yet, it's never too late to start. You can leave reviews for restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, thrift stores, kids cafes, department stores, immigration, and much more. Leaving reviews is simple, just click the star in the banner and reviews will pop up.

In your reviews you can leave helpful hints, recommendations, and even advice of what not to do. It's a great place to pass on information you wish you'd had while supporting new arrivals and businesses. In short the reviews aren't just about how you feel, but also what people need to know. Remember that reviews containing defamation of character, extreme language, trolling, or obscenities will be removed due to Korean defamation laws and the family friendly nature of our app.

With one year under our belt, all of the volunteers at South of Seoul are looking forward to another fun filled year of serving the communities of Pyeongtaek, Asan, and Cheonan.
Now it's time to go try them all and leave your reviews in the South of Seoul app. Just go the app, open the listing, and click the star in the banner. You can tell us all what you thought. Remember to include useful tips like where you parked, if they had chairs for kids, or other details you found important. Reviews help us build a beautiful life together. One Star reviews with no explanation may be rejected.

For address and WAZE directions to anything on this blog download the South of Seoul App from either Google Play or Apple App Store. 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.southofseoulz

Why we do this:
We made the app to accompany the blog because it's easier to keep update with current information. In the past we've tried keeping the information on the blog but it's too hard for us to maintain the information in two places at once over time. Since we compile and write blogs around a full time jobs without compensation, we need to do it the most efficient way possible with as few steps as possible. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

3 Foreign Style BBQ Joints in P-Taek


We all love Korean BBQ. It's something we eat on a regular basis and love it just as much every time we do. However, sometimes homesickness overcomes us and we start to wish we could the tastes of home to keep us company. Thankfully Pyeongtaek has a few places to feed that expat BBQ feeling, and we aren't talking places that have a BBQ sandwich in the menu. We are talking FOCUSED on BBQ.

Always remember that restaurants in foreign countries, no matter how hard they work will never be EXACTLY like your mom makes it or favorite restaurant makes it. There are issues with supply chains and staffing that will cause little hiccups here and there. Tiny things will be different and that's ok. These restaurants can't recreate our favorites, but they can help us remember so we can drift back to those places in our hearts. It's a beautiful thing.

Somehow though, these three places have put in the hard work to get incredibly close the real thing. Like REALLY close.


Smoke Town BBQ
Paengseong (Near Brown Stone)

The newest kid in town - like JUST arrived - is Smoke Town. It's hearty, smoky American style BBQ served served fancy platter style. Their big servings of meats and sides are served with a tangy, sweet BBQ sauce are a much needed addition to the areas food scene. Remember, if you are eating with a friend(s) you get the most bang for your buck.

When we ate there we grabbed pulled pork and brisket platter for two and tried all the sides. Loved them. I dug the coleslaw and my parter-in-crime was into the potato salad, but neither of us was unhappy with anything on the plank. Since we like sandwhiches, we did need to order extra bread which was 1,000won per 2 slices. For us it was worth it. You can also grab a craft beer or coke in a bottle which makes it all go down easier.


Braai Republic
Paengseong 

(Near Camp Humphreys walking gate)
If you love lamb and chicken then you want to go check on Braai. They serve up fabulous South African style BBQ and are one of the most well reviewed and loved restaurants in the area. Their portions are hearty and the meat extremely tasty. We recommend the peri peri chicken, lamb chops, and ribs (and everything else really). Oh, and the sides here are also friggen amazeballs.

Braai is also more than just a BBQ joint, it's also a place to hangout. If you are alone, go during dinner time, sit at the bar, and make new friends. They have solid beers on tap, nice wines, and the classic shots.


JP's BBQ 
Delivery & Pop Up

The first official US BBQ game in town was this hard working BBQ king who has a killer smoker and cares a lot about the wood he spokes with. JP doesn't have a restaurant. He is too focused on the meat to bother wasting time on managing the insanity required for shop. Instead he does what he does best and offers catering for events, holiday specials, special orders and pop up days (which almost always sell out). If you can get your hands on some of this BBQ you are winning. We follow his social media to known we can order ours. We recommend following him on Facebook and Instagram to know when to place your orders for pick-up near Camp Humphreys or Osan AF Base.
Now it's time to go try them all and leave your reviews in the South of Seoul app. Just go the app, open the listing, and click the star in the banner. You can tell us all what you thought. Remember to include useful tips like where you parked, if they had chairs for kids, or other details you found important. Reviews help us build a beautiful life together. One Star reviews with no explanation may be rejected.

For address and WAZE directions to anything on this blog download the South of Seoul App from either Google Play or Apple App Store. 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.southofseoulz

Why we do this:
We made the app to accompany the blog because it's easier to keep update with current information. In the past we've tried keeping the information on the blog but it's too hard for us to maintain the information in two places at once over time. Since we compile and write blogs around a full time jobs without compensation, we need to do it the most efficient way possible with as few steps as possible. 



Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Teachers E2 Guide to Pyeongtaek

 

Even though there are lots of us teaching English in Pyeongtaek, it can feel a bit lonely when you first arrive and you aren't exactly sure what's up. Just know that you aren't alone. Even after seven years a trip to immigration often shaves 5 years off our lives. It's simply always unnerving when you talk to people that hold your life in their hands.

To help new teachers get settled in and feel confident that they are headed to the right place, we have added the "visa" search as an option in the South of Seoul app. When you type this into search it pulls up a list of places that matter to you. A complete list of the places you might need to visit to maintain your visa. It's going to look something like this... but with more stuff to scroll through.



We recommend doing this search and having a quick look at these places to get an idea of what they are. We will keep a link to this blog post in each of these listings as well. It's not actually that hard to deal with immigration issues here, but even the smallest detail can seem overwhelming with dealing with language and cultural differences. Just always remember to breathe. Things are going to take longer than you want, but as long as your paperwork is in order every thing should be OK. Now, let's get started on what places are on this list.


Immigration Office

Subway: Seojeongri Station, however you will need to take a bus or a taxi if you are short on time. It's a bit of a walk from there.

What you do here:

  • Renew your E2 Visa - Please remember that this MUST be done online and it often can take 2 weeks to get an appointment. To be safe, reserve a date at least 4 weeks in advance. Also, this is a satellite branch of the Suwon Office. Your confirmation messages will tell you that you are confirmed with Suwon Immigration HOWEVER do not GO to Suwon. If your address is in Pyeongtaek, ALL your appointments should be in Pyeongtaek.
  • Notify of New Passport Number - If you get a new passport while in Korea you have two weeks to notify immigration. This does NOT need an appointment. Just walk in and it should be pretty painless and quick. You can get fined for doing it late so just get it done.
  • Replace A Lost ARC - If you regularly lose your ARC cards, know they aren't going to kick you out. We don't need to talk about how we know this. Just get your butt over to immigration with your passport and some new photos (you can get in the lobby) and get it replaced as soon as you know it's missing. 
  • Notify of Address Change - If you move for any reason don't mess around. Take your housing contract straight to immigration and let them know you have changed housing. If for some reason your boss had you move houses just go to immigration and tell them. Don't wait for your boss to notify them. Going to immigration yourself will make them call your boss for the new housing contract, thus protecting yourself and forcing your boss to comply on time without you begging him/her to do it.
  • Apply for a D-10 "looking for work" Visa - If you find yourself at the end of your contract but unemployed, don't panic. Just make an appointment with immigration for the D-10 visa. This will give you up to 6 months to look for a job. Click here to read more.
  • Certified Copies of Documents Held by Immigration - If you are a public school teacher Immigration will hold your Apostilles for both your FBI check and your diploma. When you are applying to different school positions - or graduate school in Korea - you will need to get certified copies of these items. You do not need an appointment. You also need to go to the fourth floor (investigations office) to request these.

Health Checks
Hospitals with Translation Teams
When you first arrive in Korea you will need to get a health check. Might as well just go to the hospital right away and get this done. It will also need to be done every year for insurance purposes. Although you can use just about any hospital for this, we recommend one of the two following options since they are used to doing them and have foreign help desks.

St. Mary's 
Subway: Jijae Station (You will then need a bus or taxi)
PRO-Tips: Although there are many different places to get your health checks done, we HIGHLY recommend making the effort to go here. Many other hospitals will take too long or provide inaccurate health checks. They just do a better job here and make more effort with confidentiality. They are required to follow more strict standards in order to be used by US military.  You do not need an appointment, in fact you can't make one. The health checks are on level B1. Just walk in and they will get you started.

Good Morning Hospital
Subway: Pyeongtaek Station (You will then need a bus or taxi)

PRO-Tips: This is the other big hospitals in the area. If you are teaching in Pyeongtaek City it can often be the easiest to get to. They have a foreigner help desk. Check in here and they will get you where you need to go.


Pyeongtaek Police Station

Subway: Pyeongtaek Station
What you might need here:

  • Fingerprinting for Background Checks
  • Korean Criminal Records Check

If you end up staying longer than a year, at some point you might find yourself in need of another criminal background check, either local or from your home country. When this happens you hurry on down to this police station. At different points in time the finger printing has been in different parts of the building. Just ask someone for help, they will point you in the right direction.


Pyeongtaek Education Office
평택교육원청

Subway: Pyeongtaek Station
Hagwon Work Verification - There are a few reasons you will need to go here. Usually when you are changing jobs. If you are changing from a private to a public school, you will need to get your work verified here to count toward you salary grade. If you are leaving the country to work in another country, you will want to get a copy of this and then have it translated and notarized in order to help prove your hagwon work history. Please note, this is NOT where you get your public school records. These records can only be provided by your public school.


Pyeongtaek Tax Office
평택세무서

Subway: Pyeongtaek Station (You will then need a bus or taxi)

PRO-Tips: You need to be sure that you are registered with your local tax office. There are some hagwons who don't do this and it can come back to haunt you at immigration. You also need to be registered within the first week or two of arriving. Make sure this happens. This tiny detail can turn into a big fiasco if your hagwon has a competing school. Since all hagwon owners know that everyone does things late, when a new teacher arrives at a competing school they might notify the tax office immediately to check to see if they were registered on time.


Local Pension Office

Pyeongtaek Station (You will then need a bus or taxi)
Alright, so you have completed your public school contract and it's time to head home. Make sure you notify the pension office so that everything is in order to collect your pension. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Soy and Noodle Soup 밥보다 국시


Recently a very dear Canadian friend returned to Korea to visit and she was missing kongguksu (콩국수) like crazy so we took her out into the countryside for some of the best 콩국수 around. It's a little silly to be blogging about this in the winter since it's actually hard to find right now, but there are times this is what we are desperate to eat and this particular restaurant has it year round.

If you are vegetarian or don't eat spicy food, then you need to know about this delicious soup. It's made from soy beans and is mild and flavorful. It's generally considered a summer soup since it's usually served cold, but at this restaurant it's served year round. It's important to note that not ALL 강국수 is vegetarian and non-spicy. For example, I chose to have the squid, spicy version. If you are a vegetarian you might want to clarify that you don't eat "seafood or meat" - 나는 해산물이나 고기를 먹지 않는다 so that you get the version made only with the beans. At this restaurant, you will need to ask them to remove the egg that comes on top.

This particular restaurant is one of the most popular places in all of Pyeongtaek for this dish. It's very traditional with a simple menu and floor seating. Their side dishes are minimal and they put their efforts into their noodles and soups. The soup here has especially good noodles and the bean broth is very smooth and flavorful. You can tell they pay attention to the quality of their beans. It's somehow both light and rich at the same time. Very earthy and soothing.

In addition to the kongguksu (콩국수) they also have a few other seafood based noodle soups. We like all of them.

영양콩국수 - Nutritious Soy Bean Noodles
어죽국수 - Spicy Reduced Fish Broth and Noodles
맑은국수 - Seafood in Clear Broth with Noodles
물만두 - Small Mandu

For those that are new to Korean food we are gong to break down the aspects of the dish you might find a little hard to appreciate at first. We find that knowing ahead of time how the food is a bit different than you may expect can help you appreciate it more the first time you try it. For example, the first time we tried this dish we actually didn't know what we were ordering and when it arrived without meat and not spicy we were disappointed. It took maybe a year before we tried it again. The second time we tried it, we knew what to expect and deeply enjoyed it. Now it's something we crave. With that said, here are the elements of kongguksu that might surprise your pallet:

  • 1) very light in flavor and you will be expected to add your own level of sea salt 
  • 2) because it's ground beans it has a sort of chalky texture 
  • 3) it's cold  
  • 4) it doesn't have meat

If you are prepared for these differences you will be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this soup.






Bonus: If you think this sounds delicious and would like to make it at home, here is a recipe from Maangchi


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