Emart Town- Ilsan

When regular Emart combines with Emart Traders, Emart Town is the result. On June 18th, one opened beside Kintex and my coteachers came back with stories of how brilliant it was.  I headed along myself to see what all the fuss was about.

Where is it?

This Emart town is in Daewha, Ilsan. It’s next to KINTEX. Honestly, unless you have a car, it can be a bit difficult. It is on the road opposite Hyundai Department Store. It’s very well signposted. If you want to go but don’t have a car, simply get out at Daewha station and get a taxi to Emart Town. It’ll be a 5 minute or so drive.

I believe the 062 bus stops there but cannot be certain.


What can I buy there?

Everything! There is an Emart, an Emart Traders (for Costco style shopping), restaurants, a hairdressers, beauty shops, a pet store, an Electro Mart and possibly many that I’ve forgotten.

I went to the Traders section and was over whelmed by the sheer quantity of products available. I spent about an hour picking up my things but I could easily spend an entire day there.

Random Tip- The green trolleys are for the Traders section and the yellow trolleys are for the regular Emart.


Do I need a membership card or special credit card?

No. The best thing about Emart Town is that you don’t need to be a member at all. You can pay in cash or by card. If you have an Emart points card, you can use it but if you don’t, no problem.

Worth a visit?

Definitely. There are a few things that make it a better shopping experience than Costco;

  1. The place is HUGE so while there are a lot of people, it doesn’t feel like that.
  2. No membership card needed.
  3. Great range of food. In my opinion, better than Costco.
  4. It has a regular Emart so if you don’t want 5 million of something, you can buy it there.



Get involved with Irish music in Seoul!

Lately, I’ve had a lot of messages and emails from people interested in getting involved in Irish music in Seoul. I definitely won’t complain about this. It’s great to see the progress that Irish music is making here. When I started playing in Seoul, we were hard set to find a place that would hold a session. Now, we literally don’t have enough time or people to keep up with the demand.

If you play Irish music, sing or dance, you’re always welcome at one of the many sessions that happen in and around Seoul. Your first port of call should be the “Irish music in Korea” Facebook page. Request to join the group and then you’ll be up to date on the sessions that are happening.

Generally, every second Friday night, there is the Tulip Session in Myeongdong.


Once a month, we have a session in Dublin Terrace in Gangnam.


Finally, we have the weekly Sunday Session in the Wolfhound Bar in Itaewon. It starts around 4pm and ends around 8pm. This is my favourite session for so many reasons. Some of the best sessions I’ve ever had were in the Wolfhound.




As with the nature of these sessions, we do extra sessions, we do less depending on the time of year and so on. If you have any questions about Irish music in Korea, feel free to email me or go to this website http://www.ceoltoirisoul.com/

*This information was correct at time of posting (June 2015)

Expat Interview: Meet Shauna Browne – An Irishwoman in Korea

Delighted to have been part of this. Follow Journalist on the run for more great blog posts!

Journalist On The Run

This is part one of my new ‘Expat Interview Series’, where I plan to interview my expat friends who have dotted themselves all over the world. I’m hoping this series of posts will provide some insight into what it is like to live overseas, and might even encourage a few people to pack their bags and make the move! 

Meet Shauna Browne, an Irish expat who has been living in South Korea for almost 6 years. In this time she has totally immersed herself in Korean culture, has made every effort possible to learn the Korean language and has tirelessly promoted Irish music, Irish sport, Irish culture and all-round positive links between the two countries.

If ever there was an example of a ‘model expat’ or a person who embodies what it means to be Irish, Shauna Browne would be that person.

What made you move abroad?

I guess it…

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The LASIK experience.

My first pair of glasses were giant pink ones that enveloped my entire face. I didn’t care though, I loved them and that’s all that mattered. As time went on, I got a little more stylish with my glasses and contacts were eventually added to my eye wardrobe.

That’s the way it’s been for 20 years, glasses and contacts. Now, I’m a few months away from returning to Ireland to study so I decided that I should get LASIK while it was available to me at a good price. Among the many advantages to living in Korea are the medical procedures. You can have any procedure you so desire and it won’t break the bank. People pop in for nose jobs here like they pop in for a manicure.

My friend had gotten LASIK done before she left and was happy with the result so I went to the same clinic as her. It’s called Yeabit eye clinic in Hwajeong. About a month before the procedure, I went in for a consultation.It took one hour. It basically involved them testing and measuring my eyes to check that I was a candidate for the procedure. They also put three different drops into your eyes which dilates your pupils so my eyes looked a bit funny for 24 hours.

For two weeks before the operation, you’re not allowed to wear contact lenses.I had my appointment on a Thursday and on both Monday and Wednesday, the nurse from the clinic Kakaoed me to remind me of things and give me a chance to ask questions.

The day of the procedure, I was slightly terrified. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind. What if I go blind? What if the machine breaks down in the middle of the procedure? What if……and so on. Eventually, I told myself to man up and just do it. You have to do the same few tests when you arrive so they can compare measurements and so on. You then go to the pharmacy, conveniently next door to collect your eye drops.

Back to the clinic and you get a shot in the hip. What’s in the shot I don’t know but it didn’t do me any harm. Then they draw blood for your Plasma drops. Plasma drops are exactly what you think they are, eye drops made from the plasma in your blood.

Then they lead me to my waiting room. I’ve been to hotels where the room wasn’t as nice as this one. It had a bed, a wardrobe, a couch, a sink, a foot stool and the glass in the window was multi colored. The place was so beautiful. The nurse came in again to  explain what would happen during the procedure and what to do and not to do and so on. For both eyes the procedure takes just 15 minutes. The key is just not to move after they position your head.

There was no need to work myself into a state over the operation. It was all very basic really. You lie on a declined chair and the doctor places you head in the correct position. After that they place a mask over your face and cover one eye. The drops go in, you look at the green light and then the red one and then it’s done. They place something in your eye so you can’t move it. The worst part is after the laser. They warn you it’s coming and not to close your eyes but between the anaesthetic and the darkness that comes, you don’t know whether your eye is open or closed so you just have to hope for the best. Your vision only goes for a few seconds before it returns. Then the second eye is done and it’s all over.

Honestly, the worst part of the whole experience was when they removed the mask from my face. It sticks to your face and I believe that I left a layer of my face on it when they took it off. I expected to be lead, unable to see to the waiting room but I had vision straight away. I waited 10 minutes for the good of man kind before I walked away. I caught a taxi and went home.

For three hours, you get “onion eyes” That’s the best way to describe it. It’s not painful but it feels like you’re chopping onions. I just lay down, closed my eyes and entertained myself by praying, listening to music, singing, talking to myself and so on. By the end of the three hours, the stinging had gone and I felt back to normal.

For the next few weeks, I’ll have to put drops into my eyes at regular intervals during the day.

Today, I returned for a follow up and my vision is better than 20/20. Wahoo! Supervision! The bad news is that I’m not allowed back to football for a few weeks but it’s a small price to pay for perfect vision.

LASIK is the best decision I’ve made and I highly recommend it. Here are all the need to know details in terms of the financial side of the procedure.

Consultation fee: Included in procedure cost.

Procedure: 900,000won total for both eyes.

Medicine: One day of pain killers (which you only take if you need )

2 sets of drops: 17,000won

Plasma Drops are included in the 900,000

Follow up check: Free

Total Cost 917,000won.

I live in Ilsan so I got this done at Yeabit eye clinic which it right beside Hwajeong Station on Line 3.

Random Recommendations:

Eat a meal shortly before the procedure.Then afterward you can close your eyes for three hours and not worry about food.

If you have no complications, go home as soon after the procedure as you can. The onion eyes only started as I was travelling home in the taxi so if you can get home before the onset of that, brilliant.

Take a rest day the following day. Although I feel perfectly normal, my eyes still look a little red and are a little tired from yesterday so naps are required.

If you have any questions about this that I can help you with, just drop me a line shaunabrowne87@yahoo.co.uk

Meeting Marcy Katz

The internet is a funny sort of place. You can meet all sorts of people on the internet and it’s made the world a smaller place.

Two years ago, I got an email from a lady who had read a few of my blogs on Paju. I still have the email conversation in my inbox

Aloha Shauna,
I am from Honolulu, and just stumbled across your blog!
Loved your writing about visiting the hospital in Paju….
My husband and I are going to be visiting Korea and Paju next month

I get emails all the time from people who read my blog and are looking for further information. As it turned out, Marcy was travelling to Korea on a ceramics related trip with her husband and a few friends and happened to be staying in my area. After a back and forth we made arrangements to meet for dinner. It was all a bit random, I admit but the more people you meet in life, the more adventures you have. At the very worst, I thought, I’d get a delicious dinner that night.

I remember that initial meeting like it was yesterday. The weather was still warm but the nights were starting to close in early and I headed off in my car to where I thought the restaurant was. I ended up on this tiny country lane that had a drain on one side and a small river on the other so I had to continue driving for a while before I found the space to turn around. A quick call to Marcy gave me  the exact location and finally I arrived. The restaurant was one of those random places that I’d never go to with my friends. It was some sort of fusion food and delicious enough.

From the start, it was like we had all known each other for years. The conversation went from their trip to life in Korea to tourism and life in Ireland and blog writing and everything in between. What struck me most about the group was their vitality. Each member was a bit older than I but they spoke of a packed schedule and adventures with a livliness that made me a little exhausted! We ended the evening exchanging Facebook information and promising to stay in touch.

Marcy, Bob, Jimie, myself and Liz at Yoree restaurant in Paju.


And stay in touch we did. Jimie was the first to return to Seoul a year later and we had a most wonderful afternoon together during her stay here. My mum was also visiting at the time so it was a wonderfully diverse meeting.


The weeks and months flew by and out of the blue, Marcy contacts me again. She will be returning to Korea and would I have time to meet her? Of course! We spent last weekend wandering around the War Memorial in Seoul, me introducing her to Game of Thrones and her telling me all about her ceramics trip and tea picking and her grandchildren. We ate and drank and listened to Jazz and generally had the craic. We caught up on two years worth of news in just 1 day.

The internet is a funny old place alright, but without it I would have never made the acquaintance of Marcy, Bob and her friends.

ONDA Salmon – a review

If I had a tonne of money, I’d eat salmon every day. Unfortunately, I don’t so when my friend suggested we should try a salmon restaurant for her birthday, I was all ears.

ONDA Salmon is located in the Hongik area of Seoul. I hear that ONDA is from a Spanish word meaning “wave”.

The location of ONDA Salmon is a little difficult to get to if you’re not familiar with the area. The closest station is Sangsu and it’s about a 5 minute walk from there. If you follow this link, there will be a map, http://www.koreanetwork.com/listing/onda-salmon-%EC%98%A8%EB%8B%A4%EC%82%B4%EB%AA%AC

The restaurant has two opening times, 1pm to 3pm and again from 5pm (or perhaps 5.30pm) to 11pm. Luckily we had a made a reservation as there was a queue forming when we arrived in time for the second opening. The interior is not that large with perhaps 10 or 12 tables in total. We were a party of just 5 people so it was very comfortable for us.


Naturally, everything on the menu centers around Salmon. The dishes are a little pricey but worth it. For three dishes, four Sangrias and a soft drink the cost was 115,000 won.  The salmon was fresh and tasty and possibly the best I’ve tasted in Korea so far. Service was fast and the waiter spoke English. Portion size was ok. It could have been larger. One member of our group ate virtually nothing and the rest of us cleared everything but I felt that a little extra would have gone a long way.



I’d go back here again for sure but can’t see myself regularly frequenting the restaurant. As ever, if you have questions, please leave them below!

Cinderella- what might have been.

“It’s boring, we already know how it ends” piped one of my friends while we were watching Cinderella. Being a big fan of fairy tales and having a bit of an imagination, I couldn’t get that statement out of my head. It’s true, the movie was a bit predictable. What if we could write alternative storylines for Cinderella? They don’t all have to end with “and they all lived happily ever after” so  here are a few of what I came up with;

*Photo from Google


Alternative Storyline number 1; Ella’s mother and father both live to old age. Ella marries a local village hand who is equally as selfless and happy as she. The prince never meets her in the forest and ends up being forced to marry that princess from another kingdom. That princess is beautiful but an awful witch and ends up destroying the prince and his kingdom. Her kingdom takes his in a brutal and bloody war in which he dies. The end.

Number 2: Ella’s father dies first and her mother being so distraught never remarries. They continue to struggle along with the household staff but then they are faced with possible bankruptcy. She is then forced to marry a count from the kingdom and thus Ella is introduced to the prince. They fall in love with each other but Ella’s commoner past is a factor for the prince’s advisors. hey want him to marry the princess from a kingdom far far away. The fairy godmother intervenes and Ella ends up marrying the prince. They all live happily ever after.

Number 3: Both of Ella’s parents die in a random, freak accident involving the mice and geese that Ella clearly adores. She is then forced to marry an old bachelor and continues to live in her house. Her new husband, being of advanced years, dies soon after and, distraught, she rides into the forest where she meets the prince. She doesn’t have a clue who he is and ends up attending the ball in search of another husband. Unknown to her, the prince is totally besotted by her and proposes to her immediately. They all live happily ever after.

Number 4: The story is exactly as depicted in the movie. After she has a fight with her stepmother, she rides off into the forest where the prince and his crew are hunting stag. The prince’s men get a little trigger happy and mistakenly shoot her horse. Ella falls to the ground, breaking her collarbone and wrist. The prince rushes to her aid and insists that she is brought to the palace to recuperate. She spends 4 months there receiving treatment, during which time the prince falls in love with her. When she is better, she wants to go home but the prince surprises her with a ball during which he proposes. They get married and live happily ever after.

Number 5: Ella has a sister who is equally as good and selfless as she. When her father marries the evil step mother, they are both thrown into a slave type life. It is her sister, however, that rides off into the forest and meets the prince. When he sends out word for her to present herself at the palace, Ella drags her there, wishing to stay true to the wishes of the prince. While there, the prince sees Ella and spends the next few months trying to figure out which sister he loves most. The girls are oblivious to this internal struggle and continue to help and be very popular in the village. Eventually, he chooses her sister and Ella lives her life as a spinster. The end.

*Photo from Google


And now for the more morbid endings;

1. The story continues as predicted until Ella is returning from the ball. She left it too late to get home before the magic wore off and as they drive along the cliff edge her “carriage” turns back into a pumpkin. She falls out and over the cliff. The kings men are still chasing her and see her fall over but are too shocked by the horses turning into mice and the footmen turning into lizards that they cannot do anything. Ella, as it turns out cannot swim and drowns. The prince never does find her on his search throughout the kingdom. This means that the princess from a foreign land gets to marry the prince. She’s only after him for his money and status and soon starts to poison his drink with arsenic. He dies. The end.

2. The story continues as predicted right up until the evil step mother finds her glass shoe. When the step mother breaks the shoe, she cannot help herself and stabs Cinderella. With no prince and no medical help, she eventually bleeds out. This suits the stepmother very nicely. She buries the body in their garden and the prince never finds her. This results in a failed search for the prince who then has to marry the princess for the other kingdom. He lives a truly miserable life as ruler. The evil step sisters are indeed married off to influential members of the kingdom. They all lead ridiculously material, fake lives and everyone in the kingdom is actually miserable. The end.

I could continue this post for days but most of the scenarios end in death of one character or another. I’m available to write alternative endings for most stories so put your requests at the bottom!~