Songpa, Seoul, South Korea–Welcome to the Neighborhood

March 1, 2014 | Posted by rissvandal

I’m writing this blog post from Cafe Bene, a cafe in Seoul, South Korea. I hadn’t expected the transition to be so abrupt–I intended to write a post right before I left America, explaining exactly when and where I’d be moving, but one moment I was relaxing, thinking I had about two weeks to say my goodbyes, next moment I’m landing in Incheon airport, dragging my luggage past a wall of kpop videos, recovering from the whiplash from how fast plans had changed…


I’m currently living in Songpa, part of the Greater Gangnam Area (yes, that Gangnam). I’ve been here for about a week, and still recovering from the time difference, the weather change, and the lack of access to freshly ground coffee beans. And much to my (everyone else’s) constant surprise, I’m currently a teacher of youths. That’s not something I intend to talk about on here, though, but if you want to know any more about that, or have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. As for everything else…

Welcome to the Neighborhood


I live on a street surrounded by giants–from mega churches with red neon crosses that look like they were plucked right from the Vegas Strip to the ever-present blaring sign for LOTTE WORLD–a glitzy, undeniably daunting amalgamation of anything and everything you could ever fit into one complex. It’s a supermarket, it’s a department store, it’s an amusement park, it’s a theater, it’s a hotel, it’s a hospital… Walking around town at around 9 pm, you can hear the laughs and screams coming from plummeting roller coasters and see a glittering Disney-esque castle glittering in the nearby lake.


There’s a plethora of fabulous restaurants around my apartment, but I have to be honest, and say that for the first couple of days I was living on cuisine from 711. Embarrassed to say the wrong thing in my limited Korean, I discovered all the wonders a Korean 711 has to offer–about 10 different types of kimchi, rice balls, pickled radishes, and the cheapest bottle of wine I’ve purchased in my whole life (2,300 won, which is a little over $2). And I won’t lie, I didn’t hate the 711 diet, but in those first few days I probably ingested more sodium than a person should in a month’s time. That being said, I finally got over my shyness and got myself to some proper restaurants (and started to cook). My favorite meal so far–spicy tofu soup, shown on the right.



Now, I knew without a doubt that it wouldn’t be long before I started throwing down some bucks on Korean fashion and beauty products. This weekend I’m hoping to go on a major discount clothing shopping excursion, but first and foremost, I tried out an assortment of lip colors, cleansers, moisturizers, and polishes. I intend to do a product review every few weeks, considering the amount of products I got–everything was so nicely priced, and not to mention every purchase came with its own set of well-sized samples.


My first round of Korean beauty product shopping resulted in about 7 different products from the brand Tony Moly. First up, Tony Moly liquid lip tint and Petite Bunny Gloss Bar. Translucent lip tints have always been my favorite beauty products, in theory. Back in the states, every single lip tint I tried looked fabulous for about one minute until it faded away entirely. The tony Moly lip tint, however, had solid staying power–lasting for about 2+ hours without need for a touch up. But lip tint it is indeed–it adds a subtle tint of color that looks fresh and natural, instead of bold and overdone. In this picture I’m wearing the lip tint and gloss bar together–two subtle products that perfectly complement each other, and each one was under $5.


By the way, did you catch that little Attack on Titan keychain in the midst of all my beauty loot? Korea isn’t quite anime central, but it’s pretty easy to come across anime fandom swag of some sort in every couple of shops. My apartment is still a work in progress, decoration-wise, so I’m not including any pictures just yet, but just know that there’s a lot of anime involved. And a lot of pink. And a lot of cuteness.

Expect a lot more pictures soon to come–but at the moment I’m without internet at my apartment (Cafe Bene is my second home), and I’m still running all around town and trying to get settled. But stay tuned, because there’s a lot I intend to do while I’m out here. Lolita shops, comic cons, Hello Kitty cafe, punk shows…

p.s. The surgical mask is 1 part functional (protection from yellow dust), 3 parts fashion statement, in case you were wondering.


One Response to Songpa, Seoul, South Korea–Welcome to the Neighborhood

  1. Mari says:

    I love all the pictures and the info. I guess I’ll be looking at all your blog posts from now on. I want to know about everything you are doing in S Korea, or at least almost everything.

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