On love & relationships in S. Korea

For the blog’s first guest piece, Rob Defina dives into the intricacies of romantic love, S. Korea’s obsession with coupledom, the superficiality that often accompanies these relationships, and SoKo’s conservative take on sex. This marks the beginning of a guest writer series in which a variety of topics will be explored.

Words you’ve never heard of but should know

Ever find yourself unable to accurately describe an abstract feeling, thought or idea? Rest at ease because there’s a word for that! Today, I share 20 terms for the unspeakable, transient and almost magical. After all, the power of words is undeniable – they can convey profound meaning, inflict great joy and also cause immense pain. Undoubtedly, words play a central role in the fabric of our existences.

On the post-travel blues

Traveling is incredible. It presents us with infinite opportunities to explore faraway places, grow, and connect with kindred spirits. But, one inevitable part of traveling is rarely talked about – the post-travel blues. It’s that dull state of mind we find ourselves in when we must settle back into our normal routine after having had an epic trip, regardless of duration.

The Rosebud Diaries – End of Year Reflections

With 2016 soon coming to a close, I decided to take stock of the past twelve months before setting goals for the new year by writing ‘The Rosebud Diaries.’ In this piece, I share three roses (wins from 2016), three thorns (struggles faced in ‘16) and three buds (hopes for 2017). Here is to acknowledging the good and the bad of the past year, while maintaining a hopeful outlook for 2017. 

THE RETURN EFFECT

Due to my imminent return to Chicago [for a brief stint to visit family + eat ALL the food] and as a nod to the sometimes nostalgic-filled holiday season, I write about the various meanings ‘returning’ can denote. Whether we are going back to our country of origin, our childhood home, or revisiting something more intangible like an inspiration or an experience. I also explore my personal definition of home.

S. Korea & I – happily ever now

S. Korea and I have an all-or-nothing kind of relationship. But thankfully, we’re experiencing a happy, fight-free period. In the fourth installment of the ‘Love/Hate Series,’ I rave about S. Korea’s skincare craze, jimjilbangs (bathhouses/spas), convenience store culture and the superb delivery system. Bae can be pretty damn charming when she wants to. 

The Quinceañera: a Latino celebration of womanhood, family & community

The Quinceañera is a Latino rite of passage celebration steeped with rich history, cultural ties and meaning. Families celebrate young girls turning fifteen or “quince” as a symbolic way to escort them into womanhood. Comparable in production and price to weddings, these coming-of-age soirees wouldn’t be possible without the sponsorship of relatives and close family friends. Quinceañeras might have roots in Latin America but Hispanic families keep the tradition alive across the U.S., with an American touch. 

South Korea’s Suicide Epidemic

For almost a decade, South Korea has had the highest suicide rate among industrialized countries. From teenagers to senior citizens, around 40 people commit suicide every day. The alarming statistics are merely symptoms of deep-rooted social issues. South Korea finds itself trapped between a past of Confucianism ideals and a reality where capitalism and competition reign supreme. Suicide is a grim side effect of living in a stressful & hypercompetitive society.