Looking back – the Korea Blog 2012

Written by on December 27, 2012 in Special Report

So 2012 is on its way out. It was quite the eventful year; lots of memorable happenings in Korea and out, and it wasn’t an exception here on the Korea Blog. So what was it like here in 2012? What were the most popular posts? What were our personal favorites? What were your favorite posts?

Among the hundreds of posts this year, the following five posts written in 2012 were the most viewed.

Popular Korean cosmetics

My Favourite Korean Cosmetics and Skincare
Korean cosmetics are amazing. (And I’m not saying this because I’m biased.) This post by WKB Cindy Zimmer was the most viewed post of 2012.

The path along Deoksu-gung

10 Fascinating Korean Superstitions
You really don’t want to walk the path along Deoksu Palace with a loved one. Jon Dunbar rounded up a list of Korean superstitions which you might find unusual and quirky.

“Pig Dreams” by Choi Sukun

Pig dreams, good dreams; tooth dreams, bad dreams
Did a pig show up in your dream? Rush out and buy a lottery ticket! Really. Just do it. I know I will if I did.

Bottom-less, wouldn’t you say?

Hey, where’s your skirt?
It’s all about the legs! We wore mini-skirts back in my day but I don’t think we went to the extremes like this. Or maybe we did but just called it something else. Nowadays, it’s called “bottom-gone-missing” (하의실종) fashion.

Skincare is important in Korea

New BB (Blemish Balm) trend and how to apply it?
Cosmetics and makeup were popular topics this year. WKB Jonathan Wung reviews BB cream, an absolute must in the Korean makeup routine.

Many of the posts above were shared on other online platforms. Additional popular posts which were shared:

Kim Hong-Do’s “An 18th century Korean beauty” © Seoul National University Museum

Naturally Beautiful, Ancient Korean Makeup
Another popular post about Korean cosmetics, this post by Michelle Correa about old and traditional Korean makeup was shared among many.

Will it be delicious for you, too?

10 musings about Korean food as eaten by non-Koreans
For Koreans, “rice” equals “meal”. But what does it mean to a non-Korean? Jon Dunbar muses on Korean food, and some eating and drinking habits.

2012 was the year of the Black Dragon

2012, enter the Black Dragon
2012 was the year of the Black Dragon. What does the dragon mean in traditional Korean culture? Zodiac-wise, it means foremost a year of great change. It certainly turned out to be.

Korea has a harcore punk scene

Korea’s hardcore punk scene
Although the webosphere might think otherwise, music in Korea is not only about K-pop. On the Korea Blog, music is predominantly Jon Dunbar’s specialty, and in this post he explores the rather unknown genre of Korean hardcore punk.

KORAIL’s app for easy ticketing

Grab a ticket to ride
Steve Miller’s travel posts are always popular on the Korea Blog. Methods to share travel information is gearing more and more to the mobile market, and in this post Steve gives a step-by-step detailed explanation on how to use KORAIL’s iPhone app.

Sometimes interesting posts get lost in the shuffle, mostly due to timing. Many of the most popular posts in 2012 weren’t posts written this year, but older posts from the previous year. Obviously, there are posts from this year which will gain more attention as time goes by, so I asked Korea Blog’s featured bloggers Steve Miller, Jon Dunbar, Anne Maria Cole; Worldwide Korea Blogger Jessica Steele; and the somewhat mysterious administrator of the Korea Blog to choose their personal favorite posts of the year, either posts which they thought the most interesting or posts which they thought deserved another look. Here are our selections (in chronological order by post date):

Making Makgeolli
Makgeolli is Korea’s drink of the moment. This sweet alcoholic beverage made from rice is also quite popular overseas and many have tried their hand in making it, as Steve does here. He gives a easy-to-follow recipe in detail. Jon comments: “At some point I hope to try making makgeolli myself.”

Do you know Korea’s national song? No, not the anthem, but the traditional folk song that has been sung for centuries, explained in this post by Maria Margareta. Steve cites this post as a favorite, saying “With its recent inclusion as a UNESCO Cultural Asset, I found the post interesting, especially since it provided samples of regional variations.”

Hello, Mr. Kim, Mr. Kim, and Mr. Kim!
Many Koreans share the same family name. This post was to give a general explanation of why that is. Steve says: “With so few surnames, I thought this a great article on Korean culture.”

Make it Gungsuh, please – Korean typography
When was the last time you wrote something by hand? These days we’re all typing. Evidently, the basic Korean fonts will be used all the time in everyday life. Jon’s comments: “Having always struggled with Korean typefaces, this post was very helpful in showing me the different Korean typefaces and their common uses.”

How Korean Food Got Fashionable
If I remember correctly, Korean food was selected as a trend for 2012, and seems like it turned out to be true. Jessica says: “This article was on my mind when I visited Canada for the summer and was shocked to find Korean brands and products, even Korean food, in the tiniest of towns, far removed from everything else. It’s interesting to see what’s popular outside of Korea and to speculate as to what will be next!

Fascinating Korean Superstitions
Jessica also liked one of the most popular posts of the year. Her comment about Jon’s post: “I am superstitious, though I doubt I could articulate why, and this article led many great conversations with my Korean friends.”

K-League 2012: The new format explained
Sports on the Korea Blog! The London Olympics weren’t the only topic being discussed. Jon found Matt Burnett’s post very informative with it helping him to understand the changes going on in Korea’s football league.

Korean Buddhist Temple Latticework
One temple is very much alike the other, you might think. But that’s when you don’t look into the details. I loved Dale Quarrington’s post because it was specifically about the different latticework and greatly informative. When you start looking with more care, it may become “So many temples, so little time.”

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly in Korean folk tales
There are many interesting characters in Korean folk tales. Our administrator made an interesting point when choosing this post: “Folk tales are disappearing. Generation gaps are widening and Korean stories are less preferred in children education.” I wonder what it’s like in other countries.

Five Fun Things to do in Korea this Summer
There are many things to do in Korea during summer vacation season, whether you opt to stay in the city or venture out. Our administrator thought Steve’s post was an unconventional approach to traveling in Korea and great for vacation planning.

Why Korean?
Why Korean indeed? It’s always intriguing when foreigners decide to learn Korean – we’re such a tiny country! But Anne gives a convincing argument in her post and our administrator gave a reason for liking it: “For those who have a New Year’s resolution to learn a new language.” I also liked this one as well.

Koong koong kwang! – Korean Onomatopoeia
Jessica sums this up: “I liked this article because it’s just fun! Every time I travel to a new country, I wonder about what the locals call things and the names of sounds in that language. What sound does a dog make? It’s a question that often crosses my mind, and this article covered it all, even sounds that I didn’t know could possibly have a name!”

Making kimchi
A post about making kimchi completely enacted out by ball-joint dolls. Both Jon and I loved this post by Octo Tini. Me, because I’m a dolly geek; as for Jon, he says: “I feel weird for being a dude liking it, but it is one of the most creative posts I’ve seen on here.”

Korea 1996
I’ve lived in Korea for most of my life. Although I’ve seen it change over the years, I don’t quite fully understand how drastic the changes were because the perception of change was gradual. This post of Jon’s describing his first trip to Korea gave me a jolt and made me realize that indeed, many things have changed since 1996. It was also interesting to see how some things remained the same. Jessica also liked this post.

Top 10 Korean ice cream bars and popsicles
A look into the many varieties of best-selling Korean ice cream bars. Some of the more popular ones are being exported, so you might find them in your local Korean supermarket. Apparently one of Jon’s favorites didn’t make the list but he still chose this post.

Of being a Seonbae or Hubae in Korea
Rank and title are extremely important in Korea, with seonbae (선배) and hubae (후배) being endlessly mentioned in K-dramas. Anne found this post “a light-hearted, fun and informative post covering themes of Korean language, customs, culture, relationships and media. It accurately dispelled terminology heard everywhere in a thoroughly readable way.”

Korean folklore – the Rabbit in the Moon
We have many folk tales about animals in Korea and the Rabbit in the Moon is always talked about around Chuseok. Why is there a rabbit in the moon? Anne mentioned that she will tell these tales in the classroom, and hopefully to her own grandchildren in the future. Steve also found the post insightful for those wanting to know more about the holiday.

Seoul, you’ve come a long way!
Taking a glimpse into the past is always interesting, especially when you’re talking about a fast changing society like Korea. For Seoul, some might say it’s even faster. Both our administrator and Jessica selected this post of Jon’s. Our administrator thought it was an informative post for people living, have lived or interested in Korea, and Jessica was particularly interested in learning about the covering and uncovering of the Cheongyecheon Stream in Seoul, and thought the pictures were great.

Steve Miller’s Suwon Hwaseong series
Both Jessica and I made selections from this series which explore Suwon’s historical site of Hwaseong. Jessica chose the post about the Hwaseong Fortress saying that she liked it not only because it provided lots of information, but it also included lots of Steve’s videos AND his writing: “History, beautiful photos, videos, and a little storytelling – this post had it all! Good travel advice for anyone living in or planning to visit Korea.”
I liked the one about the palace, The Hwaseong Haenggung, because I think it’s a place that’s too often neglected on a visit to Korea. It’s extremely beautiful and different from the palaces you see in Seoul, which Steve describes excellently.

An Inside Look at Gangbuk-gu
2012 may have been the year of Gangnam but it’s not an excuse to neglect its neighbor across the River Han. Steve interviews his friend Graham Palmer who lives in his “Your Neck of the Woods” series. As Anne mentions, it’s a “personable article about real people living their real lives in real places. Genuinely interesting.”

Take the Korean mountain challenge
We have a lot of mountains in Korea. Hiking is a serious pastime. Jon describes what the Korean mountain challenge is with a good insight to the most well-known mountains around the country. Steve’s comment: “Mountains – I love hiking and I thought a quick tale of some of the mountains around Seoul fun.”

Picnic Like a Pro: Korean Outdoor Dining Culture
One of my favorites. I honestly didn’t know how grandiose Korean’s picnicking habits could seem to non-Koreans. It’s true, for us it’s like a total production. We’re serious about this. Jessica’s take was fun to read, based on her own personal experience and observations. I’m going to propose a Korea Blog picnic next spring.

Seoul 2063: ten predictions of the future
Jon looked into Korea’s past and in this post he looks into Korea’s possible future, which was quite the interesting concept. Anne thought so, too: “I’m always nostalgic and reminiscing, so I found it very refreshing to be looking to the future for once! This article was really original and thought-provoking, and the predictions were well-informed and well-researched.”

Home Korean Cookin’ – Making Gourmet Ramyeon
Most possibly the easiest food to make, Steve gives his take on how he spruces up a packet of simple ramyeon noodles. Anne chose this post, stating her reasons: “I loved this post because it incorporated text, photos and video to instruct on a simple yet effective Korean recipe.”

‘Tis the Season for Gimjang
Food is always a popular subject on the Korea Blog and what can be the most Korean food you can talk about? Of course it’s kimchi. We’ve had many kimchi related posts before, but Jo-Anna Lynch writes about kimchi on a different scale: making it together in a large group, aka the gimjang (김장). Steve and Jessica both liked this post, with Steve saying: “As a huge fan of kimchi, I’m saddened that many don’t take the time to make it at home. This is a great story of friends coming together to make the delicious Korean staple.”

Korean University Life
Is university life really that different by country? Jessica’s thoughtful post is about certain characteristics of Korean university life which may seem familiar or unfamiliar to the reader, depending on where you’re from. Our administrator comments that it’s not a topic widely known in the English speaking world as she made her selection.


I had asked for Top 5 favorites from each person, but some of us couldn’t help but go overboard; there were so many interesting posts to choose from. Besides the above, the 2012 London Olympics posts by WKB Korean Class Massive  were quite notable. Anne mentions that their posts “demonstrated the power of The Korea Blog and WKBs- having enthusiastic, Korea-focused peeps reporting on events near them that are of interest to readers across the globe!” In addition, the posts about the 2012 Yeosu World Expo from several WKBs were also note-worthy for they covered most of the aspects of the expo itself.

So that’s it. Our round-up of the Korea Blog’s 2012. We hope we achieved the blog’s motto, “Blogging Korea, Sharing Experiences” to its best and thank you all for being with us.
We also hope to bring you the best in 2013. Happy New Year!

About the Author

Suzy Chung

Multilingual editor, writer, and translator. Coffee addict, bookworm, art junkie, foodie, oenophile, and a billion other things. I tend to talk a lot. @suzyinseoul