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Interview with Eat Your Kimchi
EatYourKimchi.com is one of the most entertaining blogs online. Its quirky creators Simon and Martina moved to Korea to teach English for a year and started the website as a side project. Three years later, they are still living in Korea and continue to blog about their love of Korea, K pop, cultural differences, food mishaps and a whole host of other topics with the world. They recently shared with us some great tips and advice about living and working in Korea.
Teach English in Asia You recently marked two big milestones - your third year of living in Korea and Martina’s last day teaching English. Now that neither of you are teaching, what draws you to stay in Korea?
Eat Your Kimchi This is a great country, and has a lot of perks to it. The food is divine, the cost of living is exceptionally cheap, public transportation is phenomenal, people are friendly, and it's just a really safe country as well. On top of that, we still want to stay and discover the things that we haven't found out about this country. We're sure there are many things we've overlooked, and we'd hate to leave without having experienced them.
Teach English in Asia How long did each of you teach English in Korea and what attracted you to teaching there in the first place?
Eat Your Kimchi Simon taught for two years, Martina three. We were interested in teaching here after Simon taught at a school for Korean students in Toronto. They were exceptional students with great personalities, so when the opportunity presented itself for us to teach in Korea we jumped right on it.
Teach English in Asia Your blog is so unique - the video post format, your creative content, editing and effects. How did you come up with the idea for it?
Eat Your Kimchi It was a work in progress. At first we would do a mixture of written, picture, and video posts. Then Martina's mother told us that she didn't read anything we wrote: just clicked on the vids. It dawned on us that video, really, is the way to go. As for the content and effects, we're just weird, semi-artsy, creative people!
Teach English in Asia Speaking of talented people, how did you get yourselves on Star King? (For those who don’t know the show, can you talk a little bit about what Star King is?)
Eat Your Kimchi Star King is one of Korea's most popular TV shows that airs primetime on Saturday nights. It's a talent show, in which you showcase your talents to a panel of celebrities. We were called by Star King to be on the show, which surprised us, because we're not really...talented. We can make videos, sure, but that's not something you can really display on a talent show in front of an audience. Ha!
Teach English in Asia Can you give our readers who are going over to teach English in Korea for the first time a few pieces of advice? Is there anything you wish someone had told you when you first moved over and started teaching?
Eat Your Kimchi Come with an open mind. Things in Korea are different than where you are from. It doesn't make them wrong. Call into question your own standpoint whenever a conflict arises, rather than simply pooh-poohing away everything that conflicts with your worldview. We knew this before we came here, but we see so many teachers struggle with it, and wish they could get over it. One thing we didn't know: bring toilet paper with you when you go out. Just sayin...
Teach English in Asia What has surprised you most about living in Korea? Is it what you expected it to be?
Eat Your Kimchi Everything is really convenient around here. We can leave our apartment, and within fifteen minutes walking reach a park, two department stores, a hospital, bus terminal, convenience stores, restaurants, hair salons...just about anything. Every block seems to be an utterly self-sufficient microcosm. The density of things here is astonishing.
Teach English in Asia Can you share some tips on what to expect with Korean food? What are some of the strangest things you’ve eaten in Korea and did you know what you were eating before you put it in your mouth?
Eat Your Kimchi Korean food is spicy. We love spicy food, but we forget how spicy it is when we have friends visiting us. Ha! We knew most everything we ate before eating it because, fortunately, while Simon was at that school in Toronto, his boss introduced him to many different Korean dishes during their weekly meetings.
Teach English in Asia What do you love most about living in Korea? What do you find the most challenging about living in Korea?
Eat Your Kimchi Love most: the cost of living. Getting on the subway is 90 cents. Taking a taxi usually runs us ten bucks for a 30 minute drive. Eating at a restaurant can set us back a combined 10 bucks, and we're utterly stuffed afterward. Most challenging: surviving as a pedestrian. Drivers here are insane. It's like you're in a real-life version of Frogger.
Teach English in Asia EatYourKimchi.com is wildly popular with more than 157,000 followers and high Alexa and Google rankings. What advice do you have for people who want to start a blog about their experiences living or traveling overseas?
Eat Your Kimchi Find a niche and consider your target audience. If you're just writing a blog for your family, then that's who you'll attract. If you want to consider a wider scope, then try to understand them as much as possible.
Teach English in Asia What are some of your favorite places you’ve visited in Korea and why are they your favorite?
Eat Your Kimchi Busan and Jeju, both because of the food and beautiful scenery, and because of them both being very distinct from Bucheon and Seoul, yet still feeling Korean.
Teach English in Asia What’s next for Martina, Simon, Spudgy and Eat Your Kimchi?
Eat Your Kimchi Getting into the routine of blogging full-time. We've only been working on the site together full-time for about a month, and the transition period has been very busy, with family visiting, as well as rehearsing for and filming Star King. Now that things are starting to settle down, we can get into a smooth rhythm :D
Teach English in Asia Thank you Simon and Martina for all your great tips and advice! Good luck with your new full time job and we look forward to your wild and wacky video posts at EatYourKimchi.com