What Makes a Great Blog?
My criteria for the best blogs in Korea revolve around a few concepts. The most important aspect is the blog’s ability to overcome ADHD. When people surf the net, their attention span is shorter than my Korean elementary students learning English when they are high on peppero and finger-deep in a game of Dragon Flight. Second, I’m fairly critical to the appearance of a blog. Since people suffer from ADHD, they are not going to click around a visually uncompelling site. The ugly girl at the bar may be the most interesting person in the world; however, she’s not going to get as many clicks as her cute sister wearing bunny ears on the dance floor. My final criteria are creativity and substance. Once a blog has attracted a reader, there must be something deeper to keep them coming back. Do you still feel sorry for the ugly girl at the bar? Don’t be! All she needs is a makeover and she will get more clicks than an ugly monkey at a bar.
An Ode to Those Who Left us Behind
12. Farsickness – Amanda Slavinsky kept a remarkable blog while in South Korea. She’s departed and she’s currently touring Southeast Asia – enjoying warm beaches that would make any expat question why they braved a Korean winter. Her blog is a collection of her experiences in South Korea along with practical advice regarding travel, life and food. My favorite part of her blog is her writing style. Her posts go down smooth from beginning to end. It’s hard to explain, but after you blog for a while you begin to realize that some bloggers have it and others don’t. Amanda’s got it, and although I’ll continue to follow her adventures, she will be missed on the South Korean scene.
11. Chris in South Korea – This blog would be number one on my list, but Chris also recently moved to warmer pastures. I would argue Chris knows more about destinations in South Korea than most Koreans. The amount of information on his site is mind-boggling and it’s an excellent resource for any expat. Additionally, Chris is a good photographer and a very good writer. I’ve purchased one of his books, Korean Made Easy, and Chris’ penmanship is top-notch. I swear, if Chris lived in another time and place, he would be a millionaire.
Up and Coming
10. Seoul State of Mind – Ken Lee is one of the newer young and ambitious bloggers in South Korea. With one camera and one lens, he mystically transports readers to the inherent beauty of South Korea that only he captures so well. Seoul State of Mind is not only my favorite photography blog in South Korea, but Ken is my favorite street photographer. His posts aren’t long, but they are rich in content! You can also check out his work on Seoulistic.
One for the Ladies
9. The Wanderlust Project – So, I’m on a date with a lady friend and she’s doing a great job grilling the meat for me. Before I completely lose my masculinity in the process, she mentions a blog I didn’t put on this list. She told me the Wanderlust Project is a great resource for girls living in Korea. She asked me if I knew the differences between buying make up in Korea as opposed to America. I told her I didn’t, but apparently there are a lot more options in Korea and women struggle to navigate through their options. She said the Wanderlust project provided her great advice on cosmetics and other womanly things.
I skip chick posts, but I’m very familiar with the Wanderlust Project. I personally harass Sheryll all the time on Twitter. She almost originally made my list because her blog is brilliant. Sheryll does one thing better than most bloggers. She doesn’t just provide useful information or tell entertaining stories about her adventures in Korea; she is bluntly and unapologetically herself. Most bloggers need to learn that people like posts with useful information, but they follow personalities. There are few personalities in Korea better than Sheryll. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to find another about me page on a different blog in Korea with more comments about how the author has touched their lives.
Educational Value = 0. Fun Value = 🙂
8. Black Out Korea – Students study hard in Korea; adults work even harder, and Koreans may drink the hardest. Black Out Korea has infamously documented Korea’s work hard, play harder, pass-out hardest attitude. The site has even been mentioned in the New York Times. While the purveyor of this blog might not be as proud of their work as others bloggers, the blog remains one of the most popular to this day. Also, let’s be honest – it’s hilarious.
7. kickinitinkorea – This blog is full of GIF submissions that are funny, funny, funny, funny, and sadly true. If you live and especially teach in Korea, you get it.
The Establishment Blogs
6. Discovering Korea – When I first started Kimchibytes, I thought to myself why I don’t I start a blog where I go to different places in Korea, take pictures, and write about those places? How naive was I to think this was a new idea. What’s even more daunting is when you find a site like Discovering Korea. Not only do Matt and his cool pooch cover places and things to do in Korea, but he provides videos and rich details regarding his posts. For example, here’s my take on Bongeunsa Temple and here is Matt’s take. He compiles so much good information it drives me crazy! I typically create posts only to find that Matt already did the same thing, except he did it better! Yet, his blog is an excellent source of information for destinations to visit in and outside of Seoul. I use this site all the time!
5. Ask a Korean – This blog is another oldie but goody. This mystery author is a Korean who lives in America and dishes out some extremely insightful, controversial and always entertaining information about Korean culture, customs, norms, etc. In other words, he’s the guy who educates westerners who live in Korea on what is actually going on in Korea – often dismantling our ill-informed notions. Check out this excerpt from the top of his page this morning.
PSY’s newest single, Gentleman, shattered the record by surpassing 100 million Youtube views in just four days. But in Korea, PSY is already old and busted. The new hotness? The legendary Jo Yong-pil [조용필]. Jo’s Bounce, the title song from his newest albumHello, just took the number 1 spot on one of the Korean music charts (Bugs Real Time Chart) away from Gentleman.
Did you know that? Who the hell is 조용필? My point is the Korean always provides a more accurate interpretation of Korea than most English blogs. Plus, he slams readers who have stupid comments and questions – an awful habit as a blogger that I completely adore. I leave you with this. Did you think the Korean notion of fan death was stupid? Check out the Korean’s post, Fan Death is Real; it might change your mind.
4. The Marmot’s Hole – This is one of the most popular blogs in South Korea, if not the most popular. Although I haven’t met the famous Robert J. Koehler in person, I do know a little about him. He’s spent some time in Korea and he has achieved the dream of becoming a professional writer (blogger and magazine editor). He’s also one of the few English bloggers who is also fluent in Korean. His blog is an extremely healthy crossroads of Korea and the Western world. His updates are thoughtful, and he maintains a vigilant eye on Korean media as well as western perspectives. Let me note, he claims his blog is not a representation of Korea and he thinks it’s very scary if you use his blog as a source of information. Relatively speaking, however, most other English blogs fall far below the quality of information or commentary he provides.
3. Eat Your Kimchi – Simon and Martina are legendary. They transformed their love of blogging, Korean music, and their abilities to make quirky videos into a small empire. K-pop stars access them for exposure to the western world, and my twitter feed explodes with comments, retweets, and messages from fans of eatyourkimchi. Granted, their quirkiness can be annoying, but that’s also part of their charm. How would I ever sit through a video on how to turn my heat on in Korea without being simultaneously entertained by a dancing dog? I’m not personally a huge fan of K-pop and my views on Korea are generally more pessimistic than eatyourkimchi, but you can’t dismiss the wealth of information, the quality of their videos, their insane following, and their undeniable love for South Korea. One more thing, they went Wanking in the Cheonggyecheon.
2. The Grand Narrative – When it comes to good stuff about Korea like feminism, sex, discrimination, intolerance, abortion, and social issues, the Grand Narrative has got you covered. James Turnbull has a huge following and nearly every post is fascinating. Often, the Grand Narrative is one of the best blogs for insight and information about social and cultural issues in South Korea. The Grand Narrative isn’t afraid to explore the darker facets of Korea.
1. Seoul Searching – Mimsie Ladner is one of the newer “big boys” on the scene. She was recently featured by the Korea JoongAng Daily, along with The Marmot’s Hole and ZenKimchi, as a top expat blog in South Korea. Seoul Searching could best be described as a themed travel blog with heart. Mimsie covers Korea with articles on destinations, travel tips, shopping, entertainment, culture, events, food and people. A lot of people, however, cover this information. It’s her creativity, perspective, research and unique writing that add so much value to her posts. I consider her the new “Chris Backe” of Korea, and she even has his old cell phone to prove it ( It was a big shock when the face of Chris changed to face of Mimsie on my Kakao account.) I challenge everyone to visit her site. Nearly every article includes some gem of information that’s worth knowing if you visit the same area or attend a similar event. Additionally, her articles are great reads. My favorite posts on her site is K-pop and the Future of Korea.
Korea Bridge – I love this site and it has an extensive Blog Listing for South Korea.
Asian Correspondent – A guest post from Chris Backe rounding up all the current blogs in action in South Korea.
These are my favorite blogs in South Korea. I’m certain there are great blogs I missed and choices where readers will disagree. I’m still looking for a newer blog to fill the # 9 slot. Also, if there is a blog that you think deserves to be on the list, please comment below. Spread the love – blogs are a lot of work.
I did not include food blogs, ezines, or magazine websites on this list.
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