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25 posts categorized "Seoul Global"

Insider View into KPop

We are learning that KPop has multiple layers that make it the magical experience that our students experience. Last week we met and learned from a choreographer who taught us how to dance like the stars. on 7/20 we got to meet the song writer that has created many of the songs that our students know and long. Paul Thompson is a Producer/Song Writer for SM Entertainment. He originated in San Jose which is a place many of our students are familiar with.


 Paul is in the third row beside the student wearing the CIEE shirt.

We had a great time learning about the writing process and how we could potentially join the music industry.

Necol Harness, Program Leader

Palace, Village and a Beautiful View

We had the benefit of some local students that acted as tour guides as we walked through the Gyeongbok Palace, Namsangol Village and then went to one of the tallest points in Seoul to look at the spectacular view.

Gyeongbok Palace was partially destroyed in the 1500's during a Japanese invasion and again during the occupation but has been restored to its former glory. If you were willing to climb all of the steps to the buildings to could get a look at imperial throne and what life looked 700 years ago.


Namsangol Hanok Village is a collection of 5 buildings that were relocated go preserve them. They are: the home of the father-in-law of the last empire, a blacksmith, a women's and a men's building, and a building in the shape of a Chinese meaning one or whole. 



Palace walking in the village

These are tiles located outside the men's building that are believed to be there to teach the cadence of the nobility.

Then we drove to the top of Seoul and the student took in the view.




We had a fabulous day and made many new friends with the tour guides. 

Necol Harness, Program Leader.

Fun Filled Food Days in Seoul!

The explorers had a fun filled day in Seoul after a day in class analyzing kpop music videos beyond a superficial level uusing university level analysis.

We then split into 2 groups: One group went to make rice cakes with a masterchef of confectionery in Korea and the second group got their hands dirty while making the staple food of Korea, kimchi. 

To end our day, we went to the bustling area of Hongdae where we split again based on interest: some went to a dog café, others to a raccoon café,  or to the Trick Eye Museum. 

Kimchi making

Kimchi making
Kimchi making
Kimchi making



- Kym, Program Leader

Tour of Gangnam

K star road IMG_1840

Gangnam, which is the south of the Han river, is the home of many modern K-Pop legacies. If you are a dedicated fan of K-Pop, touring around Gangnam is a great idea.

Walking down the K-Star road, you can see the GangnamDol of the many international K-Pop groups, including KARA, EXO, SNSD, BTS, etc.

Near the K-Star road, you can find many entertainment companies, including the Rain Company, Around Us Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. It was surprising to see that the JYP building is fairly small, which was unexpected for a company with its wide repitoire and reknown. The building is on a small street and only takes up very little space. There was a surprising lack of fans which was most likely because sasaeng (stalker) fans told them that their idols were not going to be there. In addition we saw Around Us Entertainment, the entertainment company of Highlight, right next to JYP.

Later on, we arrived at the COEX mall. It was filled with many shops including those for make up, clothes and other necessary appliances. We saw one of the most impressive libraries inside which was filled with books and was around the height of three stories. Within the mall, we saw the SM Artrium which was very important to us, because we are big as SM artists' fans. SM is one of the biggest company of K-Pop, and then Artrium had everything SM related, from awards that idols won and dresses that idols wore to idol pictures and kpop merchandise. Overall this was a very fun experience and we would love to do this again.

Come to this area if you are a fan of modern K-Pop! You'll have lots of fun!



Islands and Towers

We explored Nami Island and N-Seoul Tower today.

Nami Island was the site of a Seoul drama that drew many fans at the pinnacle of its fandom. Today it is a leisure site for families that want to spend the day with nature and for lovebirds that want to take pictures where the show characters fell in love. The island also houses three museums that promote art and music, conducts annual art contests for children's books and every where you look there is a lending library for kids to sit and read. Kenny at Nami Island

Taylor at Nami Island

Phoebe on Nami Ferry

Nami Peacock

After That we visited N-Seoul Tower which provides a fabulous panoramic view of the city.  Students were able to pinpoint many of the places that they have visited and see the remnants of the Seoul Wall. It is also a location for people to place locks as a testament of their love for each other.

N. Seoul Tower Lock Wall.

N. Seoul Tower View 3

N.Seoul Tower View 2

Emilie at N.Seoul Tower

All of the pictures have turned sideways. Sorry about that. 

Have a great Day,

Necol, Program Leader

Week 1: Seoul, Korea


Hello, It’s me again! It’s been awhile since I did my last blog post but now that I’m in Korea I haven’t had time to blog. Our schedule is so busy I have to fit blogging into bus rides, during meals, and before I go to sleep. Our program leaders really haven’t given us any time to be jetlagged or to miss our families, which is probably for the best but still it's tiring.

As I write this blog, I am simultaneously happy and sad. I say sad because me writing this blog means that week one of three is over. I don't want to even think about going home yet, I am having too much fun. I am so lucky and excited to actually BE in Seoul RIGHT now as I write this and I have loved every second of it (except maybe the early wake up times because I miss sleeping until 11 am). Honestly the weather surprised me the most, even though I have been (trying to) mentally prepare for it. It has been so hot and super humid, I’ve given up on my hopes of not getting disgustingly sweaty everyday (It's not that bad once you get used to it). It also rains very sporadically, in 5 minutes times it can go from humid and overcast (that’s the normal state of the weather) to torrential rains with sheets of water flowing down the streets. The one upside to the weather is that, unlike the Bay Area, Seoul is most definitely not in a drought so I can shower every night without having to worry about water.

One of my (many) favorite parts of the trip so far has been meeting everyone in our cleverly (and childishly) named group chat “Seoul Mates”. After having talked to them online for the better half of a year, getting to know them in person was even more than I could have hoped for. I like almost  everyone in the group (which is pretty good for a group of 29). All my closest friends from Seoul Mates have been exactly like I imagined them and they are super fun to hang out with. There are actually only 29 of us when there was supposed to be 30 because someone cancelled their trip (I think?) leaving me as the only one without a roommate. I actually like it better that way though because I have the entire room to myself and we are too busy to actually spend any time other than sleeping in our rooms.

Most mornings we have classes, switching from survival Korean (very necessary) to our Kpop class. So far our Kpop class has been about the history of Korea starting from the first dynasty till after the Korean war. We have been learning about Korean culture primarily through the lens of music which has been rather dull for me as someone who doesn’t love history or old music. After this week though, we will start to learn about how Kpop started and how it has changed over the years. Our survival Korean course has been totally unlike my French language course at home. At home, we start with very basics and slowly build up a base of understanding so we can understand how and why we say things the way we do. Here though, we don’t have that kind of time to spend so we just have a crash course of the Hangul alphabet and basic phrases. I am very much enjoying the language classes even though I’m not very good because I absolutely LOVE the teacher, YuJeong. She is very smart and caring and genuinely enjoys her time with us (I hope). She also helps chaperone us because she actually knows her way around Seoul.

We have been so busy and done so much, I won’t be able to tell you everything that we have done so far but I will mention the funnest activities we have done so far.

On the first full day we were given a presentation by KSCPP, a Korean culture and spirit educational program. They gave a fascinating lecture on the history of korean astronomy, language, and the shifts of power throughout the six dynasties. They also brought in Hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and we all got to try them on.

We also went on a walking “scavenger hunt” of Seoul and, despite getting lost for an hour, we got to see so many amazing things. We visited a BEAUTIFUL buddhist temple during prayer and honestly, I was blown away. I have never seen such a beautiful place of worship. We couldn’t take pictures of the body of the temple so my pictures don’t adequately portray how pretty it was.

That night we saw an amazing preformance called “Bibap” which was a comedy show in english about 2 chefs competing to please the audience. They would switch off “making” various dishes while each of the 4 sous chefs showed off their unique skills (mainly b-boying and signing). They would then call up members of the audience to decide the winner and proceed to mercilessly embarrass them to the delight of the audience.

One day we went on a street food tour where we stopped at 10-15 (I'm not sure) street food stalls and sampled traditional Korean street food. The most bizarre thing we tasted was Beondegi, or silkworm larvae. I was too scared to try them but my friend Lukas bravely tried them and absolutely hated them. I will include the hilarious video of him eating them. We also ate delicious food like chestnut cakes and my personal favorite, hotteok, flat donuts filled with cinnamon sugar. I have yet to try dragon’s beard unfortunately.

On the weekends we don't have actual classes, we just get to explore Seoul. This weekend we got to meet Korean high school students. The student that is in my group, her name is GaYoung. She speaks very good English and she is really fun to spend time with. She is very pretty and an amazing singer and is currently in the process of auditioning to become a kpop trainee. We also like the same kpop group so we get along well.

On Saturday we toured Kstar road, a road lined with large plastic bears, each designed for a different kpop group. After that we went to the coex mall, the largest underground shopping mall in the world. Inside coex, we went to the sm town building, a huge hub for the largest kpop company in Korea. In sm town, we met up with a very close friend of ours, Grace. Grace was an exchange student at our school for 2 years, but Peeps and I hadn't seen her in 1 ½ years so seeing her again was amazing!

Yesterday we visited Gyeongok palace and Namsangol Hanok village, again with the Korean students. Both are ancient korean sites from the Joseon Dynasty that have been restored and are open to the public. People get free admission for wearing hanbok so there were many beautiful traditional outfits. GaYoung and the other students gave us a fascinating tour of the grounds. The architecture was so beautiful, I've never seen anything like it in western style buildings. I wish my family could have been there with me, they would have loved it (especially my mom).

I am loving my time here in Seoul and I am dreading going back home. I cannot BELIEVE that we are already one third of the way done with our trip, I want to stay here with these people forever. I hope you all enjoyed this post and I will upload another next Monday! Thank you all for reading!

-Isabelle B.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad

Dance, Dance, Dance

What's KPop without the fast-paced dance routines that the kids studiacly try to emulate by watching practice videos on YouTube? Well, we got to spend a couple hours with a major player in the dance community. CEO of the Negative Motion Dance Company, Tae Youn Hwang has trained many of the performers that are students idolize. You'll be able to see the full video of our workshop and the dance class on the YouTube channel for Negative Motion within the next couple of days. Here are a few snapshots to show you how talented our students are when they have a great teacher showing them how to "bust a' move".

Necol, Program Leader 

Group dance Front group dancing Guys are dancing Dance 1

Update: 7/24
We received these photos from the dance company and I thought I would share them with you. 





맛있다 Delicious street food in Seoul

On Friday July 14th we went out to the streets of Seoul  and got a street food tour with Jennifer Flinn who is a professor in Seoul and has a focus on Korean food. She is one of the foremost food bloggers in Seoul/Korea.  

The students got to try many food on their street food bucket list: Such as Tteok-bokki (떡볶이) Korean spicy rice cake, various fried foods like shrimp, dumplings, ginseng, and a few vegetables, we also had some sweet Desserts like Korean sweet pancakes, a sweet red  bean filling in a fish shaped dough, and something many kids were curious about silkworm larvae (번데기). 

Street food tour Korean food 3
Korean food 3
Korean food 3




Day 2: Navigating around Seoul

Tuesday July 11, 2017.

Today I was able to explore the beautiful city of Seoul. It was kind of a frightening and an exciting day. I was frightened due to the fact that it was a foreign country, I did not really know anyone, and wasn't confident in the language. Though it had been a country I really wanted to visit for a while, i was more excited to explore and experience as much as possible. Due to this mindset I was able to learn more about myself and notice that I was very outgoing and wasn't as frightened as I had thought.

Earlier that day we had a class named, "Survival Korean" where we learned some Korean such as hello, thank you, and basic sentences. That day I used what we learned in class and I noticed that all the local Koreans were kind, and made me feel very welcomed in their country. Starting with asking for direction, having them come to us and help us, and even being asked to perform on a staged performance, in where Korean actors were super kind, and made me feel even more welcomed.
Brenda, Global Navigator


Bibap Brenda




Day 3: Unique Architecture and running into KPop ideals

Today's CIEE schedule was the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which is a popular center in Seoul. It was designed by Zara Hadid and included many art and architecture exhibits. I personally really enjoyed the modern and clean style and the furniture was very unique. They also had a SUM shop and other stalls that made nice merchandise to buy. There was also a Kakao Friends shop and I bought a Ryan keychain, which is super cute. After DDP, we also went shopping and made good bargains as well. One of the exciting parts of this day was seeing some of the idol school girls walk in the streets although there was a crowd of people surrounding them.

Laney: Global Navigator

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