Language course in Seoul: ESL tips

Pick up a copy of “10 magazine” to find out what's hot

Ok, so it's in English, which is clearly cheating when you are trying to improve your Korean skills, but this is the best magazine to find out what's going on in and around Seoul. All the latest gigs are in there. 
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Have a round of golf in a skyscraper

You may be forgiven for thinking that opportunities for golf would be rather limited in a city as densely populated as Seoul. You would be half right; while proper courses with grass, bunkers and trees are rather hard to find, screen golf is everywhere. Pop on your spikes, rent some clubs and take your frustrations out on a little white ball. Your swing is recorded too, so you can correct your hooks and slices: pushes and pulls. And you will have no muddy golf shoes to clean at the end of the round. Fore! 

Get sweaty in a jjimjilbang

Korean saunas (jjimjilbangs) offer an enticing combination of whirlpool baths, mineral rooms, massage parlours and manga cafés so you can enliven all of your senses before and during a hot session in a kiln sauna. They are usually large and always gender-segregated... which is helpful as they are a popular place for workers to sleep after a night on the tiles with colleagues. 

Taekwondo

If the word Taekwondo summons images of ancient warriors in misty forests passing down spinning kicks from ancient master to eager student, you might be surprised to learn that Korea’s national martial art dates back only to the 1940s. As the Japanese imperial masters left the Korean peninsula, some of their traditions remained and became Korean traditions. Among these was the group practice of martial arts.

Nowadays, there is nowhere better to learn Taekwondo than in Korea's bustling capital. Ask at the school about classes and prepare to learn the vocabulary of kicks, punches, blocks and throws. 

Street food

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Are you feeling brave? Korea’s street food is exceptional, cheap and fun... but some of the dishes are not for the faint-hearted. Popular options include Tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), Odeng (fish cakes), Hotteok (sweet pancakes) and Jwipo (smoked cuttlefish), while unexpected treats include Bundegi (silkworm larvae), Dalkbal (whole chicken feet) and Sannakji (raw octopus). Gwangjang Market is one of the best places to try Korean street food.

Korean food is very distinctive and becoming ever more popular around the world. Kimchi is the most famous export, but there are hundreds of delicious dishes to try. And some you may choose to avoid: Gaegogi (dog meat) is much less popular with young Koreans than their grandparents, but, especially in the summer months, you will still find man's best friend on plenty of restaurant menus. 

To watch, read, listen

Watch
Oldboy (2003): Park Chan-wook
The Host (2006) Director: Bong Joon-ho
The Thieves (2012) Director: Choi Dong-hoon
Winter Sonata (2002) Director: Yoon Seok-ho

Seoul cinemas
For an immersive experience, nothing beats watching a movie in 4DX. As well as a huge screen, viewers are shaken, blasted with water (when the on-screen action calls for it) and  generally beaten up by their seats. 4DX is available at CGV Sangam, Sinchon, Garden 5, Yongsan, Wangsimni, Yeongdeungpo (Times Square Mall), Cheongdam Cine City, Gangbyeon Technomart, Sangam (World Cup Mall). If you want an even more refined cinematic experience, Cine De Chef in Apgujeong serves a range of French and Italian dishes as you watch your movie.

Read
Crucible by Gong Ji-young
The Land by Park Kyung-ni
The Descendants of Cain by Hwang Sun-won
Please Look After Mother by Shin Kyung-sook

Listen
It's Raining by Rain
In-A-Kadda-Da-Vida by Shin Jung-hyeon
Seo Taiji & Boys by Seo Taiji & Boys
Major K-pop stars include Wonder Girls, 2NE1 and Girls' Generation. 
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Seoul music venues
Music venues come, music venues go... ask staff at the language school for their latest tips. They will probably recommend somewhere in Hongdae, which has long been the coolest part of Korea's capital city from a musical perspective. Whether you want rock, K-pop, death metal or Korean reggae, it's all there in Hongdae. 
 

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