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Insadong Street Shopping & Gyejeol Bapsang Korean Buffet

Street Shopping And A Korean Buffet

I decided to meet with my two new friends whom I met on the one day trip to Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm.  We met on a Saturday, in Insadong (인사동) a little past 11:00 a.m. since we wanted to beat the afternoon lunch crowd.

In my opinion, midday is the perfect time to go to Insadong because it’s a popular tourist area.  There are so many shops to browse and buy one of a kind souvenirs that you definitely want to spend a couple of hours looking around.  There are street vendors selling everything from sikhye (Korean rice beverage) to socks.

Korean Buffet

I will talk more about that in a moment, first, we decided to go to Gyejeol Bapsang, (계절밥상) an all you can eat Korean buffet.  Before we went inside the restaurant on the upper level there were two clowns walking on stilts, making twisty animal balloons.  In the background, upbeat music played as a small crowd of children gathered waiting for a balloon.

I’m only sorry that I didn’t take any pictures of the food inside the restaurant, hunger took over and instead of capturing the moment I only thought about how I wished I didn’t eat breakfast.  However, I wanted to share my first experience visiting a buffet in South Korea.

The restaurant is located on the lower level of the Insadong Maru building.  Because we were so early the restaurant was not busy and we were able to pay the cashier and go inside without waiting in line.

Once inside the restaurant, we walked past beautiful glass displays of traditional Korean earthenware (옹기 or onggi) crocks.  The restaurant uses the earthenware to store different sauces for the various banchan dishes.

The restaurant is rather large and has a relaxed vibe with enough space between the tables where you don’t feel as if you are listening to your neighbor’s conversation.  The food selection is vast and plentiful.  There is a selection of meats (pork, chicken, beef (including bulgogi), and seafood, additionally there are enough vegetable dishes for vegans to sample and enjoy.

Once you’ve sampled a selection of meats, salads: I’m talking about potato salad not the green leafy vegetables, but those are there as well, rice (brown + white available), and soup (my friend recommend the corn as the best) you’re free to roam over to the dessert bar.

If you’ve ever wanted to sample Korean rice cakes or red bean ice cream without the commitment this is the place to try Korean desserts.  Otherwise, there is the usual varieties of ice cream: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, along with fresh fruit, and cookies.


We left the restaurant and decided to go window street shopping.  The shopping area was filled with young girls dressed in traditional Hanboks’ they rented from a nearby shop.  The other shops we enjoyed were the calligraphy brush store, hand-painted fans, and the music store.

Poop Cafe in Insadong, South Korea
Outside the Poop Cafe in Insadong Shopping Plaza
Poop Cafe - Insadong
Poop Cafe Menu in Insadong Shopping Plaza

Overall, I recommend visiting Insadong shopping area and while you’re there stop by Gyejeol Bapsang buffet, it’s well worth the price of admission.

Wishing everyone good health, prosperity, and happiness for the Lunar New Year!

If you want to read about other popular tourist attractions I visited in Seoul, South Korea check out my blog post on:

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Insadong street shopping
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7 Things To Do After Applying To A Korean Language Program

To Do Lists To Complete Your Application

So, you’ve researched online and applied to a Korean Language program in Seoul, South Korea that you want to attend.  Whether you’re applying for a short-term or regular semester program here are the next steps you will need to complete your preparations to attend a foreign language program.

#1. Pay Fees (Tuition & Dormitory)

An invoice will be emailed with an attachment itemizing the tuition and dormitory fees (if applicable) to be wired to the bank account provided by the University.  Additionally, there may be a one time charge for an international express mailing fee to mail your admission letter.  It’s important to note that you should pay your fees as soon as possible because your admission letter will not be mailed until your fees are paid.

#2.  Admission Letter

The University you’ve chosen will need to send you an Admission Letter to present to the Korean Consulate in your city to process your Visa application.  You will need to provide your address and a telephone number so the University can send your Admission package.  Remember the package is coming from an international address and sometimes a signature may be required upon delivery.

#3. Bank Statement Printout

You will need a recent bank statement printout with you or your parent/guardian’s name, address, and minimum (varies by University & Country) financial requirements.  *When I applied for my Visa at the General Republic of Korea Consulate Office in Los Angeles I was required to show my last three bank statements proving that my monthly bank balance consistently met the minimum financial requirement.  My suggestion is to verify the Visa requirements in your city before heading over to the Consulate office.*

#4.  Round Trip Airfare

You will need to present a round-trip airfare ticket as proof of purchase for your Visa requirements.  A helpful tip is to set up an airfare alert on your favorite booking websites for round-trip flights to South Korea.  *Make sure that you check what time you will arrive in South Korea.  I was not allowed to check into my dormitory until 3:00 p.m.*

#5.   Dormitory, Officetel, and or Goshiwon

If you don’t plan on staying at the school provided dormitory I would suggest as soon as you’ve chosen the University you want to attend you begin researching the area where the school is located.  Seoul is a huge area and it can be frustrating if you don’t know the different cities/provinces you should choose to live while you study abroad.  There are a lot of affordable officetel and/or goshiwon it all depends on your budget.  Check out my blog post on Facebook Groups in South Korea for group chatrooms that list available housing.

#6.   Visa D-4 (student) or C-3 (short-term)

After you’ve received your admission letter you will need to take the completed Visa application form, passport, processing fee (usually cash only), one passport size photo, admission letter, plane trip itinerary and financial documents to your nearest Korean Consulate Office to apply for a Visa.

#7.   Travel Shots

If you chose to live in a dormitory most Universities will require proof of a recent Tuberculosis test.  *Double check with your Doctor or Travel vaccination clinician because additional shots may be required depending on your previous vaccinations. (Hepatitis A/B combo, Hepatitis C, Malaria, Tdap, etc.) *

Lastly, some additional fees that I wish I knew about after applying to my Korean Language program:

  • Purchase extra passport-style photos.  You will need the photos for your school I.D. and Alien Registration Card ($10 won).
  • Look into purchasing international medical insurance.  Universities will require that you have medical coverage while you attend school.  Look into prices either provided by the school or a reputable insurance provider.
  • Purchase textbooks and workbooks needed for your Korean language program.  Plan to go to the University a little early on the first day of school to purchase necessary class requirements at the nearest bookstore. *After completing the program I was reimbursed my textbook fees.*

For a listing of the available Korean language programs in South Korea click on the link.   I hope this list helps you understand what to expect after you have applied to a Korean language program.

If you have any questions about attending a Korean Language program in South Korea let me know in the comments below.

Finally, if you would like to read more stories about my University experience check out my blog posts on:

  1. South Korea School System
  2. Non-Teaching Jobs: South Korea
  3. What To Expect The First Week Studying Abroad
  4. University Student in Korea
  5. How To Stay Warm During Winter In South Korea

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Korean Convenience

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