Our favorite books about South Korea


In honor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I thought I would share our favorite children’s book about South Korea. Some of these we own and some we have borrowed from the library (actually all are at the Camp Humphreys Library).


One of Clarissa’s favorite books to borrow from the library is Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell. A little girl is adopted from South Korea and comes home to live with her new family in America. She doesn’t know any English but her family quickly learns a few Korean words, specifically “goyangi” because of their pet cat that the little girl loves so much.

We own Bee-Bim-Bop by Linda Sue Park because Clarissa loved it so much when we borrowed it from the library that we read it every day for a week straight and actually had to learn to make bibimbap from the recipe in the book.

Last year, we reviewed Carole P. Roman’s If You were me and lived in… South Korea. I think Clarissa likes it because it talks about some of the places we have visited. I think it gives you some idea of Korean culture as it discusses Korean words for mom and dad, money, school, and sports.

Lately, Clarissa has been interested in Sori’s Harvest Moon Day by Uk-Bae Lee. This story is about a little girl and her family and how they travel to their grandparents’ house for Chuseok, which is one of the two major holidays in South Korea. It is interesting to see how another culture celebrates a holiday to honor ancestors and spend time together.

Another book we borrowed from the library is called The Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park. This story is about a boy who lives by the sea. His family has the important job of lighting a fire on the mountain each night if everything is calm. Each mountain has a family to light a fire. This way, the king will know if there are invaders in the land. If the fires are not lit, then the king will send soldiers to help. One day, the boy’s father hurts his ankle and he has to light the fire himself.

The library on post has an entire section of Korean children’s literature. Some of it is Korean folktales and others are books written in Korean. But these are our favorites.

Daegu Arboretum


The weather changed pretty quickly in November. For my birthday, it was sunny and 80. A week later it was in the 50s most of the time. There were snow flurries on Thanksgiving. But that hasn’t stopped us from having some new adventures.

We decided we either wanted to check out the ARC or the arboretum. Tim was more excited about the ARC, so he studied the bus map and realized that one of the 2 busses takes you right to the ARC. Great. But there are about 10 routes on the 2 bus, so you have to take the right one. So we got to the bus stop and he realized the next one would be at least an hour.

New plan. He had also glanced over the way to the Daegu Arboretum. There were a few options of busses and then we would walk two blocks. No problem. We took the rapid 6 bus to to bus 653. Then, we started walking. The leaves had started to change so it was pretty. Chilly. But we were okay with that because it was so beautiful.

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What we thought was the arboretum was actually a sports complex. But we could see road signs to the arboretum so we kept walking. Two miles later, we reached our destination. The walk actually turned exciting because we passed city hall. Why the big deal? Clarissa had been asking us to take her to city hall for about a month. The busses on Tayo had to go to city hall for something and she was determined to go there too. So we passed it and I made a big deal out of the fact that it was city hall. Granted it was a Sunday and I don’t know if we could have gone in anyway. But Clarissa wasn’t impressed.

On our way in to the arboretum, a woman at a food stand gave Clarissa a free cookie. The arboretum was popular as the parking lot was filling up very quickly. The first section had several sculptures using flowers. They had several different animals. But Clarissa’s favorites was a bus that reminded her of Tayo and a sculpture of Larva.

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There was a wooden walking path around the arboretum as well as dirt paths throughout each section. It was wet and a little muddy so we mostly stuck to the wooden path. The leaves were beautiful.

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There was a couple doing a photoshoot of some kind. Engagement pictures maybe? They thought Clarissa was adorable and pointed to her. I thought they were asking if they could take a picture of her so I said yes. They scooped her up and started taking pictures with her!

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I think it will be worth going back in the spring or summer when all of the leaves bloom again.


My first Korean physical (Another Korean hospital experience)


I have never had a full physical done.  I did the ones for sports in high school.  They tested my blood pressure and blood sugar several times when I was pregnant.  But that is the extent of my physical examinations.

Tim needed a physical last month and there were a few surprises so we decided that I should get one too.  Besides,  having a baseline in your early thirties is a good idea.

I took our normal bus this morning.  Riding the bus is radically different by myself than when I am with Clarissa.  My appointment was at 9, so the bus was packed.  I could barely fit on the bus in front of our apartment and I remained standing for the twenty five minute ride.  But I didn’t mind.  It was a breeze since I didn’t have to hold Clarissa. 

We began in the locker room.  I took off my shoes and put on a gown with slippers. My belongings were placed in a locker and I was given a key.  My translator asked me to pull my hair back.  I only had a barrette so I have been adjusting my bun all morning.  Next time,  I need an elastic band.

The first stop was a chest x-ray. 

Then,  we went downstairs and they did my height and weight.  But it was way cooler than the US.  First,  I stood on a machine measured my weight while a pole came down to measure my height.  Then I had to take my socks off and stand on another machine and hold on to some poles to measure my body mass. Next,  I put my arm into a machine for my blood pressure (this is the only result that I have really understood so far. My blood pressure is good.).

After that,  I went to a small room.  Like most places in Korea,  the walls are not painted but have wall paper.  This room was for the EKG. I had to lay down while the nurse hooked my hands,  feet,  and chest up to a machine.  Then,  I sat up and the nurse had me blow in to a straw looking thing for a lung function test.

Then I did a vision test.  I know that I need new glasses so the result on that will be interesting.  I had to do that eye puff test a few times because I kept closing my eyes. The hearing test was pretty standard. At one point, I thought it was over and put the buzzer down. But then the beeps started again and I had to scramble to find it. So my results may be slightly skewed.

The blood draw took forever.  I usually have really good veins so the problem is probably that I was fasting and dehydrated.

We then went upstairs for a bone scan.  That was interesting.  She said it would take six minutes and I had to close my eyes.  I felt like I was in Star Trek being scanned by lasers.

While waiting for my sonogram,  I saw one of my Korean friends from pwoc.  She said she missed Clarissa.  And she said that her physical took three hours this morning.  At that point,  I had only been there an hour.

The sonogram was interesting.  I guess the only time I have had one was during pregnancy to look at Clarissa.  I didn’t know you could look at other things too.  The tech didn’t speak English and my translator was elsewhere. So I think she did my neck,  breasts,  and all the trunk organs.  My glasses were off so I have no idea what things looked like. I will say that it seemed to take an entire roll of paper towels to get all of the gel off and I still felt sticky.

Next,  I had to wait a half hour for the gynecologist. She spoke excellent English so that was the best experience of the day. I was already wearing a gown with my pants. The doctor asked me to put on a skirt on the bottom instead. I thought that was way better than the paper gown the gynecologist in the US gives me. Pap smears are pretty much the same in both countries, but the actual exam was different. She used an ultrasound wand to do the internal exam instead of just looking and feeling. During the ultrasound, she discovered that my iud had moved and that I had recently ovulated. She was concerned that I could be pregnant but we would not be able to find out for sure for at least another week.

That information ended my physical early. I still did my urinalysis but we decided to postpone the endoscopy. Tim got one as part of his physical. The doctor puts you under anesthesia in order to put a camera down your digestive track to see your esophagus and stomach.

I went back a week later for the results. They handed me a 14 page booklet with my results. Overall I am pretty healthy as far as cholesterol and organ function. Apparently I have a couple of cysts that need to be rechecked next year. They did order some follow up tests.

The check out process was pretty painless. The copay for blood work and a vaccination was 9,500 won (like $9). My translator wrote me an English receipt so it was interesting to compare the two.

I am not pregnant so I am going to do the endoscopy and an abdominal CT scan next week.

My birthday at E-world


So when you turn 32 in a foreign country, what do you do to celebrate? I am sure there are many other options in Daegu, but I chose to take the family to E-world.

We decided to try the umbrella stroller and Clarissa actually cooperated for a bit. I think that we may actually bring the stroller to Japan in December.

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We took the rapid 6 bus to National Health Insurance stop and crossed the street to E-World. My friend told me that if we go to the foreign office, we could get in for half price. So we skipped the long line and went to the annual pass office to the right. It cost 16,500 won for Tim and for myself. We didn’t buy a band for Clarissa. I figured if she was tall enough for a ride, we would pay separately.

I am glad that we didn’t pay for a band for her. She wasn’t tall enough for a single ride! The minimum on the rides was 90-100 cm and at her two year checkup in August, she was only 81.6cm. The highlight of the trip for Clarissa was probably when we found a Tayo to ride.

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It cost 1,000 won for a two minute ride. At first, she said she was scared, so I rode Gani and then she was fine. She rode Tayo twice and also rode Gani before we left.

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The other thing that she really enjoyed was the animals. They had a reptile house (with fish), a small animal house (hamsters, rabbits, gerbils), a bird house, and some outdoor farm animals. I think she would have enjoyed feeding an animal.

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Overall, we were not impressed with E-world. I think it would have helped if Clarissa had been tall enough to ride something. There were two roller coasters, but Tim didn’t like how dirty and rusty they looked so we didn’t try them. I think the main problem is that we are spoiled with amusement parks. We grew up going to Quassy and Knoebels. Plus we’ve been to Busch Gardens and Disney as well. E-world seemed more like a carnival than an amusement park in comparisson.

We went up 83 Daegu Tower. It is 83 stories high so you can see all of Daegu from up there. It was pretty hazy so we couldn’t see everything clearly. We found our apartment, but the picture didn’t come out. We need to go back on a clear day and also at night to see the view. It cost 19,000 won for the three of us (Clarissa was free) to get in. While we were up there, we had a professional photograph taken. We were the only ones up there for a while, so he took his time and took like eight different shots until we had one that we liked with all three of us looking!

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The highlight for Tim was probably lunch. We ate at a place called Globurger. They had one inside the Daegu Tower, but it wasn’t open. There was one closer to the park entrance, so we ate there. It was decorated like a 1950s burger place. The hilarious part to me was that half the time we were there, there was Disco music on the radio. Like most Korean fast food, it took about twenty minutes for our food to be ready. Tim got two spicy chicken burgers, I ordered the original hamburger, and we all split the french fries. The food was good. We need to find one outside of Eworld.

We took the bus to Seobu and went to Baskin Robbins for dessert. We let Clarissa order her very own children’s sundae instead of just sharing mine. It’s a pretty popular corner, so as Clarissa was eating, people kept stopping at the window to look at her and try to talk to her through the glass.

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We walked home from there. Clarissa actually took a nap that afternoon so I could watch a movie that has been on my list for a while, The Dropbox.


Ant-Man (Our first date night in Daegu)


We moved to Daegu on February 26. Our first date night was September 18. It was long overdue!

Since we finally brought Clarissa to the doctor for her two year check up, we could turn in the paperwork for the Child Development Center (daycare/preschool on base). This makes her eligible to attend the monthly Parent’s Night Out, which means we can now have a monthly date!

Drop off for Parent’s Night Out isn’t until 6:30, so we all had dinner together at the PX. Clarissa isn’t allowed to bring outside food to the CDC so I wanted to make sure she ate before she went (though they did serve dinner). She was thrilled with her pizza.

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The sky was beautiful. Tim and I took a taxi to Hyundai Department Store (kind of like a mall). When you buy your movie ticket, you choose your seat like on an airplane.

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Tim wanted a snack, so we tried the grilled squid. It was actually pretty good. I really can’t think of a taste to compare it to. But it was probably similar to the shape and texture of french fries. It comes in different flavors. I think we had a buttery one.

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Then we had to go down an escalator and to the left to our theater. We were the only Americans there (well I should say that we were the only white people, it’s possible there were other Americans in there).

The previews were different than in the United States. It was mostly commercials for products like you would see on television. There were two previews for American movies. One was dubbed in Korean. The other was in English with Korean subtitles. The previews both seemed really short.

The movie itself was in English and had Korean subtitles. The screen was probably the same size as an American movie theater and the seats were comfortable. I have heard that some theaters have couches you can lay on, but this wasn’t one of them.

Ant-Man was excellent! Tim and I have different preferences when it comes to movies. But we can usually agree on a Marvel movie. We recently watched Lost again so it was fun to see Evangeline Lily in the movie. The story was great and there wasn’t a ton of language or any sex at all. I think Clarissa will like it in a few years.

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We had to pick Clarissa up by 10:00 and the pedestrian gate also closes at that time on Friday nights, so we took another taxi back to base. Clarissa did really well. Her best friend was there, which I am sure helped a ton for her first time there. Apparently she did cry when Haven left. But she was fine when we got there. They did one of her favorite activities, painting.

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Our first (and second) Korean Hospital Experience


We must be healthy people because we lived in South Korea for six months before we needed to see a doctor. Even then it was because Clarissa had a birthday and needed her two year check up.

Our insurance has direct billing agreements with four different hospitals in Daegu. Two of them deliver babies. I asked around and decided we should check out Hyosung Hospital. I called the international center to make an appointment and didn’t really know what to expect. They had immediate openings for both Tim and Clarissa’s check ups.

On the morning of the appointments, we took the 564 bus to Jongdong market and then walked a couple of blocks to the hospital. It wasn’t as big as I thought it would be. Where we are from in Norfolk, the hospitals are huge! But there are only like six of them and they offer a range of services from labor and delivery, surgery, medical, and emergency room services. Here there seems to be a hospital around every corner. I’m not exaggerating. I can see four from my apartment window! But the hospitals are very small and specialize in one or two things. They don’t all have emergency room services.

Hyosung Hospital is two small buildings connected by a walkway on the second floor. I think one building has five floors and the other has seven. We walked into the reception area, found the pediatrician’s office, and tried to check in. We took a number and sat down. When our number came on the screen, we went to the desk and told them Clarissa’s name. They gave us another slip of paper and told us to sit down. At this point no one spoke English so I knew we were in the wrong place.

We then went to the other building to check in to the international center. We filled out some paperwork and then our translator walked us back to the pediatric section. First, we did Clarissa’s height and weight. She had to stand with her back against a wall and stand on two feet that were glued to the floor. Then, she was supposed to stand there while this machine came down to see how tall she was. She wasn’t really cooperative and was an inch or two too short for the machine anyway. (I should have taken a picture but I was too busy trying to keep her in place. I will have to remember next time)

Then, we went to where the babies do height and weight. I had to put her in a metal basket and the machine told us she weighs 10.5 kg (23.148 pounds) and is 81.6 cm (32.125 inches) tall.

Then we had to wait our turn. There were probably twenty Korean children there plus parents. They all stayed together in an area watching a television. I am not sure if the internationals get to cut in line because of the translator or if it is because we have an appointment and the Koreans just walk in, but we only waited about five minutes.

The pediatrician was very nice. She had a Tayo sticker on her name tag, so Clarissa was thrilled. She did all of the usual stuff; checked her ears, throat, and lungs. Then she asked me a few questions through the translator about what I thought about Clarissa’s development. She read Clarissa’s shot record and recommended the second hepatitis A and Japanese encephalitis vaccines and gave Clarissa a lollipop.

The Koreans really are smart about how they do things. Clarissa sucked on her lollipop while they checked her blood pressure and pulse. Then when it was time to get her shots, they had her sit calmly in my lap, still sucking on her lollipop. She didn’t even cry! She started to get a little concerned at the end and they just gave her another lollipop. Problem solved!

Then we went to Tim’s appointment. Again it was only about a five minute wait. The doctor was really nice. I think he understood English but just didn’t speak it well because he would listen to Tim and immediately respond in Korean. It wasn’t that strange to have the conversation translated. It seemed like the doctor was really listening and understanding what Tim said. Then we had to go across the street to the pharmacy and wait about five minutes for the prescription.

We went back today for a follow-up visit. Today we found out that Korean regulations say that you can only get 21 days worth of a medicine at a time. They don’t write you a prescription with refills like in the United States. You have to go back for another appointment. That might get old.

But everyone we met seemed friendly. Random Koreans thought Clarissa was beautiful and would stop and ask me how old she was. In Korea, she is three years old (when you are born you are one, and then everyone adds a year during the lunar new year). But some of the moms would also ask how many months old she is.

My first Korean hair cut


The week before we moved to Korea, I decided to take the plunge. I decided that if I could move to the other side of the world, I could take a chance and dye my hair. So at 31, I had my first experience with hair dye. We thought auburn was a good fit.


It’s hard to believe that was almost five months ago! My roots have been growing out a bit. My hair naturally gets pretty blonde in the summer, so I have auburn hair with blonde roots. Tim and I decided maybe we should try something lighter, like a strawberry blonde. So we spent some time looking through pictures. I had a picture for the color I wanted and then another for the cut.

I decided that I would do my first hair cut in Korea on base. Surely they speak English at the salon on base right? I arrived on time for my 1:00 appointment, but they weren’t busy anyway so I probably didn’t need an appointment. I told the older woman (who spoke the best English) the color and cut I wanted. I showed her pictures.

She then tried to find the color on her papers. She kept going from the red paper to the blonde paper. I should have walked away then. I thought, surely they can do this, I have a picture. She went to talk to the other ladies in Korean. When she came back she told me that they haven’t done red in a few years and asked if I could go to the PX to buy some red hair dye. Again, I should have walked away.

So I went to the PX and bought three bottles of red dye. Apparently I have enough hair to require three bottles? I brought it to them and two ladies started mixing. Another wrapped my neck and my shirt so it wouldn’t get dyed. She then put what looked like miniature shower curitains over my ears.


Two ladies proceeded to brush color onto my hair with what looked like a paint brush. That’s what Jaclyn used in February though, so I knew it was normal. As they were doing this, several different Korean ladies walked by and they were all examining my hair and looking at it. Some looked concerned. I started to get a little nervous.

A couple of minutes in to this, it looked like a crime scene. Their gloves were covered in bright red and the towel around my neck looked like it had been used to clean up a gaping wound. At that point I knew that it wasn’t going to be as blonde as I had hoped.

Another lady came in for her 2:00 appointment as my hair was setting. They didn’t seem to understand what she needed for dying the roots of her highlights. She looked at me and I said, “this is supposed to be strawberry blonde.” She said, “no way!” and promptly left the salon!

After they washed my hair, the older lady asked if they got the color right. It wasn’t dry, but my roots looked bright pink and the rest of my hair almost looked black. I said, “No. I was hoping for more blonde than this. A lighter color.” She assured me that it would get lighter after they dried it.

I showed another picture for the cut. A simple layering to frame my face. At first the bangs looked pretty crazy. It was like a half moon. Thankfully, before she finished, she straightened them up a bit. She did layer my hair, just not like the picture.

As she was cutting the older lady came back and said, “See, I told you it would get lighter.” I actually thought it was darker at this point. “Is that the right color?” I showed her the picture again and she said, “The sun will bleach it in about two weeks.”


I don’t think so. I know from last time that it will get lighter. But I don’t think it will get anywhere near strawberry blonde. Especially in two weeks.

All in all, my hair doesn’t look bad. The color and cut look fine. It just wasn’t what I was expecting.

So far I have learned to read Korean and count to 20. I guess I need to work on colors next. Then maybe I can venture out to a Korean salon in the city. Though in their defense, I have seen auburn in Korea, never strawberry blonde. So I may need to stick with that. Or I can just try blonde next time and see how that goes. Maybe eventually I wll go back to my normal hair color and just get my hair cut once or twice a year.