Meetup Groups Korea: Why Bother?

As I emerge from Hansung University station, I’m greeted by a mass of people, the smell of beer, and a DJ pumping dance tunes across a square. It’s the World Beer Festival hosted in Seoul. Like an excited eighteen-year-old, I smile from ear to ear.

My Korean friend Buyeon emerges from the throng. We hug. I hear my name shouted out. It’s Harry, the Meetup host. He remembered me from my last visit with his group at the Latin American Festival. After greetings, he announces that we’ll wait for other joiners before we disappear into the crowd in search of beer and food. That evening, I meet local Koreans, expat teachers, a retired international footballer. We take photos with celebrity Bulgarian chef, Mikhal, and dance with the live DJ. If I hadn’t stumbled across Harry’s Meetup invitation the night before, I wouldn’t have known about this marvelous event.

As an expat deprived of my long standing network of friends and family, it’s very easy to feel isolated. Meetups cater to several needs, the need to belong to a group and receive support, indulging adventure and trying new experiences, as well as meeting people with similar interests.

I discovered through a friend. He casually mentioned ‘Meetups’ and curious, I went online to discover that this network offered. I joined particular groups that were located in or near to my current city, Seoul, and began receiving invitations to attend planned events. Over the last fourteen months, I have attended all kinds of Meetups which I’ll present shortly.

Attending meetups has been one of the best ways I have found to network, make friends, and meet people who have similar interests to me. Many Meetups are attended by international traveler-types as well as locals who like meeting international travellers. As an expat, it’s challenging always feeling like an outsider or guest in Korea, but when I’m with world travelers, these people ‘feel like’ home.

Through Meetups, I’ve met outstanding people. These include Traditional Korean medicine doctor, Yoon who I continue to visit for natural beauty treatments (see my article about Dr. Yoon’s natural fillers and acne scar treatments here). I’ve also met CC and Mr. Kim, two remarkable (and fit) Korean men who encourage hikers to push through the physical and mental challenges of hiking. I met Ernesto who reintroduced me to the Latin dance scene and reignited my passion for traveling around Korea itself. Recently, I met Marco, Andii, and many Spanish speaking friends through Hola Cafe Meetup. I attend Hola Cafe regularly, and these friends are becoming my new family.

I receive multiple invitations to events every week, but I only attend whatever I feel like doing. I hit the ‘attend’ button and show up the day of. There are many interesting Meetup groups, but here are my favourites.



All kinds of festivals regularly take place all over the country, and particularly in my current home, Seoul. I joined Harry’s The Seoul Expat Global Meetup Group, and together, we attended the Latin American Festival in May 2017. Once confirmed attendees arrived and we all introduced ourselves, we roamed around the festival, trying sangria, Spanish vino and all kinds of foods, mainly from Latin America. Harry’s events often attend festivals. It’s a brilliant way to enjoy a festival and meet fun new friends too. See The Seoul Expat Global Meetup Group here.

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Language exchange

There are many language exchange groups. The events seem to be concentrated in Gangnam and Hongdae, and take place at designated cafes. These seem to entail Koreans teaching expats local Hangul, and expats teaching Koreans English language, and this is done mostly through conversation. I don’t attend these Korean/English language exchanges, but I’ve heard that these events are sometimes used to find people to date.

With host, Marco

I regularly attend Mangwon Spanish Language & Culture Meetup, hosted by Marco on Saturday afternoons at Hola Café. Marco offers Spanish and English language classes throughout the week, but Saturday from 5pm is allocated for a large mixed group of Spanish speaking people to share their cultures together. I’ve met people from Mexico, America, Kazakhstan, Venezuela, and a large number of international Koreans who have lived in Spanish speaking countries. Every week, I encounter people from previous events, and there are constantly new faces to meet. Find Marco’s Spanish Language Meetup here.



I like to hike with Climbing In Korea (CIK) Meetup Group. It’s run by Mr. Kim, and he is very organized leader. I try to attend the hikes identified as ‘easy’ because many hikers are really fit in this group, and hikes at intermediate level entail rock climbing and considerable stamina. The group also organize trips to see other locations throughout Korea. I enjoyed a CIK weekend camping trip to Pyeongchang where we were introduced to preparations for the upcoming 2018 Olympics. I reviewed the event here. To find CIK meetup group, click here.


Discover Seoul/ new experiences/ dinners

Johncito of Seoul Village organizes events including hanbok dress-up, visiting palaces, touring central Seoul, particularly Myeongdong, visiting Kwangjang market, and enjoying walks along the Cheongyecheon stream. I’ve attended several events by Johncito, including language instruction (Korean and Spanish) within a café setting, walking and talking (in Spanish) at Namdaemun market, enjoying traditional Korean lunch at Kwangjang market, and dinners at Buddhist, Thai and other restaurants. Johncito is lots of fun to hang out with, and he also mentors expats who want to start their own meetups! To find Seoul Village, click here.

Latin dance classes

I just attended my first Latin dance class with dance instructor, Mr. Kang. I simply had a blast learning Salsa, Bachata and Cha cha. I have every intention to return as soon as possible! Mr. Kang is professional and patient, and plans to teach us Tango too! To find Let’s Learn Latin Dance with Mr. Kang via Seoul Village, click here.


Photography Groups

Photography groups are useful for people looking to meet and share skills with other photographers, and other people related to the industry. I just attended an event with Seoul Model/ Photographer/ MUA/Stylist/ Community. We were a team of approximately seven models and six photographers, hosted by Don and Izzy. We used the Seoullo overground pass, and surrounding area near Seoul station to look for ideal backdrops and places to shoot.

Izzy specializes in fashion photography (see Izzy’s site here). Don, in addition to portrait photography, creates videos and documents his photography in articles published on his website. I’ve included Don’s video below.

Izzy and Don are two very professional and fun guys to work with. See Seoul Model/ Photographer/ MUA/ Stylist/ Community page here.


Literature and writing clubs

I recently attended Christine’s Meetup, Seoul Writers’ Collective. The workshops focus on developing writing skills for writers working on prose (books, articles etc.) and poetry, and developing critical thinking skills. I attended an event at Dan & Chung Café, Itaewon, where after introductions, attendees were presented with a poem that we broke down and discussed. The process was fascinating. As a blog writer, the development of discussing chosen words and punctuation helped me consider aspects of my own writing that I had previously overlooked. I definitely intend to return and hope to bring friends with me! Find Christine’s writing group here.


There are plenty of other Meetup groups which I haven’t attended. These include weekend drinking parties in Hongdae for those interested in drinking or dating, as well as art, and many others. Additionally, if you see that no Meetups are offered for your particular interest, you can create and host your own one!

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Horror travel stories: Koh Samui, Thailand

It started out as a peaceful day on Chaweng beach, Koh Samui island. Later that evening, while walking along a main road, my friend Beth and I heard a crash, followed by shouting. Alarmed, I shouted out, and we began to run to where the incident originated.

Chaweng beach on Koh Samui island

On arrival, there was a crowd of about twenty Thai people around two men. Both were cyclists. One cyclist had fallen off his motorcycle, and was sprawled out on the road with his head against the concrete sidewalk curb. He looked unconscious or dead. Meanwhile, the second cyclist seemed fine, and was yelling about the damage to his motorcycle, presumably caused by the guy lying on the road. I think he was yelling at the seemingly unconscious or dead guy lying on the road.

My friend and I were shocked at the situation. We were surprised that the cycle guy who was clearly unhurt was more concerned about the damage to his bike rather than whether the man lying on the road was seriously hurt or dead.

One onlooker was on the phone, presumably calling an ambulance. Two people crouched down, trying to assess how hurt the man lying on the ground was. They began lifting his torso. I was thinking at the time, shouldn’t he not be moved until specialists arrive? He could have internal bleeding or other complications that weren’t visible. After a few minutes, the injured cyclist actually began to stir. I felt relieved. He looked around at the crowd and at his motorcycle lying on the road, and appeared confused.

I began to understand the situation a little better. The man on the ground seemed to be very poor from the look of his clothing and his scrawny motorcycle. The angry man was clearly much better off. He had nice clothing, he was much heavier, and his motorcycle looked new, shiny and wider.

As the crowd looked on, wondering about the condition of the injured cyclist, an ambulance siren blared in the distance. Slowly, the injured man dragged himself off the concrete, and just as the ambulance pulled up to address his injuries, he got on his bike, started the engine, and took off in the same direction that the ambulance approached from. As the paramedics emerged from their vehicle, the angry motorcycle man continued cursing, furious about unpaid damages to his property. The crowd looked on, seemingly unsurprised. I suspected they had seen it all before. My friend and I stood there for a while with our jaws hanging open. We eventually walked off.


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Preparing for photo-shoots: a guide for amateur modeling

“Gimme a sexy wink, like Marilyn Munroe…”


“Er… I think you need to practice your winks, Tash. You seriously wink like a Quebecois farmer! Haha!”

This moment between photographer and friend Danniel Oickle and I several years back had us rolling in stitches. We were doing a 1950s/60s period photoshoot in his retro studio basement in Ottawa Canada, and in three hours, we created around four-hundred photos. That evening, we didn’t produce a single ‘sexy wink’ shot. Some of our images were later used in Danniel’s Ottawa photography exhibit, The Corruption of Flesh and were seen by thousands of visitors at SAW Gallery, Ottawa in 2011.

Why write this article?

I have never really taken modeling seriously. Modeling has been a hobby for over ten years, and I do it because I enjoy the experience and love the results. I’m no professional model, but having worked in the fashion and beauty industry and knowing a thing or two about photography, it’s my hope that aspiring models may benefit from my experience.

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Don Macdonell photography


Meeting my first fashion photographer

I met my first photographer, Combie McNeil, while I was doing esthetics and make-up artistry courses in Ottawa Canada. While the students were introduced to working with television and photography make-up, the academy invited Crombie to discuss intricacies of photography, and he explained how make-up application affects photographs. Make-up artists and photographer usually work together for TV and photoshoot purposes to get the best possible result on camera.

After Crombie’s presentation, he took photos of the students, which gave us a chance to observe how our own make-up applications appeared on printed paper. We could see how we needed more contour here, or blend eye-shadow more there.

Crombie invited me to take more photographs with him as a model. Thereafter, we did about four photoshoots together. My first was horribly awkward and I had no idea what I was doing. He patiently told me how to position my body, where to focus my gaze and how to place my hands.



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The second shoot was much easier because I felt more comfortable and had an idea of what to expect. As a result, I could pose more naturally and even initiate poses without receiving instructions every time. Crombie and I didn’t stay in touch, but I was grateful for the experience because I developed the confidence to model in the future.


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Meeting photographers

Since that initial introduction to modeling, meeting photographers has been fairly easy. I met several amateur photographers who were building portrait portfolios who needed volunteer models. I met Dann (from Daniel Oickle photography) through my work. I met photography student Samantha (Samantha Garafalo photography) at my university. She needed a model for her final exam project. I met Aaron (Mad_Zoge photography) in a coffee shop after striking up a conversation about his camera in Itaewon Seoul, and I met Don (don.macdonell photography) through expat social networks in Korea. Photographer Izzy (easy_izzy_photography) is a friend of Don’s and so when Don organized a photoshoot, he invited Izzy to join us.

Networking and locating photographers

Although in my case I largely made personal connections with most of the photographers before working with them, actively seeking photographers is probably easiest to achieve through social networking. Portrait photographers who are building portfolios need to find photography subjects so they place adds on Facebook group pages and organize Meetup events to get photographers and models together. Often, photographers have photographer friends, so this gives models the opportunity to meet and work with more photographers with different creative styles. This was the case when I met Izzy through Don.

Figuring out the deal

Before doing a photo-shoot with Dann, he asked me to sign a contract acknowledging that any photos that he took legally belonged to him. This made our understanding very clear, and defined for me what typically tends to be the arrangement between amateur models and photographers who are not making money from a photo-shoot.

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Danniel Oickle photography


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Danniel Oickle photography

Modeling for amateur photographers usually entails an exchange of services, where the photographer retains all rights to the photographs, meaning that the photographer can sell the images for a profit. The model often receives a copy of the photographs, and if s/he wishes to share the images, the model expected to credit (identify) the photographer. A model often selects their favourite images to build a modeling portfolio.


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Shooting locations

Some photographers prefer studio photography while others like outdoor destinations. I personally prefer outdoor locations as I find that studio bright lights can tire my eyes after hours being under the spotlight. Outdoor shoots also include circulating fresh air which gives me more energy to perform for the camera. Outdoor shoots also offer variety because photographers often want to change from one location to another, looking for different backdrops, and occasionally, shelter from the rain.

But studio photography gives the photographer a lot more control over lighting settings and it can be much more convenient since both the model and photographer don’t have to contend with bad weather and models don’t have to go far to change an outfit.

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Danniel Oickle photography


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Before going on location, discuss where you and the photographer have in mind to shoot. I have done shoots on roof-top car parks, inside fancy restaurants, on castle grounds and in parks, beside interesting architectural structures and within university and home studios. I really like street art so that’s what I hope to incorporate into my next shoot.

Model preparation

I have several guidelines I loosely follow before a shoot. I often plan for a good sleep routine in the days leading up to my shoot, and prefer to schedule my shoot for later in the afternoon to ensure I get eight hours sleep. Sleeping well is a famous routine models famously stick it. You don’t have to be a genius to be aware that good sleep patterns create healthier, happier human beings and side effects are often glowing complexions.

I also avoid changing my skin care routine. Beginning an experimental skin care treatment just before my shoot risks pimples on the day of shooting. It’s simply not worth the risk. I may paint my nails the night prior, and also plan outfits beforehand, including shoes and accessories. I like to bring scarves, gloves, fans, umbrellas, hats and so on because props help me with movement and variety of poses during shooting, especially when I hit moments when I can’t think of any interesting pose to do.


On my last shoot, my hair was a disaster due to the intense humidity from Korean summers, and I was grateful for some of the black and white finishes which drew less attention to my crazy hair. Ideally, I prefer to have my hair cut about three weeks before a shoot, so that the style is refined, and I’ve learned how to manage it. Also, my hair would have had a chance to grow and doesn’t look shorter than I tend to prefer.


I happen to be a trained make-up artist, so that makes make-up preparation much easier. Although I take about seven minutes to do my daily make-up routine, I tend to take more care with things like symmetry and precision for photoshoot make-up, and as a result, I end up taking about twenty to thirty minutes. For someone who doesn’t have too much experience with make-up application, and plans to do their own make-up, I suggest the following.

Consult your photographer and decide on a particular theme (urban chic, classic, and so on) which can help you decide on how present your make-up. Consider your outfits before deciding what color lipstick and eye shadow to use. Your make-up may need to be suitable for several outfit changes. Brown tones work with almost every outfit. I sometimes consult make-up tutorials available on YouTube for new ideas. I recently bought a new palette of eye shadows, and having this available meant that I had a great deal of flexibility with choosing colors.

In the same way that actors wear plenty of make-up for the theater stage so the audience can perceive facial expressions from afar, likewise, make-up for the camera serves to enhance facial features so the camera can pick up details. With photography makeup, more is better. You need to wear more contour and blush, and need richer lipstick colors. Peach tones work really well for photography.


Bringing friends along for shoots makes the whole experience a lot more fun, and sometimes, you can even convince your friends to participate!

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Parks or gardens provide neutral backdrops that are often easy to work with, particularly for models doing a first time photo-shoot who prefer to get away from crowds and onlookers. On this occasion, we actually had a group conference of  around fifty Korean men and women suited up pile into the gardens and stare at us. They were also there to take a group photo! It was actually quite funny.

Day of shoot

I like to do an aerobics morning workout before showering and dressing for my shoot. The endorphins and energy it produces helps to put me in a good mood, feel empowered and confident.

I also like to go for a coffee with my photographer just before starting the shoot to get to know each other and enjoy a little banter first. This will give me a chance to discuss previous modeling experience and expectations of the shoot.

Buyeon pic group

On a recent shoot, I didn’t clarify what I had been looking for, and to my surprise, many of the shots turned out very artistic, moody and mostly profile and mid-body shots. I had expected lots of frontal face and full body shots, however that was something I failed to communicate. Photographers and models can’t read each other’s mind, so it’s pretty important to discuss ideas prior to the shoot.


One of the more challenging things for me has been creative posing. Figuring out what to do next, where to look, and what to do with my hands and feet.

Sometimes the photographer had something very specific in mind and gave lots of direction over body placement, facial expression and so on. But many times, I have been left to own devices and created my own movement or poses.


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Easy Izzy Photography

As the model, I cannot see through a camera lens, and thus often rely on feedback from the photographer to know what body movements to do. Models should not be shy to ask for direction. This aspect of the photo-shoot gets much easier with experience. After getting over the initial anxiety of learning how to pose, I began to actually enjoy it and this switched happened, in my case, within the first two photo-shoots.

Buyeon Kim Photography
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Don Macdonell photography

My PROS AND CONS to getting involved in modeling shoots


I enjoy the experience of going out and participating in these events. They can be a lot of fun.

Supportive friends and others will give you lots of accolades and it can be really confidence-boosting on a very superficial level.

If modeling is something you want to pursue professionally, unless you get ‘spotted’, you will have to put yourself out there and therefore need to build a portfolio showcasing different sides to your look, your creativity, and your potential to sell products.


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Photo-shoots can be tiring. They may last hours, and as center of attention, you would be expected to be professional and ‘produce the goods’, namely, be able to perform for the camera. It helps to have an exhibitionist personality type that likes to receive attention. If this is not your cup of tea, then modeling may prove uncomfortable and stressful.


I think that high expectations and self-criticism are two of the hardest things about modeling, and living in world surrounded by media that demands perfection can make marketing yourself emotionally challenging. Modeling exposes you to your own and everyone else’s critique. Sometimes, we are our own worse critiques, and photos often pick up on our insecurities and these might leave you feeling down.

Benefits to investing in modeling experiences

Oftentimes, the fun experienced during the photo-shoot itself and the accolades received from others make photo-shoots worthwhile, even for someone who is not pursuing modeling as a career. Helping amateur photographers build their portfolios can be as serious or as fun and ridiculous as you dictate.

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Buyeon Kim Photography
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Buyeon Kim Photography
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Buyeon Kim Photography

Modeling has helped me develop in surprising ways. Organizing and performing in shoots pulls together various skills, including learning how to network, and creating grit. Learning to pose has trained me to ‘be photogenic.’ Working with photographers has also helped develop my confidence, by learning to build rapport quickly, and brought out my social skills. Overall, I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to dabble in this fascinating industry.



easy_izzy portrait & fashion photography

Webpage: easy_izzy_photography

*featured photo: easy_izzy_photography


Don Macdonell photography, photo-shoots, video work, modeling

Instagram: don macdonell

Webpage: don macdonell 


Danniel Oickle photography, artist, musician, sculpture, guillotine

Facebook: Dann Oickle

Webpage: dannieloickle


Mad Zoge photography

Webpage: mad_zoge


Crombie McNeill photography

Email contact:


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Anti aging fillers and rejuvenation scar treatments: dabbling in the Korean age-defying beauty industry

Laser hair removal: my personal experience in Korea


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Anti aging fillers and rejuvenation scar treatments: dabbling in the Korean age-defying beauty industry

Most people are interested in health, beauty, or both. I’m always interested in discussing what I should eat, digestion issues and so on. But, I’m definitely set on maintaining a youthful, glowing face. It’s no secret that the two go hand in hand, and there’s no better person to discuss these topics with than a Korean traditional medicine doctor who specializes in dermatology and women’s health.

This article is a follow-up to an article I published in May 2017. I’ve always been interested in understanding how western and traditional Asian treatments differ, and I’m also very curious about traditional clinics which utilize modern skin treatments. To discover more, I revisited Dr. Yoon at his clinic located in Insa Dong, Seoul, along with my friend Lydia.

Lydia and Dr. Yoon
Dr. Yoon’s storeroom:  packed with traditional Korean medicine products


I received two treatments by Dr. Yoon free of charge. In exchange for my consultation and treatments, I would write about Dr. Yoon’s service and my treatment results. As someone who considers carefully what beauty treatments are worthwhile, I was very curious to see what Dr. Yoon deemed safe to bring into his regular practice.


Rejuvenating, Acne Scaring Treatment

A month before this visit, Dr. Yoon informed me that I had lots of tiny acne scaring. Now, I thought that I simply had large pores, but since I had gone through both teenage and adult acne, this news shouldn’t have caught me by surprise. We decided there and then that my next treatment would include some kind of acne resurfacing treatment that would diminish the scaring to give me more even, less porous looking skin.

When I asked Dr. Yoon which treatment he intended to use on my face, as a former esthetician with ongoing interest in innovative skin care treatments, I understood perfectly what he had in mind when he introduced me to the AMTS. I learned about this treatment two years earlier in Victoria Canada through a skin specialist.

The AMTS CRP – CELL machine works by injecting five pins simultaneously into the skin, puncturing the dermis (all skin layers) through to the blood supply beneath. The treatment works by creating new scars where the skin is punctured which replaces older acne scars. The result is that older, pock-marked or damaged skin tissue which may appear as “large pores,” become refined and smooth after several treatments.


First, I was asked to wash my face using a facewash provided. Next, I lay down, and a comforting warm pillow was placed on my stomach.  This may have been to help relax me. Dr. Yoon then applied a face peel gommage which removed dead skin cells from the skin’s surface and after removing the gommage, applied a think layer of anesthetic gel to numb the skin surface. He added a sheet of transparent cellophane cling film over top, presumably to enhance the potency of the numbing agent.




After fifteen minutes, the anesthetic gel was removed and Dr. Yoon began the AMTS treatment. It felt a little like a staple gun would, i’d imagine. The hand piece was pressed against my face, particularly the areas which have lots of acne scaring, which in my case was my forehead and chin. The treatment was a little painful around the cheekbones and forehead as these areas don’t have much cushioning.


As the punctures penetrated to my blood supply, blood appeared on my face. The treatment was over in probably seven minutes. Blood was left on my face to act as a serum to nourish the skin, and a mask sheet of moisturizing essence was applied over top. Then Dr. Yoon painted a cooling face mask over top of the essence sheet, and I was left to relax for about twenty minutes to absorb these topical ingredients.

Time: approximately 1.5 hours


I’d recommend this treatment for people who can tolerate a little pain.

Patients have to use sunblock for a few weeks after the treatment to ensure that fresh regrowth skin cells are not prematurely damaged by UV rays.

You will be provided with a topical cream to apply. Don’t apply too much on your forehead or too close to your eyes otherwise it may seep into your eyes and bother you. That happened to me.


My skin is sensitive, and after the treatment, some areas on my face were red and sore, and I had bruises on my skin, particularly the less fleshy areas like my forehead and cheekbones. I actually avoided putting any make-up on the day after, and just to be extra safe, avoided the sunshine hours. Two days later, my daily routine returned to normal and I was using my make-up (with SPF UV protection) along with the topical cream provided.


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Aftercare visit

I visited Dr. Yoon one week after the rejuvenation treatment. The aftercare treatment was to promote healthy cell production.

The procedure included applying several products to my face, including cooling creams, a gauze and then a mask. The treatment usually includes a herbal treatment, but this step was skipped in my case due to time constraints. The treatment was done by Dr. Yoon’s nurse, so unfortunately, due to communication barriers, I could not ask questions about the exact products applied to my skin.

Anti Aging Naturopathic Fillers for Frown Lines

Fillers essentially fill in creases including forehead frown as well as smile lines. Fillers are sometimes used an an alternative to botox in so much as they reduce sharp lines in the skin and plump out the skin. But botox, a paralysing agent used to prevent the muscles from contracting, is considered a toxin. As a result, some people avoid botox and similar brands because, when digested into the body, they are considered unhealthy.

The clinic I currently attend for laser hair removal treatments specializes in skin treatments, and this clinic (You&I) offers filler treatments. However, when attempting to research what exactly fillers are made from, I have found little information available in English within Korea. Thus, I really liked the idea of receiving fillers based on natural ingredients at Dr. Yoon’s clinic.

Different options were available with Dr. Yoon.  Lydia asked for a filler treatment that was essentially vegan, and contained no animal byproduct. I had the treatment that did include animal byproduct.


Dr. Yoon asked me to frown to locate exactly where the creases lie. He then injected into the appropriate areas between my brows. About five minutes and 5 injections later, the procedure was over. It was my second treatment, and the procedure went very smoothly. Lydia was more sensitive to the injection needle. She had recently undergone lots of facial acupuncture, and is prone to headaches, so Dr. Yoon abandoned treatment partway through as she found it stressful.




Rejuvenation treatment and aftercare results


My face has lost some of the more prominent pores particularly in the area around my chin where I tend to get hormonal breakouts monthly.

The tone of my skin seems to have changed a little. I tend to get red patches on my face, particularly around my nose and cheek area, but the treatment seems to have ‘evened’ my skin tone somewhat. Since my treatment, I have not felt obligated (as I usually do) to wear face foundation.


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Firstly, I only had one treatment. My results were subtle, and to be honest, to see a real difference in notable removal of acne scar tissue and evening of skin tone, you need to have several treatments. Most clients book multiple treatments which work out cheaper as a package.

Also, the treatment itself may be considered expensive, however,  Dr. Yoon explained that of all the laser skin resurfacing treatments currently available, the prices for his treatment are pretty standard. Each treatment is usually approximately 250,000 won ($250). He is currently offering this treatment at a reduced price for clientele who mention this article.

Finally, non-Koreans (or foreigners) are not as accustomed to needles as local Koreans. Acupuncture treatments are common here, but inserting something into the skin may be daunting to westerners. The rejuvenation treatment works by inserting several needles at once into the facial tissue, drawing blood. This treatment is not for the squeamish, however, Dr. Yoon knew exactly what he was doing. While it was a little painful, and my face was blotchy, bruised and sensitive for a few days afterwards, I definitely feel that the results made the treatment worthwhile.


Naturopathic Filler results


The treatment was very effective. The lines created from repeated muscle contraction between my brows are completely filled out. I’m very pleased with the overall result.

Filler treatments lasts up to a month before the body absorbs the filler ingredients.

You have the option to chose from fillers that contain animal product (deer antler) or vegan (only plant base). I used the non vegan filler which is popular among the Korean clients.

The fillers used at Dr. Yoon’s clinic give a youthful ‘glow’ to the skin as the product is absorbed into the blood stream.

Naturopathic fillers are made from natural ingredients. Unlike fillers received at western style clinics, naturopathic fillers are not dangerous once absorbed into the body.


Initially, because the lines between my brows are fairly deep, Dr. Yoon injected a substantial amount of filler, meaning that for the first few days, the injected area was raised, forming a slight bump under the skin. Several days later, as the filler began to disperse and be absorbed by my body, the bump disappeared.

The filler possibly affects the tear making glands, as I’ve noticed that my tears stung my eyes a little for a few days after the treatment.

Naturopathic fillers last up to four weeks. Fillers administered at western clinics linger in the area for three to four months. Thus, if you wish to consistently retain the effect of naturopathic fillers, you may find yourself getting retouch treatments fairly regularly. Dr. Yoon charges 55,000 won for the first treatment, and a touch up within three weeks is approximately 33,000 won for clients who mention this article. Consultations are free. 

Would I repeat these treatments?

Rejuvenation treatment

Yes, although I have grown used to having ‘porus’ looking skin, Korean obsession with flawless skin has increased my expectations for acquiring the skin I’ve always wanted. I credit Korean skincare products with eliminating the adult acne I suffered from since the age of thirteen, so I feel that Koreans are definitely doing something right.

If I continue to have more treatments, my t-zone area (forehead, nose and chin) would be considerably smoother, and my face tone would have significantly reduced red patches.


Yes, I would have this treatment again. I have already had it done twice. It essentially makes me look younger. For people worried about smile lines or vertical forehead lines, filler also works for these areas.


Dr. Yoon’s clinic

Dr. Sook-yoon Lee, Pibro Haniwon Skin Women Clinic26 Insa dong, 5 gil,                           Tel: 02-3667-1577




What treatments have you tried, and what was your experience?

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Introducing K-POP’s SM Town at COEX Samsung, Seoul

I’m not a K-Pop fan. But, I have a friend that is. Riley wanted to grab a new edition of EXO‘s newest release, and so we popped into SM Town‘s multi story building to pick up her stuff. Little did I know that I was about to embark on an adventure!

Before we could even enter the doors, Riley got distracted by a crowd of girls waiting around at an adjacent car park, and after plucking up the courage to ask fans who the hell we were ‘waiting’ for, we discovered that Red Velvet, a local girl band who were attending a signing event at SM Town, were expected to appear at any moment.

After waiting around for about fifteen minutes, Riley decided that since we didn’t know when they would appear, we could move on. We resumed our hunt for EXO’s “The War: Kokobop”.

Serious, but curious…

We took the escalator up, and here, we found a hall with posters featuring bands managed and produced by SM Entertainment.  After encountering some younger Korean ladies sprawled all over the floor in the hall, Riley explained to me that these girls had cards of pop idols that they wanted to trade. That explained why they had merchandise scattered around them. Essentially, when you buy merchandise like albums, they come with cards (like collectors baseball cards) featuring cute band members, and many girls have a favourite member. Often, girls receive cards that they’d prefer to trade for cards that feature their crush.

We stepped onto the brightly lit sales floor. The room was packed with mostly young women in their teens to mid twenties. A few boys were there too, mostly because they worked there, or were boyfriends waiting while their girls shopped.

Exo on vinyl: The War: Kokobop
Do you need my umbrella, (possibly famous) fella?

Here, we found a large open area featuring all kinds of stuff: fancy record displays, live-sized cardboard cut-out pop stars, album displays, posters, tote bags, hats and clothing merchandise. There were even traditional style Korean items usually featured in museums on the display cases.

We got into a line up, and were handed a paper so Riley could mark down what she wished to purchase. At the paying counter, Riley handed over 45,000 won, and in return, received three albums. She explained that she was getting EXO’s The War: Kokobop version a, version b, and a private version, all sung in Korean and Mandarin. Apparently EXO pride market themselves as a band that release songs sung in various languages.


Riley collects EXO memorabilia

Happy with her purchase, which included poster gifts and trade-able cards, our adventure continued. We meandered up to the next floor, which opened up into another hall. It had a long, central display case of clothing used by band members while shooting videos that later became famous. There were many sexy posters featuring SM’s bands dotting the walls, and plenty more girls sitting on the floor displaying their pop idol cards. The environment itself gave a feeling of close accessibility to the stars, and this presumably, is why so many fans flock to this venue.


Red Velvet video outfits

Riley explained to me that SM invites clients to experience various degrees of feeling like a star, by offering services like recording a video at their studio, for around 200,000 won (approximately $200 US).

At the end of the hall, was another large room named the SUM Cafe. It was filled with hundreds of girls sitting around tables, displaying their idol cards that they hoped to swap. There was a section dedicated to K-pop food, including tea and snacks, and there was a very long cafe counter, displaying macaroons and other delicious delights to entertain the fans that wile away their time with other like-minded girls.



My favourite feature was the ceiling lamps which had many idol cards hanging down. The arrangement reminded me of tree-like chandeliers. Everywhere I looked, fans were comparing and admiring cards. Signatures from the SM stars were applied to the backs of chairs and table surfaces. Girls played video games. Riley explained that these games were based on reactions to rhythm, and were designed by some of the pop idols themselves.

Busy space, and art-deco lamp shades
Band members’ signatures’ on the backs of cafe chairs
K-pop rhythm gaming

Leaving the room, we were about to go to the top floor, which Riley described as the best floor of the three because it contained handprints from EXO and other bands, and fans could place their hands within the handprints of their favourite stars. Unfortunately, the top floor was temporarily blocked off to the public because of the Red Velvet signing event, which presumably was taking place upstairs. I agreed to visit again with Riley as I would like to see the third floor displays.

Overall, the experience was fascinating to me. The entire building seemed like a sacred space for these fans, and I felt like an undercover alien discovering a young female ecosystem. It was fascinating, and I have every intention to return, if only to explore the treasures closest to heaven: the top floor.


Shout out to Riley Haslett, K-pop expat consultant and specialist.


What do you find interesting about the K-pop culture in Korea? Have you visited SM Town or any production studios that you would recommend experiencing?


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Standby for my follow-up blog: my SM visit to the top floor!


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Recent posts by travelandtash:

Brunch at “Gobble n’ Go”, Itaewon Seoul

Manipulation, heartbreak and recovery: my story

Korean traditional medicine: my first experience


A day in the life of a blogger expat, living in Korea

Saturday. July. 2017

9 am I wake up, put on Ricki Martin’s “Maria”, start dancing around my tiny apartment, and drink water while catching up on instant messages and emails.

9:30 am Yoga time. I start every morning with an Ekhart Yoga video, followed by meditation practice. During Heart Meditation, I think about my nephew Reggie, which puts a huge smile on my face. My day starts with an glowing sense of happiness.

10:00 am I look at an email response from a recent blog upload. A woman raved that I’m a home wrecker, someone akin to a woman that destroyed her marriage and family.

Backstory. I recently wrote an article detailing how one of my work colleagues used our workplace as his hunting ground to seduce and emotionally manipulate three women. Unawares, I fell prey to his charms and believed he loved me. Ultimately, I underwent indescribable emotional betrayal, had trouble sleeping, cried nightly, developed chest pains, and considered leaving my job. Today, several women at my work suspect he may be a narcissistic psychopath. Meanwhile, because I mentioned he was a married while he preyed on me, I’ve received lots of hate mail from female readers after publishing my account of what happened. This week, I’ve been called scum, lacking courage for not telling his wife, a cheater, racist, closet narcissist, and several other passionately rendered insults.

10:30 am After reflecting on the message, I wrote in my gratitude diary. I gave thanks for my health, my ability to make new friends and the useful devices that benefit my life daily. Following Tim Ferriss’ TedTalk, Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals I also wrote about two of my fears, how I can prevent them coming to fruitation, and how I could repair the situation if need be.

11:00 am Shower and breakfast. Plenty of various Korean face products, and a bowl of cereal with sliced banana and pumpkins seeds.

12:30 pm I tear out the door headed to KHAP sexual heath, a Korean service that provides STI checks based on donations to foreigners. I haven’t had an STI check in a while. Time for a visit.


1:30 pm I get to their location by Gireum station (line 4) a tad late, and expect them to turn me away. Instead, I’m handed forms to fill out, and a cup to pee in. What a relief! My blood is extracted, and a finger pricked. 45 minutes after arrival, the doctor declares no HIV. The remaining results for syphilis, gonorrhea and urethritis will be emailed to me 5 days later. Nothing goes on record. Everything is kept very confidential.

KHAP Seoul: very professional and private service
Selfie while waiting for KHAP results…

2:30 pm I’m on my way to Hongdae. I want to check out the Hongik Children’s Park to see the artsy crafts created by startups students at Hongik University. I also want to write about the market. While on the train, I feel so dizzy that just as I’m arriving at my destination, I sink down to the floor. I was on the verge of fainting. I decide to skip my afternoon in Hongdae, and head right home. The blood extraction at KHAP, the crazy July humidity, my lack of lunch, and the Seoul trains packed with commuters probably caused me to feel weak.

4:00 pm Heading up the escalator to my local exit, I’m doubling over, and feel faint again. I rest on some steps for five minutes, drink water and fan myself. I resume taking the escalator and finally exit the subway after at least 1.5 hours of traveling.

4:15 pm I head to my favourite local casual restaurant, Tomato Kimbap, where I know all the staff. I chat with them in broken English-Korean, and sit down. They bring me some Mul Nengmyun. I add vinegar and mustard, take a pic and begin slurping away.


5:00 pm I head over to see Ms Kitty. My friend and work colleague Riley is in Taiwan. She left me in charge of her cat which I’ve been visiting daily. She needs lots of attention and love, and gets very angry if I don’t visit her frequently enough.

Backstory. I walked in the other day to a creamy poo and wee on the floor, to my horror. Since I don’t own pets and have never had children, the dilemma of how to attack a cream poo situation was super perplexing, especially since I had limited scoop/spray stuff at my disposal. To relieve your suspense, I confess that a day later, after letting the poo harden and shrink and the wee evaporate, I dealt with the situation using very long gloves. Yuk.

Back to the story. I hang out with Ms Kitty for about an hour or two, pretty much having a siesta with Ms. Kitty’s head in my outstretched hand. She has grown so comfortable with me over the past week!

6:30 pm I replenish her water and food, say goodbye and wander home. I pot around, looking at social media, reading travel blogs and information about Instagram. As I do this, I enjoy a prepackaged Starbucks coffee served in a glass with a screw cap and a snack on a wafer chocolate. I write down some ideas for future blogs. I begin writing this blog.

8:45 pm I go to my local grocery store, E-Mart. The place is packed on a Saturday night at 9pm. I try samples from salesclerks all over the store. A slice of watermelon, a piece of sausage, a drink of chicken soup with actual chicken inside it, and fat free yogurt beverage. I load up on western food. Bagels, cheese, pasta, ground beef, wholemeal bread, and a twix chocolate bar. I bought all my fruit and veg at the local market the day prior. I admire the bathroom ware, and pay at the cash register. As I walk home, it rains. It’s rainy season here in Korea during July. It rains all month long, but the rain does little to relieve the god awful humidity.

9:45 pm Home, and air con immediately goes on. I put away my shopping and make a bagel sandwich with cream cheese and a fried egg. The egg goes inside the sliced bagel. I have some ripe, juicy and earthy tomatoes on the side, which I eat like apples.

10:00 pm As I eat, I watch a British program (of terrible quality) on YouTube called Billionaire Mansions. Partway through, I recall I’ve watched this before. I continue watching it anyway. Yesterday, I watched a far better quality documentary called, Untold Wealth: the Rise of the Super Rich.

10:45 pm My friend Miranda messages from Canada. She commends me for the controversial blog I recently published. We decide to Skype later. After deliberating between Indian and Japanese incense, I chose the Japanese and light it. I really love incense. Smells really help me create an environment that feels like a temporary home here in Korea.

11:15 pm Miranda calls. She gives me a tour around her apartment in Ontario. I admire her interior decoration, particularly her taste in ancient Greek vase ware and her own  replicas of ancient ancient Greek black figure images. I want to return to Athens. We talk about my recent blog post and the reactions I’m receiving. She advises me to ignore the haters. For some readers, drawing attention to psychopathic behaviour could potentially help them. She says, focus on the good reactions I’ve received, and don’t give any energy to these haters. Writers can never please everyone. I thank her for listening to me, and for her words.


1 am Before going to bed, I read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” In this post apocalyptic novel, humans have resorted to cannibalism to survive. Yesterday in the story, the father and son nearly walked into a hunter trap. They accidentally discovered a mass of humans kept like livestock in the basement of a house.  I’ve watched the movie a few years ago. The more I read this, the better this story gets. I love it.

2 am The “gift of sleep”, the ancient Greek perspective. Happy to still be alive to enjoy another night of rest.


What are some of your daily or weekend routines?


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Check out previous blog posts:

Manipulation, heartbreak and recovery: my story

Korean traditional medicine: my first experience

Latin American Festival, Seoul 2017






Brunch at “Gobble n’ Go”, Itaewon Seoul

Although i’m no major foodie, there’s something that British women love, and that is breakfast. To complicate matters, I also lived in Canada, and thus I’ve also developed a taste for North American style breakfasts and bunches too.

Several weeks ago, my friends Buyeon and Anita decided that they’d take me to a cute restaurant on an early Sunday afternoon. It was buried beside many other competing restaurants scooped up behind the main Itaewon drag by the Hamilton hotel in Seoul. Taking a right beside the Hamilton, and then following the restaurant camino de deliciousness, we curved left with the alley, followed straight, and then, as we soon hit a narrow alley running perpendicular to us, we took an immediate right. There on the corner, with a halo on top, was Gobble n’ Go. We stepped inside.

After some indecision due to the temptations of sitting by pleasant air conditioning, we settled by the large front window, and because the day was hot, the attentive server quickly came over and suggested that we move into the air conditioned area of the restaurant further back. Perplexed by our determination to have a view and ‘endure’ the sun shine, he kindly lowered the blind for us a little to cut out some heat.


The quaint restaurant had light coloured, pretty furniture that reminded me of French decor. The servers seemed happy, and the place served mostly Koreans with a scattering of foreigners, all around the ages of 25 to 45. Gobble n’ Go had a clean, fresh feel to it, and I was delighted to see a water dispenser available for thirsty clients to refill their own glasses, since perhaps clients arrive hungover from the previous night’s shenanigans.



Even the toilet was cute! The style of the paintwork and the bathroom accessories were artsy. While the toilet itself was easy to spot, when I went to wash and dry my hands, my eyes had to search the interesting coloured walls to identify the soap and paper towel dispenser!




I ordered the Basil Chicken & Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict. There were two English muffins served with poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce, and each muffin had different toppings. One benedict contained smoked salmon and avocado, while the other contained basil pesto chicken, mushroom and Swiss cheese. These were accompanied by a delightful, small hash brown, and slice of crispy bacon, one juicy tomato slice and an amazing sliver of fried banana. Price: 16,000 won



On our second visit, I once again ordered the same thing! Anita ordered the Ham Cheese French Toast, which was served with scrambled egg, sausage and bacon, as well as dipping syrup for the sausages and French toast. My friend described it as a nice mix of salty and sweet. Price: 16,000 won


Buyeon tends to go for lunch rather than breakfast or bunch meal options. She chose the Big Boy Chili Smoky Hotdog. It included a grilled sausage with bacon, Mexican beef chili, Swiss and nacho cheese, a nice portion of fries and a salad. She seemed to enjoy it. Price: 15,000 won.



Gobble n’ Go also serves lunch dishes including burgers, philly steaks, omelettes, pancakes and salads. These options include fish & chips, Spanish garlic prawns, tomato/olive oil/rose and cream asparagus pasta dishes, as well as burger steaks.

Prices vary between 15,000 and 18,000 won.


Drink options include coffee, soda, sangria, beer and mojitos. Prices vary between 4,000 to 9,000 won.




Gobble n’ Go Facebook group


Where is your favourite breakfast/ brunch restaurant located, and what is your favourite dish there?


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Check out previous blog posts:

A guide to ordering Korean food

Korean traditional medicine: my first experience

Introducing K-POP’s SM Town at COEX Samsung, Seoul

Keep learning!




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