B.C. in the R.O.K – The Mystery of Korean Birth Control Solved

Confused about birth control in Korea? Considering a PhD in Korean Mime just to get your annual ‘girly’ check up? Read this first!!

Korea is extremely advanced in the world of medicine and technology (I even got a real time sneak peak at my ‘delicates’ last check up… :/). You can rest assured knowing that you need not embark on a contraception journey from the middle ages. Where ever you’re from in the world, your local OB/GYN will probably be able to provide you with your contraception of choice.

What’s available: Birth Control Pills, Contraceptive Patch (Evra), Vaginal Ring (Nuvaring), IUD – Mirena & Copper, and Implanon.

Birth Control Available in Korea

My birth control pill supply from home has run out. What should I do?

It is not recommended you bring a whole years supply of the pill from home due to the expiration period of medication. So, if you are on the pill, you will probably need to update your prescription in Korea. This can be quite a daunting task as you never know how your body will react to hormonal changes. Never fear, a quick look at the ingredients will keep you in safe waters.

The BC pill contains 2 main ingredients: Estrogen and Progesterone. The Estrogen levels in the pill are generally the same across the board (about 0.03mg). Progesterone levels can range from 0.05mg – 3mg. Match the Progesterone levels from your preferred brand to a brand available in Korea and your body might not even know the difference.

Check out the comprehensive list of BC pills available in Korea (all of which are available over the counter except for Diane35/Clairette -Stragen UK, Yasmin -Shering, and Yaz -Shering. You will need a prescription for these):

Most OB/GYN’s have a basic command of the English language so it might be worth venturing into your closest hospital and giving it a go. If not, there are plenty of English friendly office’s in the Itaewon area.

All information was provided by Dr. Sung’s Obstretics and Gynecology Clinic.

Tel: (02) 790-0802, Fax: (02) 790-5678

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Global Conscience: Part 3 – Creating History

Living the ex-pat life in Korea provides many an entertaining lifestyle: endless parties, cheap booze, adventurous food, multicultural mingling … etc, etc, etc till the han-u cows come home for some beer soaked feed.

BUT did you know that Korea offers a truly expansive list of opportunities outside of the bar? The type to carve the way for a better tomorrow?  Korea serves a truly unique platter of extra-curricular involvements from ‘saving the environment’ to ‘fighting for sight’. Before you ask: NO KOREAN SPEAKING REQUIRED! You can cancel the pre-emptive strike, these groups are made specially for you^^ Now that that’s out of the way, check out just a few of the organisations available to you in Korea:

Get down and dirty with your inner tree-hugger: Korean Mountain Preservation League Like hiking? Tag along with these guys, pick up a little trash, and keep some mountains clean for the next coming generations.

Korean Mountain Preservation League

Can’t bear to see animals suffer? Join The Bear Truth Just a bowl of porridge away from changing legislation, this group has caused such a stir about the inhumane treatment of Korea’s Moon Bear that they hit headlines at BBC:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11705543


The Bear Truth - November Campaign. Cheryl and the dancing Moon Bear.

Like to get your runners out and hit the pavement? Why not hit dirt with Team Dirt. This running group provides company and information for all your running adventures, as well as awareness for the rare inherited disease CHM. Ex-Pat FIGHTING … for SIGHT!!

Team Dirt

So, next time you find some random stranger reshaping your barstool bum-groove, don’t wait until that inconsiderate groove-ruiner has a bathroom break to steal back your chair (only to spend endless weekends getting it back into shape). Check out any number of exciting groups awaiting your involvement. You never know, you could leave Korea with a truly unique experience^^

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Why The Face? The Korean alternative to ‘Summer Glow’

Why is it that your local cosmetic shop has a distinct lack of sun? You will find a million and one products in defiance of the sun (sunscreen, whitening cream, illuminator), and rarely will you find any sign of a ‘healthy glow’ i.e. bronzer or fake tan.

Why are Koreans so concerned with sun protection, correcting sun damage, or staying so goddamn white?! Word around the traps suggests traditional hierarchy. You see, back in the ol’ days, farmers and labourers spent most of their time out in the sun , tending to their fields, soaking up the rays. Naturally, they would develop quite the (un)healthy tan. Meanwhile, royalty and dignitaries would spend their time inside, out of the sun (tending to what ever it is they tend to), maintaining porcelain white skin.

So, that explains the mystery of the missing bronzer. What alternative did cosmetic companies offer Korean ladies looking for a little shape in their face? Once again, ‘Get it beauty’ (onStyle) got the answer: Shader. Shader functions much the same as bronzer: to shape and contour the face, but with less ‘sun color’. It literally ‘shades’ your face. Ever so lightly. Ever notice how NON-contoured Korean style make up is?

How does it make you prettier?: Use the shader to slim down parts of your face: sides of your nose, under the cheekbones and around the hairline. Use in conjunction with ‘highlighter’ (shiny white stuff that, well, highlights) to make other areas stand out: bridge of your nose, top of the cheek bones, chin and forehead.


SkinFood's All Over Muffin Cake Finish


Mystery solved. The End.

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Non-Surgical Eyelid Enhancers: Double Eyelid Tape

For those that haven’t noticed, Korea has a fascination with cosmetic surgery. Sure women are getting botox, tummy-tucks and boob-jobs all over the world but over here, Korean’s have taken it to a whole new level. Walking down the streets of Seoul, it’s more than common to cross a woman who has had any of the following procedures: blepharoplasty (eye-lid surgery), craniofacial surgery (changing the shape of your face, specifically jaw-bone often to create the popular ‘egg shape’ and ‘v-line’),  fat grafting under the eye, cheek implants, calf implants, rhinoplasty and so much more! Korea is OBSESSED! And it’s spreading. More and more Asian tourists are traveling to Korea to get their surgery of choice.

In a world of such contrived appearances, what’s a girl to do? You could fork out a tower of bills and weeks of pain for your chance at permanent ‘beauty’ or … you could pop down to your corner Family Mart and pick up a pack of eyelid strips!! (right next to the blinged up bra straps and the nipple covers)

As an Austra-pino, I’m blessed to have my mothers almond shaped eyes and my fathers distinct eyelids. Non-the-less, I’m still fascinated by these little strips of plastic promising all the beauty an eyelid can bring.  So how exactly do they work? How does a little plastic strip and accompanying applicator (not unlike a little plastic fork) give you an eyelid?

According to the folks at “Get It Beauty” (OnStyle late night beauty show), it’s really quite simple.

1- With the end of your applicator stick, poke around your eye socket till you’ve found a good place to put your eyelid crease.

2- Pop on your eyelid tape to match the shape of your desired eyelid.

3- Using the 2-ended prong of your applicator stick, push your eyelid tape as far back into your eye socket as you can before you start seeing stars. If you look like a cat who has been patted too rough, you’re on the right track.

4- Apply eyeliner and eye shadow by the truck load to cover up the tape.

Voila!! You have a non-surgically enhanced eyelid! But how does it actually work? Well, when you push that tape to the back of your skull, it sticks in place keeping some of your eyelid back in the socket.

Tape sound too tricky? You’re in luck! Say hello to eyelid glue. It does practically the same thing just in liquid form. Paint a little along your ‘crease line’, let it dry a little then poke that applicator stick right up behind your eyeball.

Do you get self-conscious about your eyelids?

Ever tried eyelid tape? Every want to?

Are you now secretly checking out all your co-workers eyelids?

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Top 4 Korean Beauty Foods

We’ve all read the beauty food articles about the positive effects of salmon, avocado, green tea, dark chocolate, red wine. Well, in western magazines/blogs anyways. As far as E-Mart’s “avocado-to-other fruits” ratio shows, we aren’t all on the same magazine page here. So what do Korean’s consider ‘beauty foods’?

A couple years of observation and some sneaky surveys of my co-workers (plus a quick Google fact-check) show that these are the top 4 “Korean Beauty Foods”:

1. Ginseng. Often referred to as the ‘root of life’, this interesting little root is revered as one of the world’s most potent natural medicines. Benefits: Ginseng is high in antioxidants. What does that mean? When your body is cleansing of free radicals and other nasties *cue antioxidants*, it shows through your noticeably sparklier eyes and clearer, more radiant skin. Oh, and did I mention it’s also a great anti-inflammatory, contains stress reducing properties, lowers cholesterol, is great for preventing infectious diseases and can improve physical and mental performance?

2. Kimchi. “Korean kimchi is undoubtedly the healthiest food on the planet” according to Eric Armstrong of treelight.com Whether or not it’s THE healthiest food on the planet, it sure can make you beautiful. Benefits: The answer lies in the ingredients. Spicy Peppers are great for your metabolism, Cabbage, Onions, and Unpasteurized Vinegar promote intestinal health, and Refined Sesame Oil has a very high concentration of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. What does it mean? Same as the antioxidant effects of ginseng, the state of your intestinal health shows on your face. Ever wonder why colonics is such a popular beauty treatment? Pardon my language but when you are full of shit, you look like shit. When your intestines are healthy, you will look healthy. As for the spicy peppers, giving your metabolism a kick in the butt means one great thing – puppies for everyone!! No, of course not (even though I wouldn’t mind getting a puppy for eating peppers). It means that your body will function better and faster. Read: lose weight, get prettier. Lastly, refined sesame oil is extremely unique in its high concentration of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Think salmon but better!

3. Seaweed. Seaweed is literally mermaid magic. Ok, maybe not ‘mermaid magic’ specifically but it’s equivalent to what it would do for you if they would just hand over their damn secrets! A wise man wrote a description plenty better than me so I will let him explain. Benefits: According to Seibin and Teruko Arasaki, authors of Vegetables from the Sea, “All of the minerals required by human beings, including calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron, and zinc are present in sufficient amounts. In addition, there are many trace elements in seaweeds.” Edible plants from the sea also contain important vitamins including vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, and folic acid. Analysis has shown trace amounts of vitamin B12, wich rarely occurs in land vegetables. What does it mean? Seaweed feeds the shafts and ducts of the scalp to help improve the health of hair. It has been said that the thick, black, lustrous hair of the Japanese is partly due to their regular diet of brown sea vegetables such as arame. Research has shown that minerals are important to healthy hair growth, and arame has a high mineral content. health.learninginfo.org

4. Dakbal (chicken feet) As you may have read in my previous post Scratch That, chicken feet are considered a top beauty food and delicacy in Korea as well as through out Asia. Benefits: Dakbal is renowned for its high concentration of collagen, found in all that crunchy cartilage surrounding the feet bones. What does it mean? Crunch away at those chewy feet and you can expect the collagen to improve your skin, keeping it young and supple beyond its years.

Do you have any secret Korean beauty ticks up your sleeve?

Heard any crazy ones from friends or co-teachers?

Any crazy beauty experiment stories?

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Global Conscience – Part 2: The airing of the laundry

Got some pre-loved clothes you need to get rid of? Perhaps you’ve just cleaned out your wardrobe or maybe you’re getting ready to move back home. Either way, it seems a little wasteful and impractical to cram all those clothes into trash bags only to add them  to the increasing mounds of already unnecessary landfill.

You need not dump your clothes on the street anymore!

Well, there is a much more practical, convenient and heart warming solution available.      시니어 클럽 (Senior Club) is a senior volunteer run organization that collects your used clothing, mends them back to tip top shape and sells/donates them to people in need. Hold onto last season’s fat pants, it gets even better! They will literally drive to your apartment or school to pick up your old clothes. It doesn’t get much easier than that! All you need to do is ring them up (261-2101 for those in Chuncheon), give them your location and organize a time and place for collection. As this is a volunteer organization, chances are you will reach some lovely ajuma’s and ajushi’s with limited English skills. My suggestion: go buy your co-teacher a present and ask them to do a little translating for you.

Onto an entertaining tangent, let me share with you the finest of inventive recycling from around the world!! (courtesy of  Australian Woman’s Health Magazine)

Pet Hair: The site says it best “IT’S AS EASY AS …1-BRUSH YOUR PET, 2-SEND US YOUR FUR, 3-RECEIVE YOUR YARN” vipfibers.com will spin your pets hair into yarn and send it back to you so you can knit that cat hair scarf you’ve always wanted!!

Sustainable jewelery: Want quality jewellery without 20 tonnes of mineral mining waste on your conscience? Check out ethicaljewels.com.au for jewellery made from recycled gold and platinum.

Sex Toy Recycling … Discretion is name of the game (unless you’re into THAT kind of thing …) when disposing of ‘pre-loved’ sex toys. Scarletgirl.com sells your ‘used goods’ to be recycled into things like running shoe soles and gives you credit for your next purchase in return.

Old tyre, new wallet … Too many tires, not enough wallets? Well newint.com.au has the answer for you. Tyreiwas travel wallet is made in Kenya (under Fair Trade principles) from old tyres that would otherwise be burnt or left to rot.

Happy recycling everyone!

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Etude House: WTF?!

If you are looking for novelty-WTF-skincare that might provide minutes of entertainment (and possibly even care for your skin), then check out Aqua Sherbet Ice Toner and First Snow Pack by Etude House.

Aqua Sherbet Ice Toner. From afar, this deceptive product looks like a standard addition to your average bathroom cabinet. Investigate a little further a.k.a. sales girl bombardment upon store entry, and you will find the MAGICAL POWERS of Etude House!! Yup, it’s actual magic. The proof is in the proverbial pudding -the oohs and aahs of customers lured by customer service demonstration.

Let me give you a brief description:1) shake can, 2) spray product (think slimy hair-mouse) into hand, preferably in the shape of a Mr. Whippy ice-cream, 3) wait 2 seconds as it solidifies then … voila!! You now have a solid-form applicator that seeps toner when squeezed …

Is it magic? You can bet your bottom dollar it is. Will I use it on my face? Not a chance.

Ice cream or face mask? Believe it or not, the face mask is the package with the picture of the potato ...

First Snow Pack – avail in Aloe Vera and Potato. Also very deceiving in appearance. At a brief glance, one would assume this was some type of delicious, frozen confectionary (if you’ve ever scoured the ice-cream freezers at your local FamilyMart, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about). On closer inspection, one will discover a variety of face masks designed to improve your skin in a variety of different ways. Personally, the only improvement I foresee is temporary cooling of my face on a hot day (if I kept it in the fridge next to my ice cream). This might drive me to the closest stockist on a steamy summer day save for one foreseeable disappointment: swallowing a giant mouthful of left over face mask next time I’m searching my freezer for a refreshing ice-cream.

Thoughts in a nutshell: big thumbs up to the creators of such novelty items. You’ve definitely caught my attention. Pity these creative brains were only used for developing packaging instead of higher quality products. Would anyone in their right mind put chemicals that turn foam into a sponge onto their face?!

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