How to Beat the Heat and Humidity

By , July 21, 2014 6:33 pm

Summer in Ulsan can be hard to handle, as the temperatures rise above 30*C (that’s 86*Fahrenheit for those that are metrically challenged) and humidity soars into the 70%-90% range. Hear are some methods for dealing with the heat for those of you who may not come from similar climates.

1. Koreans swear by eating hot soup on the 3 hottest days of the summer. These days are pre-determined according to the Lunar Calendar (July 18, 28 and Aug 7, 2014), and are not necessarily the hottest in terms of temperature. Nicknamed the “dog days”, some folks still eat dog soup (boshintang), but more and more are moving over to Samgyetang (삼계탕), or chicken soup. Eating hot soup (and you can also spice it up – it’s served with a side of pepper paste and such to mix in if you want) will make you sweat, and when the sweat evaporates from your skin, you’ll feel cooler. samgyetang

2. Another popular summer dish is Naengmyeon (냉면), an icy buckwheat noodle soup where the noodles are served in a cold, vinegary broth filled with crushed ice, and topped by chopped vegetables. It can be an acquired taste, but ask some Koreans to tell you where there is a good naengmyeon restaurant, as quality makes all the difference with this dish.


3. Patbingsu (팟빙수) is a summer favourite in Korea, to the extent that new Bingsu-only cafes are popping up all over the place. The original dish (Patbingsu means red beans with ice) has evolved from being a bowl of crushed ice topped with sweetened red bean sauce, to include other toppings, like ddeok (rice cake) ice cream and fruit salad. In the past few years, cafes started to offer different Bingsu flavours, such as Nok-cha (green tea) bingsu, oreo bingsu, and mango bingsu, to name a few. Be forewarned, this is meant to be a shared treat, so bring at least one friend with you.


4. Hit the water! Here in Ulsan, we’re lucky to be right on the coast, and we have several beaches within an hour’s drive (closer if you live in Donggu or down near Jinha). If you live in the west end of town, and Donggu is a bit of a trek, check out the swimming hole at the Seonbawi Bridge in Guyeongli – right at the end of the Taehwa River walking/biking path. It’s shallow and rocky (swim shoes are a good idea), but the water is cool. Added bonus, Seonbawi (Standing Rock) is one of Ulsan’s 12 Scenic Sites, so you can knock that off your Ulsan Bucket List while you cool off. Just make sure you stay within the swimming areas wherever you go.

Why I avoid Haeundae Beach in the summer...

Why I avoid Haeundae Beach in the summer…

5. Put up window shades. If your apartment gets stifling hot during the day, and you either don’t have or don’t want to use air conditioning (or you want to keep your electricity bills within reason), try adding a blind to your windows. White on the outside helps reflect the sun, and it can make a surprising difference on how hot it gets inside.

6. Cold showers and fans. Again, if you’re air-con free for whatever reason, this is a great way to cool your whole body. Take a cool shower (or spritz yourself with water kept in the fridge), and sit or lie in front of the fan to dry off. Repeat as necessary. If you’re worried about Fan Death, most Korean made fans have built in timers, so you don’t have to worry about falling asleep and being assassinated by an appliance.


7. If you are using an air conditioner, make sure your windows and doors are closed to maximize its effectiveness and minimize your bill size.

8. The extra humidity in the air can cause some wet, sticky, embarrassing problems for some folks. If you’re finding you need to wring out your clothes part way through the day, try buying some athletic gear that is made from “technical fibers” that wick sweat and moisture to the outside of the clothes, allowing it to evaporate quickly. Cotton tends to hold moisture, so while it can feel cooler when you first put it on, if you sweat, it’ll stay damp for ages (which is why it’s not a great fabric for winter wear). Also, choose colours that are lighter, as they reflect the heat better than dark tones, and loose fitting clothes that allow air to move against the skin.

We've all been there...

We’ve all been there…

9. Make sure you drink plenty of (non-alcoholic/non-caffeinated) liquids throughout the day. Being dehydrated raises your body temperature, so drinking lots of water to replace the stuff lost to perspiration is really important, moreso if you’re active. If you’re exercising in this heat, now’s the time to consider sports drinks to keep well hydrated.

Not good for rehydration purposes. Drink water first, then move on to beer.

At night, it’s a different story.

10. Use a homemade cold compress to cool your sheets for a better night’s sleep. Fill a cotton sock with rice, and tie it off. Then freeze the sock for two hours. Then you can either rub it over your sheets to cool the bed, or put it on the back of your neck to cool your body. The rice will hold the cold for a long time, and won’t get everything all wet. It’s like the opposite of a hot water bottle for the winter.

Hopefully some of these hints will help you feel a little more comfortable. Here’s a picture sending cool thoughts your way:




What you should know about BAPS (Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary)

By , July 17, 2014 6:53 pm

This article was written by Leo, one of the two people who run the Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary. It’s pretty much the only no-kill dog shelter in the Busan-Ulsan area. The article was written in response to some negative comments, and posted on their Facebook page. With Leo’s permission, I’m sharing it here, because I think it’s important stuff to think about – not just for this particular shelter, but for any service run by volunteers with the intention of helping others.

(By Leo Mendoza)

1. BAPS has no full time employees.

I (Leo) have two full time jobs (university teaching and dog kenneling), a part time job (radio production) and multiple free-lance jobs. Jin has two full time jobs (school teaching and dog kenneling). The other person involved regularly is the worker who comes to clean and feed the dogs Tuesday and Thursday, and she receives a small cash stipend from BAPS to cover her transportation and time. She also has a full time job.

2. BAPS has no government or corporate support.

Despite our best efforts, over the past 6 years it has been impossible to find support from anyone other than individuals who donate graciously to BAPS.

3. BAPS costs 2,500,000 per month to run.

Our main expenses are rent, dog food, and regular monthly dog medical supplies. Over the years we have worked hard to be able to buy the food and medicine at great bulk discounts. If we were paying retail prices, the monthly cost would be close to 4 million. BAPS donations are always used towards dogs. All associated costs (transportation, snacks, drinks, management, etc) are paid out of pocket by Leo and Jin.

4. BAPS collects an average of 1,000,000 per month. (now)


From 2008 to 2010 income from other sources was zero.

From 2010 to 2011 income was around 400,000 per month.

From 2011 to 2013 income was around 900,000 per month.

2014 has seen income at a little less than 1,000,000 per month.


The rest of the money needed to pay for the operating of BAPS has come out of Leo and Jin’s pocket. We don’t say this to show off, but to simply lay it down as it is, for all to see.

One of the many spaniels abandoned when it got "too big", rescued by BAPS

One of the many spaniels abandoned when it got “too big”, rescued by BAPS (from the BAPS site)

5. Medical emergencies, spay, neuter, are additional.

Thanks to the support of friendly vets, we pay great discount prices for medical care. Still, even with that help, the medical costs are significant. We spend an average of 5,000,000 a year in emergency medical care plus spay/neuter and heartworm treatments. The great bulk of this money comes from fundraisers organized by volunteers.

6. We know BAPS looks like crap by western standards, but…

We provide a far superior service to our dogs than do just about all the other shelters in Korea. Remember, the government does not support ANY shelters (just pounds).

These are some of the things we have that you will probably not find in other shelters in Korea:

-We vaccinate ALL dogs against every danger found here.

-We provide Heartgard and Frontline to all dogs

-We have a proven history of regular adoption. About 400 so far.

-We have NEVER had a dog get pregnant at BAPS

-We test EVERY dog for safe antibodies levels

-We are 100% No Kill

You’ll just have to take our word for it, but these things are rare in Korea. And they have been damn hard to achieve. Much sweat, sacrifice, and suffering has been spent to get to this level.

7. BAPS does not own our location.

It is a former pig farm, and looks like crap. But BAPS is thoroughly disinfected regularly, and our dogs almost never get skin infections, and we have NEVER had a viral or bacterial outbreak.  Of course, we would love to move to a better facility, buy we can’t afford the cost of purchasing land and building a proper shelter. When to comes to renting,  the fact is that NO on wants to rent to us. Dogs are loud and smelly, and bring property values down. Hence the pig farm.

8. BAPS will never grow beyond what it is.

This is a hard conclusion we’ve reached after all these years. Every step of running BAPS is a losing fight.

The government will not support dogs in this country. They even refuse to recognize dog shelters as legal charities, and won’t let us register as a charitable organization.

We will never have sustainable donations, because the great majority of people who donate to us are foreigners in Korea, and by definition leave the country after a couple years. No one who’s left has ever donated regularly after departing.

Because it takes time and money to make money, BAPS is incapable of raising money to sustain itself, much less to raise money enough to pay a full time worker, or upgrade facilities. It just isn’t going to happen.

9. Despite all this, the dogs are happy.

Yes, our dogs have to spend months confined in the cages.Yes, our dogs go the entire week without having human contact.

But there’s one key fact: OUR DOGS ARE ALIVE.

These dogs would have all been killed 10 days after arriving to the pound had we not pulled them from there. So what if they have to stay a few months in the cages? When they come out they are happy. They get all the food they need, they are protected from the weather, they have enough space to walk around, and they are socialized with people.

I can cite many, many emails, messages, calls, etc. that Jin and I have received from the families who have adopted a BAPS dog and taken them all over the world. Our dogs are happy and loving parts of these families.

We know that the dogs at BAPS will eventually find their home. It may not be this week, or this month, or perhaps even this year. But they will all live.

10. We won’t quit.

BAPS is a life draining prison for us. It has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy a couple of times. It has drained away all possibility of vacations, hobbies, or even a weekend away. The stress it causes even sent me to the hospital once.

But we do this because we look around and see that NO ONE else is doing it. Thousands of dogs die at the pounds in Busan, and no one else is doing anything. We feel it is our moral duty to give a chance to live to the dogs we can.

We know what your western standards are. We’d love to implement them. But we don’t have the money or the free time to do them.  So, here’s a final thought:

When you feel you have the next great ideas for improving BAPS, don’t just say “Leo, you should do X in order for BAPS to grow!” Please consider that your idea costs money I don’t have, and time I don’t have.

If you really want to help, say” Leo, I will do X in order for BAPS to grow!”

Volunteers on the weekend Dog Walk

Volunteers on the weekend Dog Walk – Sundays at 11am. See their Facebook page for details. (from BAPS site)

THAT’S the kind of action we need. That’s how we got our playgrounds built, the Ulsan fundraiser, and other recent projects that people have enacted.

Whatever happens, we are committed to saving dogs in our local community. This is what we do. We don’t apologize to anyone for BAPS not being up to western standards. This is the best that can be done with zero resources. We do this for the dogs. We do not do it for anything else. The dogs.

(If you are considering adopting a dog, please read this post.)

What to do with a Stray Animal

By , July 11, 2014 5:38 pm

Regularly we get posts on the Ulsan Online Facebook group from kind-hearted people who have found a stray cat or dog (or sometimes even rabbit) on the streets, and want to help the creature out. Here is a post from BAPS explaining the best procedure you can follow should you find yourself in that situation. BAPS deals with dogs, but the advice is similar for other animals.

From the Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary (BAPS):

Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary usually gets 10-20 messages per month from people who want us to take in dogs they find. We’d love to take them all, but it is simply impossible for us. Our funding and infrastructure support maximum 30 dogs on site, and we have to keep those numbers if we want to survive financially.

So, the first thing you should NOT think when you want to rescue a dog is “I can send it to BAPS”. We do not take dogs from people, for a variety of complex reasons related to medical quarantine. (We take dogs from a pound that provides quarantine observation/treatment for dogs pre-selected)

What about other shelters? Well, basically, there are no other shelters in the area that take in dogs and do not euthanize them. This is the sad reality. The only option is for you to follow the procedures below in order to give the dog a chance.

You see a stray dog on the street, here’s the questions you need to ask yourself:

1- Are you able to keep the dog in your house for 2-6 months (or permanently)? If not, do you have a person who could do it?

2- Are you able to afford minimum 100,000won up to 300,000won for basic medical treatment/assessment assuming the dog is not critically ill?

If you answer “no” to either of those questions, we recommend you do not pick up the dog until you have secured both those options.

If you answered yes, go on…

3- Do you have a pet in your house?

If you answered “yes”, do NOT take the dog home. It could present a serious health risk to your pet.

If you touch the dog, thoroughly disinfect yourself and your clothing. Secure a home for the dog, and go on…

If you’ve solved questions 1-3, these are the steps you need to take:

1. Go to a vet with the dog, check for a microchip, and ask for the following procedures:

a) Distemper and Parvovirus ANTIBODIES test. (Note: this is not a negative/positive test). The test should be assessed in a scale of 1-6. If the result is 4 or below for either level, ask the vet to give booster shots.

NOTE that if the result is under 4, the dog could already be infected with either of these deadly diseases. It will take up to 3 weeks for incubation, and if one develops, death is nearly certain, and you will spend up to 600,000 won  trying to treat it.

b) Heartworm test (positive/negative)

c) Age assessment

d) Skeletal assessment

e) General health checkup.

The vet assessment may reveal a multitude of potential mild to serious issues, some which could cost hundreds of thousands to treat. We recommend that after the assessment you consider your finances, and then make a responsible decision about if you will continue to be responsible for the dog,or ask the vet to call the pound.

If you decide to continue, go on…

2. You should know that the vast majority of stray dogs in Korea will not have someone looking for them, so don’t get your hopes up that the owner will be found. However, you should create a flyer in Korea that gives a general description of the dog (size, color, breed, temperament), and a Korean speaker’s phone number. Do NOT include a picture of the dog, or identifying mark information. This is to prevent dog meat traders from posing as the owner. If someone does come forward, ask for photographic proof of ownership.

Post the flyer at local vets, pet shops, police stations,and community bulletin boards.

2. For finding a permanent adopter, take many high quality pictures of the dog, from different angles, and create a profile for the dog on

3. Be patient. It can take months to find an adopter…

Picking up a dog off the street is a much more complicated issue than people think at first. We have seen countless heartbreak and frustration from people who get into a situation they are not able to deal with.

Of course we also have seen many dogs go on to beautiful long lives, and give years of love and joy to their new family.

We ask that everyone who takes a dog do so responsibly, and we are here to provide advice and any assistance within our means.

Typhoon Neoguri expected in Ulsan this week

By , July 7, 2014 4:36 pm

Typhoon Neoguri, which is currently classed as a Category 4 Super-typhoon with winds up to 250km/hr, is blowing it’s heart out over the East China Sea, and bearing down on poor Okinawa, Japan, which is a typhoon magnet and gets pummelled regularly.

The current forecast predicts that Ulsan has a 70% chance of being in the path of this typhoon, which will likely make landfall here on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. By that point, Neoguri will be of strong to normal intensity, and medium to small scale. The winds are forecast between 112 and 155km/hr by that point, which would make it a category 1 typhoon, or a severe tropical storm.

If you’re from an American Gulf Coast state or another bit of the planet that often gets typhoon/hurricane/cyclones, you’ve probably experienced worse storms than what we’ll get here in Ulsan, but if you’re new to the experience, it can be a bit worrying. In the past, most of the typhoons predicted to hit Ulsan have tended to either veer off in a new direction, or die-down significantly once they hit Japan, meaning we rarely get hit with more than a tropical storm. This generally means there will be a storm surge up the Taehwa River. The flood plain for the river is wide and deep, so while the few underpasses and the riverside recreational trails may be flooded and dangerous, the majority of the roadways stay fairly clear. For safety, keep well back from the water in the Taehwa, the neighbourhood streams, as well as along the coastal beaches. There may also be spot-flooding in other low-lying areas of the city, but most of the roads remain drivable (not recommended for scooters/bicycles/motorcycles!) as long as the rain is not blinding. The wind gusts can be alarming.

Usually, if it is still predicted to be a typhoon when it hits Ulsan, schools are cancelled and it’s recommended you stay indoors and not make unnecessary trips out and about, though it’s hard to know this early if the storm will actually be severe enough to warrant this. In my 9.5 years here, I have yet to experience a storm that cut off power or water supplies, so you likely don’t need to stock up on rations or candles, though you may want to make sure you have some food in the house to avoid having to go out. There is sometimes some wind-damage, such as blown down tree-limbs or unsecured signs that could hurt to get hit by, which is why staying inside is a good plan.

To track the storm, follow the Typhoon Information link to the Korean Meteorological Association.

To see the after-effects of the last major storm to hit Ulsan (Sanba), in 2012, check out our photos here and here.

OMK Bikes

By , July 6, 2014 10:12 am


In our ongoing series of articles which explore the “must-see” places in Ulsan, we head to OMK bikes in Taehwa-dong. This shop has been a long time partner of Ulsan Online and a shop which is dedicated to helping foreigners with their cycling needs. Few bike shops offer the kind of service help that OMK provides to foreigners.


OMK offers high quality bicycles, precision fitting and used bikes as well. While there is a selection of premium bikes that few foreigner can afford, there are also a lot of great deals on used bikes. OMK offers a great buy back policy on their bikes as they understand that foreigners may not want to take their bikes with them. OMK deals with high quality bikes for all levels of riders.


For foreigners, there is a bit of special treatment and I don’t mind that at all. Aside from purchasing your bike back from you when you leave, they also offer other benefits. If you want to take your bike with you, they will help arrange packaging and shipping. This is a big plus as the crew at OMK know exactly how to package your bike to get it home in one piece. Not to mention, 2 years after service for your bike!


OMK also has a standing discount of about 10%-30% off for foreigners. This is quite a good deal if you are looking to buy a more expensive bike. OMK has a lot of top brands like Trek, Cannondale, Specialized and many others. They have a wide selection of Brompton Bikes which are pricey but perfect for small apartments. These are handmade in England and very stylish these days.


Joey and the crew are also great riders and have weekly rides every Sunday morning. However, they are also available for bike tours around the city. This is something that would be a great asset for those looking to get a better feel for the city. I have yet to make it out for a ride with the guys, but don’t be afraid to ask them for more details.


The bottomline is that OMK is a shop for a levels of riders. They have used bikes if you are looking for just something to ride around on as well as brand name bikes and pro bikes that cast more than my car. They are also certified to fit the bikes which is important if you are purchasing a specialized bike.


For more information, check out our partner page or head over to OMK and see what they have to offer. They are located across from Jaeil Middle School in Taehwa-dong. You can call them at 052-249-4700


Difficult to Find Ingredients

By , July 4, 2014 4:39 pm

Every week on the Ulsan Online Facebook group, we get requests for help locating specific, non-Korean ingredients or food that are not available in the neighbourhood marts, or even some larger grocery stores. Here is a list of places around Ulsan, or online, to check for those harder-to-find ingredients.

Costco – While they still focus on Korean foods, there are many treasures tucked away in the warehouse style store. Things like sour cream, bacon, and varities of snack foods and candies can be found. You do need a membership card to buy things here (about 35,000won), and the items come in bulk sizes, so sometimes a shopping buddy is a good idea. There’s a whole article on getting to Costco here, and it’s pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”. (Closed the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month, New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year’s (Seolnal) and Chuseok holidays).


The full sized map is available in our article

Foreign Town – This shop, located across from the bus terminals in Samsandong, sells a wide range of food from many cultures. Curry pastes, Chinese sauces, lentils and lamb are just a hint at the goodies that can be found here. Chances are, if you’re looking for a non-Korean ingredient in Ulsan, you can find it here. It’s also pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”.

There are two other foreigner-marts out in Donggu, “Asian Food Mart” and “Best Asian Mart” (pinned under “Shopping”, and one of the Vietnamese restaurants (Asia Vietnam Mart – pinned under “Dining”) in Seongnamdong (Shinae) has a mart selling Vietnamese products.

Bakery Supply Store – These guys cater to the baking industry, but the shop also has some general foreign food products. They have New Zealand butter, oatmeal, syrups, tortillas, and a changing array of other supplies. It’s worth taking a nose around to see what goodies can be found. And if you’re into baking, it’s a must-visit place. They have a large supply warehouse out back, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the shelves, ask the staff. You may need a phone translator or knowledgable Korean friend to help out, though many ingredients have Konglish names. Being able to read Hangeul will be helpful, too. Pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”. – This website seems to be the answer to most of the “where can I find” an ingredient questions. They also stock some non-food products, such as deodorant, that can be elusive in Korean shops. People often share their discount codes on the UO Facebook group, and shipping is apparently quite quick and efficient. The best part of iherb is that you don’t have to leave your home to find what you’re looking for.

Homeplus, Emart, MegaMart, Lotte Mart – These larger chain grocery stores (all pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”) carry more and more foreign products all the time, especially Homeplus, which is owned by Tesco, a UK-based company. There is usually a section of an aisle dedicated to foreign foods, but some of the foods can be scattered throughout the shop. Sometimes it takes a bit of scouring to find what you’re looking for, but many “basic” foreign ingredients can be found in these big shops. As with Costco, they observe the governments special closing days for big grocery stores, but these days can vary. We try to keep up-to-date information about the twice-per-month closures on the Events Calendar, but we apologize that it’s not always accurate (they change frequently). The general rule is either the 2nd Sunday or Wednesday and the 4th Sunday or Wednesday – so maybe just avoid shopping Sundays and Wednesdays ;)


Department Store Groceries – New Core, Hyundai, Lotte – The grocery stores in the basements of the department stores (all pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”) tend to be pricier than the chain grocery stores, but they also carry some foreign products, and they tend to have the widest selection of cheeses. If you’re not counting your ship-wons, you can find some really nice import products on their shelves, including chocolate and biscuits. The department stores tend to be closed on Mondays.

Checkbook – A tiny used bookstore in Mugeodong that sells British chocolate bars and some snacks on the side. Pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”.

A sample of Checkbook's non-literary goodies

Gringos Korea – Craving a burrito? These guys home-make Mexican food and ship all over Korea, and the burritos are darned good. You have to order 6 things in an order, so if you don’t have a freezer, invite some friends over for a delicious party! Just send them a message through their Facebook page.


Gringos many burritos

Mediterranean Food in Korea - Another online business where they deliver hard-to-find treats to your home.

Jake Corre, contributing Restaurant Reviewer and member of the UO Facebook group had these places to add:

Gmarket is always worth checking, they have lots of things that aren’t readily available in stores.

Other websites: is a French store out of Seoul that makes a variety of sausages, pates, and currently just one cheese but they want to expand I believe. Online orders only. is the only place selling homemade goat cheese that I’m aware of. You can order online or head up to the farm in Gyeongju and pet a goat then eat its cheese.

This place sells duck eggs:…

Chinese stuff! There are a number of Chinese groceries around town. They all have the basics but vary on additional things. They don’t have consistent stocks so I can’t really point you to specifics for the most part, but at Hakseong Park there are two more or less right next to each other so that’s a good place to start. The two near City Hall aren’t far apart either. These pins are approximate, the signs are in Chinese so just look for that.
City Hall: 643-1 Sinjeong 1(il)-dong, Nam-gu, Ulsan, South Korea This one is pretty friendly, on the main road. Left side if you’re going from City Hall toward the river. Big selection.
455-29 Sinjeong 3(sam)-dong, Nam-gu, Ulsan, South Korea This one is close to Gu Gu Gu and run by the same people, also a good selection of sauces and stuff. Right side of the main road if walking toward the river.
Hakseong Park: South Korea, Ulsan, Jung-gu, Hakseong-dong, 35-14 학성가사원 This one is called Asia Mart in English and is directly across from the big Hakseong bus stop. They usually have looseleaf green tea, and tofu skins in the freezer. Sometimes you get the stink eye here and sometimes they sit you down and insist you have lunch with them, it’s a good one.
291-5 Hakseong-dong, Jung-gu, Ulsan, South Korea This one is brand new. They have a huge selection of different varieties of lao gan ma (Angry Lady sauce).
Hogye: 730-6 Hogye-dong, Buk-gu, Ulsan, South Korea I’m not as familiar with Hogye so I hope that’s the right location, it’s on the small dry stream that runs through the central area, near the market. Generic Chinese grocery, there’s no reason to go to it specially but if you’re in Hogye it’s more convenient.

Vietnamese stuff! Every (true) Vietnamese restaurant (not the chain Pho restaurants owned by Koreans) has a store attached. The biggest one is Thao Uyen’s, you can find the location in the restaurant guide. The second floor is the restaurant, but go up the stairs and there’s a Vietnamese grocery. They also have some non-Vietnamese stuff, like dates from the UAE.

Nobody at these Chinese/Vietnamese stores speaks English. They usually speak Korean, or if you know Chinese or Vietnamese that is best. You can get by with miming.

Of the street markets I find Ujeong and Sinjeong markets the most likely to have exotic (for Korea) vegetables. I’ve found turnips, beets, jalapenos, and cilantro in those on occasion. The big permanent street market in Seongnamdong near the E-Mart tends to have a good selection of the basics and is cheap. Never buy seafood at a street market in summer because there’s not much ice being used most of the time.

As an addition to the big shops note, every store’s inventory is different. The Jung-gu Homeplus typically has the largest variety of exotic stuff, even moreso now that it’s being remodeled and turned into like a Trader Joe’s or whatever the hell is going on in there. Find the sales shelf too, sometimes there’ll be relatively nonperishable stuff put out on ridiculous sale. I’m still using a kilo tub of gochujang I got like eight months ago for 500 won on the sale shelf.

There is also a small Asian Mart in Mohwa, the northern end of Ulsan, past Hogye and Cheongok (end of the line for the 402 bus) that carries goat meat.

(Thanks, Jake! Lots of great places to explore!)

Jason Teale, long time Editor and resident Photographer here at also added these:

If you’re in Busan, check out the Shinsegae Food Market in Marine City (between Haeundae and Gwanganli Beaches). It’s pricey, but has a lot of hard to find ingredients.

Or try ordering from High Street Market, which carries a lot of premium, hard to find foods, from aged English cheddars to Bob’s Mill flours and gluten free brownie mix. Some of the prices might seem high, but remember, this is the only place to find many of these things in Korea, and they’ll ship it to your house.

If you know of any other places that I’ve either forgotten to list, or don’t know about, please share them with us! Add a comment, post on, and/or add it to the Where to Find section of the Survival Guide. Happy eating!


Whale Festival Weekend

By , July 4, 2014 10:46 am

The Whale Festival kicked off last night with a small fireworks display at the Taehwagang Park, and continues on over the weekend. The Event Schedule is on the Ulsanwhale website. There will be performances on stage, Whale Boat Races on the Taehwa River, a local craft market, and of course lots of food and soju available at the main festival location at the Taewhagang Park, and at the secondary location at the Jangsaengpo Whale Museum.

This event is controversial, as it does offer whale meat for sale, and the ongoing whaling by Korea through “scientific” and “by-catch” loopholes is an issue of contention (especially when fishermen are known to set nets along established whale migration routes in order to “accidentally” catch cetaceans).

For Jason

By , June 30, 2014 6:52 pm

This past week, the Ulsan expat community was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of our own, Jason Lappies. Jason lived in Ulsan for several years, and was a fixture behind the bar at Cima, serving drinks as Al’s right hand, and keeping us happily in beer and cocktails. He had returned to the States for a while, but was due to return to Ulsan in just a few weeks, when tragedy struck. The details are not clear, but it appears he passed away in his sleep one night, unexpectedly for a young, athletic man.

Jason and Al at Cima (photo from his Facebook page)

Jason and Al at Cima (photo from his Facebook page)

Jason was a lively character, and had a lot of stories to tell. He was always willing to lend a helping hand, doing things like supplying his newly arrived neighbour with a weeks-worth of cooked rice when they hadn’t had a chance to go shopping, or by stepping behind the bar at Cima on busy nights or JJ’s for special events.

I worked with Jason for a short time in a kindergarten. He was the first to realize one of our youngest new students had special needs, and he helped the Korean staff, who are largely unfamiliar with dealing with students with cognitive challenges, to understand how to handle this boy who acted out in strange ways in his classes. Thanks to Jason, this little boy received special attention, rather than just being labeled a “bad kid” the way it so often happens here, and integrated into his class quite successfully.

He will be missed by many here, and our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends in San Diego and around the world.

If you would like to help out his family with the funeral costs, please visit this page.

Rest in peace, Jason.

Going to the Doctor

By , June 20, 2014 5:07 pm

Going to the doctor can be a worrying trip no matter where you are, but when you’re in a foreign culture, where everyone speaks a different language, it can be even more frightening. Here are a few of the hospitals that have better service for English speakers, and some tips on how the medical culture may be different from your home country.

For women’s health or pregnancy, try Boram Hospital or Frau Medi  in Samsandong, Ulsan University Hospital or Rosimedi in Donggu, or Miz Hospital in Samhodong (near Mugeodong).These hospitals rate well with foreigners in terms of doctors who speak English, and some have more modernized practices regarding labour and delivery (please see the linked article above for more detail). It can be difficult to find a female obstetrician-gynocologist, though, if that’s your preference.

doctor with baby

For general health issues, Ulsan University Hospital in Donggu is an excellent facility. They have a special receptionist for helping foreigners, and most of the doctors speak English well. They also have a wide range of specialists, and a 24-hour emergency room.

Good Morning Hospital in Daldong,   and Ulsan Hospital in Sinjeongdong both do the “health check” required by immigration for certain visas, and are good hospitals for general complaints. Good Samjeong Hospital near Mugeodong, and Dong Gang Hospital in Taehwadong also have good service, and both have 24-hour emergency rooms, should you need care in the wee-hours of the night. These above-mentioned facilities are some of the larger, more well-known hospitals in the city.

Overall, the medical culture here can be a bit different from what you may be used to at home. For instance, the nurse’s job is only to assist the doctor with medical treatment, and they do not help patients care for themselves. Many Koreans will stay in the hospital with their sick family member to help feed and bathe them, or help them get to the bathroom. If you need to be in the hospital for a longer procedure, be sure to have friends who can come visit you (there are no set visiting hours, which is great) and perhaps bring you food. Hospital food is notoriously bad anywhere, but endless seaweed soup or bland rice porridge can be trying even for those who love the stuff (Ulsan University allows foreign patients to order from the Hyundai Hotel restaurant next door, but the meals are restaurant prices, which can become expensive if you’re in hospital for more than a day or so).

Sure, it looks good now.

Sure, it looks good now.

Also, a doctor here is not used to being questioned. Generally, if they prescribe a treatment or medication, they expect the patient to follow their orders. They rarely explain the procedure being done, or the drugs being administered. This can be particularly difficult for pregnant foreigners who would prefer a natural or alternative birthing style. Most births here are done with epidurals, or are caesarian sections. Being able to move around to find a comfortable position is not practiced, and the doctors may not allow this in their delivery room. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask what’s going on, or ask for certain treatments/medications if you’ve done some background research. A friend of mine was prescribed a drug that was particularly harsh on their system, and when they did some internet research, found a new drug for the same ailment that had fewer side-effects. When they mentioned this to their doctor, the doctor was happy to change the prescription, and my friend is now doing much better.

It's amazing how many different ailments require a shot in the "hip"...

It’s amazing how many different ailments require a shot in the “hip”…

In my experience, while the doctors I’ve encountered have tended to speak English well (though some are very shy about using it), many of the receptionists and nurses have low-to-no English, which can make a visit to the doctor a challenge. It can be helpful to either have a Korean friend translate (either in person or over the phone), or, if you don’t want to share your health concerns, use Google translate to write down key words, like the painful body part, or the symptoms you’re experiencing. This can help the staff to direct you to the proper department for help.

Some problems require a different kind of Doctor.

Some problems require a different kind of Doctor.

Usually, you check in with the reception desk (take a numbered ticket) and explain what you need. You’re then shown to (or told where to find) the doctor. If unclear, have the reception staff write it down, so that you can ask others when you’re wandering lost through the corridors. The doctor will do the examination, possibly start a treatment, and discuss with you what needs to be done next. This could be lab work, like blood or urine tests, booking a follow-up appointment, or writing out a prescription for medication. Then you move on to the lab if necessary, and finally head back to the reception desk (take another numbered ticket) to pay your bill. Your prescription will be printed out at that point, and the receptionist will likely tell you where the nearest pharmacy is (if it’s not in the building, there is one very close by, usually next door). If you’re there for a very specialized reason, you may want to get the prescription filled at the closest pharmacy, as they will have the meds you need. For instance, the pharmacy under an eye clinic will have lots of eye-specific meds that the pharmacy under an orthopedic surgery may not have.

Generally speaking, the level of care here is quite good, and many doctors’ offices have high tech diagnostics tools, like sonograms in an ob-gyn office, or fiber-optic cameras to go into your sinuses in an Ear/Nose/Throat clinic. As with any country, you can hear some horror stories, and Korean’s don’t really do medical malpractice, so unfortunately there are a handful of really terrible doctors out there. But just like at home, if you’re not comfortable with the person you see, find someone else. Younger doctors tend to be a lot more “westernized” in terms of patient care (explanations, receiving questions), and have often studied abroad, meaning their English may be stronger than some of the older guys around, but this isn’t a rule. Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate, or to bring in a friend to help you translate, if you have questions about a treatment or medication.

This might be a little young...

This might be a little young…

And don’t forget to check out the Where to Find section of the UlsanOnline Survival Guide, for doctors and dentists  recommended by fellow ex-pats. All hospitals mentioned in this article are (or will shortly be) pinned on the Interactive Map.

Ulsan Farmers Market

By , June 16, 2014 4:05 pm


Located between Emart and the Lotte Wheel/ department store sits Ulsan’s Farmers Market. It is the place to get your fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood. While it is a lot smaller than Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul or even Jagalchi Market in Busan, it is a heck of a lot closer and in some ways, just as good.


This market opens early and is filled with people by 7 am. Upon entering the market from the main street (heading towards the Taehwa Train Station) on the left you will have the fruits and vegetables market and on the right, the seafood market. Typically, you would want to get there early in the morning, especially on the weekends as most of the vendors close early.


Most of the vendors deal only with cash, so it is a good idea to bring some with you. There is a Nonghyup bank located in the fruits and vegetables market that you can withdraw cash from.


This market is not the most exciting place and you probably won’t find anything out of the ordinary there. However, you may be able to get some deals from some of the vendors. Much of the produce is grown locally but there are some places that import from different countries. Thus, it is much like shopping at your regular supermarket but with a more personal touch. With that comes a bit of a language problem.


Most of the prices will be clearly marked but the descriptions will be written in Korean. It would be wise to brush up on your basic korean shopping language before you go. However, usually the vendors are quite friendly, so don’t be scared when making a purchase for the first time.


Now that the korean appetite for big box stores is ramping up, places like this are starting to disappear. I have noticed a decline in vendors over the years as more people shop at costco or even online. However, now that I live near the market, I try to visit there at least once or twice a month to pick up some fresh veggies.


To get there head about 2 blocks down from the Skyrex/ Lotte Department Store intersection. It will be on the right side and will have the parking gates in front. The bus stop in front of the market is a major stop and most buses will make a stop there. Parking is usually free in the mornings and there is a decent amount of parking within the market complex.