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Book Review: Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Summary of Frankly in Love: Frank Li is a Korean American high school student. He calls himself a “Limbo” (his term for Korean-American kids) who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own California upbringing. Frank’s parents immigrated from Korea, and they want him to date Joy, also a senior from a Korean family. Frank’s older sister, Hanna, has been disowned because she married a Black American, Miles. Because of that, when he wants to date a white girl (Brit Means), Joy and Frank concoct a fake-dating scheme. Q, his best friend, is a Black American, and together they frequently face racism in their community. Frank’s story is full of conflicts: trying to date a white girl (Brit) (and fake-dating so his parents don’t know), dating a Korean-American (Joy) his parents love, succeeding in high school (and getting into college), being a good friend (Q), and helping his family come to terms with some of their problems.  Through it all, Frank wonders if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

Jenny’s Rating:✭✭✭✭

Initial Thoughts: Occasionally, I review a book too quickly because I want to make sure I get all of my thoughts down, but for Frankly in Love, there are so many thoughts that I had to take a few days to think. I also went back to my Goodreads and changed my rating from 3✭ to 4✭. If you like to watch Kdramas or the television show Kim’s Convenience, I think that you will find this book particularly appealing. I say that because this book has a lot packed in- funny, cringe-y, sad, and heartwarming. I do want to warn you that this is NOT the fake-dating rom-com that I thought it was going to be. 

********Everything below this will contain spoilers. Proceed with your own discretion.*********

Here are 5 quotes I want to talk about from Frankly in Love by David Yoon. 

(1) “Sunbae – as in senior, mentor- is what Joy’s dad calls Dad, since Dad got to America first. Dad calls Joy’s dad hoobae – as in junior, understudy, noob. They’ve been calling each other this for decades, and now it’s become this little comedy routine they like to perform” (126). 

I originally marked this section because I was merely appreciative of the way that David Yoon explained the Korean terms that were frequently used in the book. When I reread it, I see that this is foreshadowing later in the book. Frank didn’t understand the underlying meaning to the adults’ routine. By the end of the book, Frank learns that his parents were merely trying to protect him from their problems, and this “comedy” was probably not as funny as his dad made it out to be. 

(2) “They want to make sure The Store was kept in good hands. Good, Korean hands” (11).

A few years ago, I went into a Korean grocery store, and the cashier recommended a specific kind of kimchi because it had been made with ‘Korean hands’ as opposed to the kimchi made by Americans. I laughed it off as a funny way of using the idiom, but when I read it again in Frankly in Love, I realize that this is an idiom that is used more than I thought.  Frank’s family cared a lot about who took care of the store, but in the end, the new assistant is Mexican American, and you see a sweet change of heart/mindset in Frank’s parents. (Ie. They’re willing to let someone who is not Korean work in their store.)

(3) “Q emerges from behind the car. 
‘Were you hiding?’ says Joy.
‘You know cops shoot kids like me when they’re alone on the streets like this,’ says Q.
‘Fuck,’ I say. I throw an arm around him. ‘I’m sorry, I just lost track of time.’
Q ducks away, his face a mixture of irritation and fear and relief” (359).

Let’s talk about Q because in almost every review I’ve read, he’s the favorite character -the best friend. Everyone deserves a friend like Q who will help you study for the SAT, cry with you when you’re waiting for your dad in the emergency room, pick you up so that your parents don’t know who you’re dating, play games with you while your foot is broken, etc. Q also gets neglected. Frank talks a lot about the racism of his parents and the racism against Korean Americans, but he doesn’t see or try to understand the racism Q faces as a Black American. And, at the end of the book, readers learn that Q is in love with Frank. It’s heart-breaking to read. Frank has clearly shown he doesn’t understand love, and he’s not even that great of a friend. (I do hope that they remain friends, and Franks does better.) Many reviewers complain that Q’s coming-out is poorly written, and I have to disagree. I don’t think it’s an underdeveloped plot line, but merely us watching how misunderstood Q has been through the whole book. However, he is my favorite character, and I have high hopes for his future! 

(4)“When I arrived, Hanna was already there in the room with Dad. She let him feel her belly. He took both of Miles’s hands in both of his and said: ‘You whole of world number one best daddy for Sunny’” (402). 

Hanna, Frank’s older sister, was disowned when she got engaged to Miles, a Black American. At the end of the book, she is pregnant with their first daughter. Before their dad passed away, Frank and Hannah got to spend time as a re-united family. I teared up. It’s a sweet moment and shows the love of family that Frank has been sadly missing. 

(5) “But the thing about last kisses is this: they are final. Me and Joy already did that. It was done” (404).

I probably read that line 20 times. For most of the book, I wanted Joy and Frank to stay together. I thought that they had overcome so many hurdles to finally be a couple. But, I think David Yoon was trying to say that Frank is growing up now. Brit Means wasn’t the one he loved. Joy won’t stand by him when things get hard. Frank learned a lot about love, and he is still learning. 


Final Thoughts: A fake-dating trope, sweet characters, complex family relationships, an adorable romance, difficult discussions of racism, and humorous and witty writing- Frankly in Love is a great book, and I highly recommend.

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Midwest Kimchi’s Ramen Recipe

*Warning: This is a hearty, spicy, salty ramen. If you’re familiar with budae jjigae (부대찌개), this will be similar in taste and heartiness. You can cut down/delete the sauerkraut, kimchi juice, and gochugaru for a milder ramen.

Ingredients

  • 2 bratwursts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sauerkraut
  • ¼ cup kimchi juice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru)
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packages instant noodles
  • 2 slices of American Cheese

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, add the vegetable oil, sauerkraut, and the bratwursts. Stir-fry for 3 minutes. 
  2. Add the kimchi juice, stock, Korean red pepper powder, and sugar. Bring to a boil. 
  3. In a separate bowl, scramble 2 eggs.
  4. Add the ramen noodles and eggs to the boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft.
  5. Top with a slice of American cheese. (Or be cute and use veggie-cutters to add fun shaped-cheese bites to your ramen.)
  6.  Serve immediately.

Tips and Thoughts:

  • Bratwurst, sauerkraut, and American cheese are staples in a Midwestern house, which is what inspired this recipe.
  • Sauerkraut along with kimchi juice and gochugaru made this similar to a kimchi soup. If kimchi is too spicy for you, leave out the kimchi juice and gochugaru.
  • Not all of our Minnesotan grocery stores sell packets of just ramen noodles. I found Ocean’s Halo Ramen Noodles in one of 3 grocery stores that we shop locally. These can also be purchased online.

What’s your favorite thing to add to ramen? Let me know if you try our recipe!

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Newbie Blogger Book Tag

Hi! I’m Jenny, one of the 4 bloggers on Midwest Kimchi. Most of the posts in the “books” tab are written by me. So, I thought I would introduce myself though the Newbie Book Blogger Tag. 

☆ Why did you start this blog?

When the Covid-19 Pandemic hit the midwest, my Kdrama team started watching shows on Netflix Party (instead of in person). As we watched, I kept coming up with ideas of books that related to the Kdramas that we were watching. I wanted to write some blog posts about it, and my Kdrama friends wanted to join with their own ideas. Thus, we have the fusion blog- Midwest Kimchi- 4 ladies discussing Korean culture and other things they love. 

☆ What are the fun and unique things you can bring to book blogging?

I lived in South Korea for 4 years as an English teacher, so I have a unique perspective on Korean culture. I am also an avid reader, 7th-8th grade English teacher, and middle-grade book reviewer. You will see a lot of middle-grade and teen with a few adult books scattered here and there. 

☆ What are you most excited for about this new blog?

I am excited to share our fun thoughts and our passion for Korean culture.  I also love working on this project with my friends.

☆ Why do you love reading?

I find that it’s an exciting hobby to talk about and share, and at the end of the day, it’s a great way to relax and think about something new. It helps calm my brain before I go to bed. 

☆ What book / series got you into reading?

I have always loved reading, but there were two things that reignited my bookish passion as an adult. (1) I went to Donalyn Miller’s educator workshop – The Book Whisperer. She claims she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader, and, I wanted to be just like her, sharing a passion and love of reading with every person that I met. (2) I picked up The Hunger Games. This is the first series that I stayed up all night to read. Today, I have at least 5 copies of the books that I regularly loan out to adults and students. 

☆ What questions would you ask your favorite authors?

  • Charles Dickens: If you could write a futuristic, space adaptation of any of your novels, which one would you choose? 
  • Jane Austen: Each of the sisters in Pride and Prejudice have unique character traits. What traits do you relate to in Jane, Lizzie, Lydia, Mary, and Kitty?
  • Rainbow Rowell: When this pandemic is over, and you’re traveling through Minnesota, do you think we could have coffee? I’ll buy! 
  • Marissa Meyer and Brandon Sanderson: Your work ethic is impressive! There are some years you have 2 books published. What inspires you to sit down and keep writing? 

☆ What challenges do you think starting a blog will be the hardest to overcome?

Right now, due to COVID-19, I have taken a year off of teaching. Because of that, I have some random moments throughout the day to write down my ideas. I think 2021 will be harder to write regular posts. 

☆ When did you start reading?

Between my grandma (a 1st grade teacher) and my parents (who love to read), I was an average reader by 1st grade. Throughout middle and high school, I would say that I went through phases of reading. By college, I was a full-blown READER (meaning that I read everything I could get my hands on). 

☆ Where do you read?

I would love to go to a café and sit and read, but it’s 2020 and there’s a pandemic. I read on the couch in our living room. 

☆ What kind of books do you like to read?

The only two genres that I don’t specifically pick up are Horror and Non-fiction. You won’t see much of that on this blog. Also, 80% of what I read is appropriate for my 7th-8th grade (12-14 years old) classroom. 

Since I am new to the book blogger and WordPress world, I am not going to tag anyone. If you’re new please feel free to copy these questions and answer them for yourselves! If you’d like to know more about me, please leave questions in the comments.

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Cucumber Kimchi 오이 김치

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large cucumber (or 4 mini cucumbers)
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • 3 chopped green onions

Directions:

  1. Cut cucumbers into bite-size slices.
  2. Cover in salt and set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. While cucumbers are brining, slice the green onion and cover with the gochugaru.
  4. Rinse cucumbers and pat dry.
  5. Mix cucumbers with green onions and gochugaru.
  6. Enjoy fresh (within 2 days)!

Tips and Thoughts:

  • This is a modified version of the recipe on my jar of Mother in Law’s Gochugaru. We love shopping their products!
  • Did you watch the movie with the sound on? At one point you can hear my young daughter talking/yelling at me. This kimchi is quick and easy, and your children won’t need to wait long for your attention!
  • While most kimchi is supposed to last forever, I like to eat crunchy cucumbers. The cucumbers won’t be crunchy after about 2 days. That being said, this recipe will only make about 3-4 servings. Double (or triple the recipe) for a larger group.
  • Cucumber kimchi is an easy side that will add a little zest to bland meals.

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Midwest Kimchi Fried Rice 김치볶음밥

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped kimchi
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs – 1 fried egg for each bowl
My Process

Directions:

  1. Heat up a pan. Add the vegetable oil.
  2. Add the kimchi and stir fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add brown rice and chicken broth and turn up the heat. Stir all the ingredients together for 7-10 minutes with a wooden spoon. (I waited until the broth was boiling and my brown rice was soft.)
  4. Add sesame oil and remove from heat.
  5. In a separate pan, fry eggs. (Over-easy with a leaking yolk is delicious on the rice!)
  6. Fill your bowl with the kimchi-fried rice. Top with onions and over-easy eggs.
Ready to serve!

Tips and Thoughts:

  • If you have kimchi and rice, you can make Kimchi Fried Rice because those are the basic ingredients. You don’t need the sesame oil, the green onion, or the egg, but I had them. The extra toppings are always a delicious addition.
  • I got some ideas for my recipe from Maangchi’s Blog: https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/kimchi-bokkeumbap She adds sesame seeds, green onion, and kim (edible seaweed). People commenting on her blog were adding hot dogs or Spam and eggs. (We didn’t have any Spam, but I totally would have added it if I did!)
  • What makes this different (or Midwestern)? (1) We aren’t known for loving spicy food. (Let’s be honest I would rather add cheese than peppers!) This kimchi fried rice is not very spicy. I didn’t have any kimchi juice in my jar or any gochujung (Korean red pepper paste). If you watch the video, I pulled out my gochigaru (Korean red pepper flakes), but I never used it. (2) I used brown rice. Most Koreans cook with white rice; it’s soft, it soaks up the flavors, and it cooks a lot faster. Brown rice is just what we use in our house. If you use white rice, you won’t need to turn the heat up or fry as long.
Egg mixed in, Ready to take a bite!
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Books Set in Korea- Choose My TBR

I love to read books about and set in Korea. Having lived there for 4 years, these books bring me back and remind me of the time I spent there.  The following is a list of books set in Korea that I have read: 

And, now, here are the books that I haven’t read. As you look at the list, let me know if there are any books that you have enjoyed, would like to see an in-depth review of, or just looks good. (I have linked each book to the Goodreads summary if you would like to read more about it.)

Middle Grade: 

Teen/YA

Adult: 

I know my list isn’t exhaustive, so if you don’t see a book that you are curious about, let me know! What books should I read? Leave a comment and choose the next books I read! 

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Our Favorite Children’s Books

Recently, we’ve been watching It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (사이코지만 괜찮아), and Jo Yong, the writer of the show, published five children’s books from the drama. Until they are released in the midwest (USA), Ko Moon-Young (Seo Ye Ji) has inspired us to share our favorite children’s books. I’ve listed them under the publisher’s recommended age ranges, but these delightful books can be read at any age! 

Ages 0-2 Years Old

Ages 2-4 Years Old

Ages 5-7

Ages 8-12

The real illustrator behind Ko Moon-Young’s books (Jamsan) said, “After working as a concept artist for more than 20 years and experiencing the ups and downs of life, I realised that life isn’t beautiful. After going through a career slump, I found joy in drawing zombies and fairy tales with dark twists. “ As an adult, do you love dark, twisty children’s books? What is your favorite children’s book?

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Dashi Run Run Run August 2020

Tracks to Run to – August 2020
A collection of songs on my running playlist that I listened to in August 2020. See the complete Dashi Run Run Run playlist for all the songs I run to.

Track List
Dessert – Hyo, Loopy, Soyeon
My Body – Nada
Welcome to my Jungle – XRO
X-Phenomenon – Monsta X
Breaking Down – Day6
God Bless You – FTIsland
Dynamite – BTS
Blessed – Miso
Not Shy – Itzy
Nunu Nana – Jessi

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Midwest Kimbap (김밥)

Ingredients: 

This recipe makes 4-5 rolls, which is perfect for a 2 person meal. 

  1. Cook the sushi rice following the package directions (or in an instant pot, 4 minutes of pressure cook and 10 minutes slow release). 
  2. Add salt and sesame oil to warm rice and carefully mix. 
  3. Set the rice aside to cool to room temperature. (1 hour is good, but I definitely have put my bowl in the refrigerator to expedite the cooling, which is definitely against most sushi and kimbap rules.)
  4. While the rice is cooling, prepare your roll ingredients (ie, open the sushi seaweed and crab sticks, mix tuna with mayo, and cut green pepper into thin slices.)
  5. Lay down 1 sheet of seaweed sheet on your mat (or plastic wrap) and spread rice over ¾ of the sheet.
  6. Add your preferred ingredients to the edge of the sheet and roll. 
  7. Let the rolls sit for a few minutes before slicing. (Letting them sit, helps the roll harden a little so that they don’t fall apart when you slice into them. Again, I put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes which helps.)
  8. Use your sharpest knife to cut the roll into ½ inch slices. 
  9. Serve plain or with a side of soy sauce and enjoy! 

Tips: 

  • What is the difference between kimbap and sushi? Kimbap adds sesame oil and salt to the rice and doesn’t use raw fish (common ingredients include canned tuna, cooked beef, cream cheese, etc.) Sushi, on the other hand, adds sugar and rice wine vinegar to the rice and often uses raw fish. I prefer the salty flavor of the kimbap, but you could definitely make sushi rice with 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  • I used the ingredients that we could find in our local grocery store. Korean Kimbap tastes delicious with pickled radish (danmuji, 단무지) and perilla leaves (kkaenip, 깻잎), but those aren’t typical midwest grocery store finds. The green peppers add a nice crunch to the roll. Experiment with your favorite veggies and meat! 
  • You can put whatever you want in your roll. My husband wanted just a crab stick in his rolls (and the green peppers on the side). With less ingredients, it’s easier to roll up.
  • My roll with tuna, green pepper slices, and crab is pretty large. It will be harder to roll, and some of the slices will come apart. If that happens, I just throw them in a bowl and eat a kimap bowl! However, if you’re trying rolls for the first time, I highly recommend putting less ingredients in until you get the hang of it. )

Small roll with just rice and crab
Large roll with rice, tuna, green pepper, and crab

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5 Books to Read if You Like Mystic Pop-Up Bar (쌍갑포차)

Mystic Pop-up Bar (쌍갑포차) tells the story of a mysterious tent-bar run by an ill-tempered woman named Wol-Joo, a part-time employee named Han Kang-Bae, and a former afterlife detective known as Guibanjang who visit customers in their dreams and help resolve their problems. It’s filled with fantastic characters, cute romances, and great action/fighting scenes. Midwest Kimchi agrees that this is one of the better KDramas we have seen, and we highly approve. With that being said, I think that you will like the books that I’ve recommended. 

✭A note about the book ratings- These are my personal ratings. If I enjoyed the book, I would give it 3✭. If I liked it and didn’t want to set the book down, I give it 4✭. And, if it is in my top 10 of the year, I give it 5✭. 

One- The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Rating- ✭✭✭✭✭

Mystic Pop-up Bar, with its repeated reflections on past wrongs, was always reminding me of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a modern retelling that has a fantastic female protagonist who is just as ill-tempered as Wol-Joo. I loved reading this book during the December holiday season. 

Two- The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy

Rating- ✭✭✭✭✭

** This recommendation has a Mystic Pop-up Bar SPOILER. Proceed with caution!**

Do you enjoy the “found family” trope? It’s one of my favorites. Kang-Bae finds his figurative family about halfway through the season of Mystic Pop-up Bar only to find out later that Wol-Joo and Guibanjang are literally his parents. Middle-grade books are famous for writing about finding your figurative family. The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane is one such book. Maybelle goes looking for her father, but ends up on a road trip with a sweet friend and a mentor. This book is in my top 10 books of 2020. 

Three- Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable Path Adventure by Ryan North

Rating- ✭✭✭

In episode eight of Mystic Pop-up Bar, the team needs to help a soul who created a webtoon adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. At one point  Wol-Joo mentions that she should have been more like Juliet, knowing at a young age that love isn’t enough. With a choose your own adventure like Ryan North’s, you can let all of your characters live, or die, or become ghosts. Find the ending that you think the story deserves. 

Four- Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie

Rating- ✭✭✭✭

In Three Mages and a Margarita, Tori is young and hot-tempered, and after losing every one of her recent jobs, ends up bartending in a mystical club serving witches, psychics, sorcerers, and mages. At one point she ends up protecting her bodyguard (and love interest) with an umbrella. Tori reminds me of Wol–Joo and Yeo-rin, but in both the book and the show there is a similar scene: in the last episode when Wol-Joo says she can hold her own with a small knife against a team of attackers, it’s similar to Tori and her umbrella. 

Five- Yu Yu Hakusho written and drawn by Yoshihiro Togashi

Rating- ✭✭✭

Guibanjang is one of many fantastic supporting characters in Mystic Pop-Up Bar (Kang-Bae, Yeo-Ring, Samson). Like Guibanjang, Yusuke Urameshi in Yu Yu Hakusho follows the adventures of a young delinquent Yusuke Urameshi, who after his death becomes a Spirit Detective, the protector of the Living World against supernatural threats. Reading this manga made me think that Yusuke was like a young Guibanjang. Just like Mystic Pop-Up Bar gives you a new story in each episode, each book in the manga series will do the same. 

There are rumors on message boards that we might get more (or another season) of Mystic Pop-up Bar. I hope it’s true, but until then, these books will fill the void. And, as always, if you’re looking at my list and seeing a book that you love, I reverse recommend Mystic Pop-Up Bar (쌍갑포차). Let me know (in the comments) your review of the KDrama!

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Book Recommendations Based on Your Favorite Kimchi (김치)

A great book can bring you happiness and joy, but pairing a great book with great kimchi can truly transport you to a new dimension and elevate your senses to levels previously unknown. Or, you know, give a fun new outlook! When you go to a Korean restaurant, your meal is served with numerous side dishes (or banchan), and at least one of those side dishes will be kimchi. While there are over 100 different varieties of kimchi, many of them are made from fermented cabbage. Below I have matched some of my favorite books with five popular kinds.

  1. Pairing: Baechu-kimchi (배추김치) and Lock Every Door by Riley Sager 

An edge-of-your-seat thriller pairs well with this spicy napa cabbage kimchi made from whole cabbage leaves. Riley Sager’s Lock Every Door is an intense thriller that follows a young woman whose new job apartment sitting in one of New York’s oldest and most glamorous buildings may cost more than it pays. People are dying, but this kimchi won’t! 

  1. Pairing: Baechu-geotjeori (배추겉절이) and When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller 

A versatile, unfermented napa cabbage kimchi takes about 40 minutes to make (as opposed to the days required to ferment other kimchis). Read When You Trap a Tiger, a new (2020) release, while you’re salting the cabbage leaves. Author Tae Keller wrote a 5-star story about Lily and her family moving in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history.

  1. Pairing: Dongchimi (동치미) and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This non-spicy, watery kimchi goes well with the opposite of thriller- a romance! Dongchimi literally means “winter kimchi” because it’s made right before the cold winter starts in Korea, and the climax of Fangirl occurs during a winter snow storm! You’ll be swooning by the end of the meal! 

  1. Pairing: Chonggak-kimchi (총각김치) and Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child

Cubed chonggak is a popular spicy kimchi, also known as “ponytail” radish, and complements famous thrillers.  Before Tom Cruise brought Jack Reacher to the screen, this retired military police officer, now vagabond, had been investigating suspicious and frequently dangerous situations in 16 books. (Today there’s 26 in the series!) Eat your Chonggak-kimchi with the book that started it all! 

5. Pairing: Mugeun-ji (묵은지) or mugeun-kimchi (묵은김치) and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Did you know that kimchi doesn’t go bad? Like a fine cheese, it just gets better with age. For this pairing think classics! Mugeun-ji is an aged kimchi, and it is my favorite. So, I had to go with my most-loved classic novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Pip’s coming of age story might take a long time to read, but by then, your mugeun-ji will be delicious! 

The key to a great kimchi and book pairing is in more than just the general advice. If you’d like to serve up a banchan along with your book, then absolutely read Goodreads reviews.  The most important thing is to get yourself a book with your kimchi and enjoy the adventure!

*I got all of my kimchi pictures from Wikimedia Commons. Each picture is linked to its licensing agreement.

13 Fangtastic Vampire Songs

It’s SPOOKTOBER my witches!
This playlist is a selection of songs and videos describing vampires, depicting vampires, and a couple that say they are “vampire concept” but that is decidedly up for interpretation..

Track List
Full Moon – Sunmi
Witch – Boyfriend
Bad – Queen B’Z 
Volume Up – 4Minute
On and ON – VIXX
Without a Heart – 8eight
Can’t be Friends – M.Pire*


Under the Moonlight – VAV
Vampire – IZ’ONE
Venus – Shinhwa
Dracula – (f)x
Mine – Kim Jaejoong
Monster – Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi
*not available on spotify

She’s Sunmi. She’s a vampire. She’s seductive.
Because your body goes boom bara boom.
Bad girls do it best.
Hyuna is a top candidate in “idols who may also be vampires.”
You can tell they are vampires for sure in the performance but not so much in the official video.
Sohee is the most innocent vampire.
M.Pire = Music + Vampire. So maybe all of their music should be in this list.
Werewolves. Vampires. Is this a tween fantasy novel?
Yes, I know this is one of their Japanese tracks. My list, my rules.
The category is “Modern Vampire.”
Sorry, no official video. The FMVs are entertaining though.
He’s got vampire fangs at 3:00 so good enough for me.
Described by fans as “lesbian vampire fiction.”

Hana Hearts/Hates On SuperM

Things I know about SuperM

They are made up of members from EXO, Shinee, and NCT/WayV. Their concept is sexy, hip-hop, power-vocal, bangers (I’m just guesstimating). They are dubbed the “avengers of kpop” and I still don’t know what that means. They may be avenging against: internet trolls, all other music, anti-asian racists, Karens, or pollution. Or they might just really want to have a superhero concept but instead stuck with the traditional SM leather/colors/noise concept. I also get confused because based on their concept, they want to be high energy but it seems like the title tracks are the only songs that fit that description. 

I think their downfall is that they have all been in other groups and are used to those groups’ style of music. Individually they seem to be playing the same part that they play in their own group without working together as SuperM and creating a new group dynamic. Because of this, Jopping especially, seems very choppy and like it is made up of disjointed song parts that are barely tied together. So the end result is Mark/Taeyong rapping NCT style, Baekhyun belting Exo Style, Taemin crooning Shinee Style, Lucas hyping WayV style, and Ten/Kai wiggling in-da-club style.

Member Ranking – Zombie Apocalypse Survival Edition

Baekhyun
Position: Leader, Diva, Main Vocalist
Zombie Survival: Would definitely draw attention to himself and try to play tag with the zombies and then get smacked in the face and zombed.
Survival Time: 10 minutes

Lucas
Position: Token Deep Throat, Lead Rapper
Zombie Survival: His excessive loud would give away his hiding spot and then zombed.
Survival Time: 3 days

Taeyong
Position: Real-life Anime Character, Main Rapper/Lead Dancer
Zombie Survival: On his quest to ensure his infinite number of members are safe, he will probably get zombed.
Survival Time: One Week

Kai
Position: 25% face, 75% abs, Lead Vocalist/Main Dancer
Zombie Survival: He seems athletic but quiet so he might be able to scamper around unnoticed for a bit and then zombed.
Survival Time: One Month

Ten
Position: Baby Don’t Stop, Main Dancer
Zombie Survival: His dance skills probably transfer to parkour skills and evasion will ensue for some time and then zombed.
Survival Time: Six Months

Mark
Position: English Master, Main Rapper
Zombie Survival: His smile is very infectious. I think he would be able to get around the zombies by blinding them with his smile for a while.
Survival Time: One Year

Taemin
Position: Vampire Sunbae, Main Vocalist/Dancer
Zombie Survival: I think he is a vampire and I don’t think vampires and zombies mess with each other. Monster code or something.
Survival Time: infinity symbol

Comebacks

In My Joppings
I think it showcases the individual talents but the lyrics lean towards nonsense. I can’t really understand Kai or Taeyong without subtitles. Mark is adorable as always. Taemin and Ten glide through refreshingly. Lucas just growls once in a while. Baekhyun lives his best diva life. The music has so many different parts that I get lost. It could be several songs mashed together. But even with the chaotic sounds, I really just hated the phrase “jopping.” Jopping was already a phrase to combine “jiving and bopping”… not sure why we needed to make it “jumping and popping.” Seems like a case of “we did not do any research before picking a name.” But they don’t even care, left to the right, they are going to make it bang.

100 and counting
It reminds me of a song that would be in a Disney channel original, like it could be in High School Musical or Disney Descendents… but it didn’t make the cut.I’m honestly not sure what the goal was. Most of the phrases are cliche. Why are there even lines in korean? They seem really unnecessary since there are only 5 main lines and 4 one word lines. I’m not sure they add anything. I think the English has gotten better but I still can’t understand what Taeyong says at all. When I hear “boom boom boom boom shaking” all I think of is Sailor Uranus who is technically a superhero so maybe that fits the aesthetic.

Tiger. It’s what’s for dinner.
Why. are. They. saying. Grow-uhl. Do people say it that way? Am I supposed to say it that way? Is it not “graw-uhl?”
The lyrics make the most sense (compared to other SuperM songs) but there are some questionable phrases. “Don’t let your tail down. I’ll lead you don’t stop.” WHAT. Where are we going? For the most part I thought the song was about having inner strength and not being constrained but now “Dinner’s Ready” I guess. Maybe it is a love story to hanger (that’s hungry plus anger, not a closet item).
Are the outfits just bedazzled versions of the ones from NCTs Kick it? This makes me think SuperM just took the best of NCT and added Baekhyun and Taemin to draw in the Shawols and Exo-Ls.

Super One
Why does it go from bangers to tropical to bangers to slow jams. WHO put it in this order. Surprisingly I like some of the songs on this album. However, the majority of the songs I like don’t fall into the banger-clanger image they promote. So I hesitate to say I like a SuperM album because I’m not sure that’s what that was.

Song Ranking

In order of my preference:

Wish You Were Here – Is this tropical? These vocals are so interesting. It makes me happy. Does not sound like SuperM at all. Relaxing and chill. I want more.
Big Chance – Do yah? Yes.. I’m so confused. WhaT iS tHe COncePt? Good vocals. Floaty happy music fits them so well.
2 fast – Sounds like a shinee song featuring Lucas as a hype man (allright).
I can’t stand the rain – It’s a Baekhyun/Taemin duet with the rest coming in to throw a line or two.
Infinity – I like the rapping and overall a banger. “I’m the other one chilling with the other ones” is one of the laziest least cool phrases I have ever heard. DRIP. I like the slowed down part. Baekhyun you diva you.
Jopping – The music has a drive that is good for running but I find it hard to get over that “jopping” is a dumb word.
No Manners – The Ten/Taemin/Kai vocals blend well together and Taeyong is a good rapper, but he loses me at the pronunciation of “beautiful” and “criminal.”
Better Days – A slow jam? Is this about covid? Very nice and hopeful. Reminds me of 10,000 hours by Dan & Shay, it’s got that vibe
Tiger Inside – A couple good visuals but it seems like another NCT song that added parts for Taemin/Baekhyun to sing.
Together at Home – The title sounds like a home living magazine. Interesting. I like the distorted synth sound. Not a fan of the duhduh part.
Super Car – I always hear Mark in the “all” parts. It’s nice but it isn’t a go-to song. A bit repetitive and gets kind of flat.
100 – It feels like it is supposed to be really empowering but the “we go 100” parts don’t have any heart.
With You – Groovy. The vocals are throaty and interesting.
Monster – Dirrty beats but the chorus is a little lackluster. Seems like maybe a bad english translation for the lyrics.
Dangerous Woman – Hello Ariana? Meet Baekhyun. Ariana did it better.
Line ‘Em Up – Pretty boring. The only part I liked was the flutes.
Step Up – The rap part is nice. I find the chorus a bit annoying.
So Long – Smooth but didn’t stand out to me.
Drip – Whoever taught Koreans the “drip” slang needs to be punished because errybody coming out with songs titled drip now. I will hear this whenever my sink drips now. Not a fan.
Let’s go everywhere – This played when I went to Korea. I like the music but the lyrics are obviously an advertisement and I think because it is just an ad, the vocals aren’t as enthusiastic as they could be. Mostly it just doesn’t match the mood of the group.
One: Monster & Infinity – I don’t understand why this mashup exists. 

Final Scores

Music
I listened to the debut album a couple times while running but haven’t thought of it since then. I listened to 100 and Tiger Inside when they dropped and never again by choice. The full-length album has a couple songs I like. Nobody is more shocked than me.

Performance
They’ve got visuals and talented dancers but they don’t work together well. Might as well be another NCT subgroup. 

Concept
I think they are all talented individuals but I don’t think they are the right people for this concept. Baekhyun will never have swag.

Overall Score Hate

First K-Drama Review Series Reveal

First Clue Set

Did you guess that we’re watching Mystic Pop-up Bar for our first ever review?

2020 Netflix original

Much like an actual street side food stand, Netflix’s 2020 original: Mystic Pop-up Bar (MPuB) caught our eye on the busy virtual streets of streaming content. All grudge holders are called to visit the mystic pop-up bar for a little help via dream intervention. Wol-joo, the proprietress, has been settling grudges for hundreds of years, but not out of the goodness of her heart. If she can’t settle the last ten grudges she owes the afterlife in one month she will “perish in the depths of Hell.” High stakes? Check. Let’s watch Mystic Pop-up Bar together!

Mystic Pop-up Bar Trailer

Trailer for Netflix’s 2020 original: Mystic Pop-up Bar

Bang Bang Bangers

Songs on a Theme – Bang Bang Bangers

Songs about shooting, exploding, and a bombastic good time.

Track List
Gunshot – KARD
One Shot – B.A.P
Kill this Love – Blackpink
Bang Bang Bang – Big Bang
Shoot Out – Monsta X
Shoot Me – Day6
Gun – 9Muses
Love Shot – EXO
Shooting Love – Laboum
Russian Roulette – Red Velvet
Bomb – Alexa
Gashina – Sunmi
Boom x3 – GOT7
Bonnie and Clyde – 24K
Boom Bang Boom – f(x)
Love Bomb – fromis_9


Bullet to the Heart – Jackson Wang
Bomb – Ravi (ft SanE)
Ddu-du Ddu-du – Blackpink
Boom – NCT Dream
Russian Roulette – Spica
We are Bulletproof pt.2 – BTS
Trigger – Hash
Bomb Bomb – KARD
kiss kiss bang bang – JK Tiger (ft. twlv)
Do or Die – AleXa
Boombahyah – Blackpink
Bang – After School
Louder than Bombs – BTS
Hands Up – Cherry Bullet
Boom – NCT 127
We are Bulletproof : the Eternal – BTS

Non-Korean Bonus Track
Bang Bang – Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj

Hana Hearts/Hates On Blackpink – The Album

What I know about Blackpink

They debuted in 2016 and are one of the highest rated girl groups in kpop. They played Coachella, sang with Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa, and break view records on Youtube like they think they are BTS or something. All this and they still have less than 20 songs in their discography.. 

The Album

What’s in a name? Possibly the name is to convince me it IS an actual album and not another EP due to the length (a whopping 24 minutes!). To be fair, with 8 whole songs, it is their largest korean album to date. This album also makes 2020 their largest song production year (compared to the 4 songs they usually average in a year). I would hazard a guess that most fans are disappointed with such a short album since they waited so long for it (“Kill This Love” came out in April 2019). Although waiting for a long time between comebacks is also classic Blackpink. 

Song Review

How You Like That – I was excited when this was released and then immediately disappointed. To me, stylistically and musically, it is no different than “Ddu-du Ddu-du” or “Kill This Love.” The lyrics “Laugh all you want while you still can / Because it’s about to be your turn 1, 2, 3 / Ha How you like that” and “Look at you now look at me” come off more as the bitchy mean girl and less as the empowered woman. It wasn’t fresh and new to me so I didn’t really enjoy it. But it is definitely catchy.
Ice Cream (ft. Selena Gomez) – You can see my full thoughts here.
Pretty Savage – I like the naughty circus ambiance of the intro. The bridge (or beginning of chorus, I’m not sure what it is) starts with some lyrical oohs that would fit the “pretty” part, which then speeds up into the “savage” beats again. The lyrics (translated) are not amazing but they try to be clever and punny. I think every girl wants to be a “pretty savage” or “a born skinny bish.” I appreciated “Even if I’m slow at math / I’m quick to read the room.”
Bet you Wanna (ft. Cardi B) – This track showcases the members’ vocal abilities with a simple backbeat. It’s light and flirty. The repetitive “bet you wanna” followed by the uplifting “something ‘bout me’s takin’ you higher” is enticing and addictive.
Lovesick Girls – The clips in the teasers made me hopeful that this song would break free from the other trap/hip-hop “I’m a bad bitch” monotony of their last couple comebacks. In that regard it did not disappoint. It sounds like a Ke$ha song to me and has a fun spirit. There were two things I didn’t like about it. First, the grunge looks in the beginning were unnecessary and didn’t really fit the attitude of the song. Second, why did they overshadow the chorus vocals with the backbeats? Let them sing loudly!! My first listen was overshadowed by my dislike of the video, but the more I listen to just the vocals the more it sticks in my head.
Crazy Over You – Similar to “How You Like That,” “Crazy Over You” has a middle eastern sound. I love the simple chorus, with clear vocals over deep beats. This one goes out to all the women who are obsessed with their partner and know what they want.
Love to Hate Me – This song feels complete. The rappers fit this style really well. Another song with a simpler composition (maybe they should do that more?). “Wakeup yeah / Makeup maybe” is my new morning thought process.
You Never Know – The vocals in this song are beautiful and I can’t wait to hear Rosé’s solo. The first and last song of the album have the illustrate response to adversity but with different presentations. “How You Like That” is a tumultuous, clapback anthem to haters, while “You Never Know” is a more heartfelt call to examine yourself before you judge others.  “‘Cause everybody sees / what they wanna see / It’s easier to judge me than to believe.”

Member Rank by the styles in this scene

Rosé
Kawaii Punk Vibes
Pink Hair (biased because I also rock the pink look)
Thigh Highs are a must
Bright Fall Plaid is in season

Lisa
I Dream of Preppy Metal
Tramp-stamp top
Belly dancer denim
Plaid stolen from a prep schooler

Jennie
Trailer Trash Couture
“N”etting it all hang out
Kiki’s Delivery Bow
But also a sweater, because fall

Jisoo
Cat-scratch Denim
Nightmare before blazer
A few buttons for spiciness
Boring before the tie (maybe still boring)

Final Scores

Music
Overall I enjoyed the music. I’m not sure how many will make it to my ultimate kpop playlists. I hope they keep innovating instead of keeping with the same style.

Performance
I’ve never seen Blackpink deliver anything less than perfection.

Concept
I wish they would try a different concept but Girl Crush seems to be working for them.

Overall – Heart

Music Videos

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