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TL;DR
July 30, 2014 11:06 PM   Subscribe

Simon and Martina, of the joint blog Eat Your Kimchi, are a married Canadian couple that moved to South Korea in 2008. They have a YouTube series called "TL;DR" in which readers can submit questions about living in Korea, and they will answer them to the best of their ability. In short: "You ask questions. We make videos answering them!" Here's a couple: The Threat of North Korea, Korean Food Etiquette.

Korean vs. North American Beauty Standards

Bullying in South Korea

Five Things You Should Not Do in Korea

Korea vs. Japan

Teenage Pregnancy in South Korea

Pet Culture in Korea

How We Got our Scottish Fold Kitten in Korea

What do Korean Students think of North American Music Videos?

Korean Products We Can't Live Without

How We Became Full-Time YouTubers

YouTube listing here.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (11 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Siri, clear my schedule for the next two weeks."

This. Is. Awesome!!! Simon and Martina may be the best thing since sliced sour kimchi, free size, and K-Pop combined!

I mean, sure, they're no Super Junior or Starcraft. But then again, neither Super Junior nor Starcraft have Spudgy!
posted by Davenhill at 2:38 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


They're opening their joint cafe venture in Hongdae with Talk to Me in Korean in just a few days, and I'm so happy that they've done so well for themselves! I've been watching them for a couple years, ever since I was browsing for pre-vacation learning material before a vacation to Seoul. They've only gotten better since then, and it's been an especially fun YouTube experience watching that happen.
posted by wakannai at 4:11 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


This is great and I also can't help seeing them as Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.
posted by capricorn at 5:12 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


I have mixed feelings about Eat Your Kimchi. They continue to be excited about and interested in the everyday details of South Korea after six years' living there. They had the good fortune of starting their project just as the west became curious and interested about K-pop, K-drama and Korean culture generally. They keep their show entertaining and informative, and they work really hard at staying upbeat on-camera even when the effort must be grinding on them. And they set out to experience things I've wondered about but would rarely make the effort to do, such as comparison-shop fast food restaurants.

But while I find them interesting and feel like I learn from their show (or at least various episodes), in my extremely limited time there as a guest in the households of Seoul locals (a couple weeks), I've seen a much different South Korea than they have -- the activities of the people around me and the neighborhoods I stayed in are often different from the neighborhoods they discuss and what daily activities look like there. Their experiences are multiply filtered by being unusual-looking Westerners who aren't highly fluent in Korean and have different social connections. Prominently displaying tattoos can close doors to them; that's still a taboo among many social classes there. When their sweeping statement about how such-and-so works and it contradicts what I've seen or the sweeping statements I've been told, it makes me wonder what else is a little off.

That said, it'll be interesting to drop in at their cafe in Hongdae the next time I'm there. Hongdae's a fun place to waste an afternoon and evening, and you can even find record shops there that could have been designed by a Korean Nick Hornsby.
posted by ardgedee at 5:13 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


But while I find them interesting and feel like I learn from their show (or at least various episodes), in my extremely limited time there as a guest in the households of Seoul locals (a couple weeks), I've seen a much different South Korea than they have -- the activities of the people around me and the neighborhoods I stayed in are often different from the neighborhoods they discuss and what daily activities look like there.

I think the show is probably a good representation of what it's like to live in Korea as a certain kind of expat--from outside of Asia, post-college but no kids, no or very little prior experience with Korea/Korean culture, usually employed teaching EFL, etc. The show is mostly aimed at people who are part of that community or are considering joining it. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but if you're not part of that community, or if you're starting to look beyond it, the whole thing feels a little like the fun-house mirror version of Korea--recognizable, but with things expanded or contracted in strange ways.
posted by kagredon at 5:55 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


"usually employed teaching EFL"

I don't think they actually have been teaching for a long time. Initially yes, but they made youtube their career and state in some videos that their experience (with cultural x) is limited because they don't work in a Korean workplace and don't socialize with Koreans much.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:00 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Right, but that appears to have been their original reason for emigrating, and I was talking (in broad-strokes) about the audience more than about the videomakers.
posted by kagredon at 6:02 AM on July 31


(Not to mention that there are plenty of people who, even if they do work with Koreans, stay relatively insulated in the "expat bubble", save for work functions--most people at least try to step outside of their comfort zone a little, but...not everyone.)
posted by kagredon at 6:21 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I found EYK when I was preparing for a visit to South Korea last year. I wanted to learn enough of the language and enough about the culture to feel more comfortable than an average North American visitor, and I have to say that Simon and Martina's site helped me tremendously with the culture bit.

That's not to say that they are authorities on South Korea or its culture, but just that they are extremely thoughtful and reflective about their experiences and do a tremendous job explaining how they view their lives--in context.

I also really think they do a great job of bracketing their observations with reasoned, self-aware analysis of their own biases and limited perspective.
posted by yellowcandy at 7:55 AM on July 31 [6 favorites]


Huh, before reading the comments here I assumed they were taking the piss out of kids being amazed by cultural differences. I watched the "Five things you should not do" video, and the shock horror at being asked to take your shoes off inside, or to be quiet on the train (apart from old people who get to just do whatever they want, right?) seemed wilfully obtuse.
posted by lucidium at 4:58 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


They are the worst.

Ugh.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:27 PM on July 31


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