Korean Art Supply Store Reviews

I don’t know if any of my artsy readers are planning to come to Korea, but here are some notes on where you can find supplies. What’s most different about the stores here is that all of the stores I’ve been into offer every paint Schimncke has except their gouache. There’s also a greater variety in Holbein sets. Holbein watercolors are the cheapest here than anywhere else I’ve been to. I can’t imagine them being cheaper anywhere except for Japan. Copic markers and Faber-Castell pencils are also here in sets and open-stock. They also have Winsor & Newton half pans. I don’t know why American art stores don’t offer pans since I believe many more painters are clamoring to have them. I myself prefer full pans since you can’t fit a decent sized brush in a half pan. But there are ways around that.

1. HOMI Art Supply
This is probably the best-stocked store I’ve found so far. They also have a website if you want to compare prices. I’ve heard that HOMI is supposed to be super hard to find, but it was oddly the first store I found when I was in Hongdae. It’s located on 3rd street where there should be a Holika Holika. They also now have signs that are posted on the top of tall buildings.

For the most part, they have a pretty good selection. They have a lot of Schmincke, Winsor & Newton, and other Korean brands (that probably have poor lightfastness). They also stock Isabey mop brushes as well as Raphael Golden Kaerell. You can also find Winsor & Newton half pans as well as some small sets. There are also anatomical little figurines the size of Barbie dolls that look like they would come in handy for studies. I’ve even found Fabriano Tela oil paper here, and I don’t know if that’s available in the States.

They even have the super expensive Williamsburg and Old Holland oil paints. I can’t believe they do since most Koreans seem to be on even tighter budget than Americans. All in all, HOMI is a nice place to get lost in, and if you must go to one store only I’d probably recommend this one.

Another special note is that they offer sets of the discontinued Winsor & Newton Pastels. It’s way more expensive at the Hongik University store, so I’m hoping to buy a box before I go.

*And if you need to use the bathroom, there’s a really gross squatting one a couple floors up. Bring your own napkins/toilet paper. Or you will be unhappy.

2. Hongik University Art Store
This store is right in front of the university if you enter the left side. Then just keep going straight till you hit the back.

It’s pretty well stocked. It has most of what HOMI has. It does have a lot of stationary too, if you’re into that. I also spied some Moleskines.

This is the only store I’ve found that offer sets of Schmincke pans, half and whole. There are also Rembrandt half pan sets along with a pocket sized Winsor & Newton half pan set. Something for me to sigh over. They also have tiny metal travel palettes that you can squeeze tube watercolors into.

3. Alpha Art Supply
This right outside of Ewha’s main gate, so whenever I feel homesick for the smell of art supplies, I normally end up here. It’s decently stocked with stationary supplies as well. I’ve even seen bookbinding supplies. I imagine most of the art majors at Ewha frequent this place a lot.

What’s unique about this store is that in addition to selling Winsor & Newton half pans, they also offer the 24 half pan set. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like traveling a lot with my paints so pans being so readily available warm my little stone heart.

In the paper section, I found blocks of Saunders Waterford Paper. It’s pretty difficult to find in America, so I was surprised to see it here. They have a 12 x 16 inch block that I don’t think is available anywhere else.

*There also little animal finger puppets here. They sort of caught me a bit off-guard.

4. Various little art stores around Hongdae
Hongdae is probably the artsiest place I know of in Seoul, and you can usually see artwork displayed on the sidewalks. Everytime I walk to Hongdae, I always pass by a couple really small (but decently stocked) art supply stores. So you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding things.

*I would also like to note that Korean watercolor seems to favor a certain technique that uses many brushstokes with different colors. A bit different since watercolor is normally taught to be economical with brushstrokes. But this way does seem kind of liberating.

Cults

I realize it’s been a criminally long time since I’ve updated, but here you go. Midterms are nigh, and the girls here are looking a little scrubbier than usual. For me it just means popping in my contacts less when I want a few more minutes of sleep.

But cults. I was warned of them before coming here, and we were all warned at Orientation. Recently I’ve been hearing of them more since one cult called the Mannam tried to get the international students to attend one of their festivals. We were bribed with free Korean and judo lessons. From what I’ve heard, foreigners won’t be forced to join, but they’re used as a cover-up of some sorts. I hear it makes them look more legit to Koreans if the group has international support. Some expats have been pretty dismissive of the whole thing and go anyway for the free stuff. I know some argue “What’s the harm?” since it seems as though the group does community service. It’s pretty selfish to me.

I think Mannam was the cult that beat a girl to death when she wanted out. So yes, there does appear to be harm.

One unnie I was eating lunch with told me that some of the Christian groups on Ewha are cults. She said in her freshman year she joined what she thought was a Christian club and they had some odd beliefs. Like once she had an exam to study for the next day, so she planned on missing an event. Her leader was all preachy and told her that she had to “surrender to the world and follow Jesus” or something like that. So she went. And failed her test. The group also didn’t like members having relationships with people outside the group. Her leader told her she was praying that the unnie would break up with her boyfriend. That was the last straw for her, so she left.

I was having lunch with a couple kids from my Korean class and we shared our experiences thus far. Apparently everyone in the International dorm got an email from the Mannam. So somehow they got all of their email addresses. I’m in the Graduate dorm, so I didn’t hear of it until the International office warned us what it was.

Some groups will only approach you at night. Once right in front of my dorm a couple girls wanted to show me a video and get my thoughts on it. I told them my Korean wasn’t any good, and their English wasn’t great either. I thought they were trying to get me to join a Bible study group, so I said I was already in two. This just excited them more, so I watched anyway.

The video’s argument was that there is a Mother God along with a Father God. The original Hebrew says that in Genesis God says “Let US make man…” and the word US implies other Gods. And they believe the Bride mentioned in Revelation is the supposed Mother God instead of the church. Then they wanted me to talk about my opinions and write my name down in a survey box.

So here is where I started my argument. Wasn’t the Bride the church? “No”, they said. No explanation. Just no. Wasn’t God talking about the trinity? “No”, they said. No explanation. Just no. What did it matter so long as we believed in God? I don’t think they understood that. But I think they answered “no”. That was sort of how our conversation went. And I just kept getting madder cause I couldn’t understand them, and they still kept trying to convert me even though they didn’t know what I was saying either. They just kept trying to get me to believe in God the Mother. A couple more girls joined.

At one point I got fed up, and excused myself. They still wanted me to write my opinions, so I wrote a few words. I didn’t write my name though like the previous people did. I did not want them to come find me. My surname is uncommon enough that it would be pretty easy.

I asked my small group leader about the “US” word, and she told me that just like how the Korean language sometimes uses “oori” (we) for me, Hebrew is similar. For those of you unfamiliar with Korean, an example of this would include how we refer to our parents. It literally translates to “our parents”. My leader said that when she first got to Korea, she went to what she thought was a church, but it turned out it wasn’t. It also had some odd conversion ceremony that was sort of like communion.

Back at home I looked up the cult, and it just sounds so creepy for some unexplainable reason. I didn’t expect Korea, the number two country for sending Christian missionaries, to have as many cult issues as they do. I thought Japan might have more of that. Though I believe most of the cults here are Christian based with elements from the faith. Like the Moonies believed their leader was Jesus coming back. Though that doesn’t make sense, since it’s written that once Jesus does come back, the world will end…

I think in the end the experience made me realize I’ve been neglecting my Bible so much. I barely read it these days. So if any of my readers end up coming to Korea, please stay safe and don’t give your name out to strange groups who approach you at night.

To the Beautiful You/Insomnia Rant

Good gracious. It’s 3 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I’ve tried drinking water, listening to music, reading articles, and washing my favorite brushes. This is mostly cause I was fantasizing about painting again. Digital. And oil especially….I only get to do it once a week! Why not take a painting class you ask? Cause I have no idea how I’m going to lug all my paintings home. I’d probably have to leave them all here and I dunno if I’ll be emotionally prepared enough for that. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with my club painting. I just joined to keep myself from going crazy. I wish I was into music instead. I think musicians have the right idea by sticking to an instrument that probably won’t potentially give you a life-threatening disease or pollute your water. Think of the fishes. I like fishes.

Totally not representative of the entire series.

In hopes of lulling myself to sleep, I’m going to write my thoughts on my first completed Korean drama “To The Beautiful You” (Korean: 아름다운 그대에게). To get myself in the mood, I’m listening to the ending song “Stand Up” by J-Min on repeat. It’s a catchy angstyish tune.

Gee Michelle, aren’t you Korean? Don’t all Koreans listen to K-pop, watch dramas, and know the Gangnam Style dance perfectly? No. No to all. I rarely like any K=pop just cause I can’t really take it seriously most times. The few songs I do enjoy are mostly for campy entertainment.

My rant on dramas will get it’s own separate paragraph cause it’s that special. The main reason I never completed dramas before is cause when I was younger I didn’t have a laptop or whatever. I did use a computer, but it was my dad’s work computer where I could get kicked off at any second. So I invested more in anime since that’s half as long.

But here’s how dramas generally go (from what I know of. Take it with a sack of salt). Stupid innocent girl makes stupid innocent decisions and falls in love with a brooding Byronic dude and breaks the heart of some awesome happy dude who really liked her for her. This drama was no exception to my stereotype. I also realize shoujo manga might fall here too, but I feel like there are just as many unconventional ones that don’t follow that used and abused storyline.

So if I were the heroine, here’s what I wouldn’t have done that she did. Of course I’m not going to remember everything, but these are the ones currently sticking out in my head. SPOILERS ABOUND. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

-Wander into a pool at night from some obscure note that’s supposedly from my room mate. Especially if I have a “chlorine allergy”.
-Pester my room mate to oblivion.
-Rode on a bike that I had seen someone tampering with.
-Been an athletics major. Kay seriously, I get you’re a track star, but you’re really just asking for trouble by focusing on sports.
-Break a whole mess of hearts.
-Ran my first marathon so my unfriendly room mate wouldn’t have to jump in our field day.
-Leave for America the day my room mate/boyfriend has a track competition and wants me to come support him. Didn’t you think he’d notice? And get all frazzled trying to come after you?

Aw heck if it were me the story would never have happened. My parents would definitely have found out it was an all boy’s school. I would’ve just stayed in America, followed my brother into the “Ivy league” (lol they think Johns Hopkins is Ivy League), kept my hair long, and married my awesome childhood friend. She says she did it to support him, but honestly I think a fan letter would’ve been good. At one point in the series she makes a video to a track coach asking him to take on the male lead. The video was like a short documentary on how the dude gave her a reason to live again. I think sending it to the guy would’ve been more appropriate than everything else that went down in the series.

In short, this is a story that you must view with your brain turned off if you want to enjoy it.

That said it IS enjoyable. The colors are all wonderfully saturated. The school scenes were for probably some of my favorite parts. Especially the crazy training montages where they were frantic about getting the rights to the best cafeteria. Engyol (the obligatory heartbreak guy) was pretty great to watch. His silly fantasies, his struggles with his sexuality, and his eventual heartbreak was so palpable it made me want to remain single forever. Ha ha. In short he was probably the most interesting and understandable character the series had.

And did I mention Sulli looks great in drag? Only when she was in her school uniform though. Not so much her casual stuff. There were times where I forgot her real gender for a couple seconds cause she really brought it. Well when she wasn’t squealing about people using her bathroom or whatever. Haha, she would’ve made a really good looking dude…

And that’s all from me for now. Time to try to sleep again.

How I Spent My Chuseok

First I went to Bundang to go with my great-uncle and great-aunt. My maternal grandmother has 6-7 brothers and sisters, so this was one of her younger brothers. She actually called and talked to me when I arrived at his home. Once I handed the phone back, I heard my great-uncle say, “No, you can’t talk to her again! It’s so late over here, and she has to go sleep soon.” He sounded scandalized.

It was only 10 o’ clock.

But I did try to honor my grandparents by sleeping at that time. I don’t remember the last time I ever went to sleep that early willingly.

The way Chuseok goes is that you get together with all your family, a bunch of food gets cooked, and you bow to your dead ancestors. Then you all eat the food. I’ve never done it before. I don’t know if it’s because some consider it anti-Christian, or if it’s because I simply don’t see my extended family more than once or twice a year.

While I was eating I had a stomachache (happens very often to me) and couldn’t really eat that well. But I thought it would be rude if I said so, so I was forcing it down. Unfortunately one of the grandma’s noticed and said sympathetically, “You don’t like Korean food cause you’re American right? You don’t have to eat if you don’t want to. Do you want something else?”

And then other grandmother’s started chiming in, so I had to put a stop to it and say that it was because I had a stomachache (though it’s true- I actually am not that fond of Korean food). Then they brought me a bunch of pills.

For those of you who don’t know, I cannot swallow pills unless I eat them with bread (yes, that’s the same way you give them to animals). Or I vomit. And I was not about to vomit in front of all my distant relatives. So I hid the pills in my cheek while gulping the water down.

“You’re not just hiding it in your cheek, are you?” asked one of my grandfathers. I just laughed nervously, and waved my hand hoping the matter would drop. Later I excused myself to the bathroom and flushed them down the toilet.

After lunch, I tried chatting with my distant cousins and tried to ignore the fact that everyone was talking about me outside the door. They weren’t being mean or anything, but it was getting a little tiring.

Eventually it ended and I hopped on the metro to go reunite with Melanie!! Here’s a picture:

We went to Gangnam to do Dr. Fish. I’m never doing it again…personally I think we’re teaching fish the wrong lesson by feeding them our calluses.