Burger - Cyclist, Foodie, Educator… living the expat life in Busan, South Korea — Creator of Burger n' Kimchi.
A Short Message from Burger
Thanks for stopping by to learn a little bit about Burger! It really does mean something that you're spending your valuable time reading this "About Page," written by this normal everyday dude. Hopefully, I can make it worth your visit!
Why Should You Read?
I heard somewhere, reading is good for your brain... But also a great way to collect knowledge and information about our world. If you're interested in topics related to South Korea, Busan, or new restaurants that pop up around this coastal city, you will certainly find all of that and more here on this blog.
What This Medium Blog Roll Is All About
The original idea that struck me for this blog was to talk about the wonderful world of Korean snacks. I'm living in Korea after all! I thought it would be nice to share something and create how-to-guides for preparing ramen noodles, because I was packing up noods every once in a while and sending them stateside for my brother to enjoy.
The times have certainly changed since the pandemic era... During that time, I found myself teaching university classes from home (the last two and a half years actually...) and wasn't able to satisfy my original plans for traveling. I GOT BORED. So, I decided to turn lemons into lemonade and learn something new!
Enter videography, video editing, and the Burger n' Kimchi YouTube Channel...
My idea about what content I wanted to create expanded with the whole Burger n' Kimchi idea. If you couldn't figure it out, Burger represents myself and Kimchi, my wife. Burger n' Kimchi was to be about us, our lives, but in reality it was much more difficult than I had first imagined to cocreate... That's a story for another day. Let me know if you would like to hear it!
To make a long story short, I want to keep things open and flexible about what I will be writing here on Medium. I'll certainly be talking about all things food in South Korea, including South Korean: snacks, restaurants, cafes, tourist destinations, traditional foods, and much more.
If I get bored, I might even spin in some of my interests: cycling in South Korea, gaming, and reviews of the gear that I use daily. It's quite the range, I know, but I just feel at this point I want to spice things up and keep the burnout at bay!
The Early Days of Burger
Before Burger became, well..., a Burger, he was born and raised in a middle-class American household in the good ol' Midwestern state of Illinois. Yee-haw!
If you've ever watched any of the Superman movies, you're already well acquainted with the landscape and pace of life of growing up in the rural parts of the United States. Kansas... Illinois... they're basically the same thing. Although, at least we have Chicago!
Life there was pleasant. Quiet. The food, AMAZING! If the Midwest is good for one thing, it's expanding your waistline. Some of my favorite dishes growing up were: Pony Shoes (*horse shoes), Coconut Cream Pie, and those delicously charred, smashed-out burger patties the Midwest is also known for.
As a young budding Burger, I enjoyed causing plenty of trouble, bridge-jumping, running, and gaming. We were bored, but it sure did make each and every one of us more creative!
Teenage Burger was not-so-gyood, but certainly not the worst.
Late adolescent Burger somehow made it into university and studied English for no reason other than to get to Asia and meet his heroes: Jean-Claude Van Damme (oops, Belgian), Jackie Chan, The Storms from Big Trouble in Little China, and maybe even David Lo-Pan himself! (Just don't forget to bring that "Six Demon Bag!")
Burger finally made it to Asia when he had a chance to study Japanese in Nagoya, Japan for an entire year. He traveled, drank loads of golden Japanese beer, and immersed himself in the culture, all without ever improving his Japanese! (My Japanese is average, but luckily my Korean is a tiny bit better...)
After returning to the United States, all there was left to do was graduate a little late and contemplate on where in Asia to go next...
An American Burger in South Korea
Japan clearly didn't want me back... I managed to fail every single interview for teaching in Japan, even if it was just one. The interview was also in the frozen tundra of Toronto to boot!
In hindsight though, it really was a blessing in disguise. After watching my friends slowly wither away into poor, drunken and lifeless versions of their former selves from extreme work stress and harsh living standards, I kind of feel like I dodged a bullet!
Having failed miserably at achieving my dream, I gave up, moved to the suburbs, got married, repopulated the earth with 14 children, and lived out the rest of my life wishing I had passed that interview to work in Japan. Just kidding, that couldn't be further from the truth!
Burger decided to go where several of his close friends were from in both university and his time spent studying abroad in Nagoya.
The first of my friends was unbeknowest to me at that time, my future wife, Kimchi, and the other was a shell shocked ex-Korean military delinquent. The other, others were fairly normal.
Burger got a job with the EPIK Program in South Korea in its infancy. The bar for entry was apparently set very low...
Upon arrival, I attended a rather useless crash course on how to teach Korean elementary school students and was quickly shuttled to Busan to meet my coworkers for the first time. We went through the process of only what could be called a Korean Saliva-oath.
I shared soup with my 70 year old principal...
After that, I was taken to my bombed-out one-room that nearly brought me to tears. Luckily, inflation wasn't nearly as devastating on my wallet at that time, so I cuddled up to a nice, fancy bottle of tequila for the next few months. Good times!
Strongly thinking about leaving South Korea once my contract was up in less than a year, I persevered for the next 14 years. Oh wait, let's take it back for a moment...
Six months in, Burger started dating his future wife on February 14th, 2009. Somehow she's still with that dude...
What could be worse than living in a one-room apartment with barely enough space to lie on the floor? Sharing that already shoebox-sized space with another human!
Kimchi moved in with Burger the following year and the rest was history.
To this day, we both have aches and pains from our time sharing the single-sized mattress on the floor in that shoebox. Luckily, we both decided it was time to expand our living space or risk more bodily tweaks.
Burger n' Kimchi moved to Nampo-dong. They lived right smack in the middle of one of the busiest areas in all of Busan. It was great. The apartment was not...
I guess we have terrible luck when it comes to apartments! The heating never worked for either the shower or the apartment.
To Be Continued...