I’ve been home for almost a month now, but this blog feels unfinished, so I’d like to wrap up with some of the things I had in the works and then maybe do a bit of reflection as well – keep up or drop out, I really wouldn’t blame you either way.
Some of the coolest sightseeing in Seoul can be done at the convenience stores located every teen feet on most city blocks. GS25, 7/11, and CU are all prime places to buy cheap and convenient snacks on the go. Here, I’m going to run through some of the many I was lucky to try during my time abroad.
Milkis (by Lotte) is a pretty interesting beverage and the only time I’ve really been tempted to buy soda here in Seoul. It’s milk soda, as the name suggests, so it’s meant to have a creamier taste. On the left is the original, which I thought tasted like lemon-lime soda touched with cream. The yogurt variety was even better – it’s like jacked up cream soda from home. The soda is still thin like any other, and honestly, pretty unique from anything we offer in the U.S.
2. Samgak Jookmubap 주먹밥 / Onigiri
Note: this is a really bad representation of joomukbap because a) it’s supposed to be wrapped in the seaweed, and b) the beef filling is leaking a little out of this one, but it’s the only picture I have on hand; this was from back in February when I had no idea how to properly eat anything. It’s essentially a rice triangle with filling – I always get pork or beef, but you can also find kimchi, spicy chicken, spam, tuna, and other varieties. They were always my go-to option for a quick and cheap lunch or dinner, and particularly great to pack for hiking trips and long days. Pop the seaweed wrap from the wrapper correctly, and this neat little concoction is ready to go.
3. Ice Cream
The GS25 convenience store next to my dormitory has a lot of variety when it comes to ice cream. You can spend 10,000 won on some imported Haagen-Dazs, but that’s unnecessary when Korean brands have cool options like red bean, fish-shaped sandwiches or honey and nut sandwiches (pictured above). I was a sucker for green tea flavors in particular, and by the time we left, Claire and I were infamous for our GS25 ice cream habit.
5) Market O Real Brownie
Korea doesn’t really have brownies anywhere, but this treat is the closest to a fudgey hunk of chocolate you can find. It’s rich, it’s dense, and you can also purchase the matcha brownie as well, which is vivid green and not something I had the opportunity to try. Unfortunately, compared to most other convenience store desserts, they’re a bit more expensive (3,000-4,000 won), so most of the time other options won my thrifty self over.
DemiSoda is yet another Korean soda that is unlike anything I’ve yet to see at home. It’s probably more like sparkling juice than anything else, being a hybrid of soda and 11% apple juice (for when you’re not feeling like you want to be healthy but don’t want to commit to a full soda, I suppose). I found these pretty refreshing, and America absolutely needs more apple soda options.
7) Choco Pies
Choco Pies are everywhere and come in any flavor you could desire – strawberry, banana, matcha, double chocolate, you name it. They’re like Korea’s answer to the Hostess cakes and ideal for a quick burst of sweetness and processed sugar (mmm, mmm, mmm). I truly wished I had brought some home, considering how robbed I felt when I saw how under-weight my suitcase ended up being.
I’ve mentioned soju many times before, but since buying them in a convenience store for under 2,000 won is a classic exchange student move, I don’t feel I could wrap up this discussion without mentioning it. The best flavors – don’t let anyone tell you differently – are grapefruit and apple, but you could also try out blueberry, pomegranate, lemon, and”fresh,” which I personally feel tastes of rubbing alcohol. My friend informed me that Korean girls sometimes buy a bottle of soju and a melon popsicle and melt the popsicle into the drink for a thrifty cocktail, so I’d absolutely recommend this method if you must drink soju.
There’s much more to discover in a Korean 7/11, so I wouldn’t by any means call this list exhaustive, but in some weird way I really miss scavenging for cheap dinners in a convenience store.