Category: Health

Being A Vegetarian In Korea

Being a Vegetarian in Korea

If there is one thing I’ve realized about Korean food culture, it’s that they love their meat. When I moved to Korea, I was nervous about finding vegetarian friendly restaurants. But never fear! There are actually a lot of vegetarian and vegan options if you know where to look. Here are some tips for ordering as a vegetarian and some of my go-to restaurants!


Ordering as a Vegetarian

Most Korean restaurants specialize in one dish and it is typically something like raw fish, pork, beef, or meat barbeque. Almost all Korean dishes include some kind of meat or fish, so I had a hard time finding where to eat at first. My coworkers were all meat-eaters and I didn’t want to miss out on group meals just because of my dietary restrictions. I quickly learned that all restaurants will serve rice with the meal as well as some kind of side dishes, which are 90% vegetables. If there’s nothing you can order straight off the menu, just ask the server for a bowl of rice and then use the side dishes and gochujang sauce to create some bibimbap! Another option you should look out for at meat based restaurants is soft tofu soup. Just keep in mind that other soups like kimchi jjigae and doenjang jjigae will tend to have a meat or fish based broth. I keep a list of veggie options in my phone that I can show to a server in a pinch which includes:

Bibimbap 비빔밥 – A rice dish with an assortment of veggies, seaweed, and egg. 

Gimbap 김밥 – Korean “sushi” rolls, traditionally made with veggies.

Kimchi 김치 – fermented, spicy cabbage.

Banchan 반찬 – side dishes often served alongside entrees, especially at BBQ restaurants. 

Vegetable Dumplings 야채만두 – Korean dumplings filled with veggies and tofu.


Vegetarian bibimbap available in South Korea

While getting resourceful at a meat-based restaurant is a great strategy, I also love to eat at restaurants that cater to a vegan and vegetarian diet. Here are some of my all time favorite spots where you don’t need to compromise taste or choice just because of your lifestyle.


Plant Cafe

Plant Cafe is a vegan restaurant that has two locations in Seoul: their namesake restaurant and full size bakery in Itaewon and their newest location in Yeonnamdong. Plant’s menu features delicious items like a mushroom burger, macaroni and cheese, cauliflower wings, and even chili cheese fries. They also have lighter options like veggies and hummus, peanut soba noodles, and smoothies. I recently ordered a birthday cake for my friend’s party and the flavors were unreal. Nobody could believe that the banana salted caramel cake was vegan! Plant Cafe is also a great place to enjoy a soy milk latte, a glass of wine, or my favorite, kombucha!



This might be the best veggie friendly restaurant I’ve been to! Osegyhyang is located in Jongno amidst the winding alleyways. The restaurant is inside a Hanok style building and has a lovely atmosphere where you can sit on the heated floors and enjoy your meal. I love that they offer traditional Korean dishes that are entirely vegan so you don’t have to miss out on enjoying the culture. It is also very easy to order in English which makes the dining experience that much more convenient.


Buddha's Belly

Buddha’s Belly is a Thai restaurant that is vegan and vegetarian friendly. Located in Itaewon, this spot is tucked away on top of a hill which means their patio has an incredible view over the city at night. The servers are very friendly and attentive and provide a comfortable dining experience. Last time I ate here, I ordered the green curry and the Thai fried rice with pineapple, which were both incredible. I went with a non-veggie friend and she was pleased that they served meat options too. Buddha’s Belly is a great place when you’re dining with a big group as they offer all types of options.

While navigating vegetarianism in Korea may seem daunting at first, there are plenty of delicious options to enjoy. I recommend you download the app Happy Cow which will recommend other great vegetarian places to enjoy. As you start living and teaching in Korea, rest assured that you can savor the local cuisine while staying true to your dietary preferences. Bon appétit!

Michelle Duquette is from Toronto, Canada and moved to South Korea in 2015. She has a Bachelors in English literature and a Masters in ESL Education. Michelle has taught at Creverse campuses in Gangneung, Songpa, and Mokdong and currently works as a CDI and April Trainer. Michelle never set out to be a teacher but fell in love with Korean culture and the excitement of being in the classroom. Michelle lives in Seoul with her partner and two cats, Cherry and Frost. 

Achieving Work-Life Balance While Teaching In Korea

Tips For Work-Life Balance In Korea

Many people struggle to keep a work-life balance. This is especially true for people who are newer to the teaching field than more experienced teachers. Add on top of that experiencing a new country for the first time, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Here are some tips I’ve learned for how to create a peaceful work-life balance, so you can enjoy your time in Korea to the fullest! 

Ask For Help

Initially, my move to Korea was challenging because I didn’t have the same support system I had back home in the States. I knew it would be really important that I made friends and bonded with my coworkers early into my time here. I’m so glad I did because now I have an amazing community to lean on. When I feel overwhelmed with work or in my personal life, asking for help from one of my friends here in Seoul always helps lift the burden. It’s just as rewarding as when I get to return the favor. As someone who is new to teaching, this has been especially true when it comes to asking for help at work.


Set Boundaries

I have really strict boundaries for myself when it comes to work. For example, even if there are still papers to be graded, I never stay late. I also consciously try not to worry about my students or how well I’m teaching them when I’m off the clock. It’s really easy in such a people-oriented job to dwell on these things, but I’ve found having a work-life balance has made me a better teacher. When I’m away from work, I focus on enjoying Korea. When I’m at work, I am focused on my students.


Build A Routine

Without a doubt, the best thing I’ve done for my work-life balance is build a routine. When you live abroad, you experience something new and different nearly every day. Even eight months into living abroad, this holds true. Building healthy, easy habits into my daily life has eliminated a lot of stress and has made it possible for me to enjoy Korea and teaching even more. During the day before work, I always take a walk around my neighborhood and stop into my local coffee shop. The lady working knows my order and starts making it before I’ve even reached the counter. 


Whether it’s hitting the gym or becoming a regular at a late night food stall, familiar faces, places, and healthy habits will make it so much easier for you to feel connected to Korea and ready for work.


Set Priorities

As someone who wants to be doing everything all at once, this tip hurts a little bit, which probably means it’s the most important one. Everyone decides to teach in Korea for slightly different reasons. For me, I really wanted to experience a new culture and travel the world, so in my spare time, I’ve prioritized taking language classes and taking day trips from Seoul. Others might move to Korea because they’re passionate about teaching and K-pop. For those people, they might prioritize concerts and take extra work opportunities when they arise to build up their teaching skills. Once you figure out what’s important to you, balancing life in Korea becomes so much easier.


English teachers in Korea laughing in front of a pagoda
K-pop music festival in Korea

Remember This Is A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

Another way of saying this is simple: Don’t stress it! It’s hard to explain just how surreal it feels to live and teach in Korea after years of dreading going to work at my desk jobs and secretly dreaming of living abroad. I know one day I’ll likely move on from Korea, but in the meantime, I try to make every second count. That doesn’t always mean going out on an adventure. More often than not, it involves sitting back and feeling grateful for the life I’ve built for myself here in Korea with close friends. If you can manage to do that every once in a while, I promise everything else with work-life balance will fall into place with time!


Diana Richtman is a writer and ESL teacher living in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in English & Women’s Studies. After receiving her TEFL certification, Diana moved to South Korea where she works at one of Creverse’s April Institutes. When Diana isn’t working, she loves exploring Korea, drinking warm cups of tea, and scaring away her friends with her karaoke performances. 

5 Reasons Why I Prefer Living In Korea

Here are the top 5 reasons Why I Prefer Living in Korea!

1. Transportation (High Tech Bus Stops)

Korea is often ranked one of the best public transportation systems on the planet. Let’s start with the buses, which can take you anywhere you want in major cities as well as across the country. In the winter, Korea has heated bus stop seats as well as heated waiting room areas at some locations. Not only that but some bus stops provide free phone charging stations, and all buses have public Wi-Fi. The bus system is convenient and affordable for anyone looking to get around quickly and comfortable. This is one of the main reasons I prefer living in Korea over the States.


A heated bus stop bench with free wirless charging in Korea
Heated Bench and Wireless Charging
Woman waits for a bus inside a glass-covered bus stop in Seoul, Korea.

The subway is fast, safe, and easy to use. All signs and announcements are made in both Korean as well as English. If you want to leave your city and explore another part of Korea, there are regular trains for the stop-and-smell-the roses type of passenger as well as the KTX bullet trains for those looking to get places fast. All of the options are affordable and give you the opportunity to view the beautiful Korean countryside.

2. Online Banking (Sending Money)

Forget Venmo and PayPal. In Korea, you can make easy and safe bank transfers online with your bank. This means you can pay people and businesses as well as receive funds in seconds. No more waiting 2-3 days to see funds show up in your bank account. In Korea, you can have your money instantly. (By the way, they’ve been doing it this way for almost 20 years! For better context, they never used a paper checking system.)


A row of ATMs of the top 5 most popular banks in Korea.
A row of ATMs of the top 4 banks
Smart phone app for a Korean bank to allow instantaneous transfer of money to other bank accounts.
Mobile App for Woori Bank

3. Public Safety (No Theft Or Guns)

With strict gun laws, it’s difficult to gain access to weapons in Korea. Between this and Korea’s CCTV coverage, South Korea is an extremely safe country to live in. When compared with other industrialized countries, South Korea has a very low crime rate, and in 2021, they saw their lowest crime rate in ten years. You may not realize it until you are here, but living in Korea made me realize how much unnecessary stress I frequently dealt with worrying about keeping myself and my belongings safe.  


4. Cheap Meals (Delicious & Healthy, too!)

The cost of a delicious, nutritious meal in Korea can be as cheap as ₩7,000, which is roughly $5.50 USD. Not only is eating out affordable, but there are plenty of delicious foods to try from. Korea has everything from bibimbap and tteokbokki to pizza and burgers. Oh, and a huge bonus you probably didn’t think was even a possibility. There is NO TIPPING in Korea! Whether you dine out or take a cab, tipping is not a part of the culture. It is a huge savings and makes life so much easier.   

Assorted fish, kimchi stew, and side dishes at a traditional restaurant in Korea

5. Skin Care (The Mecca for All Your Needs)

Koreans love skin care. With a huge market for it, you can find the exact right combination of products for your skin type. Due to its popularity, there’s a wide variety of options, and they are relatively affordable in comparison to American brands. In addition, Korea has many great spa options if pampering is your favorite method of self-care.  And it’s not just for us girls! Men all across the world are starting to take better care of their skin, and Korea has all the products you can think of.  



Diana Richtman is a writer and ESL teacher living in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in English & Women’s Studies. After receiving her TEFL certification, Diana moved to South Korea where she works at one of Creverse’s April Institutes. When Diana isn’t working, she loves exploring Korea, drinking warm cups of tea, and scaring away her friends with her karaoke performances.

3 Must Hike Trails In South Korea

Three Peaks

With three popular mountain peaks, hiking is a big deal in South Korea. There is no shortage of good hiking trails, but it can be challenging to know how and where to start. Don’t worry though. Whether you’re a complete hiking novice or a life-long hiker, Korea has the perfect trail for you. Here are the 3 must hike trails in South Korea! 


Remember, Safety First!

If you’re new to hiking, remember to take it slow. Choose an easy hike to get acclimated. Always pack water and a snack, consult trail maps, and bring a buddy. If the hike feels too strenuous or it’s starting to get dark, turn around and try another day.


1. Namsan Seoul Tower

If you are new to hiking, this is a perfect place to start. Located in the center of Seoul, the hike up to Namsan Seoul Tower takes about 30-40 minutes. Once you’re at the top, you can take in the panoramic views of Seoul, add a love lock to the fence overlooking the city, and even go up to the top of Namsan Seoul Tower. I recommend starting near Hyatt Hotel, so your hike takes you through the Botanical Garden.


2. Umyeonsan Mountain

Located in the Seocho neighborhood of Seoul, Umyeonsan Mountain is a moderate hike. It’s perfect if you’re looking to level up your hiking experience and still stay in Seoul. This hike is roughly 4.3 kilometers long point-to-point, and it starts near the Seocho Arts Center.  Here’s a video clip to see it live. 


3. Bukhansan National Park

The views from Bukhansan National Park are epic. With jutting mountains and steep inclines, this hike isn’t for the faint of heart but is well worth the climb. The hike to the top of Bukhansan is roughly 7 kilometers or about 4-6 hours round trip. I highly recommend bringing trekking poles to help with this rocky trail, and a friend to share the views with is always a good idea.



Hopefully these 3 must hike trails in South Korea are a good start to your mountain hiking journey in Korea! 

Diana Richtman is a writer and ESL teacher living in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Diana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in English & Women’s Studies. After receiving her TEFL certification, Diana moved to South Korea where she works at one of Creverse’s April Institutes. When Diana isn’t working, she loves exploring Korea, drinking warm cups of tea, and scaring away her friends with her karaoke performances. 

Grocery Shopping in South Korea

The Korean Grocery Scene

Are you getting ready to embark on an ESL teaching journey in Korea? As you prepare for your exciting new chapter, let’s delve into one of the most essential aspects of daily life: grocery shopping. Korea offers a unique and vibrant grocery store scene that caters to both convenience and quality. In this blog, I will take you on a tour of the diverse shopping options, from common markets to online shopping.


Major Chains: Emart and No Brand

When you’re in the mood for a more extensive grocery haul, Korea’s food supermarkets offer an impressive variety of options. Emart and No Brand are two prominent names that stand out. No Brand, in particular, is a favorite among budget-conscious shoppers. It’s known for its affordability and convenience, offering a plethora of grocery products. However, keep in mind that they might only accept credit cards, as experienced by some shoppers. On the other hand, Emart is a paradise for those seeking fresh produce. Offering the flexibility of both credit card and cash payments, it’s a one-stop-shop for all your grocery needs. Other honorable mentions include Homeplus and Lotte Mart.   


Prices of Common Goods

My weekly market runs consist of eggs, bread, milk, chicken, fruits, and veggies. A pack of 15 eggs costs 6,000 KRW ($4.44), a loaf of bread goes for about 4,000 KRW ($2.96 USD). A 1,800 mL carton of milk can be purchased for 6,000 KRW ($4.44 USD) , and a 1 kg of chicken breasts costs about 9,000 KRW ($6.65 USD) ($1.00 USD = 1352 KRW). Fruits and veggies are a bit more expensive, as they are typically imported. Regardless, market prices are still very reasonable and affordable.


Delivery Services

In the age of digital convenience, Coupang emerged as a game-changer for grocery shopping in Korea. This online shopping platform boasts lightning-fast delivery right to your doorstep, with options like “rocket shipping” ensuring next-day delivery. While the convenience is undeniable, there’s a crucial detail to remember: to make purchases on Coupang, you need to register with your Alien Registration Card (ARC). As a foreign teacher, this means waiting until you have your ARC to fully embrace the convenience of Coupang. The platform’s easy exchange, return, and refund policies make it an attractive choice for many, earning its reputation as one of the best online shopping experiences in Korea.


As you prepare to teach ESL in Korea, rest assured that the country’s grocery store landscape offers a variety of options to suit your preferences and needs. From the freshness of supermarkets to the digital ease of online shopping, you’ll find everything you need to make your stay enjoyable and comfortable.

Amber Ochoa is from Los Angeles, USA, and just recently moved to South Korea in May. She studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate. After graduation, she began venturing out and embracing her love for adventure. She finds that “nothing holds greater power in our life than the unknown.” One night while applying to random jobs on Indeed, she came across an English teaching position in Seoul, Korea. Flash forward, she is now teaching at CDI, Mokdong branch. She claims that Creverse found her and ended up becoming a blessing in disguise. Amber says giving knowledge to students & inspiring them for higher achievements in life is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Korean Healthcare Guide

Korean Healthcare

South Korea stands as a top choice for English teachers, thanks to its rich culture, vibrant cities, and welcoming locals. Worried about Korean healthcare? No need! Satisfaction of healthcare has been consistently among the highest in the world – South Korea was rated as the second most efficient healthcare system by Bloomberg.

Healthcare System Overview

The Korean Healthcare system offers affordability and quality care to both natives and foreigners alike. When you teach in South Korea, you actively enroll in the National Health Insurance System. This reduces medical costs, making routine doctor visits economical. While not all English language institutes in Korea provide insurance for its teachers, some like CREVERSE provide full coverage through national healthcare insurance! The cost is roughly 7% of gross salary. About 3.5% of salary is deducted from your gross monthly pay, and the other half is covered by the school! (These are the same exact rates for Native Koreans.)


Hospitalization Costs

While there may be some hospitalization expenses, insurance actively eases the financial burden during unforeseen medical emergencies. While this cost can sometimes be substantial, the presence of insurance ensures that you don’t have to shoulder the entire expense on your own. This Korean healthcare system provides a safety net that’s especially crucial during unexpected medical situations.

Quality of Care

Korea actively provides exceptional care, even for non-Korean speakers. Healthcare professionals actively overcome language barriers to deliver top-notch treatment. Many major university hospitals have foreigner friendly international health care centers where doctors and nurses speak English as well! 


Specialized Medical Attention

Korea actively maintains an extensive network of specialist doctors. National Health Insurance and the Korean Healthcare system actively covers these services, ensuring personalized medical care in all areas. Whether you need a dermatologist, psychiatry, obstetrics, or other specialty, Korea has you covered. 


Comparative Perspectives

Korea’s healthcare, while not free, actively combines quality, accessibility, and efficiency.

In conclusion, if you’re planning to teach English in South Korea, rest assured that the healthcare system will actively cover all your healthcare needs. National Health Insurance, along with skilled professionals and specialized care, ensures you will have the best healthcare available. So, embrace your journey without concerns for your health!

Bella Maselana hails from South Africa where she earned a Bachelor’s of Psychology and has served as an English teacher and Lecturer at the University of SA. Bella currently teaches at April English in Sejong, South Korea. 

Gyms And Personal Trainers in Korea

Gym Memberships in Korea

First off, if you didn’t know already, fitness is HUGE in Korea. You can find a workout gym on almost every corner. I recently stumbled upon a very lucky find. A fitness center near my work had a small fire not long ago. Nothing serious, but enough of a cause to close down and do a partial remodel. Sounds terrible. But the point is they had to remodel, and this disrupted their business. Get where I am going with this now? Discounts!

I’m located in a rather pricey area, so usual gym memberships at well-known chains are about 70,000won a month to 336,000won for a year. These prices are normal in Gangnam, Seoul. There is always a hook to their prices. Pay more upfront and you end up spending less per month in the long run. Anyway, thanks to their remodeling promotion. I have been trying out the gym for 150,000won for three months. Thus, it is a relatively cheap price. Also, I got two free personal training sessions! I’ll add the information for the gym I go to at the bottom.


The Personal Trainer

Now this is what I really want to talk about – my personal trainer. Personal trainers in my area usually run about 50,000won to 90,000won per session. A session is an hour long. I know, it’s so expensive. It can fit into one’s salary as a teacher in Seoul, so it is a matter of how much value one places on exercise. Again, the amount you pay upfront is the deal you get. Thus, one can get about 30 sessions for 50,000won per session, but you have to pay 1,500,000won. So my luck is that due to when I signed up, I can now get personal training sessions for a flat rate of 60,000won per session. Still pricey, but working out is a great addition to one’s lifestyle. The benefits of having a routine workout impact all aspects of health – mentally and physically. Plus, with how cold winter is this year in Seoul, working out gives me something productive to do, so I don’t simply hibernate.

My personal trainer keeps track of my workout. So far she has made sure that I obtained my workout goals in an efficient, effective and safe manner! The personal trainers in Korea aren’t much different than those in the United States. Luckily, most can speak enough English to have foreign clients. They know how to instruct and guide in English pretty well at the gym I attend. 

My first meeting with my personal trainer was about discussing my workout goals, checking the condition of my body (how much body fat I have, how much muscle mass I have, how much water retention I have, etc) and discussing what work I have to do outside of the gym to reach my goal (how much sleep I should get and what type of diet I should be maintaining). Afterwards, we slowly eased into learning some workout exercises. My second meeting with my personal trainer, began with a massage. My PT prepares my body for the workout I’m about to have by making sure the areas I will be targeting aren’t tense. Then, we went into checking how well I learned what was previously taught and building off from that. The sessions I’ve had since then are similar to my second session. After each workout, my PT sends me a review of our workout along with videos that were taken of my posture doing new movements I learned during our session. I can reference them when working out alone. 


Korean Gym Etiquette

Here is something I wish I had known before my first meeting with my trainer that may be useful information to one – bring a clean pair of gym shoes that are only for gym use! While these gyms offer their own gym uniforms to workout in, they never offer shoes. There are shoe lockers right at the entrance of the gym and beyond that point one should be wearing their clean gym shoes. It is a major Korean etiquette. One of which I will never forget! 


Seek the Discounts!

I hope as English teachers in a foreign country, we all find an activity to keep us active, healthy and positive! Maybe signing up at a local gym would be a great way for you to integrate more into Korean society. Look out for discount opportunities! Having a personal trainer is an interesting experience. 

Here is the site for the gym franchise I recommend:

Humake Gym in Seoul


Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.