May 072024

We got back to Seoul around 7:30PM and OK maybe this will sound weird, but it felt like we had back home. I felt this same way in 2019 when we left Korea briefly to go to Japan – when the plane started its descent to Incheon, I got REALLY emotional because I missed being in Korea so much, even after just two days away, and I hadn’t fully realized it until that moment. Well, apparently, I feel the same when I’m away from Seoul for too long. It is honestly my favorite city in the whole entire world, blog.

Sidebar: Henry and I were on our way to meet my sister Amy and brother-in-law Dick on Sunday and I started TEARING UP IN THE CAR thinking about how much I miss it there, Korea in general, Seoul specifically, and Henry gave me a little “there there” pat and said, “We’re going to go back.”


This time around it really left me broken, I think.

OK Erin, slap yourself in the face if you need to, but let’s get back to this so we can wrap these recaps up before Chooch leaves for college.

As I was saying, we got back to Seoul Station around 7:30 Friday night and Chooch was so excited because he wanted to go to Lotte Mart and see the Pokemon area that we had seen without him Tuesday night. However, instead of going straight to the Lotte Mart entrance, we instead went into the Lotte Department area. These are all connected to Seoul Station – lots of action up in this joint. Anyway, the first thing we saw in Lotte Department was a section for Kodak brand clothes. This is A THING in Korea. Even Jiyong was saying that she didn’t understand it when we saw a Kodak store in Jeonju because there was nary a roll of film to be found – it was all clothes. I didn’t know this at the time, but Chooch was pissed because he wanted to go in but hello, you have a mouth? Use it!? If he had mentioned it, we would have gladly waited for him to peruse?!

So now he had the opportunity to go and oh hello, this shit was kind of expensive?! I mean, not enough to give me sticker shock but I didn’t really think any of the shirts or anything looked that cool and I hesitate to spend that much on Sloppy Son who might have outgrown a lot of things over the years (LIKE CALLING ME MOMMY!) but immediately getting stains on his clothes is not one of those things.

And then right next to that display was a National Geographic section!?!? They have clothes too? AND SHOES? I was really confused by this whole phenomenon, but you know what’s hilarious is that recently I saw an IG reel that was like, “Tell me he’s a Korean boy without telling me” or something and it was showing all these Korean guys with their uniform haircuts, etc. and someone in the comments said, “You forgot ‘wearing NatGeo.'” I died because it was a total IYKYK moment and I KNEW I KNEW.

(The reel was made by a Korean person so it was comedic stereotyping, don’t come at me, I didn’t make the reel!)

After Chooch did his Pokemon thing and we bought some shit at Daiso (we needed a portable charger and other boring shit), we made our way down into the bowels of Seoul Station were the subway lives! SEOUL SUBWAY, BABY, I MISSED YOU, DID YOU MISS ME???

There was this vending machine area and one of them had kpop albums! Seventeen and NCT Dream were in there :)

This was a live picture and I could have adjusted it so Henry doesn’t look like the Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish sign, but why would I ever do that. Anyway, this was him standing next to Ive while Chooch looked at the non-kpop vending machine options.

After dropping off our bags and stuff at the hotel, we walked over to the nearby Lotteria. Lotteria is a really popular fast food chain in Korea but we had never gone before because, well, 2/3 of us are vegetarian. BUT!! Before we came on this trip, I saw a video on YouTube where they mentioned that Lotteria has a veggie burger now so we had decided earlier in the day that we would stop there for a late and quick dinner.

(I will tell you right now that I wish I had one of those LONG CHEESE STICKS in my hand right now. They were pretty fucking good.)

My favorite part was spending a good long while trying to figure out how our number would be called – it was a three-digit number but was it going to be, for example and pretend this is Korea: “one two three” or “one hundred twenty three”?!!? So I was trying to prepare myself with both versions of the numbers just in case only for Chooch to say, “Oh, they just put the number right up there on that screen.”

UGHHHHHHHH. So much time putting my brain into overdrive FOR NOTHING.


(The Korean part says “a miracle that tastes like meat without meat.” THE MORE YOU KNOW.)

Real talk: there was nothing memorable about this veggie burger. It was your standard fast food chain stab at half-assedly catering to the meat-free population, which is preferable to wilted salads but still makes you feel a little LESSER THAN.

Interestingly, I started reading the Lotteria Wiki page and while it’s a South Korean company founded by a Korean entrepreneur, the first location actually opened in Japan in 1972 and didn’t expand to South Korea until 1979! That’s wild. (It’s a quiet Tuesday night, let me have this lame “shook” moment.) And speaking of the aforementioned Lotte Mart, etc., this fast food empire was named after a combination of Lotte (its parent company) and Cafeteria.

Seriously, when is a college going to invite me to teach a class on South Korea? I AM SO GOOD AT PARAPHRASING WIKI.

We made Henry get the Jeonju Bibimbap burger!!! I will let him type out his own review, never mind he’s making me do it. I just said, “Here’s the picture to help jog your memo–” at which point he rudely cut me off by making a THROAT SCRAPE OF DISGUST and said, “Oh I remember it, don’t worry, it was the worst thing ever.”

Elaborate please, Henry.

“It basically just fell apart. The bun was terrible. The burger was OK, but the BUN WAS JUST RICE COMPACTED TOGETHER.”

Well, yes, Henry. That was the whole point? The bun was literally smashed together bibimbap molded into bun-shapes?! That’s LITERALLY how it was billed.

“I mean, there’s not much more to say about it. I’m not going to get it again,” and then remembering we’re back in shitty Pittsburgh, he added, “well, of course not. But ‘thanks’ for making me get it.”


Cry about it.

“I mean, I don’t know what else I would have tried because I DIDN’T GET TO LOOK AT THE MENU,” Henry spat, clearly on a roll now for someone who “didn’t have anything to say about it.”

At the end of the day you guys, Lotteria could have served me dirt on bread and I would have been like, “Oh well, at least I’m in Korea. We all need some dirt in our systems every now and then.” And then I would just wash it down with some banana uyu or Maxim cold brew from a bag. As I sign off, imagine this is a podcast and it fades out with Henry and I saying various pronunciations of Lotteria, all of which are definitely wrong.

Choo choo, motherconductors. (Or if you’re eating while reading this, chew chew mothermasticators.)

Say it don't spray it.

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