My Perfect Korean February

For me, February feels like it’s over before it’s even begun. Usually, I’m trying to fit in travel time, a few last days of skiing, and all my meetings for South of Seoul before I start work again in March. Therefore, February seems to be the month that barely happens. So let’s look at what my ideal February lifestyle framework looks like each year.

Making the Most of February

Every year, February arrives before I have finished half the things I wanted to get done in January. Because of this, February turns into my month of rest and family time. During this short little month, I do extensive work to prepare for my year so that 1) my family feels like they are my priority, 2) my actual job goes smoothly (South of Seoul is volunteer role), 3) South of Seoul continues to provide value to the community.

What I have found, after living as an immigrant for over a decade, is that I can’t only focus on my next adventure if I want to feel mentally healthy over time. I need to take time to prioritize my life. This means I need to take classes to improve my job skills, visit family, work on my health, and invest in what matters most to my own growth. So, making the most of February may mean spending time at home or around my home city.

After my first year in Korea, February became the month in my Yearly Adaptation Plan where I stayed home. The only adventures I allow myself are fast ones that focus on my personal interests and support my mental health. Such activities may include traveling to see family, snowboarding, or hiking in familiar places.

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Of course, taking it easy still includes a focus on cultural integration. Therefore, I still make time for food, art, and language or cultural learning.

February Integration Missions

The following integration missions will make February fly past. First, here are some recommended Korean meals, dramas, and books that build cultural empathy and set the tone for a more integrated life.

What to Cook

February Recipe Recommendations: Bulgogi and Mandu Jeongol

Bulgogi is one of the most popular and well known Korean dishes. Thanks to the KimchiRednecks, our community has an easy outline to build Korean cooking skills throughout the year.

This month, the KimchiRednecks teach us to make “fire meat” or bulgogi and a fabulous hotpot dish called mandu jeongol at home. Both of these dishes are ones you are likely to make at home often throughout the year.

What to Watch

February Drama Recommendation:  “Itaewon Class”

Since the weather is still quite cold, it is a great time to get cozy and catch up on Korean dramas.

Itaewon Class is a popular South Korean television drama that premiered in 2020. This drama follows the story of a young man who opens a bar in the Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul and takes on a group of misfits as employees who help him seek revenge against the corrupt corporation that caused his father’s death. Looking for an intriguing show exploring themes of revenge, diversity and inclusion, entrepreneurship, friendship and love, and the meaning of success with a great story? Then, this is the drama for you.

What to Read

February Book Club Recommendation: “The Island of Sea Women”

Prepare for a summer trip to Jeju by diving into “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See. This fabulous book looks at the life and culture of the haenyeo, female divers who harvest sea life by hand. This fictional story set in Jeju revolves around two young women and their relationship throughout the colonization by Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and after. It is a tale of friendship, vulnerability, loss, betrayal, and forgiveness. After reading this book, plan to visit the Haenyeo Museum or Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak and Aquaplanet Haenyeo Performance while visiting Jeju Island.

Weekend Activities

As February is still frigid, you may want to stay home and snuggle under the blankets. However, on weekends when the temperatures are above freezing, and the wind is not so frigid, take the opportunity to get out and explore Korea. Remember you can always check with 1330 for travel related inquiries like operating hours or information on tickets or reservations (they cannot make reservation for you). Here is how I would spend my February.

Weekend 1: Enjoy the Local Scene

We like to take at least one weekend each month and enjoy the activity in our local area. For us, that could mean hitting our favorite restaurants and cafes or heading to the mall for window shopping and a movie date. Sometimes we just need to get out of the house and enjoy some good Korean comfort food such as delicious soups and stews.

We eat a lot of jjigae in February.

Weekend 2: Spend a Weekend on the Slopes

Are you looking for a ski weekend itinerary but don’t want to plan it yourself? You can find organized trips from companies like Winter Friend and others in our Pyeongtaek Travelers Facebook group. You can also check out itineraries that our volunteers create and share to get ideas.

Pro Tip: Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, you can take the gondola to the top of the mountain for the views.

Weekend 3: Check Out An Indoor Water Park

Sometimes you simply need a break from the cold weather. Escape into one of these 5 indoor water parks near Pyeongtaek and enjoy a break from the winter blues. Since many of the indoor water parks are open year-round, you can enjoy warm summer fun while waiting for the warmer temperatures to arrive.

Weekend 4: Hike Wolchulsan

If you are working on hiking all the Korean National Parks in one year, Wolchulsan National Park on the southern coast of Korea is your next adventure. Wolchulsan literally means “mountain where the moon rises.” One of the most notable features in this park is the “Cloud Bridge 구름다리” that connects two peaks. There is a large granite rock atop Wolchulsan Mountain, that can fit up to 300 people, where you can enjoy the beautiful views.

Schedule Reflection Time

Don’t forget to make time to reflect back on how you felt at the end of the month. Consider asking yourself variations of the following questions:

  • Did I take responsibility for my knowledge and environment?
  • How did this month feel different than last month?
  • Do I need to schedule more downtime in my week?
  • What made me feel stressed or sad this month?
  • What brought me the most joy?
  • What do I need to research to make life easier next month?
  • Did I make enough time for building friendships?
  • Did I reach out to others in my community in healthy ways?
  • What value did I provide to the communities where I find support?

Join Pyeongtaek Travelers

Looking for ideas how others are spending their month, you can always check out some of our Facebook groups, where people share their awesome adventures. If you are looking for travel ideas, Pyeongtaek Travelers is for traveling outside of the Pyeongtaek area. Looking for more inspiration, make sure to check out our blogs for a wealth of itineraries and ideas.

Pyeongtaek Travelers Facebook Group Link