Monster Whopper (aka when curiosity defeats me yet again)

Not to get too serious or anything regarding, I mean after all this is a post about an overpriced hamburger, but there are times when you look back in life and think to yourself “why the hell did I do that?” and this moment definitely qualifies as one.

Prior to watching Fast and Furious 6 (that movie franchise is my guilty pleasure), my future wife and I decided that the best thing to eat before sitting in a dark room for 2 hours was to eat something greasy, fatty, and full of sodium, and here was the sign that finally convinced me:



So there it is, Beauty & Beast Meal (alongside the grammatical awkwardness), ready to take my 14,000 KRW. Now let’s get to the meat of this post (pun intended).



Nothing special yet, just your typical Whopper wrapper, only differentiated by an ‘M’, as well as its noticeable weight difference from the traditional Whopper. I’m super excited and  hungry, which explains why I wasn’t so disgusted by the following picture at that particular moment in time. However, looking at this picture a day later, the exact phrase I am thinking  to myself is “why the hell did I eat that”?



There it is, the Monster Whopper in all its messy glory. It’s a Whopper with bacon, cheese, hot sauce, and a grilled chicken breast. So just to be clear, there’s chicken + beef + pork in one burger. After taking a few bites, I decided to take one last picture:




I was able to finish the Monster Whopper without much trouble, surprisingly. About two months ago, I dislocated my jaw in my sleep so ever since then, it’s been difficult eating things such as large sandwiches or hamburgers, out of fear that it will dislocate again. With this, I didn’t have much difficulty. 

Aside from the sheer mess that comes along with this burger, it actually didn’t taste all that bad. The burger was surprisingly spicy I always find trying these new food adventures to be fun and exciting (to an extent, of course). I don’t plan on eating this again anytime soon but if you’re in South Korea in the near future, and you’re curious about trying something new and adding another “why the hell did I do that?” moment to your life, i’d say give this one a shot.


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Let me start by saying the last several months have been CRAZY. I’ve switched jobs and moved twice between posts and now that I finally have some downtime I thought I would like to share with you what was an absolutely glorious food experience. This experience centered around the top-class Korean beef known as hanwoo (한우). People are familiar with Japanese Kobe or Wagyu beef, and while they are indeed the cream of the crop so to speak, hanwoo is certainly no second fiddle. Allow me to make my case.

The restaurant I went to was in the Sinsa area of Seoul, just south of the Han River and a few bus stops away from that place Korean singer PSY seemed to have popularized in the last few months. Here is a link for more info.

The price of hanwoo varies depending on quality and location. Given that this restaurant is in the affluent part of Seoul and it holds a 1++ rating, meaning it’s just below the highest level available, 29,000 KRW per order isn’t too bad. That being said, it still winds up being a pricey meal, but every morsel was worth the bite.

Here is an order of beef tartare, one of my personal favorites. This was just plain delicious.

The star of the show, a wonderfully marbleized sirloin piece for two! Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…

.. it does! I remember grilling steaks in my backyard back home in San Jose, using cheaper cuts from Safeway or Costco. While I enjoy those as well, you can really tell quality beef based on how it cooks. The outside naturally turned golden brown and as you can see from the picture, a perfect medium-rare in the center. That first bite, let me tell you, was absolute bliss.

You can’t forget about dessert right? This is kimchi fried rice used with pieces of beef brisket. Definitely worth it.

So there you have it, my first experience with hanwoo beef! As great as this meal was, what makes moments like these even better is when you get the chance to enjoy it with good company. No matter what you’re eating, sharing a meal with good company always seems to make it a bit better. If you’re in Seoul anytime soon, do the PSY horse dance all the way over to this place and treat yourself to an unforgettable meal.

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Mega Mac

As an American, no matter where I traveled to there were always things that brought a sense of familiarity. In Seoul, there are many examples of this such as Starbucks, Taco Bell, Johnny Rockets, and of course, McDonald’s being the most obvious example. However, as you may already know, McDonald’s in Korea isn’t exactly the same as a McDonald’s back in the United States. Back home you can order a meal based on the number or you use the phrase “combo”, where as in Korea meals are referred to as a “set”. In Korea there is a 24 hour delivery service, WHICH BY THE WAY IS FREAKIN AWESOME! Today I am going to introduce to you an item that was recently introduced to the Korean masses, known as the Mega Mac.

Let the name settle in for a moment.

Mega Mac.

Based on name alone it already sounds like a potpourri of deliciousness and size. Here’s a picture I took when I first took the Mega Mac out of the bag (WHICH WAS DELIVERED BY THE WAY).

The only thing that differentiates the Mega Mac from your standard Big Mac is the 4 patties versus the traditional two. All the other ingredients are the same. When I took my first bite of the Mega Mac my first reaction was “Oh, it’s a Big Mac with double meat”. What I mean by this was that I think I expected too much out of the Mega Mac.

As I finished my burger I didn’t have the immediate sense of regret that I usually get from eating a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Why is that? I’d say it’s because the extra middle slice of bread is key in absorbing any additional grease from the meat and cheese, something the Double QPC doesn’t have. With the Double QBC I feel like my heart is going to explode, where as with the Mega Mac I felt okay, including the dreaded morning after.

Overall I thought it was a solid burger, I mean the Big Mac is a staple when it comes to iconic burgers. If you’re in Korea I would recommend trying it but for me this isn’t something I would be ordering on a regular basis.




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The Venetian Macau and Fatburger

When planning my Hong Kong itinerary, I had to dedicate at least a day trip to Macau. Not too many may be familiar with Macau and where it is, but it’s actually the other SAR (special administrative region) of China, the other being Hong Kong of course. Macau was once a Portuguese colony, so most of the signs are written in Portuguese. My first trip in Macau was to The Ventian, which is currently ranked as the 3rd largest building in the world! It seems crazy but when you see the building in person, that ranking seems more and more like a reality.

From Hong Kong it’s a quick 45 minute trip by ferry. I took the Cotai Jet, which takes you to the Cotai Strip, south of mainland Macau. The Cotai Strip is what Macau is trying to build up as the next Vegas Strip. It’s not there just yet but in the future I can see how it’ll be an amazing place to vacation and gamble.

Quick tip for those traveling in Macau: it’s not a big city and thanks to all the casinos, take advantage of the free shuttles at the ferry terminals because they’re free. It took about 10 minutes to get to The Ventian and I was getting very hungry. The Venetian has a lot of upscale restaurants, buffets, and a giant food court. What did I opt for? Fatburger. I didn’t get a chance to try Five Guys before I left San Jose so I don’t know if that’s better than In-N-Out, but what I can tell you is that Fatburger can hold its own as well. Maybe it was because I was so hungry, but this burger did remind me of California. After living in Seoul for a year, I was badly craving some authentic American-style hamburgers that are piled high with beef, cheese, grease, and a fried egg. Thanks Fatburger!

The Venetian Macau is loaded with shops as well as the indoor river for gondola rides. There’s also a Manchester United Experience store, where you can see some interesting Manchester United memorabilia as well as getting a lot of authentic merchandise.

Here’s a special piece of memorabilia on display here, a pair of game-worn cleats signed by Park Ji Sung, the former captain of the South Korea national team. He is undoubtedly one of the most influential people in South Korean culture today and you can argue that he’s a big reason why other Korean players such as Lee Chung Yong, Ki Sung Yueng, and Son Heung Min are getting opportunities to play in Europe now.

Finally, some of you may be wondering how I did gambling-wise? I prefer to not answer that question…..

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The Best $5 I’ve Ever Spent- Australia Dairy Company and Gong Cha

$5 USD may not seem like a lot of money but when it comes to food, $5 seems to be that magical number in which you can get a decent quantity of food for not so much cash. Back in high school, $5 got me 4 tacos, a Jumbo Jack, and a chicken sandwich at Jack in the Box (OH MY GOODNESS HOW I MISS JACK IN THE BOX). In recent years $5 got me a footlong sandwich at Subway. During my first night in Hong Kong, $5 got me an unforgettable meal. How is that possible you ask? Allow me to show you and try to justify my claim of ‘The Best $5 I’ve Ever Spent’.

Australia Dairy Company

Hong Kong is a food haven and when I saw the name of this restaurant pop up prominently in various food blog and web searches, I knew that I had to try this place. I thought that maybe this was some sort of a tourist trap like some of those restaurants in Myeongdong, or maybe people just have a tendency to over exaggerate their experiences at Australia Dairy Company. What the heck does this place serve anyways that could possibly spark such strong opinions?

Scrambled eggs.

What the heck is so special about scrambled eggs? It’s not some sort of gourmet food or anything. Stop right there. I don’t care how basic a food may be, but if it’s done correctly it can truly be an eye-opening experience.

I’m still not sure what the connection is between this restaurant and Australia but to be honest, I didn’t care. I spent an entire day hanging around Kowloon and after watching the Symphony of Lights, I was starving. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find this place but fortunately it was only a few minutes by foot from the MTR station (Jordan). I peered inside to see how many people there were inside and not to my surprise, there were quite a few people there at around 9PM.

I’ve heard about “authentic Hong Kong” dining experiences in which everything is rushed and you sit at a cramped table with a bunch of strangers, so I felt like I was somewhat prepared for this experience. As soon as I walked in there was a guy saying something to me in Cantonese and quickly ushered me to a table that was occupied by two middle-aged women. I sat down and then I was reminded of how the menus here have no English! Fortunately for me the people at my table were already eating exactly what I wanted so I just pointed to those items and off the waiter went!

About one or two minutes later I got my first dish, which was macaroni soup with ham.

The first bite was a little salty but once I continued to eat this, it began to taste better and better. I was actually surprised with how much meat I got in my soup. I will never turn down extra beef in my meals. Next came the main course, which was scrambled eggs, ham, and toast.

It looks nothing more than something you can get at a diner for breakfast but what makes this so delicious was the scrambled eggs. They were cooked to the point where it was still a bit uncooked inside and the texture was silky smooth. Think about that, silky smooth scrambled eggs. No extra salt. No ketchup. That’s how good these eggs were. What’s underrated about this place is the toast. The slices were relatively thick and soft. Add the fact that they’re buttered and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Of course I had to finish the meal with a glass of milk tea. I liked this milk tea more than at Canton Deli. About an hour later I was going to go to Gong Cha to try their milk tea but what the heck why not overindulge?

When all was finished the waiter scribbled a number on a slip of paper for me to take to the counter. The total was around $3-$4 USD. Australia Dairy Company, I hope to visit you again!

Gong Cha

After my meal I went to the night markets in Mong Kok. To be quite honest, shopping isn’t really a passion of mine and after going to night markets in Thailand and street markets in Seoul, I wasn’t all that impressed by this place. If you’re into bootleg Beats by Dre or other random items available for haggling, then I would recommend this place.

I have to admit, of all the random bootleg jerseys that you could possibly find, what are the odds that the one standing most prominent outside a store would be the San Jose Sharks? I can’t wait for hockey season to start…….

After wandering around I finally found Gong Cha. This place is a chain and they’re known for their various milk tea drinks.

Even though it was getting later into the night, it was still humid as hell in Hong Kong. Add that with the massive amount of people out in the streets and you’ll be quick to work up a sweat and a thirst in no time. For me, this place couldn’t have shown up soon enough. I decided to just get the standard milk tea with no pearls (I was never a fan of the tapioca pearls, or bubbles as they’re called). It costs roughly $2-$3 USD and damn the cup they give you is huge!

I wear size XL gloves so maybe that gives you an idea of the size of this cup. I have to say, the first sip was absolute bliss at that time. There are moments when your body just yearns for a particular food or drink (it’s called a craving) and at that moment my body couldn’t have asked for anything better than this drink; it just simply hit the spot. Where does this rank among all the other milk tea joints i’ve had in San Jose and Cupertino? None of those places hold a candle to this place and that’s only factoring the taste and quality. When you factor in the price, this place destroys what my hometown has to offer.

I highly recommend checking out both places and for around $5 USD, you’ll be more than satisfied. Heck for me, I think this may have been the best 5 bucks i’ve ever spent.

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Hui Lau Shan, Canton Deli, and Honeymoon Dessert (Tsim Sha Tsui)

Hui Lau Shan

I went to a different location than pictured above. Instead, I went to the one nearby Harbour City, in an outdoor location. It may sound like i’m exaggerating BUT IT WAS FRIGGIN HOT AND HUMID IN HONG KONG! This place had a lot of people inside with drinks and desserts so it seemed like a legit place to check out.

I thought it was funny that the moment I walked in, the cashier greeted and talked to me in English, while every other person before and after me were greeted in Cantonese. I guess I do look like a stupid American trapped inside a short Korean body.

This chain is famous for mango drinks and desserts, so what did I get? The standard mango juice drink. Normally i’m not a big fan of mangoes or other exotic fruits for that matter. No offense to anyone out there but I think durian was the most disgusting thing I had ever eaten, and that includes Korean silkworms and 10 year fermented kimchi. I digress, BUT MAN THIS DRINK WAS AWESOME! Maybe it was the heat and my body was yearning for a cold drink but man this drink hit the spot.

Canton Deli

Canton Deli is located in Harbour City, which is the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong. The place is absolutely HUGE. I’ve been to the world’s largest department store in Busan but Harbor City just felt like it was even bigger than Shinsegae. Here are some pictures of what I ate:

Now as you can see, I ordered quite a bit of food. I wish I remembered the names because all I did was ask for an English menu and ask for some recommendations. These were some of the dishes that came out.

This bun was amazing. It’s like a sweet, slightly crunchy bun found in many Paris Baguettes and Tous Les Jours around Seoul, but inside is filled with BBQ pork. My only regret was not saving this for last as opposed to killing the dish from the beginning.

I noticed here as well as other places that in Hong Kong, restaurants don’t go cheap on the size of these shrimps/prawns. The wrapping wasn’t too dry either, making this a solid dish.

It was around 90 degrees outside so of course I had to finish my meal by drinking a glass of ice milk tea. It’s a bit different than what i’ve had around San Jose, not as sweet. You can still get a good taste of the tea, as it’s not too overwhelmed by sweetness. However I would soon find a place that served quite possibly the best milk tea around.

Honeymoon Dessert

To wrap up my visit in Harbour City I headed over to the food court to try Honeymoon Dessert for some Mango Pancakes. They’re not really pancakes, more of a crepe wrapping that’s filled with cream and mangoes.

Overall I thought it was pretty good, definitely good if you enjoy mangoes. The best part of this was the experience I had paying for it at the cash register. The old lady had an entire conversation with me in Cantonese and I didn’t have to say a single word!

I’ll end this post with one observation. I was born and raised in the United States, meaning that you walk and drive on the right side of the road. Now Hong Kong used to be a British colony so that probably explains why everything’s on the left-hand side instead. What’s the big deal you ask? When you live in the United States your entire life, you’re used to doing things a certain way. I found out the hard way of ‘left side’ when I turned and tried walking up the escalators the right side, when in fact they’re going down, not up.

Well now I know for sure how to make myself look like a dumbass tourist, that’s for sure. Lesson learned. Lesson learned.

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Dan in Hong Kong Kong (Getting There and YMCA Salisbury)

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I made the move from San Jose to Seoul! I can still remember counting down those final days last year, my mind filled with so much anticipation, uneasiness, and excitement. Looking back, I can say that coming here was one of the best experiences of my life! I will not go as far as to say that Seoul is some magical paradise; in fact there are many things that I can rant and get pissed off about but that’s for another time. This series of new posts will be about my recent trip to Hong Kong and Macau. To be quite honest I wanted to visit San Jose but with flights running around $2500 round trip during this time of year, family, friends, and many different kinds of GOOD foods will just have to wait!

Day 1

My flight to Hong Kong was at 8:50AM Seoul time meaning that I had to wake up at around 4-4:30AM to catch the first AREX (Airport Railroad) from Seoul Station to Incheon International Airport. One of the conveniences of Seoul is that there are multiple ways to get to the airport without having to pay around $40-$50 USD for a taxi. I think the AREX cost me only around $3 one way and the train took me to the airport in just about an hour.

This is what it looks like waiting for the first train to take off.

After the early morning trek to Incheon and all the security/immigration checks (which by the way are 100X more easier in South Korea than in the United States. TSA is a freaking joke.) I took off for my first trip to Hong Kong! To summarize my flight on Cathay Pacific, take a look at the next two pictures:

It was a crappy “American style” breakfast while watching Bambi. It was like first grade all over again.

Once I finally arrived at Hong Kong, I had to wait for about an hour at the immigration line due to the large queue. I was bored so I was looking around to see what kinds of people were coming here and where they may be coming from. I was surprised later on how many of these people I was able to recognize throughout Hong Kong and Macau.

To get to your hotel from the airport is pretty easy. I bought an Airport Express pass (I think it was $8 one way) to Kowloon Station.

From there I took a free shuttle (K2) to The Peninsula Hotel. The Peninsula is one of the most famous hotels in Hong Kong. The hotel is known for its famous Afternoon Tea, which for many is a must-try experience. Being the ignorant and prideful American that I am, I chose to not pay $50 to experience this tradition. It may end up being a wonderful experience but from what i’ve read on various blogs online, teatime at The Peninsula is simply not worth the high price tag. So instead, I walked across the street to my hotel, the YMCA Salisbury.

Let me say off the bat that this hotel is great value due to its location and price. For about $100 a night this was my view during the day and night time respectively:

No complaints here. In addition, you also get fresh fruit for free. Given the exorbitant costs of fruit in South Korea (a watermelon runs for around $15-$20!!!) I definitely took advantage of this perk.

Next post I’ll begin to show you all the different kinds of foods I ate as well as some of the sights that I was able to experience.

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Getting a Korean Credit Card

So I have been in South Korea for almost 1 year (361 days to be exact from the writing of this post) and as I plan to stay here longer, I felt like I should try to get a Korean credit card. I plan on using this card for emergencies of course such as baseball games, shoes, and Outback Steakhouse. With more foreigners moving into South Korea, the country and its people have no choice but to accept us into their society. It doesn’t give us the right to act like a bunch of drunken idiots and perpetuate the iffy stereotypes Koreans have of Americans and other Westerners but it does give us somewhat easier access to goods such as smartphones and credit cards. Credit cards seem to be more of a hit-or-miss here in terms of getting one as a foreigner. I failed in my previous attempt at KEB (Korean Exchange Bank), which baffled me because they’re the most foreigner-friendly bank in South Korea and I had read about various success stories of other foreigners being able to get a credit card through them. I decided to give it another shot, this time at the Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong. I hope that this post can be helpful and somewhat informative to those who may be in my situation and want to get a Korean credit card. Here are the steps:

1. If your Korean is good then you can probably get this done by yourself but if not I strongly recommend going with a Korean person. I’m a Korean-American with decent Korean skills but I still chose to go with a Korean person.

2. Remember to bring your ARC and bank book/bank account number. The Korean credit system is different than that of the United States. Your credit card MUST be tied to your bank account so that at each payment period the company will automatically deduct money from your bank account. Think of a Korean credit card as like an extended check card, the main differences being that you get discounts at a TON of places and that you can spread payments on purchases over 50,000 won (about $50 USD). Example: If I buy a 100,000 won pair of shoes, I can tell the cashier to spread payments into 3 months, meaning that each month they’ll deduct 33,000 from my account. If I don’t have that money in my account, then that’s when penalties/late fees kick you in the groin.

3. Try going to a credit card kiosk at a Lotte Mart or Lotte Department Store. These places are usually run by a middle-aged lady who is probably commission-based. They usually ask every person walking by to apply for a card but for some reason the lady I went too was just sitting and seemed almost surprised that I went to her and wanted to apply. Made her job easier I bet.

4. Ask them what their policy is on foreigners applying for a credit card. The lady I went to immediately said ‘yes’ and even told me that a foreigner applied earlier that day. Was it a fake story to lure me into applying? Probably.

5. Check to see what freebies they may be giving out for applying. I don’t know what it is about Korean culture, but you can get the most random free stuff for buying certain things. I once got a package of moist tissues for buying a pack of batteries. In this case I got 2 tubes of face wash and a bottle of liquid dish soap. Random? Absolutely but it’s free so i’m not complaining. I know someone who applied for a different card and got a rolling luggage bag. The best thing I ever got in the US was a Domino’s pizza. Dish soap is better.

6. Fill out all the required info on the application. The application is going to be in Korean so this is what I mean by having good Korean skills. It’s generally personal info like ARC number, home/work address, etc.

7. In about a week someone from the company will call you to confirm your application info. Once you get this phone call, you’re pretty much set. Within a week after that (I got mine the next day) your card should arrive in the mail.


Yes, I got a pink credit card, unfortunately it also happened to be the most popular one too (DC Supreme). I deserve to be ridiculed nonetheless. Anyhow I hope that I have been of some help, but if you’ve got any more questions feel free to contact me

Posted in Seoul | 16 Comments

American Style The Great Burger

Pardon the Engrish in the title of this post but that’s what was written on the box of the biggest hamburger I had tried in my life. Several months ago, GS Supermarket in Korea began promoting this giant hamburger in their stores for about $8.00. The burger comes in two choices, chicken or 불고기 (marinated beef). I opted to try the 불고기 and to be honest, I don’t know if it mattered which one I got because this one was just horrible. Look, i’m all for gimmicks and promotions when it comes to food glory, heck Adam Richman from Man vs. Food has my dream job, but American Style The Great Burger, I shall not attempt again. The “meat” had a very odd texture and there was just too much sauce inside.

I miss you In-N-Out. I miss you Jack in the Box. American Style The Great Burger, I will not miss you.

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Korean Baseball

I have been to various sporting events throughout the US and Canada, including Stanley Cup playoff games, 2007 MLB All Star Game, 2009 World Baseball Classic, Strikeforce MMA, NFL and NBA games and other events and each one had their own atmosphere and charm. I have to admit outright that based purely on fan experience alone, Korean baseball was hands down the most entertaining and enthusiastic fan experience I had ever taken part of. I say this because baseball is a sport that has a lot of downtime between events and in Korean baseball, you are singing and chanting non-stop (at least when your team is hitting anyways).

I went to the game between the Doosan Bears (Seoul) and the Lotte Giants (Busan) at Jamsil Sports Complex in southeast Seoul. I will say right now that the stadium itself really wasn’t much to look at. Its gray and generic design reminds me of the depressing A’s back home in the Bay Area but a lot smaller, seating around 30,000 I think? A big plus though is the endless amount of pizza, fried chicken and $3 draft beers you can buy at the park, or you can bring-your-own-anything and enjoy it there. Yep, I said $3 draft beers.




Home field advantage usually refers to playing in front of your home fans where they cheer you on and boo the crap out of the opposition (or in Oakland you throw batteries and cell phones). Here, this was not the case. Doosan fans grab the 1st base line and Lotte takes the 3rd base line. Along with the singing and cheering, I swear that this felt like being at a soccer game instead. Each side had its own cheerleaders and production team, which was weird when your team is pitching and all you hear is cheering from the other side (you only do chants when your team is hitting).

A weird tradition that Busan fans have is around the 6th inning everyone starts wearing these orange trash bags on their heads such as this:



Why? I think it’s because it gives a cool viewing effect for the TV when an entire side wears orange and the trash bags are used to clean up after one’s self after the game. Korea is really into the clean-up-after-yourself thing. A personal pet peeve of mine as a sports fan is when you are given something for crowd effect (t-shirt, rally towel, etc) YOU USE IT. Plus I’ve never worn a trash bag hat so here we go…


The game ended with Busan winning 6-2 and I got to leave the game singing the victory song with the many other Busan fans in attendance (Busan is known for having arguably the loudest, most loyal, and well-traveled fans) which is great because when you look at the standings Busan is 6th out of 8 teams. It was a terrific sporting experience that I wish my American friends could get a taste of. Baseball was a sport that has fallen off my sports radar for the last few years given how horrible the A’s have been managed and admittedly I was starting to forget why baseball was a popular sport; the green grass, summer air, and enjoying the game with friends and family is more important than how Bob Geren/Bob Melvin could screw up the lineup. Had Busan lost would I still have been this optimistic about Korean baseball? Honestly, I’m not 100% sure but it doesn’t matter because for one night I got to watch Korea’s best hitter (Lee Dae Ho) go to work and enjoy my first baseball game in over a year.

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