FAQ on the NamChin

FAQ on my boyfriend

NamChin gave me that necklace while we were in Kyoto for our relationship anniversary. Good memories! 🙂  

As my beliefs are challenged by meeting new people or experiencing new things, I update this category once in a while.

What is “NamChin”?

NamChin is an abbreviation for  ‘남자 친구’ (namja chingu), which means boyfriend in Korean. I’m strongly influenced by Korean culture due to the amount and length of time I’ve spent with him.

Basic stuff 

We started dating in 2011. He attended school in Singapore and some parts of Southeast Asia. He spent a significant portion of his formative years in Singapore. We communicate and understand each other perfectly well.

How do you communicate? 

We communicate in English, and he’s practically a native at Singlish. That’s partly why I felt closer to him. Isn’t it nice to have someone understand you intuitively and use your own creole? For instance, “Siala, so expensive, mai la mai la.” Or, “Prata? Okay lor.”

Omg, is he an oppa?

Yes and no.

If I’m with his family, he’s oppa because of hierarchical rules.

Once, Namchin’s mom heard us talking and asked Namchin in Korean, “Why does she keep saying ‘You’? Shouldn’t it be oppa? In English, ‘Brother’?”

Basically, to be polite, we should address an older person by rank/title at all times, like how you don’t drop “Mr.” or “Sir/Madam” or “Your Majesty” when you address a higher ranking person in English.

Namchin started cackling and his mom just looked very confused. So, a conversation should have happened like this instead:

Me: Are you hungry? What do you want to eat? (English)

Becomes: Is Oppa hungry? What does Oppa want to eat? (Korean)

But between us and all friends, since we speak mostly in English, I call him by name. He prefers to be addressed by his name.

How did you meet? 

We met in university in Singapore. This was after he did his national service.

Have you met his parents?

Yes, they reside in Korea.

Can you speak Korean?

Yes, enough to get by in Korea, browse the news, and watch varieties.

What is it like to date a Korean guy?

We communicate in English so much of the hierarchical language and cultural expectations are nonexistent. To me, he’s just a guy who happens to speak Korean. I get more access to Korean media and culture through him, which is a bonus. And I get tasty Korean food and increased convenience if I want to visit Korea. Otherwise, we have very similar views and interact quite well.

There are a lot more sensitive topics regarding dating a Korean guy. Here are the top stereotypes. My experience has been chill and positive, but most of the time, like many Asian countries, choosing a life partner is not about romance.

Like it or not, some Asian parents may inevitably hang onto some outdated beliefs, including my own Chinese parents!

For instance, a Korean daughter-in-law may be expected to wake up early and cook a full breakfast for everyone. If you must have bread, you may have to serve it, toasted, in plates with beverages and fruits. It’s all about the presentation. In Singapore, we don’t think it’s wrong to buy some BreadTalk buns, eat it from the wrapper, and call it a meal!

When there are dishes to be done, it may be expected of the daughter-in-law to step up and “offer” to help while the men go off to watch tv.

I’ve been briefed that after getting married I will no longer sit in the room. I will have to be in the kitchen watching and helping with chores.

But like everything, I’m sure these depends from household to household.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have more questions!

Road to meeting NamChin’s parents

My trip to Korea and meeting the parents in 2012

Can’t believe I had a nightmare about sending clients a copy riddled with errors. Plus I haven’t been feeling well yesterday and today so here’s some light-hearted stuff.

The first time I met NamChin‘s parents was in the summer of 2012. After my school trip ended, we met up in Seoul and left for Daejeon where his family stayed.

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It was summer but I spotted this pretty leaf.

Road to Daejeon

Daejeon is South Korea ‘s fifth-largest metropolis. I think it is like Yishun. It’s not as glitzy but it has everything you might need at arm’s length. And it’s easy to find spaces without a lot of people.

I really enjoyed this trip because it was the first time I got to see my boyfriend’s house and where he lived! Yay!

NamChin and I took the KTX from Seoul to Daejeon. It takes around one hour.

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On a train to Daejeon in the summer of 2012
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Yongsan station in Seoul.

I was very amused when we were in Korea and NamChin knew where we were all the time because everything was foreign to me. That’s him dragging the luggage from behind on the right.

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Before leaving we had some time for lunch. I had this soup noodle thing. It was spicy.
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And of course, a snack to top it off. Waffles and ice-cream!
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Waiting for the train. No zombies.
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A different view.
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Inside the station
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KTX!
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Inside the KTX. TRAIN TO BUSAN ZOMBIES!
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On the train!
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Nice view!

NamChin’s house

Finally, we reached Daejeon. I was really excited to see where he stayed. His family has since moved to another area of Daejeon which is why we feel more comfortable posting these pics.

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Taking the taxi! So quaint
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What I saw on my way to his house.

We reached the residential area after a short ride.

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A residential area in Daejeon (not the block he stayed in). Looks like HDB flat! There’s a security guard post.
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A carpark. You can see where they stringently recycle stuff, which was the part that surprised me since in Singapore we just stuff everything down the chute.

There are even cameras to make sure people recycle their trash correctly.

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The corridor outside his home.

You can see that the houses were densely packed. One morning, I woke up to a loud shrill female voice. It was the neighbor. I wasn’t surprised though because in Singapore, I can hear my neighbors too. But I was still groggy from sleep.

Me: Hmm, I don’t think I have an Indian neighbour…
Voice: [Korean]
Me: Oh, I’m in Korea!

I reflected on it and thought that actually, Korean and Indian might sound a little similar. They have rolled Rs and when spoken really fast, can sound like a rapidly rolling marble of various sounds.


On the first day of meeting the NamChin’s parents, we went to eat fish porridge together.

We had a pretty idyllic stay. My boyfriend’s family stayed on the first floor of an apartment block. The windows were flooded with sunlight every morning and the lace curtains offered some privacy.

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Every morning I woke up to a delicious meal that Omma cooked. And the menu was different everyday.

Even though Omma has a full-time job, the menu changed everyday and we ate so much food.

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The lace curtains! Very pretty.
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The plants on the indoors balcony
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Seeing this picture reminds me of the houses in the Reply series!

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They didn’t have a sofa and a table. We sat on the floor most of the time. This table has foldable legs and they kept it folded up in one of the rooms.
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Wearing the NamChin’s “ggalggari” (the casual name for the innerwear from army), which was super warm and comfortable.

Apparently, Koreans like to joke that the “ggalggari” is the highest tech Korean military gear. I have to agree. Very comfortable.

Visited NamChin’s primary school!

I was really interested to see NamChin’s primary school so we went there. But there wasn’t a fence and people can easily walk in, which freaked me out a little because it’s a primary school! The name of the school is St. Mary Elementary School.

Apparently, when night falls, people can walk into schools to use the facilities such as the fields. I think that’s a good practice.

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The security guards didn’t stop us.
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I thought I would only see this in dramas.
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Lovely flowers.

Oh, and apparently Song Joong Ki came from this primary school. Yes, the one from Descendants of the Sun. Technically he is my boyfriend’s sunbae (lol). And sauce confirmed.

NamChin: Song Joong Ki sunbae, notice me!

The post got long so here are other stuff to do in Daejeon..

What I saw in Daejeon

Featuring Sung Sim Dang

Here’s a short introduction of what I saw in Daejeon during my trip there in summer 2012.

KAIST

Daejeon is famous for being home to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), one of Korea’s top universities.

I’ve never been to KAIST to take a look, but I’ve been to Hanbat National University instead. It’s really scenic and quiet there.

Next!

Say department Store

1-16 Munhwa 1(il)-dong, Jung-gu, Daejeon, South Korea

This is my favorite mall. It’s similar to North Point and Golden Village in Yishun. Why I love it:

    • Has budaejjigae (army stew). It’s a delicious pot of instant ramyeon, spam, sausage, egg, baked beans, and kimchi. The first time I had budaejjigae was there.
    • Has a really comfy movie theater
    • Has Smoothie King
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My first time eating budaejjigae!
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Soupy~
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The cinema at Say Department Store
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We watched this movie and the ticket was like this. Korea was more advanced than Singapore. These tickets were purchased at the self-service booth.
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Taking the subway! It was a little smaller than Singapore’s trains.

Sung Sim Dang

Phone, +82 42-220-4153 · Address. 중구 은행동 145번지; Daejeon 301-839.

This deserves a category of its own.

Best bread and pastries in Korea! It’s conveniently located next to Old Downtown, or Eunhangdong. It’s the most awesome shopping street – not commercialized like MyeongDong. You could get nails done for really cheap!

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Outside the store. It has a lovely exterior, but after its renovations, it no longer looks like that.
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Pastries galore!

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This is what we got.
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Yum!
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I think this is apple bread.
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Sausage bread.
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Fried bun, which Sung Sim Dang is famous for.
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Inside the buns.

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Eun Haeng Dong (the street where Sung Sim Dang is located).
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Walking and exploring Eun Haeng Dong.
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Of course, we had to have this long soft serve ice cream.

Whenever I go to Korea the ice cream is a must have.

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Tons of Molang!

This brings back good memories of walking around the street on a lovely day eating street food with my boyfriend. And this was already five years ago! I’ll always cherish those innocent and carefree moments where everything felt new and fresh.