This is so exciting! iA finding halal food in Korea will become easier and easier!
I lived in both. During the semester I stayed in a dorm and before my flight home, I stayed in a guesthouse. I’m very independent and prefer living on my own so I prefer a guesthouse. However, if you don’t like commuting and prefer to stay close to camps, then dorming is better.
I’m going to make a post about fanclubs, attending music shows, fan signs, etc. BUT first.
This was one show I went to where I was caught on camera! At 2:48 (roughly) you’ll see a blob or red on the right side. That’s me in my cassie-pride red hijab (losing it over Hoya OTL).
The courses in each school vary depending on 1) the school and 2) your language ability. If your Korean is not strong, you’ll be limited to the classes taught in English (usually through the International College). For Korea University, I think the easiest way would be to check through the departments. Starting http://www.korea.edu/ in the “Academics” might be good.
There are many schools with Muslims. The top 3 schools: Yonsei, Korea, and Seoul National University all have a Muslim presence. Also, school like Hanyang University has a strong Muslim community and even a Halal cafeteria :D I’m sure many other schools also have big Muslim communities as well.
For many people, I know this blog is a resource for practicing Muslims who are interested in studying abroad, working, or even vacationing in Korea. I get at least one private message a day asking for advice and I decided to compile everything I know and could remember into a post.
For non-Muslims, the Masjid in Itaewon is a huge tourist attraction as well as an attractive to native Koreans. Definitely make sure to check it out :D
Question 1: How is it like being Muslim in Korea?
First, I’d like to say that each experience is differently, partially due to the fact that the experience is what YOU make it.
That being said, I never had the feeling that I was being treated unfairly or differently because I was Muslim. People were always kind and helpful to me. People do stare. A lot. If you are from a Western country like me, it won’t be anything different than normal. However, people from “Muslim countries” such as Malaysia will feel a bit uncomfortable because you’re not used to people staring at you. The most important thing is don’t have a negative attitude. Be outgoing, kind, friendly and don’t mind people who are curious.
I had a friend who visited from Malaysia who would tell me that when asked a question, people would ignore him and that Koreans were racist. But he was asking in English and of course they couldn’t understand him. This is what I mean by attitude. You will feel a bit out of place but calling people racists unnecessarily will not help you.
Question 2: Where can you pray? Is there a masjid?
There are 14 Masjids/Islamic Centers that I know of in Korea. Being in Seoul, the Masjid I frequented most was the Seoul Central Masjid, which became a second home to me.
As a Muslim in Korea, my biggest advice would be to get active and make friends within the Muslim community which includes both Muslim converts and Muslims who immigrated/are temporarily residing in Korea.
At the masjid in Seoul, there is Jummah prayer every Friday around 1pm (times will vary depending what time of year). The masjid community is vibrant and diverse. On weekends there are many activities such as Qur’an classes, Arabic classes, Korean classes, Hadith study, and other classes. Additionally, the first Saturday of every month is Salam Nuri which is a Dawah event open to both Koreans and the Masjid community. For more information, you can visit the Salam Nuri website (and let them know Xia led you there :D).
I also visited the masjid in Busan which is SO beautiful and also has a great Muslim community. But I can’t provide a lot of information on it.
For a list of masjids, you can go to the official Seoul Tourism website that lists all the Masjids in Korea as well as various halal food restaurants.
Question 3: How do I find the masjid?
The masjid in Seoul is very easy to find, just make sure to wear flat shoes! It’s on top of a hill T^T.
Exit Itaewon Subway station via Exit 3 and walk straight. At the Mr. Kebab, make a right and head up the hill. Cross the street to the left side where you will see some halal restaurants and a grocery store. As you walk up the hill, there will be side roads on your left. Pass the first two (those will lead to Homo HIll) and take the 3rd side street on the left.
That 3rd side street is called Islam Street and if you are on it, you will notice many halal restaurants Islamic book and clothing stores, and such. Walk to the top of this street and there is the masjid!! You might not notice it at first, because the you have to enter the courtyard and walk up a hill before seeing the masjid.
At the top of Islam Street on your left will be the masjid. The outside (before entering) is blue and white tiled with Arabic at the top of the GIANT entrance. Walk inside and up, and there you will find the masjid :D
Question 4: Is halal food available?
Various halal restaurants are available around Itaewon and advertise it outside their restaurants. Off the top of my head, I can recall Turkish, Malaysian, and many Indo-Pakistani restaurants. Follow the directions up to the masjid, and you will be able to see all the various Halal options you have.
There is a GREAT halal Korean restaurant in Itaewon that you must try. If you’re wearing hijab, they will automatically know to give you halal but make sure you say, just in case. It’s very easy to get there as well. Exit Itaewon Subway station via Exit 3 and walk about 1-2 minutes. You will pass Mr. Kebob and soon after that, you will see a giant set of stair on your right. You can’t miss it. At the top of the stairs is “Itaewon Land”, a spa. Walk up the stairs and on the right is a Kalgugsu place with the best noodles and mandu.
Around Korea University, there is a halal Uzbek restaurant I visited that had great food. I’m not sure how to get there, so if you have a friend at Korea University, make sure to visit there. The name of the restaurant is called “사마르칸트.” Around Korea Uni, there are quite a bit of halal shops due to the Muslims students studying there.
Additionally, there is vegetarian restaurant called the Loving Hut that provides great alternatives. However, it’s quite easy to remain halal in Korea as many foods don’t include meats. My favorite go-to food was Bibim Naengmyeon :D
Question 5: How are Eids and Ramadan in Korea?
I can’t speak on Ramadan but Eid is very festive. Everyone dresses up (not too flashy like here in America) and goes to the masjid early to pray. After most people go out to eat with friends/family and its very warm.
I was worried that as someone who never spent Eid away from home, that I would be very homesick. But I spent time warmly with my friends and had a very memorable Eid.
I hope this post gave some insight into Korean life for Muslims. If you have any questions, please send them in and I’ll answer them/make a new post for reference.
Time moves so fast. When you travel, take advantage of every opportunity to move and make a memory or a new friend (safely of course). Watch the sunrise, ride by the river; these leave lasting imprints in your mind and make for an unforgettable journey. : )
So obviously I kinda sucked at the updating every day : ( However, I did experience a lot and I would like to share with you! I’ll be posting little snipets of tips and tutorials of how to get around and where to go in Korea.
Subjects I’m brainstorming at the moment are
Anything else, just message me and I’ll write on it : )
Finals week is over!! And yesterday night I landed in Kuala Lumpur. As expected, its hot and humid. I had to strip out of my winter jacket and sweater and was still hot in my thin shirt and mini dress T^T It’s like summer in Seoul all over again…
My friend greeted me off the KLIA Express which links the airport to KL Sentral (sort of the like Grand Central in NY). We headed off to the Universiti Malaya campus and I arrived in my dorm a bit after 12? I took a quick shower and was scared half to death by a lizard bomb-diving off the wall before heading to sleep.
Oh, and my first meal? McDonalds double cheeseburger oh yes.
It rained during the night so it was very cool on my first actual day in Malaysia. Even though I slept at 2am, I still work up at 9am lol. Too early and I went back to sleep and woke up around 11:30am. I showered with cold water (which I think is all they have) and got dressed. I’m a pro at humid-makeup because of the first couple weeks in Korea so I was a bit prepared. But still, it all melted off in the end /sigh.
I toured around the GIANT campus with my friend and ventured in the Chancellor building, library (which we couldnt enter because she had flipflops lol), the building environment faculty, and many many other places! The campus is huge and so so beautiful. It looks so tropical with all the plants and bright colors. Alhamdulilah, even the athan playing and the musallahs in every building.
Breakfast..or lunch rather was this fried chicken smothered in gravy. To be honest, the gravy wasn’t in my taste but it was good! Dinner was more my taste, Ayam Tom Yum, I think it was. A bit too sour but still reallyy good. Alhamdulilah.
A good first day :) Can’t wait to explore more tomorrow!
Recently, I also took a visit to Namsan Tower!! Although I was really excited to go, it turns out, there isn’t much to do ><
There are many, Many, MANY couples and the view is beautiful… But that’s about it… However, I was very happy to be up there and I had a good time :D
I don’t want to discourage anyone from going though! I would still say its definitely a place worth visiting!