I lived in South Korea. The place had a skin of its own.

I drank Pocari Sweat and ate a lot of seaweed.

I lived in a place where women keep their names when they get married but they don’t smoke in public.

In all business meetings, my collar was high but my shoes were off.

There was a pub two streets from me, which was next door to a church.

“This must be real life”, I thought.

I’ve now left Korea, but still have one eye on the peninsula and maintain this blog as a curation of musings and snapshots.


As the title says, I am a consumer of culture – but I like to play with my food. I am fascinated by cultural idiosyncrasies and enjoy dissecting the ideas and practices that construct them.

Now a journalist, this blog was a chronicle of my life as a writer in teacher’s clothing, where I penned my thoughts and experiences as a traveler in a fascinating country.

On the Edible Curios page, The Culture Muncher got literal as I wrote about some edible artifacts I stumbled upon.

On the Found in Translation page, I shared my encounters with Konglish both beautiful and strange, witty and whimsical.

One Shot features photos, links and brief musings on life in Korea. Each shot offers a dose of contemporary culture in Korea, a comment on current affairs, or an observation from the eyes of an expat.

Want to work with me?

I am currently available to work on freelance writing and editing projects. You can check out more of my clips here, and a full portfolio of my journalistic work is available on request. If you would like to work with me, please contact me on devalee[at]theculturemuncher[dot]com

21 responses to “About

  1. Ms Lee! How FAB to be reading abt ur travels! I have a friend in Korea as well and he had a blast the last time he was there and is not back with a vengeance! Look forward to reading about the rest of ur adventures 🙂 u always were a free spirit 🙂

  2. How refreshing to read posts by someone who knows how to actually write!! What a lucky find for me! Many thanks, Sean

  3. I’m so grateful for all your compliments folks, and can’t wait until I can write and edit full time. Hopefully my travels will never end, even if they are only within sunny South Africa!

  4. Thanks so much for the brilliant feedback on ‘leaving a decent career for TEFL’ on twitter. I’ve heard of so many people my age walking out of promising finance/marketing jobs for some good old ‘TEFL fun’ and quiver at their boldness.
    If ever you need some advice on working in/getting into/career choices in the SA media industry just holla – i’m sure i can provide some valuable insights.
    kind regards – Ryan van Heerden @rynievan

    • No problem Ryan! As I said, it really depends on the individual and whether a career plays any role in their sense of fulfillment. Personally, I would rather write and edit full time. Job satisfaction is really important to me. That said, TEFL is a great career move for those who want to teach long term. One day I will move back home and certainly ask for some of your advice!

  5. Hi Deva!

    Recently I’ve come into a heated discussion about a particular Korean Artist’s work and was curious what your impression is of the artwork.

    Link to article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2013/jan/30/photography-art#/?picture=403239591&index=7

    I am Korean American and have been to Korea several times and never got accustomed to the rigid gender roles. When I see artwork done by Korean artists like the one above, a part of me reacts quite negatively as it seems to really pidgeon-hole the idea of what it means to be “fearless” as well as limit the role of the heroine to the Korean homogenous standard of beauty (which is how I came to find your blog). Even though it is self portrait, it is telling a story, I’m just not sure what moral is to be gained from it.

    I really enjoyed reading your article; it makes me grateful that I was born in California and that I have parents who see beauty in everything and taught me too as well..

    • Hi Kat

      I had never seen Ahn Jun’s work before now, and I find it really interesting. In some shots she seems to attempt to disrupt Korean beauty norms (with bare shoulders for example) but, as you say, she ultimately presents herself as beautiful by Korean standards. I am interested as to whether this was done consciously.

      I like the way you questioned her portrayal of fearlessness – it definitely oversimplifies an act of courage. Do you think the pieces that look down from skyscrapers bear any comment on Korea’s extremely high suicide rate? If so, she may be depicting the Korean psyche using herself as a representative of many Korean women.

      I thought about doing a post in reply to your question, but I think you are far more capable of doing so. Would you be keen to write a guest post? The artist may even grant an interview. (Interestingly, she did her undergraduate degree in California.)

  6. Hello! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. It seems we have quite a bit in common! I am already loving your writing style. I’m going to add you to my Bloglovin’ reader now. ^^

    • Thanks Whitney – really love what you’ve done with your layout and design. Good luck to you for the post-Korea chapter!

  7. Greetings, This is Hae won Chang, writer for South Korea’s current affairs radio program “Primetime” at tbs eFM.

    tbs eFM is an English radio station based in Seoul, South Korea.
    Our show, “Primetime,” is the evening current events program airing every weekday from 6-8PM, with host Mr. Henry Shinn.
    Here is our website link – http://www.tbs.seoul.kr/efm/Primetime

    I am writing to request to you an invitation to our discussion panel session on tomorrow (March 7, Friday) at 7:00 pm Seoul Time. The discussion will take place for about 30 minutes and will take place in our studio.

    About two panels will participate in the session and the topic for discussion on Friday will be about “Korea’s Jeong culture”.

    A recent article says that most Koreans feel content about their lives because of the Jeong culture.

    We would really love to listen to your opinion on the issue, and your views will be greatly valued.

    We will be waiting for your reply. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any question regarding the discussion.

    Thank you.

    • I majored in Journalism and English Lit, and then went on to do postgraduate studies in English Lit. That’s where I really learned to write.

  8. I just discovered your blog through a Korean friend living in Cape Town, who posted it on her Facebook wall. You’re a wonderful writer, I can taste the sourness of the kimchi and feel the burn of the soju via your words. I lived in Korea, and now in Hong Kong. It’s great to read the impressions of a fellow South African living in Asia.
    ~From an aspiring writer posing as a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher 😉

    • Ms Sparks! Thank you so much for the encouraging words. I would love to share some wine with a fellow wordsmith in this mad bad city. I have sent you an email 🙂

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