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life, culture & the mundane

An aimless travelogue to read during the pandemic.

Photo by Yomira Studio on Unsplash

It all began when I lost my train ticket from Budapest to Munich.

It had been a year braving my poverty of choice — a master’s degree — and I’d decided that I needed a whimsical break, a rewarding rest, a photogenic stop in my otherwise bare-bones backpacking itinerary.

My…


No spoilers included.

Source: Netflix

Everyone has been talking about Squid Game, the runaway success which officially became Netflix’s biggest ever series launch on Tuesday. Following the news, North Korea entered the chat.

Squid Game is notable for introducing us to a cast with unexpectedly rich and diverse backgrounds. Among them, fan favourite Sae-byuk is…


LIVED THROUGH THIS

What it’s like to live in a 50 square-foot micro apartment in Seoul

Source: Sim Gyu-Dong, “Goshitel”

In the first week, I broke everything: a $2 plate from Daiso, which I’d loved for its spunky polka-dots. A cylindrical holder for my travel-friendly toothbrush and mini toothpaste. Finally, a precious Royal Albert mug I’d been given as a gift that spring.

Crash.

I looked numbly at the elegant…


Because let’s face it. We’re not born woke.

Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Like most things in life, it began with good intentions.

And by “it,” I mean all of it — the implicit bias training at work, the colorful infographics on Instagram, the workshops about intersectionality, and the fact sheets on microaggressions.

Does it feel overwhelming? If you answered yes, join the…


Photo by Mark de Jong on Unsplash

The sleepy town of New Malden, a suburb of southwest London, England, is not where one typically expects to be recruited as a spy. But Sarah*, a North Korean refugee, retells this peculiar anecdote in a near-empty Krispy Kreme cafe.

It happened on a weekday morning, while she was grocery…


What happens in a world with too much information?

One podcast episode, two titles. The first (top) switched into the second (bottom) after just a few hours today.

I’m old enough to remember how it was before.

We watched and discussed the same shows at school. My mother read the local, provincial, and ethnic news. Occasionally we turned on the radio. If we didn’t know something, it was because we just didn’t have access to the right answers — whether because we couldn’t find a book at…


Returning to the university I rejected

The acceptance came by email, in the early morning.

It slid into my inbox as I pressed the button of our Tassimo machine, just moments after I’d turned on the lights of our brown and windowless office. When I came back to my desk, the unread subject line stared out at me with imposing possibility:

RE: Application to Graduate…


The different lives we lead.

My mother in her youth.

The piano had originally been bought for my brother.

Grandfather had it shipped to our house in Canada, a compact and charming Yamaha that arrived one morning in the spring. Though my parents were befuddled, it was agreeably a better gift than the baby violin he had bought for me…


I find myself asking this question every time I fall in love.

Victor Jorgensen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Up until the past decade in certain circles, I was immersed in a cacophony of voices asking about whether homosexuality should be allowed, and in what terms. This was, of course, because I was religious, and the idea of queerness was incredibly threatening to some monotheistic communities which had built…


Global cuisine and its untold stories

Simple crayon drawing of a dish of kimchi, a spoon, and a set of chopsticks on a blue-gridded placemat.
Illustrations: Julladonna Park

Probiotic. Raw. Vegan. Napa cabbage kimchi. We cackled at the labels on the sorry-looking mason jars filled with sallow yellow leaves.

Kimchi had become ubiquitous in my chosen spaces — a trendy fusion diner, an upscale grocery chain, YouTube channels filled with millennial cheer. …

Julladonna Park

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