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Mental Health

How South Korea Kept Me Mentally Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We all have read how the South Korean government has been very successful in battling the Coronavirus. But aside from actually saving lives with a scientific yet practical approach, the Korean culture also has been a refuge for a lot of people all over the world. From Korean dramas, K-pop or by cooking samgyeopsal at home, here are some of the many ways that this country has kept me sane these past few weeks:

K-drama

This has been for me, the most effective way to bring you to another universe by only using your cellphone or tablet. From well-written storylines that tug at your heartstrings to the amazing portrayal of characters that overcome adversities, the Korean Wave has grown stronger now that people have more time to spare. Companies like Netflix have made it possible for me to watch all the dramas that I want uninterrupted anytime I wanted. I can pause and replay my favorite scenes at any point. If you haven’t watched Crash Landing on You or Kingdom, then log-in to your Netflix account after reading this article. There is a reason why it is on the top 10 trending list in your country.

Food

Fortunately for me, local supermarkets in the Philippines now carry Korean food like ramyun and chapagetti. But now is the best time to experiment and actually cook with your family, so go ahead and treat your loved ones by preparing samgyeopsal with lettuce, kimchi, or stir some gochujang in a bowl of white, hot rice. Some of my friends have been trying out their own soju cocktails while others are making banana or strawberry milk at home with the help of Tiktok and Youtube tutorials. Everyone has also been elevating their instant coffee by whipping up dalgona coffee. As for me, I have been eating honey butter chips and wasabi-flavored almonds while I watch reality shows like 3 Meals a Day on TVN.

Skincare and makeup

I went to Seoul in 2018 to interview Hyun Bin and Park Shin-Hye for Memories of the Alhambra, which was also a great opportunity to bring home a lot of Korean skincare products and makeup. While on lockdown, I have already mixed a few of my lip tints to create a new color, used my pimple patch to heal my period acne and used up a whole lot of facial masks. I have seen how my skin has improved these past few weeks! These Korean products must really be the real reason why your favorite girl group has glowing, healthy skin. And even your favorite Oppa has not aged a bit despite going into the military service! 

Music

Whether you prefer BTS over EXO or would rather listen to Twice than BlackPink, you cannot deny that these performers are highly-skilled in dancing and singing. It takes a lot of years in training before an idol or group will be considered ready to perform on the big stage. But once launched, you will see how each of these entertainers can make you dance or sing even if you do not exactly know what they are saying. Combine all these with their well-crafted music videos and concerts that feature them wearing clothes and makeup that complement their stage personalities, you will find yourself googling the English translations of the song in no time. If the ones mentioned above are not your cup of (Yuja) tea, Google IU or Paul Kim to know what I mean.

Day in my Life in Korea

Aside from watching (and rewatching) my favorite scenes from Crash Landing On You when I am anxious or when I have trouble sleeping, I go to Youtube and watch 효녀HYONYEO, CozyDay 코지데이, 해그린달 haegreendal, SEYOUNGDAY or 수린 suzlnne. For someone who consumes a lot of media throughout her life, I have never expected that these Korean content creators can bring the much-needed peace and coziness that I crave at night. I won’t get to travel to South Korea anytime soon, but seeing Korea through their eyes and living their life through a screen has helped me discover new places and find solace in watching them do their house chores or walk with them around their neighborhood. 

Now that you have read this rather long article, I do wish that I have given you useful tips on how you can combat cabin fever and help you cheer up even for a bit in this period of isolation. Let’s continue to connect with one another and explore South Korea digitally, at least for now. Keep your body and mind healthy and keep on fighting [aja aja paiting]!

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by iamericaluna

Journalist, Project Manager and a 31-year-old lipstick lover from the Philippines. I am rediscovering myself through writing.

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