photography by sarah kuszelewicz

05/15/15 – seoul: deoksugung & bukchon hanok village

Posted on May 15, 2015

At this point in the trip, Kathy & I had explored a lot of the retail and culinary side of Seoul, but not a lot of the cultural side, so we decided to dedicate a day to Deoksugung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village. We started at Deoksugung Palace, which was built in the mid 16th century. It was the residence of Korean royalty up until the Japanese annexation in the early 1900s, where it was then mostly used for government affairs. Today, it is a landmark and home to the National Museum of Art.


deoksugung palaceThis is the entrance gate (Daehanmun) to Deoksugung Palace. We happened to come on the last Wednesday of the month, which was “Cultural Day” aka free entry. Yay!


deoksugung palaceWe also happened to arrive right on time to witness the changing of the guards.


deoksugung palaceNew guards getting ready to do their thing.


deoksugung palace

deoksugung palaceWe also happened to be there when the fire department was running drills. It’s like everything was happening on the one day we were visiting.


deoksugung palaceThey’re currently hosing down Junghwajeon Hall, the throne room and audience hall.


deoksugung palace

deoksugung palace

deoksugung palaceSeokjojeon, the modern quarters built in the 1900s. Deoksugung is a really interesting mix of Asian and European architecture. Seokjojeon is placed in the middle of the palace grounds, surrounded by classic Asian buildings, as if it got lost.


deoksugung palaceSo many colors.


gyeongbokgungNow on our way to Bukchon Hanok Village. These little straw toppers are placed on top of planters to keep the plants warm during the winter months. Seriously!


gyeongbokgung

seoul street art

gyeongbokgungMore wide streets.


sewol ferry memorialMemorial for all the students who died in the terrible Sewol ferry disaster in April 2014.


sejong the greatStatue of Sejong the Great, the king of Korea who created Hangul, the modern Korean alphabet.


gyeongbokgung

gyeongbokgung

gyeongbokgung

gyeongbokgung

samcheong-dongWalking around Samcheong-dong on our way to Bukchon.


samcheong-dong

samcheong-dong

samcheong-dong korean dramaA K-Drama filming outside a cafe.


heedonga ummadaWe stumbled upon a really adorable bakery and cafe called Heedonga Ummada (translates to “Heedonga, It’s Mom”).


heedonga ummadaTheir specialty is tteok, super soft rice cakes filled with a sweet syrupy center. Absolutely delicious. This was their pumpkin tteok.


bukchon hanok villageFinally, we made it to Bukchon Hanok Village. It’s a traditional Korean village (Hanok), dating back to the 1400s. The houses are preserved, but many still serve as residences, outfitted with modern interiors. Some even allow for visitors at certain hours. The area in and surrounding Bukchon is one of the most expensive areas to live in Seoul.


bukchon hanok village

bukchon hanok village

bukchon hanok villageThe peak of Bukchon Hanok Village, atop which sits a cultural center. It’s a bit of a hike to get up here.


bukchon hanok village

bukchon hanok village hostelNow that’s a dope hostel.


bukchon hanok villageJapanese tourists dressed in hanbok, the traditional Korean dress.


gahoe-dong seoulLarge modern houses in the neighborhood of Gahoe-dong.


gahoe-dong seoul

gahoe-dong seoulA more suburban feel in this area of Seoul to end our day. This also happened to be the area that Kathy grew up in, so she really felt nostalgic walking around these streets. It’s always special to see someone’s hometown from their own perspective.

04/22/2015 – Seoul: Myeong-Dong

Posted on April 22, 2015

When people think of South Korea, one thing that primarily comes to mind is technology. Korea is one of the leading countries in new technology (hello, Samsung!) and the way that it permeates the culture is unlike any other country I’ve been to. In the US, I always found the sight of everyone staring at their phones all the time a little sad. In Korea, it’s not only accepted, it’s embraced. Friends on their phones together at dinner, special apps that are only for couples, watching k-dramas on the metro… technology is just another part of their lives, their phones another appendage. It’s truly a selfie culture.

So on our way to Myeong-Dong, Kathy and I stopped by the Yongsan Electronics Market. It’s a giant sprawling space of indoor and outdoor malls with stall after stall of any type of technology you could dream of.

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedThis floor was just cameras and tablets, aka my favorite floor.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedPost-browsing meal of kimchi udon and chicken tonkatsu.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedMyeong-dong!


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedMyeong-dong is similar to Times Square in NYC in that it’s super bright, filled with shops, food stalls, and tourists. It’s one of the main tourism centers in Seoul.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedA shop dedicated to colored contacts.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedYessss street food. My favorite part.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedMmm, soondae: a Korean blood sausage. It’s pork intestine, filled with noodles, barley, herbs, and pork blood. Absolutely tasty and delicious.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedKoreans love their socks. These all cost less than $1. I think I picked up about 10 pairs over the duration of my trip.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedWho knew cotton candy could become an art form?


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedOur favorite part of Myeong-dong, the Goyangi Darakbang (literally “Attic Cat”) cat cafe! We’re both unabashed cat ladies, so this spot was a must see on our list. It has an entry fee of 8000 (about $8) but that includes a drink and you can stay as long as you like. There are about 20 cats of varying ages and breeds in the small cafe, and unlike many house cats, these won’t run away if you try to pet them.  Located at: 51-14 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedThe yellow bandana means “not friendly for children” but this dude was chillin with us the entire time.


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedDream life.


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedThe workers of the cafe are able to handle cats unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. This cat is not amused, but if I tried to do this with my cat at home, he would probably claw my hands and never come near me again.


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedMyeong-dong at night.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedAwesome sweatshirt, spelling Seoul with a hangul “S”.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedCornbread egg treat. Mmmmm.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedAbove this cosmetics store was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen….


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed…a delicious, authentic, Korean BBQ spot. Wangbijib (왕비집 명동본점), one of the most popular spots in Seoul, was worth the wait. The bbq is cooked by one of the servers over a coal pit in the middle of the table. We chose to go with the traditional beef cut along with a pork belly dish. The entire meal cost us about $40, and it was worth every penny. Located at: 2F 63-6 Chungmuro-2ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedEgg yolk on a cucumber/noodle salad, a traditional k-bbq side dish.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedJust a delicious pile of meat being cooked to perfection right in front of us.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedThe standard way to eat Korean BBQ: take a lettuce leaf, place a piece of meat, kimchi, and other sides, wrap it up and eat it in one bite. My personal favorite touch was adding some grilled garlic on top.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedSucculent amazing pork belly. Food coma for days after this meal.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedHowever, we still had enough room for dessert: a plain cookie-cracker baked into a ball shape and covered in chocolate. You smash it with a hammer when you buy it, so you can eat the pieces. Perfect way to end the day.


04/11/15 – Seoul: Hongdae

Posted on April 11, 2015

Kathy and I spent a day walking around Hongdae, a neighborhood known for its vibrant culture. It’s one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Seoul, filled with eccentric food stalls and clothing shops, the streets packed with students, neon signs, Karaoke bars and fried chicken restaurants as far as the eye can see.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyLunch at a traditional bokkeumbap spot.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyCHILSENG CIDER. Seriously, where in London can I find this? I’ve been craving it ever since I left Korea. It’s a less sweet, extra carbonated version of Sprite. It’s delicious and I want it now.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyBokkeumbap: Soft rice cakes, kimchi, spring onions, and other veggies, stir friend with white rice and placed on top of a large pile of cheese.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyI need to be transported back to this moment. The most perfect cheesy goodness.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyStores literally on top of other stores.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyNo other country has a sock game as strong as Korea’s.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyHotteok: a sweet pancake that’s fried and filled with a syrupy chestnut mixture and topped with crushed mixed nuts. I think Kathy and I had at least one of these a day.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographySweet corn bread baked with an egg.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyEverything in Seoul is almost cartoonishly cute– case and point: these popsicles.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographySo many tiny shops and stalls pack the narrow side streets.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyThe street food here is something out of my wildest dreams. Just look at this waffle cone filled with fries and sausage.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyA giant waffle on a stick topped with fresh whipped cream.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyPizza waffles?! Why the hell hasn’t this food found its way to the USA?


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyThe first of three animal themed cafes that Kathy and I visited over my trip in SK. This is the Thanks Nature Cafe. It features two sheep that literally just chill outside the cafe. There are benches for you to sit where the sheep can come up to you while you enjoy a latte.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyMore street food: caramelized sugar molded into disks and other easy to eat shapes, usually made by an 80 year old woman over a tiny burner on the sidewalk.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyA very nondescript commercial area that held mainly business buildings and also the BEST cafe in all of Seoul…


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyPuppy cafe!!!!!! Literally dozens of dogs all ages, breeds, and sizes just running around a large cafe.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyThis chick had 3 chihuahuas sleeping on her lap.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyKathy making some friends.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographySup.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyMy new buddy.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographySo sleepy from a day of attention.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyLook at that derpy face.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyThe tiniest Pomeranian. He probably weighed like 2 pounds. It took all of my self control to not just stick him in my purse and bring him to London.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyIt was a long and exciting day for all of us.

03/30/2015 – Seoul: Yeongdeungpo

Posted on March 30, 2015

Here is the first of many South Korea posts. I spent 3 weeks in Seoul and South Korea with Kathy, from On the Prowl, who also happens to have an apartment in the heart of Seoul, in the neighborhood of Yeongdeungpo. It’s the financial center of Seoul, and home to the headquarters of many large Korean companies, such as LG and Lotte. After 20+ hours of traveling, with my entire life in two bags, it was so nice to be on the ground and with a familiar face.

seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
My welcoming party!


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
The late night street food here is on POINT. Look at that selection… kebabs, fishfakes, corn dogs, soup, you name it, it’s here.


yeongdeungpo south korea seoul halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
My welcoming meal: kimchi (a staple), tteokbokki (rice cakes in a sweet chili sauce), sweet pizza bread, jolly pong (a caramel puffed rice snack), and prawn chips.


 

Kathy’s apartment also happened to be next to the Times Square Mall (how fitting), that has the largest 35mm screen in the WORLD, where of course we saw a film (Kingsman, really exciting movie) and ate a ton of caramel popcorn (a Korean favorite).

yeongdeungpo south korea seoul halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo south korea seoul halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Korea takes its malls prettyyyy seriously. Malls are as ubiquitous here as Starbucks are in NYC. You can find a mall every few miles, each one seemingly always packed. There are even malls that open only at night, for the hardcore shoppers (but that’s for another post.)


yeongdeungpo south korea seoul halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
The makings of a delicious Korean breakfast sandwich from the food court in Times Square.


yeongdeungpo south korea seoul halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Look at this BEAUTY: egg, cheese, spring onions, bacon, on a fish cake bun, with sweet teriyaki sauce, kewpie mayo, and topped with bonito flakes. Yuuuuuuup.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Another type of mall, really known only to asia, is the underground shopping center. These elaborate mazes of stalls and shops can be found at nearly every major metro stop. They specialize in cheap/fast fashion, beauty products, cell phones, bakeries, pets, whatever you want, they have it.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
The Yeongdeungpo metro station.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Yeah the Korean underground system is confusing as anything, but compared to the NYC subway system, it was a cakewalk.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Kathy in a sea of men.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Another mall, the Coex.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Yeongdeungpo central, and one of the many entrances to the Yeongdeungpo Market.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
As opposed to the busy wide major roads of Seoul, the small side streets are packed with businesses toppled on top of each other.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Inside the Yeongdeungpo Market.


yeongdeungpo seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography
Fresh baked Korean treats and goodies, all for under $1!


Next up… Hongdae!

02/25/2015 – brooklyn and beyond

Posted on February 25, 2015

  I seem to be in this terrible habit of not updating my blog, but I’m optimistic that this will be the last time I take such a long hiatus…. The last 3 months have been some of the busiest and most hectic months of my life. Those who know me (or follow me on social media) know I have been going through some serious life changes. For starters, I left New York City and America (semi) permanently last Thursday. But let’s rewind….

Back in last April, I decided I wanted to move out of New York City. I’d been in the city for the last 5 years, and felt it was time for a change. NYC will always and forever be my home, but sometimes you need to leave the place you’re from to appreciate it even more. I’ve always been a believer in the “go big or go home” mantra, so I decided on not just leaving NYC, but leaving the States. Since 2012 when I studied abroad in England, I’ve always wanted to move back to the UK. However, one of the biggest factors of me staying in New York, along with my friends and family, was my job as a wedding photographer with Chellise. I approached her about my prospective move, and instead of me leaving the studio, we settled on me working for Chellise but in London. This was seriously the *best* possible outcome of our talk, and I was ecstatic. And thus set in motion a series of events to somehow get me across the pond. We researched different visas, scouring forums and blogs on what is best for our type of work, and spoke to many other ex pats and lawyers.

Fast forward 8 months to December. At this point, we had found a small business visa that we felt I qualified for, and had spent the last few months preparing all the paperwork that went into applying. I submitted my application right before Thanksgiving, and 3 weeks later in mid December, I received the email that my visa had been issued. After the shock and tears and high emotion calmed down, I began to realize… how the f*#$ am I going to move?! I had lived in the northeast my entire life, and this was going to be my first major move. Major in that I was going to be leaving all my friends and family, packing my life into 2 suitcases, and living in a foreign country for the first time. I was (still am) completely and utterly overwhelmed. But luckily I have the best support system around, and with the help of all my friends and family, I moved out of my Brooklyn apartment at the end of January. And on February 19, I said goodbye to New York City and boarded a plane to South Korea.

I’m sure you’re like “hey wait, that’s not London!” and yeah, duh, it’s not. I’m in South Korea now for the next 3 weeks, staying with my best friend Kathy, who’s from Seoul. I’m excited to explore another Asian city that I’ve never been to, before making my official move to London on March 10.

Now here’s a recap of what I was doing with my last 3 months in America…


miami beach halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

miami story nightclub halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

I went to Miami with Henah for New Years Eve. Got my last bit of warm weather and sun, ate all the Cuban food, and met a random assortment of celebrities on New Years Eve (including Jaleel White!).




bluebird denver halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

denver biscuit company denver halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

voodoo doughnuts denver halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

denver tattoo halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

denver halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

I visited my cousin who lives in Denver with a group of my cousins. We ate all the Voodoo donuts, drank all the beers, some of us got tats, and explored beautiful Colorado for the first time.



style&air claire millar sarah kuszelewicz photography

style&air claire millar sarah kuszelewicz photography

style&air claire millar sarah kuszelewicz photography

I started shooting fashion and lifestyle again, and started collaborating with Claire Millar, stylist and blogger behind Style & Air. I hated having to leave the awesome gig I had going with Claire, but luckily she plans on coming to visit London this summer.



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A scene from my final wedding in New York City. It was an intimate ceremony in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, right around the corner from my neighborhood. It was the perfect ending to my wedding season.



halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

Of course, having a final departure date set, my friends and family went all out to ensure I had an incredibly packed last few months in America and New York City. I truly soaked up all the city could offer, even embracing the slushy snow. I could not be more grateful for a better home and humans to surround myself with.

halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography


I am so excited to start the next chapter of my life, kicking it off in Seoul (during the Lunar New Year, at that!) Stay posted for more of this new journey.