This week I found out my favorite drink ever, Mogu Mogu, has a total of 8 different flavors. Thus far, I have tried 6 out of the 8. I have only the two apple flavors left, but have not been able to find any for sale anywhere. I am now on a quest to find them before I leave Korea.

Excursions

  1. Train to Busan

This week, we all decided to meet up and spend the weekend at Busan. Busa and I both took a train down to Busan, during the train ride I watched the movie “Train to Busan.” Both the movie and the train ride were enjoyable, I would recommend both.

On the first day it was just Busa and I, so we just explored our local area. We tried to go to a museum, but unfortunately it was closed due to COVID. We then tried to go to Busan tower, but it was also closed due to COVID. Turns out all museums and tourist attractions were closed in Busan, but none of the websites said anything about it. It was unfortunate, but we had plenty of other plans! Busa and I climbed to the top of a Lotteria Mall, which had an absolutely gorgeous view from the top. 

Figure 1: View from the top of a Lotteria Mall in Busan.

Figure 2: Busa and I on top of a Lotteria Mall in Busan

We also found an entire building that seemed to be a fresh seafood market. There was every type of seafood imaginable set up in tanks around the market. It was very cool, but did not smell very good.

Figure 3: Example of some of the tanks in the indoor seafood market we found in Busan

Figure 4: Busa and I posing near a random lighthouse statue we found whilst walking by the waterfront in Busan.

For dinner, Busa and I found a tteokbokki place to eat at. I chose to eat spicy tteokbokki — little did I know that this place was known for being incredibly spicy. I was foolish not to question why people were coming in with cartons of milk in hand. The tteokbokki was delicious but undeniably spicy. If you are a fan of trying super spicy food, try to find this place! Apparently the name is on the bowl, you can see it in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Incredibly spicy tteokbokki in Busan.

  1. Hitting the Beach

Nathan arrived in Busan the night before, so we agreed to all go to the beach the next day. We ate breakfast at a delicious udon and tempura place, and spent the hottest hours of the day in a mall. The mall had VR, ice skating, and the thickest macarons I have ever seen.

After the hottest hours of the day were over with, we headed over to Haeundae Beach. The beach was very clean and not too busy, we had a great time walking around.

Figure 6: Busa, Nathan, and I posing in front of the sign for Haeundae Beach in Busan.

We also dug a hole.

Figure 7: Me, Busa, and Nathan proud of the hole we dug on Haeundae Beach in Busan.

The water in the beaches here is a lot colder than it is in Florida. You aren’t allowed to go into the water after 6PM; I’m not certain if that is a COVID rule or a general rule so if you plan to go to Busan I would try to go to the beach before then if you want to swim. 

Before we left the beach, we watched the filming of a K-Drama where, from what I could tell, a lady in a hospital gown was driving a minivan through a crowd of bystanders. It was interesting to see how they were filming — all the extras on set would wear their masks between takes and would take them off for the actual take. There was also a drone flying around and taking video, I assume for different camera angles. Unfortunately, they didn’t want us to record/photograph any of it, but it was cool to see!

That evening, we met up with everyone else in the IRiKA crew + Nadia, had a pizza party, and played pool. It was a lot of fun!

  1. Tour of Busan

The next day, we all purchased tickets for a bus tour of Busan and went around to a few main attractions there. Our first stop was a more rural area of Busan where there is a very long walkway along the ocean. This walkway eventually leads to a beach where instead of sand, there are rocks everywhere. 

Figure 8: Beach in Busan where there are rocks on the bottom instead of sand.

We then headed to a sky bridge, which is an outpost over a cliff that has a glass bottom. The view from it was very nice, and looking down to see the waves crashing far below you was cool. 

Figure 9: Me on the sky bridge in Busan. Note: we got in trouble for sitting on the sky bridge, apparently it’s against the rules. So probably don’t do that. 

After that, we headed over to Peace Park. Peace Park was beautiful, and had incredible sculptures everywhere. There was a very peaceful river and a grove of various fruit trees. It was one of my favorite places to visit — it’s hard to show how nice it was from images. I would recommend people to visit here. 

We then all met up and spent the evening exploring around the beach and its surrounding areas.

Figure 10: The gang at Haeundae Beach in Busan.

  1. Beach View Temple

Sunday — our final day in Busan, we went to a beach side Buddhist temple: Haedong Yonggungsa. I liked the temple a lot! It was intricately painted, similar to the palaces. It overlooked the ocean, and thus had a stunning view. While walking around, there are different shrines you can donate money to to pray at and burn incense. The shrines are for different things: academic success, safe driving, happy relationships, ect. Most people seemed to pray with a 100 won or 500 won coin, so if you go to this temple, bring change.

Figure 11: Me in Haedong Yonggungsa in Busan.

We had a hardy lunch of pork stew — a dish Busan is known for, and then headed over to another beach. This beach, Gwangalli Beach, has a bridge in the background, which is really neat. 

Figure 12: Me with the sign at Gwangalli Beach

We spent the rest of the day relaxing and eating ice cream at the beach. Soon enough it was time for everyone to go back home. 

It was an enjoyable but exhausting weekend, where I walked over 34.4 miles and climbed over 100 floors (according to my iPhone Health app). We arrived home at midnight and had work the very next morning. I didn’t regret anything though, so far Busan has been my favorite place to visit. I would definitely visit again!

Interesting note: there are a lot of Russian people in Busan. I would say that I heard more Russian speakers in Busan than I did English speakers. On one bus, they gave announcements in Korean, English, Japanese, and then Russian. We even found an entire street that was full of different Russian restaurants and foods. So, if you want to try some Russian food whilst in Korea, this might be a good place to do so. 

Key Takeaways:

  • If a restaurant offers mild, medium, and spicy flavors of tteokbokki, maybe stick to the medium/mild unless you have milk on hand.
  • According to my Korean friend, you are expected to dress modestly when going to temples. So try to plan your outfit and make sure your pants are long enough!

Working in the Lab

Last week, I thought I would be done with making data sets. Turns out, I had only just started. We finally completed datasets for each individual item, which was fantastic! Unfortunately, you can’t just train the algorithm to see individual items. You need to teach it to identify objects even when there are multiple objects, even if they are covering each other a bit, even with different backgrounds. Thus: more datasets. We increased the size of each dataset by running a program that creates duplicates of each image, some with different sizes, some with different rotations. 

We then ran another program that merges some images together to create a group. I had to go through these images and remove all that had objects that covered each other too much. We ran one final program on the images that generated a background for each image based on the background it will have on the self. 

Figure 13: Example of an image where the objects have been merged into one image and have a random background chosen.

Before I left for Busan, I completed the dataset and had the training for object detection start. This training usually takes at least a few days to complete, so I expected it to run the entire time I was in Busan. Unfortunately, when I returned and tested its accuracy, it had a 0% accuracy rate. It turns out we improperly set up some of the training. Fortunately, we probably would have had to redo it anyway. 

My mentor, Taeho Lee, is holding a competition for Seoul National University students. The competition is to use the provided dataset to train an object detection algorithm such that it is able to detect the objects in various situations including with different color tints on the images and when the images are grouped together. In order to train the algorithm to be able to accomplish these things, I need to write a program to generate images with color tints on them. Thus, this is what I will be working on. My TA, Viduu, has also informed me that I should probably increase the size of the dataset for merged images so that is what I will be working on for the next week.

Dr. Moser’s Workshop

This week in Dr. Moser’s workshop, we focused again on our elevator pitches. Everyone has improved immensely. My pitch last week took around 4 minutes and was messy, this week it took less than 2 minutes. The feedback I was given for improvement was that I should change the structure a bit: it is obvious that I am reading from a sheet because, according to Dr. Moser, sentences we write are usually longer than the sentences we use in normal speech. Thus, I will be working on changing the sentence structure of my pitch for next week. I will also be more specific with my pitch and discuss what qualities I plan to develop/improve while working at the specific company I am applying for.