The temperature, COVID rates, and vaccination rates in Korea are increasing, while the time we have left in Korea is decreasing. We are making the most of it though! 

Working in the Lab:

This week, I wrote a program that added a color filter to the images in the training set for the YOLOv3 algorithm that I am training. The program can apply a random color filter, or you can choose specific colors. You can also adjust the strength of the filter, and there is a setting such that you don’t apply another filter to an already filtered image if you don’t want to. 

Figure 1:  An example of the output of the program that I wrote this week. The program takes every image in a directory and applies a color filter to it. It also duplicates the .txt file corresponding to the image, which is required for training the darknet algorithm. 

Figure 2: Example of the output of the program I wrote this week. On the left, you can see the original image which is one of the inputs to the program. On the right, you can see the image’s corresponding output, which is the same image but with a blue color filter over it. 

The end goal with adding color filters is to train the algorithm to identify the objects in different lighting conditions. 

In addition to writing this program, I modified the training set for all the “problem children” objects and created a greater pool of images that have merged objects. I also remade the training set for the Cheez-It box, which originally had a different box for the training set and the testing set. After setting up the new datasets and training the algorithm up over the weekend, it reached 128,000 iterations! The new average accuracy for detecting the objects correctly is 56.90%. Last week it was ~30% accurate, so this is a large improvement! The number of “problem children” has gone down from 14 to only 4. I am working on investigating why these item’s accuracy rates are so low.


Figure 3: A table that displays the objects that currently have a very low detection rate with the YOLOv3 algorithm that I am working on training. On the left is the object name, and on the right is the object’s current accuracy level. 

This week will be my final week of working in the lab. Everyone here has been so helpful and kind, I am not excited to say goodbye. In this final week, I will be working on increasing the accuracy to up to 65%, re-writing the “merge objects” code, and finalizing the algorithm. 


This weekend, we tried to visit the DMZ. However, things just kept going wrong. The official DMZ tours have been canceled due to the pandemic, and even tours outside of the DMZ have now been canceled. It seems we will not have the opportunity to visit the DMZ this time. No problem! We decided to visit Everland instead.

  1. Everland

Everland was great! I say that about most places we visit, but only because it’s true! Tickets are cheaper if you buy them in advance online, we paid 36000₩ for the tickets which are normally around 60000₩. There was a bus that took us straight from Gangnam to the park in ~45 minutes. 

A large portion of the park is a zoo. It has many animals — red pandas, pandas, snakes, raccoons, monkeys and apes, birds… you name it and they probably have it. The animals seemed happy as well and had a hidden area where they could go underground and hide from the humans if they wanted to. I thought it was very well taken care of, a lot better than any zoo I have seen in America. 

Figure 4: A tiger and I at Everland, Korea’s largest theme park. 

Figure 5: Me feeding a bird in Everland theme park while another bird hogs the camera.

However, Everland is more than just a zoo! It is also a very large amusement park. We rode on a few rides and even did bumper carts. They were having the Rose Garden event when we went: they had the largest rose garden I have ever seen set up. They also had lots of cute scenery. We managed to see pretty much everything in one packed day. It was definitely worth the cost of admission, I would recommend visiting!

Figure 6: A torture ride at Everland, probably made to make you throw up intentionally. Somehow we survived it…

  1. Cat Cafe

After the busy day in Everland, we took it a bit easy on Sunday. What better way to relax than visiting a cat cafe? After spending the morning shopping and exploring Gangnam some more, we visited a cat cafe that was right next to the station. The cafe was very clean; it had around 20 cats in it but it didn’t smell like anything. 

Figure 7: Me with the cat that chose me in a cat cafe in Gangnam.

They had pretty much every type of cat imaginable there: Sphynx, Munchkin, American Curl, etc. Each cat was very friendly. We spent maybe 2 hours there, we had a great time!

Dr. Moser’s Workshop:

This week was the last week we had Dr. Moser’s class. For our final class, we all put together ~15 minute long presentations about our stay in Korea. The presentation had to have an introduction, 3 main body points, and a conclusion. I created a presentation for potential future IRiKA applicants. The three points I chose to talk about were my research assignment, cultural differences between Korea and America, and the various excursions I have been on while in Korea. I went first. The presentation went well, I finished it well within the time limit but still had enough content and dialog within it to cover everything necessary. Some feedback I received was that I should put more data points in my presentation, use more engineering language when speaking, and add more images. After me, everyone else went (Matt and Busa’s were my favorite). And that was that! The end of Dr. Moser’s class. I appreciate the class and everything it taught me! 

Current Takeaways:

  • Eating out in Korea is probably cheaper than cooking for yourself (unless you eat cup ramen). Fresh produce is pretty expensive! Luckily you probably won’t want to cook for yourself anyway, considering delicious food here usually costs only around 5000-10000₩. 
  • All portion sizes are huge! I would say about the same size as meals in America. The only thing is that taking your food to-go after you started eating it isn’t a thing here, so if you like having leftovers perhaps order to-go initially. 
  • When paying at a register, if they ask you questions that you can’t understand just say “아니요” (aniyo) or “no” until they gesture to the card machine. Usually, the questions are: do you have a membership at the store, would you like to pay for a bag, and do you need a receipt. The only problem I always mix up which is which and can’t tell the order they ask the questions in. So I would recommend just saying no to all of them!