Daily Life Korea

Learning to enjoy morning hours

I’ve never really been a morning person, and heavily rely on persistent alarms (and the snooze button), a pot of black coffee, and a hot shower to get the day started. But here at Ongdalsam, mornings are packed full of activity.

Each morning, the other residents and I help set-up breakfast and eat a simple meal together. On the days I wake up extra early, I attend a yoga meditation session with an amazing qigong master. To top it off, my roommate Jinyoung makes excellent hand drip coffee at the cafe. By the time I finish drinking my coffee, I’m wide awake and ready for my day.



“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh



Seongji and Eunhwa, two of the first friends I made at Ongdalsam.





Setting the table for meals.






I participated in Kelly’s International Stationary Love Swap. And lovely snail mail from Sara arrived from Portugal, packed full of vintage paper goodies.



Japanese snacks from my friend Bibi on my tatami bed. Which reminds me, I spontaneously grabbed airplane tickets and ‘m headed to Kyoto + Tokyo in a few weeks!



I wrote a mini-guide on how to enjoy morning hours. It’s mostly for myself so that I won’t forget to keep up a healthy morning routine, but I hope it can be helpful to you, too.

There is no need to wake up extra early–try waking up just 30 minutes earlier than usual. Resist the urge to stare into your phone or sit in front of your laptop–e-mails and blogs can wait. And try these instead:

1. Read a book. There is always a book or two that I mean to read, but sometimes just go back on the shelves. Place the book on the breakfast table or by the bed. Reward yourself with a handmade bookmark.

2. Enjoy a cup of coffee/tea. Even as a huge coffee-head, I rarely set aside time to actually drink my coffee before I leave home–I just pour the half-pot into a thermos and run out the door. If I had even 10 extra minutes, I could sit down and enjoy the cup of coffee.

3. Journal. I really like calendars and to-do lists, but there’s something special about writing down random thoughts or drawing in my notebook.

4. Write letters. Whenever I write in my journal, I start thinking about friends in far away places. I began keeping stationary in my notebook for these moments. I love the idea of sending fond thoughts across the oceans to loved ones far away each morning.

5. Exercise. I’m really not very good at going on morning runs, though I always appreciate it on the days I make it out. I’ve been doing early morning yoga here a couple times a week, and it makes such a difference.

6. Be in the moment.  Spend a few minutes staring out the window and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood waking up. Even if I don’t have the urge to really get out of bed, I can sit up and let my mind slowly wake up.

What are some of your favorite morning activities?


  • Reply
    August 7, 2013 at 3:09 am

    my favourite morning moment is to hear the sounds of the morning – the insects, the birds, the noisy vehicles and possible chatter from parent to child as they drop their kids to childcare – all these while walking to the train station 🙂

  • Reply
    Damaris - the cat you and us
    August 7, 2013 at 5:07 am

    My favorite moment is when I have the chance to have a cup of tea with my hubby on weekends, love to chat with him at that time with all the day ahead of us 🙂

    Your pictures are wonderful! Love the one with your friends goofing around.

    Hope you have an amazing time in Tokyo+Kyoto. We were there during our honeymoon and it was the most wonderful time ever.

  • Reply
    August 7, 2013 at 6:19 am

    My letter looks so good there <3
    I love my mornings and as i grow older i love them even more.It's a peaceful time and i love to eat breakfast in bed and go for a walk while the city is still almost silent*

  • Reply
    August 7, 2013 at 9:57 am

    This is really such a lovely post! Not only are the words beautiful, but so are the pictures! You have definitely inspired me to enjoy the morning more <3

  • Reply
    August 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    oh sewon, these photographs are wonderful! i think your relaxed mornings are really making an effect, you look so beautiful in that photo (even more!) 🙂

  • Reply
    August 8, 2013 at 1:56 am

    i really like mornings, and prefer waking up long before “the rest of the world” is awake.
    but basically to start working on translation / writing assignments to get them done before i want to do other things, or so. i should calm down and read a book or write a letter like you say – that sounds lovely.

    and this place looks so amazing. can you tell a little more about it, like what it exactly is and what you have to do, and such? (i bet it’s only for korean-speaking people, right? otherwise it definitely looks like a place i’d like to visit on my trip in the spring! :))

  • Reply
    August 8, 2013 at 7:32 am

    I love your beautiful life. <3

    I've been taking it easy in the mornings. I spend about half an hour waking myself up by staying in bed and reading – books or blogs – before having breakfast downstairs and then returning to bed to read some more while I drink a cup of tea.

    Of course, I start working in another week or two so this routine will probably be all over the place and I'll be rushed around and stressed. Might try what you suggest and wake up half an hour early to really get myself ready and relaxed for the day though. 🙂

  • Reply
    August 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    The atmosphere of the place looks so calming and natural! I’m very much a morning person.. I wake up at 6am even on weekends. But I wouldn’t say that my morning routine is good. The things you listed sound wonderful! I do point 6 a lot 😉 and I like to water my plantts when the sun isn’t shining yet..

    • Reply
      August 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      I mean, the sun is already shining (it does it the whole time, doesn’t it 😉 but it hasen’t risen yet..

  • Reply
    August 9, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Sewon~ how are you? judging from your photos, you seem to be well ( :
    I didn’t used to be a morning person. And although there are still some days when I want to stay in bed, I have actually grown to like waking up early. if I wake up early enough, I like watching the sun rise, and hearing the birds call to each other. Your mornings appear so lovely~
    waa, Japan! how nice! Will it be your first time to visit? I hope you’ll visit Hiki-san at her beautiful little shoppe!
    oh, and I wonder if you will get to see the new Miyazaki movie while you’re there. lucky!

  • Reply
    Veronica Fish
    August 9, 2013 at 8:01 am

    That quote about coffee is spot – on. I gulp it down like rocket fuel too often

  • Reply
    kelly zarb
    August 9, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    My favourite morning rituals are eating my quinoa porridge with yoghurt and blueberries and making my bed, ready for the next night sleep. I love making my bed and fluffing the pillows its such a basic thing but I love it.

  • Reply
    August 11, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Poetry in the morning is the best thing for the soul.

  • Reply
    Katrine Ü
    August 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Oh wow, I wish I could have some of those morning rituals. But I always have to just jump out of bed, do everything fast and grab my stuff for school.. I don’t like early mornings :/ I also wish that I could just grab some airplane tickets too, haha.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Ohh, this is so lovely. I’m having a wonderful time at breakfast now that I still have summer holidays… I intend to keep up good breakfast-rituals when uni starts again, your list is quite brilliant to put on the kitchen wall and to remind myself to begin the day easy. – Your blog is really wonderful by the way!!

  • Reply
    August 13, 2013 at 10:13 am

    That group photo with the pots! That beautiful pile of stationery & letters! And that lovely list for the mornings! I’ve been missing you & your blog 🙂

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 1:24 am

    I also have a difficult time waking up in the mornings, but all of these activities you’ve listed sound lovely – sometimes I really like plugging in my ipod and listening to some of my favourite songs while I make breakfast, just to get me in the mood for the day. (I want to try exercising though!) All of your photographs look so relaxing anand it sounds like you’re having a great time at Ongdalsam xx

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Just a big teapot of chinese white tea and some news from the Net…

  • Reply
    August 17, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Hi Sewon!!
    thank you so much for your comment on my blog! I really appreciate all your support and kindness! i am so excited for tokyoooo

    these pictures you posted a so beautiful! what a niiiice place!! i, too, would like to appreciate and utilize mornings more!! they really are so beautiful and precious, but i always sleep in. haha sad
    and that food…..!! aaaah i love korean food!! what a spread!

  • Reply
    September 5, 2013 at 4:31 am

    I love early morning rituals. My mind is fresh and ready for what the day has to bring. I usually start with yoga or Japanese practice followed by breakfast. I then enjoy some Matcha tea and prepare myself for the day. At the weekend I (sometimes hehe) like to wake up super early and go for a walk in the park. The morning freshness is just so exhilarating.

    Your pictures are stunning!

    I hope you have a wonderful time in Tokyo ^_^


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