Eat Your Kimchi’s YouTube studio in Seoul! EYK Simon & Martina opening You Are Here coffee shop.
When I was in Seoul, I hung out with YouTube stars Eat Your Kimchi in their studio — and it was fantastic, baby!
I toured EYK’s Nasty headquarters, and chatted with Simon and Martina about their upcoming Korea projects — including a coffee shop for their fans. Read on for the inside scoop, and tons of funny photos.
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For those who don’t know, Simon and Martina Stawski run the extremely popular EatYourKimchi YouTube channel, which specializes in videos about Kpop music, life in Seoul, and zany adventures with their pets and friends.
Much like my own La Carmina blog, Eat Your Kimchi (EYK) began as a hobby, fueled by their passion for Korean culture. Today, they have a loyal following of fans (aka Nasties), and have expanded EYK into an independent studio, clothing line, worldwide appearances and more.
Simon and Martina are just as friendly and fabulous in person, and we spent over an hour laughing together. I immediately felt at home on their purple couch, and we dished about pop culture and fashion as if we were old friends.
I borrowed a stuffed octopus and “poop pencil” to write down notes (I’ll be doing some magazine stories about Eat Your Kimchi, so stay tuned). Fans will recognize the saucy penguin sitting on Martina.
The married couple is from Toronto, Canada, and always loved subcultures. They moved to Korea to teach English, and began making casual YouTube videos (about Korean food, Hello Kitty, K-pop) for their friends back home. Similarly to my own career arc, they built up a loyal following, and eventually quit their day jobs to do Eat Your Kimchi full-time.
Today, they have their own colorful studio located in the youth culture district, Hongdae. I was impressed by how they custom-designed the space, with special lighting setups and kawaii decor all over. It’s like walking into a K-idol dream.
Viewers will recognize these backdrops, as seen in their regular uploads (Kpop Music Mondays, FapFap, livestreams and more).
Martina and Simon gave me a tour of the studio, which includes a sound room full of pillows, and Happy Kitchen. And how about this pink walk-in closet? It’s a wardrobe fantasy, filled with wigs, makeup and shark hats.
Everywhere you turned, there was fan art. The duo genuinely cares about their audience, and draws inspiration from the drawings and dolls they receive.
Here’s where the video-editing magic happens. You shouldn’t be surprised to see that their laptop has an adorable custom keyboard!
I met business manager Soo Zee (love her purple hair!) and other team members, who were hard at work. Everyone works together on the standing desk, a healthier option than sitting around all day.
Simon and Martina spoke enthusiastically about their newest project: You Are Here, an Eat Your Kimchi coffee shop near Hongdae station! The goal’s to create an inviting space where they can hang out with their fans and host special events (since their studio space is for work only).
It can be hard for first-time visitors to figure out where to go in Seoul, and for solo travelers to meet others. Hopefully, the EYK cafe can help to bring people together.
Martina and Simon have just opened the doors to the cafe. Martina is excited to bring her home-cooking to customers, and to have the coffee brewed just right. If this cute studio is any indication, their coffeeshop will be a hit.
I’m excited to see the in-shop videobooth, where fans can record messages to be incorporated into videos. It’s inspiring to see how much EYK interacts with their “Nasties.”
I was sad that their pets weren’t in the studio that day. Everyone loves Spudgy the dog, and Dr Meemersworth — a Scottish Fold cat, just like mine!
Here are our earless babies (Meemers on the left, Basil Farrow on the right). We bonded over the breed’s quirks, like the way Scottish Folds dangle their big paws and love to cuddle.
Simon and Martina have lived in Seoul for many years now, and I asked them about the peculiarities of Korean pop culture. I learned that tattoos are taboo, like in Japan: only doctors are legally allowed to ink others, so tattoo shops stay underground (there aren’t signs advertising them). In June, Seoul had a tattoo convention but it was shut down by officials. How funny that in contrast, plastic surgery (a more invasive “body modification”) thrives here!
Their job looks like it’s all play: making goofy videos in a space filled with toys, and yes, that’s a purikura booth in the back. However, I can see — and personally know — how much hard work goes into each project, and how committed they are to their team and Nasties.
They love what they do, and try to give back to their fans. Simon and Martina spoke about upcoming appearances at anime conventions, a possible road trip with meet-ups, and more.
I wanted some cool travel tips, and who better to ask than Eat Your Kimchi? Martina drew me a map of hotspots in this neighborhood (Hongdae) while Simon watched.
I ended up visiting all the places they recommended, with my photographers. In my next posts, I’ll show you the Hongdae Hello Kitty cafe, Zombie coffee, Robot bar and more. (Stay tuned to my Seoul category to see!)
Naturally, she drew this map with colorful pens, on cute panda paper. As you can see, she marked her favorite cupcake shop and Kpop fashion boutiques.
I think Martina is imitating the big robot that guards her favorite bar. Can you spot the tattoos of her dog and folded-eared cat?
We couldn’t stop taking photos with the stuffed toys.
So much fan art everywhere. Martina gave me a few Scottish Fold items from EYK’s fashion line, including a purple knit cap with Meemers’ round face on the corner. Everything is made locally.
(Photography by Jacqueline Kwok of noircorner and Ken Yuen.)
Funny how Simon is growing a beard, so he no longer looks like the older fan art.
We could have chatted all day long! Huge hugs for Simon, Martina and their team for inviting me to their Seoul headquarters. I’m psyched to see their new coffee shop — you can see updates on their website and YouTube. They’re on both Twitter and Instagram under @eatyourkimchi.
Have you ever watched Eat Your Kimchi’s videos? Are you keen to visit Seoul and their cafe? Below is an iPhone pic that they decorated with the Line app.
Coming up next: My birthday is on August 17, and I’ll be releasing not one, but TWO videos.