After one year as a waygook living in South Korea, Matthew Leavesley has created this photo essay for Chincha, giving a glimpse into the past 365 days of his life.

Anyone who has visited Gyeongbuk Palace in the heart of Seoul will be aware of how loud this drum can get. Keeping within tradition is something that Koreans hold dear, which as a resident living here is fascinating to witness.

The real beauty of Korea lies in places outside of built- up areas like Seoul. In the town of Gyeongju you will find a vast space of nothing but magnificence, especially during the cherry blossom season, which is when this image was taken.

The main reason why most of us waygooks make the move to Korea is to teach English as a foreign language. Fortunately, I have been able to teach both Kindergarten and Elementary school children at my hagwon, which for me has been rewarding. When I leave Korea next year I will look back with pride after seeing the English of the kids go from zilch to being able to have a conversation. Job done.

Like many people, I am an adrenaline junky, although I regret my decision once I’m actually on the designated ride *insert fear shakes and a lot of “why did I agree to do this!?”* Lotte World, Everland and Seoul Land are all places where we can kick back and act like the kids we teach.

If any of you watch Game of Thrones then you will understand the phrase “winter is coming.” Those are the exact words I used last year when the colder months set in. For me, the Korean winter is long, depressing and bloody freezing, but there is one saving grace: ski season. This winter it might be an idea to bite the bullet and embrace the slopes of Korea, especially since it’s set to host the Winter Olympics in 2018.

To really understand what happened during the 20th century in Korea it is important to visit some of the museums to get a sense of what life was like. Seoul Prison Museum is one place that gives you an insight into the hardship and suffering that Koreans endured during the Japanese occupation.

One thing that makes our life in Korea so enjoyable is the people we meet and the chingus we befriend. May to September (minus August) is prime time to soak up the sun and chill on the beach on our action-packed weekends. The Boryeong Mud Festival was a real highlight of the summer for me and this image represents the friendships we share in Korea and the fun experiences we all partake in while we live here.

There are many trips on offer all year round that you can book for a weekend away, which I have often done. Seoraksan for me was definitely a trip worth investing in. The mountains and surrounding national park were simply to die for.

If you haven’t walked the packed streets of Namdaemun then you’re missing out. There are so many different kinds of foods, clothes, gifts and ‘Gangnam Style’ socks to choose from. One thing that I especially like about Korea is the speed of which take-out food is delivered and, as you can see from this image, Namdaemun is no exception of this.

Rush, rush, rush. I feel like that’s what my life in Korea has been like. For Chuseok, I decided to visit Namhae-gun just off the southern coast to do absolutely nothing. It was refreshing to visit a place that offered a place to relax and soak up the atmosphere.

If you like what you see, then feel free to follow Matt on Instagram under the username @leavesonatree