Groove Korea February 2014

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You don't know where you'll end up INVITE-ONLY JJIMJILBANG PARTIES HOST SEOUL’S TOP EDM DJS Groove is Korea’s English magazine. Find out what’s new, what’s news and what there is to do.

KOREA • Issue 88 / February 2014




Kim Jong-un’s Christmas power grab

Malaysia’s ‘mixed sauce’ city, forged by diverse cultures

These five foods will have you feeling toasty this winter

Regardless of sensationalized headlines, Pyongyang’s purge made perfect sense

NANTA Deadline: July 20th

FP2 Deadline: July 20th


To comment, email

We are responsible for acting out against racism

Breaking down barriers of ignorance Editorial

By Elliott Ashby, former cohost of “Night Vibe,” teacher and Korea resident

I never experienced so much random kindness until I moved to Korea. One cold winter day in 2009, an older Korean lady walked up to me, took off her scarf, and wrapped it around my neck. I tried to refuse the gesture but she smiled and insisted I take it. People have gone out of their way to make me feel at home in their country. Strangers have led me to my destination when I was lost. Good things happened to me in Korea, and that’s why I stayed for five years. On the flipside, Korea has also surprised me with its ignorance and discrimination. Back in 2011 when I was looking for a new job, I went to a popular job site to search for positions and I found a pretty good one. The pay and the hours were great, but as I scrolled down the page, I reached the preferences section where they made it clear they preferred a white woman for the job. If that wasn’t clear enough, the next few words plainly stated job applicants could be mixed but “not 100 percent black.” This was not an isolated incident. It is a reality for many black people living in Korea, and it’s a lot more difficult for those from Africa. Such blatant racism would get on my damn nerves. That, and the cold nights after work when I stood watching the taxis breeze right by me and pick everyone else up. I had a lot of those nights. However, I am optimistic about Korea’s ability to change. Most of the discrimination I witnessed in the country was bred from ignorance and fear, not hatred. And we are all ignorant in some respects until we are exposed to the truth and educated with facts. I was once very ignorant about Korea, too. Beyond eating Korean BBQ and going to a noraebang in Los Angeles, I’d had virtually no exposure to or knowledge of Korean culture. My education about Korean culture began the moment I stepped off the plane. I learned that not all Asian children are good at math and not every Asian person knows martial arts. My shallow understanding of Korean culture was matched by the simple ideas many Korean people had about black culture. I encountered Koreans who were knowledgeable about iconic black figures like Michael Jordan and Jay-Z, but didn’t know

much about relating to black people. My students rubbed my skin and asked why I was black. They didn’t understand how I washed my hair or why my palms were a different color than the outside of my hands. The people I encountered on the streets, who typically just stared at me, must have been equally confused. But I get it. The same way many Americans live in a bubble and don’t think about the world around them, many Koreans live in an insular society that hasn’t interacted much with foreigners. This has led to a lot of awkward moments, but it’s also allowed me to challenge people’s notions. One time in class, I took a break from our lesson and pointed across the room to a world map. I asked my students if Southeast Asian countries and Northeast Asian countries were similar or if they had significant differences. They told me that there were a lot of differences between Asian countries. I agreed and moved on to my next question. I asked them if there were a lot of similarities between Northeast Asian countries. Again, the majority of my students told me China, Japan and Korea are all very different. Then I pointed to another location on the map — Africa. I asked the students if the continent of Africa had the same diversity. They immediately said no. I said, “So a continent with more than 50 countries, 2,000 languages and four uniquely separate regions are all the same?” I smiled as I watched their brains put the pieces together. Racism and discrimination are not problems unique to South Korea. They are worldwide problems that will always exist. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t work toward eradicating the ignorance that breeds them. All foreigners and Koreans have a responsibility to act and speak out when discrimination is happening right in front of them. By using ignorant comments and unfair treatment as teachable moments, we will, in fact, make Korea a better place. Koreans have taught me a lot and replaced my ignorance with knowledge, just as I hope we, as black foreigners, have had a similar impact on them.

Hot on: Music & Arts


Artist’s Journey: Interview with Yu Da Kim, magician

Monkeys and machetes: An adventure in northern Sumatra

“Alone, the magician can’t make magic. It takes a connection between a performer and viewer to experience magic,” says magician Yu Da Kim. “If that connection fails, then there’s no reason to consider it magical. “Like a cake, magic can be created only if the ingredients fit the recipe and the conditions are just right. And if it’s not magic, people are quick to tell you otherwise. By listening to the audience, everything magicians need to know about what magic is and what it isn’t can be learned.”

Once limited to those with an uncanny spirit for peril and excitement, Sumatra is slowly joining the ranks of other Indonesian islands with their bountiful opportunities for vacationers. Show-stopping scenery, volcanoes and orangutans dot the landscape of this isolated corner of the world, not to mention more than a few indigenous tribes and their ubiquitous loincloths. Quirky and wild though it may be, sticky Sumatra is no longer just for daredevils.

Interview by Wilfred Lee Read it online in February or in print in March

4 / February 2014

Story by George Kalli Read it online in February or in print in March



What’s in this issue


february 2014



36 KIM JONG-UN’S CHRISTMAS POWER GRAB Kim Jong-un’s recent power grab does not necessarily indicate that he is immature or foolish; rather, it shows that he may be responding to the political climate.


KOREA’S BLACK RACISM EPIDEMIC It’s in the classroom, it’s in the media, it’s painful and it’s widespread. How did it get here, and can it be stopped?

WELCOME 04 - Editorial “Breaking down barriers of ignorance” We are responsible for acting out against racism. 14 - Key people Introducing some of the editors, writers and photographers behind February’s issue 17 - The inbox Opinions and feedback from readers

INSIGHT 20 - On the Cover 22 - What’s on Festivals, concerts, happy hours, networking and events for every day of the month 24 - the news Prosecutor arrested for abusing power to help celebrity; international taxis in Seoul busted for overcharging foreigners; illegal Filipino nannies find way into affluent homes; expat haven of Sinchon receiving a rebirth

38 - NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLAN YOUR RETIREMENT Korea’s pension terminology complicates retirement planning. Review your pension options.

FOOD & DRINK 44 - AN ODE TO IHERB Online grocer has a huge following in Korea, and one visit to the website will show you why; everything a hippie foodie ever wanted is available. 46 - PANCAKES! PANCAKES! PANCAKES! Armed with a spatula, you can march off into a Bisquick-free world and eat pancakes every day of the week, even in Korea.

18 - Must reads A selection of our editors’ favorite articles


6 / February 2014

40 - TO SURVIVE THE COLD, TURN TO KOREA’S SOUL-WARMING CUISINE The promise of hot Korean food is the best thing to take the sting out of winter. Here’s a list of five must-have meals for the cold months.


What’s in this issue


february 2014



THREADBARE ON THE SILK ROAD Cash only: A search for culture leads to a search for money.

58 THE ARTISTIC ENTREPRENEUR Dirk Fleischmann uses the capitalist model to distribute commentary about the hypocrisies he observes in the system.


DESTINATIONS 48 - EXPLORING KUALA LUMPUR, ONE RESTAURANT AT A TIME Kuala Lumpur is a city of four cultures: Chinese, Malay, Indian and capitalist. Capitalism is the dominant culture, but it’s possible to find vestiges of the other three. The best way to do that is through the city’s restaurants. 56 - IN WINTER, GYEONGJU’S SNOW MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS BECKONS Palaces, temples and fortresses abound here, but the city is best known for its iconic burial mounds, the final resting places of many ancient rulers.

MUSIC & ARTS 62 - SEOUL SHINDIG The most eccentric party in town brings a new style of clubbing — retro style 64 - THE G.I. DJ FROM THE DMZ While stationed in Washington, military man Felix Geoff Mena got his first DJ gig at a strip club, cutting songs down to three minutes for lap dances. 66 - LOVE X STEREO A Korean rock band with more foreign than Korean fans comes back home from their first tour.

DISTRACTIONS 70 - Jjimjilbang-Korea The party’s on with Seoul’s top underground DJs, quality live music and a secret location.

80 - GROOVE LISTINGS Doctors, travel agencies, restaurants, hotels, airlines, nightclubs and more 84 - COMICS

72 - AT THE BOX OFFICE “Robocop” (Feb. 13) “Pompeii” (Feb. 20)

85 - GAMES

73 - DVD CORNER “Mr. Go (미스터 고)” “Secretly, Greatly (은밀하게 위대하게)”

87 - PROMOTIONS A selection of deals around Korea


68 - ARTIST’S JOURNEY Interview with actor Kahlid Elijah Tapia


8 / February 2014

74 - ADMIRING DAMYANG’S TOWERING BAMBOO Peter DeMarco has lived in Busan since 2007. He built his life around his wish to travel the world.

The Test of Proficiency in Korean, or TOPIK for short, is a Korean language exam that is administered by the Korean government. It’s essentially the Korean language equivalent of TOEFL in the United States.

TOPIK takes a Great Leap in 2014 “Increasing the number of tests and test sites worldwide” New TOPIK format from July 2014


he National Institute for International Education (NIIED) seeks to heighten the appeal of the Korean language throughout the world by increasing the number of TOPIK test sites, expanding the number of countries where the test is taken and by introducing a new reformed and revised format starting July, 2014. TOPIK is required for obtaining Korean permanent residency, entering universities in Korea as a foreign or Korean overseas student and also used for applying to Korean companies in Korea and abroad. The number of applicants who take the test has increased exponentially due to a greater demand for Korean language education. On Jan. 19, 2014, TOPIK was taken by 23,224 applicants across 23 test sites throughout Korea. This marked a milestone for the test, as the number of people who had taken TOPIK reached over Division Test Level

1.1 million (1,187,388). This year, the NIIED will add three new test sites for the convenience of applicants, bringing the total to 23 test sites throughout Korea. Also, TOPIK is scheduled to take place in 66 countries by 2014. Finally, 2014 also heralds an increase in the number of TOPIK administered tests with an expansion in the number of test dates from four to five. ◆ New test sites in Korea: Gachon University, Mokpo National University and Wonkang University ◆ New test sites abroad: Finland, Austria, Jordan and Cuba From July, 2014, the current 3-level system (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) will be converted into a two level system which consists of TOPIK l (Beginner Level) and TOPIK ll (Intermediate and Advanced Level). Current Level System

New Level System (July 2014~)

TOPIK Beginner (Level 1~2)

TOPIK l (Level 1~2)

TOPIK Intermediate (Level 3~4) TOPIK Advanced (Level 5~6)

TOPIK ll (Level 3~6)

The evaluation areas for TOPIK ll will be changed from 4 to 3 which will include Reading, Listening, and Writing. The objective of this change is to reduce the burden on applicants taking the test and to focus on practical language usage. TOPIK l (Beginner Level) only evaluates reading and listening to make it easier for applicants to evaluate their Korean language skills. In addition, with the integration of the intermediate and advanced levels into one single test, it is hoped that TOPIK will be better equipped to meet applicant needs.

Schedule of Format Change Period

Jan. 19, 2014

Apr. 19~20, 2014

Jul. 20, 2014

Oct. 11~12, 2014

Nov. 23, 2014

Test area


Korea & Overseas


Korea & Overseas


System 10 / January 2014

Current format

New reformed format

Test Schedule Installment

Application Period (Korean Standard Time)

TEST Dates


How to apply


(Thu) Dec. 5, 2013~(Wed) Dec. 18, 2013 18:00 (For 14 days)

Jan. 19, 2014

(Mon) Feb. 10, 2014


(Tue) Feb. 11, 2014~(Mon) Feb. 24, 2014 18:00 (For 14 days)

Apr. 19, 2014~ Apr. 20, 2014

(Fri) May 30, 2014


(Mon) June 9, 2014~(Wed) June 18, 2014 18:00 (For 10 days)

Jul. 20, 2014

(Tue) Aug. 5, 2014


(Sat) Aug. 16, 2014~(Mon) Aug. 25, 2014 18:00 (For 10 days)

Oct. 11, 2014~ Oct. 12, 2014

(Mon) Nov. 10, 2014


(Wed) Oct. 15, 2014~(Fri) Oct. 24, 2014 18:00 (For 10 days)

Nov. 23, 2014

(Wed) Dec. 10, 2014 (online only)

◆ Overseas: Please apply for TOPIK through the designated institution of your country. The application period can vary by country. ◆ Starting from the 33rd test, there will not be an extended period for payment: the application and payment will be on the same day. ◆ Please be aware of the changes regarding application duration. -The 33rd, 34th test : For 14 days -The 35th, 36th, 37th test : For 10 days

Evaluation Division Test Level

Current Topik

New Reformed TOPIK

TOPIK Beginner (Level 1~2)

TOPIK l (Level 1~2)

TOPIK Intermediate (Level 3~4)

TOPIK ll (Level 3~6)

TOPIK Advanced (Level 5~6)



- Reading (40) - Listening (30)

- Reading (50) - Listening (50) - Writing (4)

Evaluation Areas

-Vocabulary • Grammar (30 questions) - Writing (14~16 questions) - Listening (30 questions) - Reading (30 questions)

Total questions

104~106 questions (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)

70 questions

104 questions

Total Score (Time)

400 points each (180min. Each)

200 points (100mins)

300 points (180mins)

New format of TOPIK Q & A Q. What's the new TOPIK time schedule like? Division

Korea, Japan

Other countries



Entry time



Entry time



Remark (mins)

Listening Writing











2 period












1 period

Listening Reading












1 period TOPIK ll


China and etc. Entry time


◆ China and etc. : China (Hong Kong included), Mongolia, Taiwan, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei ◆ Time Zone: Local time at each test site ◆ An Applicant can apply for both TOPIK l & TOPIK ll

Q. How long is a TOPIK certificate valid for? It is valid for 2 years from the day the results are announced.

Q. Who can I contact for more information on the new TOPIK format and schedule? You can contact us by phone. TOPIK team ☎ 02-3668-1331(Kor), 02-3668-1339(Eng) > 정보마당 > Q&A

Credits - Contributors


Introducing some of the editors, writers and photographers behind this month’s issue.

KOREA 4th floor, Shinwoo Bldg. 5-7 Yongsan 3-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea.

Dave Hazzan Canada

Contact Info 010-5348-0212 / (02) 6925-5057 For Advertising For General Inquiries EDITORIAL Editorial Director Elaine Ramirez Insight Editor Matthew Lamers Food & Destinations Editor Josh Foreman Community Editor Jenny Na Music & Arts Editor Emilee Jennings Associate Editor Shelley DeWees Editor-at-large John M. Rodgers Copy Editors Jaime Stief, Albert Kim, Bruce Harrison, Jan Waeben, Kevin Lee Selzer ART & DESIGN Art Director Park Seong-eun Design Adviser Prof. Kim Duck-mo MARKETING & ADMINISTRATION CFO Steve Seung-Jin Lee Marketing Executive Jay Park Manager Peter Chong Accounting Choi Hye-won Web, I.T. Dan Himes WRITERS & PROOFREADERS Alejandro Callirgos, Alexander Hall, Anita McKay, Anna Schlotjes, Anthony Levero, Brianne Altier, Christine Pickering, Christopher Green, Conor O’Reilly, Conrad Hughes, Daniel Deacon, Daniel Kang, Dave Hazzan, Dean Crawford, Deva Lee, Eileen Cahill, Elaine Knight, Felix Im, George Kalli, Hyunwoo Sun, Ian Henderson, Ian McClellan, Jamie Keener, Jean Poulot, Jenny Clemo, Jonathan Aichele, Justin Chapura, Ken Fibbe, Ken Hall, Leslie Finlay, Liam Mitchinson, Matt VanVolkenburg, Paul Sharkie, Rajnesh Sharma, Rebekah McNay, Remy Raitt, Ron Roman, Ryan Ritter, Sean Maylone, Shireen Tofig, Sophie Boladeras, Stephanie Anglemyer, Stephanie McDonald, Timothy Cushing, Trevor Van Dyke, Victoria Bates, Walter Stucke, Wilfred Lee

PHOTOGRAPHERS & ILLUSTRATORS Colin Dabbs, Craig Stuart, Dirk Schlottman, Don Sin, Dylan Goldby, Fergus Scott, James Kim, Jen Lee, Jon Linke, Jungeun Jang, Kevin Kilgore, Matt Treager, Merissa Quek, Michael Hurt, Michael Roy, Min Pang, Nicholas Stonehouse, Nina Sawyer, Pat Volz, Peter DeMarco, Romin Lee Johnson, Sabrina Hill, Sacha Treager, Samantha Whittaker

Executive Director Craig White Publisher Sean Choi To contribute to Groove Korea, email or the appropriate editor. To write a letter to the editor, email To have Groove Korea delivered to your home or business, email To promote your event, email To advertise, email The articles are the sole property of GROOVE MEDIA CO. Ltd. No reproduction is permitted without the express written consent of GROOVE MEDIA CO. Ltd. The opinions expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher.

© All rights reserved Groove Korea Magazine 2013

14 / February 2014

Dave Hazzan eats, writes and drinks in Ilsan. He has been published in Groove Korea, 10 Magazine, The Korea Times, Maximum Rocknroll, The Vancouver Sun, Terminal City and elsewhere. His second novel, “The Ash Pilgrimage,” will be released early next year. Check out his website at Dave contributed the cover story to this month’s issue.

Christopher Green U.K.

Christopher Green is manager of international affairs for Daily NK, the world’s premier source of inside North Korea news and opinion. He is also a Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge University and an editor of the periodical Sino-NK, where he publishes the Tumen Triangle Documentation Project, an open access journal on the China-North Korea border region. Christopher contributes the monthly Daily NK column.

Sophie Boladeras New Zealand

Sophie was born and raised in the land of the long white cloud also known as New Zealand. She studied journalism and media arts before heading overseas to float around, getting acquainted with a small slice of the world. She is currently freelancing and enjoying all of the delights that Korea has to offer. Sophie contributes the monthly Rock ‘n’ Roll Seoul column.

Wilfred Lee Canada

In pursuit of his multicultural roots, Wilfred Lee left Canada to travel 12 hours into the future and discover what Korea has to offer. Working as a concept designer, he’s also the host for Artist’s Journey, a comedian, musician, writer and animator. He loves meeting interesting people, inspiring others to draw and writing stories about his dreams. Check out the Artist’s Journey podcasts at Wilfred writes the monthly Artist’s Journey column.

Jon Linke Canada

Jon’s spent the better part of his adult life blogging and putting his cynical observations in cartoon form. He has bounced around and lived on several continents over the past eight years, taking in a wealth of inspiration. He’s an English teacher by choice and channels a lot of his talents into making his students think he’s cool. Jon draws the comic “E-2.”

Deadline: July 20th


THE INBOX Groove readers’ opinions and feedback.

ON ‘WASTED JOHNNY’S’ (SEPTEMBER 2013) CONFUSED CONTESTANT (GROOVEKOREA.COM) How could they not know the winner of “Top Talent” was going to be picked by the audience? It was all over their promotional material and they were constantly saying it. Maybe it’s because English isn’t the first language of anyone in Wasted Johnny’s and they misunderstood? Personally I think “Top Talent” was really well organized, fun and well done. It seems like Wasted Johnny’s didn’t have a good experience just because they didn’t win. Sore losers. ON ‘THE ADOPTION SCAPEGOATS: SINGLE MOMS’ (OCTOBER 2011) THE ROCK SAYS… (GROOVEKOREA.COM) I would like to see the statistics in regards to conception, specifically looking at was the baby conceived while intoxicated or not. All the information that they can find at their fingertips is easily forgotten when you add soju to the mix. I am pretty sure you are aware of the drinking culture here as well, which I think has to play a heavy part nowadays with what is going on. As a single (now married) gyopo, I have had my fair share of fun here in Korea. As an adoptee who grew up in the South, I believe I have a different moral and value system as your non-adopted gyopo or Korean citizen. On several occasions in the wee hours in the morning, I would see girls being dragged into taxis or carried into hotel/motels by men. In the beginning, I would just laugh and joke about it. Although I knew it was wrong of them, I would always chalk it up to culture. But as I grow older I find these acts disgusting. And there are so many outlets/enablers of this, hotels, fill in the blank ____-bang, bars, etc. .... People can have fun and still be safe. I think something else that attributes to this is parenting or the societal norms that children adhere to. Honestly, what do people think will happen when they raise children up in an environment where they can’t be a child? Children grow up in a place where education is shoved so far down their throat the only outlet is to get all f’ed up when they get old enough. ON ‘WHY MY FAMILY AND I MUST LEAVE KOREA’ (DECEMBER 2011) BIGMAMAT (GROOVEKOREA.COM) So, what are you trying to say? That Korean women who marry foreign men aren’t aware they may one day leave Korea? I’m assuming they are adults when they make these decisions. So, you’re under the impression that they’ve lost something or that they cannot preserve their “Korean side” if they leave the country. What if they don’t want to preserve their Korean side? What if their culture is what they are attempting to escape? None of my Korean lady friends regret leaving Korea, not one. Actually, not one of them longs to return to live. They all like it better here. They are quite happy with more autonomy in their marriages and their overall lives. When asked if they’d ever return (to Korea) should their marriages fail, not one said yes. None of them is willing to go back to a place where they have less freedom, opportunity or respect. ON ‘UNHINGING KOREA’ (JANUARY 2013) WORLD VENTURES IN KOREA (FACEBOOK) Great article. I didn’t know metal had been so popular in Korea. Cheers! ABDIEL LAWRENCE (FACEBOOK) I like those who dislike conformity.

Experienced doctors and staff qualified abroad (United States and Great Britain)

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Orthodontic Tx.(Invisible aligner) l Bleaching Implant l Aesthetic Tx. l Petit Clinic Family Medicine l Dermatology l Plastic Surgery Caries Tx. l Prosthetic Tx. l Periodontal Tx. Root Canal Tx. l Painless Tx. Oral Surgery (Wisdom tooth extraction, Bone & soft tissue graft) Mon, Wed, Fri 10:00am ~ 6:30pm / Tue, Thu 10:00am ~ 9:00pm Sat 9:30am ~ 12:30pm / Lunch Time 12:30pm ~ 1:30pm


Yeoksam Stn.

Gangnam Stn.

Yeoksam Stn.

Seolleung Stn.



GFC Erispomme Star Dental Tower Hospital (1fl. Paris Baguette Bakery)

2F Yanghwa Tower, 736-16 Yeoksamdong, Gangnam, Seoul




A selection from our editors

MUST READs Korea’s black racism epidemic

Artist’s Journey

Page 26

Page 68

In Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Ashanti Lee, a young African-American man, is hired to substitute at a kindergarten. He speaks to the manager on the phone, and everything seems fine. But when he shows up, the owner opens the door, stutters and then says, “Oh, no, no.” “Why not?” asks Lee. “Black ugly,” the manager replies. “White okay.”

With roots in acting and film from North Carolina, Kahlid Elijah Tapia has continued to flourish in South Korea with more than 20 films to his name, five of them being Korean features. His dedication and successes in filmmaking here are testament to his philosophy to “blossom where you’re planted.”

An ode to iHerb

Exploring Kuala Lumpur, one restaurant at a time

Page 44

Page 48

“Do you want to share my quinoa? I brought enough for both of us.” Do I … wha? Do want to share your, um … what? She casually passed over a container full of quinoa and Kalamata olives, and I gaped. In that little box was a simple meal shining far brighter than my rice and radishes because, damn, how long had it been since I’d had quinoa? And olives?!

Kuala Lumpur is a city of four cultures: Chinese, Malay, Indian and capitalist. Capitalist is the dominant culture, but it’s possible to find vestiges of the other three. The best way to do that is through the city’s restaurants.

Seoul Shindig, the most eccentric party in town

In winter, Gyeongju’s snow museum without walls beckons

Page 62

Page 56

On certain nights at a little club in Hongdae, you’ll hear and see something different from the norm. Hidden among the rows of loud restaurants and clubs pumping out sugary sweet K-pop and throbbing dance hits, you’ll find a little building with a different kind of atmosphere.

Gyeongju is one of Korea’s top tourist destinations, and will be crowded with people in the warmer months. But in the winter, the small city’s ancient sites stand silent and inviting.

18 / February 2014

COVER KOREA’S BLACK RACISM EPIDEMIC Racism happens in the workplace, on the street and at the first meeting with a girlfriend’s family. The local media continues to be flooded with racist sentiments, advertisements and perceptions. It’s painful and it’s widespread. How did it get here, and can it be stopped? Read the story on Page 26.

Cover illustration by Michael Roy Design by Park Seong-eun

Our past three issues

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

Winter’s silver lining The beers of winter Unhinging Korea

How to build your community 12 countries of Christmas Feed Your Seoul

Business of buying a bride Sordid tale of soju 48 Hour Film Project


What’s On SUN

For suggestions or comments, email







Music / Dance

Travel / Sports


Networking / Social


Food / Drinks





The Three Musketeers – The Musical @ Seongnam Arts Center, Bundang; to Feb. 2;

Birth and Rebirth Exhibition @ Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul Arts Center; to Feb. 9;

Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival @ Cheonjangho Suspension Bridge in Alps; to Feb. 9;

Seondeung Festival @ Seondeung Plaza, Gangwon-do; to Feb. 14; english.

The Sound of Music @ Universal Arts Center; to Feb. 5;

Seoul Snow Festival @ War Memorial of Korea, Peace Square; to Feb. 9;

Wedding Singer - The Musical @ Doosan Art Center; to Feb. 9;

The 13th SongEun Art Award Exhibition @ SongEun Art Space; to Feb. 15;

Jirisan Namwon Baraebong Snowflake Festival @ Jirisan Mountain Herb Valley, Baraebong Peak; to Feb. 9;

Man of La Mancha @ Chungmu Art Hall; to Feb. 9;

Lee Hye-in Exhibition @ Daegu Art Museum; to Feb. 9;




Horse, a Vigorous Gallop @ National Folk Museum of Korea; to Feb. 17; nfm.

From Picasso to Jeff Koons @ Seoul Arts Center ; to Feb. 23;

Ganghwa Icefish Festival Carmen - The Musical @ Hwangcheong Fishing Site; to Feb. 23; @ LG Arts Center; to Feb. 23;

Yangpyeong Ice Festival @ Countryside Village in Yangpyeong-gun; to Feb. 17; Ryan McGinley Photo Exhibition @ Daelim Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; to Feb. 23;

Jumping With Love @ Sejong Center for the Performing Arts; to Feb. 23; Design: Another Language @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon; to Feb. 23;


Cheongpyeong Sledding & Icefish Festival @ Jojongcheon Stream; to Feb. 23;

Moon Embracing the Sun - The Musical @ Seoul Arts Center; to Feb. 23;

Ice Skating @ Seoul Square Ice Skating Rink, Seoul; to Feb. 23;

The Last Royal Family @ Chungmu Art Hall; to Feb. 23;





Mogwai Live in Seoul @ Uniqlo AX;

Gangwon Winter Shuttle Bus Service @ Gwanghwamun Plaza; to Feb. 28;

David Hockney: Bigger Trees Near Warter Canadian Ball Hockey Korea member @ National Museum of Modern and registration period begins; to March 1; Contemporary Art; to Feb. 28; The Avril Lavigne Tour in Seoul Dong-Hyek Lim Piano Recital @ Olympic Park Olympic Hall; @ Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall Rewriting the Landscape: India and China Yongsan International School Open @ National Museum of Modern and House @ Yongsan International School Contemporary Art, Gwacheon; to Mar. 2;

Sangam-dong Snow Festival @ Seoul Snow Park in Noel Park; to Feb. 23; Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival @ Taebaeksan Provincial Park; to Feb. 26;


I LOVE SEOUL @ SeMABuk Seoul; to Feb. 28; Ornament and Illusion - Spectrum of Contemporary Jewelry @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to Feb. 28;


The Aleph Project @ National Museum of Jersey Boys: Original Broadway Cast Modern and Contemporary Art; to Mar. Performance @ BLUE SQUARE Samsung 16; Card Hall; to Mar. 23; ticket.interpark. com Lighting Festival @ The Garden of Morning Calm; Dream Walking in the Magical Reality to Mar. 16; @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to Mar. 24; Mama Mia @ Blue Square Musical Hall, Seoul; to Mar. 23;



Angela Hewitt Piano Recital @ Seoul Arts Center;

SIPREMIUM 2014 (Seoul Intl Fair for Premium Gifts and Homeware) launch at COEX. Feb. 26 – Mar. 1

Ghost @ D-Cube Art Center; to Apr. 6; LIFE Photo Exhibition @ Busan Cultural Center; to Apr. 12;

Zeitgeist Korea @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to Apr. 27; Korean Art from the Museum Collection: Grand Narrative Part II @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to May 31;

*All the events published in this calendar are subject to unforeseen changes by the promoters. Groove Korea does not take responsibility for any misunderstandings or third-party damage.






1 Destruction Live in Seoul @ Hongdae Junifore Didim Hall, Mapo-gu; ticket. Pocheon Baegun Valley Dongjangkun Festival @ Baegun Valley of Tourism Complex; to Feb. 2; “Robocop” opens in local theaters on Feb. 13. See our preview on Page 72




Saint-Petersburg State Ballet on Ice @ Art Skating Rink, Haeundae-gu, Busan; to Feb. 9;

Mulmalgeun Yangpyeong Icefish Festival @ Soomy Land in Yangpyeong, Gangwon-do; to Feb. 16;

B One 1st Anniversary party (1st week) DJ Dewalta / ticket sold at 10,000w

ANIMAMIX BIENNALE @ Daegu Art Museum; to Feb. 16;

Daesungri Masou Festival @ Guuncheon Stream; to Feb. 16;

Nordic Passion: Architecture and Design from the Nordic Countries Exhibition @ Seoul Museum of Art; to Feb. 16;

David Bowie Tribute @ Rolling Hall, Shinbo Building, Mapo-gu; The Hero - The Musical @ Seoul Arts Center; to Feb. 16; Love X Stereo plays at Prism Live Hall on Feb. 15. See our article on Page 66




Musical Agatha @ Dongguk University Lee Hee-rang Art Company; to Feb. 23;

Romantic Rachmaninoff-SPO @ Seoul Arts Center, Seocho-gu; Tickets: or Seoul Arts Center

B One 1st Anniversary party (2nd week) DJ Gorge and DJ Inland Knights / ticket sold at 20,000w

“Photography tells Korea” @ Daejeon Museum of Art (to Feb. 26); Seoul Museum of Art (to March 23); Gyeongnam Art Museum (to April 16);

Stand Up Seoul comic Glenn Wool @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; through Feb. 15; standupseoul@gmail. com or 010-6622-4474

AMCHAM Texas Themed Inaugural Ball @ Grand Hyatt Hotel, Yongsan-gu; or 026201-2200; The Magic Flute Opera @ Seongnam Arts Center Concert Hall, Gyeonggi-do; to Feb. 16;




Myth and Legend Exhibition @ Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center; to Mar. 2;

Annie Leibovitz Photo Exhibition @ Seoul Arts Center; to Mar. 4;

B One 1st Anniversary party (3rd week) DJ Betoko / ticket sold at 10,000w

Science Show - The Body @ War Memorial of Korea, Seoul; to Mar. 2;

Guys and Dolls Musical @ Busan Citizen Hall; to Feb 23;

Byeokchoji Botanical Garden Lighting Bitnoriya in Yeosu Festival @ Byeokchoji Botanical Garden; @ Geobukseon Park; to Mar. 4; to Mar. 2;



2014 Fun Korean Language Trip applications now open @ Kyung Hee University; to Aug. 16;

Ballerina who Loved a B-boy @ Kyunghyang Art Hill, Seoul; ongoing;

Bongcheon Chess Club regular events @ Cafe ‘Casting’ 2F, Gwanak-gu, Seoul; to Aug. 31; yachess.comclub.html

Music Show Wedding @ Music Show Wedding Theater, Hongdae; ongoing NANTA @ NANTA Theater - Chungjeongno; ongoing;

Magnificent Life of Hungarian Aristocracy Exhibition @ National Palace Museum of Korea; to Mar. 9; www. IlDivo - A Musical Affair @ Jamsil Indoor Stadium; Javier Mariscal Exhibition @ Seoul Arts Center; to Mar. 16;

Seoul Shindig is on Feb. 14 at Club Myoung Wol Gwan. See our article on Page 62

All stories are culled with consent from Korea JoongAng Daily’s website and edited by Groove Korea for length and clarity. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Groove Korea. — Ed.

N at i o na l

N e w s


February 2014 /

prosecutor ARRESTED FOR abusing power To help celebrity A

prosecutor at the Chuncheon District Prosecutors’ Office was arrested in January for allegedly abusing his power to help a celebrity settle disputes with a plastic surgery clinic. The two first met when the prosecutor took part in an investigation in 2012 into allegations that Lee Yoon-ji — better known by her stage name Amy — illegally possessed and used propofol. Propofol is a powerful anesthetic and memory-loss agent that can kill if an overdose is taken. Lee told the accused prosecutor that she had been a victim of medical malpractice and was seeking damages, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said. The 37-year-old man, identified by his surname Jeon, pressed a doctor at the clinic and managed to receive the establishment’s approval to let Lee undergo another operation. He also collected some 15 million won

($14,100) from the clinic on her behalf, which he gave to the 32-year-old TV personality. Jeon’s alleged involvement means he could be charged with violating the laws that dictate ethical codes of conduct for legal professionals. He could also possibly be charged with blackmail. The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has sought a warrant to detain Jeon for further questioning. What caused him to step in is still not clear, but the prosecutor reportedly claims he did so “out of sympathy.” The prosecution will look into whether there were any underhanded dealings or circumstances that might have led him to use his influence to Lee’s advantage. Last year, Lee was sentenced to up to eight months in prison and two years of probation for illegally using propofol. The court also ordered her to complete 40 hours of community service and 24 hours of a medical lecture course.

At the time, the court explained that Lee “experienced heavy guilt since her dependence on propofol has clearly been acknowledged and her social influence is huge.” Lee was investigated over charges that she was illegally using propofol in 2012, after she collapsed in a nail parlor in Gangnam, southern Seoul. An intravenous needle was stuck in her arm and propofol vials were found in her handbag. The TV personality has denied any sort of inappropriate relationship with the prosecutor. Concerns about prosecutors’ misconduct surfaced when a prosecutor in training was accused of engaging in sexual acts with a female suspect in his office during an interrogation last year. The prosecutor allegedly promised to clear her of charges in exchange for the acts. The incident came to light after the woman tipped off her lawyer, who then confronted the prosecutor in charge of supervising the trainee.

International taxis in Seoul busted for overcharging foreigners


he Seoul City government said in January that 52 taxi drivers who were caught overcharging foreign tourists will be stripped of their status as international taxi drivers. The announcement came after those taxis, which primarily serve foreign tourists and have interpretation services, were alleged to have imposed a 20 percent surcharge on foreign passengers on top of a fee for foreign-language services. Drivers are only supposed to impose a 20 percent surcharge on metered fares when passengers travel between Seoul and surrounding cities in Gyeonggi. Drivers began installing a new meter system in October 2013 after the Seoul government raised the base fare for city cabs. The new sur-

24 / February 2014

charge policy for those traveling between other regions also went into effect. “With the installation of the new meter, some tourist taxi drivers have used it to their advantage,” said Jeong Yong-woo, an official from the Seoul government. The taxis, officially known as Seoul International Taxi, are orange with a black label that designates them as international cabs. International taxi fares start at 3,600 won ($3.40) — higher than the regular rate of 3,000 won — and increases by 120 won every 142 meters. The international taxis offer language services in Japanese, Chinese and English and are often equipped with tourist information. A total of 371 such cabs operate in Seoul, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The 52 taxi drivers will no longer be permitted to drive international taxis, though they will be allowed to run regular cabs. “All of the drivers took foreign-language exams before driving the international taxis, but they will no longer be able to operate the taxis,” Jeong said. According to the city government, the drivers will undergo a 40-hour training session as part of the corrective measures. To prevent scams against tourists, Seoul said it plans to establish a system that will automatically be able to detect inaccurate charges. Jeong vowed that regulations on taxis would be stepped up overall.

Illegal Filipino nannies find way into affluent homes


rs. Jeong, a 38-year-old working mother, decided to hire a Filipino woman last year to work as a live-in housekeeper at her home in Yongsan District, central Seoul. The woman she hired was staying in Korea illegally, having entered the country on a C-3 visa, which allows a 30-day temporary visit. Jeong was aware of this fact, but she went ahead with her plan anyway, paying the 39-year-old Southeast Asian maid a monthly wage of 1.5 million won ($1,410). The deal saved Jeong quite a bit of cash. Had she employed a Korean nanny, she would have been paying at least 2 million won per month, maybe more depending on the candidate’s qualifications, references and tasks. More Koreans like Jeong are hiring people from the Philippines to work as housekeepers and nannies, not only for the cheap labor but also for their proficiency in English. Many busy mothers hope that having a maid fluent in English will help give their children a leg up in the early stages of their education. Yet most of them have made these arrangements knowing full well that their housekeepers are in Korea illegally. Those caught hiring illegal aliens and violating immigration laws face fines of around 10 million won. The Incheon Airport Immigration Office, un-

der the Ministry of Justice, stated on Wednesday that between April and December, 26 employers had reportedly hired Filipino housekeepers illegally. Twenty-two of the employers were consequently fined 93.5 million won. Jeong’s housekeeper was caught by officials last July in a crackdown on illegal aliens in the country. She was fined 10 million won for violating the immigration law and her housekeeper was subsequently deported to the Philippines. These kinds of activities came to light after a 44-year-old woman surnamed Lee was summoned to the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office on Jan. 3 for illegally employing 54 Filipino housekeepers since 2009 and assigning them to households across the affluent Gangnam District. Lee received, on average, about 100,000 won from each of the Filipino women under her supervision, and another 250,000 won from their employers. Over the year, she pocketed approximately 20 million won from her agency. The employers in Gangnam paid the housekeepers between 1.5 million to 2 million won per month for their services. Last year, a 41-year-old man surnamed Jeong, who lives in Seocho District in southern Seoul, was fined 6 million won for hiring a 34-yearold Filipino woman who was recommended

by Lee. Jeong’s wife was an English proficiency test instructor at a popular private academy. During the past year, the Filipino housekeeper lived with the Jeongs and tutored their elementary school-aged child in English. For foreigners to work as a live-in housekeeper in Korea, they are required to hold an F-1 visa. Even for individuals with an E-2 teaching visa, it is illegal to live in an employer’s household as an English instructor. The Ministry of Justice issues a limited number of F-1 visiting visas for employees of diplomats residing in Korea or individuals who have invested more than $500,000 here. Experts say it is likely that most regular households who employ Filipino housekeepers or nannies have hired them illegally or are not aware that they are residing in Korea without proper documentation. Those found guilty of hiring illegal foreign workers can be fined up to 20 million depending on the duration of employment and the number of people involved. “As Filipino housekeepers have become more popular, the agencies that employ them have been thriving,” said Kim Jong-cheol, a senior investigator at the Incheon Airport Immigration Office. “We plan to continue cracking down on them.”

Expat haven of Sinchon receiving a rebirth


onsei-ro, the thoroughfare that stretches from Sinchon Station to the main gate of Yonsei University in western Seoul, served in the 1960s and ’70s as an enclave for aspiring authors and artists. Its small pubs and dilapidated restaurants were places where intellectuals sought refuge to discuss high-minded subjects during the tumultuous and repressive era of Park Chung-hee. At the center of the literary group was the late Choi In-ho, a prominent novelist who majored in English literature at Yonsei University and lived in Bukahyeon-dong near the university. “Choi lived near the school and I attended Hongik University,” said Lee Jang-ho, a 69-yearold film director and a friend of Choi who directed a film based on one of Choi’s books. “The two schools were close and we met almost every day. We used to guzzle booze together at a popular pub called The Rose Forest.” “In-ho really liked drinking at the pub,” he continued. “Sinchon always evokes some kind of nostalgia and it sometimes feels like my hometown because of all the memories from my college days.” But the area has lost ground to the more up-market streets around Hongik University

and in Itaewon because large franchise restaurants, cafes and street vendors dominate the Sinchon area. Yonsei-ro became kind of pokey and the artsy atmosphere that once defined it had largely faded. Yonsei-ro may be on the rebound after an ambitious makeover. It’s hoped that the road’s new designation as a public transit zone, which bans private vehicles, will breathe new life into the area. The road, about 550 meters long, underwent renovation to be shrunk down to two lanes. The sidewalks were then greatly expanded, doubling in size and remodeled to better accommodate pedestrians. It is the first street in Seoul to ban private cars. Its two lanes are now exclusively for buses. Those with a vested interest hope the effort will help the area reclaim its previous glory. At an opening ceremony in January, handprints from Choi and 14 other authors were displayed on a large wall along the avenue. The Seodaemun District Office announced last April that it wanted to recreate the previous atmosphere, encouraging the establishment of small theaters and music cafes. “Choi’s family agreed to let us use the author’s handprint because they hold great admiration

for Sinchon,” said Lee Hyun-geun of the Seodaemun District Office. The officials made the handprint after Choi died last year. Others featured on the wall include poets Chung Ho-seung and Yun Dong-ju and author Do Jong-hwan. Despite the good intentions, restoring the area’s lost charm is something of an uphill battle. There were 730 shops up for sale between August 2010 and August 2013 — three times more than in areas like Myeong-dong, Hongik University and the Gangnam Station neighborhood. The district office’s initiative owes a lot to the authors and artists who spent formative years in the area. Last November, 40 people involved in the literary and cultural scenes launched a panel to discuss ways to revitalize Sinchon. They brought different ideas to the table, from building a performance center to supporting culture-related organizations. “One popular song says that ‘Sinchon lacks something,’” said Lee Tae-young, a member of the literary group. “As the lyrics go, today’s Sinchon lacks something, but we’re trying to inject something unique into the area.” 25

INSIGHT Edited by Elaine Ramirez (

Korea’s black racism epidemic It’s in the classroom, it’s in the media, it’s painful and it’s widespread. How did it get here, and can it be stopped?

Story by Dave Hazzan / Illustrations by Michael Roy Additional reporting by Park Hye-jin and Elaine Ramirez

26 / February 2014


a subway in Seoul, Beauty Epps is approached by a middle-aged Korean woman. “Africa!” the Korean says. “No,” Epps, a young African-American woman, calmly replies. “American. Migukin.” “No,” the Korean woman replies. “Africa.” Then, after a pause, the Korean woman says, “We domesticated you.” In Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province, Ashanti Lee, a young AfricanAmerican man, is hired to substitute at a kindergarten. He speaks to the manager on the phone, and everything seems fine. But when he shows up, the owner opens the door, stutters and then says, “Oh, no, no.” “Why not?” asks Lee. “Black ugly,” the manager replies. “White okay.” Many foreigners would agree that, even if their experiences here are generally positive, Korean racism and xenophobia are impossible to ignore. There is still a clear disconnect between the 98 percent ethnic Koreans and the 2 percent “foreigners” of all sorts — mixed-race children, foreign brides, native English teachers, migrant factory workers and the tiny number of permanent immigrants and refugees who are now Korean citizens. In a survey last year, the Washington Post found South Korea to be one of the least racially tolerant countries in the world. It found that “more than 1 in 3 South Koreans said they do not want a neighbor of a different race.” In 2009, The New York Times reported that “42 percent of (Korean) respondents in a 2008 survey said they had never once spoken with a foreigner.” In one way or another, racism affects almost every foreigner in Korea. But being black here is different. Whether AfricanAmerican, African or not even black but mistaken for it, experiences in Korea are tainted by the perception that blacks are lower than other races: Blacks are violent, unintelligent and poor. Black Americans are not really American, and are inappropriate teachers for Korean children. Africans live in a backward, single African country, consisting of little more than jungle. These views are not universal, but they are commonly heard in Korea. Everyone has a different experience. While some black residents say they have never felt a touch of racism here, others say they must deal with it every day. Some, like Epps, just walk away. Lee convinced the academy owner that he was a perfectly good teacher, and was asked to stay. The infamous “see these rocks” guy of YouTube fame (explained in detail later in this article) snapped and unloaded on an old man on a bus. Korea’s anti-black sentiment stems from a range of influences, from the traditional Korean preference for the color white, to the burning of LA’s Koreatown in 1992, to the Confucian philosophy of hierarchy, to the idea that blood type defines personality. Much of it is directly imported from the U.S. Racism happens in the workplace, on the street and at the first meeting with a girlfriend’s family. The local media continues to be flooded with racist sentiments, advertisements and perceptions. It’s painful and it’s widespread. American Maria Hernandez, 30, says she experiences racism every day. “I’ve never had to come to terms with (racism) like I have here.”


INSIGHT Edited by Elaine Ramirez (

Racism in the classroom For many black teachers in Korea, the problem begins before they even arrive — finding a job. The Korean practice of including a picture with the resume leaves nothing up to assumption, including skin color. De’ja Motley, 34, has a master’s degree, TOEFL certification and years of teaching experience, including time in Japan and university work in Haiti. “I would send my resume out without a picture and would get ambushed with replies from recruiters. Every recruiter, every school,” says Motley, from Chicago. “And then I would send my picture, and it was crickets. I would be lucky if I got one reply back. And usually it was a reply back from China, or some school far out in the country.” Stories from other teachers include hagwon bosses asking, “How dark are you, exactly?” or bluntly asking mixed-race candidates if they identified as black. “Whites only” ads, while not as commonly found as they were in the late 2000s, can still be spotted on job posting sites. Some recruiters will tell black teachers flat out, “Your options are limited because you’re black.” Although academies that Groove Korea interviewed for this story did not acknowledge discrimination against black teachers, recruiters said hagwon owners explicitly discriminate when searching for teachers. One Korean recruiter, who asked not to be named, says “over 80 percent” of academies that he works with — especially in Gangnam and central Seoul and at well-known franchises — prefer white applicants over black. “I am still getting many resumes from African-American teachers, but it’s hard to find positions for them. I feel sorry for them. I found only two positions for them (in 2013),” he says, adding that the teachers — two of the more than 30 black applicants he worked with last year — were placed in rural Gyeonggi Province, not Seoul. “Last year (2012) was six, I think. It’s getting worse.” While some academies shy away from black teachers because of hearsay and personal prejudices, he says, others also face pressure from the parents. And with the hagwon industry tightening and more and more academies fighting uphill against closure, they are even more reluctant to take any potential risks, the recruiter says. “They (the directors) say that if they hire them (black candidates), they would be worried about losing kids. It does not look good

28 / February 2014

to parents and may (give the academy) a bad reputation and lose in competition against other hagwons with white teachers,” he says. “Some hagwons have gotten a lot of complaints from parents and actually lost kids. Gossip grows quickly and sometimes it’s unstoppable, like (with criticism from employing) black teachers.” An American recruiter, who also asked to remain anonymous, says schools will “usually” request white teachers only. “Nine out of 10 schools who don’t request this up front will not choose to interview any teachers other than Caucasians,” he says. “We’ve worked with about 100 schools in Korea, and only five to 10 of them have even considered our non-Caucasian teachers, even though they had equal qualifications.” “Parents seem to prefer their kids to be taught by Caucasian teachers than black teachers,” says a manager at WILS Language Institution in Mok-dong, Seoul, who declined to be named. He says the school does not consider race, but rather career, nationality (for visa eligibility), passion and English-related studies. However, he says the school has not reviewed any black candidates for employment, claiming it has only seen the resume of one half-black, half-Hispanic teacher so far. Tony Choi, who owns a small hagwon in Gangnam, says it’s the parents’ prejudices that cause hagwon owners to favor hiring white teachers. Parents are influenced by images from the media — such as those showing that white people are naturally good at speaking English while nonwhites aren’t, or that black people are criminals, less trustworthy and uneducated — which he says leads even overseas-born Koreans like himself to have a hard time finding a job. “So, it’s not fair to put the blame on hagwon owners for not hiring blacks or kyopos (overseas Koreans), because hagwons are a business, and a lot of parents want their kids learning from someone that they perceive as an ‘English teacher,’” he says. While general openness to foreigners seems to be improving, Choi says he thinks that hiring discrimination will get worse from a business standpoint. “As a hagwon owner of a small hagwon, it would be in my best interest to hire someone who will generate more business, as opposed to someone who will serve as an obstacle to get students. This isn’t specific for black people, but I would have to hire someone who parents would feel

‘Nine out of 10 schools who don’t request (teaching candidates by race) up front will not choose to interview any teachers other than Caucasians. … We’ve worked with about 100 schools in Korea, and only five to 10 of them have even considered our non-Caucasian teachers, even though they had equal qualifications.’ — Recruiter

‘A lot of (Koreans) are really ignorant about what we have in Africa. … They find it weird that we actually speak English, and they wonder how we even got here. When they get to know that I’m on a scholarship, they’re like, “Wow!”’ — John, student, from Ghana

comfortable sending their children to.” Even once a job is found, problems can continue. Black teachers often face harassment, negative comments from parents and coteachers and even campaigns to have them replaced. Hernandez, from New Jersey, says she constantly has trouble with the management at her hagwon in Gangnam. She says she’s faced a constant barrage of criticism from her bosses over “my hair, about my skin, my weight. It’s constant here.” Parents are a driving force. Hernandez says parents ganged up on her and were forever trying to get her to leave her job, or get the bosses to fire her, even though she insists the kids “loved” her classes. These problems didn’t seem to affect the white teachers at the school. “The teacher that I replaced, all he did was play games,” Hernandez says, adding that the teacher had been there for two years. “Me, just getting there, (the parents) wanted me fired after three months.” Brendan Spencer, 28 and from St. Louis, feels he gets a “lack of regard or respect” from his coteachers — “like I’m lesser,” he says. When he was asked to make morning broadcasts at his school — outside of his contract obligations — he did it at first, but then said he was too busy planning his classes to continue. “They were pretty upset about it,” Spencer says. “Whereas when the previous (white) teacher was asked, he just flat (out) said no. And that got a pass.” Spencer adds that when he disagrees with the other teachers or asserts his rights, Koreans often get much more emotional with him than with others. “I just feel that if I were a Korean person or a non-black person, that kind of vitriol or emotion wouldn’t be there,” he says. Scott Meech, a white, Korean-speaking Canadian who worked in 2009 as a head teacher and human resources manager for a company that sent foreign teachers to different hagwon every week, has witnessed discrimination against black teachers on the ground level. In one instance, he started receiving complaints about a black teacher, and went to observe that teacher’s classes. He says he saw nothing at all wrong with his teaching. “He was a good teacher with nice classroom manners and a connection with the students,” Meech says. “I had a meeting with

the various directors, asking exactly what was wrong, and was told that many of the students were afraid of black people. They were afraid of losing students.” Meech tried to defend the teacher as “great,” but was told to fire him anyway. He refused and stepped down from his position. He warned the teacher, and a month later, the black teacher was fired. Many Korean parents have complained that their kids are afraid of black teachers. Elliott Ashby thinks the truth is different: Korean kids are not afraid of black teachers — their parents are. “When I did parent-teacher conferences, some of the parents would ask, ‘Are my children afraid of you?’” says Ashby, 30, from Phoenix. “I’d say, ‘No, but you might be.’” Ashby says kids don’t know racism on their own. Some of his students would notice his dark skin, or the difference in skin tones on the palm and back of his hand. Sometimes kids would ask, “Why are you black?” and he’d answer, “Just ate a lot of chocolate!” But this is not hate — it’s curiosity, and black teachers should understand that, he says. “They say every bigot was once a child without prejudice,” Ashby said. “Kids, they don’t know the difference.” But sometimes miseducation comes before a black teacher does. Some teachers report students who couldn’t believe a black person could be from America and not Africa. Epps describes how at her school, the students were used to black American teachers. But then came a new first grader who looked at her strangely and wouldn’t speak to her. One day, the girl told her, “You’re Africa.” “I didn’t even have to say anything,” Epps says. “The other students responded and said, ‘Babo (dummy), no, she’s American.’” Epps set out to educate her, showing her pictures of her white South African friends on Facebook, and showing her Chicago on a map of the United States. Hernandez says she does her best to educate the children, but she feels it’s a Sisyphean battle. She believes that educating children about race is important, and says, “I’ve tried that with my own students. … I tell them, ‘Curly hair is okay’; ‘You’re not dirty just because your hair is like this’; ‘People are different.’ Then they go home and their parents talk to them, and then their parents say, ‘No, they’re different. That’s not normal.’ They reeducate them.” It’s a cycle Hernandez feels she can never escape.


INSIGHT Edited by Elaine Ramirez (

Outside of the workplace Outside of work, black people report difficulty getting taxis, even when Koreans and whites get them on the same street. Some say cab drivers go so far as to make illegal U-turns into traffic to avoid picking up black passengers. Some Koreans will refuse to get into elevators with black people, and will often change subway cars to avoid being near black passengers. Ashby tells of one night out with a group of foreign and Korean friends. “There was this one Korean girl, she was in her early twenties,” he says. “We’d only been talking for maybe two minutes … and she says, ‘The way you speak is very intelligent. And you’re very nice.’” Then she said, “‘Not like most black guys.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And she said, ‘You know. Not like black-black guys.’” One black woman told Ashby that a Korean had said she was “so beautiful” that she couldn’t possibly be fully African-American — “‘because most (black) girls only have a monkey face,’ she said.” John (not his real name), 26, from Ghana, feels that people from Africa get it even harder than black Americans, and is upset that Africans are often viewed as stupid and primitive. “A lot of (Koreans) are really ignorant about what we have in Africa,” says John, a graduate student in the Advanced Information Sciences and Information Technology Program at Pukyong National University. “They find it weird that we actually speak English, and they wonder how we even got here. When they get to know that I’m on a scholarship, they’re like, ‘Wow!’” He says he often comes across Koreans who don’t realize there are even computers in Africa, much less centers to train computer specialists like himself. John says he and his friends are sometimes barred from public places like bars and clubs. He says he has learned that “no foreigners allowed” can often mean no black foreigners are allowed, while white people can enter just fine. Lining up at one nightclub, two of his white friends walked into the club, paid their 10,000 won and got wristbands. He was outside taking a phone call, but when he showed up, the bouncer said foreigners were not allowed. “So

30 / February 2014

I’m thinking, ‘How can you sell (tickets) to the first two people, the guy from Finland and the guy from Spain, but the moment I show up, say ‘No foreigners allowed’? So, is this because of me being black, or because there are no foreigners allowed?” And it was not an isolated incident for him. “Being an African here sometimes, it’s tiring,” John says. For many blacks, getting questions like “Do you have a gun?” or “How many guns do you own?” are common. Blogger Michael Hurt, 41, says there is a sentiment that “black people are low, stupid, crass, dangerous” and even scary. “I would go around the corner and people would literally jump,” Hurt says. He says people who are now his friends would say to him, “When I first met you, I was so scared of you!” Hurt, who is half-black and half-Korean, admits he has a wider build, but that’s not the only reason people are afraid. He says he has white friends who are also big guys, but people don’t freak out when they see them in the community. One smartphone-recorded video that went viral on Korean and English media in 2011 showed a black teacher assaulting an elderly Korean couple on a bus, yelling, “You see these rocks?” and shaking his fist at the old man. He had reportedly mistaken “ni-ga” — “you” in Korean — for racial profanity. While many condemned the teacher for further damaging black expats’ reputation, Hurt said the incident highlighted the absence of dialogue on anti-black racism here. “Well, there we saw it — an angry black man, yelling and scaring … everybody. Surely he just got up and started attacking people for no apparent reason, because that’s what scary black men do, right?” Hurt had written on his blog, which was quoted by the Los Angeles Times. “Never has there been a discussion, in general, of the fact that black folks like myself get harassed daily on subways and buses and trains, but that never becomes an issue; no Korean thinks to flip on their cell phone to start making YouTube videos (of racism against blacks). I don’t condone this young man’s type of behavior. But I understand it.”

Monkeys, blackface and watermelon Media critics have not yet pinpointed the first appearance of black people in the Korean media, but prior to the 1980s, the images of black culture that became familiar to Koreans were of slaves, poor people or tribal Africans, according to Loyola-Marymount sociology professor Nadia Kim. From the 1980s, the media image became more sinister, with a greater focus on black criminality, violence and drug use. This was derived from a mix of both Korean and American media. Media portrayals of blacks can range from professional and benign to ignorant and “shockingly racially offensive,” as pointed out by celebrity blog Oh No They Didn’t. It dubs K-pop as “KKK-pop,” given the slew of acts that have been caught in blackface or making racist remarks. Big Bang’s Taeyang, for instance, called his friend “Ma NiggA” on an online forum. After getting into the wrong van on a U.S. tour, his fellow boy band member Seungri said he was relieved the van’s owners were white, because if they had been black, he might have been shot. Meanwhile, Girls’ Generation member Taeyeon put her foot in it when she said Alicia Keys was pretty — “for a black girl.” Her fellow girl group member Yuri was asked to “act black” on KBS’ “Invincible Youth.” She complied by rolling her neck, running her finger across her throat and yelling, “Yo! You die!” In November 2013, Miss A’s Min was lambasted when she Photoshopped a picture of American rapper Rick Ross’ head onto a female rapper’s body, crawling toward an image of fried chicken, The Korea Times reported. Koreans also began copying American blackface theater. Matt VanVolkenburg, who runs the public opinion blog Gusts of Popular Feeling, has traced references to blackface back to a 1978 play. Blackface gained popularity in the U.S. through vaudeville in the 19th century, though it wasn’t until 1986 when it became associated with comedy in Korea, with TV’s popular “sikeomeonseu” routine. It was stopped before the Olympics for fear of upsetting African athletes, but blackface reemerged in force in 2003 with the Bubble Sis-

ters. The K-pop girl group began with an image that was based entirely on blackface, including their album cover and all their videos, until a relaunch in 2006. On Jan. 23, American rapper Snoop Dogg tweeted an Instagram photo of himself posing with a Korean in blackface. The cutline read: “Stunt double. Hahahahahah. This nigha here!!” (There is writing in Korean behind the duo, suggesting the picture was shot either in Korea, or in a Korean office somewhere.) As of press time, the identity of the Korean in blackface was unclear, but the assumption around the internet is that it has to do with an upcoming video Psy was shooting with Snoop. Whether the blackface character was meant to be a joke, a media stunt, or a commentary on previous Korean blackface incidents is unclear. Beast, Big Bang, Girls’ Generation and Super Junior have all used blackface in their videos, on photo shoots or in comedy routines. In one comedy show in 2010, Beast member Lee Gi-kwang devoured a piece of watermelon while in blackface. Professor Kim Eun-mee, dean of Ewha University’s Graduate School of International Studies, says that while many K-pop artists like Park Jin-young and Psy respect and collaborate with black Americans, the ones who make racist remarks are acting out of ignorance. “I don’t think it comes out of deep malice or deep-seated prejudice,” Kim says. “I think it’s the young trying to show off they’re cool and they’re hip, and I think that comes from that. I hope.” Motley, the teacher from Chicago, acknowledges that K-pop borrows a lot from black culture, which is why she finds the genre’s racism particularly irritating. Motley says there are always videos of K-pop women mimicking black women, “doing the neck roll, wearing big earrings, popping their lips. You always see something.” In the music video “The Baddest Female” (2013), 2NE1 star CL sports a stiff leather baseball cap, track pants, gold chains and even a gold grill on her teeth, all the while dancing up a hip-hop storm. Such instances would be more tolerable if respect were given where it was due, says Motley, but “a lot of K-pop stars are mimicking us, without having us in their vid-

eos, without giving any acknowledgment. “It’s difficult because when you see the stars performing, you recognize that this comes from (black) American art forms, and our music and our dance, and yet we’re insulted at the same time when they put on a commercial or TV show where they’re making fun of us.” Korean advertisements have mocked Africans as well. Last year, Korean Air had to apologize after running ads promoting direct flights to Nairobi, Kenya, which urged Koreans to “fly Korean Air and enjoy the grand African Savannah, the safari tour, and the indigenous people full of primitive energy.” KyoChon Chicken ran a commercial in 2010 advertising that if you are ever washed up on a desert island full of angry black people who want to boil you in a pot, you should deter them by giving them some fried chicken. And last year, cigarettes branded “This Africa” featured monkeys roasting tobacco on the box, and on billboard ads, the monkeys pretended to interview each other. The BBC quoted the parent company KT&G as saying, “We absolutely had no intention to offend anyone and only chose monkeys because they are delightful animals that remind people of Africa.” Though the billboards were removed, the cigarette packs with the tobacco-roasting monkeys remain on the shelves because the company said it did not find them offensive. In 2013, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea monitored 35 Korean television shows and found that many programs “showed racial or cultural stereotypes or used discriminatory remarks against immigrants.” The NHRCK pointed out one show that featured a character arguing about a black person — “(their) skin is dark, so I thought that the people are also ‘dark,’” the character said, referring to personality — and another show on which a cast member likens “a traditional African dance to King Kong’s dance.” The local drama “The Golden Bride” (20072008) featured a subplot about a Korean who goes to jail in the U.S., is terrorized by black inmates and returns to Korea with post-traumatic stress disorder. And in September, a cartoon by Bounce Kim on featured Dominican LG Twins

pitcher Radhames Liz being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan for accidentally beaning a Korean player and then pitching three strikeouts in a row — known in Korea as a “KKK.”

Last year, cigarettes branded ‘This Africa’ featured monkeys roasting tobacco on the box, and on billboard ads they pretended to interview each other. The BBC quoted the parent company KT&G as saying, ‘We absolutely had no intention to offend anyone and only chose monkeys because they are delightful animals that remind people of Africa.’ Though the billboards were removed, the cigarette packs with the monkeys roasting tobacco remained on the shelves because the company said it did not find them offensive.

There are many more examples: billboard ads for whitening cosmetics that say “white is beautiful, black is not,” and ads of Africans throwing spears during soccer matches with African countries. A study in the scholarly journal Language & Literacy found that Korean ESL textbooks overwhelmingly profiled white and Western artists, including only white writers. In addition, a television station popular in some private academies, Africa TV, has been lambasted as portraying Africa as a continent of dancing, shoeless natives.


INSIGHT Edited by Elaine Ramirez (

Blood types and hierarchies Racism against black people in Korea comes from many sources: Korean ethnic nationalism and xenophobia, which touch all foreigners here; centuries of isolation that kept Koreans apart from other races; a traditional valorization of the color white; Confucianism; and most of all, racism imported from the United States of America. It is still a widely held belief here that the Korean people are defined by their shared blood, according to Stanford sociology professor Shin Gi-wook. This belief is then applied to other countries — and for the U.S., that means Americans should be white. Many Koreans also believe that blood is a definer of personality — it used to be very common for Koreans to ask, “What’s your blood type?” even in job interviews. It still happens occasionally. Once blood is used as a personality indicator, it’s not a big leap to viewing races as inherently different, just as people with different blood types are, says Nadia Kim. Kim, who wrote the book “Imperial Citizens: Koreans and Race from Seoul to LA” (2008) on how Koreans perceive race, says using blood as a definer of personality “biologizes race.” “It creates a category system based on a biological division and hierarchy of humans that has been totally disproven,” she says. But Korea still invests ideas in blood type — “that it determines intelligence, character, athletic ability, morality and so on.”

Kim points out that the idea of “race” itself is merely a social construction. People look different because of social evolution and where their ancestors are from, not because of blood or blood type. Despite proof that there are no biological differences between races — beyond skin color, eye shape and other superficial differences — race is still used as a means to justify racism and affects how people interact with each other. Koreans have also historically elevated white as a “pure” color, which benefits the light-skinned nobility over dark-skinned peasants, Kim says. The pure white hanbok was also associated with the Korean ethnicity. “There were meanings associated with the color white — peace, being a peaceful people, purity,” says Kim, who notes this judgment has been carried out in many societies worldwide. “I don’t think this is unimportant, particularly when it intersects with an American and global order that puts white people on top.” Confucianism, which has been Korea’s national ideology since the 14th century, orders everyone into five unequal relationships. It does not have a category for race. But race can be applied to the equation, and certain races can be seen as higher or lower in the Confucian hierarchy based on their perceived job status, income or similar factors. “Even if ‘immigrant status’ or ‘racial status’ is not explicit as one of the five relationships (the hierarchy system) informs it,” Kim says.

Blackface became associated with comedy in Korea with TV’s popular ‘sikeomeonseu’ routine. It was stopped before the Olympics for fear of upsetting African athletes, but reemerged in force in 2003 with the Bubble Sisters.

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Imported from the U.S. But the largest influence on Korean anti-black prejudice has been the United States, and its own savage, racist history. Before the Korean War, the United States was seen here as a strictly white country, and one that brought universities, hospitals and the Christian religion — with its white Jesus — to the Korean masses. So when the war began in 1950, there was a lot of surprise at how many black soldiers were in the military. Although the U.S. government did not compile racial statistics at the time, it is estimated that 600,000 black soldiers served during the Korean War, with 5,000 dying in it. And though the American military had officially desegregated in 1948, it was still viciously racist. Almost all the officers were white; a disproportionate number of the enlisted men were black. Koreans saw that blacks were subservient to whites, and this set up the context for future contact, Kim says. The war ended in 1953, but the U.S. Army stayed to keep stability. Racial dynamics took a while to change in the U.S. Army. In 1973, the first year for which the U.S. government gathered statistics on race, blacks made up 18 percent of enlisted soldiers, but only 4 percent of officers. In 2009, blacks were 21 percent of the enlisted force, but still only 13 percent of officers. “I think the anti-black stuff specifically comes from contact with Americans and, frankly, Koreans are quick learners,” Michael Hurt says. “When the camptowns (operated), they saw that blacks were lower on the totem pole. The whites were officers, the blacks were enlisted men, to the point where … there were hookers who went with the white officers, and there were hookers who dealt with the black enlisted men. Those were the

‘lower-end’ hookers.” A perception developed in Korea that black soldiers were “more troublesome” than white ones, especially after the Civil Rights Movement spread to the Korean military. Kim writes in “Imperial Citizens” that in a riot in Itaewon in the early ‘70s, black soldiers trashed a series of clubs that had banned them from entering. “Fifty black soldiers simultaneously entered five camptown clubs, ordered people to leave and demolished the establishments as an act of protest against Korean clubs’ bias (which Korean clubs said they were pressured to follow). The black soldiers were met by a mob of over 1,000 Koreans who chased them with sickles, threw rocks in retaliation, and physically attacked them.” According to her interviews with several Koreans, Kim found that, for many Koreans, the “low-class black soldier” came to symbolize all blacks in the decades following the riot. The American media has also massively influenced attitudes in Korea, and most black expats whom Groove Korea interviewed saw it as guilty to some degree. Kim writes that the U.S. media has done more to influence Korean attitudes than anything else. “U.S. mass media representations have likely stitched the black slave, gang banger, drug addict and one-dimensional entertainer into the South Korean collective consciousness more than any other source,” Kim writes. Korean and U.S. media coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots was particularly shocking for Koreans. The violence erupted after the four police officers who were filmed beating Rodney King — a black man — were acquitted by an all-white jury. While the police and National Guard protected rich white neighborhoods like Bel Air and Beverly Hills, they let Koreatown burn. More than 2,300 Korean-owned businesses were destroyed.

There were already tensions in America, particularly in LA, over Korean storeowners allegedly overcharging and disrespecting black customers in their shops. Rapper Ice Cube made these sentiments loud and clear in his 1991 song “Black Korea,” where he raps, “Learn to speak English first, all right,” calls Koreans “Oriental one-penny countin’ motherfuckers,” and then threatens to “burn your store right down to a crisp.” That same year, 15-year-old Latasha Harlins died from a gunshot wound in the back of her head delivered by Korean shop owner Du Sun-ja, who thought the black girl was shoplifting a carton of orange juice. Du was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, but was spared jail time and sentenced to probation, community service and a fine. The sentence was met with widespread outrage in the black community. Kim says the LA riots were a “watershed” moment in black-Korean distrust in America, which spilled over to Korea via the media and conversations with overseas friends and relatives. She says there was some mention of Rodney King in the Korean media coverage, but not much. The focus shifted to black criminality rather than suffering, as “many new (Korean) immigrants and South Koreans named the ‘riots’ as crystallizing their anger toward and fear of blacks,” Kim writes. Nonetheless, sympathy emerged in both communities. Ice Cube may have threatened to burn Korean shops down, but once those shops had indeed burned, Ice-T rapped in 1993’s “Race War” that Koreans and blacks were not enemies: “Korean people live down in the hood / a little mis-fucking-understood / Orientals were slaves, too.” Little reported in the U.S. or Korea were the post-riot demonstrations by Korean-Americans in solidarity with marginalized American blacks.


INSIGHT Edited by Elaine Ramirez (

‘Raised’ racist Many Koreans themselves say they were raised to believe that black people were not the kinds of people they wanted in Korea. Those interviewed by Groove Korea asked that their full name not be used. Ahn, 39, a businessman in Seoul, says he was raised with very little exposure to foreigners. He admits that when he and his family did see non-Koreans, they had very different reactions toward them based on their skin color. “When we saw black people, my parents and everybody said ‘dirty,’” he says. “Maybe they look like monkeys in the zoo, because they’re rare to see. We were very scared of them, like a phobia.” But when it came to white people, Ahn says it was the opposite. “My parents (and people their age) said white people are good. They’re clean, they’re reliable, because they’re white — they’re American. They helped us.” Ahn says American movies and music influenced Koreans to see blacks as dirty, poor, violent slum-dwellers. “The U.S. way of looking at black people came to Korea,” Ahn says. “So Korean people looked at black people just like Americans did.” Lee, a business owner in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, says she was also raised to see black people as inferior to whites. “I thought black people weren’t as smart or wealthy as non-black people,” she says. “It was the common thinking among me and my peers. They were always presented this way on TV. TV and movies often showed bad neighborhoods with black people. So it was just the way we thought.” For many, attitudes changed over time with the media and contact. Today, Ahn feels there is little racism toward black people, though the animosity has shifted to Chinese and Southeast Asian workers. Young people in Korea, he says, think “black is good, black is cool, because they look at movies and YouTube, and they see black is not poor or dirty anymore, but they’re cool, with hip-hop, movies, music, sports, Michael Jordan.” Kim, a small business owner in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, once believed blacks were poor, dumb, lazy and violent. But when she went on a three-week trip to Tanzania, everything changed. She said she was particularly struck with Tanzanians’ zeal for education and how hard they worked, two qualities also highly valued in Korean society. Perceptions changed for Ahn and his family when his father brought a black business colleague home for dinner. “My mother had never seen a black person before. And at that time,

34 / February 2014

my mother thought black people were dirty, dangerous, lived in slums,” Ahn says. But after the man came home and ate with them, Ahn’s mother changed her mind. Ahn feels that Koreans fear what they don’t know. “But once they meet a friend, they don’t care anymore.”

But how bad is it? Despite any discrimination they face, almost every black source Groove Korea interviewed said they either liked or loved Korea. Many were quick to point out that not everyone in Korea was racist — indeed, most Koreans they knew weren’t and were perfectly accommodating to them. Several sources indicated never having experienced any discrimination in Korea at all. “Korea — there’s racism here?” answered three Liberians in Itaewon when asked about racism. They all insisted that they had never experienced any racism in Korea, and that if there was any, it paled in comparison to other countries such as Thailand and Russia. Shams el-Din Rogers, 44 and from Detroit, visited Korea on vacation for two weeks and liked it so much she came back to live. “I have not at all felt discriminated against in Korea. If people are discrimination against me, they’re hiding it really well,” Rogers says. Rogers, who teaches on Geoje Island, says that within her first three days here, she was going with a bride to choose her bridal hanbok. When she toured around Korea, she had invitations from strangers to stay in their homes (which she declined), and everything was “very comfortable.” Samantha Coerbell, 42, from Queens, New York, says she has never felt discriminated against here. Before she left, white people had told her she would never be hired for a job. “That turned out to be insanely untrue,” she says. At Coerbell’s first hagwon job, her boss stuck up for her when some parents expressed concern at having a black teacher. “He said he wanted to expose his students to America — all of America, not just one kind of America,” Coerbell says. “When he had concerns from parents about there being a black teacher, he stood up for me and told them about my qualifications and how I was with the kids.” Since then, things have only been positive, and the only racism she has encountered is actually from white Americans, she says. Jessica Womack, 25 and from Florida, notes a number of similarities between Korean and black American culture, from the food

to the music. She has also never felt discriminated against. “I feel that a lot of people are more comfortable with me,” Womack says. She finds strangers are always happy to talk to her. “One girl who came up to me, she said, ‘Whenever I say hi to a white person, they don’t say hi back to me. But when I say hi to a black person, they always say hi back to me.’” Womack says that issues of discrimination don’t necessarily have to do with color, but simply non-Koreanness. “If you’re not Korean, you’re just not Korean, period.” Many point out that Korea’s tensions with the Chinese and other Asians have run longer and deeper than its discrimination against black people, whom they have only been exposed to in the past six decades. Professor Kim of Ewha believes Korea is moving in a positive direction, away from blackface and bad jokes. She points to Park Jin-young’s past collaborations with a host of black American artists including Will Smith, R. Kelly and Mase. And the students she sees now are not the same as they were even a few years ago. “You can see over a very short period of time that things are changing very rapidly,” Kim says. “I do hope we’re in a trajectory towards a more open, diverse, multicultural society. We’re not there yet. But the U.S. is not there yet either.” Many blacks find white foreigners just as racist as Koreans, if not more so. Teacher Jamian Bailey, 29, says a white South African in his town is forever “coming up to me and other black people, and saying, ‘Hey homeboys, y’all done any drive-by shootings lately?’ It’s ignorant.” Motley caught a white American teacher telling a Korean guy she was dating to “never date black people” because of how “uneducated” they are. “I hate this girl. She is always behaving like a nigger,” the white woman texted about her. Corey Scott, 44, of Virginia, did experience discrimination from Koreans and admitted it was difficult raising two black children in Korea. But he also points out, “I would say this very clearly: The Koreans are a very tolerant and peaceful people. They have their quirks, like all cultures do, but the level of racism there can be handled.” This, he says, is a contrast to Saudi Arabia, where he now lives and where he says racism is completely blatant. “The racism (in Saudi Arabia) is on a completely different level,” he says. In the Middle East, “it’s just right out in the open.”

Moving forward But even if some don’t experience it, the racism does exist. Ewha Womans University professor Bang Hee-jung, who surveyed 121 Korean students in Seoul, found that most of them preferred to have Korean friends over non-Korean friends. But when asked about which non-Koreans they would prefer to have as friends, blacks scored significantly lower than whites, while Southeast Asians scored the lowest. Ashby thinks the problem is solvable through increased contact. “The kids in Korea (today) are going to be in a much better position because they can’t discriminate against us,” Ashby says. “Because they’ve met us, they’ve seen us face to face and they know what we’re about. It’s harder to have a one-dimensional version of this person from this country, or someone who is black or Jewish or whatever, because you’ve actually met someone.” Hurt, however, believes the best way to push Koreans to change their discriminatory ways

is by forcing their racist image to the global spotlight. For example, Hurt argues that the media could be used as a “shame-generator.” “What if Time magazine made an issue called ‘The New Racism’ and identified Korea as the most racist country in Asia?” Hurt says. “Shit would change like that.” Ashanti Lee argues that, first, it’s necessary to get Koreans to notice what’s going on. Ultimately, he says, they’re the ones who will have to change things. “The way to get over this hump is to get other Koreans to care,” Lee says. “If they (Koreans who don’t hold racist beliefs) can get other Koreans to care and talk about it, then other Koreans will listen. But they won’t listen to foreigners, especially the minority of foreigners.” Nadia Kim believes the best way — and often the only way — to change anything is through organizing. “I believe everything starts with social movements,” Kim says, “just like it took the Civil Rights Movement in America.”

These kinds of approaches naturally take time. For now, many say they feel it’s up to them to provide a good example for the rest of society — no matter how unfair that is. “I feel that if a white person does something, folks may say, ‘foreigners are bad.’ That’s going to make all of us look bad,” says Spencer, the teacher from St. Louis. “But if a black person does something, I feel like that’s not going to be reflected on any other race but us.” Meanwhile, Bailey hopes attitudes change soon and respect is delivered where respect is due. “I don’t want to say that all Korean people are bad,” he says. “But it bothers me that I can’t get a certain job here and I’m discriminated against, and it’s almost like it’s been ingrained in their thinking that white is better than black. “We’re all humans at the end of the day, and it shouldn’t come down to skin color. It should come down to what kind of person you are.”


INSIGHT Edited by Matthew Lamers (

The North Korea Column

Kim Jong-un’s

Christmas power grab Column by Christopher Green / Illustration by Michael Roy


o not be fooled by the stunned silence that followed in its wake; the purging, trial and execution of Jang Song-thaek that took place in early December 2013 should not have come as a surprise to anyone. Ignore the sensationalism of the headlines, too: The act made perfect sense within the brutal logic of the political structure in which it took place. North Korea is governed under an authoritarian system. Although it is extreme even by

36 / February 2014

the grim standards of the genre, it is not sui behind. When former Workers’ Party International generis. Power dominates everything in all types of authoritarian polity; the allocation of Secretary Hwang Jang-yop told one of his power is what decides successes and failures, intimate, well-guarded Tuesday afternoon rises and falls. Wealth is a secondary benefit “Democracy Lectures” that the ruling creed in North Korea is “not to have more power than of the successful co-option of political power. Put simply, money is not the goal of politics the leader, and not to earn more than their salin the North Korean system. On those occa- aries,” he was not speaking in riddles. Indeed, sions when it is allowed to become the goal in Hwang never spoke about the North Korean a way that cannot be ignored or finessed into regime in riddles. Rather, he was telling the political insignificance, danger follows close world about the nature of power in North Ko-

rea in one-syllable words. Shame on the world for not listening. Jang Song-thaek’s downfall was predictable, then, because of the nature of an authoritarian regime in transition, which North Korea has been since Kim Jong-il passed away in December 2011. Because Kim’s son, Kim Jong-un, does not yet hold all the available power within the system, a coalition is necessary to sustain his rule. This coalition remains viable so long as it can present a credible threat of overthrow in the event that Kim behaves counter to the interests of the coalition as a whole. For the time being, this framework puts Kim at risk. In a position of unconsolidated leadership, it is (or was) broadly in his interest to cooperate with the ruling coalition that his father built around him. Bearing this in mind, however, it is also in the interest of the leader and his closest aides to seek unassailable power, thus eliminating any credible threat of displacement. The only way to achieve this goal is to secure as much of the available power as possible to defend against attack from below. Therefore, from the beginning of his rule, Kim could be expected to make a series of power grabs against the others in the coalition. Each one would promote the power of the grabber by bringing economic resources previously held by others under his or his allies’ control, and also by sending a message describing his power in all-too tangible terms to the remainder of the contemporary political elite. The likelihood of such power grabs taking place is primarily dependent upon the relative likelihood of them succeeding. Their success depends on the power of the leader, as well as the power of the target. The closer the two are in power terms, the riskier the grab, and the more overt and demonstrative the show of force by which it must be undertaken. For this reason, the KCNA article on the Politburo meeting where Jang was detained in such a theatrical manner, while fascinatingly detailed and highly revelatory in some senses, does not explain the root cause of his removal. To those who read it and mused, “Ah, so Jang was too close to China,” a plausible response might be, “Perhaps so, but China’s influence in North Korea will not diminish; rather, the resources Jang Song-thaek once controlled will surely be reallocated, falling under the remit of another.” The rationale outlined by the KCNA article cannot have been the root cause of the purge; power cannot be created or destroyed, only reallocated. The “China thesis” is just one example of mistaking the symptom of a political malaise for its root cause. Kim Jong-un’s Christmas power grab against Jang does not prove he is young or impetuous or inexperienced or his father’s son or anything else, although he may be all or some of those things. Rather, it shows that he and his clique are responding to the market in which they find themselves. Or, to paraphrase Mao Zedong, the swamp in which they swim. It is a market governed by political power; socialism may be a dead letter in North Korea, but despite the presence of a market economy, this most vital of commodities still cannot be bought. It must be taken.

Hair consultant from UK. Trained at Vidal Sassoon and TONY&GUY in UK Hair Salon in Sinchon

ABOUT this column Christopher Green is the manager of international affairs for Daily NK, an online periodical reporting on North Korean affairs from Seoul. The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of Groove Korea. For more information, visit


INSIGHT Edited by Matthew Lamers (

The Money column

Never too early

to plan your retirement Column by Paul Sharkie / Illustration by Michael Roy


pension plan can be set up by one of three parties: you (through a private pension scheme), your employer or the state. For those unfamiliar with the specifics, deciphering a country’s pension terminology often acts as a barrier for those just hoping to make basic inquiries, not to mention trying to make the right decision regarding one’s own pension. One thing to note, however, is that in order to live a comfortable retirement you will likely have to consider more than one option. Let’s break down the three types we should all consider.

Company pensions Not every employer runs a pension scheme, so it’s well worth finding out whether or not yours does and, if so, what’s on offer. There are two types of company pensions. One is known as defined benefit (DB),

and the other is called a defined contribution (DC). If your employer is offering to contribute to either type of scheme, it is usually worth participating.

Defined benefit plans Defined benefit plans guarantee a lump sum based on your salary and the number of years you have worked for a company. DB plans are unfortunately becoming less common in the marketplace today due to the expense and risk exposed to the employer who ultimately bears the responsibility to invest in order to fund the sums promised to each employee. DB plans are gradually being replaced by Defined Contribution plans, which hold more risk and responsibility for the employee.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Paul Sharkie is the Foreign Client Relationship Manager for Shinhan Bank’s Foreign Customer Department. Please visit Shinhan Expat Banking on Facebook for more information. The banking information provided in this column is based on Shinhan Bank policies and may not be applicable to all banks in Korea. — Ed.

38 / February 2014

Chungdam IVY ORTHODONTICS The earlier you start making contributions into a plan, the longer it will have time to grow. Keep that in mind if you want to retire on a comfortable income. Defined contribution plans Under a DC plan, contributions are made by the employee and, depending on the level of generosity, the employer as well. Generally, upon retirement, one can take a tax-free or reduced tax lump sum from the fund and use the rest to buy an annuity, which will provide regular payments for the rest of your life. Whilst this sounds adequate in theory, in practice, the only guarantee with a DC plan is the amount going into the scheme; what comes out is most definitely subject to the performance of the investments bought. This highlights the obvious disadvantage that if the stock market sinks, the value of your fund will depreciate along with it.

Personal pension plans Designed to pay out when you finish work, a personal pension (when paired with a company pension plan) is one way to provide extra income during your retirement. There are many types of personal pension plans available out there, but do seek advice on which may be most suitable for you. Your choice can depend entirely on a combination of how involved you want to be, your attitude towards risk and the amount you can afford to save. Whatever you decide, you will make regular contributions into the scheme until you choose to retire, at which point you will receive a lump sum, annuities or a combination of both. Like DC plans, the money will be invested on your behalf, with the anticipation that your fund will grow in line with the performance of the investments. However, this must of course be considered alongside any risks that may be acquired as well. Remember, the earlier you start making contributions into a plan, the longer it will have time to grow. Keep that in mind if you want to retire on a comfortable income.

National state pension To qualify for National State Pension, you need to have made contributions for a set number of years and/or had them paid for you, after which point the government will issue your payments. It’s important to note that the age at which one qualifies to receive a state pension varies between nations; this age will likely increase as time goes on and as each country tries to cope with their aging societies. If you are unsure of what you are likely to get, you can request a forecast that will tell you the amount of basic pension you have already earned, and what you can expect at retirement. Although — internationally — pensions are in a bit of a crisis and employees face a huge drop in income when they retire, you are not helpless. Knowing about your options will help you to plan and save for your future. Next time, we will take a closer look at company pensions.

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To survive the cold, turn to Korea’s soulwarming cuisine These five foods will have you feeling toasty this winter Story by Shireen Tofig Photos by Charles Haynes, Alpha, Ayustety and Igelig


the snow collects outside and my balcony freezes under a layer of ice, my inner Californian further recoils into the fetal position. Are there really still two months left? The only thing that motivates me to crawl out of bed most days is the promise of hot Korean food — the best thing to take the sting out of winter. Here’s a list of five must-have meals for the cold months.

Budae Jjigae (aka “Soldier Soup”) I’ll admit it: I was completely skeptical at first. After hearing about its random assortment of ingredients, I put it on the back burner of things to try in Korea. That is, however, until a friend, raving about how delicious it was, convinced me to finally give it a try. I was first introduced in one of the back alleys near National Assembly Station, though this dish can be found all over Seoul. The name “soldier soup” comes from the stew’s origins during the years surrounding the Korean War. When food was scarce, people began taking what was offered by the U.S. Army facilities and threw it together with what little else they had; rations and leftovers were boiled together in one large pot. Because of its popularity, the stew has come into its own as a popular Korean staple. Budae jjigae typically contains ramen, green onions, ground beef, radishes, garlic, mushrooms, macaroni, sliced sausages, tofu, chili peppers, baked beans, tteok (Korean rice cake), parsley, mushrooms and any other vegetables that are in season. Mine also had bacon, udong noodles, pepperoni slices and small pieces of kimchi. It’s often topped with slices of American cheese. For all the conflicting imagery that comes out of the description above, this savory, spicy assortment of ingredients is surprisingly delicious. For a solid introduction to the dish, try one of the Nolboo restaurants that specialize in budae jjigae.

Getting there There are several branches around

the city, but Myeong-dong is a good place to start. Walk out Myeongdong Station, exit 6. Turn left down the main pedestrian boulevard, then make another left at your first intersecting street. Nolboo Budae Jjigae will be on your left after a short walk.

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Kimchi Jjigae One of Korea’s most common stews, kimchi jjigae is made with tofu, scallions, onions, garlic and, of course, kimchi. After the kimchi is sliced, it is put into a pot with all the ingredients, boiled with water or anchovy stock and seasoned with bean paste and hot pepper paste. The result is a rich, sour, salty, hearty soup that stands out as one of the best Korean dishes, period. It comes piping hot in a stone pot, often served with rice and other side dishes. While you’ll find this staple in countless restaurants around Seoul, one established place that specializes in the stew is called Gwanghwamun Jip. It’s located downtown, near Gyeongbok Palace.

Getting there Walk out Gwanghwamun Station, exit 1, and make an immediate U-turn. Just south of the exit there’s an intersection. After crossing the intersection, on the same side of the street, you’ll find a small alley. Gwanghwamun Jip is in the alley.

Gamjatang Otherwise known as potato or pork bone soup, this one is my all-time favorite. The perfect soup for a cold day, it has a spicy flavor, hearty ingredients and a deep red color that comes from the chili pepper. It’s comprised of meaty pork bones, sesame leaves, ground sesame seed, potatoes, kimchi, mushrooms, green onions and other ingredients, which are slowly boiled down in front of you until the meat softens. The dish is often served without potatoes (creating constant contention around the name), though when they’re included, they’re one of my favorite parts. You have to work hard for this stew, as chopsticks are needed to remove the meat from the bone, but it’s oh, so worth it. There are several gamjatang restaurants in the neighborhood around Yongsan Station.

Getting there Seobuk Wonjo Gamjatang is one of the better known places in Yongsan; it’s right across the street from Sinyongsan Station, exit 4.


FOOD & DRINK Edited by Josh Foreman (

Hotteok Street carts are also a great place to find warm relief from the harsh wind, and are open nearly 24/7 all over Seoul. One of my favorite street foods is hotteok, which is at peak popularity during the wintertime. This really isn’t a hard sell, when you consider that these carts are selling a handful of dough that’s been filled with a sweet mixture and then pan-fried. Each one usually contains brown sugar, chopped peanuts, honey and cinnamon. The dough is placed onto a greased griddle and flattened with a special tool to form a pancake-like shape; the result is hot, golden brown and crisp, with a sweet center. Some other variations include corn, pink raspberry and green tea. It’s served in a paper cup and usually costs 1,000 won, making it an easy snack to grab on the go.

Getting there Hotteok carts are spread all over the city this time of year. Look for them around busy intersections.

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Patjuk It’s tradition to eat patjuk, or red bean soup, on the longest night of the year, which signals the beginning of winter. The vibrant red color is said to symbolize positive energy, driving away negative spirits. Patjuk is a simple porridge made of red beans, water and small grains of rice. Small dumplings are sometimes added, as well as “saealshim,� or sticky rice balls. For those unable to experience homemade patjuk, it can be found in a variety of traditional Korean restaurants and markets. The juk stalls in Gwangjang Market have been around for decades, and are a popular place to have this dish.

Getting There To get to Gwangjang Market, walk out Jongno 5-ga Station, exit 8.


FOOD & DRINK Edited by Josh Foreman (

An American site is the wistful foreigner’s friend

An ode to iHerb Story and Photo by Shelley DeWees


he first time I heard about was, appropriately, during my lunch hour. As I munched lazily on my rice, daikon radishes and creamy corn salad — you know the one — I thought, gee, how lame. Staring back up at me under the fluorescent lights was another lunch, the same friggin’ one I had yesterday. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy miso soup, kimchi and those teeny little quail eggs; hell, rice has become one of my favorite things, lovable for its warm comfort and cheekstuffability. But even the happiest expat, the biggest Korean food junkie and even those who are thoroughly dazzled by their new life on the peninsula have a desire for diversity. I’m in love with Korea, but man, sometimes a person needs a change.

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How perfect, then, that a previously unremarkable coworker came walking down the aisle, bouncy and bubbling as I stared careworn at my uneaten seaweed and said, “Do you want to share my quinoa? I brought enough for both of us.” Do I ... wha? Do want to share your, um ... WHAT? She casually passed over a container full of quinoa and kalamata olives, and I gaped. In that little box was a simple meal shining far brighter than my rice and radishes because, damn, how long had it been since I’d had quinoa? And olives?! Her generous offering only represented a slice of what she had at home, as I would eventually come to see later that week: organic sea salt chocolate bars, shredded coconut, whole wheat stoneground flour, green

Her generous offering only represented a slice of what she had at home, as I would eventually come to see later that week: organic sea salt chocolate bars, shredded coconut, whole wheat stoneground flour, green lentils, bags and bags of quinoa and, indeed, grain of every color in the rainbow. lentils, bags and bags of quinoa and, indeed, grain of every color in the rainbow. Bulgur wheat for tabbouleh, arborio rice for risotto, buckwheat flour for pancakes, amaranth, flax seeds, thick-cut oats and polenta were bursting from her cupboards, alongside a healthy supply of vitamins and supplements she used to “keep away the sad faces.” And it all came from the unassuming online grocer It has a huge following in Korea, and one visit to the website will show you why; everything a hippie foodie ever wanted is available, from natural bath and beauty products to pantry items and vitamins. You can get sustainably farmed free-trade cacao beans and decent ChapStick (finally), gluten-free flours and barley malt syrup, grain-sweetened fruit spread and raw honey. Almost anything. If Korea doesn’t have it, will, and it won’t even cost you a fortune. They have near-magical shipping that’ll get your box o’ goodies out of their warehouse in California, across the ocean and delivered to your door through Korea Post in a matter of five to seven days. Order more than $60 worth of stuff (easy) and this lightning-fast, trackable shipping will only cost you $4. Even Amazon can’t do that. When you first visit the website, you’ll need to make an account and fill in all the pertinent information: your address in Korea, your credit card info and your alien registration number to help expedite everything through customs. Once you get it all set up, though, every subsequent order will be a one-click affair. Korean law places restrictions on some foods and outright prohibits others (like poppy seeds), and they also have a strict 15-pound limit per shipment. But iHerb has all these rules integrated directly into the system, so as you’re shopping you’ll know exactly how much you can buy of each product and how much it will weigh. You’ll also get a tracking number to keep tabs on your box, and it’ll arrive via regular mail with no requirement for a signature; you’ll simply come home and there it’ll be, just waiting for you. What will you make with all your new goods? A Caesar salad with capers? How about a big bowl of popcorn sprinkled with brewers’ yeast or a pan of Rice Crispies treats? A pot pie? Maybe a wickedly dark cup of hot chocolate? Whatever you want, it’s yours. The remedy for homesickness and ho-hum lunches is at, so go there. Now.


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Seoul Veggie Kitchen

! s e k nca



! s e ak anc


Column and Photos by Shelley DeWees


was a frigid day outside when I found myself in High Street Market, gazing at happy agrarian scenes of sunshine and green grass dancing across a box of cereal, wondering if I’d ever feel warm again. Suddenly, a pair of very cute girls in earmuffs sidled up next to me and pronounced in awe, “Oh my god it’s BISQUICK. We can make pancakes! It’s been so long since I’ve had one!” They giggled, snatched a box and headed to the checkout while I stood behind them agape — because, friends, you don’t need Bisquick for pancakes. Or for anything, really. Pancakes are one of those food items that never needed a convenience product version, yet for some reason has one. Just like yogurt and peanut butter sandwiches, they’re already convenient. A measure of flour, water and a dash of leavening poured onto a hot skillet will yield a fantastic batch of pancakes in no time at all. But armed with a spatula, you can march off into

a Bisquick-free world and eat pancakes every day of the week, even in Korea. This recipe is the bare bones, stripped-down, basic pancake with no frou frou additions, but oh man, the opportunities for customization are infinite. You can stir almost anything into the batter to make Pancakes à la you, from cranberries to apples to bananas, a handful of almonds or coconut or chocolate chips, or a big dollop of peanut butter and a dash of cinnamon. You can do a healthy version with whole wheat flour, flax seeds and agave nectar, or you can even go totally nuts and make them savory — omit the sugar and stir in some green onions for a cool twist. For your toppings, spring for a small bottle of maple syrup at the foreign mart, use a smear of fruit jam or sour cream, or make your own caramel sauce. The combinations are endless, and guaranteed to be better than Bisquick. It’s pancake time!

About the writer: Shelley DeWees worked as a vegan chef for a Buddhist monastery before moving to Seoul. She is a columnist for Groove Korea. Her opinions do not neccesarily reflect those of the magazine. See her website, — Ed.

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Pancakes are one of those food items that never needed a convenience product version, yet for some reason has one. Just like yogurt and peanut butter sandwiches, they’re already convenient. Basic pancakes

The trick to awesome ‘cakes is in how you preheat the pan; if it isn’t warm enough they’ll be soft and flabby, but get it too hot and you’ll burn the outsides before the insides have even thought about cooking. Solution: Preheat your pan for at least 10 minutes. Set it on a low flame while you throw the batter together, then it’ll be hot when you’re ready to start cooking. Listen for a sizzle when you drop the batter in — it’s the music of magic. Ingredients • 1 1/2 cups flour • 1 tbsp baking powder • 2 tbsp sugar

• Dash of salt • 1 cup milk (soy or regular) • 1/2 cup water • 3 tbsp canola oil

Set your largest nonstick skillet over a low flame to preheat. Then, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt until thoroughly combined, making sure everything is incorporated (after this point over-mixing is a real danger, so get it stirred up now, before the liquids are added). Pour in the milk, water and oil, and then whisk until a lumpy batter forms. Don’t worry, smoothness is irrelevant. Just get it mixed. Using a scoop-type-thing with a handle — like a measuring cup — drop about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the batter in the hot pan and cook for two minutes. When you see bubbles on the top and dryness around the edges, carefully slip a thin spatula underneath and flip the pancake over. Cook for one or two more minutes until browned, then remove to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm and cook up the rest one by one, or two by two if you have a big pan. Serve your rockin’ pancakes with butter and coffee or cheese and beer. Whichever.


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48 / February 2014

Exploring Kuala Lumpur, one restaurant at a time A “mixed sauce" city, forged by cultures Story and Photos by Josh Foreman


uala Lumpur is a city of four cultures: Chinese, Malay, Indian and capitalist. Capitalism is the dominant culture, but it’s possible to find vestiges of the other three. The best way to do that is through the city’s restaurants. My wife and I spent two weeks in the city over winter break. We chose KL for a few reasons: 1. It’s hot. 2. It’s cheap and easy to get there (AirAsia flies direct for around 380,000 won round-trip). 3. Said restaurants. Our first day in KL, we set out for lunch at Betel Leaf, a highly regarded Indian restaurant in Little India. Walking there, we spotted a Coffee Bean and stopped in for morning coffee. It was the day after Christmas, 32 degrees Celsius. “Let it Snow” was blasting inside. When we found the Coffee Bean we thought we were fortunate to find a place to get coffee; we didn’t know yet that they’re everywhere, along with Starbucks and lots of other chains. In malls. So many malls. The girl working in the shop brought my black coffee in a tall glass goblet fit for a sultan. We continued walking toward the restaurant. The sidewalks were mostly empty. Again, we were new to the city and had not yet learned that most people can be found in malls. We arrived in Little India and found our way to Betel Leaf, an unassuming second-floor restaurant on the decaying Leboh Ampang Street. The neighborhood has an Indian vibe, but it’s not as distinct as other cities’ Little Indias. Indians have been immigrating to Malaysia since the late 1700s. They came to work in the British colonies of Penang, Melaka and Singapore, and today they make up the third-largest ethnic group, behind the Chinese and Malays. They’re pretty well integrated. There are a few stores in the neighborhood selling Indian movies and music and

“puja oil” for rituals, but other than that it could be any other neighborhood. Betel Leaf is a little more upscale than the average restaurant in KL. It’s indoor and air-conditioned, with shiny paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses on the walls. It was busy both times we ate there. Many of Malaysia’s ethnic Indians came originally from Tamil Nadu, and Betel Leaf specializes in food from that state. They tout locally grown rabbit and mutton on their menu; I’ve never had rabbit curry and wanted to try it, but we opted for more familiar choices, “mutton chukka” and a chicken curry. The mutton came “dry,” which means without a lot of sauce. The dish consisted of chunks of boneless mutton

The presence of whole, pungent spices in your curry is one of the nicest things about eating in the tropics. The mutton was flavored with visible chunks of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, garlic and delicate strings of curry leaves. covered in spices. The presence of whole, pungent spices in your curry is one of the nicest things about eating in the tropics. The mutton was flavored with visible chunks of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, garlic and delicate strings of curry leaves. It had a nice heat, which was alleviated by glasses of thick, white lassi. The chicken curry came with a thin “gravy,” nicer for moistening the white rice that came with the meal. We ordered naan as well. It was thicker and chewier than what I’m used to, but just as good as any I’ve ever had. A case of Indian sweets — ­ gulab jamun, jalebi and others — sat near the front of the restaurant, a sign that they really were all about the Indian food.


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50 / February 2014

That fact is worth mentioning because a lot of the restaurants in the city serve food that is a mix of styles. A good example is Pelita Nasi Kandar, a vast open-air restaurant downtown, just down the street from the Petronas Towers. When we arrived, there was a line of a dozen or so people waiting to get a plate of “nasi” (Malaysian for rice — the word precedes many dishes here) and a few of the many sauces, curries and sides on offer. Eating there reminded me of eating at the Piccadilly Cafeteria when I was a boy ­— you could choose a meat, two sides and a bread, pretty much the same deal as at Pelita Nasi Kandar. Standing in line I noticed that the people before me were ordering their rice with “mixed sauce.” The server would take his ladle and dip out a little sauce from five or six of the different curries, splashing each dip onto the mound of white rice on the plate. Needless to say, we also ordered mixed sauce, along with “honey chicken,” mutton curry, cabbage and the most unique dish we had all trip: a large, curried fish head. The dishes we had at Pelita Nasi Kandar were pure comfort food: savory, saucy, spicy and rich. The honey chicken was sticky and sweet and, thanks to some marinating in thick soy sauce, almost black. Slow cooking had left the skin of the chicken chewy and sweet. The mutton curry was pretty standard fare — delicious, but nothing unique. The fish head curry was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The head came from a red snapper. We only got the head, but there was plenty of flaky white meat on it. It was presented with fresh red and green chili pepper, red onion and stewed okra piled on top. The lips of the fish were parted, showing jagged needle teeth. Around the fish was a thick, spicy red gravy. Pelita Nasi Kandar is one of the few traditional restaurants around the Petronas Towers, those twin symbols of KL. There are many more international places and chain restaurants. The base of the towers is actually a huge mall called Suria KLCC that has a Chili’s. We didn’t try it. Many of KL’s Malay restaurants have been influenced by Chinese and Indian food. It’s hard to find strictly Malay dishes, but the downtown area of Bukit Bintang is a good place to look. There’s a side street called Jalan Alor that specializes in selling grilled, fried and steamed seafood and durian, that most famous of Southeast Asian fruits. The “chicken fish” (whatever that is) is supposed to be good there, but we opted for steamed stingray, along with few sides — a soft noodle dish, some fried pork and greens. The stingray’s flesh was white and stringy, and there was surprisingly a lot of it. It was nice and simple, tasty, slightly ammoniac. But after all the bold flavors at the Indian restaurants we had eaten at, a little underwhelming. The durian for sale in carts on the sidewalk was more interesting. The fruit has a bad reputation. OK, it has a strong smell. A pungent smell. The smell of something

… aged. I’ll admit that. But is it really that bad a smell? We bought some pieces already removed from their spiky yellow shell. The meat of the fruit is layered over large pits like those of an avocado. It’s soft and creamy and mildly sweet, wholly worth trying, although your fingers will smell like it for the rest of the day. Toward the end of our trip we decided to explore Chinatown, a crowded section of the city intercrossed by many small alleys filled with stalls and restaurants. KL’s Chinatown is also not as distinct as in other major cities. The city was founded by Chinese tin miners in the 1800s, after all; the whole city is Chinatown. But this is the part of town where you can try pure Chinese food, unadulterated by exotic tropical spices. Oh, and this is where you can come to find the best pork in the city. Malaysia is a majority-Muslim country, and you won’t find pork in most restaurants in KL. Want a pizza with pineapple and ham? How ‘bout chicken ham? You’d be hard pressed to find it here, but in Chinatown the pig is hanging in the windows in all its fatty glory. We had lunch one day at Nam Heong, a restaurant that specializes in the Hainanese dish of Wenchang chicken. In Malaysia, they just call it “chicken rice.” The long restau-

We only got the head, but there was plenty of flaky white meat on it. It was presented with fresh red and green chili pepper, red onion and stewed okra piled on top. rant was full of ethnic Chinese. The food at Nam Heong was as subtle in its flavors as the Indian food we tried was bold. Instead of overloading everything with sauce and spices, the food here focused more on quiet flavors and textures. We ordered a mixed plate of chicken and barbecue pork, a soft tofu side dish, and some braised lettuce. The chicken came out in little slices. No browning on the outside, no visible spices. It had been simmered at very low temperatures in a Chinese “master stock.” The result was soft, savory, moist pieces of meat. The accompanying rice had been boiled in chicken stock. The barbecued pork had plenty of color, all dark and caramelized on the outside with tender meat inside. The soft tofu came in a salty broth, topped with crispy browned onions. The braised lettuce came in the same broth. It was a meal full of nuanced flavors and textures — the moistness of the chicken, the saltiness of the lettuce, the silkiness of the tofu, the chewiness of the pork. We spent two weeks exploring the cuisines of the city. As we waited at the airport for our flight back to Seoul, I decided to have one last taste of Malaysia’s most dominant culture — a coffee and McMuffin from the airport’s insanely crowded McDonald’s.


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Threadbare on the Silk Road A hunt for culture becomes a quest for cash Story by Jean Poulot / Photos by Stefan_fotos


y notebook had 100 blank pages left. The last entry, written a few months before in Panama, listed the places I was thinking about visiting next: Papua New Guinea? The Solomon Islands? Laos? The Trans-Siberian, again? The Silk Road? The Silk Road. I was heading for Uzbekistan. The beginning of my trip proved less than silky smooth. The Tashkent airport looked like it had not been renovated since the fall of communism. The emblematic machine of capitalism, the ATM, was nowhere to be found. At the bank, I changed a few U.S. dollars, kept for emergencies, into Uzbek “som,” enough to take a bus downtown. In my money belt, I had 60 euros, four not-so-crisp $20 bills and around 40,000 won. The airport tourist office recommended a cheap hotel, the Shosh, conveniently located walking distance from the train station. My plan was to travel to the cities along the Silk Road not on a camel, but by train, to Samarkand. “Silk Road” is a misnomer, as there were actually many ancient routes and detours linking China to the Mediterranean. It was the original superhighway for shipping goods between Asia and the West. Along the Road, traders traveled through Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Persia. Silk was a major good, along with spices, artifacts and technology. The most famous trader was Marco Polo.

52 / February 2014

Samarkand was the largest market on the old Silk Road. It was pilfered by Alexander the Great and, 1,500 years later, Genghis Khan. Marco Polo described it as a very large and splendid city. That was my reason for going there. My plan was to visit the very large and splendid city, cross the Kyzyl Kum desert to Bukhara, with its turquoise-domed mosques and fortress, and from there push north toward the Kazakh border. I would follow the Amu Darya river to the Aral Sea before it dried out. The Shosh wanted to be posh with its blackand-white neo-art-deco style. Businessmen in suits wearing heavy jewelry on their wrists haunted the lobby, sipping cocktails, accompanied by women who, judging by their outfits, were not their wives. Their short dresses and body language indicated they worked at the hotel, and not as maids. As I checked in, the front desk clerk, dressed in a maroon polyester suit with frayed lapels, swiped my credit card several times in the machine. Front and back. Upside down. Not a good sign. As a last resort, he wiped the magnetic strip of the card on his frayed left sleeve. But the reader refused to accept the card. “Cash?” he asked with a scowl. “Nope. Do you have an ATM?” “No ATM machine here.” I usually like to point out the redundancy in the phrase “ATM machine” (the “M” stands for “machine”). This time I let it pass. “The banks are closed now. You can try tomorrow.” There’s something about the word “try” that connotes pessimism.

After inserting my card at the UNB’s ATM, the machine buzzed until the screen read “no means.” I am certainly not rich, but I do have a few means.


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Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, was a modern city in the Soviet era. By the time I got there, that era had passed. Buildings had fallen apart, like the regime. The next morning, not wanting to waste money on bus fare, I decided to walk to the Uzbek National Bank. New cities are best explored on foot, at a leisurely pace, but I was on a mission. After inserting my card, the UNB’s machine buzzed until the screen read “no means.” Now, I am certainly not rich, but I do have a few means. The machine could not recognize my Korean-issued Visa card. Maybe because it did not have an electronic chip? The same setback had happened before, in Cuba and on small islands in the Philippines. It was not a big deal then, as a bank clerk had always solved the problem by plugging directly into my bank account. Inside the bank, the un-automated teller informed me with a blank expression that my account had “insufficient funds.” “Try another card,” he said. “Do I look like I have several cards in my wallet?” I wanted to reply. But I abstained. I didn’t want to piss him off; I needed cash. “I do have sufficient funds,” I said. “Nothing,” he said, shaking his head. I left. Walking along the street aimlessly, I spotted an omen. A beacon. A sign. An advertisement, for Korea Development Bank. “My people,” I thought. “They’ll help me.” I asked to talk to the manager. He was not Korean. Not that it would have helped, necessarily, but at least I could have flashed my Shinhan Bank card, my E-1 Korean residency card, anything Korean down to the last won in my wallet. “Sorry, there is nothing we can do for you,” he said. “How about borrowing against my card?” I said. “Your card, no good.” That was a bit harsh, but I did not take it personally. On the way out of the bank, a Korean man was walking down the stairs behind me. He was not in a group tour — no floppy hat or expensive nylon trekking clothes. Obviously not a tourist. I stopped him. “My wife is a designer for Samsung,” he told

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me. “She is relocating to the Tashkent office. I came here to help her settle down. I’m a ‘kirogi’ father.” Kirogi is the Korean word for crane — the bird kind — meaning he lives in Korea and flies out to see his family abroad. “Any problem with the ATM?” I asked, hopeful he knew something I didn’t. “OK,” he replied. Feeling helpless and poor in a city that I wanted to escape, I wondered what I was doing. I’ve had worse moments when traveling, like getting robbed or getting sick. I tried not to let the setback depress me. At the Chorsu Bazaar, a saleswoman called me to her stall where she sold cheese, the second and last item on my meager shopping list. “You, handsome,” she said. “Well, thank you.” I replied. “You’re very nice, too.” I didn’t want to say “you are good-looking, too” because she reminded me of a matryoshka doll, the outer layer. “You, American?” she asked. “Kind of,” I replied. “You marry me,” she ordered. “We hardly know each other,” I said, smiling. The smile was misinterpreted; she took it for a proposal. She stood up from her chair and walked outside her stall, sideways. Her hips did not fit in the space between her two tables. Clasping my arm, she recommended some cheese while poking my ribs with her pumpkin-sized left breast. “I like small ones,” I said, pointing at little cheese balls, but thinking about breasts. The woman who sold flat round bread by the train station was on my mind. She had a natural elegance and her smile made me melt when I bought loaves from her. I wished I had enough, well, bread, to buy her whole basket load and give it away to the paupers on the street (like me). Enough to whisk her out to dinner and buy a bottle of wine. I could not afford dinner with the few crumpled som in my pocket, but there were other stumbling blocks. Wine was out because she was Muslim, and although she kept smiling and nodding, she did not understand a word I said. Dreams are the luxury of poor people. There are many monuments and buildings to

visit in Tashkent, none of which I saw. When you have just a few dollars in your pocket, any place that requires money is out of reach. A simple meal at a restaurant, a glass of wine in a bar or a coffee on a terrace with a newspaper before heading off to a museum suddenly turn into luxuries you cannot afford. I had to adapt to my new lifestyle: not homelessness, but pennilessness. It had been a long time — 30 years — since I had been traveling without money. Since I was a student. I checked the time difference between Seoul and Tashkent. Business hours in Seoul. I called my bank to track down a clerk I knew. “I’m in Uzbekistan and my Visa card is not working,” I said. “Can you resolve it from your end?” I listened to her pounding the keys of her keyboard for an excruciatingly long time. I could also hear ticks every few seconds at regular intervals, like coins being dropped into a slot machine. “Yes, you have money in your account,” she finally said. I could sense the excitement in her voice. “But there is nothing I can do. It must be blocked where you are.” “What am I supposed to do, then?” She paused. Seconds elapsed. My meager funds grew more meager. “Come to my office,” she finally replied. “But I’m in...” I had wasted 20 bucks on the international call. Suddenly it felt the international banking world had turned against me. But I was not going to fly back to Korea yet. I had a plan. Not far from my hotel there was an Internet cafe. After asking the clerk to switch the keyboard from the Cyrillic alphabet to Roman characters, I emailed a friend in Seoul, asking her to deposit some money into my account, thinking a new deposit might trigger the computers to update my account status. She was online, and she replied instantly: “I’ll do it tomorrow.” The next day, I went back to the Internet cafe, which, according to a sign on the front door, opened at 11 a.m. I got there at 2 p.m. and it had not opened. It finally did that night. My friend had sent a message: “I sent $2,000, but it might take a couple of days to clear.” After leaving the Internet cafe, my thinking became

irrational. “If it takes two days for 2,000 bucks, 1,000 would take...” Instead of doing useful things, like buying a train ticket or exploring the city, I spent my time visiting banks, different ones where I was not yet a pariah. The Central Bank of Uzbekistan, the Asaka Bank — all of them had the same answer: “card, no good.” I strode back to the Uzbek National Bank two days later with a swagger, purposefully, as if I had an appointment with the director. I was hoping my confidence might get me somewhere. The same manager as before spoke to me, and gave me the same answer. “Insufficient funds.” My confidence evaporated. I had to face reality. The silk rug was being pulled out from under me. I went back to the market, and bought my last meal. Inside the hotel, I passed by the desk clerk trying to hide the semi-transparent plastic bag that held my food: a piece of flat bread, a chunk of cheese, a red apple and a short can of Gambrinus beer. Once in the room, I emptied my bag and my pockets, looking for hidden or forgotten cash. But there was not more than $30. I had to make the inevitable decision. I had to go back to Seoul. My trip was unraveling; the Silk Road was frayed. I walked down to the front office and asked the clerk to call Uzbek Airways so I could save a dime. “Yes, there is a seat on tomorrow’s flight, but you’ll have to pay the penalty,” the airline agent said. “How much?” “Twenty U.S. dollars.” It was painful, but I had to say it. “Please make a reservation.” The next day at the terminal, it was a relief to find that there was no airport tax. After landing in Seoul, I went to the Shinhan Bank’s VIP lounge. The clerk I had talked to on the phone from Tashkent led me to the ATM. She ran my card and, like a magic trick (“Just one small swipe of my hand!”), the machine spewed out money. She smiled. The next time I traveled, I brought $1,000 in old-fashioned travelers’ checks, and a few hundred greenbacks in small denominations. Just in case.


Destinations Edited by Josh Foreman (

In winter, Gyeongju’s snowy museum without walls beckons Story by Josh Foreman and Shelley DeWees / Photos by Eco Dalla Luna


o place in Korea has more history than Gyeongju. As the old capital of the Silla kingdom, Gyeongju enjoyed more than three centuries of unchallenged rule over the Korean Peninsula and is, unsurprisingly, littered with historic sites. Palaces, temples and fortresses abound here, but the city is best known for its iconic burial mounds, the final resting places of many ancient rulers. In combination with its tombs, pavilions and other attractions, the city is justly called “The Museum Without Walls.” Gyeongju is one of Korea’s top tourist destinations, and will be crowded with people in the warmer months. But in the winter, the small city’s ancient sites stand silent and inviting. Nearby Bulguksa temple is home to Dabotap and Seokgatap — two ancient pagodas built in the eighth century, among the most valued in Korea — and the peaceful Seokguram Grotto, with its spectacular Buddha statue and accompanying royal guard. A solitary sunrise hike to the site will immerse you in

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centuries-old Silla architecture and history. The region also houses a number of quaint pensions where you can warm up after a day of exploring snow-covered mounds and temples. Gyeongju has its own food specialty, too, of course — the bean-filled pastries known as “Gyeongju bread.” Unlike the soft, doughy version one might be familiar with, these are more grown up: A thin, smoking-hot barley pastry is stuffed full of velvety beans and sold on virtually every street corner, fresh for the taking. Later, head to one of the restaurants around Bulguksa bus stop for a kettle of Gyeongju makgeolli and one of the area’s famous seafood pancakes (called haemul pajeon). Order a second round of gyeodong beopju (rice wine) and laugh the night away, uninhibited, and without worrying about your inevitable hangover; there’s a whole street devoted to Korea’s famous hangover soup, haejangguk, to comfort you in the morning.

Getting to Gyeongju

The KTX goes straight from Seoul to Gyeongju’s new Singyeongju Station. The trip takes just a little more than two hours and costs around 45,000 won. Once you arrive at the station, there are many buses to the city (including buses 50, 60, 61, 70, 203 and 700). Moving around the city is a cinch thanks to its small size; weather permitting, you’ll be able to forego public transportation in favor of walking most of the time.

Getting to Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto

From the Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal, take bus 10 or 11 and get off at the temple. From here you can transfer to bus 12 for Seokguram Grotto. It runs every 30 minutes.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (

58 / February 2014

German artist Dirk Fleischmann takes inspiration from economics

The artistic entrepreneur Story by Remy Raitt / Photos courtesy of Dirk Fleischmann


crolling through Dirk Fleischmann’s portfolio of work, you wouldn’t be far off in mistaking the German conceptual artist for an ambitious, albeit arbitrary, businessman. In fact, his artworks are businesses, and over the past 15 years he has been the proprietor of several capitalist ventures. Starting off with a candy kiosk in 1998, he has since owned and run a bistro, a free-range egg farm, a trailer rental, a game show, a solar power plant, a fashion label, a virtual real estate business and a carbon credit farm. So what is his art, exactly? In Fleischmann’s own words, he explains, “What I explore in my art are fundamental questions like ‘What is capital?’” Although all in unrelated industries, what each of these business ventures above have in common is that they are powered by economics, and the nature of economics is what drives both Fleischmann’s thinking and his art. In a nutshell, Fleischmann uses the capitalist model — people buying products — to distribute commentary about some of

‘My art inhabits economic forms and sneaks into given capitalist structures. The art projects intend to create financial profit, which I have been continuously reinvesting completely.’ ­— Dirk Fleischmann

the hypocrisies he observes in the system. At present, Fleischmann is working as a professor of fine art at Cheongju University, and previously taught in the same department at Hansung University in Seoul. Academic opportunities aside, he admits that employment isn’t what brought him to the Korean Peninsula. “I was drawn to Korea by the chaebol (conglomerates) like Samsung, LG and Hyundai, which dominate the markets,” Fleischmann says. “I grew up with this naïve idea that if you have a business, you become an expert at that one thing, but then you look at these huge conglomerates … I just simply can’t understand how one corporation can have so many unrelated businesses.” Now with a bevy of his own unconnected business titles, Fleischmann continues to explore the driving, transformative force behind all these multinational


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (

‘It’s a project about hierarchies, it’s about that fucked-up question: “What is art, what is design and what is craft?”’ —Dirk Fleischmann

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corporations: money. “My art inhabits economic forms and sneaks into given capitalist structures. The art projects intend to create financial profit, which I have been continuously reinvesting completely. This means the projects themselves create the budget for my next artistic investment.” Fleischmann currently has two separate artistic capitalist ventures on the go: a fashion label and a carbon credit farm. Myfashionindustries, which kicked off in 2008, is divided into two clothing labels: “Made in the Philippines” and “Made in North Korea.” On his website, Fleischmann frames the project as a commentary on commodity fetishism, or how a product’s value often has very little to do with the work that some laborer has put into its creation; that one garment can be grossly more expensive than another, even though both required similar amounts of human effort in their production. The stylish, Philippine-made dress shirts Fleischmann sells were manufactured at the Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario, where Fleischmann documented the working conditions. With this project, he adds to the massive archive of documentation about this free trade zone and the urban areas that surround it. His products, branded “Made in North Korea,” which are also trendy formal shirts, were produced at the infamous Gaeseong industrial complex, tucked a mere 10 kilometers north of the DMZ. Those who purchase one of the shirts will also receive an artist book with more than 1,000 articles about the complex from the time when the shirts were produced. It’s because of this additional documentation that Fleischmann says these garments differ from the others made in the same region: “These shirts are not just commodities; they are an invitation, whereby other shirts are just an illusion. Mine are an invitation to explore, to see the shirt in context of its origin and the people who made it.” Fleischmann says a challenge his work presents is “finding a way to translate a process that is hap-

pening in real life into an artistic form that can be experienced by a viewer.” More recently, he has been collaborating with other Cheongju-based artists on mycheongjuchandelierchohab. “It’s a project about hierarchies,” Fleischmann says. “It’s about that fucked-up question, ‘What is art, what is design and what is craft?’” Fleischmann says they chose to explore this question by making site-specific chandeliers. “We asked the question: What is the difference between a light, a lamp and a chandelier? A light bulb sells for a dollar but a chandelier’s value is endless; it’s a very special category of object.” Unlike any of his other projects, Fleischmann says mycheongjuchandelierchohab offered him a form of escape. “I am a conceptual artist, and my framework of art is to play around and discover. This experiment offered me a rediscovery of working with my hands and playing with form and taste, and not needing to fulfill any expectations of what art is and what artwork is.” At his shared studio and exhibition space, SALON VIT, he runs the Black Sheep Lecture Series, which he formed in 2009 with fellow Hansung University professor Hunyee Jung. The informal talks see international art practitioners engage and converse with the audience on a range of artistic issues and ideas. Since its inception, the series has hosted more than 50 artists. SALON VIT also acts as home base to Fleischmann’s newest endeavor: listening events, where experimental electronic music is played to a darkened room, sending listeners on unexpected auditory adventures. With new business ideas constantly abuzz in his head, it will be interesting to see how this artist continues to grow his empire.

More info

Find out more about Dirk Fleischmann at, BlackSheepLectures, and


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (

The most eccentric party in town

Seoul Shindig Story by Kyle James Hovanec Photos by Brent Sheffield


n certain nights at a little club in Hongdae, you’ll hear and see something different from the norm. Hidden among the rows of loud restaurants and clubs pumping out sugary sweet K-pop and throbbing dance hits, you’ll find Club Myoung Wol Gwan — holed up in a little building with a different kind of atmosphere. Inside, the first thing new people often notice is an interior that looks more like a basement than a traditional club. It’s a little dark, a little dusty and on certain nights it features a soundtrack that most clubs would never dream of playing. This isn’t a normal club and this isn’t a normal party; this is Seoul Shindig, where music and nostalgia keep things going long into the night. Here, the songs of yesterday are the soundtrack that fuels the party. A little bit of Motown, a little bit of British rock — if it’s from decades ago and fun to dance to, it’ll most likely be played here. “It’s all about the love of great music, cutting loose and tearing it up on the dance floor,” says Shindig head James (Hawkeye) Dawkins. “When we do a ’50s and ’60s night, it’s like throwing a party in your grandmother’s basement, listening to her old vinyl stash; a bunch of cool people show up and everyone has an amazing time.” Originally the brainchild of Jerry Stiles (also known as Rev. Stiles) and Mikey Harrison, Seoul Shindig is now headed by Dawkins. “We have eccentric tastes and we want Shindig to reflect that,” says

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Dawkins. “We’ll play rockabilly, Motown, surf rock, psychedelia, Northern soul, doo-wop — all manner of stuff.” In addition to playing a wide variety of music, Shindig has hosted numerous themed events like tiki nights, live belly dancing and a retro-themed homecoming with ’80s and ’90s music. “There used to be this thing back in Austin, Texas, called the Second Sunday Sockhop. It was this event that played music from the ’50s and ’60s,” says Stiles. “I felt that, at the time (when we first started), things weren’t being fulfilled in Seoul regarding older music.” It was this idea that inspired Stiles and Harrison to create the first Shindig. The event turned out to be a success and over time began spreading through word of mouth, eventually achieving a cult following. “It was such a harebrained idea at the time. To this day, I’m still convinced that no one is going to show up,” says Dawkins. Stiles and Dawkins strive to make the events accessible to Koreans and foreigners alike, stressing that Shindig is intended for everyone to enjoy. “Ideally, we’d love to have a 50/50 split between Koreans and Westerners, just to keep it diverse and interesting,” says Dawkins. He says that Koreans don’t always have the same nostalgia for the songs that the expat community has, but he is still seeing more native Koreans arrive alongside the familiar faces from the expat crowd that

show up to each event. Sometimes, they even play music that tugs on nostalgic Korean heartstrings. Dawkins says they discovered that Korea had a lot of girl groups in the ’60s, so they started playing that, alongside some obscure psychedelic stuff. “We usually find the music from personal sleuthing and Korean friends,” Stiles says. “I’ve had older Korean people come up to me after an old song, telling me how they couldn’t believe we played that song and how it’s been years since they’ve heard it.” Both Dawkins and Stiles credit the people and the location for giving Seoul Shindig such a welcoming atmosphere. Both agree that it’s the high energy of the people and the comfortable “grandma’s basement” feeling of Club Myoung Wol Gwan that make it an entirely unique experience. “None of this would be possible in a bigger or more traditional club venue,” says Stiles. “We like that ‘rough around the edges’ look. Everyone is kind of pushed together and everyone is involved. There’s nowhere to hide, and it just makes all these people come together and dance until the sun comes up.” While the parties can get somewhat crazy, things never get out of control; it’s more like that wild house party you went to in college rather than an overcrowded club. “We’ve had people jumping around and dancing on chairs. It’s always a chaotic and fun feeling.” For both Stiles and Dawkins, their love of music and the people it reaches continues to be the main motivation for keeping Shindig alive. “Korea can be an unwelcoming place for foreigners here. Teachers come and go every year, and there can be a strong disconnect between society and themselves,” says Stiles. “It’s an incredible feeling to have people come up and hug you, telling you that this one event takes them away from their loneliness and the stress of work.” In the future, the two creators intend to expand Shindig to include more local artists and clubs, live music events and fundraisers. “But it will always remain focused on the music and the people,” Dawkins says. “That is something that will never change.”

More info

The next Seoul Shindig is on Feb. 14 at Club Myoung Wol Gwan in Hongdae. Address: Seoul, Mapo-gu, Seokyo-dong 362-12 Find them online at


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (

The G.I. DJ from the DMZ

Felix G

Story by Alejandro Callirgos / Photos courtesy of Felix Geoff Mena


elix Geoff Mena’s journey from serving as a tennis pro in a small city called Surprise to serving as a DJ and member of the U.S. Army near one of the most heavily armed borders in the world has involved a few unconventional career twists along the way. When he’s not fulfilling his military duties, he also produces and uploads a weekly one-hour podcast called “From the DMZ” that features electronic dance music, trance, progressive house, a “Throwback Song of the Week” from the ’80s or ’90s and a “Chill Out Song of the Week,” as well as his self-produced songs. The cover photos for past episodes of his show, which include scantily clad women, a bass guitar, a gun, bullets, the American flag, a tennis racket and balls, and the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, stand as markers of his eclectic past. Mena is open and candid about his occupations before arriving in Korea, one of which happens to have been an eight-year stint in the adult film industry. There was also a stretch of time when he paid his bills as a tennis pro in Surprise, Ariz., a gig he kept until the following letter from a “concerned parent and Surprise resident” reached his employer: “My friend and I were talking to the tennis pro, Geoff Mena, about lessons, tournaments, etc., for our families. Once we returned home, we decided to Google his name to check his teaching credentials. It was at this time that we discovered that he also is involved in the adult entertainment industry. As a former Marine, I am certainly not a prude, but, after some discussion, Mr. Mena’s other career made us wary of him teaching our wives, daughters and their teenage friends.”

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Three days later, the city of Surprise fired Mena from his position of tennis program coordinator. The termination came as a surprise to Mena, who had told his bosses about his experience in the adult entertainment industry before he was even hired. In addition to acting in adult films, he’d hosted two uncensored Internet radio shows, “Recipes for Sex with Chef Jeff” and “What’s Cooking with Chef Jeff.” He’d also designed websites and produced multimedia content for the adult entertainment industry. Feeling no love from the tennis world despite his 12 years in the sport, Mena returned to the world of adult entertainment. He went out with a bang, producing and starring in one more big-budget adult online movie. But when the production wrapped, he hit rock bottom — literally. While drinking beer with a friend at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, he says he felt “stagnant, unchallenged, lifeless. I knew I needed a radical change.” One month shy of his 40th birthday, Mena sold all of his belongings and joined the Army. He wanted to reconnect with his values — hard work, passion and motivation — and get “tangible proof” of his integrity, the same integrity challenged by that former Marine in the aforementioned letter. After completing basic training, Mena was assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash., and then deployed to Camp Buehring in Kuwait. In May 2013, he reported to Camp Casey in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province. While a 44-year-old recent recruit might be able to call himself “an old man in a young man’s game,” as Mena does, the same doesn’t

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hold true for his other profession as an electronic music DJ. “Paul Oakenfold is 50. David Guetta is 46. I think what’s important is the energy that a DJ brings. That’s what’s beautiful about electronic music and its fans; it transcends all conventional stereotypes.” Mena’s interest in electronic music dates back to his teenage years in the ’80s. He hit the Los Angeles club scene, where DJs spun New Order, Yaz, Pet Shop Boys, Bronski Beat, Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode. Outside of the clubs, he also hit up backyard house parties where DJs were experimenting with a new genre: house music. “It captured my imagination,” says Mena. In 2003, music again became a big part of Mena’s life. While he and a business partner were each going through difficult divorces, recording music together (and drinking beer) was their therapy. Mena contributed the electronic elements — samples, drum and rhythm tracks, scratching — and bass guitar and his business partner supplied the lead guitar. As their collection of tracks grew, their stress-relieving hobby grew into a business: royalty-free music for films and adult entertainment. In the same year, the duo made the 11-track “Rock Demo” and Mena made a solo album called “Electro Demo.” When Mena joined the Army in 2008, his life became “regimented, regulated and scheduled,” and music continued to be a creative outlet for him. While stationed in Washington, he got his first DJ gig at a strip club, cutting songs down to three minutes for lap dances. He later went on to DJ at a fetish club and for private parties. After his tour of duty in Kuwait, he invested in a home recording studio and full DJ setup. Since moving to Dongducheon, he has launched “From the DMZ,” DJed Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties at the Golden Gate Club and released a music video for “New Beat,” an electronic dance music single he describes as “the embodiment of the positive energy and enthusiasm that I want to share with the world.” Mena plans to complete a full album this year. “I also never lose sight of the fact that my primary reason for being here is to do my part to protect and defend South Korea,” he says. One of Mena’s goals before he finishes his tour of duty in Korea in May 2015 is to put on a free, 12-hour, non-stop EDM concert celebrating the Korea-U.S. partnership. “EDM brings people together like no other music can,” he says. “EDM is positive and uplifting, just like I want the story of my journey to be.” And where will his concert be held? “Perhaps somewhere near the DMZ.” Until then, keep up with the latest on DJ Felix G on his weekly (when he’s not in the field with the Army) podcast “From the DMZ.”

More info

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MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (

rock n roll seoul

Love X Stereo

Bright, mesmerizing, upbeat and danceable Interview by Sophie Boladeras Photos courtesy of Love X Stereo, Studio N Photography US


ith her bright red hair and suspenders, Annie Ko, the lead singer of Love X Stereo, is a sight and sound to behold. Even in a barely lit venue, her clear, feminine voice is an unmistakable compliment to the band’s strong demeanor and electro-punk sound. Ko and her two bandmates recently arrived back in Seoul after a successful overseas tour that had the group performing at a number of venues across the U.S. and Canada. Like any self-respecting rock band, they all instantly quit their jobs here as soon as they got the go-ahead on the tour, since none of their employers would wait for them. The trio has returned to the peninsula super broke, but ecstatic about their successes in the States. Though definitely still poor, they have scored a coveted spot in the lineup for South by

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Southwest (SXSW), the world’s leading music industry event in Austin, Texas, coming up in March. Love X Stereo has played hard and fast to get to where they are now. The group was known as Skrew Attack back in the ’90s, and was Korea’s very first skate rock band. Back then, Hwang did the lead vocals on top of being the bass player. Ko joined the band in 2005 when Hwang was looking for a female vocalist and Ko was looking for a band. Fortunately for us they were introduced and, with the addition of Han in 2008, the three have been playing together ever since. In 2011 they decided to change their name to Love X Stereo. The band’s sound has developed since those early days and they have come into their own as musicians. They are currently inspired by ’90s alternative, ’80s synth pop and ’70s psychedelic music.

Love X Stereo is

Annie Ko — Lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizers Toby Hwang — Guitar, backing vocals, production Sol Han — Bass, backing vocals

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Groove Korea: How has your sound developed and changed over the years? Annie Ko: We still have the punk base, of course, but we decided to dig deep and figure out what we really wanted to do. Skate punk is good and always will be, but that doesn’t really complete us. It’s us wanting to be something that we’re really not. So, we talked a lot, and figured out that we all love ’90s alternative. When we bought our first synthesizer, we instantly knew we could make our new sound fresh and interesting, so we developed our style from there. You recently returned from your first tour of the U.S. and Canada. How was your experience? Honestly, we didn’t want to come back. It was that good! How were you able to make the tour possible? At first, we got invited to Cincinnati’s annual MidPoint Music Festival. Everything started from there. After that we also got invited to CMJ Music Marathon, Indie Week Canada and New York’s MEANY Fest. We decided to do a tour around those festivals. Which was your favorite gig and why? We really enjoyed Bar Matchless in Brooklyn, New York. The sound there was awesome, and we met a lot of great people. We also got to perform with our friends Late Cambrian. We were really impressed by the audience’s reaction at our show in Detroit, and all of us are seriously in love with Detroit. We also really enjoyed the studio live session with American Apparel’s Internet radio station Viva Radio. How did you find the American and Canadian audiences compared with those in Korea? They were very open-minded, very free with their expressions and very active. I wish Korean audiences were more like that. You were among the first wave of artists announced for the mammoth South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, in March. Tell us about it. We got the message when we were in NYC. It was so surreal! We are very excited for the show. Hopefully we meet more people and build up our career even further. It will be a great stepping stone for us! What is the creative process behind your tracks? Generally, Toby starts off with a great gui-

tar riff, and then we write our songs together. Sol adds his own groove on the bass lines and I write the lyrics. Till now, we recorded and managed everything at our little studio, but if we had a larger budget, we would record, mix and master outside of our studio. Do you find that non-Koreans/foreigners get into your music more than Korean people do? Yes. We really don’t know why, but Korean audiences usually don’t know how to react at our shows. Maybe it’s because of our looks? Our English lyrics? Our sound? I don’t know. So we get a lot of those “jawdrop” and “stand still” reactions a lot. How have you found being an indie band in Korea? It isn’t easy; to be in a band in Korea can be very challenging. The scene isn’t really here yet, and everything costs too much, so it’s an expensive hobby to have. But from the beginning we have been determined to make it work. In September, you released your third EP, “Glow.” How has the response to it been? The response has been great, especially in the U.S. where people really dug our second track “Fly Over.” Our music video for “Fly Over” will be released very soon on YouTube and Vimeo. How does “Glow” differ from your previous EPs? It is a more calculated sound; we wanted to show that we can produce well-made songs that have potential to be huge in the future. It is smarter than our previous work, but we didn’t have much time, so we basically made the album within a month. That was a crazy schedule; I’m never going to do that again! Which is your personal favorite track on “Glow”? Why? I like “Fly Over” the most. It’s made out of only two chords so it’s really easy to listen to and it’s super fun to perform on stage. Future plans? Our dream is to do only music for a living. We’re slowly getting there. Our new music video “Fly Over” will be released very soon. It’s directed by pop artist Vakki (playvakki. com), so stay tuned for that one. We are preparing another tour around SXSW. We have new songs coming out soon. 2014 will be a great year.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (

Interview with Kahlid Elijah Tapia, actor Interview by Wilfred Lee Photo courtesy of Kahlid Elijah Tapia


ith roots in acting and film from North Carolina, Kahlid Elijah Tapia has continued to flourish in South Korea with more than 20 films to his name, five of them being Korean features. His dedication and successes in filmmaking here are testament to his philosophy to “blossom where you’re planted.” Artist’s Journey’s Wilfred Lee sat down with Tapia to discuss his acting values, his challenges as a foreign actor and his expectations for Seoul’s film scene.

68 / February 2014

Artist’s Journey: How did you get into acting? Kahlid Elijah Tapia: I was walking down the hallway of my high school singing a gospel song. The drama director heard me singing and walked up to me and said, “I need an actor for the musical that I’m directing. Would you be willing?” I said yes and that’s when I started doing musicals. I did musicals all through my collegiate years. However, it wasn’t until I came to Korea when a friend of mine who is an actress recommended that I put my headshot and resume on Craigslist. The calls started coming and everything pretty much started to snowball, in a good way, from there. What is essential for becoming an effective actor? Every actor will say something different. For me it’s about having thick skin, because you will be rejected. It’s about knowing who you are and what you want out of life in this career. If those two questions aren’t answered thoroughly, this career path will chew you up and spit you out. Dedication to learning is essential. I read a chapter a day of something, sometimes of more than one acting book, or a book on the business of acting, screenwriting and directing. If I can be a jackof-all-trades and master of one, I can be a more effective actor for any director or costar. I meet with my acting coach regularly, I attend any and all workshops that I can go to and I’m constantly budgeting my funds to attend film festivals. Lastly, it’s learning how to talk to people. I get most of my acting opportunities because I know how to network. Yes, my four agents are great, but there is no better agent than myself. How has the foreign acting community evolved over the years and where do you see it heading? The foreigner community has come so far in such a short time, and people are beginning to take notice. Three years ago there was barely anything being done. But now, if there isn’t a production company doing a shoot, then something is seriously wrong. What I love the most about the community is that

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we support each other with education, equipment, criticisms, etc. I see the foreigner community going as far as we will let it. When I do a film with foreigners here in Korea, the directors do their best to make the production as professional as possible. That, to me, is a sign of greatness. If you want the better job, then be the better job. What kind of discrimination do you face as a black actor working in Korea? I don’t receive discrimination on color in the movie industry. Can racism exist in the film industry? Yes, but racism can exist anywhere, no matter where you are. I’ve been thankful that I haven’t been treated with any sort of discrimination. The only thing I have to battle is the image of being a foreign actor. There are times when casting agents, producers or directors think that all foreigners are just “happy to be in a movie.” However, there are those of us who are truly serious about this craft. Proving how hard I work, conveying it and persuading those in the industry can be a struggle at times. What inspires you to overcome the adversities you face as a foreign actor in Korea? Korea inspires me. Here is a country that started really gaining momentum in the film industry around the ‘70s, and look how far it’s come. I know this country’s film industry is on the verge of exploding, and I plan to be smack-dab in the middle of the explosion. Is the Korean entertainment world becoming more accepting of diversity? Absolutely. I can’t tell you how pleasing it is to see more foreigners being used on television, movies, posters, English textbook CDs, etc. Korea, I believe, is broadening its scope to reach a more multicultural audience. It’s taking it one step at a time and that is all anyone can ask. I remind myself a lot that Korea isn’t incorrect for how it operates; it’s just different from what I know. Learning to embrace that difference is important for me in this industry.

‘I see the foreigner community going as far as we will let it. When I do a film with foreigners here in Korea, the directors do their best to make the production as professional as possible. That, to me, is a sign of greatness. If you want the better job, then be the better job.’ — Kahlid Elijah Tapia


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (

You don’t know where you’ll end up Invite-only Jjimjilbang parties host Seoul’s top EDM DJs Story by Sophie Boladeras Illustration courtesy of Jjimjilbang-Korea


t all started out with an invite-only party in London. Up until a few hours before the doors opened, the crowd had no idea where they’d be convening to party with the city’s most talented underground DJs. Since then, the Boiler Room concert series has become an international phenomenon that is streamed live to thousands of viewers online. One entrepreneurial creative has taken inspiration from the Boiler Room vibe and launched Seoul’s very own monthly underground party. Collaborating with local music organizations and DJs, Jjimjilbang-Korea has used word of mouth to garner a loyal following whose interest has been piqued by three things: diverse music, free entry and new secret locations every month. “The concept is based on streaming the underground experience and bringing it live to the viewer, whether they are in Korea or overseas, want to hear good music or just to see their friends. The parties will be streamed, then posted on YouTube and Facebook,” says Don Sin, one of the guys behind Jjimjilbang-Korea, who has co-owned Powwow, an underground live music venue near Gyeongnidan, Seoul. His creative partner, Mike Hwang, has held events at Bar Exit in Seoul and was the co-CEO for Flavor Media, a Boston-based music and entertainment group working with major and emerging electronic dance musicians. The crux of their undertaking is simple: Jjim-

70 / February 2014

jilbang-Korea will host unique monthly parties at venues throughout Seoul, and the location of each gathering will be revealed to the attendees on the day of the event. Their focus will be on quality rather than quantity, with a range of electronic dance music to be played. Rather than solely house music or techno, the parties will feature a mix, from garage to jungle. “We are an open-minded creative. We don’t target any specific niche; we just want to supply a great environment and good music to people who want to party and dance,” says Sin. Jjimjilbang-Korea had its launch party on Dec. 21 at Bar Exit to a full house. “We were happy with the fact that people came without any prior information about the event but stayed with us and had a good time,” says Sin. “Our parties and brand will only get better.” Sin and Hwang plan to expand their focus beyond DJs and the electronic dance genre. They hope to keep collaborating with local musicians and encompass all the underground music that Seoul has to offer. “We want to continue to focus on throwing music-centric events. Additionally, we want to grow and define our brand further to ensure that we are able to contribute a polished event to the underground scene of Seoul,” says Sin. “Expect great things — we have some exciting events coming up. If you want to get involved, drop us a line, be it promoting or performing. Supporting local talent is our utmost priority.”

‘We are an openminded creative. We don’t target any specific niche; we just want to supply a great environment and good music to people who want to party and dance.’ —Don Sin,

Jjimjilbang-Korea co-organizer

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COLUMN • YONSEI UNIversity dental hospital

Seong-Oh Kim, D.D.S., Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Pediatric Dentistry Yonsei University Dental Hospital Soedaemun-gu Yonsei-ro 50 Seoul, Korea

Oral health care during childhood T

he mouth is a window into your overall health. An adult’s general health is intimately related to their oral health in childhood and adolescence, as oral health care habits formed in this period tend to continue for the rest of one’s life. It can’t be stressed enough how important oral health care is during childhood. 1. Pre-teething period (0-6 months): Sterilize eating utensils frequently Newborn babies usually don’t have teeth until they are 6 months of age, which is a relatively safe and stable period for overall health. Despite this, frequent sterilization of a baby’s feeding utensils should be mandatory during this time. Oral hygiene should also be conducted by swabbing the mouth with sterilized wet gauze.

For further dentistry information or reservations, please call Ms. Aeri Jo, the English coordinator at Yonsei University Dental Hospital.

+82 2 2228 8998 +82 2 363 0396 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul en/hospitals/dent_ hospital/Conserv_ dentist/Intro

2. Teething period (6-24 months): Reduce the risk of tooth infection The first tooth tends to erupt around the sixth month of life, along with the symptoms of teething, which involve drooling, mild fever and restless sleep. Physiologic laceration wounds from erupting teeth could lead to infection, since 6-month-old babies tend to have frequent contagious diseases and symptoms like bacteremia, fever and herpetic gingivostomatitis. Sterilized teething rings or teething toys may be helpful to alleviate or avoid systemic infection. As the baby teeth erupt, finger brushing without toothpaste is wise. Toothpaste is not recommended (the baby could swallow a lot of it). Clean white gauze can help to evaluate the baby’s oral hygienic state. If its color turns yellow from cleaning, more frequent cleaning is recommended, as yellow is the common color of oral bacterial plaque. As a result of a systemic hormone called melatonin, spontaneous salivation stops during the night, and any food retained in the mouth during sleep can cause tooth decay. In order to avoid this, it is very important to not give your baby food just before bedtime. 3. Baby teeth period (before 6 years): Teach good brushing habits to your children, and be prepared to help. After about 24 months, 20 baby teeth will have emerged and will last for several years. Periodic check-ups are required to search for tooth decay. Although many young children gradually begin to enjoy the independence of brushing on their own, extra brushing by Mom or Dad is recom-

mended. Young children’s dexterity is simply not developed enough for meticulous cleaning. A horizontal scrub method is sufficient — the shape of baby teeth makes them easy to clean — ­ and dental floss is recommended, too, since the common area for food impaction happens between the rear teeth. Frequent fluoride application is helpful to reduce dental decay, such as using fluoride toothpaste, fluoride rinse, fluoridated water and professional fluoride applications. 4. Mixed dentition period (elementary school age): Increase brushing time. Listen for a distinct squeaky sound As children reach age 6, the first permanent adult teeth erupt in the lower front and back of the mouth. Children of this age tend to brush with a light touch, like a painting motion, which is not sufficient for removing plaque. If the dental plaque is completely gone, you’ll hear a squeaky sound when you rub a finger along the tooth; it sounds the same as rubbing a finger across glass. After the child brushes their teeth for several minutes using a vigorous motion, you should begin to hear this. The first permanent molar erupts at age 6 and will need a sealant. The second year of elementary school is also a good time for treating anterior crossbite and supernumerary teeth (early treatment is needed for these conditions in order to prevent a prognathic or retrognathic chin). 5. Adult teeth period (middle and high school age): Demonstrate good oral hygiene habits Emotionally unstable adolescents tend to neglect good oral hygiene. Hormonal changes not only create smelly feet and body odor, but also bad breath. Although their peers’ tooth-brushing habits will be influential, the adolescent will be further guided if their parents are role models for good oral hygiene. So brush your teeth well, and show a keen interest in your own oral hygiene. In middle school, as the second permanent molars erupt, preventive dental sealants are recommended. Most malocclusions like crooked teeth, snaggletooth and crowding could be treated effectively with comprehensive fixed appliances. After graduation from high school, the third molars (wisdom teeth) tend to create pain and decay. Proper treatment can be provided by making regular visits to your dentist.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Jenny Na (


Robocop Directed by José Padilha



Sci-fi / Action 121 minutes

When it comes to friendly debate in a social I mean, “the newest film getting a modern resetting, I sometimes find it easier to tackle a boot” — is “Robocop,” directed by José Padilconversation about religion or politics than one ha, best known for his exciting “Elite Squad” about film — especially when the discussion movies. Set in Detroit in 2028, dedicated cop and turns to the subject of remakes. The argument usually begins with one side asserting, family man Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is “It’s a classic! Don’t touch it!” with the other critically wounded while working for the city’s side inevitably countering, “Yeah, but this will police department. Sensing a political and fiintroduce the original to a new generation of nancial opportunity, technology company Omfilmgoers.” In the end, it’s rare for either side niCorp uses this tragedy as a chance to create a police officer that is part man, part machine to back down. I fall somewhere in the middle. The only time — the Robocop. The stellar supporting cast inI think remakes are a necessary evil is when cludes Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman and it comes to science fiction. For example, Paul Michael Keaton. While I don’t necessarily have an issue with Verhoeven’s “Total Recall” (1990) is undoubtedly a classic, but viewed 20 years on from this particular remake, I have to keep in mind its original release, it feels cheesy and dated. that what made Paul Verhoeven’s original so I’m no Trekkie, but after watching J.J. Abrams’ special was its satirical tone and comments updated vision of “Star Trek” (2009) I’m more on class and society of the time. I worry the inclined to go back and watch the originals, remake will forgo these themes in favor of one “Wrath of Khan” (1982) in particular. See, re- explosion too many, just like last year’s “Total Recall.” If that is the case, I plan to get off makes don’t always have to be a bad thing. Having said that, the newest film to prove the fence and firmly plant myself in the “Don’t that Hollywood has run out of ideas — sorry, touch it!” camp at my next dinner party.

Pompeii Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson



Action / Adventure 102 minutes

I think most people can agree that one of the to erupt, Milo must find a way to save Cassia best filmmakers of this generation, and argu- before the city and everything he knows is deably any generation, is Paul Thomas Ander- stroyed forever. After viewing the first trailer, I’d say the best son. “Boogie Nights” (1997) and “There Will Be Blood” (2007) are, in my opinion, two of way to describe “Pompeii” is a cross between the finest films ever made and I get a rush of “Gladiator” (2000) and “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004). Pompeii looks glamorous, as excitement every time he releases a new film. So you can imagine my disappointment when do the people who inhabit it. Harington, who I briefly scanned February’s new releases and many will recognize as Jon Snow from “Game misread that the director of the upcoming of Thrones” (2011- ), and Adewale Akinndestruction movie “Pompeii” isn’t Paul T. An- uoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko from “Lost”) wear prederson, but Paul W.S. Anderson, director of cious little and have stomachs you could clean films such as “Resident Evil” (2002), “Mortal your clothes on. But don’t worry guys (or gals), Kombat” (1995), “Alien vs. Predator” (2004), the ladies aren’t wearing much either! The “Resident Evil 4” (2010) and “Resident Evil 5” fight scenes look big and the destruction looks (2012). Definitely not one of the finest film- bigger, which you can of course see in glorious, overpriced, under-lit 3-D. makers of his generation. As much as I hate on Paul W.S. Anderson, “Pompeii” is the story of Milo (Kit Harington), a former slave and now formidable gladiator, I have to admit that I did really enjoy “Event and his true love Cassia (Emily Browning), who Horizon” (1997) and I do hold a faint glimmer has been unwillingly forced into a relationship of hope that on this occasion he has made with a Roman senator. With Pompeii facing a decent film. Unlike the people of Pompeii, certain destruction as Mount Vesuvius begins however, I won’t be holding my breath.

72 / February 2014



Drama / Comedy 132 minutes

Mr. Go (미스터 고) Directed by Kim Yong-hwa

There are moments in every critic’s career when doing the thing you love becomes a real chore. I found this to be the case with the DVD release of the Chinese-Korean co-production “Mr. Go” (2013), which is about a gorilla that gets scouted to play professional baseball in Korea. Nope, you read that correctly. Now do you see my predicament? Why on earth would I want to watch a film about baseball? “Mr. Go” is the story of Wei Wei (Xu Jiao), a 15-year-old circus trainer who has spent practically every moment of her life with star gorilla Ling Ling. Wei Wei’s grandfather was an avid baseball fan who passed his love of baseball on to both Wei Wei and Ling Ling. However, when he dies in the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, he also passes on a huge gambling debt that loan sharks have come to collect. To cover the debt, they decide they want Ling Ling, but Wei Wei refuses. Instead, renowned Korean baseball agent Seong Chung-su (Seong Dong-il) signs Ling Ling for the Doo-

san Bears, offering Wei Wei enough money to save her circus. Despite the protestations of the league’s commissioner, Ling Ling is a hit, scoring home runs for fun. How does the next-best team combat this home-run-hitting beast? By signing their own gorilla, of course! So not only do Ling Ling and Wei Wei have to deal with double-crossing agents and league commissioners who want Ling Ling removed from the game, they also have to contend with a more vicious, wild gorilla that happens to have one hell of a pitch and is owned by the Chinese loan sharks Wei Wei and Ling Ling have been trying to escape. In the pantheon of great “animals playing sport” movies, this is right up there with “Air Bud” (1997), or possibly even “Air Bud 5: Air Bud Spikes Back.” Bear in mind, however, that I never saw Bud one-shot an entire bottle of makgeolli, so I think this just might top it! Definitely one for the whole family.



Action / Comedy / Drama 123 minutes

Secretly, Greatly (은밀하게 위대하게) Directed by Jang Cheol-su

It’s no secret that I love the “Fast & Furious” to change, but his love for the republic does films, so you can probably imagine how excit- not. However, when his orders finally come ed I was to see “Fast 6” on opening night last through, he and his fellow spies are not sure if May. However, my hopes were dashed as I got they can carry out a command that could spell stuck behind 62 people, mostly giddy school- the end for the trio. As much as I wanted to hate the film, it’s girls, waiting to buy tickets for Jang Cheol-su’s “Secretly, Greatly.” I was so angry that I couldn’t actually pretty good. If “Shaun of the Dead” wait for it to be released on DVD so I could (2004) invented the “rom-com-zom,” then “Secretly, Greatly” must be a “dram-act-com.” tear it apart! “Secretly, Greatly” follows the lives of three It doesn’t have the same ring, but it’s true. The North Korean soldiers who have been sent story starts off with Ryu-hwan acting a fool south of the border to assimilate into a sleepy by pooping in the street or falling over every village whilst awaiting further instructions: two seconds just to keep up appearances. We Won Ryu-hwan (Kim Su-hyeon) is a brilliant watch as he starts to develop feelings for some and brutal soldier who has taken on the role of the villagers before he finally battles hordes of village idiot, Ri Hae-rang (Park Ki-woong) of North Korean soldiers in an action-packed is assigned to become a rock star and infil- finale. “Secretly, Greatly” really does have something trate the music industry and Ri Hae-jin (Lee Hyeon-woo), the youngest of the three, is to for everyone. There perhaps isn’t enough Vin pose as a high school student. As time passes Diesel for my liking, but on this occasion I’ll with no word from the North, Ryu-hwan’s feel- make an exception. ings toward some of the village people begin


CAPTURING KOREA Edited by Josh Foreman (

Admiring Damyang’s towering bamboo Photos by Peter DeMarco / Interview by Dylan Goldby

Damyang Sun, F-8, 1-160, 16mm, ISO 100

CAPTURING KOREA Edited by Josh Foreman (

Unjusa Stone Pagodas, F5.6, 1-320, 210mm, ISO 1600

Damyang Portrait, F-8, 1-125, 16mm, ISO 640

CAPTURING KOREA Edited by Josh Foreman (

Damyang Path, F-8, 1-125, 16mm, ISO500

Dduk Galbi, F-5.6, 1-125, 50mm, ISO 5000

78 / February 2014

Damyang Surroundings, F-8, 1-200, 35mm, ISO 100


eter DeMarco has lived in Busan since 2007. Having known from an early age that he wanted to travel the world, he has conducted his life accordingly: DeMarco has visited more than 50 countries, and has also won numerous awards for his photography, including being named a Merit Winner by National Geographic Traveler. Groove Korea: Give us an introduction to yourself, the man and the photographer. Peter DeMarco: “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” The travel photographer Steve McCurry said that, and I guess that about sums me up, too. I moved to Korea in 2007, but my first visit was way back in 1979 (I was 6 then). I lived on Jeju Island for a year. My father taught English at Jeju National University, so he brought the whole family over with him. Are these HDR (high-dynamic-range) photos? Actually, none of these photos is HDR. Every picture was made from a single photo. I don’t do much HDR these days; I find that I can get plenty of dynamic range by dodging and burning my photos. Camera sensors (I use a Nikon D600 “Dust Machine”) and processing software like Lightroom have become so advanced, (so) each digital photo now has plenty of information to bend and shape almost as you please, even with a simple JPEG file. What exposure decisions did you have to make when shooting

in the low-light conditions of a bamboo forest? I am pretty much a “set it and forget it” kind of photographer. I want to keep my focus on my surroundings as much as possible so I can stay in the moment. When I’m not using a tripod, my settings are usually F/8, auto ISO minimum 100, auto shutter speed minimum 1/125 sec. to freeze motion. Of course, these can change depending on the situation. Is there anything else to do in the Damyang area? Damyang is located in South Jeolla Province, home to some of the most interesting sites in Korea. I’d recommend making Gwangju your home base and then taking day trips out to the surrounding area like Damyang, the UNESCO “dolmen” (ancient stone graves made from massive boulders) site at Hwaseon, the Boseong tea plantation or one of the most mysterious and original temples in all of Korea — Unjusa. What’s the best way to get to the Damyang Bamboo Forest from Seoul or Busan? From Seoul, take the KTX (express) train to Gwangju Station (06:40-20:30, 1 hr 20 min-2 hr 25 min intervals). From Busan, take the bus from Sobu Terminal in Sasang. Once in Gwangju, go to Gwangju Station and take local bus 311 to Juknokwon. Where can we see more of your photos and tips about traveling in Korea? Drop by my site,



Edited by Sean Choi (

EMBASSIES American Embassy (02) 397-4114 • 188 Sejong-daero, Jongnogu, Seoul Canadian Embassy (02) 3783-6000 • (613) 996-8885 (Emergency Operations Center) Jeongdong-gil (Jeongdong) 21, Jung-gu, Seoul British Embassy (02) 3210-5500 • Sejong-daero 19-gil 24, Jung-gu, Seoul Australian Embassy (02) 2003-0100 • 19th fl, Kyobo bldg., 1 Jongno 1-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul Philippine Embassy (02) 796-7387~9 • 5-1 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Spanish Embassy (02) 794-3581 • 726-52 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul French Embassy (02) 3149-4300 • 30 Hap-dong, Seodaemungu, Seoul

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Cathay Pacific Airways (02) 311-2700 Delta Airlines (02) 754-1921 Emirates Airlines (02) 2022-8400

FAMILY & KIDS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS Chadwick International 032-250-5000 • 17-4 Songdo-dong, Yeonsugu, Incheon Yongsan Intl. School (02) 797-5104 • San 10-213 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

Lotte World (02) 411-2000 0 • 240 Olympic-ro, Songpagu, Seoul Pororo Park (D-Cube city) 1661-6340 • 360-51 Sindorim-dong, Guro-gu, Seoul Pororo Park (Jamsil) 1661-6371 • 40-1 Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul Children’s Grand Park (zoo) (02) 450-9311 • 216 Neungdong-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul Seoul Zoo (02) 500-7338 • 159-1 Makgye-dong, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do

070-7504-8090 80 / January 2014

Oriental massage spa in Itaewon at a reasonable price.

3rd fl. 124-7 Itaewon 1-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 12pm-9pm



What The Book (02) 797-2342 • 176-2, Itaewon 1-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul • Located in Itaewon, this English bookstore has new books, used books and children’s books.

Tower Urology (02) 2277-6699 •5th fl. 119 Jongno 3-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Kim & Johnson 1566-0549 • B2 fl-1317-20 Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul


UPENNIVY dental (02) 797-7784 • 300-26 Ichon 1-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Mir Dental (053) 212-1000 • 149-132 Samdeok-dong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Daegu Chungdam UPENN dental (02) 548-7316 • 131-20 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Erispomme Dental Hospital (02) 555-4808~9 • 2nd fl., Yanghwa tower, 736-16 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul SKIN CLINICS TengTeng skin (02) 337-4066 • 10th floor, First avenue Building, Nonhyeon 1-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul If you have a skin problem, Dr. Julius Jon will take good care of you. English is spoken. Nova Skin (02) 563-7997 • 2 floor A Tower, 822-1, Yeoksam 1-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul ORIENTAL MEDICINE Lee Moon Won Korean Medicine Clinic (02) 511-1079 • 3rd fl., Lee&You bldg., 69-5 Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Specializes in hair loss and scalp problems and offers comprehensive treatments and services including aesthetic and hair care products. Soseng Clinic (02) 2253-8051• 368-90 Sindang 3-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul Yaksan Obesity Clinic (02) 582-4246 • 1364-7, Seocho 2-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul

Yeon & Nature OB GYN (02) 518-1300 •10th - 11th Floor Teun Teun Hospital 71-3 (Yeongdongdaero 713) Gangnam-gu, Cheongdam-dong, Seoul

MUSEUM & GALLERIES National Museum of Korea (02) 2077-9000 • 168-6 Yongsandong 6-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul The NMK offers educational programs on Korean history and culture in English and Korean. National Palace Museum of Korea (02) 3701-7500 • 12 Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul This museum has a program called ‘Experiencing Royal Culture’ designed for English teachers to help learn about Joseon royal culture. Seodaemun Museum of Natural History (02) 330-8899 • 141-52 Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul Don’t know where to take your kids on weekends? This museum exhibits a snapshot of the world and animals. National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea (02) 2188-6000 • 313 Gwangmyeong-ro, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (02) 2014-6901• 747-18 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year and Chuseok holidays Kumho Museum (02) 720-5114 • 78 Sagan-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed on Mondays Gallery Hyundai (02) 734-6111~3 • 22 Sagan-dong, Jongnogu, Seoul It’s the first specialized art gallery in Korea and accommodates contemporary arts. 10 a.m. -6 p.m. Closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year and Chuseok holidays

Plateau (02) 1577-7595 • 50 Taepyung-ro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul 10 a.m.-6 p. m. Closed on Mondays. FITNESS National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul Reebok Crossfit Sentinel (MMCA SEOUL) (02) 790-0801 • (02) 3701-9500 • 30 Samcheong-ro, Sogyeok-dong, World Gym Jongro-gu, Seoul Yeouido (02) 782-1003 Gangnam (02) 2052-0096 Daegu Art Museum Ilsan (031) 932-7010 (053) 790-3000 • 374 Samdeok-dong, Busan (051) 758-5554 Suseong-gu, Daegu • Art space for local culture presenting Daegu’s contemporary fine arts and internationally Body & Seoul renowned artists. 010-6397-2662 •



Jo’s Basket Grill & Dining (02) 744-0701 • 31-37 Dongsoong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Jin Donburi (02) 2235 1123 • 103-9 Jeodong 1-ga, Junggu, Seoul The chef here trained in Japan and serves an authentic Japanese-style donburi (donkatsu over rice) at an affordable price. Gatsudon goes for 6,000 won.

KOREAN & BBQ Small Happiness in the Garden (02) 975-3429 • 28-3 Jeodong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul Jang Sa Rang (02) 546-9994 • 624-47 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul The menu at this traditional Korean restaurant ranges from classic kimchi pancakes and stone pot rice to an array of meats and veggies.

Dr. Oh’s King-size Donkatsu / O Baksane Donkatsu (02) 3673 5730 • 131-32 Seongbuk-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul The place serves donkatsu the size of a car wheel. The restaurant dares you to finish it in one sitting.

Ondal (02) 450-4518 • 177 Walkerhill-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul Looking to impress a date or a business partner? Head to the premier traditional Korean restaurant in Seoul.

Myeongdong Donkatsu (02) 776 5300 • 59-13 Myeong-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul This is the most popular and oldest Japanese-style donkatsu restaurant in Myeong-dong. Try the wasabi.

Hadongkwan (02) 776-5656 • 10-4 Myungdong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul This place simply has the best gomtang (beef soup) in Seoul.

Namsan Donkatsu (02) 777-7929 • 49-24 Namsandong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul Since 1992, this casual Korean-style donkatsu restaurant has been a favorite of Namsan hikers and taxi drivers.

Two Plus (02) 515 5712 • B1 fl. 532-9 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Served here is a high-quality beef loin at a reasonable price. Tosokchon (Samgyetang) (02) 737 7444 • 85-1 Chebu-dong, Jongnogu, Seoul A popular Korean-style chicken soup with ginseng is popular at this place. Former presidents enjoyed this restaurant. A soup costs just 15,000 won.

INTERNATIONAL Battered Sole (02) 322-8101 • 52-23 Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul Battered Sole is a relative newcomer, but they serve up some of the best fish and chips in Korea. This is the real deal. Simply India (02) 744 6333• 1-79 Dongsung-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul



Pho Hoa (02) 792-8866 • 737-4, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

So True (02) 549 7288 • Jinseong Building, 58-6 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.

ITALIAN & FRENCH Pizza Hill (02) 450-4699 • 177 Walkerhill-ro, Gwangjingu, Seoul The first restaurant to serve pizza in Korea. MEXICAN & TEX-MEX Dos Tacos (Gangnam) (02) 593-5904 • 104 Dessian Luv, 1303-35 Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul The best and largest taco franchise is Korea; try out their shrimp potato burrito. Grill5taco (02) 515-5549 • 519-13 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

82 / January 2014


Sanchon (02) 735 0312 • 14 Gwanghun-dong, Jongnogu, Seoul Veggie Holic 070 4114 0458 • 204-59 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul March Rabbit (02) 3444-4514 • 560 Sinsa-dong, Gangnamgu, Seoul Daegu 5th Lounge (053) 764-3579 •207-10 Doosan-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu This fabulous lounge does just about everything right. If you’re in search for space for private parties, this is the place.

Night club G’day (American & Brunch) (053) 746-1217 •980-9 Suseongdong 4-ga, Suseong-gu, Daegu This Aussie brunch cafe serves the best brunch in Daegu at the best price. The Paris (Italian & French) (053) 763-8998 • 207-10 Doosan-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu This place offers fine dining in one of the few authentic French restaurants in town. Dos Tacos (Mexican & Tex-Mex) (053) 255-4885 • 34-4 Dongsung-ro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Daegu

Italy & Italy (Italian / French) (053) 423- 5122 • 22-2, Samdeok-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Daegu

The Pho [Vietnamese] (051) 256-8055 • Saeabusan town, Sinchangdong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Busan

La Luce (European) (053) 255-7614 • 40-63 Daebong-dong, Jung-gu, Daegu

The Grill On The Beach (Pub) (051) 731-9799 • B1 fl. Sea star bldg., 1417-2 Jung 1-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan This submarine-themed pub carries international beer and a wide selection of wine.

Ariana Boccaccio Hotel Brau (Buffet) (051) 767-7913 • 200-1, Dusan-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu Thursday Party (Bar) 21-23 Samdeok-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Daegu Busan

Pan Asia (International) (053) 287-7940 • 2 fl., 21-9 Samdeok-dong, Jung-gu, Daegu

Wolfhound (Haeundae, Busan) (051) 746-7913 • 1359 Woo 1-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan

South St. (American) (053) 471-7867 • 664-10 Bongdeok 3-dong, Nam-gu, Daegu

Rock N Roll (Bar) • 2 fl, 56-5, Daeyeon 3-dong, Nam-gu, Busan

Bagel Doctor (Café) (053) 421-6636 • Samdeokdong 2-ga, Junggu, Daegu Miyako (Japanese) (053) 761-5555 • 402-5 Sang-dong, Suseonggu, Daegu Beyond Factory (Italian/café) (053) 255-7614 • 40-63 Daebong-dong, Jung-gu, Daegu

Wolfhound [Irish Pub] (051) 746-7913 • 2 fl, 1359, U 1-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan Fuzzy Navel [Mexican Pub] (051) 754- 6349 • 178-13, Millak-dong, Suyeong-gu, Busan Farmer’s Hamburger [American] (051) 244-5706 • 35-1 Daechungdong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Busan

Paniere(Café) (051) 817-8212 • 225-1 Bujeon-dong, Jin-gu, Busan The European-style brunch restaurant/café serves fresh fruit juice and sandwiches.

DRINKS BEER AND COCKTAILS Big Rock (02) 539-6650 • B1 818-8, Yeoksam 1-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul This place imports premium beer from Alberta. Its comfortable atmosphere and huge space is perfect for just about every occasion.

Octagon •175-2 Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Cocoon •364-26 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul Eden •Ritz Carlton 602 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnamgu, Seoul Elune •1408-5 Jung 1-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan Mass •1306-8 Seocho 4-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul

Massage, Spa & Beauty Lucy Hair (02) 325-2225 • 2 floor, 30-10, Chandcheondong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul Look your best effortlessly with the help of Lucy. Her internationally trained hair stylists treat your locks with the best hair products in a modern and cozy environment.

Once in a Blue Moon (02) 549. 5490 •85-1 Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul A live jazz club Seoul that hosts renowned musicians from Korea and around the world.

All menu items 10,000 won Steak meal 20,000 won Without compromising on quality and taste, Bennigan’s is the first family restaurant in the business to serve such carefully selected ingredients and the best taste at a flat price.

The smartest way to spend 10,000 won!



84 / February 2014

Games Crosswords - Sudoku

Across 1. Brian __-, a king of Ireland 5. Give birth to 10. Use phone code 14. Roaster or toaster 15. Aotearoa people 16. For deposit ___ 17. Intersection concern 19. Comment of contempt. 20. Musical very 21. Show-offs 23. Counterperson’s call 26. City visited by Paul and Barnabas 27. Soft-nosed ammo

outlawed in 1899 32. Gorilla 33. Painter Veronese 34. Extremely successful, slangily 38. Spiciness 40. Fishhook holder 42. Informal shirt 43. In motion 45. Pioneer computer 47. Contraction in ‘The StarSpangled Banner’ 48. Heavy shrubbery growth 51. Physicist Avogadro

54. Highbrow 55. Like Gouda or muenster 58. Bar, to a barrister 62. Earring locale 63. Darling 66. Dots on French maps 67. Illumination units 68. Irreverent talk show host Don 69. Role to play 70. Ukase, e.g. 71. ‘___ la vie!’

24. Santa’s holiday, for short 25. Loin cuts 27. Lab book entries 28. Arrow poison 29. Noun suffix 30. Television medical expert Art 31. Humbert Humbert’s nymphet 35. Child of TV, e.g. 36. Swiss painter: 1879-1940 37. ___ cloud (cosmic debris) 39. Dizzy to the max 41. Bert who played a lion 44. Roger of “Cheers”

46. References 49. Pasta bit 50. ___ fibrosis 51. “__ of the tongue” 52. U.S. World Cup goalie Tony 53. Smoldering spark 56. Long-running conflict 57. Cabby’s vehicle 59. Heavy book 60. Great responsibility 61. Annoyer 64. ___ room (site for a PingPong table) 65. N.H. clock setting

Down 1. Dry, cold wind 2. Sheep genus 3. Rules, shortly 4. “___ me, you villain!” 5. Med. cost-saving plan 6. Branch of the armed forces 7. What a tug does 8. Squeeze (in) 9. Southern greeting 10. “Keep going!” 11. Language related to Aleut 12. Change 13. Rabies 18. Keep busy 22. Delicatessen loaves

*To see the answers, search “crossword” on



Horoscopes February 2014


March 20 - April 20

Your forceful manner makes waves in the workplace. Keep your opinions to yourself this month and you will be a lot happier from 9 to 5. Your personal life blossoms when an old friend comes back into your life later in the month. Leo and Sagittarius play important roles.


April 21 - May 21

Your strong, steady nature will keep you calm during a tumultuous month at work. You won’t fall prey to coworkers’ worries. It’s a different story, however, when it comes to romance; an evening with that special someone will allow you to open up and let your emotions show.


May 22 - June 21

You’ll feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster when it comes to family this month. Relatives will be spending a lot of time with you and sharing their true feelings. Don’t hold your emotions in. Venting them will help bring you back to an even keel. Look to friends for relaxation.


June 22 - July 22

Bask in the glory at work this month as you successfully complete a difficult project — your superiors will be impressed. Your social life will be improving, meaning your phone won’t stop ringing. Friends you haven’t heard from in quite a long time will be in touch. Taurus and Gemini are involved.


July 23 - August 23

Your outgoing personality is a hit with the higher-ups at work. They need someone to go after the heavy hitters and it could very well be you. Your loyalty to a good friend could put you in a difficult situation this month. Don’t lose someone close to you just because you’re feeling impetuous.


August 24 - September 23

Even though it may be hard for you, you’re going to have to sit still when it comes to a family event this month. Let relatives make the plans and only give your input if asked. It all will work out for the best. A friend will look to you for advice later in the month. Try not to be judgmental.

86 / February 2014


September 24 - October 23

Don’t let work get you down this month. It’s only a job; so many more important things go on after 5 p.m. Romance blossoms later in the month. You’ll be swept off your feet when you least expect it by someone whom you never thought could interest you. Gemini and Aries are involved.


October 24 - November 22

You know who you are and what you can do, so don’t be a showoff at work early in the month. It can make you look foolish in front of your boss. Family matters are of prime importance this month. Show loved ones how much you care — even if they do drive you crazy at times.


November 23 - December 21

Don’t let a mistake at work get you down late in the month. Just explain yourself and correct the error. You aren’t good at lying, so don’t even try. Your family ties grow stronger this month. As for romance, you’re riding a wave of excitement. Enjoy it and start thinking about the future.


December 22 - January 19

Keep your shoulder to the wheel at work this month. Don’t let petty arguments among coworkers distract you. A close friend will need your help. Give him or her support. However, stand your ground when he or she makes a ludicrous request. You’ll be thanked for it later.


January 20 - February 18

Don’t be a follower at work this month — now’s your chance to take the lead and show everyone what you’re capable of. A loved one will seem aloof, but don’t overreact. He or she just needs to be alone for a little while. Respect his or her wishes; you’ll be close again soon.


February 19 - March 19

Life is your stage this month — make your mark wherever you go. However, don’t let your satiric nature go overboard. Remember to respect other people’s feelings. Show compassion to a friend in need later in the month. He or she is counting on you for advice.

PROMOTIONS Edited by Sean Choi (

Park Hyatt Seoul 6 to 8 at the Timber House Park Hyatt Seoul’s The Timber House presents a promotion featuring a wide selection of premium-quality dishes and beverages at an exceptionally special price on weeknights. The promotion set at 60,000 won offers fresh sashimi, unique buffet-style menus, three kinds of mini pass-around dishes served at the table, a choice of four exquisite main dishes, a dessert, as well as free flow of five kinds of wine and beer. For more information and reservations, call the Timber House at (02) 2016-1290/1291.

Grand Hilton Seoul Baby Baby Prenatal Education Package To celebrate the arrival of the New Year, the Grand Hilton Seoul is newly presenting the Baby Baby Prenatal Education Package, which has gained positive response from prospective parents. The Baby Baby Package, available until June 30, includes an Executive Room, breakfast in the Executive Lounge, complimentary Happy Hour, special gifts for newborns and infants such as a colorful quilt, key teether, a Bluedog baby outfit, a Froebel baby music CD and Talmud fairy tales. Bonus gifts include lotion for preventing chapped skin from SON REVE, a 10 percent discount when making a reservation at Benecre postnatal care center, and a soothing facial and sugar scrub for the lower body. The price of the package is 350,000 won (exclusive of tax and service charges). For reservations, call (02) 2287-8400.

Conrad Seoul Valentine’s Day promotions Conrad Seoul’s Design Your Luxury Valentine’s Day package invites you to celebrate Valentine’s Day to your own taste. Guests are invited to add one of three options to spice up their one night’s stay over Valentine’s Day. Select from a heart-shaped chocolate and premium champagne for a romantic ambience, an airy balloon decoration with champagne, or a luxurious flower bouquet by Armani Fiori. Guests may also add a luxurious, dreamlike eye mask, leather paddle, and sexy, babydoll red nightie from Agent Provocateur, a luxury lingerie brand. Add an arrangement of romantic flowers from Armani Fiori, or champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries to celebrate the evening. This package will be available from Feb. 14 to 15 and the prices start from 455,000 won. For more information and reservations, call (02) 6137-7777.

Novotel Ambassador Gangnam Strawberry Dessert Buffet Novotel Ambassador Gangnam presents a Refreshing Strawberry Dessert Buffet from Feb. 15 at the Lobby Lounge. Enjoy tea time with a variety of more than 30 unique strawberry desserts such as vanilla strawberry panna cotta and minestrone, strawberry crème brûlée served with kirsch, pistachio mascarpone and strawberry chip meringue, all boasting freshness. The strawberry promotion, one of the hotel’s most beloved promotions, is offered every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. until May in the relaxing atmosphere of the Lobby Lounge. Price is 38,000 for adults and 22,000 won for children. For more information and reservations, call the Novotel Ambassador Gangnam Lobby Lounge at (02) 531-6611.

Club Med A promotion for soon-to-be-married couples Premium all-inclusive resort Club Med presents its Honeymoon Special Promotion to Feb. 27 for engaged couples marrying in the spring. For a more special and romantic honeymoon, Club Med offers a 40 percent discount to the resort lodge when customers book 60-90 days before departure. A coupon for a free Honeymoon album is also provided for guests to save their memories. The promotion is applicable for guests who reserve a flight package for departures by April 27 at eight select resorts: Maldives Kani, Bali, Phuket, Cherating Beach, Bintan Island, Kabira Beach, Guilin and Yabuli. For more information, visit or call (02) 3452-0123.

PROMOTIONS Edited by Sean Choi (

Novotel Ambassador Busan

Park Hyatt Busan

Romantic Valentine Package

First anniversary promotion

Novotel Ambassador Busan offers a Romantic Valentine Package for lovers seeking a romantic Valentine’s Day. The package includes one night in a Deluxe room, glasses of premium wine and a cheese plate at Le Bouchon bar and free access for two to the hot spring sauna. Free access is also included to the fitness center, swimming pool and 20 percent off restaurants in our hotel as well as a Busan Aquarium 30 percent discount voucher. The Romantic Valentine Package is available from Feb. 7 to 21 and priced from 165,000 won. For more information and reservations, call (051) 743-1234 /1243.

Park Hyatt Busan offers a First at the Park package for a standard room, priced at 218,000 won to commemorate its anniversary date, Feb. 18. Breakfast is priced at 21,800 won per person. A 10 percent tax is applied (except Saturdays). All guests can use the Internet in guest rooms, and access the swimming pool and fitness center for free. For more information and reservations, call (051) 990-1234/1237.

Strategically located in downtown Seoul, Gangbuk district, Somerset Palace offers secure and comfortable accommodation for business travel, holiday, extended stay or relocation. Our serviced residence is right in the heart of the city’s diplomatic, business and financial districts, and just 3 to 5 minutes’ walk from the Anguk, Jonggak and Kwanghwamun subway stations. Discover at your leisure the many restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues located along Insa-Dong and throughout the Jongno-Gu area. Because life is about living. For rates or bookings, please call +822-67308000 or visit

88 / February 2014

Somerset Palace Seoul is managed by The Ascott Limited, a member of CapitaLand. It is the largest international serviced residence owner-operator with more than 200 properties in over 70 cities across Asia Pacific, Europe and the Gulf region. It operates three award-winning brands Ascott, Citadines and Somerset.

Lotte Hotel Busan

We value and care for your

Valentine Day Lovers The hotel’s Italian restaurant Wine & Dining offers Valentine Day Lovers promotion for couples from February 13th until March 16th. The promotion includes seafood salad with fresh herbs and salmon in citron dressing, asparagus soup with chive crème and main dishes serving sirloin steak and king prawn. The chef’s special dessert and a bottle of Eagle Hawk wine will add romantic touch to the course. Inquiries and reservation, (051) 810-6320


DENTAL CLINIC General Dentistry Cosmetic Dentistry Prothodontist, Veneers Implants 8 mins from Itaewon St.

Suhyup Bank




1min. from Exit No. 6 of Gongdeok St.

1st Anniversary party B1 Lounge club at Itaewon celebrates its 1st anniversary parties on Feb 8th, 15th and 22nd. DJ DeWalta from Berlin performs on Feb. 8. Main party is on Feb. 15th with DJ Gorge and DJ Inland Knights in the club. DJ Gorge has built a great reputation as a DJ playing in some of the best clubs in the world such as Watergate (Berlin), Rex (Paris), DEdge (Sao Paulo), Cielo (NYC), Space (Ibiza), Zoo Project (Ibiza), Electric Pickle (Miami), Cargo (London) and Arma 17 (Moscow). DJ Betoko will play on the last day Feb. 22nd. Tickets sold at 20,000 won on 15th and at 10,000 won on 8th and 22nd. B1 Lounge club: (02) 749-6164 / 010-2606-6164 / 010-4067-6164

Police Station







7 Mon/Thu/Fri 9:30am ~ 6:30pm | Tue 9:30am ~ 8:30pm | Wed 2:00pm ~ 6:30pm Saturday: 9:30am ~ 2:00pm | Sunday : 10am ~ 2:00pm

02.791.2199 26-16 Singongdeok-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

PROMOTIONS Edited by Sean Choi (

Serafina New York

Sipremium 2014

Wine Promotion

Handmade twist to Korean gifts and homeware

Serafina New York , a casual Italian restaurant from New York, is offering a Happy Serafina wine promotion including 20 world-famous wines at an exceptional price from Feb. 1 to the end of March. The wine promotion is priced at 39,000 won and recommended with the restaurant’s northern Italian style dishes. Customers can taste various famous wines such as Italian sparkling wine Zonin Prosecco, Argentinian Kaiken malbec, and Chilean Ecobalance sauvignon blanc and Los Vascos rose. For more information, call (02) 3443-1123.

The Seoul International Sourcing Fair for Premium Gifts and Homeware 2014 (SIPREMIUM) will add a touch of home-comfort to the gifts and homeware market when it introduces a new concurrent event, the Handmade Show, from Feb. 26 to March 1 at COEX. SIPREMIUM is Korea’s longest-running trade show in the industry, and the only of its kind to receive official certification from the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry. The trade show is the ideal platform for overseas buyers looking to source quality sales promotion items, commercial gifts and domestic goods. Pre-register for free admission to SIPREMIUM on the event’s official website,

90 / February 2014

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