Page 1

Get lucky

Seoul’s annual St. Patrick’s Day festival will knock your green socks off www.groovekorea.com

KOREA • Issue 89 / March 2014

Expat superstars 4 rising foreign performers reveal Korea’s entertainment industry

Korea takes SXSW by storm

Let the good times roll in Sinsa

Monkeys and Machetes

From K-pop to Crying Nut, Austin won’t know what hit it

Pier 17 brings Cajun flair to Seoul

Indonesia’s best-kept secret is waiting in the jungle

NANTA Deadline: July 20th

FP2 Deadline: July 20th


To comment, email editor@groovekorea.com

How I went From homeless to hustler

Hus tle o r di e Editorial

By Pinnacle TheHustler, hip-hop musician and entrepreneur


radio show, “Weekend Chart.” Before I could demand an explaomen. Alcohol. Partying in the biggest, hottest clubs nation, more news: I was being moved from weekends to seven in Asia. That’s all pretty awesome, right? The life of days a week. A new show, “Night Vibe,” was born. After hi-fiving a rapper. And it’s not like you have to wake up early everyone in my immediate vicinity, I ran out and did a jump kick in and work 12- to 15-hour days to have it. Or spend the air. I landed, but my head was still in the clouds. I had to make your own money to build a brand. Or go into “work” when you a decision: stay safe or hustle. I quit my teaching job. don’t feel like it. Right? I replaced Pinnacle & The Antidote with a new band, Pinnacle & Don’t go putting in your two weeks yet. I haven’t yet told you about the loneliness, the depression and the financial deprivation. RFD. My life had taken a new direction. I was energized. I started I haven’t told you of the true cost of being an international musi- a company called Planet Hustle. I paid for marketing and promotion, music videos, albums. I began DJing professionally. I bought cian. Let’s start at the beginning. a ton of music equipment. I successfully went broke, again. But I’ve been a hustler all my life. As a student at the University seeing an account balance of “0.00” didn’t faze me anymore. of Cincinnati, I started a hip-hop-centered organization, was the At some point I began to feel bored. I began to feel, well, compresident of my fraternity and was a leader in student government. This was thrilling to me. It was my response to complacency. placent. I felt a lack of inspiration. I lost a relationship with someone very special to me because I put my art before her. I had no Complacency is that motivation-destroying specter that whispers family or anyone else I could fundamentally relate to. to you every morning that your good enough is good enough. I was suddenly fighting another battle, this time against depresMoving to Korea to teach was an act of rebellion against comsion. It was the first time in a long time I felt really, truly alone, placency. I boarded that plane with $200 to my name. My first day and it hurt. Feeling like I had nothing and nowhere else to turn, in Korea left me with $80, after a taxi driver convinced me to ride I began to pray. I prayed for clarity and strength, and I received from Incheon to Bundang (and my mistrust of Korean taxi drivers it. I realized that it was time to leave. My goals were and still are began). Although my situation was far from ideal, I had never felt bigger than Korea. freer. I had nothing to lose, and I was OK with that. It made me Now that I’ve left Korea, my opportunities in entertainment have work harder. expanded. I’m pushing my single, “Work To Do,” to a broader I soon realized, however, that teaching was also complacency. I audience, I’m booking international DJs in various entertainment enjoyed it, but it was safe. So, I began diving. I began performing establishments in Asia and I’m securing more international dates with Carlos Galvan (from the original K-pop group Uptown), diving as a performer/DJ. As long as I reject complacency, work like I into the Korean entertainment industry. I created a band called Pinnacle & The Antidote, diving into the Korean live music scene. have nothing left to lose and stay focused, I can achieve my goals ­ whether they are in the music industry or any other endeavor I I started working as a guest host at TBS eFM 101.3, diving into — pursue. a radio career. But in all of this diving, I began to drown. Teaching My name is Pinnacle TheHustler. It’s more than a name. It’s became a burden; class was an impediment on my track to sucmore than a brand. It’s my way of life. cess. Then, something happened that changed my life. One day I received a text: I was being taken off my part-time

Hot on: www.groovekorea.com Food

Music & Arts

A vegan leader branches out

Only in dreams

Chances are, if you’ve ever visited High Street Market, you already know the illustrious Mipa Lee. She’s most widely known as the brains and baker behind Alien’s Day Out, Seoul’s lead provisioner of sugary-sweet confections made without eggs, butter or milk. In short, she’s responsible for making Alien’s Day Out — both the blog and bakeshop — synonymous with vegan indulgence. For anyone walking the egg- and dairy-free trail in Seoul, Mipa’s a mammoth. To add to her list of professional accomplishments, she’s now also the purveyor of PLANT, a studio/restaurant that’s been in the making for years.

In her tiny 3.6-by-6-by-2.4-meter Seoul studio, Korean artist Lee Jee-young has been constructing and capturing her own dreamscapes without the luxury of outside help. This means no other contributors and, a more rare occurrence these days, no Photoshop (or any other kind of digital manipulation, for that matter). The Hongik University graduate says she chooses not to use Photoshop because of her personal art philosophy. And although she does get a kick out of people’s disbelief, she says that what is more important to her, and hopefully the viewer, is the subject matter.

Story by Shelley DeWees Read it online in March or in print in April


www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

Story by Remy Raitt Read it online in March or in print in April



www.groovekorea.com / March 2014



What’s in this issue


MArch 2014


Music & Art

30 Taking a stand Migrant workers protest their exploitative employers


expat superstars How four expat performers broke into Korea’s entertainment industry



04 - Editorial “Hustle or die”: How hip-hop performer Pinnacle went from homeless to hustler

24 - What’s on Festivals, concerts, happy hours, networking and events for every day of the month

14 - Key people Introducing some of the editors, writers and photographers behind March’s issue

28 - the news Prostitution apps circumvent Korean laws; adopted Korean identical twins reunited via Facebook; smuggling from U.S. Army bases on the rise; new visa regulations for newlywed foreign spouses of Koreans

17 - The inbox Opinions and feedback from readers 18 - Must reads A selection of our editors’ favorite articles 22 - On the Cover

Music & ART


www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

32 - FINDING MEANING IN PYONGYANG’S EXCRETIONS When sorting through Kim’s speeches, sifting plans from the propaganda takes skill. 34 - SAYING YES TO THE COMPANY PLAN Paul Sharkie gives us a closer look at employer pension offerings.

MUSIC & ARTS 44 - BACK TO THE REAL WORLD Never complacent, Pinnacle TheHustler moves the party — and business — stateside. 46 - STRAIGHT TALKING Korea’s TV darling Bronwyn Mullen shares the highs and lows of the business. 48 - JUST GROWING UP Jake Pains on taking hallyu TV head on 50 - JESSE DAY IS HERE TO STAY Vowing to conquer the Asian entertainment industry, Jesse Day is a mogul in the making. 52 - KOREA TAKES SXSW BY STORM Fourteen Korean bands show what they’re made of at one of the U.S.’ biggest music festivals.


What’s in this issue


MArch 2014



59 EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, BATHS LAND IN SEOUL New concert organizers Lasrevinu invite global acts for electronic, post-rock partying

MUSIC & ARTS 56 - NEW BLUE DEATH A passionate sextet that combines broody music and old-school visuals 60 - ARTIST’S JOURNEY Interview with magician Yu Da Kim 62 - AT THE BOX OFFICE “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” “300: Rise of an Empire” 63 - DVD CORNER “The Berlin File (베를린)” “The Terror Live (더 테러 라이브)”


ISLANDS OF INCHEON Korea’s west coast, a safe haven for the weary but curious traveler



66 - Home brewers lead the push toward better beer A beer-making class in Itaewon draws foreigners and Koreans alike. Results may vary, but all are delicious.

78 - The WALK THROUGH AUSCHWITZ Not for the faint of heart, one expat attempts to draw meaning from a visit to the haunted Polish death camp.

70 - LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL IN SINSA Po’boys, gumbo and Shark Attacks, oh my! Pier 17 brings Cajun flair to Seoul.

82 - MONKEYS AND MACHETES The Indonesian islands are known for their bountiful opportunities for vacationers, and Sumatra can now compete with its famous (and tamer) siblings.

72 - SEOUL VEGGIE KITCHEN Lost for how to make it through the final stretch of winter? Let this simple soup be your guide.

Community 84 - FINE ART WITH A FUNCTION Global Arts Therapy shows how art can make a difference for impoverished communities in Nepal. 86 - GET LUCKY Find your Irish flag-bearers and gather your armies — St. Patty’s is coming. 88 - DON’T GO SOLO, GET SEOUL MATE Kyung Hee University grad Hassan Abid turns a fun project into a practical phone app.

64 - ‘BANGKOK COWBOY’ Review of Ron McMillan’s smooth spy noir thriller. Fans of expat fiction, buckle up. CAPTURING KOREA

90 - THE BEAUTY OF THE EAST COAST Glen Sundeen finds calmness in Sokcho and up Seoraksan, the Korean tourist hotspots.

DISTRACTIONS 96 - GROOVE LISTINGS Doctors, travel agencies, restaurants, hotels, airlines, nightclubs and more 100 - COMICS 101 - GAMES 102 - HOROSCOPES 103 - PROMOTIONS A selection of deals around Korea

10 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

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.

Jenny Na U.S.

Contact Info 010-5348-0212 / (02) 6925-5057 For Advertising ads@groovekorea.com For General Inquiries info@groovekorea.com EDITORIAL Editorial Director Elaine Ramirez elaine@groovekorea.com Insight Editor Matthew Lamers mattlamers@groovekorea.com Food & Destinations Editor Josh Foreman joshforeman@groovekorea.com Community Editor Jenny Na jenny@groovekorea.com Music & Arts Editor Emilee Jennings emilee@groovekorea.com Associate Editor Shelley DeWees shelley@groovekorea.com Editor-at-large John M. Rodgers jmrseoul@gmail.com Copy Editors Jaime Stief, Albert Kim, Daniel Deacon, Kevin Lee Selzer ART & DESIGN Art Director Park Seong-eun sam@groovekorea.com Design Adviser Prof. Kim Duck-mo MARKETING & ADMINISTRATION CFO Steve Seung-Jin Lee steve.lee@groovekorea.com Marketing Executive Jay Park jpark@groovemedia.co.kr Manager Peter Chong yschong@groovekorea.com Accounting Choi Hye-won Web, I.T. Dan Himes danhimes@groovekorea.com

Jenny is a Korean adoptee with an interest in human rights and social justice issues. Outside of that, she’s in the kitchen making blended beverages, in the yoga studio, at the pool or at the computer planning her next trip to oceans near and far. Jenny is Groove Korea’s Community Editor.

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.

Emilee Jennings Ireland

Emilee is from Sligo, a coastal town so beautiful it’s nicknamed the “land of heart’s desire.” She worked as an entertainment editor and broadcast journalist in Ireland before moving to Seoul to embark on an Asian adventure. Here she works as an English drama teacher and occasional actress. Emilee is Groove Korea’s Music and Arts Editor.

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, Karie Schulenburg, 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 craig@groovekorea.com Publisher Sean Choi sean@groovekorea.com To contribute to Groove Korea, email submissions@groovekorea.com or the appropriate editor. To write a letter to the editor, email editor@groovekorea.com. To have Groove Korea delivered to your home or business, email subscribe@groovekorea.com. To promote your event, email events@groovekorea.com. To advertise, email ads@groovekorea.com. 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 2014

14 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

Jaime Stief Canada

Jaime is from Waterloo, Ontario, and has lived in Seoul since June 2012. Her MA is in Communications, but that doesn’t always translate to being able to speak coherently. When she isn’t at work, she’s busy trying to build up a tolerance to spicy food. She follows more blogs than she cares to admit. Jaime is the senior copy editor.

Dylan Goldby Australia

Dylan is a passionate photographer who loves to speak in the third person. Knee-deep in kimchi and shooting it from every angle, he has been on the peninsula for nigh on seven years now. He is a freelancer and teacher of photography. He is a regular contributor to Groove Korea, a moderator at the Seoul Photo Club and loves to work with other photographers in the never-ending task of photographing Korea. Dylan contributes the monthly photography column “Capturing Korea.”

Deadline: July 20th


THE INBOX Groove readers’ opinions and feedback.

On “Korea’s black racism epidemic,” February 2014 In the past few months, a number of media outlets have published English articles detailing the issues that black people confront here in Korea. Although the focus of these articles has been on black Americans, there have also been mentions of discrimination against black Africans as well. In short, there have been enough cases of legal anti-black discrimination that now English media outlets here are beginning to cover them. The tone of the articles has been “how can we help solve this problem?” and “what can we (non-Koreans) do to help change Koreans’ minds?” Yet this is merely shifting the burden from the perpetrator to the victim ­— it is not the victim’s responsibility to change the perpetrator. If you aggregate the information in these articles, there is mention of discrimination in hiring practices, denying qualified (college degree, TESOL or TEFL certificate, experience) people of color with job opportunities because hagwons or schools believe that if they hire these people, parents will not send their students to them. If this is to be believed, that means that the schools are not biased, but their clients and, by extension, society is. Moreover, these articles have cited that Koreans feel negatively toward black people due to a preponderance of factors, such as Confucianism, soldiers during and after the Korean War, the 1992 LA riots, the U.S. media’s portrayal of blacks, and having an affinity toward lighter skin due to Korea’s feudal and strictly structured past during the Joseon Dynasty. While these reasons seem legitimate on the surface, when one deconstructs the logic, or lack thereof, contained within, you realize that either people are uneducated, intellectually lazy, blissfully ignorant, purposefully ignorant or a combination of all of the above. Or, what is most likely the case, people have decided that they are intellectually superior to others, and anything negative about those who they have decided they are better than can be used to justify said discrimination. Black people are not just how they are portrayed in the media. In fact, recall that the air conditioner was invented by Frederick M. Jones in 1949, the bicycle frame by L.R. Johnson in 1899, the cellular phone by Henry T. Sampson in 1971, the electric lamp bulb by Lewis Lattimer in 1882, the elevator by Alexander Miles in 1862, the fire extinguisher by T. Marshall in 1872, the fountain pen by W.B. Purvis in 1890, the golf tee by T. Grant in 1899, the gas mask by Garrett Morgan in 1914, the traffic light by Morgan in 1923, the guitar by Robert Flemming in 1886, the refrigerator by J. Standard in 1891, and the phone transmitter by Granville T. Woods in 1884. I could continue, but for time’s sake, let’s ponder where our world would be without these black people. I hope people’s opinions change, but if they do not, history and the power of the spirit of mankind will pass you by — much like Jesse Owens sprinting to four gold medals in 1936 Nazi Berlin, Tiger Woods winning the 1997 Master’s on a formerly segregated golf course in Augusta, Georgia, W.E.B. DuBois becoming the first black to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard, or Barack Obama being elected the 44th president of the United States in 2008. In short, hate could not stop black people in Africa or the United States, and it certainly will not stop us here in Korea. By Anthony C. Greene, M.S. Ed

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A selection from our editors

MUST READs Monkeys and machetes

Expat superstars

Page 82

Page 36

Once limited to those with an uncanny spirit for peril and excitement, Sumatra is slowly joining the ranks of must-see Indonesia: 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. Quirky and wild though it may be, sticky Sumatra is no longer just for daredevils.

Expat performers rub shoulders with Korea’s celebrities, but it’s not all partying with rock stars. Getting to that point requires countless sleepless nights and days of planning, networking, auditioning, scripting, rehearsing, filming, traveling and, simply put, enduring. Four rising foreign entertainers reveal the world of Korea’s entertainment industry.

Korea takes SXSW by storm

The beauty of the east coast

Page 52

Page 90

Each year, hundreds of thousands swarm to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, to experience film, comedy and, most famously, music. Ever since Korea’s entrance in 2007, SXSW has been seeing a Korean Wave of its own. The 14 bands making a splash this year aren’t treating the opportunity as a one-off — they’re using it to dive into the U.S., the center of rock.

Inspired by lonely places, Glen Sundeen traveled day and night to witness Korea’s eastern coast in its earliest daylight hours — on Christmas morning, no less. For this month’s Capturing Korea, he shot one of the ROK’s most popular tourist destinations: Seoraksan and the nearby city of Sokcho.

Home brewers lead the push toward better beer

Fine art with a function

Page 66

“Okay, put in the hops now,” her instructor commands. Christine Pickering takes a beginner home-brewing class run by Seoul Homebrew, a supply store for home brewers. Instructor Jonathan Wilson assures them that their brew will taste more like the red rye ales they are nursing and less like the ancient medicinal potion they can smell before them.

18 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

Page 84

Samantha Thomas may be an art teacher by trade, but she could also teach you a thing or two about multitasking. The Iowa native is the founder and director of operations at Global Arts Therapy, a multinational NGO set to launch this month that uses art projects as the basis for sustainable community development.

20 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014


COVER Expat superstars Expat performers rub shoulders with Korea’s celebrities, but it’s not all partying with rock stars. Getting to that point requires countless sleepless nights and days of planning, networking, auditioning, scripting, rehearsing, filming, traveling and, simply put, enduring. Four rising foreign entertainers reveal the world of Korea’s entertainment industry. Read the story on Page 36.

Cover photo by Dylan Goldby Design by Park Seong-eun

Our past three issues

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

Korea’s black racist epidemic Threadbare on the Silk Road The artistic entrepreneur

Winter’s silver lining The beers of winter Unhinging Korea

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


What’s On SUN

For suggestions or comments, email events@groovekorea.com







Music / Dance

Travel / Sports


Networking / Social


Food / Drinks





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

Julian Opie Exhibition @ Kukje Gallery; to Mar. 23; kukjegallery.com

Magnificent Life of Hungarian Aristocracy Exhibition @ National Palace Museum of Korea; to Mar. 9; gogung.go.kr

Home Within Home Within Home Within Home Within Home @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to May 11; mmca.go.kr

Washed Out @ Rolling Hall, Hongdae; 7p; rollinghall.co.kr

Bitnoriya in Yeosu @ Geobukseon Park; to Mar. 4; yeosu.go.kr

Joint Security Area-JSA Musical @ Dongsoong Art Center; to Apr. 27; dsartcenter.co.kr

No. 1 Musical Grease @ Uniplex Hall 1; to Mar. 30; ticket.interpark.com

LanguageCast @ Hongdae; 7p; facebook.com/languagecast

Birth of a Museum: The MMCA Construction Archive Project @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to July 27; mmca.go.kr

LIFE Photo Exhibition @ Busan Cultural Center; to Apr. 12; seelife.co.kr





PhotoSight Exhibition @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to June 29; moca.go.kr

Korean Art from the Museum Collection: Grand Narrative Part II @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to May 31; mmca.go.kr

Jersey Boys: Original Broadway Cast Performance @ Blue Square Music Hall; to Mar. 23; ticket.interpark.com

The Aleph Project @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to Mar. 16; mmca.go.kr

Zeitgeist Korea @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to Apr. 27; mmca.go.kr

Ghost, the Musical @ D Cube Art Center; to Apr. 6; ticket.interpark.com

International Books and Food Meetup @ Starbucks, Yeoksam; 3p; meetup.com/International-Books-andFood

Bibap Musical @ B2 Cinecore, Jongno-gu; to Mar. 30; www.bibap.co.kr

London Symphony Orchestra @ Seoul Arts Center; 8p; sac.or.kr

Dream Walking in the Magical Reality @ National Museum of Contemporary Art; to Mar. 24; mmca.go.kr

B.A.P. Live on Earth Seoul 2014 @ SK Olympic Handball Gymnasium; 6p / ticket.interpark.com





Wicked, the Musical @ Charlotte Theater; to Mar. 30; ticket.interpark.com

Burger Monday @ Bull & Barrel, Itaewon

LanguageCast Korea University @ Dos Tacos, Anam-dong; 7:45p; meetup.com/Languagecast

Street Jazz Funk Dance Classes @ Seoul Tanz Station, Sinchon; 9p; seoultanzstation.com

Trivia Night @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 6:30p; www.rockymountaintavern.com

Frankenstein, the Musical @ Chungmu Art Hall; to May 11; ticket.interpark.com

Quiz Night @ Craftworks Taphouse & Bistro, Itaewon; craftworkstaphouse.com

English/Korean Language Exchange @ Language Exchange Cafe Hongdae and Gangnam; 3-6p; SeoulLanguageExchange.com

Wing Night @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 4p; rockymountaintavern.com

Wine & Steak Special @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 10p; rockymountaintavern.com





Trivia Night @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 6:30p; rockymountaintavern.com

2 for 1 Fish and Chips @ The Wolfhound, Itaewon; wolfhoundpub.com

A New Collection of Asian Art @ National Museum of Korea; to Jun. 22 museum.go.kr

Trace U @ Uniplex Hall 2; to Jun. 29; ticket.interpark.com

Wing Night @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 4p; rockymountaintavern.com

Quiz Night @ Craftworks Taphouse & Bistro; craftworkstaphouse.com



Evgeny Kissin Piano Recital @ Seoul Arts Center; 8p; sac.or.kr

2 for 1 Fish and Chips @ The Wolfhound, Itaewon; wolfhoundpub.com

All-you-can-eat lamb chops @ Braai Republic, Itaewon

Wine & Steak Special @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 10p; rockymountaintavern.com

*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 Human Body @ War Memorial Korea; to Mar. 2; warmemo.or.kr Myth and Legend Exhibition @ Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center; to Mar. 2; artgy.or.kr Byeokchoji Botanical Garden Lighting Festival @ Botanical Garden BCJ, Paju; to Mar. 2; bcj.co.kr




YGVC K-pop Dance Class @ Yeoksam 1 Mama Mia @ Culture Center Gymnasium; Thursdays to Blue Square Musical Hall; to Mar. 23; Apr. 24; global.seoul.go.kr/yeoksam ticket.interpark.com

Seoul City Improv @ Camarata Music Studio; 9p; seoulcityimprov.com

Javier Mariscal Exhibition- The Art Player @ Hangaram Art Museum; to Mar. 16; sac.or.kr

Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival @ Saebyeol Oreum, Jeju; to Mar. 9; buriburi.go.kr

Baths, Yukari @ Rolling Hall, Hongdae; 11p; rollinghall.co.kr

Kiss and Cry @ LG Arts Center; to Mar. 9; lgart.com

Park Soo-keun Exhibition @ Insa Art Center; to Mar. 16; insaartcenter.com

CKH Hiking Trip @ Bukhansan National Park; 8:30a; meetup.com/CentralKoreaHiking




PhotoSight @ National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; to June 29; mmca.go.kr

Steve Barakatt Concert @ Seongnam Arts Center; 8:00 PM; snart.or.kr

Sea Green St. Patrick’s Day Cruise @ Arabic Terminal, Incheon Sea; 3:45p; goodtimesrok@gmail.com

Ladies’ Night @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 6p; rockymountaintavern.com

Festival B:om @ Various Locations Throughout Seoul; to Apr. 13; festivalbom.org

St. Patrick’s Day Festival @ D Cube City, Sindorim; iak.co.kr

Van Gogh in Paris @ Hangaram Design Museum; to Mar. 24; sac.or.kr

Drink Specials @ Dillinger’s Bar, Itaewon; 4p

The Rok of March @ Freebird, Hongdae; 6:30p; facebook.com/ events/213933132142974




Ladies Night @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 6p; rockymountaintavern.com

Drink Specials @ Dillinger’s Bar, Itaewon; 4p

Nunsense A-men Musical @ Busan Citizen Hall; to Mar. 23; citizenhall.bisco.or.kr

Musical Gloomy Day @ Vivaldi Park Hall; to Apr. 27; ticket.interpark.com

Ladies’ Night @ The Harp, Bundang; 7p

Trivia Night @ Dillinger’s Bar, Itaewon; 8p

2014 Shinhwa 16th Anniversary Concert @ Olympic Park Gymnastics Gymnasium; 6p; ticket.interpark.com

Baths lands in Seoul on March 8. See our story on Page 59

Grab a friend and join in the St. Patrick’s Day festivities on March 15. See our story on Page 86

Shake Shop Vol. 13 @ Club Freebird, Hongdae; facebook.com/pages/Shake-Shop쉐이크샾/172272382923749




Ladies’ Night @ Rocky Mountain Tavern, Itaewon; 6p; rockymountaintavern.com

Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal perform “Full Moon(Vollmund)” @ LG Arts Center; to Mar. 31; lgart.com

The Phantom of the Opera @ Keimyung Art Center, Daegu; to Apr. 6; ticket.interpark.com

7,000 won Ribs @ Bull & Barrel, Itaewon; facebook.com/BullnBarrelSeoul‎

Happy Hour @ Bull & Barrel, Itaewon; 3-5 p.m.; facebook.com/BullnBarrelSeoul‎

Jindo Parting of the Sea Party @ Jindo Island, Jeollanam-do; to Mar. 30; seoulhikingroup.com, adventurekorea. com

Open Mic Acoustic Night @ Bull & Barrel, Itaewon; facebook.com/BullnBarrelSeoul‎

Fourteen bands head to Austin this month for SXSW. See our story on Page 52

Tongyeong International Music Festival @ Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do; to April 3; timf.org

Captain America returns in “The Winter Soldier” on March 27. See our story on Page 62

Advertorial Edited by Craig White (craig@groovekorea.com)

Your hair is your barometer Story by Soyeon Kim


he skin on your scalp, like other parts of your body, regularly renews itself while the old skin falls away. Due to the fact that the scalp is where nutrients are delivered to your hair follicles, it affects your hairstyle greatly. While taking care of damaged hair is one way to keep your waves looking healthy, taking care of your scalp will ensure strong hair from the follicle up. Here’s how you can do it.

Your scalp is also your skin

Even though you may wear ample makeup and dress nicely, if you do not give a similar amount of attention to your hair, you will be neglecting a vital part of your appearance. Having a glowing complexion will only get you so far if your hair has split ends. Thick and healthy hair with a radiating shine is as important as having astounding skin. Your scalp, where your hair is generated, loses skin just like other parts of your body. The sweat and oil (sebum) from your scalp create a natural, moist and protective coating to shield the skin on your head, allowing hydration and nutrition to be supplied for better growth. It isn’t surprising, then, that the skin on our scalp should be cared for just like the skin on our face; the only difference, however, is the length and thickness of the hair. It’s easy to overlook the importance of the hidden skin on your head, but since the scalp plays an important role in the strength of your hair, it must be cared for in order to keep your locks happy and healthy.

Dry hair but oily scalp?

Your hair grows from holes in your skin called pores. The hair multiplies and grows rapidly through cell division. Hair that grows from pores near the oil-producing sebaceous glands is able to grow shiny due to the sebum from those pores. As you get closer to the ends of your hair, however, it grows drier and, once you reach the outermost layer, the cuticle is easily broken by physical irritation and daily wear. If your scalp becomes dry (meaning you are giving off dandruff) at the same time as there being too much sebum, your hair is bound to tangle within itself. However, having proper hair care helps control the sebum and can prevent your ends from splitting so easily. Dr. Lee Moon Won is known as Korea’s best scalp and hair disorder physicist in Oriental medicine. At his clinic, he provides

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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


March 2014 / www.koreajoongangdaily.com

Prostitution apps circumvent Korean laws T

he sex industry is taking advantage of smartphone technology, and there are now dozens of applications that help its users find the services of the world’s oldest profession. Inevitably, critics are blaming application stores for being too lax, saying the term “smartphone” should be replaced with “SexMart Phone.” When JoongAng Ilbo reporters downloaded an application that introduces users to a Korean adult entertainment business, hundreds of women in underwear popped up on the screen. More detailed profiles were provided when they tapped on the half-naked photos, with even more information available from a call center. The reporters were not asked to verify if they were adults when downloading the application, which means minors could use it easily.


The Jungbu Police Precinct recently arrested a smartphone application developer identified by the surname Kim and an advertising agency owner surnamed Jeong for designing and operating a mobile application that features adult entertainment advertisements. To run an ad in the application, business owners paid from 50,000 won ($47) to 100,000 won per ad to Kim and Jeong, which added up to 50 million won from 228 adult entertainment businesses. The smartphone application was downloaded 38,125 times in six months. Under current regulations, people who advertise prostitution can be jailed for up to three years or slapped with a fine of 30 million won. But authorities hesitate to crack down on them because there is such a large number of applications, a loophole that sex businesses take advantage of, and some of the apps might be even less innocent than they admit to be.

“Users must be cautious, as some of the advertisements have hidden malicious code that might be stealing their personal data,” said Lim Jong-in, dean of the Korea University Graduate School of Information Security. Aside from smartphone applications used by the sex industry, chat applications, which are popular among teenagers, are also being misused as a means of enticing teenage girls into prostitution. “A guy said he would pay me money if I met him, so I met him out of curiosity,” a 14-yearold girl said in an article in an online community. “When a middle-age man showed up, I realized what he really wanted and ran away.” When a pair of reporters changed the stats on a chat application and pretended to be a 19-year-old girl, dozens of men in their 20s to 40s, including some who identified themselves as cram school lecturers or employees of large corporations, chatted them up.

Adopted Korean identical twins reunited via Facebook

or 25 years, identical twins Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier lived separate lives, growing up in different countries and speaking different languages. Only by chance did the two 26-year-old sisters find out about the existence of the other, connecting through social media. Their first encounter was in February 2013, when Bordier sent a message via Facebook to Futerman. Bordier, who at the time was enrolled in a fashion course at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London, had been told on a few occasions that she resembled Futerman, an American actress who is perhaps best known for her appearance in the film “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005). “One day, I received a message from a woman living in London,” Futerman said in a television interview. “I was really surprised to see her profile because she looked just like me.” The two suspected they could be twins after they began to correspond more and more. Both were born on Nov. 19, 1987, in Busan, where they were also both given up for adoption three 28 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

months later. “The birth record (Samantha) sent me didn’t state that she was a twin, but everything started to come together when I looked at her photos from when she was little,” Bordier said. “It felt like I was having a heart attack, but it was also the happiest moment — a new world was opening.” They were even more astonished when they shared stories through video chat. Other than their physical similarities, they were also huge fans of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series and had many of the same habits and routines. Futerman and Bordier finally met for the first time in May 2013, about three months after they first contacted each other. “I felt like I was paralyzed because it was like I was standing in front of myself,” Bordier said, describing the moment when Futerman came in to meet her. “We just kept looking at each other.” The twins’ adopted parents were just as surprised. “You look just the same!” Bordier’s mother ex-

claimed when she first met Futerman. And Bordier’s father just burst into tears. And in true twin style, the two even played a bit of a prank when they first met Futerman’s parents, with Bordier switching places with Futerman, and Futerman coming in later. Her mother and father were shocked at their likeness, and wondered aloud if they could truly be sisters. DNA tests conducted in February confirmed that the two were, in fact, identical twins, according to British media, and perhaps validated what Bordier and Futerman had instinctively felt all along. “I did feel like I missed something (when I was a child), and I even had an imaginary friend,” Bordier acknowledged in an interview. “I needed that comfort, I guess.” So far, the sisters have met up in London, California and their native homeland, Korea. They’re currently working toward funding a documentary film that tells their story.

Smuggling from U.S. Army bases on the rise


he hanok market in Daegu, situated in a residential area not far from Camp Walker and Camp Henry, wasn’t hard to spot. The woman who answered the door was in her 60s and quickly ushered in her guests, leading the way to a room filled with imported goods. When asked whether these products were legitimate, she admitted they had come from American Post Exchange (PX) markets. “We sell the imported goods coming from the PX market pretty cheap, so a lot of customers come looking for them,” she added. In major grocery stores in Korea, for example, imported chocolates usually cost about 15,000 won ($14) for a 900-gram package. But here, they sell for just 6,000 won. One such customer, surnamed Lee, recently bought a bottle of liquor for 70,000 won in a clothing shop in Pyeongtaek. That same bottle, which came from a nearby American PX market, usually sells for between 120,000 won and 130,000 won in regular stores. “It’s not only liquors; they also sell food and sometimes medicine at half the price you normally see,” Lee said. American PX black markets waned in the early 2000s, but they’ve begun to reemerge in recent years as the result of a sluggish

economy. In the 1980s and 1990s, consumers mainly longed for rare American items, but financial uncertainty has increased general demand for cheap goods. And that’s where PX markets come in. Because there are no import tariffs on PX goods, even if smugglers and sellers uptick prices for their own profit those products are still cheaper than at market value. In Uijeongbu and Dongducheon, where the movement of PX goods was once strictly controlled and eventually vanished, there has been a resurgence of black markets, as well as in Daegu, Pyeongtaek and Osan. The goods there are smuggled out of the military bases and sold in nearby shops and markets. Some stores in Daegu’s Bongdeok Market mark smuggled PX items as “imported goods.” Even blankets for American soldiers are for sale in Daegu’s Gyodong Market. “The middleman will ask his family or the American soldiers in the camp to bring stuff out from the (military’s) PX market and will provide commission,” said another man surnamed Lee, who admitted that he was involved in smuggling PX products a few years ago. “They bring items out a little at a time. There are normally military police that check

for goods, but it’s just a formal procedure. No one actually gets caught.” Then the middlemen sell those goods to retailers, Lee continued. “The price doubles from what it was in the PX market on the military base, but it’s still a lot cheaper than the market price,” he said. Perpetrators caught smuggling PX goods or selling them on the black market can face up to five years in prison. A customer who knowingly buys products from a PX market can also be imprisoned for up to three years or get slapped with a fine. But even though a slew of PX markets can be found around town, authorities have refrained from making efforts to control the situation. And police and local governments stand by that decision. The district office claimed it was not in charge of controlling the smuggling of goods from PX markets, but rather, was only responsible for reporting a false indication of the origin of goods in import declarations. “According to current laws, the taxation authority has to sue the relevant office first in order for us to start an investigation,” a police official said.

New visa regulations for newlywed foreign spouses of Koreans


oreign spouses of Korean citizens will be required to pass a Korean language proficiency test when applying for an F-6 marriage visa, beginning in April. The stated minimum criteria is level 1 (the lowest level) of the Test of Proficiency in Korean conducted by the Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, or the completion of basic Korean language courses offered by accredited organizations. The Ministry of Justice said it will later identify the courses that it perceives to be equivalent to the standard of TOPIK’s level 1. In addition, Koreans with foreign spouses must earn at least 14.79 million won ($13,700) annually to demonstrate their financial stability. But if the income of the foreign spouse, or another family member living with the Korean, is equivalent to that amount, the income requirement will be fulfilled. If a couple has a child, however, they are exempt from both requirements. The change is part of the ministry’s move to strengthen visa rules, after a spate of reports

highlighted troubles among multiethnic cou- “As for the marriages between Korean men, ples, especially between Korean men marry- who mostly live in the countryside, and ing women from Southeast Asian countries. Southeast Asian women, they sometimes tie The frictions range from husbands assaulting the knot in seven or eight days after meeting their wives to conflicts with in-laws to brides through an agency,” the ministry official said. “In this case, troubles are bound to happen bewho run away abruptly. “As we look into couples suffering problems, cause they barely know each other.” As more young Korean women leave their we found that the cause of misunderstandings and relationship troubles often stems from hometowns for careers in big cities, men in language barriers, which hampers them from rural counties are increasingly looking overproperly settling their problems,” an official of seas for brides. The trend has been translated into a large inthe immigrant policy division at the Ministry of Justice told JoongAng Ilbo. “The ministry is flux of brides from poorer Asian nations such as Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. enforcing those rules to prevent such issues.” The number of Koreans marrying foreign However, foreign spouses who have stayed in Korea for one year or have majored in Ko- spouses increased from 4,710 in 1990 to rean language at a university can be exempted 29,224 in 2012, according to Statistics Korea. But Korea has been grappling with shifting from the new requirements. Couples who can communicate in a language other than Korean demographics and many of those marriages don’t turn out well. can also receive a waiver. The number of divorce cases involving a KoGiven that couples such as Korean women and Western men generally communicate in rean and a foreign spouse increased to 10,887 English, the new rules will mainly affect Ko- in 2012, a drastic increase from 1,744 in 2000, rean men marrying women from Southeast according to Statistics Korea. Asian countries. 29

INSIGHT Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

Taking a stand

Migrant workers protest their exploitative employers Story by Anita McKay / Photo by Aimee Anne


first met Emmanuel outside a Burger King on a cold February day in Yeouido. Dressed in traditional Burkina Faso clothing, he seemed slightly anxious. Standing with him were five of his coworkers, some dressed as elaborately as he was, others holding drumlike instruments decorated with metal chains. As we watched the media frenzy gather outside the Saenuri headquarters opposite us, their conversation began to give way to nerves. After almost two years of working and living in slave-like conditions, Emmanuel and his coworkers were about to inform the nation of their experience working for the Africa Museum of Original Art. Since their public announcement on Feb. 10, the exploitation endured by the workers from Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso at the AMOA has grabbed much media attention. The inadequate pay, grueling work hours and dilapidated living conditions suffered by the African

30 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

dancers, sculptors and performers were made all the more startling because a senior lawmaker, Secretary-General Hong Moon-jong of the Saenuri Party, has been chairman of the museum since 2010. After one Burkina Faso worker ran away after being forced to dance with an injured leg or risk having her pay cut, the rest of the performers had their passports confiscated by the now ex-director of the museum, Park Sang-soon. Following the protest, Park and Hong issued separate statements. Park claimed that the contracts were made in compliance with the legal minimum wage and admitted to taking passports away as a precaution because “migrant workers often tend to disappear and stay illegally.” Hong has denied any direct involvement in managerial duties of the museum, but said that if any illegal activity is found to have occurred, he would punish those involved and com-

pensate the victims. In an interview with the Hankyoreh, Democratic Party lawmaker Eun Su-mi said that around 10 violations of the law took place. “The contract said if you come to Korea, you will perform three times per day and the museum will give us food three times per day, insurance, a house, everything. Everybody would get one room each with one computer. We arrived and it was not like that,” Emmanuel recalled. Instead, what awaited him and his Burkinabe coworkers was a decrepit building wrought with holes, mold and mice. Rooms were shared with up to four people, and using a fan in the summer or heating in the winter could result in being docked pay. “If you use a fan and the electricity bill comes and it is big, the museum director would say if we don’t stop, he will cut our salary,” he said. On top of these living conditions, the workers were told they would have to

‘It is very hard to move to another workplace for migrant workers because of a late payment, assault or verbal abuse. If they tell of the unfairness to the employment center or labor department in their district, they need to show the evidence to the officers, which is a tricky part to take legal action by themselves.’ Migrants’ Trade Union

teach classes, which was not in the contract. Each class lasted an average of five minutes with 20 to 30 children per class. Emmanuel said he would teach up to 1,200 students per day in the spring and fall. This, in addition to his daily performances, left him no time to even eat. “If you eat directly and go to dance it can be difficult. We cannot eat. We just wait until we finish all jobs, then we eat,” he said. He was expected to endure all this while living on a monthly salary of 600,000 won ($560) with the Zimbabwean workers earning 500,000 won. Everyone received a 2,500 won daily food stipend, which was increased to 4,000 won in July last year. This is just one of many times that abuse of migrant workers from their employers in Korea has been highlighted. Migrant workers are often treated as disposable labor by their employers, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, as seen in accounts in a 2009 Amnesty International report. In 2012, a survey by the South Gyeongsang Migrant Community Center found that over 13 percent of migrant workers living in the province had been beaten at work, with the majority of the 449 respondents citing wage discrimination as their biggest complaint. In the 1980s, the economic success of the country resulted in Koreans turning down the “3D” jobs — ­ dirty, difficult and dangerous. With the ensuing level of wealth, the country became an attractive destination for migrant workers. Korea was one of the first Asian countries to legally recognize the rights of migrant workers and provide them with the same legal employment rights and benefits that natives have. To manage the growing inflow of migrant workers, the government implemented the Joint Venture Trainee System. Three years later, small and medium-sized businesses were allowed to recruit foreign nationals in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing, construction, fisheries and service industries on a three-year contract under the Industrial Trainee System. These systems left employees open

to discrimination and exploitation. Af- “Too many migrant workers are working ter much protest from NGOs and trade at small-scale workplaces, but the numunions, the Ministry of Labor introduced ber of labor supervisors is too small to the Employment Permit System in 2004. visit all the places,” Park said. Korea’s E-6 culture and art visa has While the scheme gives migrant workers employment rights and protection from been criticized by some civil society exploitation, mistreatment of workers groups for exploiting women and even and manipulation by employers still ex- facilitating human trafficking. This visa employs workers who are participating ists. “There are many workers who are work- in musical, artistic or literary activities ing like slaves just in one place,” Park Ji- for profit. The aforementioned report by noo from the Migrants’ Trade Union said. Amnesty International found that female “Right now, every migrant worker in Ko- migrant workers who were employed rea is under the labor law so they can under this visa have been unknowingly have rights of a having minimum level of recruited into jobs against their will, inpayment, retirement payment and com- cluding the sex industry, once they arpensation expenses for industrial acci- rived in Korea. To protect foreign workers from misdents as the equal standard of Korean workers. This also means unregistered treatment in the workplace, the govmigrant workers can be applied to the ernment launched 27 support centers labor law, which is the same condition in 2011 to assist foreign workers with as for Korean workers. But the reality is problems relating to everything from employment to day-to-day activities. That quite different.” Low-skilled workers enter Korea on an same year, the EPS system was awardE-9 visa on a quota basis determined ed first prize at the United Nations Pubby the economic situation and domes- lic Service Awards under the category of tic labor market each year. Prospective “preventing and combating corruption in employees must be from countries that the public service.” I met Emmanuel again the week after have signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea agreeing to the his announcement. He seemed like a terms of the EPS system. Requirements different person as he greeted me with a for the visa include a medical checkup jubilant smile. “I am very happy because and a TOPIK exam, and training is pro- we fought and we won,” the 34-year-old vided on arrival. Under this system they dancer said, reflecting on the past week. can change jobs up to three times within With a croaky voice (possibly due to the “many interviews” he has done over the three years. Park says that migrant workers can last seven days) he relayed his experiface challenges in changing employ- ence at the museum. Since the extent of the abuses from ment if they feel that they are being mistreated. “It is very hard for migrant the AMOA was made public, Kim workers to move to another workplace Cheol-gi has been appointed as the new because of a late payment, assault or director of the museum and the workverbal abuse. If they tell of the unfair- ers have received back pay, flight tickets ness to the employment center or labor and have had their passports returned. While Emmanuel is happy to not redepartment in their district, they need to show the evidence to the officers, which new his contract, he does not believe is a tricky part to take legal action by financial payment is enough to compensate him for his trauma. “Money is not themselves,” Park said. The MTU suspects that verbal, phys- enough because what this museum did ical and racist abuse are common oc- to me was very bad. This museum cancurrences in the workplace for migrants not buy my sufferance,” he said. As of press time, Hong Moon-jong had because of the difficulty the labor department has in monitoring the issue. not offered an official apology.


INSIGHT Edited by Matthew Lamers (mattlamers@groovekorea.com)

The North Korea Column

Finding meaning in Pyongyang’s excretions Much of Kim’s speeches is boilerplate propaganda. So what counts? Column by Christopher Green / Illustration by Michael Roy


opi Luwak is unique in the coffee world: much of the content is boilerplate propaganda; the “ultimate bling coffee,” in the words the overwhelming majority of what remains is of The Guardian. Prized for its velvety either strategic disinformation or simple truths texture and famed for its high price, genuine that get misinterpreted. Jang Jin-sung should Kopi Luwak comes from coffee cherries di- know. He is the founding editor of New Focus, gested and excreted by wild Asian palm civets a website which, like that of my own employer, in Indonesia. The digestive tract and, they say, Daily NK, is dedicated to inside source reportdiscerning nature of these civet cats combine to reduce the bitterness of the beans and bring out the flavor of the coffee. Analyzing North Korea has long been a bit like gathering Kopi Luwak. As if information were coffee beans lying on the floor of a forest coated in feces, the North Korean government offers up a very limited amount of usable data, and coats all of it in a thick layer of pungent background noise. Worse still, civet cats, presumably unaware that their defecation is capable of fetching hundreds of dollars a kilo on the open market, excrete on instinct, whereas the North Korean government treats information as a vital strategic resource and crafts its messages in pursuit of specific political goals. Take the tradition of the New Year’s Address. Delivered annually on the morning of Jan. 1 and comparable to the Christmas Day musings of Queen Elizabeth II, these speeches (televised in the eras of Kim Il-sung ing of political, economic and social processand Kim Jong-un; a published editorial during es in North Korea. Until his defection in the the reign of Kim Jong-il) are scoured by the early 2000s, Jang worked as a propagandist outside world as a means of predicting how for North Korea’s ruling Korean Workers’ Parthe North Korean government plans to act in ty. Though he never contributed to the New Year’s Address, Jang would presumably still the 365 days to come. Unfortunately for those doing the scouring, know if the statement was just a straightfor-

32 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

ward account of the nation’s priorities for the coming year. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t. On Jan. 1 this year, Kim Jong-un appeared on state television to announce that, among other things, 2014 marks “the 20th anniversary of the date when President Kim Il-sung wrote his last signature on a historic document concerning the country’s reunification.” Therefore, he declared, “a favorable climate should be established for improved relations between the north and the south.” (In writing, “north” and “south” are never capitalized by the North Korean media, as both Koreas insist on designating the other an illegitimate occupier rather than a sovereign governing power.) The South Korean media immediately reported the phrase verbatim, and European and U.S. outlets followed suit later that day. Taken at face value, it looks like good news. Who wouldn’t want to see inter-Korean relations improve? It may even seem like an openand-shut case, with logic that goes something like this: Since the word of national founder Kim Il-sung is de facto law in North Korea, if Kim wanted reunification, reunification must be what North Korea wants. Get the parade organized — the DMZ is coming down! But, no. There is an elephant in the room, which is that in the paragraphs surrounding the widely re-reported “favorable climate” phrase, Kim Jong-un also mused (note that the translation used by New Focus differs from the official North Korean one, so I have reverted to the latter):

“The south Korean authorities should discontinue the reckless confrontation with their compatriots and the racket against the ‘followers of the north,’ and choose to promote inter-Korean relations in response to the call of the nation for independence, democracy and national reunification. … All the Korean people must not tolerate the maneuvers for war and confrontation by the bellicose forces at home and abroad but stoutly resist and frustrate them.” To oversimplify somewhat, this means that what North Korea really wants is to exacerbate tensions in South Korean society by putting on a “happy face.” In an article carried by New Focus on Jan. 2, in-house propaganda wonk Jang explicated this very fact, saying that this year’s address tells him that 2014 is “a year for psychological warfare directed at South Korean citizens. This year, North Korea does not care for state-level or diplomatic progress in the sphere of inter-Korean relations. “The North Korean state desires instead to ‘engage’ directly with South Korean society, in order to exacerbate polarization along South Korea’s political spectrum with regard to pro-DPRK or anti-DPRK stances,” he explains. “North Korea will continue to express solidarity with South Korea’s opposition left wing whenever it can in order to accomplish its psychological warfare objectives; and it will pursue civilian appeasement and engagement in the inter-Korean sphere to this end.” The reality is that, though it is a leading player in many economic sectors and home to a number of global brands, news about South Korea is not widely publicized beyond East Asia. Conversely, in spite of economic weakness and, or perhaps because of, periodic displays of absurd conduct, plenty of people around the world know quite a lot about politics in North Korea; certainly more than about the peaceful, prosperous South. Such imbalances matter when it comes to extracting meaning from political spectacles like the New Year’s Address. What we ought to know, but may well not, is that South Korea has a round of regional elections coming up in June, including the politically influential job of mayor of Seoul, meaning that North Korea has one eye on encouraging favorable electoral outcomes. One effective way of doing so would be to allow emotionally affecting separated family reunions to take place, as happened on Feb. 20, while simultaneously appearing to tolerate “aggressive” joint U.S.-ROK military exercises. Another area where the North may expect to make gains concerns the recent prosecution of extreme left-wing lawmaker Lee Seok-ki for sedition; he was caught advocating for attacks on South Korean infrastructure in the event of war with North Korea in the spring of 2013. A case against the Unified Progressive Party, which Lee represents in parliament, is ongoing. This list of targets for North Korea’s strategically astute Jan. 1 speech is a long way short of exhaustive, but is sufficient to reinforce the main point. Only by finding the metaphorical Kopi Luwak coffee cherry of usable information in Pyongyang’s output and then marrying it to knowledge of the surrounding geopolitical reality can we hope to trace the meaning in North Korean excretions.

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 dailynk.com.


INSIGHT Edited by Matthew Lamers (mattlamers@groovekorea.com)

The Money column

Saying yes to the company plan Make an informed decision about your employer’s pension offering Column by Paul Sharkie / Illustration by Michael Roy


Korea, a 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 is often a hurdle 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. This is Part II.

the employee, leave a company and/or when you retire. This payout is usually based on your salary and the number of years you’ve been under the plan. Contributions from your employer and (sometimes, but not always) yourself are invested in a fund that is regularly assessed to ensure it will meet its promised obligation. With DB plans, the investment risk is assumed by your sponsor/employer and not by you, the individual employee.

Pensions: Defined benefit vs. defined contribution plan

• Many DB plans include early retirement provisions to encourage employees to retire early. But keep in mind that in such cases, the payments you receive upon early retirement will often be reduced, since they will be spread over a longer period of time. • Employers or trustees make decisions about the type of benefits available, which ultimately affects the lifestyles of their employees. • Under DB plans, the employer typically tends to pay higher contributions.

Last time, we looked at pension plans from a broader perspective. This month we’ll take a closer look at two of the most common types of pension plans on offer from your employer: defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC).

Defined benefit (DB) plans A defined benefit plan guarantees a certain payout at the time you,

Points to consider:

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.

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Where my child’s smile is concerned, I want the best. Any father would feel the same. Defined contribution (DC) plans Under these plans, contributions are invested and the returns are credited to you. Upon retirement, your account is used to provide a lump sum and/or annuities. Unlike DB plans, here the investment risk and rewards are the responsibility of each individual employee or retiree, who will have to communicate with a service vendor (such as a bank) to manage their investments. Advocates of this system point out that, in comparison to DB plans, each employee has considerable freedom to tailor their investment portfolio. Critics, however, point out that there are many workers who may not have the financial knowledge to select and manage their own investments. In addition, some may lack the discipline to make regular, voluntarily contributions to their funds, which are crucial to their growth. Defined contribution plans are now the dominant form of plan in the private sector in many countries, as they are more cost-effective for employers.

Points to consider: • Participants who do not purchase annuities with their savings (and instead take a lump sum) bear the risk of exhausting their assets; it is for this reason that now, in many countries, it is a legal requirement to use the bulk of the fund to purchase an annuity where regular payments are received over a long period of time. • Under DC plans, the contribution (funds invested by the employer at regular intervals) is known, but the benefit (the final amount available to the employee at retirement) is unknown until the employee wants to utilize the assets. • Although the participant technically has control over investment decisions, the plan sponsor retains a significant degree of legal responsibility over the plan, including the investment options and selecting administrative management.

Benefits in Korea In Korea, the governing legislation is the Employee Retirement Benefit Security Act (2012), which has, among other actions, raised taxation on lump sum payments and lowered taxation on annuity payments. Given that Korea has an aging population, people will have to make their retirement funds last longer; short of raising the retirement age, making annuities a more attractive option is a good initial step for both individual and the state.

Points to consider: • DB and DC plans are required for businesses with one or more employees. • Foreigners can invest in the same products as Korean nationals, although documentation is more likely to be done in Korean than in English. Therefore, do not invest in products that you do not know well. • Legislatively speaking, withdrawal from your plan (in Korea) is permitted under DC plans only when funds are required to purchase a house or when a dependent family member requires hospital treatment for an extended period of time.

TIP For more information on the most up-to-date governing legislation (in English), you should ask your employer or a service vendor. As always, this column is intended to act merely as a guide and professional advice should always be sought.

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MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

expat su S

howbiz is one of the toughest jobs out there. The glamorous celebrity life, the thing the public sees, is the product of hundreds of hours of work. Practice, filming, schmoozing, cultivating a persona — the list goes on. And if it weren’t tough enough, factor in the challenges of finding a job in a foreign country and communicating in a language you’re unfamiliar with. If you can imagine what it’s like to juggle all of this, often without a social or financial safety net, you can start to understand what it’s like for expats in Korea’s entertainment industry. “There were days when I would just cry or vomit from the stress, and there were days when I wondered why I chose this path,” says Bronwyn Mullen, one of four expat entertainers who offered Groove a glimpse of what it’s like on both sides of the camera. So what is it all for? Beyond the attention that fame brings, there’s a certain validation that comes from celebrity. Artists and performers have an almost innate drive toward perfection that keeps them striving for more where others might settle for less. And on some days, it can actually be fun. “You will never really be satisfied,” says rapper and TV host Jake Pains. “So will I ever achieve everything I want to do? Probably not, but I’m gonna have a lot of fun trying, and I’m sure this is just the start.” Whether they’re an actor, musician or TV personality, they all have one thing in common: They have laid down plans for the future, and are working steadily toward their goals. Bronwyn, one of the most recognized foreigners among Koreans next to actor-model Daniel Henney and comedian Sam Hammington, has worked tirelessly for nearly a decade to become the mainstay personality she now is on Korean morning TV. Jesse Day is breaking the ice as an LG spokesperson, while Jake is working on winning the hearts of hallyu fans around the world. Pinnacle TheHustler, a hip-hop performer and entrepreneur, is springboarding off the career he built in Korea, going global with his music production business. Each one has gone through the highs and lows that come with working in the Korean entertainment machine. But one thing’s certain: They’re all moving forward.

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perstars Rising foreign performers reveal the world of Korea’s entertainment industry Story by Emilee Jennings and Elaine Ramirez Photos by Dylan Goldby Additional reporting by Sophie Boladeras


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

The daily grind They rub shoulders with Korea’s celebrities, but it’s not all partying with rock stars. Getting to that point requires countless sleepless nights and days, often of simply getting through it. Much of Jake’s job is spent planning “Jjang,” a K-pop variety show on Mnet, from start to finish with his small, tight-knit production crew. It begins with tossing around ideas, then researching, writing skits, pulling stunts, filming in studio, booking celebrities and conjuring up witty questions that will catch them off guard — all for 23 sharp minutes of entertainment every week. Whether it’s 2 p.m. or 2 a.m., they hunker down until the job is done. “There’s a lot of stress in television because there’s always a deadline,” says Jake. “If it’s live TV or if it’s in a studio, you still have to do things right.” It’s even more intense on travel shows, where presenters have to film for days or weeks for 40 minutes of material. No matter how cold the water gets or how long you’ve been in a car, you still have to maintain a perky, adventurous attitude for the camera. “There are arguments and tears and 20-hour work days and not being able to wash, and putting makeup on top of makeup,” says Bronwyn. “And you’re standing in the cold, smiling, so happy to be on top of the mountain, when really you want to be in bed at home.” Sometimes you can give it your all and still barely make the cut. In Jesse’s first ‘You have to think like a travel episode, he knew he wouldn’t be Korean. You have to accept able to garner much attention since his was still poor. So he had to imthat you have to work 20 Korean provise: He decided to dance to Girls’ hours a day and that what Generation. the production designer “We had an opportunity when we were says, goes. Accept, at least in the countryside and this grandmother us soup, so to show how thankful I in the beginning, that you’re made was I did my dance,” he says. “It’s the only gonna have to make extreme thing that got me noticed in the episode. sacrifices.’ If I hadn’t have done that, I would have Bronwyn Mullen barely gotten any air time.” Auditions, shoots and script delivery are often last-minute, and sometimes directors are vague about what they want. Instead of complaining, the four have had to accept and adapt to the work culture. During scriptwriting at “Jjang,” language barriers and cultural differences used to make it hard for Jake to explain to his Korean crew members that what may be funny in Korean simply isn’t in English. It used to lead to squabbles, but over time they simply learned to trust each other. “It’s been quite organic and I’m very lucky with my crew. They’ve put a lot of confidence in us as foreigners,” says Jake. “We’ve tried new things that they didn’t really like, and it’s worked, and now they’re quite confident in our abilities.”

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The glass ceiling They have all come to accept that they can’t force Western ideals onto a Korean system. The Korean entertainment culture has some elements that might not be considered fair elsewhere, but they have learned to use those things to their advantage. Bronwyn acknowledges that with her own pale skin and slender physique matching Korea’s ideal of beauty, she has had a certain advantage. But that same leg-up is what enforces a glass ceiling for women on TV. “It is extremely difficult to get on a panel or to get an emcee seat as a foreigner or as a woman,” and it’s a double-whammy if you’re both, she says. “If you look at my shows, always, even the talk shows, it’s three emcees of two men and one woman. If it’s two emcees, it’s one man and woman or two men. So we are still, as women, considered to be a support emcee.” Behind the scenes, gender and office politics could keep her off the air if she refuses to go to dinner and drinks after work. “As a young female, you

are really not allowed to turn this stuff down. If they say, ‘We are going for dinner Friday,’” she explains, “you’ll be there or you’re not in the next show, guaranteed.” When she once turned down such an invita‘Working in the Korean tion from her colleagues on her first talk show because entertainment industry she was busy filming a is a real blessing and commercial, she saw her- honor. You also have a lot self shafted from the show of responsibility, but it’s a for the next week. She was disheartened by responsibility you should the discrimination at first, be happy in taking and but is seeing gradual im- indulging in.’ provement, she says. Now Jake Pains there are a few more shows that are catered to women or offer them a better opportunity that doesn’t reinforce the traditional cutesy, inferior feminine role. “There’s definitely a glass ceiling … but hopefully it’s gonna change.”


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

Living in the limelight Work doesn’t end when they walk off the set, and life doesn’t get easier off camera. They have to deal with scorn from the anonymous bullies of the Internet, telling Bronwyn that she’s ugly or Jake that they hate what he represents. Bronwyn has found the expat community especially judgmental of her. One girl, she says, posted on Facebook: “‘She’s just a bad example to young women as a foreigner living in Korea. I’m so offended by her; she’s just uses her looks to get where she is.’” Jake’s solution is to kill hate with cordiality. “It’s like some people do it just to get attention, and if you give it back in a polite way, then they’re not as bad as you think,” he says. When a Twitter user told him he hated his work, Jake responded coolly: “‘If people really hate you, that means people really love you, too. It’s better to have that than to have everyone indifferent.’” One tweet later and the hate-tweeter was telling him to keep up the good work. “That was the quickest turnaround ever. It’s maddening,” he says. Just like for other entertainers, fame has necessitated that the expats manage their celebrity personas even when not working. “There’s always a line. And even out of the public eye you have to be real careful,” says Jake. “You have these different personas that are you. It’s like you’ve crafted versions of yourself.” He has found he has to create separate personalities for different occasions: There’s Jake Pains the rapper and emcee, Jake Patchett (his real name) the global hallyu TV host, Jake the boyfriend and “Baek Young-nam,” as he is known in some Korean hip-hop circles. But somewhere along the line, either he becomes them, or they become him. “It’s weird because you’re not being yourself, and then that starts turning into yourself.” On the flipside, the constant limelight is a necessary evil, and one that Jake welcomes. “People talk about their privacy being invaded … I’d be like, ‘Fuck that, I don’t care man, come into my house and take photos while I’m asleep naked.’” He says that he was never in it for the fame, but attention is a gauge for success. “It’s like a verification of what you do. The more popular you get, (the more) it shows that what you’re doing is being noticed. It’s like a positive indication of what you’re doing is being recognized.” For Pinnacle, it’s a matter of professionalism. He has the added pressure of being one of the few black people in the public limelight here and feels like he must be a good representative. “You are definitely an ambassador to your demographic when you’re in front of a lot of people. And for me, it’s kind of difficult sometimes because I have to combat the media portrayal that black people have,” he says. On top of that, he sees black people acting ignorantly in public and feels the need to offset the negative stereotype being reinforced. It’s important to adapt to your surroundings, he says. The fightto-survive mentality of his hometown Cincinnati, isn’t necessary in Korea. “My mentality has been changed being out here, and the way that I conduct myself has changed as well,” he adds. “So, yes, I do feel like I’m an ambassador and, yes, I do feel like I have to keep a level head, in order to combat or to offset the ignorance that you see sometimes from other black people in Korea. But at the same time, I’m always gonna be real. I’ll always be me.”

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Sacrifices, mistakes and regrets Free time and privacy are not their only sacrifices. It’s a reality they all had to accept when they chose this path. Hobbies, friends and other passions, including love, have to come second. For Pinnacle, too much was happening at once. He was in his first long-term relationship when his career finally started to take shape, and trying to be both Pinnacle TheHustler and Pinnacle the boyfriend was tearing him in separate ways. “She was the first relationship that I had of that kind where it was a long-term relationship, and it was also the first time that I was so busy with so many different things that I was stressed out. She would say some things to piss me off, and it was like a back-and-forth,” he says. If he could go back, he would have treated her better, he says. “I would’ve employed better time management so that I could give her more time and attention and do things I need to do as a boyfriend, and then handle the business stuff. It was like 24/7 business, but not 24/7 girlfriend. So that was a mistake I made there.” In a sense, he says, he had to sacrifice her for his career, to the point where they had to split up for a spell. But he says he learned from mistakes he made and that the two are doing better than ever. “Now I know what I should not do. And because of that learning experience, me and her are stronger now. I think it was good for us to go through that.” He would do two things differently, he says, if he could start back at the beginning. One is waste less money learning the ropes and pursuing fruitless projects. The other is manage his relationship. But does he have any regrets about the sacrifices and mistakes he’s made for his career? “I thought about this the other day,” he says. “It’s an interesting question, and the answer is no.” At the end of the day, he says, it all made him stronger: “I needed to make those mistakes, and I needed to fail, and I needed to be broke. I needed to learn what it means to have absolutely nothing and rely only on yourself to pick yourself back up and to keep moving forward. “And when I bring somebody else up after me, I’m gonna know how to better navigate them so they don’t make the same mistakes I made.”

‘I needed to make mistakes, and I needed to fail, and I needed to be broke. I needed to learn what it means to have absolutely nothing and rely only on yourself to pick yourself back up and to keep moving forward.’ Pinnacle TheHustler


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

Things are getting better It wasn’t too long ago when xenophobia, particularly against Americans, was rampant. But Korea is slowly but surely growing, developing and becoming better for non-Koreans, says Pinnacle. And that’s one reason he keeps coming back. He sees it at every show — people from near and far, with different tastes, experiences and cultures, coming together to enjoy the same music. Koreans and foreigners alike have shown him the kind of support he couldn’t expect in the U.S. or other big markets. “Throughout the hardship and difficulty, and the triumphs and the successes, one thing that I’m always most appreciative of in Korea is the foundation of support that’s here,” he says. “In the expat community, people rally behind you if they really like what you are doing, and they’re unwavering. That’s something I really love about the community. People truly appreciate art. And sometimes you don’t get that back home.” ‘The whole point The same goes for his Korean fans, remember some of his earliest stuff of being diverse who from 2009. He believes people are honis so that I can est about their reactions to his music, have longevity in and the people who follow him aren’t my career. There’s groupies — they truly appreciate his mu“So the support here is absolutely the corporate stuff, sic. fantastic, which is why I think that, for as then there’s the long as I can, I’m always going to come emcee side; I try back to Korea and show as much love to fit whatever as I can.” this reason, it is also getting easier, program or bitFor by bit, for expats to tap the entertainsituation I’m in.’ ment market as Korea becomes more Jesse Day open to foreign dramas, films, music and other art, Jake notes. The English obsession provides a great gateway for aspiring actors to get into English education programs and promotional videos, says Jesse, whose first job here was a kids’ show; Bronwyn was one of many participants from all over the world who went through “Global Talk Show,” and Jake sees a lot of foreigners working on the popular MBC show “Surprise.” But he reckons that because domestic entertainment will always be catered toward a Korean audience rather than a global one, foreigners who land gigs will always be considered something of a novelty. Foreigners on TV, including Jake, Bronwyn, Jesse and even Sam Hammington, can be seen performing caricatures of themselves. Pinnacle has been asked to “act more black,” but when he asked for more direction, he got a stuttered response. “Part of me thinks they are still seen as foreign for the sake of being foreign … not because of their skill. If you can speak Korean and you’re a foreigner, then it’s almost like you’re halfway to finding a job,” Jake says, though adding that taking the next step is a lot harder. “I think there’s still a long way to go for foreigners in Korea.” Bronwyn, dubbed the “darling of Korea,” knows it as well as anyone. She acknowledges that she got her first job because the auditioners were amused by her elementary Korean skills and found it cute that she was trying. Throughout the season, questions she was asked on the show start-

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ed with cultural differences, food and travel hot spots, but quickly digressed to what she thought about dating Korean men. “Toward the end of season one, the topics that we were being asked to discuss became borderline offensive to me. … I was dating a Korean at that time, but I didn’t feel that I wanted to put my personal life out there. And then it would be things like, ‘What do you hate about Korea?’” she says. “Basically, I thought KBS was setting foreign ladies up to fail so they could get a headline.” If anything will change in the way Koreans see and treat foreigners, Pinnacle says, it has to come from the people. The government tries to embrace globalization and sets up call centers, investment services and translation hotlines for expats, but Korea having a truly open society will depend on how people’s mindsets change. “I think in 10, 15 years, 20 years from now, Korea will definitely become more of a powerhouse, once it learns to allow other cultures to assimilate better within their society,” he says. “There’s things that are set in place to help, but it’s not gonna be better until the mentality of the society and the general public becomes more accepting. I think it’s just gonna take time.”

Foot in the door Despite the difficulties, the four of them are tackling obstacles and paving the way for other foreign performers. “Working in the Korean entertainment industry is a real blessing and honor. You also have a lot of responsibility, but it’s a responsibility you should be happy in taking and indulging in,” says Jake. And breaking into the industry takes a certain kind of person. Each of them dared, as all expats do, to make the leap to Korea. Some left cushy teaching jobs — or came with no job at all — to pursue a far less secure dream. They often don’t know where their next paycheck will come from, but those who become successful need to be able to take risks, diversify and dedicate themselves with everything they’ve got. “The whole point of being diverse is so that I can have longevity in my career,” says Jesse, who has been a hip-hop emcee, product spokesperson for LG, kids’ English program host, music composer, broadcast TV presenter, model and actor. “There’s the corporate stuff, then there’s the emcee side; I try to fit whatever program or situation I’m in.” Performers need to be able to put up with setbacks and keep moving forward, believe in themselves and their abilities and do it all in stride. “It’s hard when you feel tired and worn down, but regardless, you have to keep going and maintain a level of respect and good attitude.” Aside from charisma, Korean language abilities are, predictably, a necessary part of moving up. But even more important, the foreigners who make it into the entertainment industry must have a respect for the country’s culture, says Pinnacle. “An attribute that we definitely share is a congenial personality and a respect for Korean culture. Obviously I don’t like everything that goes on here, but I’m not gonna disrespect anybody, and I’m not gonna disrespect anyone’s culture,” he

The calling says. “When I meet with other Koreans … I talk to them appropriately, I say the things I’m supposed to say in Korean, I bow to them as I’m supposed to, I have respect for their culture and they appreciate that.” “You have to think like a Korean,” Bronwyn adds. “You have to accept that you have to work 20 hours a day and that what the production designer says, goes. Accept, at least in the beginning, that you’re gonna have to make extreme sacrifices.” There’s no 9-to-5 schedule or vacations when you feel like it, and she was tired, stressed and high-strung for a good five or six years before she could relax enough to have a life. “If you want to make it in the Korean entertainment industry, basically you have to put parts of your life on hold until you have established yourself.” Establishing yourself is easier said than done. It’s a catch-22, Jake notes, that you can’t really land jobs until you’ve had experience and proven yourself, but the only way to do that is to land a job. So he advises doing as much as you can on your own to get yourself noticed. Though he was known in Korea’s music circles for a while, Jake’s TV break came after someone at CJ discovered a silly YouTube video he did for fun on the streets of Itaewon (check out “Trade Up Chopsticks” with comedian Albert Escobedo). “If you want to work in entertainment, you gotta get yourself out there, you’ve got to be known. No one really trusts you just from a picture and a video,” he says. “Put yourself out there, make lots of videos and get yourself around. Try and be performing. Show that you’re confident.” A quality that Bronwyn finds vital is the strength to endure it all. You can’t go into the entertainment industry unless you have a very thick skin and you can look into the mirror and know who you are, she says. You’re going to be hurt and brought down, but you need a supportive group of peers and the confidence that you can move forward. “There are days I have to go to work and smile and do my job, but when I come home I cry or just vomit from the stress. Then, as a few years go by, every time you do well or every time there’s a good news story about you, or every time you earn a paycheck and it’s a lot more than you earned the year before, you kind of feel good about yourself and it encourages you to keep going,” she says. “People say, if you love something and you have enough passion about it, it kind of works (out). You don’t do something for the money or the fame. You do it because you feel like it’s your calling and you love it.”

There’s no turning back now, and this fearless foursome is set to keep chasing that calling. Jake wants to keep doing what he’s doing and build on his foundation at CJ Entertainment. He has accepted his role as an English-language representative of Korean music, and one of his aims is to show the best of Korea to the world through every medium possible. “I kind of like having that responsibility, and so I’d like to not let people down with regards to showing a good side of Korea through my eyes.” Jesse is taking every day as it comes. “There is no stable gig. I work show by show, season by season,” he says. This year is seeing him in Vegas, Barcelona, Berlin, Italy and wherever LG sends him to promote its latest innovations. He adds that he’s finally comfortable enough to be able to save away some money, and now he just has to be careful about not sitting back. “I’ll be content in my career when I can appear on TV regularly, similar to Sam Hammington and Robert Holley.” Bronwyn, already a mainstay on Korean morning TV, hopes one day to have her own show in Korean, where she can pick her own topics and ensure balance and accuracy. “(I want) to be able to lead the conversations and be able to debate about stuff without having someone to pull the foreign card on me or the female card on me,” she says. “I’m hoping in the next two years, but nobody knows. So, my goal would be 2015. I still have a way to go, but we’ll see.” Pinnacle is already taking on the world, forging connections in the U.S., Germany, Guam, the Philippines, Italy and wherever else he can throw the line. In the next five years, he hopes to establish Planet Hustle well enough to be able to sign other artists and help them to achieve their goals, and gain enough stability to start a family. But for a man whose life’s mission is fighting complacency, when will TheHustler finally be satisfied with what he’s achieved? “My end goal is just to maintain happiness,” he says. “I’m happy where I am, but I feel I have more things to do. Once I get to that point, to where I have a successful business, I have enough time for family and I can use my art to move forward, that’s pretty much all I need.” That’s it? “Yeah, that’s it.”

Introducing GrooveCast Groove Korea is launching GrooveCast, a podcast hosted by Chance Dorland. In the first episode, Chance and Groove’s music and arts editor Emilee Jennings sit down for a chat with Pinnacle TheHustler and Jake Pains. Check it out at groovekorea.com.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

Back to the real world Never still, never complacent, the sky’s the limit for Pinnacle TheHustler

Story by Sophie Boladeras / Photos by Colin Dabbs and Dylan Goldby


ason Waller came to Korea as an English teacher, as many expats do, but it was in his blood to hoist himself out of a profession that didn’t inspire him. He worked day and night over four fast years living in Seoul to carve a niche for himself as a hard-working and talented DJ, performer, emcee, radio host and CEO of his own company, Planet Hustle — living up to his self-coined moniker, Pinnacle TheHustler. By first impression, he is a funny, charismatic guy. His music has been compared to Nas, Twista, Jay-Z, Eminem and Lupe Fiasco, but he has a distinctive flair and style of his own. In the middle of last year, Pinnacle packed up his Seoul home and returned to his native Cincinnati to expand his reach in the West. But the city would be hard pressed to realize it, as he’s been back and forth some half a dozen

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times since then. “My mail is gonna be going to Cincinnati. I will rest there, but I plan to be on the go a lot. I’ll hit different states in America and Asia, and I’m trying to work on some countries in Europe,” he says in an interview during one of his stops late last year, a few days before setting off stateside again. “I’ll still be DJing, which I love, and also I’ll be doing marketing services for my business Planet Hustle. I’m excited that I can have my own entity that I can work at.” This attitude is a reflection of what Pinnacle is all about: Once he decides that a barrier can be broken, he’ll trample it down and set off to the next. When he outgrew Korea and realized it wasn’t so far from the U.S. or China or even Italy, there was nothing stopping him from going global.

“My message, everything that I’m about, is progress, forward movement and not being where you were two weeks or two months ago. Get out of complacency,” he says. “This country can feel like a bubble. It’s like you get used to having your apartment provided; things are easy, and then you have to get back out into the real world.” He owes his broadened perspective largely to the 2008 leap he made to Korea, where he has come to see how he fits into the bigger picture. “(Living here) has influenced me as far as expanding my perspective on a lot of things,” he says. “When you change your perspective on life, you change your perspective on your art. Being out here has made me better understand my relationship with the world.” And a lot of that perspective, he says, has to do with being one of the few black people in

a mostly homogenous country. Leaving the U.S. and assimilating in Korea forced him to see the pedestal that he and other black people are put on, but he has embraced his responsibility of being a role model, especially as one of the handful of blacks in the public eye here. “When you step outside of America and you see how other people view you, even though they might not know you but just how they look at you or your culture, it gives you a different perspective on how you should act,” he says. “Wherever I go, I know that I am kind of an unofficial ambassador for all black people. If I do something stupid, people here are going to be like, ‘See, that’s how they are.’ So it made me conscious and responsible with the type of content that I put out and how I conduct myself in public.” But he sees that Korea’s diversity is growing. One thing he values about performing here is the variety of cultures represented in any given audience; even though everyone came from different places, they can still come together and enjoy the same music. His favorite compliment came from someone who didn’t even like hip-hop, but says they were still able to enjoy his show. Keeping his diverse audience in mind, he says, has also taught him to be relatable. “At first it was a bit daunting; people have different tastes, experiences and cultures. Everyone grows up in different environments, which shape what they like and dislike. So when performing in front of all these people from different countries and backgrounds, I thought, ‘How can I affect such a diverse group?’ But I did it,” he says. “My shows in Korea have really helped me to hone my craft. I can still rap about subjects that are personal to me, but I can deliver them in a way that is general enough so that everyone can relate, in some way, to the message.” Pinnacle was recently back in Seoul to perform on New Year’s Eve at the U.S. Army’s Yongsan garrison, and held his release party a few weeks later for “Sun Rays,” his newest single, which features Jay Eure. His next single, “Hero,” features Korean underground rapper Vasco and is one of his favorite songs, he says. His popularity shot up at TBS Radio from being a regular guest on “The Steve Hatherly Show” and cohosting with Elliott Ashby on “Night Vibe,” the only radio show in Korea dedicated solely to urban music. Pinnacle’s popularity isn’t limited to his radio or DJing work, though: He has close to 9,000 likes on Facebook and has played at packed gigs all over Seoul. He isn’t worried about difficulties in transferring his current popularity from Korea to the States or to the world. For the foreseeable future, Pinnacle plans to hop between Cincinnati, Seoul and all the other places where he’s making connections. “We now live in a world without boundaries. It’s really not difficult. Psy is popular because of the net; it’s the same with K-pop and J-pop. It’s a matter of marketing and promotion,” he says. “I don’t even care about being famous. I just want to fund myself and my passion and to be able to take care of my family.”

More info

Find Pinnacle on Facebook at facebook.com/iampinnacle or visit Planet Hustle at www.planethustle.com


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (emilee@groovekorea.com)

Straight talking ‘Darling of Korea’ Bronwyn Mullen tells it like it is Story by Emilee Jennings / Photo by Dylan Goldby


ronwyn Mullen strolls into an intimate café near Samgakji Station, saying a quick hello to people as she weaves her way around tables and greets me with a warm embrace. “I’m in my pajamas because I’m sick. I hope you don’t mind,” she says with a friendly smile. She is rocking a baseball hat, a baggy sweater, checkered pajamas and leather ankle boots; it seems she can get away with anything and still look pretty cool. But she will be the first to tell you just how uncool she really is. “Working in TV is not as glamorous as it seems,” she says. “I don’t wake up looking done up. Every person on TV ­— even when they pretend to pull off the all-natural look — has had somebody do their hair and makeup, and the stylist gives them the clothes. “People on TV are just the same as everyone else, because they’ll go home and put on their jammies, and do normal stuff. Really, I just want to hang out in museums and do ‘uncool’ stuff. I’m too old now to pretend to be cool.” Before she could enjoy a privileged life of being “uncool,” she had to do a lot of hard work. After a tumultuous childhood and years toiling in the industry, Bronwyn is finally comfortable. She now has her pick of roles with Korea’s countless broadcasting stations; she has hosted an array of health shows, travel programs, news and current affairs programs as well as general chat shows. It’s fair to say that she is now one of the most recognized foreigners in the Korean community. Bronwyn decided in 2005 that she had had enough of South Africa, where she was studying journalism in her hometown of Durban. “I was bored. I wanted to try something new. I really wanted to travel; I wanted to get out of my goldfish bowl existence,” she says. “I knew from the moment I arrived that I had to make this work for me, I would have to fit in here better than I had at home and I would have to find a way to survive.” She is very open and honest about her child-

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hood. “Like many people, I come from a broken family. My dad left when I was 5, my mom was a single mom, and then I had an alcoholic stepfather. Basically, my mother made many mistakes about the people that she chose to be with, and she didn’t put her children first.” Bronwyn’s childhood was riddled with abuse; she grew up feeling insecure, miserable and depressed. “Part of coming here was to get away from my family. I had a really strict childhood and I grew up really confused and just not sure about where to go or how to make something of myself.” So she looked to Asia for an escape and traveled to Korea under the guise of a sixmonth exchange program, but really she had no intent of ever leaving. While she was studying at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, a friend put her name forward for a newly launched KBS TV show. “At the time I didn’t have any Korean ability, so I went into the interview super blind and I couldn’t convey what I was thinking or feeling. But the production designer liked me and the staff liked me. They said I had a good way of just expressing what I was trying to say in very broken Korean, and they found it amusing and cute that I was trying.” She made her first television appearance one week later. The “Global Talk Show” not only paid the bills that were piling up, but it also laid the groundwork that would help establish a very successful career for this 30-year-old who has been dubbed the “darling of Korea.” “I was extremely nervous on the first day, but I just kind of laughed my way through it and I kind of felt at home, like this is what I’m doing with my life. I knew I was going to be good at something!” she laughs, giving a brief glimpse of her insecure upbringing. “It’s almost like that first TV show was a gift. I needed it so badly just to be able to get my foot in (the) door and just to be able to pay rent.” Bronwyn worked hard to get where she is, and the fact that she is still going strong after eight years in the industry is testament to her determination and talent. “Being in the en-

tertainment business is lovely and fun. When I’m in front of (the) camera, that’s when I’m the happiest, that’s when I forget all the bad stuff, and that’s when I can finally relive the childhood that I never had,” she says. “I can express myself any way that I choose, but also it can be quite soul-destroying.” She has weathered insanely long days, filming for 18 hours straight on occasions. This, combined with enduring nasty comments day after day, would be enough to convince anyone to throw in the towel, but Bronwyn continues to power through. After her television debut, viewers wrote such comments on the show’s website as, “She’s not pretty at all,” “She has such a big nose,” “She can’t even speak Korean” and “What is she doing on this show?” By her second appearance she had won the Korean critics over with her quirkiness and brutal honesty — the foreign community in Korea, not so much. “Some foreigners look at me and say, ‘Just because you’re not fat and you’re not that ugly, you could build a career on your looks.’ I find that offensive because, actually, to Koreans, I wasn’t that great. The only reason I am here is because they got to love my personality. But you know there are a lot of learning curves and you learn something and you move on.” Korea is home now, but South Africa will always be in Bronwyn’s heart. “I love my country and when I meet South Africans in Korea I’m so pleased. … I’ll always be a proud South African, but I don’t have anything to go back to there. I’m not happy with my family and I don’t have a career there. Basically, Korea’s home for now. I don’t know if it will be for forever, but certainly I won’t be leaving in the next year or two.” Instead she’ll be working towards presenting a Korean show where she has the freedom to choose her own topics and lead conversations among a panel of people. “One day,” she muses, “I’m hoping in the next two years, but nobody knows.” Watch this space.

‘I knew from the moment I arrived that I had to make this work for me, I would have to fit in here better than I had at home and I would have to find a way to survive.’ Bronwyn Mullen


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

Just growing up Jake Pains is learning how to take on hallyu TV Story by Elaine Ramirez / Photos by Dylan Goldby


ake Patchett has learned the hard way that he is not always right. The fasttalking Brit admits he gets into trouble for being mouthy and stubborn. But a few learning experiences have taught him that sometimes you should listen to the people who know better. He also likes to play with fire. One day, while planning a stunt involving a flaming skateboard, he showed off to his crewmates a trick he learned in his U.K. days: Put a bit of lighter fluid on your hand and it bursts into flames for a split second. When the fire vanishes, the hand is unscathed. They told him it was too dangerous. He wanted to prove them wrong. For filming, he went all-in and doused his hand with the flammable liquid. It didn’t go as planned, leaving him with impressive footage of his hand being engulfed — and third-degree burns.

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“That was the time K-pop really scarred me for life,” he says. While most of the scars have since vanished, he admits he will never be a hand model. Jake is the antic-filled, caricatural host of Mnet’s weekly K-pop variety show “Jjang,” exported to the hallyu-loving world outside Korea. While better known here as Jake Pains from his rapping and emceeing, he’s built a fan base abroad by such stunts as setting fire to himself (they didn’t end up using the too-real footage, in the end), onscreen “funduggeries” and asking questions to Korea’s pop idols that a Korean interviewer wouldn’t dare touch. Fortunately for Jake, he says he has found a family in his production team who can put up with his shenanigans. “It’s been quite organic and I’m very lucky with my crew,” he says. “Now they’re quite confident in our abilities. They’ll still be like, ‘Jake, don’t do this, this is kind of crazy,’ and I’ll be like ‘no,’ and then I’ll learn my lesson by setting my whole hand on fire and being like, ‘Yeah, you were right, I nearly died. Lesson learned.’” Much like the self-immolation incident, the show itself, into its third season this year, has been a learning experience for the “27 or 28”-year-old (he plans to stay that age for a while). He has come a long way from his days working shitty jobs in film and TV to support his rapping pursuits in Birkenhead, England, and even teaching English in Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province. Now he hosts dinners for hoity-toities like the CJ CEO and the Samsung family, parties in hotels with Korea’s pop idols and entertains K-pop fans abroad week after week. One thing it’s all taught him, he says, is professionalism. “I used to be a lot crazier and do a lot more stupid things and climb up stuff, and I have to be a toned-down version of that now. … Maybe it’s just growing up,” he says, before singing “Growing Up” from “Care Bears Movie 2.” While he’s perpetually young at heart, the Jake who used to argue has learned patience and communication skills. His job requires him

to communicate with a team of eight or nine people, most of whom don’t speak much English. He’s learned that Western and Korean crews work differently. And while he might not understand why something is done a certain way, he accepts that his crewmates have different perspectives. “You know how the culture is, don’t argue with the people above you? Well I do, and always have done, so that was bad for both of us to start with,” he says. “Now I see a lot more from their point of view. … I can see they might get in trouble, and (our work) has to reflect good on everybody.” He has also realized just how hard everyone works. Everybody on his team does everything, from editing to carrying equipment. While he used to complain about having to rewrite an entire script, now he just gets the job done. “Nowadays when you tell me (to do) some things I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll do it,’ because I know how hard we’re all working. When you know how much everyone else is doing, you put in more effort yourself,” he says. While rewarding, scripting and filming a weekly show is a physically and mentally tiring job. When his creativity is tapped by the end of the week, his own music takes a backseat. There are songs Jake Pains (also known in hip-hop circles as Baek Young-nam, a loose abbreviation for “white English man” in Korean) planned to release in December; Jake Patchett still hasn’t had the time to hit the recording studio. But it’s all worth it to him, because he enjoys waking up every day to something new. “If I was getting paid half of what I get paid now, and as long I could pay my rent and eat, then I would still do this job because I enjoy it that much,” he dared to say. “God forbid I actually do start getting paid half the wage. That would be terrible, but I would still do it.” He says that what started as “kind of a joke” is now the biggest English-language product at CJ Entertainment, and “Jjang,” Jake’s foray into Korean TV entertainment, is his golden ticket to bigger and better. “I’m nowhere near

‘If I was getting paid half of what I get paid now, and as long I could pay my rent and eat, then I would still do this job because I enjoy it that much. God forbid I actually do start getting paid half the wage. That would be terrible, but I would still do it.’ Jake Pains the pinnacle of my career. I’ve just started. ... If there’s a pyramid, I am right at the bottom and just moving up.” To move up that pyramid, he says, he believes in little goals rather than some big, singular goal for his music or entertainment career. Learning Korean is currently his biggest hurdle. He’s knee-deep in language classes when not on the “Jjang” set. In music, he just wants to keep meeting new audiences and writing things he’s satisfied with, whether or not he even records them. As long as he is on stage, in front of the camera or otherwise performing, he’ll be happy. “I never really had a main goal. My goal is just kind of to perform or entertain in a way that I (am) comfortable doing … be it acting or presenting or making music or free styling or just anything performing-wise, as long as it’s fun for me and it’s giving other people pleasure,” he says. “So, will I ever achieve everything I want to do? Probably not, but I’m gonna have a lot of fun trying, and I’m sure this is just the start.” So what’s his next goal? The higher-ups have mentioned that once he overcomes some “ifs and buts” ­­— if he had more experience; but he doesn’t speak the language well — there are loads of opportunities awaiting him at CJ, where he has dug in his heels. Maybe he could host another show, this time for Korean audiences. Even his friend and music collaborator Pinnacle TheHustler says that with the look, the personality and the talent needed to succeed here, “if it happens to anybody, it would be Jake.” Now it’s all up to him to move up, one step at a time. “I have the opportunity to work in Korean television. I work for the biggest private broadcasting system … one of the biggest in Asia. If that isn’t a foot in the door, then nothing is,” he says. “They like me — that’s been tried and tested because I still work there — and I like them. I love the environment and I’m very happy where I am. To represent CJ and to represent Korea is the next step, something that I have to take on with myself to make sure I — fuckin’ hell, I just gotta learn Korean.” Little goals.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (emilee@groovekorea.com)

Jesse Day is here to stay His plan — to conquer the world of Asian entertainment Story by Emilee Jennings / Photo by Dylan Goldby


esse Day is warm, friendly and charismatic, but don’t let his innocent smile fool you — this 30-year-old Canadian means business. Jesse wanted to become a TV star and the Asian market drew him in, so he came and gave it everything. There was no plan B, C or D, only a plan A. “I started this career with the mindset to be in it for the long haul — I don’t believe in backup plans. There’s always a market for whatever anyone wants to do once they really push for it and have a strong conviction.” Now he is a TV presenter and emcee by day and rapper by night; throw a bit of martial arts into the mix and it’s clear how hard Jesse is willing to work. “I’m not hung up on trying to become famous or anything like that,” explains Jesse. “I just like doing stuff in front of the camera. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life and for career longevity it’s good to become recognized.” His first attempt at living in Asia was a stint in TV and the hip-hop scene in China. Then he ventured to Korea, and decided he could never live in Canada again. “I feel I belong in Seoul. I have since the moment I arrived here. I knew I would be here forever, even when I first got here and was broke with no job prospects. It’s something I can’t even describe. This is where I’m supposed to be, in my mind. I’ll be here for the rest of my life.” The Korean life was not all roses and kimchi for him (although there was a lot of kimchi — probably too much kimchi). Coming here was a big risk. He didn’t have any contacts or speak a word of Korean, and with very little money, his only option was to stay in a goshiwon, a small room with a bed and TV. “For-

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tunately the goshiwon I was staying in had free rice, kimchi and eggs, so I was eating that for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. If I was really feeling like breaking the bank I would buy a coffee. I’m really addicted to coffee, so on days when I couldn’t afford coffee I would pour three of the premixed sachets in a cup to try and get a buzz off it.” For the first six months he made daily contact with foreign agencies and began teaching himself Korean. “In the beginning I spent all my time searching online for Korean foreign model agencies and learning the basics of Korean. I wasn’t really doing any work and I was struggling a lot.” That was until, finally, his first big break in the form of “Fly High,” an English education show for children. It was a humble beginning. He worked alongside three other actors wearing animal costumes and performing fairytale characters with a twist. “It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from my costars, especially Isaac (Durst). He told me, ‘Act as if you are a cartoon character and really over-animate it.’” He continued to work with them for two years, which meant he could even afford “real coffee” and alternative meals. His first goal in Korea was to get onto “Star King,” a show with Korean stars watching unknown people who have a unique or unusual talent. “I was aware of that show, I knew there hadn’t been a foreigner rapping in Korean on TV yet, so I thought, ‘I got to do this,’ and I trained and trained and trained and trained.” When Jesse secured an audition, he blew the judges away with his Korean rapping. “They put me on the show, which was kind of crazy because I was hanging out with 2PM and these other

idol groups all day — it was surreal. And they had me rapping with Outsider, who is one of the fastest speed rappers in the world, so that was crazy.” Jesse was living the disco dream and it all seemed more and more possible, with compliments and oohs and aahs from his favorite K-pop idols. Jesse self-studies Korean for 40 minutes every day. It is a difficult and at times mundane task, but to get more jobs on Korean TV, especially chat shows, he insists he must improve his language skills. “I did a talk show on TV before and it was really difficult for me. There was a panel of guests discussing topics and it was all in Korean. It was a really hard time for me. I got a script in advance and practiced with my manager, but that all goes out the window when you’re in the studio.” He says he’d like to get to the point where he can be on Korean shows like “Radio Star” and “Happy Together.” For now he just works show to show, season by season, and never really knows where his next paycheck is coming from. “There is no stable gig, but there’s no point in feeling anxious about future jobs. Something always comes up.” To secure his career, he tries to make himself as diverse and flexible as possible to create a larger market of opportunity for constant work. He’s rapped in Korean, he’s starred in many a Korean drama, done his fair share of children’s TV and does corporate videos as well as martial arts TV work. “The whole point of being diverse is so that I can have longevity in my career. I just love it all. … There’s the corporate stuff, then there’s the emce side. I try to fit whatever program or situation I’m in. I plan to be here for the long term.”

‘I started this career with the mindset to be in it for the long haul — I don’t believe in backup plans. There’s always a market for whatever anyone wants to do once they really push for it and have a strong conviction.’ Jesse Day


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)


K o r e a t a k e s S X SW b y s t o r m 1 4 b a n d s t o c a n n o n b a ll i n t o S o u t h b y S o u t h w e st Story by Conrad Hughes / Photos courtesy of the bands


very year, hundreds of thousands swarm to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, to experience film, comedy, music and general entertainment. One of the biggest draws, no doubt, is the numerous bands showcased on its multiple (and highly publicized) stages. Ever since Korea made its entrance in 2007, SXSW has been seeing a Korean Wave of its own, with 14 Korean groups set to perform at its 27th edition, up from 11 last year. The bands making a splash this year aren’t treating the opportunity as a one-off, but are rather using it as the springboard into the Seoulsonic 2014 tour across the U.S. Annie Ko from Love X Stereo acknowledges the doors that SXSW opens for foreign bands, and says they “want to be a known international band ... like any other band out there.” She acknowledges there’s a lot of legwork to do; not just for

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her band, but for the whole scene: “Because K-pop is so well known to the world, as indie musicians we feel like there’s a lot to catch up (on). In order to do so, we need to make better music.” Crying Nut has been performing and recording for 20 years now and are no strangers to the international tour. They previously toured in the U.S. with Seoulsonic in 2012, and have been looking forward to SXSW ever since. For guitarist and vocalist Park Yoonsik, an international audience is a fresh challenge. “The U.S. has a very strong rock music scene. I want to see how Crying Nut can do there.” “I hope all people, regardless of where they are from, love our music and want to have fun with us,” adds bandmate Kim Insoo. “If you see us, and you like us, please buy our CD … or me a beer!” The breadth of Korean bands going to the

huge Austin festival this year is staggering, from YB, the band that started the SXSW hallyu, to the tiny giants creating and exploring hitherto unheard spaces. There’s still a distance to go before we see a healthy musical counterculture like Japan’s, but the peninsula knows a lot about progress. Perhaps in a few years it won’t be a novelty that a good band comes from Korea. Jambinai, a progressive post-rock group utilizing traditional instruments, acknowledges this upcoming U.S. debut is a big financial risk, but they could be the first to legitimize Korean alternative music internationally. “I want to make music that everyone can enjoy. Nationality, race and location shouldn’t matter. Good music is good music,” says Lee Il-woo, who plays piri and guitar for the group. Here are some of Korea’s finest rock examples set to hit the Texas stage.



The eclectic YB, signed under the label Dee Company, has come as far as any Korean rock band in their efforts to break into America. The five-piece, fronted by Yoon Do-hyun, has predicated the arrival of Korean rock to the mainstream festival. YB plays a zeitgeist-tinged arena brand of rock that, if not genre-defining, certainly elicits a smile and foot tapping. Yoon Do-hyun is a cult of personality as the face of rock in Korea. Interestingly, YB were awarded the first ever World Music Peace Award in 2003 for their humanitarian work.


N e ll

The Woolim-signed band Nell, another member of Korean rock’s old guard, burst onto the Korean scene with two independently released albums in 2001 and 2002. Their music is keyboard driven and heavy on the dripping-wet emotions, capturing the hearts of teenage girls throughout the peninsula. Korean sentimentalism may not breach the U.S. markets in the same way it permeates at home, but Nell has a niche and has crafted a sound that appeals to many.


Love X Stereo

A counterpoint to the arena rock comes in the very modern form of Love X Stereo, whose recent four-track EP “GLOW” delivers polishedto-a-sheen electronic pop. Lead singer Annie Ko’s vocals echo the wispy traces of Debbie Harry, all while married to Pulp-esque disco refrains. The band is an example of Korea’s striking ability to do the things developed by other cultures and do them with professional guile.

I d i o ta p e

Like a vocal-less Hot Chip, Idiotape combines live drums with synths and guitar to craft delicate, punchy and hugely danceable soundscapes. Their 2011 release “11111101” is a relentless blat of dance-pop in the pioneering mold of Scattle or Perturbator — a slight darkness underlying the puzzle of rhythms and melodies.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)


Gl e n C h e c k

Glen Check fits a similar mold to Idiotape: dark disco pop fully exercising an ‘80s throwback vibe. In short, they’re cool, but with substance. The band’s sophomore album “Haute Couture” was the recipient of 2012’s prize for Best Dance & Electronic Album at the Korean Music Awards. Both June-one Kim (on vocals and guitar) and Hyuk-jun Kang (on bass and synth) grew up outside of Korea, and their New Wave influences are worn with pride.

No brain

N o Br a i n

Much inspired by the three-chord punk bands of the late ‘90s, No Brain is pure pop punk. Active since 1997, they first appeared on Japanese indie punk label compilations, and later on a Nirvana tribute album that also featured Crying Nut (another featured artist at SXSW 2014). No Brain’s sound has a marketable edge that nevertheless refuses to interfere with the strong pop hooks that drive the band’s songs. The past 20 years have seen No Brain take a slight step back from their punk roots, now dressing impeccably and performing in music video shoots with much higher production values. At the same time, however, they’ve maintained their independent spirit by still playing small venues across the country.

Cry i ng nu t

Cr y i n g N u t

Crying Nut, unlike No Brain, has a genuinely raw sound that could only have come from developing inside Korea. Crying Nut sounds messy in a great, dodging-morning-piles-ofsick kind of way. It’s a shambling modulation toward a tonic that’s underscored by the drilled technicality of Korean musicianship — just bloody good fun. Epitomizing the punk aesthetic, yet with a unique, Korean twist, Crying Nut is the oblivion-seeking soju shot at 5 a.m. before passing out in a Hongdae dumpster.

Y e ll o w M o n st e rs

Somewhere between Crying Nut and No Brain sit Yellow Monsters — a great band name, naturally — with their down-to-earth pop-punk aesthetic unashamedly placing hooks, high production values and multiple-levels of chorus at the front and center. Yellow Monsters have been around for less time than the two aforementioned pop-punk staples, yet their sound carries weight and smacks of staying power. Here’s hoping the Warped Tour takes note.

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Ja mbi na i

Jambinai is another fringe band representing the sound of post-rock in Korea. Their vibe is, at times, very close to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, especially on standout “Namu-ui Daehwa (Dialogue of Trees) 2,” but their use of traditional instruments marks them as special: the haegeum, geomungo and piri are utilized throughout the artist’s compositions to create a genuinely unique and Korean sound. Jambinai would make a fantastic opener for Hollow Jan; while Jambinai’s music doesn’t hinge on abrasion, there is a distinct and noteworthy overlap between the two. In louder songs, the band itself is a strange acoustic grindcore above and beyond post-rock: every track is smart and disparate in its own self-complete way.

H y u n A ; J a y P a rk

Jang Kiha and The Faces

Jang Kiha and The Faces are classic indie, with a straight-shooting, staccato sense of humor that rejects the sentimentality oozing from most Korean music. Kiha’s breakout (but not standout) was the self-produced “Cheap Coffee” in 2008. He’s awkward and interesting in his delivery and completely unremarkable to look at, making him and his band The Faces a fresh prospect. His second album was called “Living Plainly,” which speaks volumes for the rare artistic sensibilities he represents.

Bi g P h o n y

More info

SXSW: sxsw.com Seoulsonic: facebook.com/seoulsonic.kr

Big Phony, a.k.a. Bobby Choi, is a singer/ songwriter in the truest sense. Represented internationally on Bandcamp, he produces the kind of introspective English songs that Elliott Smith would be proud of; music best suited to a quiet evening or perhaps a montage of emotional weight. Sentimentality aside, Big Phony has a great attitude that comes across in his songs, which are always heartfelt but never overdone.

In both cultural and artistic opposition to the artists like Big Phony that represent the new wave of Korean independent music, idol stars HyunA and Jay Park are also scheduled to perform at the Austin festival. But K-pop fans take note: we’re in SXSW territory now, and K-pop will be viewed as a novelty act rather than the huge business it is on the peninsula. This odd reversal means the mainstream-as-they-come idol stars are actually acting as part of the counterculture on display at SXSW.

H o ll o w J a n

Most Korean indie (as in, independently released or self-produced and managed) bands fall on the lighter side of rock. Hollow Jan is a stark, deeply moving riposte to pop punk and electronica, revealing a depth of talent that rivals anything seen in the J-metal scene. With a sound that is definitely comparable to Envy, the Japanese metal juggernaut, their style possesses something uniquely Korean while tapping into the gold vein of Explosions In The Sky-esque post-rock. They also happen to be an incredibly sublime act to catch live, which doesn’t hurt. Hollow Jan will be touring in support of their forthcoming second album, but for a taste of what they bring to the Korean music scene, their amazing onstage performance energy is palpable even in their YouTube videos. Aggressive rock music is rarely disseminated throughout Korea, and thus their representation at SXSW is important for the future of the genre here.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (Emilee@groovekorea.com)

rock n roll seoul

New Blue Death

Breathing new life into Indie rock and roll Column by Sophie Boladeras Photos courtesy of New Blue Death

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New Blue Death is

Alberto Alba - keyboards Adam Brennan - vocals, guitar Maggie Devlin - vocals Adam Hickey - bass Ethan Waddell - guitar, vocals Patrick Walsh - drums


ew Blue Death is a band that belts out broody yet simultaneously bright sounds to appreciative audiences in Seoul. The band’s six members have all been living in Korea for a while now. Some came to teach and some came to learn, but they all are passionate about creating music that continues to evolve and diversify. The group’s commitment to their craft and their experimental indie sound has already seen them share a number of successes. Their song “The Violent Season” was featured in the major Korean motion picture “Rollercoaster” (2013), directed by renowned Korean actor Ha Jung-woo. The band also made an impact at the 2013 Pentaport Rock Festival in Incheon. An early slot on a weekday didn’t stop them from attracting a receptive crowd who were keen to get up and dance. Whether the band is playing big or small shows, their goal is the same: to connect with their listeners and to make diverse, complex and sometimes unruly music.

Groove Korea: You formed fairly recently. How was your first gig as New Blue Death? Ethan Waddell: The first gig was amazing. We prepared so much and had already recorded, so we knew the songs well and were very confident. Lots of our friends came. It was great. What types of things do you sing about? Adam Brennan: Writing lyrics is a weird activity. It’s difficult to describe. Most of the songs on the first record are not story songs. I guess most of them are about relationships and places. I think the idea of where we are and how we relate to our surroundings is interesting. The lyrics are heavy on imagery. Lots of what is written is based on foggy ideas of memory: strange vignettes from the past juxtaposed with the present.

‘Just seeing our name on the posters, playing on a big stage, hearing our songs through that soundsystem; it felt like a reward of sorts.’ Maggie Devlin

is how we usually work. When we got to working on this song, everyone in the band was writing their parts and there was a sense that we were getting to understand each other musically. Everyone started to find their roles and there was a certain flow and chemistry starting to develop between us. That stuff you can’t teach or manufacture. Either you work well together or you don’t. The end result was great, but it was the process that got us there that was truly enjoyable. It has to be or you won’t last as a band too long.

The music video for “Chasing the Freaks” from your self-titled debut record has some interesting, old-school visuals. Where did you get the footage from and why did you decide to use it? Adam Hickey: I edited the video together from an old educational video used in Philadelphia public schools from the late ‘70s. It just seemed to fit. I mean, youthful rebellion is at the heart of rock ‘n’ roll, isn’t it? I couldn’t resist the urge to play with it. Our music tends to be fairly serious and at times brooding, so this seemed like a good opportunity to have a little fun.

“The Violent Season” was recently featured in Ha Jung-woo’s directorial debut, “Rollercoaster.” Tell us about it. Hickey: Our recording engineer had done some work in the film industry here and the company came to him looking for new material to use. Apparently, it stood out from the lot and he picked up the song without knowing much about us. It was a great opportunity that came to us completely unexpectedly. I was personally proud of the fact that the song got picked up without us really campaigning for it. In some way, I guess the music stood on its own, which is what the goal is when you’re trying to make a record. Waddell: It’s used in a scene where the plane is crashing. I went to see the movie in the theater; it was very exciting to hear our song on the big screen. I wish we were invited to the premiere.

Tell us about your first single, “The Violent Season.” Waddell: We picked it as the first single because we thought it was the most unique song. I think we spent so much time on that song that we really wanted to show other people what we had created right away. Hickey: For me, the process of writing that song is when I realized I really wanted to commit to this band. And it definitely was a process. Adam Brennan had come in with an idea that we built up and tore down and built up again a number of times, which

What was your experience like playing at the Pentaport Rock Festival? Maggie Devlin: Pentaport was great. We were a little worried because we had such an early slot on a workday, but we ended up with a decent crowd. Just seeing our name on the posters, playing on a big stage, hearing our songs through that sound system; it felt like a reward of sorts. A vindication of what we were doing. Hickey: Playing in that environment is a very different beast than playing small clubs. Both have ups and downs. It’s harder to make an immediate con57

MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Emilee Jennings (Emilee@groovekorea.com)

‘I drink energy drinks and jump up and down a lot. I’m not usually nervous, but am extremely anxious to get on stage.’ Patrick Walsh

nection with your audience on those bigger stages, but I feel like we were able to do that so it felt good. Big shows or small shows — the goal is the same: connect with people. If you’re in the ocean or a pond, it doesn’t matter really. You’ve just got to swim. Have you faced any challenges as an indie band in Seoul? Waddell: Yes. Since most of the members are teachers, we have full-time jobs. I think this detracts from the amount of time we can devote to the band. Many Korean bands have members who do not work. We are unable to do that. Also, since we write our songs in English, many Koreans are not attracted to the music. However, I think the fact that our song was chosen to be in a major motion picture in Korea is a step in the right direction. It is most important for us to appeal to all audiences not for our appearance, but for our music itself. Do you get nervous before performing? Devlin: I used to get really nervous when I was about to go on stage, but it’s different now. I think as a unit we’re very robust; if something goes wrong we just work on it and move forward. I suppose I’ve learned to enjoy the process more. I like the jeopardy of performing now. Waddell: Yes. I like to practice my parts before going on stage. Hickey: Adam B and I have spoken before about how we need a little time just before and after we play. It’s not really a nerves thing. We’ve all been playing and performing for a while now so we’re rarely uncomfortable on stage. It’s more about getting yourself in the right headspace. It’s about focusing and getting in the right vibe. I love going to see bands and love a lot of the bands we get to play with, but I’m rarely watching a band right before we go on. I’d like our show to be a little self-contained world the audience can

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enter for a little while. You’ve got to get there before you can bring people there. Alberto Alba: I never get nervous before a show. I get really excited! But as Adam says, I also need my space right before going on stage, as I play the hard parts in my head and try to calm myself down to give it all when I play. A pair of beers helps a lot! Patrick Walsh: I drink energy drinks and jump up and down a lot. I’m not usually nervous, but am extremely anxious to get on stage. It’s kind of difficult for me to even watch the band before us because as our show gets closer, the more I want to get on stage and play. How do you survive as musicians? Hickey: Some of us are students and some of us work. I don’t know a lot of people that are full-time indie rockers. The only way to really make a living nowadays is touring. Being based out of Seoul makes touring extremely hard. It’s a pretty isolated spot. You can’t just hop in a van and roll over to Tokyo or hit the States. It’s a struggle a lot of musicians face in Seoul, especially Korean artists who don’t have a network back in the States or Europe like some foreign artists might. If you do try to tour in a bigger market, the stakes are a lot higher for a band from here. That said, there is a much better DIY tour circuit starting to develop here in Asia, particularly in China with cities like Shanghai and Beijing developing cool scenes of their own. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds. What do you have planned for the future? Brennan: We are working on a possible China tour now. I would love to tour the States, but it’s difficult to mount a tour from Korea. In addition to touring, recording is our No. 1 agenda right now. We have several albums’ worth of new material ready to be recorded.

More info

soundcloud.com/new-blue-death facebook.com/newbluedeath newbluedeath@gmail.com

MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

Explosions in the Sky, Baths land in Seoul Story by S Michael Ersing Photos courtesy of the bands


here is a new concert/festival/label family in town. Debuting under the name Lasrevinu, the new organizers are bringing American post-rock group Explosions in the Sky and electronic musician Baths to Seoul this spring. One of the most critically celebrated art-rock groups of the past 15 years, Explosions in the Sky has not only had success in the romance and darkness of college dorm rooms the civilized world over; the band has also had commercial success, providing the soundtracks for Hollywood films “Friday Night Lights” and “Lone Survivor,” and done so without tarnishing its reputation as the dream weavers for a bizarre, devoted cult fan base. After six sparkling albums of what the group calls “cathartic euphoWith music that is both ria” designed to be “immediate and visceral and serene, emotional,” the Texas quartet says it evocative of exploration is more inspired than ever. Their latin ancient urban places est release, “Take Care, Take Care, unknown with sexy Take Care,” delves into complex, strangers speaking in hard-earned friendships, reveling in languages that are the shared experience of many thouimpossible to comprehend, sands of miles. The feeling of “We can, we will” is palpable and transBaths has succeeded in picking up where the first ferable, and music that expresses familiarity with the vastly unfamiliar. Postal Service album Explosions is set to play at Uniqlo Ax left off. Hall on May 10. Meanwhile, LA producer and electro-symphony creator Will Wiesenfeld of project Baths promises to deliver an ecstatic performance at Rolling Hall on March 8. With music that is both visceral and serene, evocative of exploration in ancient urban places unknown with sexy strangers speaking in languages that are impossible to comprehend, Baths has succeeded in picking up where the first Postal Service album left off. His debut release “Cerulean” was given an honorable mention for Pitchfork’s Album of the Year award — no small accomplishment by any standard. His latest release, “Obsidian,” is a journey down a darker, moodier, nuanced alley full of the feelings, questions and confusions that might come with being catapulted into sudden fame in LA, even so late in one’s career (Wiesenfeld was born in ‘89). Baths’ performances are fantastic yet approachable, larger-than-life yet down-to-earth, and an incongruous mystery that inspires the mind’s eye to open and take a fresh look around. Just being in a place like Seoul, in all of its weird international meshing and endless surrealism, certainly amplifies the power of these two acts. Bring a first date to each. Speak to her only with your eyes. Feel alive.

Explosions in the Sky


More info Explosions in the Sky Where Uniqlo Ax Hall in Gwangjin-gu, Seoul When May 10, 7 p.m. Baths Where Rolling Hall in Mapo-gu, Seoul When March 8, 11 p.m. For tickets and more info, visit lasrevinu.org.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

Column by Wilfred Lee / Photo by Colin Dabbs

B Interview with Yu Da Kim, magician 60 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

orn and raised in the U.S., Yu Da Kim has been student of magic since his first exposure at age 5. He also performs in local comedy shows in Korea to spread the joy of magic. Artist’s Journey’s Wilfred Lee sat down with Yu Da to discuss the power of magic, the joy of wonder, and the unique perspectives that it entails.

Artist’s Journey: What was your first exposure to magic? Yu Da Kim: A childhood prank exposed me to magic. As a 5-yearold boy in day care, a friend of mine showed me a fake ice cream cone and said it was real. I never saw one before, so I took a closer look. My friend pushed a hidden trigger button, which made the foam ball (the ice cream part) spring out and hit me in the face. The ball was connected to a string for easy reload, and we were ready to trick the next victim. The hidden design and the mechanics were intriguing and a first for me. What inspired you to get into magic? The very friend who tricked me when I was young became a professional magician for several years before settling down as a professional photographer. I’ll never forget the time he spent all his money, $3, to buy me a toy when we were kids. I still have that very same toy! After our day care days, we went to different elementary schools and lost touch. During my last semester of high school, my sister’s best friend was getting married. The groom turned out to be my childhood friend, and later I found out that he was a magician. He took me in as an apprentice and pushed the limits of my creativity. What is your definition of magic? I’ve grown to understand magic as an adjective. It’s nothing on its own, but it exemplifies something else — in most cases an amusing experience, or new or positive feeling. The props of magic are not necessarily magical. Alone, the magician can’t make magic. It takes a connection between a performer and viewer to experience magic. 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. How has magic affected the way you perceive the world? The world I see relies on different perspectives. Magic holds valuable lessons on sympathy, understanding of timing, knowing one’s physical and mental limits, and how to connect with people in unique and different ways. I use concepts and quotes as useful tools in the real world. Here’s an example: Imagine yourself as Batman. Now imagine any situation — Batman has a tool for it (grappling hook, boomerang, night vision, gas mask, lock picks, handcuffs, etc). Magicians must study, practice and consider the various details to create certain outcomes. As a magician, we have mentalist tools, sleight of hand techniques, gimmicks, showmanship strategies, etc. Like Batman, we have perspectives, gadgets and techniques that cater to nearly any situation, limited only to our imagination. Magic has introduced me to some of the most creative thinkers in the world. Sharing their vision helped me open and broaden my view of the world. How has being in Korea affected your magic? Since childhood, magic has always been a confidence issue for me. My confidence has grown since coming to Korea, and I don’t need to flash my magic to feel special or to get attention. So my magic style has become more subtle and connects to my own personality and experiences.

In the beginning, I was always in a hurry to show the next trick. Nowadays, I’m okay with just showing one trick and sharing a story. People often remember the story, and how they felt at the time, more than the details of the trick. Is there any difference between “Korean/Asian” magic and “Western” magic? Sure. There are many different philosophies with magic in general. Indeed, magic encompasses a very wide range of fields. In the public eye, magic seems more of a trend. Each magician is trying to find the next biggest and brightest idea. In Korea, there is a lot more competition with far fewer chances of success, so Korean magicians usually strive for perfection in technique, control and appearance. You’ll be hard pressed to find a single hair out of place when seeing a Korean magician perform. Western magicians see it more as a business. They’re sticking their necks out to make a living doing magic. So Western magicians tend to take more dangerous risks or choose tricks with a greater chance of failure. The audience can sense the nervousness when they realize a million things could go wrong in a magic act. “Go big or go home” is a famous motto used in the States. Western magicians tend to use more live animals (tigers, elephants, etc.) and real props (guns, knives, fire, etc.). ‘Magic has introduced Even though Europe, China, Japan, me to some of the most South America and India hold heavy influence over the magic community, the creative thinkers in the U.S. is world-famous. And there is no world. Sharing their better place in the world to see a big vision helped me open production. But if a magic lover wants and broaden my view the absolute best experience, you’ll get of the world.’ your money’s worth watching a profes– Yu Da Kim sional close-up magician (anywhere in the world) over any stage magician. What is the Korean magician community like? Korea culturally has a genealogical and communal identity. Magicians in Korea often perform together and share ideas. I’ve found Korean magicians very inviting to new members. Many Korean magicians work on similar tricks. Their personalities come out in their different interpretations of the same trick, creating a large pool of variations for the same effect. It’s a great community to talk to all day and all night about the details of a trick or effect. What do you see for the future of magic? The classical effects of magic are ubiquitous. Almost every kid knows the thumb trick (the one your dad showed you as a kid). All the stories of magic have been told. I imagine the innovations coming from the combinations of other disciplines with the art of magic. For example, Marco Tempest is famous for combining his love of magic with open-source technology. Even with the use of the latest technologies, it’s always about the story. Magic will always be about human nature. It must be something the audience can learn from and relate to, otherwise it wouldn’t have that magical appeal. The future of magic is guaranteed to excite and amaze people in meaningful ways. Who wouldn’t like to have X-Men superpowers (read minds, walk through walls, etc.)? Our valued fantasies are the future for magic.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Jenny Na (jenny@groovekorea.com)


Captain America: The Winter Soldier Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

300: Rise of an Empire Directed by Noam Murro



Action / Adventure / Sci-fi 128 minutes

For anyone who read my preview of the orig- sequel, Steve Rogers returns in his second inal “Captain America” (“The First Avenger,” solo film, “Captain America: The Winter Sol2011), you will remember that I was quietly op- dier.” The film is set two years after the events of timistic about this film’s chances. Having been a part of the locations team in charge of prep- “The Avengers” (2012), and Steve Rogers is ping the stunts, I was positive that some of the still trying to find his place in the modern world. action sequences were going to look great on- While he contends with an enemy that is tryscreen. I also thought they nailed the look of ing to kill S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, he must also confront a character from his past, and one the suit, giving it a modern, realistic feel. In the end, however, the final film turned out of Captain America’s greatest foes, the Winter to be a mixed bag. Some of the set pieces Soldier. Chris Evans is back as Steve Rogers, were impressive, but as a superhero, I found alongside Scarlett Johansson as Natasha RoSteve Rogers to be a little dry. And with a lame manoff. New cast members include Robert superpower (sorry nerds, having a boomerang Redford as Alexander Pierce and Anthony for a shield and being able to jump really far is Mackie as Falcon. With the Captain America origin story already not that super!), ol’ Cap is just a little boring. I much preferred his character as a member of in place and the character now firmly set in the The Avengers, facing off against Iron Man. His present day, hopefully the film will get straight subtle demeanor and Boy Scout sensibilities into the action and serve as a precursor to the were the perfect foil for the gung-ho attitudes Guardians of the Galaxy. Being one step closer to the next “Avengers” film can only mean of Tony Stark. But while we wait for “The Avengers” (2015) good things for “The Winter Soldier.”



Action / Drama / War 102 minutes

How about an “American Psycho 2” (2002)? With the Oscars taking place this month, I was hoping to talk about the potential release “No way!” Yes way! Mila Kunis is the Psycho. of some highbrow art films. “Blue is the Warm- How about wheeling out Sharon Stone out for est Color,” anyone? “Stranger by the Lake,” a “Basic Instinct 2” (2006)? A horrible sequel, perhaps? At the very least, I thought I would but at least Sharon Stone’s character survived be able to mention some of the newest Oscar the first film. That’s unlike “300” (2006), a movie where the 300 said Spartans all die, winners that have come to town. Since the former arrived too late and there which left no real room for a sequel. Or so you are no plans for the latter getting a Korean would think … “300: Rise of an Empire” follows another set release date in the near future, I get to talk about one of my least favorite movie genres of Spartans before, during and after the Batinstead: movie sequels no one asked for. You tle of Thermopylae, focusing on the Battle of know the kind I’m talking about. A film that Artemisium and the rise of the god-king Xerxtook everyone by surprise financially, so movie es. Heading up this new cast is Aussie Sulliexecs thought, “I know, let’s make another one van Stapleton, who plays Themistocles. Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro return to reprise of those films — but for half the budget!” And I’m not just talking about the endless their roles as Queen Gorgo and Xerxes, resupply of “Saw” (2004) or “Paranormal Activi- spectively. “300” was a visual treat and a real surprise. ty” (2007) films that cost nothing to make but The sequel looks to have some equally impresearn millions. “Donnie Darko” (2001)? Great film, but did sive visuals. But without the element of suryou see the sequel? “But didn’t Donnie die in prise, or the involvement of the graphic novel’s the first film?” I hear you ask. He did, indeed, creator, Frank Miller, I don’t hold any hope that but part two is about his sister and is called “S. the film will come across as anything more than a bad “300” parody. Darko” (2009)!

62 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014




Action / Drama / Thriller 120 minutes

The Berlin File (베를린) Directed by Ryu Seung-wan

One way to guarantee big box office returns the exchange. This event leads the heads of the North Koreis to cast well-known actors and put them in exotic locations, which is exactly what direc- an government to question the loyalty of Jongtor Ryu Seung-wan did with “The Berlin File” seong and his interpreter wife, Ryeon Jeonghee (Jeon). (2013). Double crossings, misinformation and mayHa Jung-woo (“The Chaser,” 2008; “The Yellow Sea,” 2010) and Jeon Ji-hyeon (“The hem ensue as the North Koreans send in ruthThieves,” 2012; “My Sassy Girl,” 2001) team less up-and-coming soldier Dong Myeong-soo up in this international tale of espionage set in (Ryu Seung-beom) to find out who the traitor is inside North Korea’s Berlin office. Germany. “The Berlin File” feels like the love child of “The Berlin File” opens with an unnamed man running through the streets of Berlin. He’s bat- “Mission: Impossible” (1996) and “The Bourne tered and bruised and eventually has to treat Identity” (2002). Cell phones self-destruct afhimself via a hidden set of medical supplies. ter encoded messages have been read and What happened? Rewind three hours and we the fight scenes are frenetic, with the majority see that this character is Pyo Jong-seong (Ha), of them focusing on hand-to-hand combat. In a secret agent working for the North Korean this respect, the film is pretty successful. Howgovernment attempting to sell arms. After a ever, the plot has so many twists and turns that tense standoff, the deal is scuppered when the aren’t fully explained that I came away feeling Israeli army intervenes. But the Israelis aren’t slightly baffled about what had just taken place. the only government spying on the deal, as the “The Berlin File” is well acted and well choreoSouth Koreans, led by merciless agent Jeong graphed, but also, well, confusing. Jin-soo (Han Seok-kyu), also attempt to stop PG

13 According to box office revenue tracker boxofficemojo.com, 2013 was a very good year for Ha Jung-woo. The actor had not one, but two films in the list of the top 10 grossing movies of the year, the first being “The Berlin File” (No. 6) and the second being “The Terror Live” (No. 8). If you were like me, however, and thought the second title suggested that you might be in for a horror movie filmed in real-time, you were sadly mistaken. There was more than one person who thought that, right? Former news anchor and now-disgraced radio host Yoon Yeong-hwa (Ha) takes a call from an agitated listener who threatens to blow up a bridge. Thinking it’s a prank, Yeong-hwa dismisses the caller but is given the shock of his life when the Mapo Bridge is destroyed. Rather than immediately inform the police, he senses that he has a huge scoop on his hands and decides to call his own police contact. In exchange for his intel, he wants his rein-

Action / Crime / Thriller 97 minutes

The Terror Live (더 테러 라이브) Directed by Kim Byeong-woo

statement as a news anchor and the opportunity to be the first person to report the story live. Once Yeong-hwa is back on TV, the terrorist proves to be a smart adversary with bombs located not only around Seoul, but also in Yeong-hwa’s earpiece, threatening to kill Yeong-hwa live on the air if he doesn’t follow his instructions. “The Terror Live” has a lot in common with Joel Schumacher’s “Phone Booth” (2002), which instantly begs the question “How do you make a film set inside one room exciting?” The answer is to use lots of close-ups and pumping music try to increase the tension, and for the most part the film succeeds. The plot unfolds nicely with betrayals, twists and reveals that are more than enough to keep you interested until the end. It isn’t the greatest film, but it’s another excellent vehicle for Ha to demonstrate his range and is a mustsee for his fans.


MUSIC & ARTS Edited by Elaine Ramirez (elaine@groovekorea.com)

‘Bangkok Cowboy’ Ron McMillan’s spy noir a smooth ride into expat fiction Review by Rob York

Bangkok Cowboy By Ron McMillan 221 pages Available for purchase online at Amazon.com Kindle price: $5.49

McMillan tells the characters’ stories with panache, bringing to life the dank, humid environment of Bangkok’s seedy underbelly.


he private investigator archetype has a few widely expected tendencies, at least since Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett outlined the form: He should be a man of few words, keep his emotions to himself (at least until a climactic moment when all is revealed) and be extraordinarily, almost preternaturally gifted at both finding incriminating information and the art of self-defense. Mason, the protagonist of Ron McMillan’s “Bangkok Cowboy” — don’t hold your breath waiting for his full name — will not challenge any of these conceptions of the PI. Read the book anyway. For one thing, the familiar tendencies have been updated, as this PI accomplishes much of the standard detective work with a smartphone. He’s quiet due to traumatic memories of his service in Afghanistan, where pilots stationed continents away either gloss over the harm done by the advanced weapons systems they operate, or simply don’t notice. For another, much as a straight man in a comedy routine sets up laughter to come from elsewhere, the familiar backdrop provided by Mason’s English-ness helps anchor the story as it sails into a sea of unfamiliar settings and characters — especially for anyone who hasn’t spent a great deal of time in Thailand. Such characters include a feisty, transgendered Thai partnered with Mason. Then there’s a pair of foreign-born, ethnic Thais using a strip club as a front for much less legal, much more deplorable pastimes; a flamboyantly gay bar owner with a no-BS retired cop who serves as his partner, both personally and professionally; a Ko-

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rean pastor whose giving heart could benefit from a bit more cynicism; and an unflappable Chinese mafioso with a Scottish brogue. McMillan tells their stories with panache, bringing to life the dank, humid environment of Bangkok’s seedy underbelly. Whether involving fists, knives or guns, the book’s violence is described with a grace reminiscent of a ballet performance. It makes for brisk reading, though this is not always to its advantage. Mason’s hard edges and the emotional “walls” separating him from close relationships are, for much of the book, explained away with references to “Gina.” His experiences with this Gina are ultimately revealed in an explanatory passage midway through the book that is so short that the profundity of Gina’s effect on Mason stretches believability; his PTSD from Afghanistan and loss of faith in military authorities who are quick to cover up innocent deaths — which the book describes in graphic detail — would have sufficed. And though Mason’s transgender partner Dixie (Mason and Dixie — get it?) adds a bit of local flavor, it’s hard not to feel as though Thais are in the background of this story, as the hard-boiled PI from the British Isles fights to save his Seattle-based friend from a pair of Canadians involved in the most vile of flesh trades while backed by Vancouver-based Chinese mobsters. Still, McMillan’s gifts as a storyteller are clear; the setting is a unique and refreshing one, and at least they’ve steered clear of any oversimplified local villains. Fans of the noir genre and of fiction involving expats in Asia should check out “Bangkok Cowboy.”

FOOD & DRINK Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

Home brewers lead the push toward better beer Story and Photos by Christine Pickering

Demand for craft brews sparks a mini-industry

66 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

“OK, put in the hops now,” my instructor commands. I take the small plastic container of carefully measured hops, greenish and resembling rabbit food, and dump them into the smoky cauldron in front of us. He holds the lid up, and thick steam rushes out from the boiling pot, instantly filling up the small room. The smell is not unpleasant, but it’s reminiscent of an herbal remedy, a bitter concoction one might find in a traditional apothecary. A friend and I are taking a beginner’s home-brewing class. This is a three-hour informational session run biweekly by Seoul

Homebrew, a supply store for home brewers located across from JR Pub. Our recipe for the day: Seoul Homebrew’s rye IPA. We are also enjoying a few beers, provided by the brew pub on the floor above us, the Four Seasons Craft Beer Pub. Our instructor, Jonathan Wilson, assures us that our brew will taste more like the red rye ale we are drinking and less like the ancient medicinal potion we are smelling. Most of the brewing process, Wilson informs us, involves watching water boil. And now that we’ve added the first round of hops, we’re going to do exactly that.

While home brewing obviously requires more time and effort than simply walking to the nearest convenience store, it is well worth the effort. Wilson points out that most people are willing to fork over 20,000 won or 30,000 won in drinks at a bar; however, if they spend 55,000 won to 80,000 won on ingredients and take a few hours to brew it themselves, they can enjoy their own beer at home for three months.


FOOD & DRINK Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

Along with two other American expats, Wilson opened up Seoul Homebrew in Itaewon last August. He and the other cofounders, Mitch Nichols and Jon Adie, each dedicate a couple days a week to the store, providing supplies and ingredients to other home brewers and running classes. When asked about how he became interesting in brewing as a hobby, Wilson points to its social aspect: “It’s always fun to brew with people. ... And especially if you have friends involved … that’ll push you to make better beer.” Their weekend informational classes tend to attract small groups of friends who have varying degrees of interest in brewing, but a high level of enthusiasm for good beer. Those who sign up for the classes don’t necessarily want to become home brewers themselves; they are often just looking for a relaxing, fun and interesting way to spend the day. Wilson compares brewing to ceramics, an art form with which he and Nichols are both very familiar. “In ceramics, there are many steps involved in transforming the raw clay into a finished pot,” he explains. “In the final step, you glaze the pot and put it in the kiln, and it’s kind of out of your hands — ­ you’re never quite sure what will come out on the other end. That makes it a little exciting.” Similarly, it is this element of surprise that attracts some to home brewing. While extensive practice — ­ and trial and error — may help a brewer to commit typical beginners’ mistakes less frequently, the end result is still never entirely predictable, which makes the process both enjoyable and “kind of mysterious.” Although home brewing as a hobby appears to be on the rise, the majority of beer aficionados do not brew for themselves, perhaps due to the perceived cost and effort required. Wilson admits that home brewing in Korea is more expensive than in North America, but while the initial investment in equipment can be pricey, the actual ingredients are not very costly. The standard batch size is 19 liters, so the cost for a 500 ml bottle of home-brewed beer is roughly 1,600 won to 2,100 won, depending on the type of beer. It may be slightly more expensive than buying a Cass at a 7-Eleven, but not as expensive as buying a decent craft beer. And when compared to the cost of buying beer from a bar, it is certainly much lower. While home brewing obviously requires more time and effort than simply walking to the nearest convenience store, it is well worth the effort. Wilson points out that most people are willing to fork over 20,000 won or 30,000 won in drinks at a bar; however, if they spend 55,000 won to 80,000 won on ingredients and take a few hours to brew it themselves, they can enjoy their own beer at home for three months. And the result may be a product that is as good as or better than a high-quality craft beer for which they would gladly pay a hefty price in a brew pub. Enthusiasm for home brewing and craft beers isn’t solely confined to the expat community. There is also an interest among Koreans, particularly in Seoul. Many want to brew their own beer or try new, better beer. Wilson calculates that roughly 40 percent of his clients are Korean. This is despite the fact that the store is owned by three expats, most of their advertising is in English and the store is located in the expat hub of Itaewon. As well, Manjeh Kim, manager of the Beer Forum website and owner of the Four Seasons Craft Beer Pub, notes that Koreans are very aware of trends and are constantly looking for the next new thing and the newest “hot place” to try. Setting up shop in Itaewon just a few months ago, Kim expected that at least half of the pub patrons would be expats. However, roughly 90 percent of his customers are Koreans, indicating that they are also eager to participate in the craft beer culture that has already swept much of the West.

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GrooveCast GrooveCast host Chance Dorland and writer Christine Pickering take a home-brewing class. Check out the podcast at groovekorea. com.

Kim was quick to note, though, that not everyone who comes in is knowledgeable about beer or goes there specifically to try craft beer. Rather, he has observed the importance of the “beer geek” in growing the craft beer culture in Korea. “(If), for example, four people come here, (usually it’s) only one guy leading the other three here … and he just explains (the beers to them). … So one ‘beer geek’ leads the other three.” Although there is a growing interest for craft beers, it appears that the Korean market for craft beer is still small. Quoting an article he read recently, Kim reported that 95 percent of the beer drunk in Korea is domestic macro beer such as Cass or Hite. Only 5 percent is imported beer, and of that 5 percent, only 1 percent is craft beer. Kim jokes that the 1 percent figure can probably be attributed to the expat population in Seoul. Despite the low market share for craft beers, both Wilson and Kim believe the demand is on the rise. Kim notes that there has been a dramatic increase of craft beers available in Korea in the past year. Pointing at the Four Seasons’ on-tap menu, Kim states that of the eight beers currently served at the pub, “seven beers did not exist in South Korea (last year).” Wilson says home brewing is a niche hobby, and that people who enjoy craft beers don’t necessarily want to brew their own. However, he still believes that the number of home brewers in Korea will continue to increase. There is already a strong beer-drinking culture in Korea, with alcohol being almost a mandatory aspect of company dinners. And “as people’s tastes change and appreciation for better beer grows, some of those people will want to try to make it.” Korea already has a strong brewing culture, especially in relation to makgeolli. Wilson observes that “it’s quite common for grandmothers to make makgeolli at home. … So with the introduction to Western culture, I think a lot of people would be interested in just expanding that (brewing culture) into beer.” As for the brewing industry’s future, there are reasons to be optimistic. In a large, globalizing city like Seoul, Wilson is confident that the demand for high-quality beer will only increase. Anyone who has lived in Korea for five years or longer can already attest to these changes. They can be seen in the widening selection of foreign food, wine and beer available at Homeplus or E-Mart, in the increasing number of brew pubs popping up around Itaewon and Hongdae, and even in the cultural makeup of the city itself. Additionally, because of the average Seoulite’s desire to keep up with current trends, many will want to try a new brew pub or a new beer in the same way that they will want to eat at the trendiest restaurant in Hongdae or go to the hottest club in Gangnam. And as the number of brew pubs increases, so, too, will the number of beer geeks. A recently passed law coming into effect in April

will have significant implications for the brewing industry. This law will make it much easier to open breweries and let brew pubs sell their beer in other licensed establishments. Previously, to obtain a brewer’s license, the company had to be able to produce 150,000 kiloliters of beer — an absurdly high quantity that would require a large initial investment in equipment and facilities. However, the new law will halve the production capacity requirement. So will Seoul suddenly become oversaturated with business-savvy brewers looking to get in on this fairly untapped market? Kim hopes not, but notes that the trend for businesses in Korea seems to be “easy come, easy go.” Recalling the recent makgeolli boom, Kim remembers that a few years ago, “makgeolli was very popular. But one year, then two years later (people didn’t) have any interest.” He worries that the same will occur with brew pubs; they will pop up ubiquitously around Seoul, and then suddenly the “bubble (will burst), and everybody (will) leave.” But Wilson has a positive outlook on the future of the industry. “Weekend beer drinking in Korea is not going anywhere, so I don’t see any reason that craft beer will not become increasingly popular as in the West. ... (It’s) an expanding market.” We have just put the last round of hops into the pot. Smoke billows out, along with a blend of mostly unidentifiable scents. Wilson passes us another pint — “The Wisco Sippin’ Stout,” a Pitch-black, toasty creation brewed by Nichols — to try. There is nothing more to do but drink and wait, and our instructor uses this time to quiz us on our general knowledge of beer; we perform abysmally. When asked, “What are the four main ingredients of beer?” we are only able to come up with two of the correct answers. Today has been slow, but Wilson isn’t concerned with the number of clients they have. Their main goal at the moment is to learn the ins and outs of the industry and to stabilize as a business. Wilson states: “We would like to expand in some way (in the future), but we’re not sure whether it will be producing a few of our own beers for distribution to other bars or opening our own brew pub. … At this point, we’re just setting a foundation; we’ll see where it goes from there.” If the market does expand significantly over the next decade, will this mean a new brew pub will open up on every street corner? Will home brewing become an increasingly popular pastime, with clubs, schools and events being launched all around Seoul? Or will there simply be a few more options of craft beer available in already existing establishments? Either way, it’s likely that a strong craft beer culture will emerge in Korea over the next few years. And drinkers from all walks of life will be welcomed into its fold, including niche home brewing hobbyists, beer geeks, prospective brewery owners, trendsters or beer lovers simply looking for a finer tasting brew to share with friends on a Friday night.


FOOD & DRINK Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

Let the good times roll in Sinsa Po’boys and gumbo come to the big city Interview by Dave Hazzan Photos by Nina Sawyer


Flavors were nicely traded, and the meat was tender, moist and spicy. The gumbo had obviously been simmering for a long time, as it should have. 70 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

proper meal here begins with a Shark Attack. The waitress takes a hollow, plastic toy shark, about 6 inches long, and dumps its red contents into a frozen blue margarita. It looks like the shark puked up its dinner into your drink, but don’t worry — it tastes not of rotten fish entrails and Australian body-boarders, but of strawberry daiquiri. You can find the Shark Attack at Pier 17, a restaurant in Sinsa-dong specializing in the cuisine of Louisiana. The atmosphere is fun and homey, with a black pier motif that isn’t too Disney. Many Cajun specialties are available: po’boys, jambalaya, flat pies and Cajun fried dishes, as well as boiled shrimp, crab and crawfish. They also offer a variety of sides, including a killer coleslaw with big chunks of vegetables. But back to the Shark Attack. The mix is tasty, sugary and potent. Whether it’s worth 9,000 of your hard-earned won is a judgment call. Pier 17’s “hurricanes,” which resemble an actual New Orleans hurricane in name only, are not. They look like pink snow cones, and taste like ice, sugar and an ill-defined booze, probably rum. We also ordered a couple set for 23,000 won that came with a pulled pork po’boy sandwich, chicken gumbo and oysters Rockefeller. All were excellent.

The po’boy’s pork was tender and exquisitely cooked. There were two cheeses on top — cheddar and a white cheese we were unsure of — and in a beautiful twist, there was avocado under the pork, along with very robust tomatoes. There was no remoulade sauce to be found, but it did have a tasty vinaigrette. The chicken gumbo had chicken, sausage, shrimp, rice, onion, okra and a few other vegetables. But the primary ingredient in the gumbo was black pepper, and tons of it. Flavors were nicely traded, and the meat was tender, moist and spicy. The gumbo had obviously been simmering for a long time, as it should have. If you get french fries — with your po’boy or otherwise — skip the ketchup and dip them in the gumbo. Fries in the gumbo might be for Philistines, but are still delicious. Go ahead and soak the bread too, for a few minutes at least, or longer if you have the patience. The oysters Rockefeller with lemon squeezed on top had a fresh, clean taste, even if getting at least one of the oysters off the shell was a bit of a battle. The butter in the breading was perfect, and it didn’t crumble with the oysters underneath. But in naming a weak point, the biscuits we ordered at the end were disappointingly dry, and the accompanying strawberry butter/ honey mix was too sweet and not terribly appetizing. It’s pub-style seating, with high tables and stools in the front and a raised dining area in the back. There is an open kitchen. And for a Tuesday night, it was packed, with a clientele who appeared to be exclusively Korean. The description of the food is all in Korean, and waitstaff spoke some English, but not much. Overall, it’s a great dining experience for those who love fresh, spicy food in general, and Cajun food especially. But get beer instead of the cocktails, and skip the biscuits. Entrée prices run from 12,000 won for the po’boy plates to 25,000 won for a full plate of pork ribs. There are 9,900 won lunch specials available from noon until 3 p.m.

Getting there

Pier 17 Cajun restaurant Address: Seoul, Sinsa-dong 532-4 2F Walk out of exit 8 at Sinsa Station, turn left into Saerosugil and walk about 10 minutes. It’s on the right, before the Starbucks, on the second floor.


FOOD & DRINK Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

Seoul Veggie Kitchen

A simple soup for the final cold stretch

We need a restart, a refresh, something to keep us out of the ice cream and invested in our bright futures. Column and Photos by Shelley DeWees


he annual boil-over of irritation at having slogged through two months of cold, wet darkness is washing over all of us, and it’s getting serious. We’re digging through our freezers in search of quick dinners and drinking too much whiskey, just to forget, for one friggin’ second, that our binding winter clothes are a continuing reality. March is hardly enough to pull us out of our funk; freezing rain and wind have replaced the numbing stillness of winter, and it still sucks. Can we just forget winter ever happened? Can we just skip over the showers and get right to the flowers? We need a restart, a refresh, something to keep us out of the ice cream and invested in our bright futures; more green things, less powdered sugar. But since everyone’s willpower is likely hanging by a thread, we’ll take it slow and start with something simple. Potato leek soup is an

easy 30-minute affair that comes together so painlessly it’s almost meditative: chopping, stirring, chopping and stirring. Ahhhh. By the time you sit down to enjoy the creamy simplicity of this elegant soup, you’ll forget about having been pelted by hail on the way home from the mart. Also, if you’ve never played with leeks, now’s the time! They’re one of the sexiest vegetables: long, dark green stems bound tightly around a firm, smooth, white neck. They beg from afar to be unwrapped, even under the harsh glare of grocery store lighting. Choose leeks that are perky, straight and happy-looking, with a distinctive oniony smell about them and no discoloration around the white part. Look closely and don’t shy from the amount of dirt on the stems — the dirtiest leeks often yield the best flavor. Grab a bag, throw it over your shoulder and head home for a sweet springtime reboot.

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, www.seoulveggiekitchen.com. — Ed.

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Potato leek soup

To assure a grit-free soup experience, it’s imperative that you give your leeks a thorough wash. Begin by filling a big bowl with lukewarm water. Set it in the sink so you can splash around without making a mess, and then take your knife and start undressing the leeks. Slice off the stalks and roots so you’re only left with the straight white neck, then slice each one of these lengthwise and carefully pull the layers apart. Toss ‘em in the bowl. Once they’re all in, roll up your sleeves and vigorously wiggle everything around, plunging and scrubbing, checking for chunks of dirt and any other unpleasant bits. Let them hang out in the water for a minute to let the junk sink to the bottom, then pull out the leeks and slice ‘em up. Voila! Save a few of the prettiest ones for garnish. Ingredients •2 tbsp olive oil •6 large leeks, washed and sliced •4-5 medium potatoes (unpeeled), scrubbed and diced •8 cups water •Salt and pepper

Using your biggest pot, warm the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook until the leeks are soft and falling apart, about six or seven minutes, then add the potatoes, water and a teeny bit more salt. Crank up the heat and bring the soup to a full rolling boil, then stir once, cover the pot and lower the heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are easily smooshed against the side of the pot. Finally, working in batches, puree the soup in your blender. You don’t have to buzz away all the chunks if you don’t want to — it’s your dinner, so you make the call. Once you’ve achieved your desired consistency, season the soup liberally with salt and pepper, then serve, garnished with extra leeks, alongside some toasted bread.


Destinations Edited by Shelley DeWees (shelley@groovekorea.com)

Islands of Incheon An easy trip for the weary traveler

Story and Photos by Merissa Quek


the winter wears off and spring reawakens, Korea’s islands are still, calm and welcoming to those looking to steer away from the maddening crowd. But with the inconvenience of travel and fickle springtime weather, it’s not uncommon to cling to your weekends like cellophane and dismiss the idea as an exercise in self-torment; on those weekends, even Jeju isn’t worth a nine-hour journey.

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Luckily for you, Korea’s western coast offers an escape to mountains, beaches and the quiet of the countryside without annoyance. No longhaul bus or subway ride is required for a quick reprieve from the city. Korea has more than 3,300 officially affirmed islands, and a handful of them are just outside your doorstep. Pick a sunny day, set aside three hours and hit the road.

Stepping onto the island drops you in the middle of the countryside, where the smell of grapes wafts from the vineyards if the wind blows just right.

Seonjae, Cheuk and Mok Islands Seonjae Island is the most accessible of this tri-grouping, located just off the coast near Incheon and connected to the Korean mainland by a bridge. Stepping onto the island drops you in the middle of the countryside, where the smell of grapes wafts from the vineyards if the wind blows just right. The number of pensions here will give you an idea of how popular this area is in summertime, and some are downright quirky. One consists entirely of mushroom-shaped buildings, and another has a large replica of the Statue of Liberty standing at the edge of a swimming pool. But the most intriguing feature of Seonjae Island is only visible at low tide. For a few hours every day, a narrow sandbar connects Seonjae to Cheuk and Mok Islands before disappearing back into the ocean. From a distance, all that’s visible of Mok Island is one small hill. At low tide, however, the sandy path that leads there from Seonjae directs you to a large sandy beach that forms behind the hill, revealing some prime (albeit temporary) real estate for fishermen and their floating baskets. If walking the distance seems dull, you can speed across on

an ATV and explore more of the surrounding areas left exposed by the receding tide. Larger and more heavily populated, Cheuk Island boasts 38 inhabitants and is surrounded by the vast mud flats common to the western Korean coast. Once the path is exposed, so are hundreds of concrete-mounted poles carrying power to the remote hamlet. Despite the isolation, fishermen here are in heaven, and their high spirits bubble over into generosity; don’t be surprised if your polite curiosity is rewarded with an offer of freshly cooked crabs boiled with ramen. Each sweet bite of crab is a dream come true. If you want more seafood, head back to Seonjae Island for some of its famous oysters and shortneck clams. The kalguksu — a showstopper noodle soup piled with clams — is especially delicious when eaten right next to the mud flats where the clams were harvested. Getting there From exit 1 or 2 of Oido Station, walk to the main road and take bus 790. It leaves every hour.


Destinations Edited by Shelley DeWees (shelley@groovekorea.com)

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Gureop Island For the adventurous traveler with a little more time, Gureop Island’s tiny village (really just 10 houses grouped together) and beach are worth the two ferry rides it takes to get there. At low tide, bright purple starfish cling to the rocks and intrepid hikers can catch crabs with their bare hands. When you’re done gawking at the scene, you can hike either east or west from the beach to find an excellent campsite for the evening. The westward hike is occasionally challenging, but you’ll be rewarded with a stroll among the softest of reeds, with awe-inspiring views of the rolling hills and surrounding sea. The westernmost headland is the best place to set up camp; you’ll catch a jaw-dropping sunset, sleep under the stars and wake up to a misty, dew-filled dawn.

Getting there Outside exit 1 of Dong-Incheon Station, take a taxi to the Coastal Ferry Terminal. Catch a ferry to Dongjeok Island (46,000 won for a return ticket, one hour each way). Then, on Dongjeok Island, connect to the boat bound for Gureop Island. It costs 15,000 won for a return ticket, two hours each way. A fee of 10,000 won is payable upon arrival at Gureop Island, and with that fee you get a lift from the dock into the village. On weekends and public holidays it’s advisable to reserve ferry tickets beforehand. Visit www.kefship.com.


Destinations Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

The walk through Auschwitz A tourist’s introduction to mass murder Story by Ron Roman / Photos by Giulio Menna

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OSWIECEIM, Poland — Germans called this town Auschwitz. What follows is a walk through the place where the greatest systematic mass murder in human history was orchestrated. At Auschwitz’s three main camps and 40-plus satellite camps, the Nazis carried out their “Final Solution” to the “Jewish problem” during World War II. I arrive in Frankfurt with my wife on Dec. 29. We are embarking on a group bus tour of Eastern Europe. It is unusually balmy, almost like spring. Auschwitz parking lots are jammed with buses bringing in tourists by the thousands daily. Upon leaving the parking lots, the first thing that hits your senses is the utter starkness of the place. The next is the present-day camp guides ushering visitors between sites. They are immaculate in their drab, dark, button-down uniforms and emit a sort of dour afterglow that lingers over the premises. They

are sullen, somber, ever-mindful of the monstrosities that unfolded here 70-plus years ago. It’s almost as though they’re trying to placate the spirits of the approximate 1 million Jews slaughtered here, along with tens of thousands of Poles, Soviet POWs, Gypsies, homosexuals and anti-Nazi activists — the whole panoply of people who were euphemistically called “undesirables.” Gassed, starved, shot, beaten to death. The screaming and the shrieking echo throughout eternity. In the annals of modern history, Auschwitz is mankind’s living monument to mechanistic murder. It is a walk through hell. Contrary to what many may think, the first inmates to be murdered here in September 1941 were not Jews but Poles. Russian POWs, Gypsies and thousands of others from various European countries soon followed. Then Jews. In 1942, the Nazis orchestrated their strategy to eliminate all European Jewry. The consensus is 6 million Jews were in fact murdered — until the Soviet Army finally liberated the camps and freed the few remaining prisoners on Jan. 27, 1945. A walk-through should take about an hour and a half, and considerably longer if you care to stop and study the many historical placards. Next to the parking lot is a signboard in Polish, English and Hebrew giving a historical overview of the complex, along with a large aerial map.


Destinations Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

Upon admission to the camp, as was the case for more than a million murdered prisoners, you are “welcomed” as you make your way under the infamous wrought-iron gateway cynically stating “Arbeit macht frei” (Work will make you free). From that point, you walk down the camp’s spotless dirtpaved roads all neatly laid out. You look out upon row after row of dull, redbrick buildings lining both sides of the pavement, as well as the ever-present electrified barbed-wire fences and occasional watchtower. The entirety of Auschwitz’s architecture exudes an eerie simplicity in its striking Spartanism. The bleakness is overwhelming. It’s as if every building, every structure had been designed with an implicit potential for murder. Nothing was to be wasted in the Nazis’ grand scheme of death. Signboards with narrative histories, maps and photos dot the landscape. You soon come to several exhibition halls. One in particular is described as the General Exhibition Building by its signboard overhanging the entrance. Inside the halls the rooms are dimly lit, almost spooky. And quiet. Deathly quiet. Even the local Polish camp guides are silent. Weird. Signs tell visitors not to take pictures with flashbulbs or tripods, or in the “hair” room. Few pay any attention. (I see one gentleman, camera on tripod, filming pages of a historical Nazi document almost as soon as I enter.) You snake your way through the aisles between rooms. Narratives, maps, Nazi documents and camp photos from the early 1940s hang on the walls. There is a picture of naked Jewish women on their way to the gas chambers and various panoramas. Adjacent are miniature three-dimensional replicas of prisoner cells. Upon entering the “Material Proofs (sic) of Crimes” building you bear witness to unimaginable human horror: ghastly displays of everyday artifacts of families torn asunder, the personal belongings of thousands of exterminated men, women, children ... thousands of suitcases, shoes, eyeglasses, pots and pans, artificial limbs, combs, hair brushes, even clumps of human hair — an estimated 7.7 metric tons. Empty canisters that once contained the poisonous Cyclon B gas are stacked atop one another. Scores of them. Their pellets lay scattered inside glass displays. People silently trudge on by the macabre scenes, too stupefied to audibly articulate their thoughts. It is time to go outdoors and into the sunlight again. They appear relieved to get outside and see the sun now starting to set, earlier than

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usual because we’re in the thick of Polish winter. The late-afternoon air is vibrant, or at least feels so in the lungs after the shock to the senses. An ebony-hued watchtower, not accessible to the public, looms in the distance next to the “Barbed Wires of Death.” A danger sign hanging on the wires warns visitors not to touch. Except for a few grassy areas, the grounds are barren at this time of year. Auschwitz resembles a ghost town and is best described as sterile; walking the grounds is suggestive of meandering through a cemetery absent any tombstones. On the horizon behind the watchtower a chimney appears; it is time to experience the crematoria. As I approach the low-level, one-story building, what stands out is the sheer dinginess of the exterior. The entrance is low-hanging. You go inside. Immediately, you are struck by the mottled concrete walls; blotches of mismatched colors stain the surface of the walls everywhere. In fact, in the dim light it’s hard to ascertain what the colors are. A sign greets you, telling of the horrors that occurred here and asking for your requisite respect in memory of the slaughtered. Some sections of rooms remain barely lit, giving off the impression of walking through a huge, ghoulish tomb. Filming is prohibited. Overall, the building is not all that big; it takes only a few minutes to complete a walkthrough. Then you come upon the ovens. You see two. Surprisingly, at least for me, they appear somewhat small. (The Nazis soon made much bigger and far more efficient infrastructures of assembly-line mass murder.) A strangely shaped, black-iron mechanism sits on metal rails. It was designed to ram the bodies of the gassed prisoners into the ovens for incineration. Male prisoners labeled “sonderkommando” or “special workers” were tasked under the threat of death to lug the bodies to rail carts that carried corpses into the ovens for cremation. Hundreds of them were reduced to powder here daily. Many sonderkommando committed suicide. We walk outside. Clouds are forming overhead. It’s getting dark. I ask our tour guide, Mr. Hong Suk-hwa, a diminutive man of about 35, how he feels about leading tours here. In near-perfect English he says, “Depressing.” Less than two hours have passed. Only when I get back to the bus and it starts rolling out of the camp complex, past the gentle-sloping, brown-tinged fields of the Polish landscape, does the experience worm its way into my core. Throughout the tour I was numb. Perhaps it was a survival reflex of

sorts. During the ride out of town, numbness transmogrifies into disbelief, then a sort of denial: How could it have happened? I think of my colleague at the University of Maryland University College, professor Jon Huer, and his book, “Auschwitz, USA.” In it, he writes, “The existence of Auschwitz is so amazing, so incomprehensible, that we are almost inclined to attribute it to some supernatural force to test humanity, as many Jews themselves did.” I think of George Santayana’s trenchant quotation overhanging the entrance to the General Exhibition hall: “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.” I think of one of my university students who not that long ago asked, “Professor Roman, I heard that guy Hitler was a bad guy, but what exactly did he do?” And I try not to laugh. Does anybody really have an answer? Perhaps not. Yet if somebody does, I don’t know who it is. Perhaps there is no answer after all. My bus rolls through the Polish countryside, whirring past clumps of birch trees reminiscent of my native New England. I reflect on a workshop I took with Paul Selig at the Omega Institute in New York last summer. In his book “I Am the Word,” he describes finding — discovering — what he calls the divine Christ Consciousness in the core of every human being. My mind wanders back to the Nazi SS guards of the concentration camps. Is it true, after all, that man is human?

Tours from Korea to Auschwitz ROK-based tours to Poland will probably include Auschwitz in their itinerary. Visitors can take the tours departing from Incheon. A 12-day, 10-night tour (you sleep going over and coming back) was about 3 million won per person, all expenses included. Contact the Korea Tourism Organization or Google travel agencies and further details.

Auschwitz tours Website: en.auschwitz.org Phone: (+48) 33-844-8100/8099 Tours operate daily from 8 a.m., except on Jan. 1, Dec. 25 and Easter. Contact the site for closing times; they vary according to season. Tours are given in Polish, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and occasionally Russian and Japanese. (Korean is currently not available.) Photos are not permitted of victims’ hair or of the basement of Block 11. Children aged 13 or younger are discouraged from entering. Admission is free. If joining a guided tour (at the site) in a language other than Polish, there is an extra charge. Pros of a Korean-guided tour - Having helpful guides for the entire trip - Riding the bus and not having to worry about transportation - Getting an all-inclusive tour package price Cons of a Korean-guided tour - Only eating Korean meals daily - Tour guide speaking almost all day/night during the bus ride - Often returning to the hotel as late as 11 p.m. and getting up the next dawn


Destinations Edited by Shelley DeWees (shelley@groovekorea.com)

Monkeys and machetes

An adventure in northern Sumatra Story and Photos by George Kalli


nce limited to those with an uncanny spirit for peril and excitement, Sumatra is slowly joining the ranks of Indonesian islands that are famous for 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. Quirky and wild though it may be, sticky Sumatra is no longer just for daredevils. The Indonesian city of Medan was a convenient launching point for our weeklong trek. We quickly made our way to the charming hamlet of Tuk Tuk, located on the shores of Lake Toba in the higher altitudes of Sumatra’s interior. The climate is decidedly more agreeable, a welcome alternative to steamy Medan. We boarded a jubilantly ragtag boat and drank in the views stretching out before us: placid waters and green-draped cliffs encircling an immense lake. The largest volcanic lake of its kind in the world, Lake Toba was formed 75,000 years ago in one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in Earth’s history. So cataclysmic were the effects that the human population dropped dramatically in the years following, and we are thought to have evolved from the small batch of survivors who made it through the long volcanic winter that ensued.

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Many millennia after its violent history, Tuk Tuk is now a stunning oasis with unrivaled beauty. The local Batak people used to be cannibals, but now they take pride in their friendly, welcoming demeanor and favor crayfish, homemade yogurt and banana pancakes over human flesh. Comfortable, and not yet on the touristy trail, we enjoyed swimming, sunbathing, bicycling, hiking and a leisurely kayak trip out on the lake. The waterfalls behind Tuk Tuk offered a particularly refreshing swim after the easy trek up, and the view was awesome. It wasn’t long before we felt a pull toward the city of Beristagi and its two volcanoes in the verdant Karo Highlands. Even though the sunrise at the top of Mount Sibayak is supposed to be spectacular, we opted for the more difficult Mount Sinabung, an enigma of a volcano that was long thought to be dormant until — much to the surprise of the locals — it erupted in 2010 and forced nearly 20,000 people to evacuate. As we turned our toes toward the summit, its continued volcanic activity made itself known; a steady plume of smoke and steam could still be seen bubbling out from the top, and it has been erupting frequently since last September. The agricultural benefits of the region’s rich volcanic soils became apparent as we drove to the trailhead, undulating endlessly through landscapes of fertile crops. Passing families en route to their fields in ox-drawn carts, we felt a long way from condo life in downtown Seoul. These feelings would intensify: With a steep, relentless climb in excess of 1,000 meters, the hike took us up and out of the jungle and, eventually, above the clouds, where a sulfurous stink announced our imminent arrival at the summit. We spent three hours scrambling up hardened lava streams weaving through dense vegetation, but we had finally reached the steaming crater, and we had it all to ourselves. After our breathtaking experience at the top

of Mount Sinabung, we decided to round out our trip with something a little closer to the ground: an orangutan search in Gunung Leuser National Park. We hiked overnight from the small village of Ketambe, got some rest, then met up with our machete-wielding guide, whose backside we would spend the next two days looking at as we wound through green, shadowy jungle. Since the orangutans here are truly wild, there could be no guarantee we would actually see one. However, we had several encounters, the most memorable of which involved an adult male who settled in for a nap mere steps away from us. Stunning.

The hike took us up and out of the jungle and, eventually, above the clouds, where a sulfurous stink announced our imminent arrival at the summit. We had finally reached the steaming crater, and we had it all to ourselves. Affordable and accessible, yet off the beaten path, Sumatra is Indonesia at its finest. Even the more luxurious accommodations are only about 130,000-175,000 rupiah ($11$14), cheaper than a dinner out in Seoul. Speaking of food, the area has many lovely restaurants serving fresh-caught fish and lobster, coconut, rice, curries and beer for mere pennies. You can even get sandwiches made with avocados off the tree in the backyard for 10,000 Indonesian rupiah, or about 860 won. The flight down from Seoul will be your highest expense — April and May dates hover around 700,000 won round-trip. Whether you take a dip in a crater lake, scale a volcano or dive headfirst into the jungle with a machete, it’s well worth your time. Sumatra is heaven.


COMMUNITY Edited by Jenny Na (jenny@groovekorea.com)

GAT gets off the ground

Global Arts Therapy combines creative projects with sustainable development

Fine art with a function Story by Jaime Stief / Photos courtesy of Janai Rai


amantha Thomas may be an art teacher by trade, but she could also teach you a thing or two about multitasking. The Iowa native is the founder and director of operations at Global Arts Therapy, a multinational NGO set to launch this month that uses art projects as the basis for sustainable community development. GAT’s mandate focuses specifically on women and children in Kathmandu, Nepal, with partner projects in Thomas’ local community in Des Moines, Iowa, and future projects planned for Ghana. If this mission comes off as a bit ambitious, it’s because it is — and under Thomas’ leadership, GAT is making it happen, one art class at a time. Thomas first witnessed the impact a creative outlet could have on underprivileged communities during a trip to the Czech Republic in her early twenties. While exploring Brno, a city southeast of Prague, she came upon a series of paintings on a brick wall by local Roma children, a marginalized group in European society. “I cried when I saw it,” she says. “I mean, I’ve cried in front of Monets before, but when you see a child’s artwork like that, it’s like that’s the key right there. It’s public, it’s done by children, it shows history and it gives a narrative to heritage. How powerful is that?” The experience ignited a desire to combine her arts background — ceramics, painting and multimedia — with her degree in international development. She’d had her sights set on Nepal from an early age, but turned to English education as a stepping-stone into continental Asia. This began her two years spent teaching in Korea.

84 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

Thomas took GAT for a trial run in 2012 while on vacation from her English teaching job. She arranged to volunteer with an organization called Child Workers in Nepal, and arrived in Kathmandu with a suitcase full of art supplies. Having run art programs stateside and written an arts curriculum at her hagwon in Suji, Gyeonggi Province, she felt up to the challenge. But a crash course on the needs of the country, where some 40 percent of the population lives in poverty, made Thomas realize that if she wanted to create a meaningful project in Nepal, she was going to need a lot more than art supplies. Since then, she has been researching the region’s socioeconomics and tailoring GAT’s curriculum to the needs of the local community. The organization’s mandate is now focusing on the place where fine art meets functionality: sustainable design. Now, “sustainable” is a slippery term. For GAT, a project that promotes sustainability does two things: First, it must enable the economic independence of the local people who participate. Second, it must either upcycle or its output must address some sort of vital community need, such as a lack of clean water. At the end of the day, GAT is about building community centers where people can pick up life skills while also having a creative outlet. “I think people have a preconceived notion of art being merely pretty things that you can hang on a wall, and that art can’t be water filtration systems,” Thomas says. “We’re setting up studios in rural areas for very little cost so people can come in, learn to make pottery and create art, and help their communities gain revenue and be able to sustain themselves.” During the pilot project, GAT kept its offerings art-based: classes in collage making, painting and self-portraiture. “The programs helped me explore art and creatively express myself,” says one participant named Neelam. Now, with one successful run under its belt, GAT is ready to stretch its legs with classes on making everyday items like soap and candles, as well as larger, more complicated items like ceramic water filters, pottery and heaters. GAT will also host community cleanup days to help scout for materials. The items produced will have a few different destinations. Some will go home with the participants and some will be sold online. Thomas is also investigating retailers in Nepal and the U.S. Most of the money generated will go directly to the participants, though a small portion will also go back to keeping centers and studios functioning.

Rallying support To raise money for the project, Thomas has drawn on the connections she made in Korea to help launch fundraisers for the organization, including one held in February at Flow in Itaewon. The events help finance the project, but also aim to highlight how accessible GAT volunteering could be for expats looking for meaningful travel. Event co-organizer Patrick Conn, who has also helped with other fundraisers in Seoul, was looking for a more meaningful use of his time when a friend introduced him to Thomas. “I was instantly hooked,” he says. The Illinois native plans to spend two months volunteering with GAT in Nepal once his contract ends this spring. Conn isn’t alone in his enthusiasm for the project. Local entrepreneur Jeremy Rondell has used his media company, ICONZ Media LLC, to help run GAT’s past three fundraisers, all at Flow. He says the events are not what you would expect from a fundraiser, pointing out that each one combines dance, artwork and music from rock to hip-hop to jazz, as well as displays from local clothing brand Varyd. “We usually rotate between acts throughout the night,” he says, “so you can imagine that our support base is very diverse too.”

Next steps Back in Iowa, Thomas is busy managing the cultural, communication and occasional technological challenges of running a project in Nepal, where daily blackouts for 12 or more hours are the norm. This is on top of the lack of clean water and, in poorer districts, a cholera epidemic. Overall, however, she feels convinced that what she’s doing is necessary. “I grew up with these core family values (that) you have to help your community,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket, it doesn’t matter what you have or where you come from. You always try to help your community.”

We value and care for your


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

Suhyup Bank




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


More info

Visit Global Arts Therapy at www.globalartstherapy.org or find them on Facebook.

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 esarang28@daum.net 85

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

COMMUNITY Edited by Jenny Na (jenny@groovekorea.com)

Get lucky Seoul’s annual Irish festival will knock your green socks off Story by Bri Altier / Photos by Michele Farley


arch is here, and with that comes melting snow, the first sight of cherry blossoms and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. If you’re celebrating your first St. Patrick’s Day in Korea and are afraid of missing at-home traditions, have no fear: Seoul’s annual Irish festival is sure to knock your green socks off. On March 15 at noon, a plethora of festivities put on by the Irish Association of Korea will kick off at Sindorim D-Cube Plaza for an expected 8,000 revelers. Make sure that you, your children and your pets are decked out in your best green and orange attire, because all of you are qualified to compete in the costume competition with a grand prize of 200,000 won. Additionally, raffle tickets will be sold during the day for a number of items, including round-trip tickets to Ireland on Etihad Airways. “This year, we hope to bring some of the best Irish talent in Korea out to perform and showcase their talents,” says association chair Shauna Browne. “St. Patrick’s Day is a day for the Irish and it would be great to see all the Irish living here in Korea coming out to enjoy the day. It is also a great opportunity to learn more about Ireland and Irish culture, so we encourage Koreans and people from all nations to come along and enjoy this wonderful event.” Children and children at heart can take advantage of the face painting, bubble machine and balloons, as well as a workshop in drawing. There will also be areas to learn traditional Irish dances and sports, plus locations where Irish artwork will be on display. James Seymour, an Irish comic book artist who has lived in Korea for five years, plans to exhibit drawings and other artworks inspired by his home country. He will also be drawing on the day of the event. “My expectations for the festival are for it to be a fun and entertaining event showcasing the rich arts and culture that Ireland has to offer,” he says, adding that

86 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

he wants it to be “enjoyable for all age groups and families.” The band Boxty Rebellion, Irish dance group Tap Pung, singer Dara Sheahan and more are set to liven up the main stage, and you can even try your hand at ceili, Irish group dancing. With walk-through instructions, even the most inexperienced dancer can be tapping their toes in no time. Nanah McGleenon, a theater director and choreographer who will create a Korean-Irish fusion dance work for the festival, says she is excited to showcase her cross-cultural creation, which incorporates the sounds of Irish hard-shoe taps and Korean drumsticks.

‘This year, we hope to bring some of the best Irish talent in Korea out to perform and showcase their talents.’

Shauna Browne, Irish Association of Korea chair

Having lived in both Korea and Ireland, McGleenon is a proponent of cross-cultural connections. She hopes this mentality will shine through in her choreography. “I hope all people will become friends and understand that all cultures and nations can bring peace together when they watch this show,” she says. Following the daytime events, an annual hooley, or Irish party, complete with live music, will take place at Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon, starting at 6 p.m. Tickets will be 10,000 won and sold at the door. Whether you are 10 or 110, the St. Patrick’s Day Festival has something exciting for you. So come out, soak up the culture and experience a full day of festival fun. Éirinn go Brách!

More info St. Patrick’s Day Festival When March 15 from noon to 6 p.m. Where Sindorim D-Cube Plaza Cost Free St. Patrick’s Day Hooley When March 15 from 6 p.m. to late Where Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon Cost 10,000 won


Sponsorship Edited by Craig White (craig@groovekorea.com)

Don’t go solo, get Seoul Mate New app for international students in Seoul Story by Alejandro Callirgos


outh Korea is a country famed for its hospitality. The city of Seoul is especially known for rolling out the metaphorical red carpet for international tourists and businesspeople, giving them information and resources galore. But what support services are available for the estimated 30,000 international students in Seoul? Experiences differ from school to school and student to student. “Some international students who come to Korea are treated like VIP guests,” says Hassan Abid, a Pakistani graduate of Kyung Hee University. “But the students who come on scholarships often don’t get the same treatment.” In 2011, the Seoul Metropolitan Government invited 96 international students, including Abid, from more than 30 countries along with 12 Korean students to the fourth Seoul International Student Forum at the Seoul Global Center. The students were divided into six groups and given two months to complete a task: propose a policy to improve the quality of life

‘This is the app I wish I had when I arrived at Incheon (Airport).’ Hassan Abid, app developer in Seoul for Koreans and foreign residents alike. Drawing on their own experiences, Abid and his group members conducted a two-week survey of Seoul-based international students. More than half the respondents (58 percent) received information to help them transition to life on campus prior to their arrival in Korea; more than one-quarter (27

88 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

percent) said they were somewhat proficient in speaking Korean upon their arrival, and 30 percent said their university told them how to travel from Incheon Airport to their campus. Based on the survey results, Abid’s group proposed a smartphone and tablet app that “conveniently connects international students and faculty with a centralized repository of information and tools relevant to life in Seoul.” The group won a runner-up prize, but due to limited resources and lack of funds, the Seoul Metropolitan Government couldn’t implement the app. Fast forward to 2012, when Abid graduated from Kyung Hee University with a master’s degree in computer engineering. He soon joined a software company as an app developer, and in 2013 he decided to improve and implement the app, Seoul Mate (formerly Seoul MAPpedia). Available in four languages (Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese), Seoul Mate gives the VIP treatment to all Seoul-based international students. The app guides students from the airport to their respective schools, and can show them around their campus. It publishes up-to-date information about international student accommodation, job and volunteer opportunities, scholarships, online courses, medical services and events. “This is the app I wish I had when I arrived at Incheon (Airport), or even before then,” Abid says. In addition, Seoul Mate has Seoul dining information (including vegan, vegetarian, halal and kosher) and tourist information (sites related to hiking, K-drama, K-pop and Gangnam). “The focus will always be international students,” says Abid, “and we’re always looking to improve.”

More info

Groove Korea is a sponsor of Seoul Mate. The app is available for download on iTunes and Google Play.

COLUMN • YONSEI UNIversity dental hospital

Bock-Young Jung, DDS, Ph.D. Clinical associate professor Department of Advanced General Dentistry, Yonsei University College of Dentistry

An international dental clinic with love and spirit

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

+82 2 2228 8998 +82 2 363 0396 aerijo@yuhs.ac 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul www.yuhs.or.kr/ en/hospitals/dent_ hospital/Conserv_ dentist/Intro

ince the opening of the International Dental Clinic on the first floor at Yonsei University Dental Hospital in 2010, the number of foreign patients visiting the clinic has steadily increased and we saw a total of 4,000 visits in 2013. It is still a small number compared to the number of foreign patients visiting our Severance International Clinic, which has had 30,000 visits, but the increasing number of foreign patients every year underscores the need for dental treatment for foreigners. Our clinic has seen a diverse range of nationalities come through our doors, such as patients from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Russia, Japan, China, Taipei, Africa, India and much more. But we are equipped to communicate fluently with all foreign patients via our translation service. We serve customized and expedient treatment. We also provide cost-effective treatment packages tailored to a patient’s situation, whether they are a visiting professor, a resident or an international student. We also provide full-time international coordinators who arrange appointments with specialists as needed.

Our international dental clinic is working hard to become more competitive and attract foreign patients. For better access to our services, we’ve struck agreements with local hotels that serve foreign visitors and we’ve contributed articles to English-language newspapers and magazines. Why are we going to such lengths to offer this level of care to foreign patients? It is tradition in Korea to treat guests warmly. Severance Hospital was founded on the basis of Christianity as introduced by foreigners, which is what compels us to want to offer our appreciation to and take care of foreign patients visiting Korea. We are also the first in Korea to achieve the internationally-recognized JCI certification, and we continue to position ourselves as the leading hospital in the medical globalization frontier. It is still true that Singapore, Thailand and India are leading countries in medical tourism, but we are equally as prepared to provide the best and highest-quality treatment with our fully organized system. We invite you to visit us and learn why Yonsei University’s International Dental Clinic has become a leading hospital for foreign patient treatment.


CAPTURING KOREA Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

(1/250s, f9, ISO 100, 24mm) ‘The early morning shadows of the handrails made this interesting pattern on the bridge.’

The beauty of

the East Coast Photos by Glen Sundeen / Interview by Dylan Goldby

CAPTURING KOREA Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

(1/320s, f16, ISO 125, 24mm) ‘By dialing down the exposure, I could shoot into the sun and create this silhouette. I then converted this to monochrome because of the overexposed sun.’

CAPTURING KOREA Edited by Josh Foreman (joshforeman@groovekorea.com)

(1/80s, f16, ISO 100, 24mm) ‘Keeping the camera centered was important for making the symmetry of this perspective shot.’

(1/60s, f14, ISO 100, 50mm) ‘I was aiming for some kind of leading line formed by the breakwater stretching towards the silhouetted headland in the distance.’

94 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014


len Sundeen is a Canada native and Seoul resident. When not shooting landscapes, he is a university teacher. For this month’s Capturing Korea, he shot one of Korea’s most popular tourist destinations: Seoraksan and the nearby city of Sokcho. Groove Korea: Give our readers an introduction to yourself as a person, and as a photographer. Glen Sundeen: Although from Canada, I am a long-term resident of Seoul and work as a language instructor at Korea University. As a photographer, I have so far managed to avoid defining myself too tightly, but mostly I shoot landscapes. Thematically, I think I am most inspired by abandoned, lonely places. There is something quite thrilling in capturing the melancholy mood of the old and derelict. It’s not that I am a particularly dour person; it just touches a nerve with me when I make an image that holds that kind of atmosphere. Perhaps it comes from growing up on the isolated prairie in western Canada. What time of day brings beautiful light to Sokcho? Any tips for shooting in this type of light? The east coast of Korea is famous for sunrises, and as something of a night owl, I rarely see sunrises. I think this is what drew me to Sokcho one Christmas Day: the chance to see the early golden hour that I so often neglect. One of the great features of Sokcho is the magnificent backdrop of Seoraksan, which on the right day is positively illuminated in that morning golden-hour sunlight. The coastal flats sweep dramatically up into the wall of the mountains in the interior, and while many would be staring at the sunrise, those mountains behind the viewer are stunning. What sort of things were you looking for when you photographed Sokcho? To be honest, I saw some images from another

photographer who had driven all night from Seoul to arrive before sunrise. I was intrigued. I was also looking for something different to do on Christmas Day, so that is how my friends and I went to Sokcho. We lucked out when the muddy skies over Seoul cleared as we descended from the mountains of Gangwon Province. The East Sea sunlight was crisp and warm compared to the usual murkiness of the west coast. That early morning fresh sunlight was a treat to shoot in, even though we missed the sunrise. A few of your pictures have that gorgeous silky water effect. How was this achieved in your photos? Over the past year I have been interested in long exposures. Typically, photographers use neutral density (ND) filters to keep the shutter open longer and capture the motion blur of water, light trails, clouds, even star trails (I haven’t tried that one yet) in contrast to unmoving objects in the frame. It’s not that difficult, but requires a tripod and, in daylight, an ND filter. I mostly use a 10-stop ND filter from B+W. It takes a bit of experimentation, but one can achieve some really interesting results. What are some other things to do around Sokcho? With beaches, fishing villages and pounding surf, the sea is the obvious main attraction around Sokcho. But like I said, don’t ignore the mountains at your back. Seoraksan is one of Korea’s most popular and visited national parks for good reason. Its proximity to the sea makes a very special combination. Naksan Temple is a pleasant diversion south of Sokcho. If you have a car, another treat is Highway 44 from the coast south of Sokcho over the mountains to Inje. It’s much slower than other routes over the mountains, but it’s got some wild hairpin turns.



Edited by Sean Choi (sean@groovekorea.com)

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

TRAVEL AGENTS Fides Travel (02) 755 5470 • fidestravel.co.kr Prime Travel (02) 6739 3570 Shoe String Travel (02) 333 4151 • shoestring.kr/eng/abo01.htm Soho Travel (02) 322 1713 • sohoholiday.com Top Travel Service (02) 737 4289 • toptravel.co.kr/eng Unique Travel (02) 792 0606

DOMESTIC TOURS Adventure Korea (010) 4242-5536 • adventurekorea.com Discover Korea (02) 398-6571 • www.discoverkoreatour.com/en

Explore Korea • sonyaexplorekorea.com Joy Leisure Service (02) 2307-8642 • joyleisures.com Panmunjom Travel Center (02) 771-5593 • koreadmztour.com Seoul City Tour (02) 774-3345 • seoulcitytour.net Tour DMZ (02) 755-0073 • www.tourdmz.com Travel Pants Korea (010) 9961 5765 •travelpantskorea.com

HOTELS & RESORTS Sheraton Grande Walkerhill (02) 455-5000 • 177 Walkerhill-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul

Seoul Samsung Hospital 1599-3114 • 50 Irwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Seoul Intl. School 031-750-1200 • 388-14 Bokjeong-dong, Sujeong-gu, Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do

Asan Medical Center 1688-7575 • 88 Olympic-ro 43-gil, Songpa-gu, Seoul

Branksome Hall Asia (02) 6456-8405 • Daejung-eup, Seogipo-si, Jeju Island

Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center (053) 250-7167 (7177 / 7187) • 56 Dalseongro, Jung-gu, Daegu

Daegu Intl. School (053) 980-2100 • 1555 Bongmu-dong, Dong-gu, Daegu

HOTELS & RESORTS Korean Air 1588-2001 Asiana Airlines 1588-8000 Lufthansa (02) 2019-0180

Novotel Ambassador Gangnam (02) 567-1101 • 603 Yeoksam 1-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Garuda Indonesia (02) 773-2092 • garuda-indonesia.co.kr

Grand Hilton Seoul (02) 3216-5656 • 353 Yeonhui-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

Jeju Air 1599-1500

Somerset Palace Seoul (02) 6730-8888 • 85 Susong-dong, Jongnogu, Seoul Park Hyatt Seoul (02) 2016-1234 • 606 Teheran-ro, Gangnamgu, Seoul Lotte Hotel Busan (051) 810-1000 • 772 Gaya-daero, Busanjin-gu, Busan Park Hyatt Busan (051) 990-1234 • 51, Marine City 1-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan 612-824, Korea

EMERGENCY MEDICAL CENTERS Gangnam St-Mary’s Hospital 1588-1511 • 222 Banpo-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul Yonsei Severance Hospital (Sinchon) (02) 2227-7777 • 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul Seoul National University Hospital 1339 • 28-2 Yeongeon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Dulwich College Seoul (02) 3015-8500 • 5-1 Banpo 2-dong, Seochogu, Seoul The curriculum from toddler to IGCSE (ages 18 months to 16 years) follows the best practice of the early years foundation stage framework and English national curriculum enhanced for an international setting. admissions@dulwich-seoul.kr www.dulwich-seoul.kr




T’way Air 1688-8686 Jin Air 1600-6200


British Airways (02) 774-5511

Everland Resort (031) 320-5000 • 310 Jeondae-ri, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do

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 96 www.groovekorea.com / March 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 • whatthebook.com 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 www.dryaksan.com

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 • reebokcrossfitsentinel.com (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 • www.asiaworldgym.com Art space for local culture presenting Daegu’s contemporary fine arts and internationally Body & Seoul renowned artists. 010-6397-2662 • www.seoulmartialarts.com



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. blog.naver.com/julieintoday

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 in Korea; try out their shrimp potato burrito. Grill5taco (02) 515-5549 • 519-13 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

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Sanchon (02) 735 0312 • 14 Gwanghun-dong, Jongnogu, Seoul www.sanchon.com Veggie Holic 070 4114 0458 • 204-59 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul www.veggieholic.co.kr 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 of 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. www.facebook.com/CafeGday 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!



100 www.groovekorea.com / March 2014

Games Crosswords - Sudoku

Across 1. Retiring from party with flu developing (7) 5. Anticipate brew being regurgitated during exercises (7) 9. Double date with happening Liberal, and Conservative going after yours truly (9) 10. In the auditorium, finished with cast (5) 11. Piano virtuoso follows

a Latina’s moving score initially very slowly (2,1,6,4) 13. Ontario jailer’s drinking wine (5) 15. Mess around with daughter, girl endlessly cries, ‘oh no!’ (4,5) 16. Fake pitch where four start playing (9) 18. Writer’s extremely disagreeable antagonist (5) 20. Search trustee roughly

to find box containing valuables (8,5) 23. Secret agents, in short, having no backbone (5) 24. Subtle references made by posh dean regularly appearing in local parties (9) 25. Trendy southern town? Not at first (5,2) 26. Get bigger European angler in a mess (7)

6. Set off over mountains with Edmund ultimately cut off (9) 7. Is one Shakespearean character heading north with someone from Jerusalem? (7) 8. 100 mph going around western urban area (4) 12. Fantastic treat during amazing feast - this may remain once it’s eaten! (10)

14. One man in a shelter, making amends (9) 17. Good kid can come first in doing addition (7) 19. Cricketer, female international of higher rank (7) 21. Oddly, carp and another fish in fisherman’s basket (5) 22. Ship on river in old country (4)

Down 1. When nothing’s going right, who’d pick such locks? (3,4,3) 2. Singer very much legged it through river (7) 3. Put on a show in temple, say (5) 4. Dancing in quiet glades? No... this is asked to get the ‘right’ answer (7,8) 5. Perhaps pear squash comes before interview (5,10)



Horoscopes March 2014


March 20 - April 20

A coworker tries to help you with a problem, but creates confusion instead. Don’t get frustrated; it won’t help. Just work together to resolve the problem. Love is in the air at the end of the month. A friend of a friend reveals his or her true feelings for you. Scorpio plays an important role.


April 21 - May 21

Your tendency to keep quiet pays off in the beginning of the month. A close friend needs to talk and reveals personal information. Your confidence will be appreciated. When it comes to romance, you’ll have to make a decision. Think about where you stand in that special relationship.


May 22 - June 21

Be patient at work this month. While your boss may seem too conservative for you, he or she really has your best interests at heart. You need to look out for yourself when it comes to your personal life. It will feel like everyone is against you. Be cautious when making decisions.


June 22 - July 22

Don’t be the first to volunteer for a new project at work. Wait to see everything that’s involved, as it may be more than you’ve bargained for. However, you should take a chance when it comes to romance. Don’t wait for that intriguing person to ask you out. Make the first move.


July 23 - August 23

Your sympathetic side will be called on early in the month. A loved one needs you to listen and give moral support. Be honest, but caring. Give in to your desires and shower yourself in luxury this month. It’s going to be a hectic one at work, so you deserve to pamper yourself.


August 24 - September 23

While you usually like to be alone, working as a team at work this month will make things so much easier. You’ll share a lot of good ideas and actually make some close friends. Loved ones will rely on you to take care of a family matter. Aquarius is involved.

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September 24 - October 23

Seek harmony in the workplace this month. Don’t become involved in an office disagreement. Family matters become hectic this month. Loved ones will look to you for advice and support. Take a deep breath. You’ll be able to help everyone out and still have time for yourself.


October 24 - November 22

Follow your instincts in the business world this month. It’s your nature to tell the truth, so stick to it. Don’t be tempted to embellish; it will backfire. Love takes center stage as the month draws to a close. An old friend will resurface and want to begin a relationship. Follow your heart.


November 23 - December 21

Be frank when a close friend asks for your opinion. While the truth may not be what he or she wants to hear, it’s what he or she needs. Your romantic life slows down this month, but don’t get discouraged. This break will give you time to relax and focus on yourself.


December 22 - January 19

Now’s your chance to shine at work. You’ll be given the opportunity to lead a new project and your intelligence and efficiency will shine through. Don’t be shy when it comes to meeting new people this month. Your sweet, sensitive side will endear you to someone with a lot of connections.


January 20 - February 18

Let your practical side lead you in your decision making as the month begins. It may seem like a good idea to make an impulsive purchase, but don’t do it. Finances will be tight. A relationship moves into high gear when you realize how much you have in common with that special someone.


February 19 - March 19

Slow down this month, because it will feel as if your entire world is closing in on you. A few days off from work will help you relax, and time with loved ones will show you that you’re still in control of your life. Virgo and Sagittarius play important roles.

PROMOTIONS Edited by Sean Choi (sean@groovekorea.com)

Club Med Seoul Club Med Cancun to unveil a new look in the new year Premium all-inclusive resort Club Med recently unveiled a renovation of the facilities at its Cancun resort in Mexico, which is gaining popularity as an unusual travel hot spot. As a result of the renovation, various resort facilities such as lodges, lounges, restaurants and kids’ clubs have been updated to include fancier and more sophisticated interiors. In addition, local Mexican food restaurant Las Cazuelas and Argentinean grill restaurant La Estancia were introduced to customers last December and have received positive reviews. In January, the resort opened a fusion concept lounge, Maya, which is composed of a lounge, bar, theater and nightclub. This summer the Cancun resort is also opening 60 family rooms with panorama ocean views and Petit Club, which is a kids’ club for children ages 2 to 3. For information and reservations, visit www.clubmed.co.kr or call (02) 3452-0123.

Grand Hyatt Seoul Macanese promotion Welcome to Grand Hyatt Seoul’s Macanese promotion. The hotel is offering exquisite, delectable dishes from the region prepared under the direction of chefs flying straight from Macau. The demi chef de partie, Chef Lei Kuok Fu, is looking forward to bringing authentic Macanese flavours, offering an array of signature dishes such as stir-fried cuttlefish with sliced pork, XO sauce and stir-fried pigeon breast with vegetables and mushrooms. Chef Alfredo Ho is also a demi chef de partie, as well as a part of team mezza9 Macau, which showcases international and Asian cuisines. Chef Ho has a deep understanding of the unique local cuisine that blends Portuguese and Chinese influences. He is excited to be sharing this passion and will be preparing authentic local favorites such as African chicken, Macanese crab curry and Macanese duck rice. Chef Allan Veloria Salve, an additional demi chef de partie and head of pastry, is excited to serve authentic Macanese desserts at Grand Hyatt Seoul. Chef Salve will be presenting Macau’s famous egg tarts, Serradura, coconut pudding and egg yolk angel hair cake, among other delights. For information and reservations, call (02) 797-1234.

Lei Kuok Fu

Alfredo Ho

Allan Veloria Salve


PROMOTIONS Edited by Sean Choi (sean@groovekorea.com)

Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Luscious strawberry dessert buffet The Pavilion, the lobby lounge at Sheraton Grande Walkerhill, offers its Very Berry Strawberry promotion every Saturday and Sunday until March 30. The promotion will operate in two shifts: The first shift will run from 1 until 3 p.m., and the second shift will be run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Reservations are necessary, and should be made well in advance. The strawberry dessert buffet will include strawberry tiramisu, crispy delicate strawberry pastry, gooey strawberry truffles, strawberry mini cupcakes and more that will bring joy to your senses. (The menu may change according to circumstances.) Savor the joy of our strawberry dessert buffet with a variety of luscious and sumptuous strawberry dessert menu items. A marvelous experience awaits you. For information and reservations, call (02) 450-4534/4467.

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Novotel Ambassador Gangnam Very Love Berry spring package Start off spring with the Very Love Berry Sweet Package, which includes a strawberry dessert buffet for two guests. This year’s buffet has been upgraded to include thirty different kinds of strawberry desserts to go with the fresh strawberry juice. On weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), the package includes a one-night stay in a standard room as well as complimentary access to the fitness club and swimming pool. A 1+1 breakfast voucher for The Square buffet restaurant will also be offered for guests who make reservations on Novotel Ambassador Gangnam’s homepage. This package is

200,000 won (10 percent tax and service charge not included). On weekdays, the “Very Love Berry Fresh Package” offers two cups of fresh strawberry juice packed with vitamin C at the Lobby Lounge, along with breakfast for two at The Square buffet restaurant. This package includes a one-night stay in a standard room and complimentary access to the fitness club and swimming pool. This package is priced at 185,000 won (10 percent tax and service charge not included). For information and reservations, call (02) 567-1101 or visit www.ambatel.com.gangnam.

JW Marriott Hotel Seoul Music “Tok” package Based on a one-night stay in a guest room fitted with a Moxie Showerhead, a wireless music player that lets you shower while listening to your favorite tunes, JW Marriott Hotel Seoul offers the perfect way to wash off the fine particles and pollen that fill Seoul’s air in spring. The package includes one night in an Executive Room fitted with a Moxie Showerhead, a complimentary Kohler spa kit and towel set, and two bottles of Just Juice, made from 100 percent organic fruit. Guests choosing this package will also enjoy access to the Executive Lounge on the 30th floor, with benefits including an evening happy hour and a relaxing morning breakfast. The Music “Tok” Package is priced at 315,000 won (plus tax and service charge) and is available on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) until June 30. For information and reservations, call (02) 6282-6282. 105

PROMOTIONS Edited by Sean Choi (sean@groovekorea.com)

Novotel Ambassador Busan Burning Friday Suite package and 2-for-1 package Novotel Ambassador Busan presents two kinds of room packages for your joyful weekend travel. The “Burning Friday Suite” package is sold only on Fridays and includes one night in a luxurious corner suite room with a view of the sea, Executive Floor privileges such as two breakfasts and complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks and snacks in our exclusive Executive Lounge on the 15th floor, as well as free access to our health club, indoor swimming pool, natural hot spring spa and sauna. We also offer express check in and out in the Executive Lounge. The “2-for-1” package provides two nights (Friday to Saturday or Saturday to Sunday) in one of the Executive City rooms with Executive Floor privileges during your stay at a very low price. The promotions are available until the end of March. The price is 272,000 won for the “Burning Friday Suite” package and 300,000 won (two nights) for the “2-for-1” package (excluding 10 percent service charge and 10 percent tax). For information and reservations, call (051) 743-1234/1243 or visit novotel.ambatelen.com/busan.

Park Hyatt Busan Special Busan seafood set menu Park Hyatt Busan’s signature restaurant Dining Room offers a promotion in March that showcases a series of exceptionally fresh seafood dishes. Located on the 32nd floor of the hotel, Dining Room introduces six new dishes with a variety of seafood, namely abalone, scallops, baby squid, baby octopus, flounder, monkfish, octopus, hair tail, sea bream and more. In addition, the restaurant offers a four-course set menu including halibut carpaccio, scallop raviolo, sea bream and dessert. This promotion is valid from March 3 to 31. The individual dishes can be enjoyed at a price starting from 25,000 won and the set menu at 120,000 won. Furthermore, Dining Room presents a romantic four-course dinner at 150,000 won per person for upcoming White Day, available from March 10 to 14. All prices include 10 percent VAT, and no service charge applies. For information and reservations, call (051) 990-1300.

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Lotte Hotel Busan La Seine & The Lounge second anniversary In celebration of the second anniversary of Lotte Hotel Busan’s La Seine & The Lounge’s remodeling, La Seine & The Lounge will be holding a celebration on March 27 and 28. Starting at 6:30 p.m. on March 27, guests order from our new menu. Free unlimited sparkling white and red wine will also be offered. Prices start from 150,000 won per person (tax and service charges included). On March 28 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. the hotel offers one bottle (500 ml) of Johnny Walker Black Label (for two) and five different appetizers, along with a free and unlimited selection of three choices of cocktails, two types of wine and one type of beer. The price is 98,000 won per person. For information and reservations, call La Seine at (051) 810-6390 or The Lounge at (051) 810-6430.

Profile for Groove Korea

Groove Korea March 2014  

Groove is Korea's English magazine for Insight, Travel, Culture, Dining and Shopping

Groove Korea March 2014  

Groove is Korea's English magazine for Insight, Travel, Culture, Dining and Shopping