Page 1

issue 129

September 2017

Busan Pride in the City

On the Road

Getting a Driver's License in Korea

Drag Prom

Rash Decisions Cycling from Seoul to Busan

PequeĂąo Seoul A Taste of Korea in the heart of Mexico

Zandari Festa

Set to take over Hongdae

Fall Music Fests

Some of the best fests this fall

/ groovekorea

04 contents


September 2017


issue 128

September 2017


Busan Pride in the City


The Drive To Success Hitting the roads of Seoul for a license to vroom

On the Road

Rash Decisions Cycling from Seoul to Busan

Pequeño Seoul


Catching the Vibes Of Jisan Muddying the music festival water in search of sonic transcendence


Blogger Spotlight Travel advice from an intrepid mom


A call to artists, creatives and makers Quarterly series of events celebrating creators in Daegu and beyond


Busan Drag Prom: Love is a Battlefield Fun and fabulousness in the port city

film 46


Getting a Driver's License in Korea

Zandari Festa

Set to take over Hongdae

A Taste of Korea in the heart of Mexico

Fall Music Fests

Some of the best fests

this fall

Cover House of Tease mother, Flowerbomb, poses for a pictures in her Drag Prom eveningwear after having performed for the crowds. Performers from all over Korea made their way down to Busan last month for one of the countries largest LGBT+ events. In this issue, we’ll take a look at some of the highlights of the event. Photo by Robert Michael Evans


Korean Movie Preview: September Politics, potboilers, and poetry

Key People Meet Groove’s editorial team and a few of our talented contributors



Busan International Film Festival Preview Cinematic smorgasbord in the Dynamic City

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

6 contents


September 2017

music 54

Best showcase fest in the city Seoul's top music showcase festival is back with more international acts


Fall into autumn music fests Whether staying in Korea or traveling around Asia, check out some of the best music fests this fall

food&drink 60

Grillerz worth the pit stop Texas barbecue - deep in the heart of Mullae-dong


Horangi : The cozy tiger’s den Fusion food with a neighborly vibe

travel 64

Bike to Busan A 550-km journey across South Korea on the seat of a bicycle


Korea’s Inland Island Dark skies and bright stars in the heart of the mountains


Pequeño Seoul : A Little Slice of Korea in Mexico City Exploring one of the world’s lesser known Koreatowns

8 key people

Robert Michael Evans is an internationally published photographer from Atlanta, Georgia who has has been calling Seoul home for the last three years. He received his B.S. in Anthropology which helped him develop a keen eye for his life behind the lens. When he isn’t busy taking photos (which he almost always is), he can be found cruising the streets of Seoul on his beloved motorcycle. To see more of his work visit

Gil Coombe

September 2017

is primarily a university instructor. An editor of The English Connection. A part-time writer and copy-editor for Groove. A full-time procrastinator. A New Plymouth, New Zealand native. A movie enthusiast. A regular overeater. A reluctant gym-goer. An occasional cyclist. A constant hiker. A Hong Sang-soo doubter. A list maker. All of these things describe him, but do they truly describe him? Yes, they do.

Nicole Arnott after spending 3 years living in the Gyeongnam region of South Korea, Nicole is now on an indefinite journey through Latin America. She's a a full time writer hailing from Scotland and, when she's not exploring new places, she can usually be found hunting out strong coffee and even stronger WiFi! Always one to lead a balanced life, she's also a huge lover of wine and yoga- just not at the same time! You can read more about her adventures on her travel blog, Wee Gypsy Girl which is full of tips and stories about budget travel and expat life.

Emma Kalka started her journey into music reporting whilst slaving away as a copy-editor for an English-language news media outlet in Seoul way back in 2009. Now she is the music editor of Groove, and still slaving away as a copy-editor for a different English-language news outlet, though will soon leave the land of office jobs behind. If she’s not at the computer writing music articles, she’s out catching a live show in Hongdae, getting a glass of wine (or beer) with friends, filming music interviews for a YouTube channel, daydreaming about her next project or playing with the world’s most adorable pup, Morgan.

Jenna Kunze is an American expat living in Seoul, where she has answered to “teacher” for the past year. Next, she’ll be headed for Nepal to work at a small magazine. She likes writing and photographing in the vein of ‘travel’, and lives a life that is conducive to that. She has been published by Outpost Magazine, Gapyear. com, and is currently wondering how many pieces you need to publish before you can call yourself a travel writer. To read more of her work, or to follow her life in Asia, you can visit her website at, or view her instagram @jennakunze.

Naheen Madarbakus-Ring is the head honcho at Groove Korea. With interests in travel, Naheen also enjoys finding out about the local community in Korea. Experimenting with different styles of writing, the Brit is always looking for a new story to publish. When not behind a computer, she likes to take walks down by the stream, beachy holidays and the odd brew.

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WRITERS & CONTRIBUTORS Steve Smith, Jordan Redmond, Monica Williams, Neil Kirby, Kate Hickey, Robert Evans, Soo Choi, Michael O'Dwyer, Giro, Luman, Hannah Gweun, Pauly Peroni, John Dunphy, Andrew Bencivenga, Justin Howard, Bryan Watkins and Kim Rahyun, Simon McEnteggart, Nicole Arnott, Jenna Kunze, Chris Lushner, Kitmin Lee, David Seeger, Anders, ROCIO CADENA, KENDRICK PAYNE, DAVID SEEGER AND ANDERS

Special thanks to CJ E&M, Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, Jarazum International Jazz Festival, HanCinema, ReedPop, COSIS, HanCinema, Caravan, +84, About Jins, All that Meat, Grillerz, The Cereal and WYCN, SHELLEY LEE, EDS, JARASUM INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL, GREVIN MUSEUM, GRILLERZ, GRAND MIN FESTIVAL, HANCINEMA, HORANGI and BUSAN INTL. FILM FESTIVAL

Special Advisor Prof. JUHAN KIM


To contribute to Groove Korea, email or the appropriate editor. To have Groove Korea delivered to your home or business, email To contribute to groovekorea, promote an event or share your opinions, please email or the appropriate editor. The articles are the sole property of GROOVE KOREA No reproduction is permitted without the express written consent of GROOVE KOREA The opinions expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. © All rights reserved Groove Korea Magazine 2006

12 what's on September 2017


European Jazz Festival

when September 1 - 3 | where Mapo Art Center | who Iiro Rantala, Ulf Wakenius, Giovanni Mirabassi Trio, Marc Berthoumieux And More


Let’s Rock Festival

when September 23 - 24 | where Nanji Hangang Park | who YB, Nell, No Brain, Crying Nut, Lee Seunghwan, Zion T, And 30+ Artists

14 what's on September 2017

World Club Dome Korea concert

when September 22 - 24 where Incheon Munhak Stadium who Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Dj Snake, Don Diablo, Kygo, Steve Aoki And More Djs.

16 what's on September 2017


Zandari Festa when September 29 - October 1 where Hongdae area South Korea’s top music showcase festival set to fill 10 venues throughout Hongdae with music from 120 bands from Korea and around the world. Zandari Festa brings together music lovers, musicians and music industry officials from around the world and Korea for three days of showcases, parties and conferences in Hongdae, the heart of Korea’s indie music scene.



busan when September 11 | where KBS Hall Seoul when September 12 | where Jamsil Stadium


Wouter Hamel

when September 22, 8pm | where Hyundai Card Understage in Itaewon

18 what's on September 2017

Pyeongchang Hyoseok Cultural Festival

Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival

when September 1 -10 | where Bongpyeong-myeon in Pyeongchang-gun

when September 22 – 24 | where Hwaseong Haenggung Palace

Pyeongchang Hyoseok Cultural Festival takes place at Lee Hyoseok Culture Village in Pyeongchang, the setting for Lee Hyoseok's famous novel, "When Buckwheat Flowers Bloom." The festival highlights different locations depicted in the novel as well as the area's folklore. The festival is held at the most splendid time of the year when the buckwheat flowers blanket the entire Bongpyeong area.

Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival is held throughout Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site built to commemorate King Jeongjo’s filial piety and dream for national prosperity and military power. Festival programs include King Jeongjo’s procession to the royal tombs, jinchanyeon for Hyegeonggung Hong (the 60th Birthday Feast for King Jeongjo's mother), art performances, a lighting festival and more.



Anseong Namsadang Baudeogi FestivalLINK Festival

when September 27 – October 2 | where Anseongmatchum Land Festival

Gimje Horizon Festival

when September 20 – 24 | where Gimje-si Jeollabukdo

The festival aims to show the importance of Korea’s farming culture, which is a foundation of the nation, with the theme of sky and land meeting at the horizon.

Anseong Namsadang Baudeogi (Kim Am-deok, the only female leader in Korean Namsadang) Festival has been a preservation of the tradition of Namsadang (troupes of entertainers who traveled around the country). This festival covers more than a hundred performances at the old Anseong market, highlighting the richness of top three markets during the Joseon Dynasty.









Andong Mask Dance Festival Festival

when September 29 – October 8 | where Andong-si Gyeongsangbukdo

The Festival is held in Andong area considered the capital of Korean traditional culture with the theme of mask and mask dance. Andong’s culture and religions have great value for remaining over the years with the various cultures intact and the city is the region which has the most of cultural heritages and boasts the beauty of the East alike.

20 what's on

Deoksugung Outdoor Project Exhibition

when September 1 – November 26 where MMCA / Deoksugung

September 2017

In 2012 in collaboration with Cultural Heritage Administration, MMCA presented Deoksugung Project, which showcased contemporary works of art created on the basis of the rich heritage of Deoksugung Palace. The exhibition was greatly received in the art scene and by the general public. Now, casting new light on the spiritual and material value of Korea’s cultural heritage, Deoksugung Project 2017 centers on the idea of the coexistence of the past and the present. The project will install contemporary artworks of various forms, including media art, sculpture, and installation art, to speak to the history and environment of Deoksugung Palace. The harmonious conjunction between contemporary art and the cultural heritage of the Korean palace aims to contribute to the enhancement of educational opportunities by developing viewers’ interest in the modern and contemporary history of Korea.

Young Architects Program 2017 Exhibition

when Until October 9 | where MMCA / Seoul

Young Architects Program 2017, an international partner project of the Young Architects Program at MoMA, aims to discover and foster talented young Korean architects, providing them with opportunities to explore actual project implementation at Museum Madang of MMCA Seoul. Using the basic concepts of shade, shelter, and water, the project hopes to raise discussion of global issues such as eco-friendly architecture and sustainability.

Papers and Concrete: Modern Architecture in Korea 1987-1997 Exhibition

when September 1 – February 18 | where MMCA / Seoul

This exhibition explores what has shaped and driven the modern Korean architectural discourse by looking at the activities of the architectural groups formed in the period between the late 1980s and the early 2000s, with a focus on the socially and culturally turbulent decade of the 1990s. It is a retrospective concerned less with individual architects and the works created and more with the movements that enabled the social practice of architecture, aesthetic achievements in the field, and changes in architectural education.

22 community

The Drive To Success Hitting the roads of Seoul for a License to Vroom…

Story by Naheen Madarbakus-Ring Photos by EDS

EDS EDS help ease the nerve-wracking process of getting qualified for the road. The school which was established in 2014 has been making the complicated and often Korean-language bound system simpler for well over 1000 new drivers. Courses are available for manual and automatic cars, motorcycles, buses and smaller trucks. With an impressive pass rate of 85% for automatic drivers and 70% for manual car tests, driving has never been so easy.

Liaising between yourself, the driving school and the test center, EDS can get you to the driving test stage in just 5 days. I first contacted EDS with queries. Many, many, queries. Would I be safe on the road? What if I froze? What if I really just couldn’t drive? All my questions – and more – were answered.

"is this the driving school?” I ask. My translator replies no before adding “it’s just down the road”. My heart sinks as the idea finally hits home that I will be driving on these roads First, I would need five available sessions (a session being a full morning or a full afternoon) for my lessons. All of the driving instruction and test centers would be near one another but would be in one of three ‘Car Parks’ located in Mapo, Gyeyoung or Gimpo. Sessions can be booked sequentially or flexibly dependent on one’s availability; EDS work around your schedule. Once booked, a translator will contact you the

day before and arrange to meet you (usually at the closest train station first) before making your way together to the driving test center or school. All translators are hired part-time through their missionary links by EDS and are usually university students with (most importantly) driving licenses. Ready to guide you through your EDS journey, the translators ferry you between the test center and driving school, be your Korean writer on application forms and are your all round empathic rock to lean on (or shoulder to cry on) during the good, the bad and the rainy times. With the sessions in place, and a 20% deposit transferred before the first day, we are ready to roll. Before the first session: Don’t get too excited before the first session. Yes, you’ve booked the lessons and yes, you have paid the deposit, but now the work starts. Upon confirming your schedule with EDS, a hefty 300+ page Highway Code PDF will land in your inbox. Although all the literature says that this is not something to worry about, I beg to differ (that and the fact that I take my studies very seriously). Nicknamed the ‘Common Sense’ test, driving theory is nothing to be squawked at. The PDF features all of the possible questions that could be asked in multiple-choice form and also reveals the answers (in true Korean Echoic Memory style). However, when giving yourself only 48 hours to look it over, there are some rules which differ from your own country and a good grounding of the road signs, markings and rules (which is definitely easier if you have studied it before) need to be done. The first day begins with the theory so it is essential to brush up on these for the theory test.



earning to drive heightens many emotions The scary thought of you moving a vehicle. The intelligent thought that driving on the road with others is not the same as bumper cars. The mature thought that it is a necessity to get a driving license and not ever having to walk 3km each way to the Woryeonggyo Bridge in Andong because it’s the thing to do (sorry Liam). Korean drivers perhaps do not have the best reputation in Asia. Going by OECD statistics, Korea ranks second with the highest road fatality rates (koreaportal. com). However, after a vigorous revamping of driving instruction, tests and road rules and regulations in December 2016, learning to drive has now become a more stringent qualification for learner drivers to obtain before passing their tests and hitting the road. In fact, South Korean driving instruction meets the international regulations of over 100 countries meaning if you obtain a license here then an International Driving Permit (IDP) can be issued and transference of the license to your own home country (or other that you may move to) is possible. Sold? To learn, all you need is 4-5 days and a little help from our friends at EDS.

24 community

Day One: Registration and Theory Test The first day was set with a meet at Gimpo Airport Station at 12pm. Having been instructed to bring 4 passport photos, my ARC and the rest of the instruction fee, I meet James at the exit. The first journey takes place on the 651 bus (a route that I will get to know well over these next few instruction days) which takes ten minutes as we exit at the Gangseo Driving Test Center, The building is situated on a busy crossroad with four lines of traffic, filled with buses, trucks and every vehicle form imaginable. “Is this the driving school?” I ask. My translator replies no before adding “it’s just down the road”. My heart sinks as the idea finally hits home that I will be driving on these roads. Not something that has to be thought of now, we cross the road to the test center and head to the forms. There, James takes the registration form and completes the personal details in Korean with me supplying the info needed. Next, it’s off to complete the health check. With KRW5,000 and a simple eye test (they have numbers for the non-Koreans amongst us), my first passed test is accrued. Next, a safety video needs to be viewed. The screening room is manned by one person who checks your ID and records your fingerprint as you enter. Allocated a number for your screening chair, take a seat and watch the 50 minute safety video. The attendant kindly switched on the English subtitles (which I am informed is not always a given so do request it) before indulging in the four-steps of road safety. Complete with RoRoad representatives, a celebrity and Korean drama cutaways, I find the video mildly entertaining and informative. Although not all the theory points are covered, it’s a perfectly fine gently reminder before the test. When leaving the screening, the number is returned and your fingerprint re-scanned to confirm viewing has been completed. Next, it’s up to the second floor and another fee of KRW 7,500 for the theory test. We have barely paid for it and then it’s up to the next floor to the theory test-taking room. A room full of computers await with 40 minutes to complete 40 questions to complete the ‘Common Test’ questions. With tests available in a multitude of languages, again when registering, confirm your language of choice before heading up. Another attendant will check your paper (for payment and language) before allocating a computer to you. Phones should be switched off and it’s a good idea to read all guideline pages before starting the test. Once you are ready, press start and begin.

You can go to any question at any time or check them all at the end. Once the complete button is pressed, an immediate result flashes up. Over 60% is needed to pass and it can be retaken the next day if required. For me, the cramming on the train worked and I passed first time. To the roads! Day Two: On-The-Course and Course Driving Test Just two days later, I was back at Gimpo and on the 651 again. It was a morning session this time with an early 8am meet-up and a much needed Iced Americano in hand. This time, I was greeted by Jason who guided me one stop further past the Test Center to the actual driving school.

With an impressive pass rate of 85% for automatic drivers and 70% for manual car tests, driving has never been so easy Once we arrived, there were more registration papers to complete – this time for the on-the-course training and road lessons. I was informed that today was about completing the On-The-Course circuit test to obtain my provisional license before I was allowed on the road. A firm reminder by the 651 bus route on the way and the four lanes of traffic that lay ahead of me made the Iced Americano taste that little bit sweeter – no roads for me today, at the very least. Once registered, I headed to car 250. The four hours of training starts here with the instructor going around the course, demonstrating what is required for the test. Jason is sitting in the back seat, ready to translate every sentence the instructor says on top of every question I produce myself. In each section of the course, I am instructed about where to turn, where to stop, how to stop, with my observation skills working overtime. After one circuit, I move over to the driver’s seat and given an introduction to where the indicator, lights, wipers, pedals and gear stick are. The first part of the test involves procedures to check that these functions can be used, and

systematically, seemed like a good place for me to start in the driving seat. Once I have impressed with my screen wiper and light switching skills, it’s time to move. I am given full reign of the pedals and accelerate gently up the first hill. I then stop in the allocated box for three seconds before moving on (and completing an uphill start essentially). It’s then round the first corner and then another before a stop at the traffic lights, before more turning practice to get to grips with steering. The last straight is perhaps the most exciting with the 20km limit lapsed for about 5 seconds in the acceleration lane; however, this is countered with the immediate braking of speed that follows to turn left, but fun all the same. The first 50 minutes is spent learning the course. The second session introduces parking which integrates round-the-corner and parallel parking in one. Having achieved this first time (no gloating here, just facts), the third and fourth lesson are spent on practice tests with the GPS-like indicator in tow, deducting points for mistakes and then talked through (and translated) after. It’s then on to the test centre, a mere ten-minute walk down the road. Again, waiting for our 1pm call-in, about twenty of us are shuffled into a hut overlooking the test centre’s course. Another video and pep talk later, and us wannabe provisional drivers are called one-by-one to take the 10-minute test. There is about a two minute gap between candidates and I am number three. Heading to the car with my heart pounding, I enter the car. “Ready?” asks the attendant, two thumbs pointing up inquisitively. I shrug and think to myself, “I guess so”. After a shaky start, I manage to complete the course with a respectable score and can’t believe that I’ve passed. Another KRW 3,500 and sticker later, I have a provisional license and ready to go on the roads. With only four days between lessons, there was now more prep to do. James had kindly sent me the four courses which would be learnt/memorized/practiced during the six-hour on-the-road training and I had watched them a couple of times before the next sessions. Day Three: On-The-Road Training (4 hours) Back to the afternoon, and the agenda was simple. It was time to get on the road. I arrived at the centre, this time getting the 651 on my own, and found myself there an hour early. This gave me some time to brush up on Courses A-D and also take a little walk down to the first bridge where U-turns were performed. I watch as some


26 community

of the morning lessons took place in the brightly distinctive yellow learner cars all lined up to take the same U-turn practice. Feeling a little nervous, I slowly walk back to the center, trying to process that I too would be doing that in an hour. Session 1 takes place in car 259, with the first thing being more observation and following the instructors every move. He points out the familiar 10-2 hold of the steering wheel, how to turn slowly, when to indicate, where to change lanes while showing how to complete course A. After ten minutes of watching, it’s time to change places and it’s my turn to complete course A. Back to the familiar sights of the centre, the instructor is happy enough with my progress that we set off again for the almost identical track of Course C. Before I know it, the first fifty minutes are complete. Session 2 starts with the complex route of Course B before the even more intricate Course D. Needless to say, not my finest hour (literally) with a few shaky U-turns and stops. Session 3 and 4 are more complete with a mix of courses and practice with different circumstances and traffic levels. Certainly at this center, Course A and C are infamously easy. Comprising of two U-turns and a couple of lane changes, the courses involve mainly driving straight down the street. Course B is catchy. With two bitchy U-turns and a few more lane changes than one should be doing, if the buses change lane or somebody wants to turn more quickly than you would like, it could force an error which could be costly on the test. Finally, Course D is long but perhaps features the most range and realistic road happenings. With left and right turns, a school zone, hills and a carriageway stretch, this is perhaps most true to road environments. Day Four: On-The-Road Training (2 hours) It’s another afternoon session and I time it perfectly, arriving at the centre at 12.40pm for a 1pm start. I manage to score the same instructor as the last day (not a regular occurrence) and we head to car 29. Feeling a little rusty already, within two minutes of joining my fellow drivers on the road, I have forgotten to change to neutral, not used my indicator long enough and forgotten the course paths already. Calm down already! The two hours go by but don’t seem as fun as last time. Mistakes creep in from every lane which become more frustrating as the lesson goes on. I see a bus (!) making a U-turn into my lane. I have a car beeping behind me to turn right when I have no space (I end up going for it on my instructor’s advice and turn with a wheel on

the kerb). I try to change lane and the car behind me didn’t let me go first. Thrown by today’s progress, I feel my confidence dropping. Certainly, I walk away with the thought that you cannot trust others on the road and you need to watch yourself as well as others. Keep control and don’t be put off by others. Let them beep. Let them wait. Just stick to the procedures and you’ll be fine. On to the test.

There was only one thing to do today: Pass the driving test Day Five: The Driving Test It was an overcast morning with the weather unable to decide if it was going to rain or not. There was only one thing to do today: Pass the driving test. Arriving at the centre at 8.15am, I was nervous and was almost disappointed that I didn’t have a driving lesson today. Jason was the translator today and he led me up the centre staircase to a room with rows of chairs. There was another short video to watch, with hints and tips as to what was being awarded – and deducted – points and the lead driving instructor gave some jovial tips in Korea while ensuring that Yongguk was OK. I was informed that I was number 4 and had to go downstairs and wait. Ten minutes and nothing. Twenty minutes and nothing. I texted Jason and he assured me that this was quite normal and that I would be called soon. And at 9.50am, I was. I headed to car number 7 and was relieved that my co-test taker spoke some English. In Korea, you sit at the back while the other candidate takes their test (or vice versa) for both tests. I was going to sit first and watched to absorb the process. When sitting in the driver’s seat, my co-candidate signed the Ipad screen to confirm her attendance and then pressed a bar for a random course selection.. She got course C. Sitting at the back, I observe and try to get the procedures into my own head. Trying not to criticize as to what she is doing (or not), I focus and think about my own looming test. The roads seem quiet and dry and the vibe in the car remains positive. We return to the centre and then I am motioned to the front seat. I sign and I press the button. Not Course B. Not Course B. The instructor looks at me and smiles: “Course B”.

EDS EDS can organize all the paperwork, translations lesson bookings and test taking for four wheeled manual or automatic cars, motorcycles or buses. Additional help can also be sought for exchanging licenses overseas, extra driving practice courses and further consultation. Info Email tel 02-943-8068 * Please contact EDS for your personal quotation. GangSeo Test Center The Gangseo Test Centre is the place to head for the theory test, test bookings and licenses. The building is well signposted and is the location of the on-thecourse driving test and is your first port of call for any registrations and paperwork. The website also has information on how to obtain your license, including a useful step-by-step guide. Info Email tel 1577-1120

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28 community

Catching the Vibes Of Jisan

Muddying the music festival water in search of sonic transcendence


Story by Zev D. Blumenfeld

’m going to have to call your boss,” the ticket girl said impatiently, her face scrunched together like a sweaty raisin. There was no line under the press tent at the Jisan Valley Rock Music and Art Festival where my ogre-of-anadvisor Binx and I stood, but I sensed the girl’s morning had been turbulent. “Wait. Don’t do it!” I said quickly, grabbing the phone from her hand with such force it practically knocked my sunglasses off. “He gets snippy with people he doesn’t know. You would too—it’s not pleasant being mistaken for some barbaric warrior from the Joseon Dynasty every day. For all I know he’s not even awake yet.” “It’s 12:30 in the afternoon,” she said, eyeing us. She had backed me into a corner and there was no getting out of this one. “He’s a late sleeper. It’s a common characteristic in this business. But enough about that, let's cut to the chase. I’m a top-notch reporter from a very prestigious news organization and the only explanation for this mix-up is that there’s no explanation at all and that God’s up to his usual mid-day fㅗckery. But I’ll have you know, it’s never too late to do the right thing. Do you understand me?” But she clearly hadn’t. And judging by the sour look on her face, I could tell that her patience had dwindled. The look was one I had seen all too often in Korea when it became clear that the metaphorical line of toleration had been crossed and the veneer of a helpful, harmonious person, who moments ago seemed perfectly willing to move heaven and earth to assist me, dramatically fades. It’s like an exorcism, but in reverse. I had lost my grip on the exchange—talking my way into a press pass was a lost cause. “Never mind then. I must be at the wrong festival.” I turned to walk away, but Binx had been waiting at my shoulder for his turn to throw himself into the fire. He moved his face closer to hers. “Do you see this man? He suffers from

an acute lack of cognitive flexibility,” Binx said. “Stems from an overactive cingulate gyrus. Simply put, his anger can be triggered at any discomfort. He’s a walking minefield,” Binx said to her, voice low and steady. “Quiet, you maniac. Now isn’t the time for that sort of nonsense,” I said. He looked at me. Then, sucking his tooth, turned toward the main entrance. “Suit yourself.”

Wild metal fans threw their bodies against one another, ping-ponging about. The moshing expanded outward until I found myself pulled into the chaos An hour earlier, we had stumbled off the local bus at the Jisan Mart and into swamp-like humidity. From underneath the mart’s red and yellow sign streaked a half-naked baby. His mother, the cashier of the shop, quickly scooped the child up, and stood watching us. This was the true backcountry—farms, dingy snowboard shops, and low-lit restaurants with storefronts that hadn’t been washed in decades scattered down the county road. From the look of things, only those with a very specific purpose came here—and a purpose we indeed had. We were here on an anthropological excavation of sonic proportions, with the intent of floating down the aural river of Korean culture and dissecting the vibes of Jisan. But while I profess that I’m no expert when it comes to music, there does exist

a certain kind of trance-inducing quality in many genres that can cut so close to the heart and soul that the listener becomes forever altered—call it a kind of auditory, psychotropic high. It’s a slippery slope because there’s no telling what kind of transformation the user will find him or herself in, nor how long he or she will be gone until appearing on the other side of that wormhole. But like my advisor, I too considered this one of the only types of true living. And so we went down the wormhole, became absorbed into the threads of space and time and all that the sonic universe had to offer. Crowds descended upon the The Jisan Valley Rock Music and Arts Festival by the tens of thousands. Families, couples, college students, eager fangirls and fanboys hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrities all flocked to the Jisan Forest Resort for this three-day event. The sun hung directly overhead as we passed beneath the blue streamers shimmering at the entrance gate. I remember feeling stuck in the humidity. It was like trudging through a thick marsh. Dragonflies buzzed along our path as we continued up Valley Road—the concrete tributary that fed the three performance stages, dance hall, and concession areas. People had already staked out territory, setting up picnic blankets and inflatable chairs. One man had even sprawled out like road kill on the hot pavement. We walked by two girls with tiger-ear headbands, each holding signs with the letters “LANY.” My advisor swung his head around. “What’s a Lane-y?” he shot. The tiger girls looked back laughing, but didn’t stop to answer. “Must be some millennial thing.” “Beats me, man—maybe it’s a seating section or something. Could mean anything nowadays.” Just then, the reverberation of a clean, electric guitar and the loungy vocals from the band Raw By Peppers interrupted us. A hundred or so people stood around, nodding to the hypnotizing strum of


“Cosmic Boy.” In unison, they sank away, off into the vibes, and the mud below our feet grew thicker. We sloshed through the mud to the concession square—a manic area of pizza, chicken, noodles, blow-up flamingos and whales, a motorized surfboard game, and a walk-through jungle spraying perfumed mist. We soon came to understand exactly what a “Lane-y” was, or rather, who they were. Sandwiched between the Johnnie Walker “Whisky and Lemon” booth and the Cass beer game, fangirls lined up in giddy anticipation for a meet and greet with the band LANY—a group comprised of a middle-aged bald guy, a lost member of the Trailer Park Boys, and a surfer. Sometime in the months before, a university professor friend of mine reported that his class despised baldness. They hated it so much that they had concluded unanimously a husband with a cue ball was far worse than his wife-beating counterpart. Odd. But personal appearance often meant life or death in Korea. Despite this, the three band members were showered with gifts and hugs in a warm welcome from the fangirls. As we wandered around the square, the mud got thicker, caking to my shoes. The humidity shot higher. It was like walking around with an anchor attached to my back, every movement weighed down my skeletal structure more and more. There was little doubt that eventually my whole body would crumble under its own weight. And then, dragonflies— “Oh, shㅗt—the dragonflies. They’re everywhere.” I remember saying. It was near a stage named Green Pampas that my feet sunk into the ground and I fell forward into the patch of grass. I rolled onto my back, watching the clouds checker the sky. Dragonflies hovered above me, their 20,000 eyes telescoping in and out. I melted into the swamp, quickly fading into a daydream. When I emerged, I stood in front of a person wearing a goat mask and jumping up and down in the middle of a circle of people. Distorted power chords ripped from the Tune Up stage, where Harry Big Button blasted their song, “Coffee, Cigarettes, and Rock’N’Roll.” In the center of this circle stood a shirtless member of the “Goat Tribe,” hair hanging to his lower back. He began running around, high-fiving

everyone. As he circled back to his original starting position, another shirtless guy jumped in—and then another and another until an inner circle had been created. And as the drums smashed from the speakers, the moshing began. “...Taste, enjoy, reveal yourself. Coffee, cigarettes, and rock’n’roll.” Wild metal fans threw their bodies against one another, ping-ponging about. The moshing expanded outward until I found myself pulled into the chaos.

I heard music and the trees opened up revealing what could only be described as a modern day Gilligan’s Island with sinister overtones of pagan worship At the end of every song, a tribal chant rang out. At first I didn’t understand, but then the leader held up his hand, it was a credit card, “Card, card, card!” chanted the Goat-tribal moshers. They continued until the owner of the card had claimed it. Uncertain of what to make of all this, I yelled to my advisor. “We’re still in Korea, right?” When he didn’t answer, I looked over. He had disappeared. Had the vibes become too much? I soon took my leave and wandered to the edge of the road. A dirt trail ran into the woods from which a purple light shined. I walked down the trail passing some white sheets hanging from the tree branches. I heard music and the trees opened up revealing what could only be described as a modern day Gilligan’s Island with sinister overtones of pagan worship. Translucent inflatable inner tubes lay around the clearing. The DJ had set up a card table on uneven ground, still managing to play the song YMCA. When it reached the lyric “Let yourself free…” a gangly white hipster in a Vietnamese rice hat and Wayfarer sunglass-

es picked up an inner tube. Lifting it around his waist, he started to gyrate vigorously in all directions. He turned to me and bowed. “Namaste,” he said. “Indeed,” I replied. “You realize you’re in Korea,” Binx said to Gangly. Not missing a beat, Gangly responded, “Bruh, we’re all one world.” He handed Binx an inner tube. “My name’s Michael. Do you dance?” “Do I look like I dance?” Michael stopped moving and considered this. “Never too late to start,” said Michael. And then he danced away. “Where’s the bar?” Binx said. Who were these fㅗcking people? And why were they here? Perhaps they had taken the wrong bus and instead of arriving at the Myeongdong shopping district, they had arrived smack-dab in the middle of the woods. It was anybody’s guess. Binx and I moved over to the makeshift bar; at this point, things became hazy. I remember making eye contact with one of the bartenders and being directed to a drink sign, confused as to why the only two choices were vodka mixed with energy drink or vodka mixed with orange juice, I asked the bartender for a shot of Bombay. She again smiled and again redirected me to the menu, upon which I became frustrated and finally settled on the vodka with orange juice. But when I attempted to pay for the drink, she informed me that cash wasn’t accepted. The whole thing was a clusterfck of monstrous proportions. Finally, I managed to take hold of the drink and leave before the scene became any slimier. Night had fallen by the time we made it out of the woods. Through the dark floated the velvety voice of R&B singer Gallant. As we approached the stage, a strobe cracked and he arose from the shadows, violet light flicked on backlighting plumes of fog. Midway into his performance, Gallant began ironing clothes and watering the plants. He must have some interest in domestic housework, I reasoned. Whatever his intention, the audience followed. One girl tore off her bra and catapulted it towards the stage. She had fallen into the vibes; in fact, the whole crowd had. And on those vibes they’d remain until two mornings later at 10 a.m., when the final shuttle would depart from the humid Jisan swamp.

An Excerpt from

30 community

Blogger Spotlight Story by Rob Shelley Photos by Shelley Lee

If you are a blogger living in Korea and would like to be highlighted in our Blogger Profile series, please contact

I think I’m happiest when someone comments that something I wrote helped them on their travels

What brought you to Korea? What interests you the most about this country? I would love to say that I came to Korea to get back in touch with my roots and learn about my motherland, but the truth is I followed a guy here. Joking (kind of). That was definitely part of it, but there was a real yearning in me to learn more about my ethnicity and my culture. My parents immigrated to Canada when I was two years old, so my vision of the country was trapped in time: In my father’s vision of 1975 Korea, to be precise. I wanted to see what the truth was and hopefully discover something about myself in the process. Fortunately, all ended well and I learned that Korea (in contrast to my father’s vision of it) is one of the fastest changing countries on earth. Oh, and the guy? We’re now happily married and have a 22-month-old daughter. What got you into blogging? Did you start writing here or were you writing before? I started travel blogging in earnest when we took a year long trip around the world in 2012, but I would say I’ve been writing my whole life. My prior blog was more in the self-discovery vein, when I was living in Canada, single, unhappily working, broke, more than a little confused about what I wanted in life, and trying to find my way. Tell us about your blog. What inspired it? What was your proudest moment? I started my current blog because I wanted a place to record our travels and an outlet for writing. It’s since turned into a mild obsession. I think I’m happiest when someone comments that something I wrote helped them on their travels. What does the future hold for you and/or your blog? That’s a good question. I’ve never thought much about growing or monetizing my blog, but recently I’ve met a bunch of bloggers here who’ve inspired me to see where it could go. My husband and I have visited 60 countries so far — first as budget backpackers, then as a mid-range traveling couple, and now as a family — so we have a lot of experience to share.



his month’s Blogger Profile highlights a prolific travel blogger. Shelley Lee is a Korean-Canadian travel blogger and proud mother. She has visited more than 60 countries, the last nine with her 22 month old daughter. Her adventures include driving a classic Royal Enfield motorcycle all the way from Kochi to the tea fields of Munnar, releasing baby turtles into the sea in Borneo, dog-sledding in Norway with an 11-time Finnmarksløpet race winner, seeing a cheetah kill in the Serengeti, trying ayahuasca at a taita’s house on the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia, and floating high above the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia, Turkey in a hot air balloon. Read her insights and advice at www.

32 community Date of original posting October 19, 2016

(Seoul) is where the Heart is


rowing up a disgruntled and alienated teen in the suburbs of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, I never imagined that life would take me to so many corners of the world, both as a traveler, and expat. It's made me wonder exactly what makes a place feel like home. Is living and working somewhere, walking its streets

day after day enough to make a place "home?" Or is it more elusive? More of a construct that gathers within its warm confines, our most cherished memories, hopes, feelings and dreams? Obviously, I lean towards the latter. Experience has shown me the truth of this. Because despite 23 of my most developmental years lived in the icy embrace of Calgary's never-ending winter, I never felt at home. Maybe it was my Asian-ness in a very white community (it was the 70s/80s after all), but I'm inclined to think it was more about the culture of the city. Oil rich, conspicuous consumption, right wing politics was always the dominant narrative, and that has NEVER been me. Even as a teen, the city grated against my soul like fingernails across a chalkboard. We simply didn't match. Of course, I didn't have the consciousness or maturity to understand THAT in my angst-filled youth. It took a solo

move to Toronto at 25, and the comfort of being enveloped in a culture that just fit better. Not surprisingly, I spent a good portion of my 8 years there in a drug-fueled party, simultaneously running from and towards myself. By the end of it all, I emerged a bit battered and bruised, but closer than ever to a sense of home. There, I formed the friendships that I know will underpin a lifetime of experiences, both inner and outer. Kindred spirits that I know will carry me through the trials and difficult times in life. And so now here I sit. Ten years into a life in Seoul. The city of my birth, but somewhere I'd never considered as a possible home. And though I've never felt less Korean, than the day I was actually surrounded by my own tribe, I've found a peace in this city of 25 million, that I was never able to attain in Calgary or Toronto. How is it that I can feel at home, in a culture that's so far off my inner compass,


it's not even on the map? Where I'm so far from most of my family and closest friends, that their physical presence is but a ghostly dream? It's taken living in 3 different cities, traveling to countless others, and most of my 43 years, to grasp the simple truth that home cannot be found in a physical place. Rather, that it resides within each and every one of us. And that when being within yourself is as comfortable as a well-worn pair of slippers, every place is Home. Shelley Lee calls Seoul home, but has set foot on the soil of 60 countries so far, writing about it all the way. Read more at

34 community Story by Rocio Cadena Photos by Kendrick Payne

A call to artists, creatives and makers

Quarterly series of events celebrating creators in Daegu and beyond


his past June in Daegu, the Alignment Society hosted Catharsis, the first in a series of quarterly events promoting the arts, community and culture. The Alignment Society is the collaborative effort of singer-songwriter Ami Kim and I. The intention behind the Alignment Society Project is to foster a supportive and dynamic community of artists and creators in South Korea, inclusive and accessible to both expats and Koreans. Art Scenes Back in my hometown of Chicago, I relished the vibrant arts community and the fantastic events they frequently held. I loved attending the array of events hosted throughout the city because I met diverse

and interesting individuals, ranging from creatives to art appreciators to those that were there to enjoy the ambiance. The old adage says that we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone, and this expression resonated upon moving to Daegu. I found myself wishing my new city of residence resembled Seoul with its plethora of museums, concerts, and art-oriented events. But, the truth is Daegu will never be Seoul. I quickly realized the art scene as I knew it was nonexistent, or at least not easily accessible to expats due to the language gap. Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate to meet individuals in that share a passion for creation and expression, leading to some great collaborations. One of those collaborations was with Ami Kim, the other half of this project, whom I

interviewed for my website. The conversation yielded a great friendship, and I often found myself expressing a desire for a non-pretentious, welcoming art environment both of us could be part of. Ami and I decided to start the Alignment Society to fulfill the need for an accessible creative and cultural scene in Daegu—one promoting a DIY approach towards art, community and collaboration. Catharsis Catharsis kicked off the Alignment Society series. The gathering was held in the famous Kim Kwang-Seok Music Road to showcase the work of local artists. Kim Kwang-Seok was a popular folk singer native of Daegu. Although he passed away in 1996 from committing suicide, he’s still


The Alignment Society Project seeks to foster a supportive and dynamic community of artists in South Korea, inclusive and accessible to both expats and Koreans

very much loved today. The alley paying tribute to his musical career is located in Daegu’s art district. Catharsis served as a platform to celebrate the launch of my first self-published book while featuring live music, poetry, visual art, and dance performances. The summer edition was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. Approximately 70+ guests attended the occasion to soak up art, share space and socialize over drinks. Beyond Daegu Event-goers gushed about the social, expressing how essential such events are to the Daegu community. As such, a similar affair to Catharsis will follow suit in October. While the event will still be held in Daegu, the Alignment Society is looking to

expand the programming and reach. Our goal is to expose and elevate the works of talented creators, whether foreign or Korean. From photographers, to painters, to poets, to performing artists, we want to feature a diverse set of art forms and mediums. We believe artists in Daegu and other parts of Korea can benefit from the platform offered by this project. Our vision is to establish a thriving and diverse creative community in South Korea. Anyone interested in partaking should send us a note to alignment.society.project@ The Alignment Society champions a safe and inclusive environment for people to express themselves freely. Everyone is welcome, whether you consider yourself an art connoisseur or not. See you at the next function!

36 community

Busan Drag Prom: Love is a Battlefield Fun and fabulousness in the port city

Story by Robert Michael Evans Photos by Robert Michael Evans


erformers and partygoers traveled from all over via train, plain, and automobile for the 6th annual Busan Drag Prom (BDP). Since its inception, co-founders and organizers Christy Swain and Joshua Weaver have organized Busan’s only annual (and ever growing) LGBTQIA event. Designed to be an “inclusive and safe space to celebrate life, love, and the freedom to be yourself,” this year’s prom teamed up with Busan’s Hard Rock Cafe to offer a more professional and high-profile atmosphere for partygoers. With a posh new venue and acts coming in from across Korea, what has remained is BDP’s commitment to charity.

BDP showcases “amazingly talented performers, not just drag queens: burlesque, bands, singers. All under one roof, for one purpose" The event supports QIP (Queer in Pusan, Busan’s first LGBTQIA university club), ISHAP (an non-profit which provides free and anonymous HIV testing and counseling), and Dding Ddong (Korea’s first shelter for LGTBQIA youth). This year’s event boasted BDP’s longest list of performers. With the beach vibes of Busan surrounding the venue, BDP made a hot start in the form of a fire hoop performance. Mia Rizzi, a hula-hoop artist and dancer from Daegu, greeted guests upon arrival with her fiery moves and charming stage presence. She was the girl on fire! Then, with a few

quick spins of her hoop, she extinguished the flames and the crowd moved indoors. People checked in and walked — many sashaying — up the eye-catching, grandiose staircase leading up to the two stages for the evening: the Terrace Stage and the Main Stage. The next form of entertainment to captivate the audience was the Lip Sync Battle, held on the Terrace Stage. It’s an essential inclusion for any drag event, one in which competitors are given a chance to show what new moves they have been working on in conjunction with their lip-syncing accuracy and lyrical emoting. Five competitors hit the stage: three drag queens, a bio queen, and a drag king. Even though the group was small, their diverse demographics and performance styles electrified the crowd. The Lip Sync Battle segued into a hypnotizing high-energy hour of burlesque performances from various Seoul artists. Spinning and shooting their way into the audience’s hearts, Seoul’s House of Tease brought an out-of-this-world aerial space pole duet and a seductive flower archery act to the Terrance Stage. House of Tease mother Flowerbomb Suicide (an international burlesque performer and SuicideGirl) was thrilled to have her team (which includes Seoul’s premier bearded Drag Queen Vanessica Carver and the adorableness of MaybeBaby) at such “an inclusive and momentous event for the LGBTQIA community in Korea. My heart is so full.” Busan Hard Rock Cafe posted an Instagram video of the House of Tease captioned, “Yes! It’s Haeundae, Busan. Not Las Vegas!” Yet, in Vegas style, entertainment occurred simultaneously on the Terrace and Main stages. On the Main Stage, bands played for both Hard Rock Cafe and BDP guests. With such a high profile location as the Hard Rock Cafe, a mix of people “accidently” found themselves smack-dab in the middle of all the BDP festivities.


38 community The inclusiveness of BDP was contagiously fabulous; everyone wanted to be a part of the evening. And when singer song-writer Cyrilia Lopez from Trinidad and Tobago took to the stage, the night hit a new high. Cyrilia’s awesome energy brought the mixed crowd together and everyone was prepared for the main event, the Seoul Queens. There had been so much build up to the main event that the audience’s appetite for a drag show was palpable and the Seoul Queens’ months of preparation were finally about to be realized. Seoul Drag Queens Cha Cha and Charlotte Goodenough played a crucial role in organizing the queens to perform in Busan. Cha Cha says, “In terms of organizing, we were asked whether we knew of

other queens who wanted to volunteer to perform. Once [the queens] were confirmed, it was all about communicating with [BDP organizers] daily on how to get eight queens at the same place at the same time.” Cha Cha jokes, “If you know drag queens, you'll know that that's no easy feat.” When specifically talking about the day-to-day, minute-to-minute organizing, Cha Cha credits her performance partner Charlotte and BDP organizers for all of the hard work and makes another joke saying, “I'm just happy if my socks match every day.” Cha Cha is incredibly modest about her involvement, which helped to guarantee the success of BDP. Cha Cha and Charlotte Goodenough allocated time during their performance to fellow drag queens Donna Moderna,

BDP showcases “amazingly talented performers, not just drag queens: burlesque, bands, singers. All under one roof, for one purpose.”


40 community


Big corporations and especially celebs in Korea need to follow in [Hard Rock Cafe’s] footsteps and proudly support the LGBT+ community

NarciSissy, Queenie, Nix, Vita Mikju and Kuciia Diamant. Cha Cha goes on to praise the “amazingly talented performers, not just drag queens; burlesque, bands, singers. All under one roof, for one purpose.” BPD has grown and developed so much since its humble beginnings. This year was all about transforming BDP into a higher profile event while still focusing on what Christy says is “creating the most fun and fabulous night for all participants” involved. Christy goes on to say, “This year [BDP organizers] took things up a notch or five with more performances, and a more public profile at Hard Rock Cafe.” The location of this year’s prom was also of huge importance to Cha Cha, who optimistically says, “Big corporations and especially celebs in Korea need to follow in [Hard Rock Cafe’s] footsteps and proudly support the LGBT+ community.” Her optimism is supported by the record turnout for the 2017 Korea Queer Culture Festival and there is talk of Busan having their own Korea Pride festival as well.

42 community This year was all about transforming BDP into a higher profile event while still focusing on “creating the most fun and fabulous night for all participants” involved.”


44 community The BDP organizers are hoping to get involved in Busan’s first ever Pride festival set to happen in October. “We are really excited that this is finally happening!” says Christy of herself and her team. She also talks about the possible hosting of lip sync/talent contests in the future. In addition to planning more LGBTQIA events in Busan next year, the BDP organizers say they have their eyes set on “raising more awareness and money for the charities we support.” With the growing support of LGBTQIA rights and the celebration of the people who occupy these spaces, the future of LGBTQIA events and acceptance in Korea is looking bright.

46 film

Politics, potboilers and poetry

Korean Movie Preview Septembe:r

Story by Gil Coombe Photos courtesy of HanCinema


he box office is starting to pick up for Korean movies in 2017, with both The Battleship Island and A Taxi Driver making storming starts to their theatrical runs. However, September looks set to be a rather slow month for Korean film, with school letting back in and people looking forward to the mammoth Chuseok break. However, here are three films that may be worth a trip to the local theater.

Film fans - remember to check The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) website regularly for updates on English subtitled screenings of Korean films occurring in Seoul. ( jsp) support the independent cinemas around Seoul KU Cinematrap ( Seoul Art Cinema (, CGV Arthouse ( Emu Artspace (



RELEASE DATE September DIRECTED BY Hwang Dong-hyuk STARRING Lee Byung-hun, Kim Yun-seok, Park Hae-il, Ko Soo, Park Hee-soon DISTRIBUTED BY CJ Entertainment

The distributor CGV Arthouse is currently doing a stellar job promoting smaller Korean films, so let's hope that films like The Poet and the Boy grab an audience

Star power is out in force in Namhansanseong (Namhansan Mountain Fortress, although it appears as if they will stick to the Korean transliteration for the English title), with five of the leading male actors vying to take center stage in this adaptation of Kim Hoon’s 2007 novel of the same name. Set in 1636, deep in the middle of the Joseon dynasty, King Injo (Park Hae-il) escapes to the titular fortress with this aides following an attack by the Qing dynasty. Isolated from outside contact and enemy soldier on his doorstep, two of his most influential advisors, Choi Myung-kil (Lee Byung-hun) and Kim Sang-hun (Kim Yun-seok) clash over the best course of action: surrender and attempt to negotiate or go out in a blaze of glory. On the margins of this ideological struggle, General Lee Si-baek is tasked with defending the fortress, and Seo Nal-sweh is a blacksmith outside the fortress trying his best to keep his life going in the middle of the turmoil.

Obviously, the three leads are the main draws here; three very accomplished actors sitting in close quarters barking at each other is not the worst prospect in the world. Lee Byung-hun is obviously the most high profile of the three, given his recent foray into Hollywood (The Magnificent Seven, Terminator: Genisys), and he’ll be looking to improve on the last time he suited up in period garb, Memories of the Sword, which bombed at the box office and which was low on inspiration and high on slow motion. For cinephiles, Kim Yun-seok (The Priests, Haemoo, The Thieves, Yellow Sea) may be the bigger draw, given that he has basically cornered the seedy anti-hero market over the last 5 years, one that Choi Min-sik used to dominate, while Park Hae-il will be hoping to recapture some of the heat he had circa The Host and Moss – he was serviceable in The Last Princess, but it the role itself was somewhat like the film itself – sturdy but colorless. The biggest question mark over the final product, however, is director Hwang Dong-hyuk, whose career so far can be characterized by its genre diversity (auteur theory be damned!). Coming into this big budget period piece, he has made (in reverse chronological order) a silly body swap comedy (Miss Granny), a true-life drama about child abuse (Silenced), and a low-budget multicultural melodrama (My Father). Though this does not give much an indication of how well he will handle political intrigue, arrows, and swords, it is clear that Hwang has an eye for what appeals to the audience, as all his films have been money-makers. It doesn’t look like that track record is going to change here.

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Memoir of a Murderer

RELEASE DATE September DIRECTED BY Won Shin-yeon STARRING Sol Kyung-gu, Kim Nam-gil, Seol hyun, Oh Dal-su DISTRIBUTED BY Showbox

If you were going to judge a movie on the creativity of its title, you wouldn’t be overly optimistic about Memoir of a Murderer, given that it sounds like a misremembering of a decade’s worth of Korean serial killer movies (Confession of Murder? Memories of Murder? Voice of a Murderer? Murder of a Murdering Murderer?). But given someone once said something about books and their covers, you put that out of your mind

Retired serial killers! Kidnapped children! Vengeful (?) ex-boyfriends! Alzheimer’s! It’s like someone set up a huge board with “plot contrivances” and threw darts at it.

The Poet and the Boy RELEASE DATE September DIRECTED BY Kim Yang-hee STARRING Yang Ik-June, Jeon Hye-jin, Jung Ga-ram DISTRIBUTED BY CGV Arthouse

Looking for something that is the polar opposite of the hoary genre clichés that Memoir of a Murderer is likely to be trading in? Well, why not give Korean independent cinema a go? Coming up this September is the debut of director Kim Yang-hee, who

has found herself promoted from assistant director of Days of Wrath and Love On-Air, two movies that are almost polar opposites, the former an action thriller, the latter a bright music biz comedy. The Poet and the Boy, however, is neither; Kim goes directly for the traditional indie debut grist of lowkey character study about – wait for it – a poet and a boy. Well, it may not be as simple as all of that, though it is hard to tell from the publicity released so far. The film follows mid-

dle-aged Jeju poet Hyun Taek-ki (played by Yang Ik-june; Canola, The Fake) who does not appear to be all that great at writing poetry. His unnamed wife (Jeon Hye-jin; The Merciless, The Throne, The Terror Live) is supportive as it goes, though she desperately wants a baby, and Taek-ki’s… um, little soldiers may not be up to the task. With his personal and professional life in stasis, Taek-ki one day meets a teenage boy (newcomer Jung Ga-ram) working at a local donut shop, causing him to reassess his life. And that’s about all the trailer tells us. However, in a year that has been marked by the constant fizzling of many mid-budget studio films, The Poet and the Boy will be hoping to attract filmgoers looking for something a little more human and grounded. The distributor CGV Arthouse is currently doing a stellar job promoting smaller Korean films, so let's hope that films like this grab an audience and keep Korean independent cinema in good health.



Baby Driver

when September 14 | who Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey

and decide to read the plot synopsis on (an awesome resource for Korean and Japanese movies I urge you to check out): In his past, Byeong-Soo (Sol Kyung-gu) was a serial killer. He now suffers from Alzheimer’s. Byeong-soo has a daughter, Eun-hee (Seol hyun), but he actually took her from one of his victims. One day, he remembers Eun-Hee's boyfriend Tae-joo (Kim Nam-Gil) approached Eun-hee to kill her. To protect Eun-hee, he fights to keep his memory and he plans to kill Tae-joo. Retired serial killers! Kidnapped children! Vengeful (?) ex-boyfriends! Alzheimer’s! It’s like someone set up a huge board with “plot contrivances” and threw darts at it. Here’s hoping that the final product is as bizarre and interesting as the movie currently playing in my head based on this outline. I wasn’t a big fan (to say the least) of director Won Shin-yeon’s A Bloody Aria and Seven Days, but I haven’t seen his most recent film, The Suspect starring Gong Yoo, which made decent coin four years ago and earned respectable reviews, so I will give this the benefit of the doubt. As usual, the presence of Sol Kyung-gu (The Merciless, Lucid Dream, Oasis, Peppermint Candy) will ease the pain if it doesn’t make the grade otherwise.


American Made

when September 14 | who Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright


Brad's Status

when September 21 | who Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Michael Sheen


Kingsman: The Golden Circle

when September 27 | who Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Channing Tatum



when September | who Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, John Malkovich

50 film

Busan International Film Festival Preview Story by Simon McEnteggart Photos courtesy of Busan International Film Festival

Cinematic smorgasbord in the Dynamic City

51 From October 12-21, BIFF will showcase highlights from the big festivals that have occurred throughout the year


he Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is gearing up for another spectacular edition, celebrating the world of cinema by bringing the best domestic and international films to the big screen for cineastes to enjoy. Running from October 12-21, BIFF will showcase highlights from the big festivals that have occurred throughout the year, combined with as-yet-undiscovered gems from around the world. As the extravaganza takes place shortly after the long Chuseok and Hangeul Day vacations, October promises to be a fantastic month for experiencing a variety of cultural fare from the peninsula. BIFF largely takes place in two main areas. The Centum City district is where the Busan Cinema Centre is located; the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as outdoor screenings and the year’s biggest films, will call this arena home. Located around the Cinema Centre are a host of cinema complexes including CGV, Lotte, and Sohyang that will screen the diverse array of film programming on offer. In and around the Cinema Centre will be a host of events related to the festival, with interviews with filmmakers and more taking place. In the Haeundae district, BIFF Village is located on the beach, where visitors can take part in the events on offer at the various pavilions while enjoying the sunshine. At the nearby Megabox theatre, independent films are screened for audiences to discover new and exciting talent. Shuttle buses regularly op-

erate and transport festival-goers between locations for free. Each year, BIFF presents selected films within categories that seek to highlight work from various regions. In the competitive New Currents program in which new Asian directors are celebrated, master filmmaker Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK, Snowden) will serve as head juror. Also commissioned as jurors are Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi (Words With Gods, A Flag Without A Country), French cinematographer Agnès Godard (The Golden Door, Bastards), Filipino director Lav Diaz (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, The Woman Who Left), and Korean director

Jang Sun-woo (A Petal, Resurrection of the Little Match Girl). While detailed information is still yet to be announced, further film categories include the Gala Presentation, which showcases the biggest and most discussed cinematic achievements of the year, A Window on Asian Cinema, which selects the best works from across the continent, and World Cinema, which screens renowned films from non-Asian territories. For K-film fans, Korean Cinema Today - Panorama and Vision contains the biggest and best films of the year, alongside new emerging talent, from the peninsula. As the films screen with English subtitles, these categories provide

52 film a great opportunity to catch up on the Korean cinematic achievements of 2017 for those who missed them on their initial release. For classic film fans, Korean Cinema Retrospective: The Legendary Star Shin Seong-il will undoubtedly be a hit. Referred to as the Korean Gregory Peck by director Park Chan-wook (Old Boy), actor Shin Seong-il debuted in 1960 in the classic drama Romantic Papa and went on to star in over 500 films throughout his illustrious career. The Retrospective will celebrate Shin’s achievements in Korean cinema by screening eight of his films, including The Barefooted Young (1964), Mist (1967) and Heavenly Homecoming to Stars (1974). BIFF 2017 will also likely have a special program in honor of Executive Programmer/Deputy Director Kim Ji-seok, who tragically passed away at the Cannes

Film Festival earlier this year. A founding member of the Busan International Film Festival, Kim worked for years to discover and promote Asian films and was one of the driving forces that forged BIFF into one of the world’s most prominent celebrations of cinema. BIFF has also announced that this year will host Asia’s biggest Virtual Reality (VR) cinema event. In a collaborative venture with Barunson Co., Ltd., BIFF will open a VR CINEMA venue for ten days at the Busan Cinema Centre and will screen more than 30 films under the banner of VR Cinema in BIFF. Film fans intending to visit BIFF are advised to book accommodation and transport early as venues and seats often sell out quickly. It is best to plan in advance to avoid disappointment.

October promises to be a fantastic month for experiencing a variety of cultural fare from the peninsula When October 12-21, 2017 Where Busan City (Centum City, Haeundae) Times Screening times vary. Check the website for details. Cost Ticket prices vary per screening. Website Transport Shuttle buses transport visitors between locations.

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54 music

Best showcase fest in the city Zandari Festa returns to Hongdae Sep. 29 - Oct.1

Story by Emma Kalka Photos courtesy of Zandari Festa



outh Korea’s top music showcase festival is back with bang, set to fill 10 venues throughout Hongdae with music from 120 bands from Korea and around the world. This year the lineup is made up of exactly half local acts and half international acts, emphasizing the festa’s goal of becoming a “truly global event.” Zandari Festa brings together music lovers, musicians and music industry officials from around the world and Korea for three days of showcases, parties and conferences in the heart of Korea’s indie music scene - Hongdae. In line with going more global, last year’s festival featured special British and French Nights, which were so successful that both are returning this year. On top of that, Zandari is adding a special Korea X Singapore collaboration showcase and an Asian showcase as the opening night act, according to Patrick Connor, part of the Zandari staff. This year’s Zandari is also broadening horizons by including midnight showcases focusing on hip-hop and electronica/DJs - a new addition as previous festivals had mostly focused on bands. Festival-goers will be able to party long into the night this year. Connor said that those who haven’t been to the festival can expect quality music from around the world and a good time, as it’s the “perfect place” to discover emerging talent from both Korea and around the world. “Oh, and they can expect beer too. Lot’s of beer. Zandari Festa is becoming famous on the international showcase circuit for it’s drinking/party culture,” he added. Outside of the music and parties, Zandari has always been a major opportunity for local acts to gain the attention of foreign music industries, often helping them land international tours and concerts. Rock band Dead Buttons was able to tour the U.K. and Europe because of Zandari, while roll ‘n’ roll/blues band Billy Carter landed a spot in music festival Primavera Sound in Spain this year. Rock band 57 also went on a U.K. tour last year and U.K. and European tour this year thanks to the connections they made at Zandari. “It’s a big party that gives you the chance to showcase how good you are to music fans and music executives and maybe grab an opportunity to play somewhere you haven’t been to,” said Kim Jiwon, vocalist for Billy Carter. Outside of the festival, Billy Carter also toured Europe, hitting up six cities in four countries. “Every show was different. Some were small and some were big, sometimes we met young and enthusiastic crowds who were dancing and singing along and some-

times we met calm but welcoming people who listened carefully to all the words I sang. And I can say that every single show was f***ing fantastic,” Kim added. Snow, the drummer from 57, said that for Korean bands, there are few opportunities to meet foreign bands and staff from overseas music companies, which is why Zandari is a great networking opportunity. It brings in lots of musicians and music industry professionals from around the world.

It’s a big party that gives you the chance to showcase how good you are to music fans and music executives and maybe grab an opportunity to play somewhere you haven’t been to - Kim Jiwon, vocalist, Billy Carter

“We’ve made good friends at Zandari each year that have helped us move forward as a band. We did a U.K. tour last year and a U.K. and European tour this year. They would not have been possible without the connections we made at Zandari,” the drummer said. Hong Jihyun from Dead Buttons said touring overseas - an opportunity gained from Zandari - changed his life. He added that besides being a “fun, big party,” it gives musicians the chance to take the next step in their careers. “They’ve been different every year. We’re growing as a band and the festival is growing up too,” Hong said. “The festival is getting stronger every year and is becoming better known here and overseas.” This means more delegates are attending, Korean bands are getting to meet more international bands, and more opportunities are being created for all artists at the festival. Outside of local acts, 60 foreign bands are coming in for the showcase festival, and many are eager to mix and mingle with the local scene. “We heard Zandari is the place where artists connect with each other, so we’re looking for inspiration and to make lots of connections,” said producer/synthesizer

player Shih Ting Tang from Taiwanese act Ruby Fatale. “We want the Taiwan underground music/art scene to interact with the Korean scene and hopefully touch a larger audience.” Shih Ting Tang describes Ruby Fatale as “electronic, glitch, atmospheric, cinematic and human,” adding that they incorporate various styles with the intent of making each song narrative and emotional. This is their first time playing at the festival, which they heard about from the head of South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. “He told us that Zandari is an awesome music festival and we jumped at the chance to play.” Iman, guitarist from Singaporean punk band Iman’s League, said he learned of Zandari while the band was on a previous tour of Korea. “We did our research and realized that the event has grown considerably in stature over the past few years and has the potential to be one of the leading festivals in Asia,” he said. “With musical acts from all over the world uniting in one festival, it will be an amazing learning and performing experience for us.” For Austrian band Farewell Dear Ghost, while it’s not their first time in Asia, it is their first time at Zandari. The band said previously they were overwhelmed by the audience’s reaction. They are grateful to be traveling to Korea and taking part in the festival, as well as sharing their emotions with so many different people. “Unfortunately, Korea and the Korean music scene is not very present in Europe or at least in the area where we are setting our marks. Therefore our inner pioneering spirit came to life when we hear about Zandari.” Zandari takes place from Sep. 29 through Oct. 1 at 10 venues around Hongdae. One pass will allow participants entry into all the festival venues. One-day tickets are 50,000 won while passes for all three days are 100,000 won. They can be purchased on Ticketlink. website

56 music

Fall into autumn music fests Whether you plan to travel or stay in Korea this fall, there is a music fest for you

Story by Emma Kalka Photos by Chris Lushner, Kitmin Lee, Grand Mint Festival, David Seeger (+ more)


ith summer coming to an end, music fans may be thinking that the time to catch a festival is over. However, they can rejoice, because along with (hopefully) cooler temps, there is a whole plethora of music festivals both here in Korea and around Asia during fall. And regardless of what your taste in music is, there is a little bit of something for everyone. Groove has compiled a list of some of the best music festivals in South Korea and around Asia this autumn.

World Club Dome Korea For those of you who still haven’t quite fully tickled your EDM funny bone this summer, there is yet another chance to do so at the first-ever World Club Dome Korea festival set to take place at the Incheon Munhak Sports Complex. Hosted by BigCityBeats, World Club Dome is an international EDM festival that starts each year in Frankfurt, Germany, and works its way around the world. The show in Korea is expected to be one of the biggest festivals in Asia. The

where Incheon Munhak Sports Complex when Sep. 22 - 24

lineup includes some of the hottest DJs in the world including Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, and Marshmello. Tickets are available for purchase on Interpark. Early Bird Club tickets are available for one through three days, priced at 110,000 to 200,000 KRW. Early Bird VIP tickets are also available for 160,000 to 320,000 KRW. VVIP tables are also available. website


Let’s Rock

where Nanji Hangang Park when Sep. 22 - 24

For those of the rock persuasion, the 11th volume of Let’s Rock is set to go down at Nanji Hangang Park. The festival includes a strong lineup of Korean favorites such as YB, Nell, Urban Zakapa, Zion.T, 10CM, Lee Seung-hwan, Sultan of the Disco, The Koxx, and John Park, all set to perform on three stages. Let’s Rock started in 2007 and is now one of the largest urban music festivals in Seoul. It has three concepts - Let’s Rock Therapy, Let’s Share Healthy Mind, and Let’s Love, Love, Love. Besides music, it also runs other campaigns including a bike-riding campaign and blood donation. According to the organizers, it is a festival that symbolizes youth, passion, and freedom where music fans can come and enjoy the rock spirit. The two-day festival has tickets available for one and two days on Interpark, both in English and Korean. Tickets are 77,000 KRW for a one-day pass and 119,000 KRW for a two-day pass. There will be a free shuttle bus available from World Cup Station, Exit 1 that will run at five-minute intervals. website

Slow Life Slow Live where Olympic stadium | when Oct. 7

Slow Life Slow Live is bringing the magic of the movies to Seoul this October. Set to take place at Jamsil Sports Complex, the outdoor festival features an orchestra performance of the music from La La Land, led by Justin Hurwitz and featuring a special jazz band and Ditto Orchestra. Following that will be Hans Zimmer Live, during which a 19-piece studio band, orchestra and choir will perform original soundtrack music composed by Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer. There are no seat reservations and the venue features three zones of seating on a first-come, first-served basis - SLOW ZONE (mats allowed), LIVE ZONE (standing only) and LIFE ZONE (seats on 1st and 2nd floors). Tickets are available on Melon Ticket for 135,000 KRW. facebook

58 music

Grand Mint Festival where Jamsil Sports Complex | when Oct. 21-22

Back for its 11th anniversary is the Grand Mint Festival, set to take place at Olympic Park. Beginning in 2007, Grand Mint Festival 2017 is touted as being more imaginative, more surprising, cooler, and bolder than it has ever been by the organizers. Not only will it feature music, but also artwork and story-telling, among other things. This year’s lineup features The Black Skirts, Daybreak, MIND U, MeloMance, Sam Kim, Soran, Standing EGG, Urban Zakapa, 10CM, and many more spread out over four stages and two days. Tickets are available on Melon Ticket and Interpark. Advance tickets are 138,000 KRW for both days. Online tickets are 99,000 KRW for one day and 158,000 KRW for two days. Tickets purchased at the festival gate will be 110,000 KRW for one day and KRW 170,000 KRW for two. website

Concrete & Grass Music Fest. china where Shanghai Rugby Football Club | when Sep. 16-17

Billed as “a place less ordinary,” Shanghai’s grooviest music fest is set to take place this September at the Shanghai Rugby Football Club - an intimate setting with a variety of music and “something for everyone,” according to the organizers. The festival is full of great bands, weird art, strange creatures, and fun distractions, say the organizers. It features everything from pop and emo to punk and metal, with a sprinkling of hip-hop and electronic music for good measure. Outside of the music, there is good food, craft cocktails, sports, art installations, games, bad puns, and a few other surprises that are thrown in every year. This year’s lineup features psychedelic rock band TOY, Chinese hip-hop artist Bohan Phoenix, Bronze Radio Return, Gallops, Motorama, Princess Nokia, Ringo Deathstarr, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, Spector, Vandetta, White, Endless White, Boys Climbing Ropes, Carsick Cars, Chaos Mind, Hiperson, Howie Lee, Shengxiang Band, Tzusing, David Boring, Dabozz, and Gacharic Spin, with more set to be announced later. Advance tickets are currently available - 220 RMB for students, 280 RMB for adults and 460 for RMB a two-day pass. There are also premium tickets that include a commemorative wristband, a voucher for special drinks, VIP festival entrance, access to the Fat Cats clubhouse and more. Prices are 308 for students RMB, 368 RMB for adults and 636 RMB for a two-day pass. Tickets are 290 RMB for students and 380 RMB for adults at the door. website

where Tokyo Odaiba Ultra Park | when Sep. 16-18

If you were unable to make the Ultra Music Festival when it hit Seoul in June, you can always take a short two-hour flight and catch the Tokyo edition. The festival is set to run for three days at Tokyo Odaiba Ultra Park. While part of the UMF international tour, regional supporting acts will differ, as will some of the headliners. Performing in Tokyo are Empire of the Sun, KSHMR, Pendulum, Underworld, Porter Robinson, Tchami, Carl Cox, Alesso, The Chainsmokers, Steve Aoki, Tiesto, Seth Troxler, and many more. UMF Tokyo will also have the Resistance Stage, which debuted this year, a futuristic stage featuring a variety of electronic dance music. Tickets are currently available for one day for 13,000 yen and 39,000 yen for three days. VIP tickets are only available for one day and cost 30,000 yen. website

Clockenflap hongkong where Hong Kong at Central Harbourfront | when Sep. 16-18

Probably one of the more unique festivals in Asia, Clockenflap is set to take place in Hong Kong at Central Harbourfront. More than just a music festival, Clockenflap also celebrates creativity through art and encourages attendees and participants to pursue creative passion and the joy of discovery and community. Its organizers say that success for them is measured in the experiences people have at the festival. This year’s outing includes performances by Massive Attack, Feist, MO, Supper Moment, The Dandy Warhols, Tinariwen, Cashmere Cat, Matthew Dear, Blossoms, Dean, Fan Hung A, Ibibio Sound Machine, Higher Brothers, Bob Moses, Hello Nico, Per Se, and many more. Phase 1 tickets are currently available. They are 1,620 HKD for all three days, 890 HKD for Friday, 960 HKD for Saturday, and 960 HKD for Sunday. At the door, tickets are 1,940 HKD for all three days, 1,030 HKD for Friday and 1,100 HKD each for Saturday and Sunday. Children aged 12 and younger are free. website

It’sTheShip asia

where Singapore Phuket, Thailand | when Nov. 17-20

Back for another year is Asia’s largest music festival at seas - It’s The Ship. Expect four days of non-stop music and activity while cruising from Singapore to Phuket and back on the Genting Dream, which has a waterslide park, spas, onboard cinema, mini golf, casino, over 35 bars and restaurants, and more. Not to mention over 70 percent of the guest cabins come with either a private balcony or an ocean view. While this year’s lineup has yet to be announced, previous cruises included the likes of Knife & Party, Far East Movement, Peking Duk, David Hasselhoff, Dada Life, Sunnery James, and more. When you book a cabin, it comes with not just accommodation, but also all meals in the Dream Dining Room and The Lido, all non-carbonated and non-alcoholic drinks, and entry to all It’s The Ship events on and off the ship and other general and complementary facilities. Cabin prices range from 648 USD per person up to 2,388 USD per person, and accommodation ranges from two-person cabins up to the deluxe suite that fits up to four people and comes with a private balcony. Currently, phase one early bird tickets are completely sold out. VIP tables and packages are also available. website


Ultra Music Festival japan

60 food&drink

Grillerz worth the pit stop Dark skies and bright stars in the heart of the mountains

Story by Monica Williams Photos by Christopher Saint Germain


exans have another reason to write home to Momma. A new barbecue restaurant in Seoul is serving up generous portions of pulled pork, spare ribs, pork belly, and beef brisket, prepared Texas-style (central Texas, to be exact). Grillerz, which opened in Mullae-dong in March, is the latest Western barbecue restaurant in the city, continuing a trend that began several years ago with the arrival of Linus’ Bama Style Barbecue and Manimal Smokehouse. Since then, the market has heated up and expanded, a sign that an appetite for Western barbecue might be here to stay.

Grillerz’ chef and co-owner Han Sangwook, a Korean native, has never been to the Lone Star state where barbecue is big, but he spent his high school years in Canada, where his host was a Texan pit master who taught him everything he knew at his Toronto barbecue joint. Unlike its Korean counterpart, Texas barbecue is smoked slowly in a pit over wood until the meat is so tender that it almost falls off the bone. Han cooks his meat the way it’s meant to be: smoking the brisket 16 hours, the pulled pork for nine hours and the ribs for four. As a result, Han’s meaty ribs are as tender and succulent as any you’ll have in the States. You can cover them in his tra-

ditional homemade barbecue sauce or an “Asian-style sweet and sour”, both served in cups on the side. Both sauces have a nice punch –I prefer the traditional-- but the ribs are good enough to eat sauce-less. The oak from the pit is evident in every bite. The brisket also is seasoned just right and the moist pulled pork, which is fittingly piled high in buttered buns, has just the right amount of tenderness. The menu is designed around platters, so there’s an opportunity to try all of the styles of meat. Take a friend –or three—as the platters are for two (28,000 KRW), four (54,000 KRW) or six (77,000 KRW) and the servings are generous. For now, single diners will have to eat hearty or take some of the meal to go. Each platter comes with a choice of regional sides like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, fried mac-and-cheese balls, cole slaw, French fries and chili. On our visit, fried mushrooms were a surprise entrée but could have used more seasoning as they were a bit bland. Of the sides, a better choice is the creamy macaroni and cheese, which is topped with a heap of homemade bacon bits or the chili that delivers a serious kick of spiciness that has brought complaints, even from gochuchang-loving Koreans. Cool things off with one of the three beers on tap or


Southern barbecue lovers have another reason to write home to Momma a Chardonnay or Cabernet from the wine list, a rare sight in a barbecue joint. The Spanish house wine is also a decent choice. Initially, the space housing Grillerz was just a tea cafe by day and a barbecue joint after 5:30. In recent weeks, it’s begun offering lunches of grilled cheese sandwiches or chopped steak from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and diners spill over into the café space in front. There’s no dessert on either the lunch or the dinner menu, but with all of those sides, who needs any? Grillerz seems to be a good fit in the space it has eked out in an alley of Mullae-dong, a light industrial area full of compact metalwork factories. In 2005,

the neighborhood began its transformation when artists began setting up studios in abandoned spaces next to small metal shops. Shop workers often stop by for a beer, mingling with the couples and groups of friends who dine there. In a nod to the neighborhood’s roots, the Grillerz dining room décor is dark in color, with an industrial feel. The handsome bar stools, benches and wine racks show off the piping acquired at the shop next door where they were built. “We looked around a bit for neighborhoods to go to,” said co-owner Wonsuk “William” Chung, who attended school with Han in Canada. “Barbecue is suited to the rough, macho style so we had to come here,” said Chung. For dinner, call ahead and get there well before closing time; the barbecue sells out on many nights. ADD Seoul, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Mullae-dong 3-ga, 58-24 TEL 02-2068-0214 HOURS 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch; 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. for dinner RECOMMENDED SIDES Macaroni and cheese with bacon bits, fries, grilled veggies INSTAGRAM @grillerz_rg

62 food&drink

Horangi The cozy tiger’s den Fusion food with a neighborly vibe

Story by Emma Kalka Photos by Emma Kalka

Though new, the place is often full on weekends with friends and customers who have quickly become regulars The alcohol on offer is a bit more diverse. Alongside the usual pocha drinks of beer and soju, there is also Okinawa soju and bottles of Jim Beam, Jameson and Hendricks. Plus Jim Beam high balls, gin and tonic, Jack and coke and Suntory whisky. One of the highlights of the limited food menu is malashangkwo (마리샹궈). Best shared between two people, the Chinese dish includes a smattering of stir-fried veggies along with mussels, shrimp and other

seafood. The dish is smothered in various spices, the most dominant being red pepper. Those with a weak tolerance for spicy food may struggle, but overall the dish has just enough kick for it to be enjoyable. Another popular dish according to the owners is chamgi naejang, or sea snails and tuna with cream cheese. The tuna and sea snails are best eaten dipped in the cream cheese – the cream offsets the saltiness of the seafood. It goes well with the wine on offer. But the shining glory of Horangi is its atmosphere. The owners often come around and sit down with the customers for a drink or two when there is nothing needing to be cooked or poured. It has the cozy vibe of a neighborhood pub with many customers comfortable enough to come in alone for a drink and a chat. Kim and Rah said they plan to start introducing live music sets, the first to take place on September 1. A local singer-songwriter who is a friend of the couple will play from 9 to 10 p.m. On November 11, a Japanese couple called Makim will play. The owners said there will be no set schedule for music – just whenever the opportunity arises.



hose who have lived in Korea are no strangers to the ever-ubiquitous pochas or Korean-style pubs/restaurants. But Horangi is something a bit different. Part Chinese/Japanese fusion restaurant, part cozy pub, the hole-in-the-wall joint sits on a corner about a five-minute walk from Hapjeong Station. At first glance, one might think it a diner or burger joint. There’s no separate kitchen – just an open stove and hood with a metal bar surrounding it that fits about six. In the main part of the restaurant, there are two tables and an elevated platform where customers can choose to have a more Korean-style eating experience. The walls are exposed concrete with a variety of tunes playing, though the owners – newlyweds Kim Dong-hee and Rah Sun-do – often stick to reggae or old school Korean and American pop. However, if asked nicely, they’ll take requests or let the odd regular connect their smart device to the Bluetooth speaker and play DJ. Kim usually takes care of the food, chatting with customers as he cooks. His wife takes care of the floor in general. The two just opened Horangi – which means tiger in Korean – about two months ago. Though new, the place is often full on weekends with friends and customers who have quickly become regulars. It’s a chill joint. There are no printed menus. Instead there are hand-written signs on the wall listing food and drink options. The menu is small, but includes mostly Japanese and Chinese fare, including Okinawa odaeng.

Horangi is open Wednesday to Monday. Doors open at 6 p.m. and there is no set closing time – just whenever things wind down for the night. Note that seating is limited and by 9:30 p.m. on a weekend night, most seats are full. But even if you do pop in alone, you will most definitely leave with a new friend or two. ADD Sunggi 3gil 23, Mapo-gu, Seoul TEL 010-5567-1637 HOURS 6:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m., closed on Tuesday RECOMMENDED DISH Okinawa odaeng (fishcake) 18,000 KRW WEBSITE

64 travel

Bike to

Story by Jenna Kunze Photos by Jenna Kunze


A 550-km journey across South Korea on the seat of a bicycle.

I'd never rode a bike further than to the next neighborhood over before I embarked on a cycling trip that would take me across a country I'd just moved to, with people I'd just met. The barometer with which I measure my decisions, I’ve learned, is outrageousness. I’m less apt to agree to anything less, and anything more prompts more careful consideration (like hiking Fuji in the middle of winter when the official trail is closed and all professional websites warn of imminent death). Usually, if I can’t propose an idea without laughing, or drawing a look of disbelief on someone’s face, I know I’m making a decision that aligns with my core values. This logic is what led me to work as a club promoter in Italy for a summer, to sign up for a marathon with only four weeks of training, and ultimately to ride a bicycle across a country where I’d just arrived, with someone whose last name I did not yet know.



e need to eat something every hour, or all of the sugar will deplete from our muscles and we’ll do this thing called bonking -- it’s like -- it’s when you just die, basically,” Matt said as he guided his bike by bracing the frame with his thighs, hands unwrapping a Binch cookie and passing it to me. For me, in the beginning, even lifting one hand off my handlebar to receive the food he had so confidently prepared for eating made my whole body ossify. But everything was harder in the beginning. I joined this 550+ kilometer bike trip across Korea over a vodka-infused conversation within an hour of meeting Matt a few weeks earlier. His presentation of the trip was so laissez-faire -- “Yeah I think I’m just going to go on this bike trail for a few days” -- that I was repeatedly shocked when he later swapped the word “biking” for its uppity cousin, “cycling,” referenced sport-specific vocab, and traded the Drake t-shirt I met him in for a singlet and shoes that locked into his pedals.

66travel The trail that connects Seoul to Busan is called the Four Rivers Trail, a name derived from, yes, the four rivers that string together the world’s longest biking trail. It was opened in 2011 as a 17 billion dollar undertaking.The trail follows the Han-gang, Daejeon, Guem-gang, Nakdong-gang, and Yeongsang-gang rivers, connecting the two largest cities in Korea, Seoul and Busan; the path also snakes through the fourth largest metropolitan area of Dageu. In the week leading up to the trip, I extended the invite to Haley, my new co-worker. She laughed at the proposition while exhaling a stream of cigarette smoke,

and said, “Sure.” “We probably won’t make it” is how I prefaced all conversations leading up to our trip. “It’s far, yeah,” I’d agree with every single person dubious of our absurd plan. Several blog posts from experienced riders who’d completed the trail (a favorite: the Cyclopaths) warned it would take five full days of hard biking to make it to Busan. We had four and a half. ”Not experienced, no,” I’d laugh at my own expense. “We’ll see how it goes…we probably won’t make it.” We began the trip around 2 p.m. on a Wednesday. We took the subway to the furthest eastern point of the trail accessible

by public transportation, Namyangju, and started biking. We didn’t stop for four and a half days. I mean, we stopped, of course. Just never for longer than an hour at a time during daylight, and only for practical reasons, like eating and sleeping (though in periods of delirium “practical” became more subject to interpretation). Biking became the constant, and I don’t think it’s at all dramatic to compare it to the reflexive behavior of breathing. With all the empty hours, we played word games, gave indirect character witnesses through stories (remember, we had all just met)


and pointed a lot. “Look at that field!” “Do you see that futuristic bridge that looks like it’s from a sci-fi movie?” I became more comfortable with one-handed steering for the express reason of needing to point so much. We drank water, and fought about not drinking enough water (me, always). I relished the fact that sugar was necessary to stave off, you know, “bonking,” and was happy to introduce gallons of Pocari Sweat, Coca Cola, and endless packets of cookies into a 4.5 day diet plan. With our contorted backpacks strapped onto our bike racks, Haley and I relied on Matt and his backpack, as well as

his orange singlet with pockets like a clown car. We’d buy entire boxes of cookies, granola bars, and sweet cakes and then promptly stretch the pocket out wide and dump them in. Lucky, too, because neither Haley nor I would have been nearly as regimented about our feeding times if not force-fed by Matt. “I can’t do it” Haley would moan as Matt coasted next to her, offering her another of the same type of cookie she’d eaten 35 minutes ago. At a five-month distance from the trip, I am not able to excavate many town names from my brain to describe the trail for prospective riders. Instead of town names, the

landmarks I remember are people, kind and peculiar, and odd places strung together to create a pictorial map. I can recall where we ate on a certain day based on distinct and visceral memories of how easy it was for us to walk at the time. I could draw you the floor plan of a chicken place we hobbled into for our third dinner because of the way we had to sit on the same side of the table and eat while sort of leaning against each other, taking pressure off of our butts and budding saddle sores. We followed the cartoonish four-leafclover logo that marks the Four Rivers Trail throughout the country.

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It was our North star, though directing us south, and there was at least a 24-hour period I would have gotten it tattooed on my body. Whenever hunger or nightfall required us to divert from the river path, in the morning we’d scour for the signs from a distance, looking for those four, multi-colored petals. The path itself was distinctive, too, putty red and worn, with the recognizable look of a high school track back in the States.

We took the subway to the furthest eastern point of the trail accessible by public transportation, Namyangju, and started biking. We didn’t stop for four and a half days. We often didn’t have to travel far to find lodging at night. Bikers have several options for accommodation along the trail. The most suitable are “love motels,” Korea’s gift to the motel industry, that charge by the hour and provide you with a condom and a room key upon check-in. Many bloggers have also written about camping at various campgrounds along the trail, for which we had neither the equipment nor the mule-pack carrying power. Also, there are pensions, which are traditional guesthouses where you typically sleep on a mat on the floor, where meals are provided. We stayed at love motels, which were the most abundant option, and the easiest to find in a new town. Every morning began the same, with a 6 a.m. but-we-will-sometimessnooze alarm, and each night finished with a beer over a hot meal. Tracking out of our motel, we’d leave behind various bottles and cans, weightless and teetering over the entire surface of a dresser. There were trees, my God there were trees, and so many rice fields of ice pop lime-green. Rice accounts for 90% of the total grain production from the 1.1 million farming

households in South Korea. The average cultivated area is 1.5 ha/ household, or 3.7 acres, so it makes sense for the technicolor fields to be a single looped scene when I think about the middle of the country. We called ourselves The Seouldiers, after sifting through even cornier team names. Almost just as we hit our stride on the third day, though, Haley was on a bus back to Seoul with a beer-can icepack on her knee (Matt’s solution to everything). It had been bothering her, which she stoically had not yet vocalized, and we were in for a day of hills. Hesitantly, disoriented by the breakup of our team, Matt and I pushed forward towards Daegu, and a forecast from hell. Our preliminary research outlined three hills we’d have to climb en route, and each had a slow incline that made the speed of my pedaling match the resistance building inside of me. My knees would sometimes lock and I’d have to gear down or fall off, both tactics I tried. Somewhere around the first hill,the highest peak between Seoul and Busan, Matt took out his phone in an act of solidarity. Kanye’s “Blood On the Leaves” became our blaring mantra, a sound that could only be heard from his feeble phone speaker if I was just behind him, which furthered my incentive to stomp against my wheels, swiveling my airborne hips from side to side for maximum momentum. “Fighting!!” was the first colloquialism I learned in Korean from climbing this hill. A phrase that is the Korean equivalent of “You can do it!!” I heard this affirmation again and again from Korean bikers whizzing past us downhill, and eventually started chanting it to myself. Today, it’s something my Korean co-workers sometimes drop on me before a hard task, and it makes me feel sick with nostalgia. It’s a word that sounds best when torn apart by wind and paired with a stranger’s smile. Of which we saw lots. Smiling strangers. The only time we didn’t stay at a love motel was the third night, when we met Jaekil and his family. It had rained all afternoon and the mountain was eclipsing the light, the next town anywhere between 25-75 km ahead. Matt’s iPhone map was so general, we never really knew distance, which was at once a blessing and a curse. So we asked these fellow bikers for directions; a man, his presumed wife, and their teenage son.

Breaking Down the Ride Along the trail, there are passport stamp booths where cyclists can check off where they’ve traveled. You can buy a book at Ara West Certification Center in Incheon. We didn’t do this, but the maps provided at each booth are a good way to track your progress, and can be referenced for directions. Day 1 | half day / 30.4 km Namyangju-Yangpyeong It’s worth mentioning that the official trail begins in Incheon, but we took the subway directly to Namyangju in Seoul and began there because of our time constraints. If you are coming from Incheon, the natural stopping point for the first night seems to be Yeonju, 150 km in. Enjoy this bit while it lasts, because there are more roadside convenience stores than you will ever see again. We followed the Han River to Yangpyeong, the first town along the way. Here, we got off, and rode with a crew of South African women to the center of the town where we sought out our first love motel. Motels can easily be distinguished by their logo that appears as a circle with fire rising out of it. We ended up getting overcharged; I think we each paid 20,000 KRW, since we were sleeping three in one room, which happened again the second night. A tip: sneak your third person in after you’ve already paid. Day 2 | 130.5 km Yangpyeong-Oncheon It was a lovely ride out of Yangpyeong through the early morning fog. Stopped a bunch. No killer hills. This day was long distance, and we didn’t reach the town of Oncheon until after nightfall. Again, plenty of love motels offered accommodation. Again, paid more than we should have.

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Biking became the constant, and I don’t think it’s at all dramatic to compare it to the reflexive behavior of breathing. They were all wearing slick ponchos that covered both themselves and their belongings, and urged us to follow them. Which we did, to a biker’s pension, down a half-mile dirt road and into a community of bikers. We ate a kimchi and rice dinner with Jaekil and his family, and the next day a breakfast of the same food. He drew us a map on scrap cardboard that now hangs on my wall as a memento, all in Korean, of how to bypass an upcoming mountain to save time on our next day’s journey. Of all the days that bleed into one another on the trip -- What town did that sales woman put her hand on my shoulder and lead me into her private bathroom? Where did we get lost and senselessly summit that mountain? -- the stand-alone distinction was the fourth day. From the time I opened my eyes on Saturday morning -- not to the usual alarm symphony, but to pelting raindrops on the thin roof above -- I can recount each, drenched detail. It wasn’t just raining, it was pouring. The same rain that came down like a faucet on full came back up through tires and created spin-art designs of dirt on our legs. This day would be the tell-all day to makeup time and make it to Busan -- or not. So, we packed our still-damp-from-hand-washing clothing, and headed out. We agreed that stopping would only make us colder, so our first break was out of necessity to re-stock on fluids. We landed just off the trail in nowhere land Korea, at a no name Korean convenience store with Port-a-Potties out back and outdoor seating on a plastic-encased deck. The ajumma that worked there was not concerned for her floors, which were now specked with fat splats of water and muddy footprints. Instead, she simply could not understand why we weren’t wearing jackets. When we arrived, while we ate, and before we left, she spewed Korean at us, wildly

gesticulating and rubbing each arm with the other hand so fast she was a blur of motion. “Busan” we told her, pantomiming biking, which only made her more confused and distressed. It seemed the closer we got to Busan, the more skeptical the townspeople we encountered were about our making it. The look on her face indicated doubt and bewilderment. Worried now about our mental states in addition to our physical ones, she followed us out, as if to make sure the biking thing was real, and waved in big half-rainbows as we walked our bikes back the way we’d come. Getting back on my wet, cold bike while my muscles twitched and jittered with clear warnings signs was easily the lowest point of the trip. “I didn’t think you were going to make it from there,” Matt would later admit to me. “You looked pissed.” And I was. I was that unshakable, unavoidable cold that could only be thwarted with a hot shower and layers and layers of clothes. Too hot or too cold was, in my opinion, the easiest “would you rather” question to answer. Sure, you can always put layers on when you’re cold, but can’t take em off when you’re hot. Even still, there’s the irreversible quality of being cold -- on a ski slope, camping, on Justin Bregman’s basement floor with no blanket -- severe and vulnerable, that just isn’t present in summer months. To resurrect my cracked spirit, Matt invented a hot pack at our second stop that would save our lives, if not nearly sear off our skin. Into an empty aluminum coffee bottle, he filled hot water. It was too hot to touch without first wrapping your shirt around it, which we took turns doing for the rest of the day while biking. Another necessary cause for one-handing it. We would also do this thing, I forget what Matt called it (maybe crushing it?), where we’d pedal as fast as we could for

several minutes to get our muscles warm and blood circulating to all the vital places. We talked about everything but the rain. At one point, we happened upon a bike museum. No kidding. We had to stop, we couldn’t stop laughing, and the museum’s curation killed us. The building was a massive structure, with lots of empty space, and still life portraits under heavy spotlights of three-gear bikes just like mine. We knew we’d make it to Busan by the morning of the last day. Just 160 km away. I was struck by the change of the trees the further south we went. Once woody and large, these southern trees were stout, with big knobby growths on their sides. There were roadblocks, sure. Often literally. Just three hours from Busan, the whole trail was closed off by flooding and

better. But for every hard thing there were 10 gifts -- the full-figured and sweet tasting apples Haley picked directly off a tree, the kind man that turned around, stopped his car, and came out into the rain to ask us (in broken English) if we needed directions, the weird exchange of snacks and then testosterone between Matt and this Korean male biker who proceeded to race him a mile ahead of me, the man perched on a guardrail, fishing. We were in Busan for just three hours before we had to board an overnight bus back to Seoul for work the following morning. We ate pizza on plastic porch chairs outside of a shabby place advertising photos of corn on their pizza. We could have eaten anything, and it would have tasted like Michelin stars themselves. We drank beer on the subway to the bus terminal, and remarked at how unfit for public transportation we were. There was a definite feeling of not caring, of being taken with myself, of holding on tight to this accomplishment. Do you know what I did to come here? I rode a fucking bicycle, that’s what. I operated a mechanism with my body for more than four days that got me here. I turned pedals with my perpetually-sore, closed-fist muscles. I wore the same two sports bras and shorts for five days. I memorized the distance in kilometers (587), and got ready to tell everyone I knew. “Be careful,” I said to the deaf ears of the Korean man who swung my bike into the cargo container underneath the coach bus. And with that, I limped onto the bus back to Seoul to retrace 4.5 days of biking. Total driving time: 4 hours.

Day 3 | 103.3 km Oncheonnear Mullyangni Here’s your day of hills. The highest elevation (1671 m) on the trail is at Ihwaryeong certification center, which is a tough uphill we hit midday after our false start with Haley and the time spent taking her back to Oncheon to catch a bus. The downhill stretch leads you gliding into the Gyeongsangbuk Province. At night, we slept at the biker’s pension near Mullyangni. We were able to wash our laundry in buckets here, which was nice and necessary. Day 4 | ~ 136.8 km (not exact because Matt forgot to turn the GPS on for a bit) Mullyangni- Ha-ri This was the day we had to make up a ton of time. From Mullyangi, we were on straightaways all morning, and for the better part of the day. These are the best, because you don’t have to worry about whether or not the trail has changed. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to have Google Maps [I also suggest Naver Maps because it has an overlay of the bike paths you can consult. Ed.] and frequently reference it to make sure you’re always following the river. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get turned around and no longer know if you’re going north or south. This day you will pass through Daegu, and on to Sangju Bicycle Museum, which I recommend. I really recommend. That night, we slept in Ha-ri, which was a cool international city with lots of different types of food (though we still ate fried chicken) from international communities. Seeing the different cities (and the countryside) throughout Korea was a highlight of the trip. Day 5 | 146.8 km Ha-ri- Busan We spent a lot of time riding on the highway this day because of all the flooding. Also the detour took us up over another mountain and through a village you wouldn’t ordinarily go through. You’ll see skyline for a while before you hit Busan, which was a source of incentive and frustration for us. Drink water, always be drinking water. Even (and especially) when you’re not thirsty. Carry a small bike kit; Matt had this and it saved us several times, along with several other bikers. You’ll need to pump air into your tires at least twice throughout the journey. Also, buy bike shorts. I am screaming this. We all had them, and our butts still took a major beating, so I can’t imagine where we would have been without the extra layer of cushion. We also had baby powder which we kept in our shoes and also applied directly to our butts and thighs every day to mitigate chaffing. Total distance 548 km (the whole trail is about 609 km) 32 hours total time on the bike In the 4 full days, we averaged 7.6 hours of biking/day.


we had to follow verbal directions from the Korean girls holding traffic signs, up over yet another hill to reconnect with the non-submerged trail. It was like being told you have school on a Saturday. In retrospect, I love this part of the story for two reasons. First, because it emphasizes just how much it poured on the day of hell. Flooding you’d have to see to believe, entire bits of our established trail just blipped off the radar, swallowed whole by the river alongside the path. Then, because it speaks to the larger theme of the trip, which focused on the going, and disregarded the arriving. At no point on the trip were any of us like “Huh, this is easy. Should really do this again sometime…” It wasn’t ever easy, and at some points, it wasn’t even fun. There was the getting lost, and the going the wrong way, the losing Haley, and the unsightly development of saddle sores on our butts and thighs from the precarious extended positions we were putting them in. There was my sailing over handlebars in the countryside when an ajumma doubled back to her car without looking. There’s the chunk still missing from Matt’s knee from falling hard and fast on gravel while talking about his weed habits at high school. But this, these, that -- the farm towns, the accidents, the roadside attractions -- these were the trip. So to be spitting distance from Busan and to be told that, no, actually, our plan needed re-calibrating, the distance to our destination was now being doubled and, “Do you see that mountain over there? Yup, the big one. Gotta go over it.” Couldn’t have scripted it

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Korea’s Inland Island Dark skies and bright stars in the heart of the mountains

Story by Zev D. Blumenfeld Photos by Christopher Saint Germain



t’s 10 pm on a summer night in Seoul. The heat of the day lingers, abating only slightly to a breeze. Pedestrians walk along the sidewalks, staring into smartphone screens, passing through pools of white light that stream from the storefronts of countless cafes, convenience stores, and cell phone shops. Nearby, boxy subway cars rattle along an overpass, cutting through the sallow tinge of the night sky. It's late, but the streets in Seoul won’t sleep for at least another four hours and, even then, the streetlights jutting above every block and the whirs of traffic slithering through the concrete jungle have tamed any sliver of the natural night. To most people, finding a clear night sky for stargazing in Korea sounds like a pipedream of the past—an impossibility lost to the sweaty grip of industrialization. But is it really?

The mystical scenery around Yeongyang engages the senses; in this pristine environment, visitors might think they’re in another country entirely. Tucked away deep in the Taebaek Mountain range is the county of Yeongyang, an area so remote and untouched that locals have dubbed it Korea’s “Inlet Island.” Lush forests span across the tops of towering mountains with chiseled, stone faces. A quiet road hugs the mountain’s base, snaking back and forth through the valley, twisting past farmland. White cranes stand in the vibrant green rice paddies, searching for food. Come nightfall, fireflies begin their dance below the starry skies, on the hunt for marsh snails. Overhead the Milky Way is visible, even to the unaided eye. The skies in Yeongyang are so clear that in 2015 the county received international recognition after being certified as a silver-tiered location by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), a non-governmental group founded by astronomer, David Crawford.

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The skies in Yeongyang are so clear that in 2015 it was certified as a silver-tiered location by the International Dark Sky Association What makes the experience at the Starlight Campground special is the depth of Sukyang’s knowledge about the area and her active commitment to the environment. Despite her busy schedule, she finds time to organize the Yeongyang chapter of the IDA and was instrumental in bringing international recognition to the Yeongyang Ecological Firefly Park in 2015. Her efforts have helped to prevent the construction of factories and dams in the area, thus keeping the Yeongyang skies around 40 times cleaner than those of major Korean cities. “Less than 100 years ago, everyone could look up and see a spectacular starry night sky. Now, millions of children across the globe will never experience the Milky Way where they live,” she says. The Starlight Campground is situated near many hiking trails and streams. For the explorers willing to disconnect from Google Maps and wander off, finding a trail from the main road takes a matter of minutes. Some of these paths become steep climbs to the picturesque vistas of the Suha Valley, while others dead-end at family burial mounds. For the adventurous, the area quickly

transforms into a playground of exploration. (Sukyeong did insist we wear boots and carry a walking stick to ward off any snakes.) If guests decide to head down the road towards the town of Yeongyang, they will find points at which they can access the local stream. The water is clean enough to go swimming, though not necessarily warm enough. But the archaic feel of these untouched, glassy streams is too alluring to pass up. Search hard enough, and you might find the section of the stream where the water has cut through the stone on either side. The stream narrows and deepens. It feels like another time period. The trench opens up into a pond about 20 meters downstream. The Yeongyang Firefly Ecological Park features an observatory with nightly viewings of the skies. Depending on the night, Sukyeong can arrange transportation to the observatory at the Yeongyang Firefly Ecological Park. It’s a couple kilometers away from the campground and would otherwise be a dark walk. The current guide at the observatory speaks English and happily answers any questions visitors may have. A digital star show is also available for visitors for 2000 KRW. During the day, the 390-hectare (963acre) park is open for hiking. The Starlight Campground is divided into two sections with 27 campsites in total. In June, most campsites were vacant; however, the summer months are busier. Those looking for a rustic or dispersed camping experience will be disappointed, as the campground does not offer much privacy. But it does make for a great place to meet other campers and play with Sukyeong’s puppy, Bandi. There are restrooms on-site,


Yet Yeongyang has remained a hidden gem—and for good reason. Public transportation to the area is sketchy at best and, when attempting the trek, visitors must rely on irregularly scheduled local buses. This means it’s possible to wind up waiting for hours on the side of the road. Luckily, an alternative exists for those interested in visiting the Inlet Island. Sukyang Seong, a local resident and professor of literature at Andong National University, runs the Yeongyang Subi-myeon Starlight Campground. She and her husband have taken on the role of “preservation messengers,” channeling their passion for nature into their campground. Visitors interested in staying at the campground can coordinate with Sukyang for transportation from Andong Station to the Starlight, located in the Subi-myeon township.

and if traveling during one of the cooler months with only a jacket and tent (like a certain stingy Groove contributor), then visitors can appreciate the shower room complete with hot water. The mystical scenery around Yeongyang engages the senses; in this pristine environment, visitors might think they’re in another country entirely. With such a rare environment in Korea, it’s surprising Yeongyang hasn’t yet transformed into a hotbed for tourism.

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Pequeño Seoul : A Little Slice of Korea in Mexico City

Exploring one of the world’s lesser known Koreatowns


hen I left Korea back in March, I had no idea that a highlight of my travels would be visiting a place called Pequeño Seoul in Mexico City. Having lived in South Korea for almost 3 years, I had started to miss a lot of things about the country that I had called home for so long. I missed hearing K-Pop blaring in the cities and that irreplaceable taste of gochujang in every meal. So, when I discovered that I could have all the “home comforts" of South Korea in Mexico City, I knew I had to take advantage. Pequeño Seoul is the nickname given to Zona Rosa, a neighbourhood with a high population of Korean expats in Mexico City. Pequeño is the Spanish word for small, so its name translates directly into English as “little Seoul.” True to its title, Pequeño Seoul has all the restaurants and businesses you’d expect a mini Korea to have. If you’re a Korean traveler looking for a kimchi fix, or just a nostalgic ex-expat looking to reminisce, this is a worthwhile place to visit that’s conveniently located close to the city’s central business district. On my visit to Pequeño Seoul, I was on a mission for two things: bibimbap, and facemasks. As I walked in the direction of Zona Rosa, I noticed the increasing presence of hangeul; something that was so part of my everyday life in Korea but had been strangely absent since leaving. Sounding it out in my head, I was pleased to realize that, much like riding a bike, reading hangeul might be a skill I'll struggle to lose. I knew we had reached the center of Pequeño Seoul when I walked past a galbi restaurant and saw groups of young Koreans passing round bottles of soju, sharing bowls of naengmyeon and grilling their meat to perfection. After months of craving it, a mecca of gochujang and soju was right at my feet! Zona Rosa is filled to the brim with Korean restaurants; from huge Korean

barbeque joints to Korean-style Chinese restaurants right through to tiny family run places with a menu much larger than their small size would suggest. One thing I did expect to find in Pequeño Seoul but didn’t was a ubiquitous Korean fried chicken shop so if anyone is looking to start a new life in sunny Mexico, there’s a huge gap in the market that’s eager to be filled! After leaving Korea, I visited a few Korean restaurants in the UK and left feeling disappointed every time.

Biking became the constant, and I don’t think it’s at all dramatic to compare it to the reflexive behavior of breathing. Inauthentic food that didn’t resemble anything remotely Korean and kimchi that, shock horror, I had to pay for, left me thinking that there was no good Korean food outside of the peninsula. So, after placing our order – bibimbap for me and haejangguk and jjamppong for my guests – my eyes lit up as the waiter brought a tray full of complimentary banchan to our table. (As it always should be!) The food tasted exactly like it did in South Korea and would have been perfect had the egg on my dolsot bibimbap been left to cook in with the rice, rather than fried. A tiny fault to pick in an otherwise great meal. Being in Koreatown, we had to water our meal down with a bottle of soju which cost the equivalent of 6,500 won. Not quite as cheap as you’ll be used to in Korea but

much cheaper than I’ve seen in other countries. Taking my first sip of soju again was strangely pleasant, especially in comparison to the strong Mexican spirits I’d become accustomed to drinking. As I swallowed it, I was waiting for a deep burn that would extend from my throat down to my stomach but, surprisingly, it went down smoothly. Who knew that all it would take for me to become a soju master was two months on the harder stuff! Even with the notable absence of fried chicken, the dining options still extended beyond the usual barbeque and soju that you’d expect to find. In keeping with theme of Pequeño Seoul, the area even had Korean style coffee shops and a “Paris Café” that looked remarkably similar to Paris Baguette. It seems that even in Mexico, French-themed, Korean-run coffee shops have no sign of dying out. The coffee shops had all the classic drinks that are popular in Korea such as green tea lattes, iced Americanos and even bubble tea, along with typical treats like honey bread and bingsu. While these cafes didn’t look particularly Korean on the outside, it’s easy to tell from the menu exactly who they’re trying to please. Restaurants aren't the only Korean thing that you'll find in Pequeño Seoul and female travelers will be glad to hear that both a Tony Moly and a Missha call this neighborhood home. Going back to my original mission to find bibimbap and sheet masks, I was ready to conquer the cosmetic stores. The first store we came across was Tony Moly, and I was excited to see the latest innovations in Korean beauty products and, of course, some sickly sweet packaging. When I entered, I was greeted by a shop assistant and told her that I was hoping to treat myself to some new sheet masks. As she pointed me in the direction of a new makgeolli sheet mask, she explained what makgeolli is and the benefits


78 travel it would have for my skin. I had to laugh to myself, secretly knowing how acquainted I’d become with makgeolli while living in South Korea. Even though makgeolli is definitely not a new thing to me, I couldn’t leave without buying one for nostalgia’s sake, along with a green tea mask and a tea tree mask. The next cosmetic store that we stumbled upon was Missha, which had a huge window display for their new Frida Kahlo compact: something I consider to be almost as perfect a pairing of Korean and Mexican cultures as galbi tacos and soju margaritas! Throughout my time in Pequeño Seoul, I wondered about the lives of these Korean expats – how they adjusted to non-Korean life in a completely foreign country. I drew parallels to my own life settling into South Korea: a country that was, then, completely foreign to me and questioned whether their experiences were the same. In the restaurant, I'd notice how the Korean owners and the Mexican waiting staff seemed separated from one another. While the Mexican staff would wait the tables, taking orders for Korean food in Spanish, the Korean owners would oversee business, conversing with one another in

Although the younger generation was immersed in Mexican culture, their style of dress remained completely the same as back home. Korean, with their eyes fixed on the K-Dramas on TV. However, things weren’t completely segregated. I saw some younger mixed couples and even some Korean tutors teaching their language to Mexican students. As I observed them, I wondered how long they had been there, how they had come to live there, and which nation’s culture they identified more closely with. Although it seemed like, in many ways, the younger generation was immersed in

Mexican culture, their style of dress remained completely the same as back home. In most cities in Latin America, it’s rare to see anyone, except tourists, wearing shorts, mini-skirts or open toed shoes. When I first arrived, I joked that it was like the exact opposite of being in Korea where wearing a tiny skirt with a conservative long-sleeved blouse is the norm, even in schools and offices. Arriving in Pequeño Seoul and seeing girls wearing short summer dresses with t-shirts underneath along with chunky metallic sandals was a huge change to what we had been used to. Even the Korean guys dressed similarly to guys in Korea. Some were smartly dressed with huge framed glasses accessorizing their impeccable outfits and others lounged around in track pants and sandals that looked suspiciously like the 3,000 won Daiso classics! Although the surrounding areas and the surrounding people very much represented Mexico, this little hub was obviously Korea: the people, the businesses and the mindset. It was as though they had picked up their lives in Seoul, and brought them untouched to this tiny little neighbourhood in Mexico City.


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American Embassy (02) 397-4114 • 188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul

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

Seoul Samsung Hospital 1599-3114 • 50 Irwon-dong, Gangnamgu, Seoul


Canadian Embassy (02) 3783-6000 • (613) 996-8885 (Emergency Operations Center) Jeongdonggil (Jeong-dong) 21, Jung-gu, Seoul

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

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

Somerset Palace Seoul (02) 6730-8888 • 85 Susong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

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


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, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

HOTELS & RESORTS Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul (02) 2250-8080 • San 5-5, Jangchungdong 2-ga Jung-gu, Seoul

Park Hyatt Seoul (02) 2016-1244 • 606 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Lotte Hotel Busan (051) 810-1000 • 772 Gaya-daero, Busanjin-gu, Busan Park Hyatt Busan (051) 990-1244 • 51, Marine City 1-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan 612-824, Korea

Airlines Korean Air 1588-2001 Asiana Airlines 1588-8000 Lufthansa (02) 2019-0180 Garuda Indonesia (02) 773-2092 •


Jeju Air 1599-1500

Gangnam St-Mary’s Hospital 1588-1511 • 222 Banpo-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul

T’way Air 1688-8686

Yonsei Severance Hospital (Sinchon) (02) 2227-7777 • 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

British Airways (02) 774-5511

Seoul National University Hospital 1339 • 28-2 Yeongeon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Delta Airlines (02) 754-1921

Jin Air 1600-6200

Yongsan Intl. School (02) 797-5104 • San 10-213 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Seoul Intl. School (031) 750-1200 • 388-14 Bokjeong-dong, Sujeong-gu, Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do Branksome Hall Asia (02) 6456-8405 • Daejung-eup, Seogipo-si, Jeju Island Daegu Intl. School (053) 980-2100 • 1555 Bongmu-dong, Dong-gu, Daegu \

Dulwich College Seoul Dulwich College Seoul offers an exemplary British-style international education (including IGCSE and IBDP) for over 600 expatriate students aged 2 to 18 from over 40 different countries. 6 Sinbanpo-ro 15-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Korea. 02-3015-8500

Cathay Pacific Airways (02) 311-2700

Emirates Airlines (02) 2022-8400




j ay ' s h a i r d r e s s i n g

Trained at

Toni & Guys and Vidal Sassoon Academy, Professional Experience in UK 070-4227-6158

010-3172-3177 2F 206 Itaewonro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 10:30 am – 8:30 pm

Our mission is to help you achieve beauty and harmony in your lifestyle.

Our stylists are carefully trained in advanced techniques to bring out best in your hair.

We guarantee you will receive professional service.

Subway Line 6

Itaewon Station 3

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FAMILY & KIDS Eton House Prep (02) 749-8011 • 68-3 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul A unique British-style Prep School for children of all nationalities from 2-13 years of age. A broad, challenging and innovative curriculum preparing pupils for senior school and life beyond. / AMUSEMENT PARKS Everland Resort (031) 320-5000 • 310 Jeondae-ri, Pogokeup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do Lotte World (02) 411-2000 0 • 240 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul Pororo Park (D-Cube city) 1661-6340 • 360-51 Sindorim-dong, Guro-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 BOOKSTORES What the Book? (02) 797-2342 • 176-2, Itaewon 1-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul • Located in Itaewon, this English bookstore has new books, used books and children’s books. Kim & Johnson 1566-0549 • B2 fl-1317-20 Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul

HEALTH Tower Urology (02) 2277-6699 • 5th fl. 119 Jongno 3-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul DENTAL CLINIC Boston Dental Clinic General dentistry / Periodontics / Orthodontics (02) 3482-0028 • 92-12 5F, Banpo 4-dong (Seorae French Village), Seocho-gu, Seoul Ophthalmology Dream Eye Center The best eye clinic for LASIK and LASEK. 3,000+ foreign patients over 20+ years of experience with 0 complaints. If you're considering getting this, make sure to choose the best. • 1588 9881 • 14 fl., Mijin Plaza, 825 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Animal hospitals Chunghwa Animal Hospital / Korea Animal Transport (02) 792-7602 • 21-1 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, 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 ORIENTAL MEDICINE Lee Moon Won Korean Medicine Clinic Don’t know where to take your kids on weekends? This museum exhibits a (02) 511-1079 • 3rd fl., Lee&You bldg. 69-5 snapshot of the world and animals. Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Specializes in hair loss and scalp problems and National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea offers comprehensive treatments and services (02) 2188-6000 • 313 Gwangmyeong-ro, including aesthetic and hair care products. Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do


Hair & Joy Trained at Toni & Guy and Vidal Sassoon Academy in UK Color, Perm, Magic Straight, Treatment and more English Spoken For more info, call Johnny Tel 02.363.4253 Mobile 010.5586.0243 3rd fl. 168-3 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu Hair & Joy

Lotte Cinema Samsung Plaza

Qunohair Gangnam / Apgujeong Branch Tel 02.549.0335 10-6, Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul


Hongik Univ. Station

Line Line #2 #2

Cosmetic surgery Leeum Samsung Museum of Art MIZAIN plastic surgery (02) 2014-6901• 747-18 Hannam-dong, Seoul National University College of Yongsan-gu, Seoul • 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Medicine graduate doctors offer the best Closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Lunar quality medical services • (02) 515 6199 • New Year and Chuseok holidays. Dosan-daero 423 (Cheongdam-dong 91-11), Gallery Hyundai Gangnam-gu, Seoul • (02) 734-6111~3 • 22 Sagan-dong, Jongno-gu, MVP plastic surgery Seoul • The first specialized art gallery in Welcoming environment for foreigners and Korea and accommodates contemporary art. • friendly staff guarantees a pleasant visit for 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed on Mondays, New Year’s cosmetic surgery related consultations. Day, Lunar New Year and Chuseok holidays. (02) 3442 6669 •Nonhyeon-ro 819, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Plateau JK plastic surgery center (02) 1577-7595 • 50 Taepyung-ro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Experience the best medical system in Korea. Seoul • 10 a.m.-6 p. m. Closed on Mondays. Its superb system allows the minimum efforts National Museum of Modern and for your medical experiences.• (02) 777 0337 Contemporary Art, Seoul • 584-2 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (MMCA SEOUL) FITNESS (02) 3701-9500 • 30 Samcheong-ro, Sogyeok-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul Exxl Fitness Gangnam Finance Center, 737 YeoksamDaegu Art Museum dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul • (053) 790-3000 • 374 Samdeok-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu • Art space for local UROLOGY & OB culture presenting Daegu’s contemporary fine Sewum Urology arts and internationally renowned artists. (02) 3482-8575 • 10th fl., Dongil bldg., 429 Gangnam-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul

The most personal care for life’s most personal issues confidentality guaranteed | STD Testing

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10F Dongil Building 429. Gangnam-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Korea 02-3482-8575 / 010-3811-8575 (English Speaking Counselor) Mon - Fri 10:00am - 6:00pm / sat 10:00am - 3:00pm

Appointment recommended

Gk092017 edition  

Korea's No.1 English magazine since 2006. Busan Drag Prom; pride in the city, 2017 BIFF; Busan Int'l Film Festival, Blogger Spotlight; Shell...

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