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KOREA • Issue 139 • September 2018

KIXFF returns for third run






Korean Independent Expat Film Festival returns for its 3rd run featuring 51 films in various genres and styles. The festival doesn’t offer popcorn but surely lots of FUN. Check out talented local and international expats doing awesome things and light your own creative fire. Photo courtesy of KIXFF


16 Indie film fest returns for third run








MARVEL AND YONDU AND HARRY POTTER, OH MY! Comic Con Seoul 2018 proved the geek event is here to stay


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IN HER ELEMENT Why be one thing when you can do it all? Model Becky White seeks just that


THE POWER OF DISCOURSE Young CEO brings discourse to Korea





BUSAN DRAG PROM Busan Drag Prom returns as a beacon of hope for Korea’s queer community


DESERTING YOURSELF Surrounded by social media, sometimes we all need solitude


BUSAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018 BIFF is coming and Groove has all you need to know




General Inquiries






STRIKE COMMUNICATIONS SPECIAL THANKS TO Simon McEnterggart, Ms. Park Seulki of ibis Styles Ambassador Seoul Myeongdong, Ms. Jeon Sara of Surreal But Nice, PRM Idea Lab, PRline, Balcony Media Group, Karryn Miller, Brian MacDuckston, Jeongmin of A Picture Dairy, Ellen Choi, Johnny Yoon, Min Soo Kim, Jiaying Lim, Zandari Festa, Smallfish Agency, Busan International Film Festival, Wendy Palomo, Global Seoulmates, and Kevin Lambert PUBLISHER SEAN CHOI

To contribute to Groove Korea, email or the appropriate editors. To have Groove Korea delivered to your home or business, email To promote and 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 2006





urgery on the nose has been one of the most favored types of cosmetic plastic surgery for 20 years. However, after nose procedure, due to inflammation, the skin becomes thin, causing the prosthesis to be visible through the skin and the nose to become proportionally shorter in relation to the size of the face. Therefore, the number of patients who are considering contracted short nose correction is on the rise. Patients at MVP Plastic Surgery who considered contracted nose correction had been experiencing numerous types of side effects from their previous plastic surgery. The dominant types of side effects were the following: •The prosthesis becomes displaced, causing the nose to bend. •The nose gets too tall, causing it to disharmonize with the rest of the facial features. •The prosthesis presses the nasal cartilage. •Inflammation causes contracture, causing the tip of the nose to deform or distort. •Tissues around the surgical site get pulled upwards, causing the nose to shorten. •The skin on the tip of the nose gets thin, causing the nose to be pointed. •The prosthesis can be seen through the skin. •The prosthesis penetrates through the skin. As much as plastic surgery on the nose has been easily chosen to be the most dominant type of surgery for cosmetic purposes, there have been many patients who suffer from


the side effects and the stress that comes from them. They come to us for help. “If the fascial plane is removed excessively during the initial surgery, the skin that makes up the scar can be too thick afterwards, causing the nose to deform. Scar tissue on the deformed part of the nose is composed of very delicate blood vessels. Therefore, once it is destroyed, any surgery using a prosthesis to fix the problem can be an extremely difficult process, and there is a high possibility that the contracture can get worse.” There are many clients who come to the clinic with misinformation that contracted short nose correction requires the usage of costal cartilage or skin from other parts of the body. It is true that skin acquired from one’s own body is less likely to cause side effects. However, the surgery is not based on a correct diagnosis if a patient is forced to be the subject of general anesthesia or incision of any skin from other body parts out of concerns for side effects. At our clinic, in case of contracted short nose correction, we separate the flesh adhesion on the surgical site and then transplant nasal septal cartilage or ear cartilage to fix the problem, which is enough to perform a highly successful surgery. Nose reoperation is a very complex task because it has to correct a nose that has skin tissue that has been scarred already from the initial surgery and give back a natural appearance to the nose. Therefore, in order for a successful contracted short nose correction to be possible, the types of side effects have to be specifically and clearly diagnosed, and planning of the surgery must be intricately done. Even at this moment, many clients at MVP Plastic Surgery are given a new life due to our contracted short nose correction.

Nationality: South Korean Surgery Type: Contracted Nose Correction, Nose Reoperation Name of the Clinic: MVP Plastic Surgery

3 months after surgery

1 month after surgery


Festivals 10

Hongseong Namdanghang Port Jumbo Shrimp Festival August 31 – September 16 Namdanghang Port, located at the west end of Hongseong, is a famous west coast port known for its exceptional seafood. Surrounded by the clean waters of Cheonsuman Bay, Namdahang Port is home to a wide array of sea life including blue crab, cockle and webfoot octopus.

Andong Mask Dance Festival

Sinchon Craft Beer Trip September 7 – 9 Sinchon Yonsei-ro

September 28 – October 7 The festival is held in the Andong area, which is considered the capital of Korean traditional culture, with the theme of mask and mask dance.

E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology): Open-ended

August 2 – January 27 Daelim Museum, Jongno-gu Seoul Daelim Museum presents Coco Capitan, a photographer and artist who was chosen as a ‘Young Art Star’ and is drawing wide attention from global brands and media, is exhibiting for the first time in Asia. The exhibition features some 150 works consisting of photography, paintings, handwritings, videos and installations by the artist who has candidly and audaciously expressed herself in unconventional ways.

Until September 16 MMCA (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea), Seoul Gallery E.A.T. is a non-profit organization established in the 60s by Bell Labs engineers. It started off as a pioneering group to promote collaborations and communication in a variety of areas ranging from art and technology to cinema, dance, and every industry. The exhibition explores activities and works which have embarked on a new chapter of artistic and creative expression with its interactionv between art and technology.

OH! Herve Tullet, A Retrospective Until October 21 Hangaram Design Museum, Seoul Arts Center


Coco Capitán: Is It Tomorrow Yet?



KESHA rainbow tour in Korea September 14 Yonsei University

Fuerza Bruta

World Club Dome Korea

Until October 7 Jamsil Olympic Complex

September 14 – 16 Incheon Munhak Stadium

Fuerza Bruta is a postmodern theatre show that originated in Buenos Aires in 2003. It is a very energetic spectacle under the motto Brute Force, features interaction between the performers and the public, and is described as a 360 degree experience.




Indie film fest returns for 3rd run Story EMMA KALKA Photos KIXFF


Come out to the Red Carpet Awards Ceremony and see which films walk away with these prizes.

• Best Local Expat Film Prize • Expat Narrative Feature / Short Film Jury Prizes • No-Budget Narrative Feature / Short Film Jury Prizes • Narrative Short Audience Award • Documentary Feature / Short Film Jury Prizes • Korean Filmmaker Jury Prizes • Music Video Jury Prize


ith many in the Korean film industry preparing for the upcoming Busan International Film Festival in October, local film fans will be happy to hear they can get started with their festival celebrations before that. Running from Sept. 29-30 at EMU Artspace in Gwanghwamun, the Korean Independent Expat Film Festival (KIXFF) features 51 films made by both local and international expats in various genres and styles. Founder and organizer Kevin Lambert said back in 2010, he saw the beginnings of a pretty solid film community growing and working together in Seoul. “A lot of great films came out of it, on the volunteer efforts of everyone involved. I thought the festival would be a great tool for rewarding that work,” he said. He started planning in 2014 and put on the first fest in 2015 with a core group of individuals, calling it the Korea


Indie and Expat Festival. He added that he initially envisioned the fest to be more of a neighborhood affair and using local bars and clubs to screen the films, tailoring the experience to the environment. “It worked great, but we’ve since moved to a more typical cinema experience with some surprises of course,” he said. The festival has actually gotten a bit smaller than it was in the past. They started “all guns blazing” with four days. But now, the festival has gotten tighter in production, but this also means the festival events are more cohesive and don’t require attendees to run all over the city to get from one film to another. It’s open to films made by anyone, with Lambert saying that expat films come from everywhere. “We’re far more nomadic and connected than ever.” He continued they get a variety of genres and quality. Some filmmakers send home movies and travelogues,

others send commercial features, though they prefer when filmmakers do their homework and see what type of films have been shown in the past. “As for what films we show, we tend to choose films that are relevant to our audience or are just really, really good,” Lambert said, adding that they may take a chance on a film with weaknesses if it also has particular strengths. “For example, if a film is a bit boring, chances are we think there’s something worth waiting for or the experience is a beautiful one.” What makes KIXFF different from other festivals is the fact that it is 100 percent volunteer run. “We do it for the love of movies and the local community,” Lambert said. “We want to see people doing awesome things and we want to give people the motivation to do it. So by coming out and partying and watching truly awesome movies, you might just light your own creative fire.” >>

We do it for the love of movies and the local community. We want to see people doing awesome things and we want to give people the motivation to do it. So by coming out and partying and watching truly awesome movies, you might just light your own creative fire. Kevin Lambert, KIXFF organizer



INT’L KOREAN SHORTS Lang: Korean | Subtitles: English | Running time: 60 mins; 15 mins GV Sat, Sept. 29 | 10:30am – 12:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 1 (2nd floor) Sat, Sept. 29 | 5:30pm – 7:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) Magpie by John Michaels [2 mins] Mother by Chase Lee [18 mins] Above the Mist by Gabriel Galand [8 mins] A Girl Wearing a White Dress by Yoon Hyung Chul [23 mins] Caffeine by Sujung Kwon [8 mins]

INT’L NO-BUDGET SHORTS #1 Lang: English, Dutch | Subtitles: English, Korean | Running time: 68 mins Sat, Sept. 29 | 12:00pm – 2:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) Sat, Sept. 29 | 5:00pm – 7:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 1 (2nd floor) you too [5 mins] by Daniel Schippers Sisak [15 mins] by Faraz Ansari Vrij (Free) [20 mins] by Ruud Matthijssen The City Is Like a Character in the Film [12 mins] by Christopher Jason Bell Panopticity:Seoul [6 mins] by Andreas Zingerle Journey [7 mins] by Radheya Jegatheva

INT’L EXPAT & NO-BUDGET MUSIC VIDEOS Lang: Multiple | Subtitles: Not Available | Running time: 64 mins Sat, Sept. 29 | 12:00pm – 1:30pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 1 (2nd floor) Sat, Sept. 29 | 7:00pm – 9:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 1 (2nd floor) Everything Feels Fake – The Dark Side of Venus by Marco Vallini Make No Mistake by Skii Harvey Taekkyon Reign by Jaye Wynn Tonight by Tim Paugh North Korea by Pedro José Macias Nín thở – Gỗ lim by Vincent Baumont Corridor by Cassandre Émanuel Shimmer – Tierpark Bibimbap by Ori Dagan self-portrait by Nacho Recio Stalemate by Egor Sevastyanov Subside by Scott Robertson MANGIA! (EAT!) by Francesco Faralli Le chant du charretier by Fabio Leone Unsichtbar – Junges Liebespaar by Muge Yildiz

A lot of great films came out of it, on the volunteer efforts of everyone involved. I thought the festival would be a great tool for rewarding that work. Kevin Lambert, KIXFF organizer

Sedae LANG: English, Korean | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 124 mins (15 min GV) Sat. 9/29 | 2:00pm – 4:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) EXPAT FEATURE Dir. Daniel Smukalla Korea’s quick growth resulted in much contrast between the old and young, the rural and the urban. This documentary visually shows the different aspects of Korean life, and is narrated over by Koreans of all ages and backgrounds that are a part of it.

After The Sewol LANG: English, Korean | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 80 mins (15 min GV) Sat. 9/29 | 3:00pm – 5:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 1 (2nd floor) EXPAT FEATURE Dir. Neil George, Matt Root ‘After the Sewol’ explores the changing faces of this nation through the eyes of two British film makers. They talk with relatives of the victims, rescue divers and activists about their struggles and battles since this tragic accident happened and embark upon a journey to uncover how this accident came about, looking deep into Korean history about why no action was taken to prevent it in the first place.

INTL. EXPAT SHORTS #1 LANG: Multiple | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 64 mins (15 min GV) Sat. 9/29 | 4:00pm – 5:30pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) China Bound 1964 [English; 8 mins] by Bill Callahan Yo Soy Coreana (I am Korean) [Spanish, Korean; 12 mins] by Ajung Kim Where’s My Friend, Pil? [English; 4 mins] by Tommy Choi Obsession [English; 15 mins] by Christopher Beaulieu Buerliners [English, German, Spanish; 23 mins] by Rodolfo Schmidt

Local Expat Shorts #1 LANG: English, Korean | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 71 mins (15 min GV) Sat. 9/29 | 7:00pm – 9:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) Dream Upon the Green KIX48 winner 2018 by Team Xuying [Korean; 4 mins] Euna by Seunghyun Chong [Korean; 18 mins] Tetsu Kono’s Crazy Routine by Sebastien Simon [Korean, Japanese, English; 16 mins]” Bam Bam Bam by Yann Kerloch [Korean; 2 5mins] Strings by John Michaels [English; 14 mins]


Go Go Second Time Gaijin? Lang: Japanese | Subtitles: English, Korean | Running time: 60 mins; 15 min GV Sat, Sept. 29 | 1:30pm – 3:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 1 (2nd floor) EXPAT FEATURE Dir. Robert Nishimura After receiving a concussion, an expat foreigner in Japan believes himself to be a member of an extreme nationalist right-wing group.



Fearing Future LANG: Spanish | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 76 mins Sun. 9/30 | 11:00am – 12:15pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor)

No-Budget Feature Dir. Nacho Sesma Leo is a literature professor who is at the ending of a long time relationship. As he struggles with economic problems and depression, he enters a big transition in his life between drugs and an particular affair with one of his students. No-Budget Shorts #2 “Women In Film” LANG: Multiple | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 76 mins Sun. 9/30 | 12:30pm – 2:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) LISTEN (Myanmar; 13 mins) by Min Min Hein Dear Mother (Korean/English; 5 mins) dir. Matthew Kaundart Ready for a Baby (English; 5 mins) by Anastasia Dyakova Chocolate Wind (Russian; 23 mins) by Ilia Antonenko A Brunch with Death (English; 3 mins) by Sebastian Gat Boxing Day (Korean/English; 7 mins) by Richard E. Haywood Dirt LANG: English, Russian | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 76 mins Sun. 9/30 | 2:00pm – 3:30pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) No-Budget Feature by Dylan Levine A young couple’s relationship-mending getaway at her family’s remote cabin in Ukraine is sidetracked when they discover a severed finger in the woods. Together, they must overcome old world superstition, solve its mystery and fight for their very survival. Intl. Expat Shorts #2 LANG: Spanish | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 76 mins Sun. 9/30 | 3:30pm – 5:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) “BRUCE” by Irhad Mutic [4 min] “Eric” by Hakan Sagiroglu [21 mins] “25 Years” by Manuel Bovio [7 mins] “Long Ride” by Shao Wen Liang [13 mins] “The Troubled Troubadour” by Forest Ian Etsler, Sebastien Simon [23 mins] Local Expat Shorts Showcase #2 LANG: Spanish | SUBS: Korean, English | Running time: 76 mins Sun. 9/30 | 5:00pm – 7:00pm | EMU Art Center, Cinema 2 (3rd floor) Excursions Into the Unknown by Calvin Yeager [20 mins] Homebody by Rosa Chung [17 mins] Dancer in the Pocket by Xuying [13 mins] Speaking Test by Jeremy Arthur [18 mins]” Emerald KIX48 winner 2017 by Team Jomial [7 mins]


KIXFF All Access 50,000 won Individual Screenings 10,000 won All Access passes are available online at https://filmfreeway. com/KIXFF/tickets. They include access to all screenings as well as all events, including the Red Carpet Awards Ceremony. Tickets for individual screenings are available at the door only. Rock This Fest 25,000 won In addition to access to the shows and screenings at KIXFF, there will be famous barber and pin-up stylists, booths for retro vintage shops and items that are hard to find in Korea and a rooftop retro barbecue. Tickets are available for purchase at https://booking. booking/5/ bizes/180079/ items/2866115.

This year’s festival will hand out several awards, including Best Film for shorts and features in two main categories – Expat films and No-Budget films, the latter being international entries from all over the world. The only condition is that they must meet lowbudget filmmaking requirements. Lambert said that the Expat film category is a bit more fluid, but the idea is that a filmmaker is an expat or immigrant, or the film is relevant to the expat experience. A big draw for the fest are local shorts as they feature local filmmakers and local actors, according to Lambert, adding that it’s a great opportunity to meet the filmmakers, “and maybe even make some contacts if you’re an actor or creative type.” Personally, Lambert said he recommends Sedae, meaning generations, which is about the generational gap between the old and the young in Korea and how fast the country is changing. “Another great one is the short film The Troubled Troubadour, a beautiful and funny short about a wandering musician mistaken by some wild children as a forest god,” he said. A new addition to this year’s festival is that KIXFF is partnering with the Rock This Town Retro Fest, a rockabilly and vintage music and style festival. Saturday will feature sets all day by a variety of bands, ranging from rock to country. There will also be swing dance performers and a barbeque pop-up. The fest is run by a group of musicians and music lovers – one of the organizers is Tiger from popular rockabilly band Street Guns. Lambert said he felt it was a very welcoming music scene for expats. “The bands scheduled for Rock This Town are high energy and a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity to get dressed up in your most vintage dapper duds and spray that beehive tight so you can swing dance all night,” Lambert said. According to Tiger, six bands, two acoustic duos and four DJs will be taking part in the festival. And partnering with KIXFF started as something completely coincidental. He had planned to use the same venue on the same day but thought that it would be a good idea to share the events.

“It seemed that foreigners would like Korean retro festivals too, and the audience at the retro festival could enjoy the movies,” he said. Tiger said it’s been his dream to make such an event after spending years in rockabilly bands and loving the culture. However, in the past it was nearly impossible because the culture was so small. “But in recent years in Korea, this kind of band or subculture started to emerge more, but it still seemed that that we (the bands) could not communicate with each other. So I wanted to set up a place where we could meet,” he said. “I would like to continue making the event next year and the next year, if this one is successful.”

The most important thing to expect is “fun.” Tiger said that he hopes people who come will enjoy the festival and that the artists who participate will be able to communicate more. “I hope that next year there will also be sponsors and it will become bigger and more sustainable,” he said. KIXFF and Rock This Town will take place at EMU Artspace. Tickets for individual screenings at KIXFF are 10,000 won and can be purchased at the door. There are also All Access passes available for 50,000 won that allow access to all the screenings and events and can be purchased through the KIXFF website. Tickets for Rock This Fest are available for purchase on Naver Booking for 25,000 won.



Marvel and Yondu & Harry Potter,

Comic Con Seoul’s 2nd year hits big 24

Comic Con Seoul certainly came to conquer this year. The three-day event drew in over 48,000 people to COEX Hall A from Aug. 3-5, most of them donning costumes from nearly every side of geekdom, though with the inclusion of Hollywood guest Michael Rooker, known for playing Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy, there were definitely a few more Marvel cosplayers than usual this year. This was a jump from last year’s roughly 41,000 guests, and with the number of participating companies and booths increasing as well, it seems ReedPop’s premiere event in South Korea is on the right trajectory for bigger and better things in the future. Groove Korea is taking a look back at some of the exciting events from the weekend with this special Comic Con Seoul recap.



Cosplayers came out to the second Comic Con Seoul in full force this year, dressing as characters from various areas of pop culture including Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, games and comics.


Greg Pak is an American film director and comic book writer most known for his work with Marvel Comics, including “X-Treme X-Men” and “The Totally Awesome Hulk.” He attended Comic Con Seoul 2018 as a featured panelist where Groove Korea contributor Johnny Yoon had a moment to chat about his career so far.

:You originally went to school for political science and history, right? Greg Pak: Yeah. : What made you want to go into film and comics? GP: It’s kind of funny because as a kid, the first thing I wanted to be was a writer. I wrote all the time as a kid. I wrote short stories as a kid. I drew comics as a kid. I always thought of myself as a writer. I did it all throughout high school and college. But when I was in college, for whatever reason, I kind of stopped thinking of writing as something I would do professionally. I was very interested in politics. I studied political science and went home to Texas to work for Anne Richards when she was running for governor for the first time which was like a million years ago. But then I had the chance to go to Oxford to study history. When I was in Oxford, I had the chance to get involved with the student film group and all the lights kind of went on. I realized I needed to go back to my roots and to storytelling. I went to film school after that, I went to NYU Film School. Eventually, it came full circle, because I got a meeting with Marvel and ended up writing comics. I ended up doing the thing I must love doing when I was 7 years old. : How did that meeting come about? You were studying film but got a meeting with Marvel? GP: Which is kind of unheard of. I graduated from film school... I made an independent movie called Robot Stories and that’s what got me a meeting with Marvel. It wasn’t anything I had planned. It’s weird, as much as I loved comics, I never actually thought about doing it professionally. I just didn’t understand the business at all. But when the opportunity came, it all made sense. I read comics my whole life and I had spent all of this time studying screenwriting, which is very similar to writing comics. It’s a distinct thing. It’s not exactly like it at all, but all that work I had done to be a screenwriter absolutely paid off when I shifted into comics. : What inspired you to create Planet Hulk and World War Hulk? GP: Well, I always loved the Hulk. The Hulk was always my favorite superhero so when I worked for Marvel, I kept dropping these big hints that I would love to write a Hulk story. Eventually, they said, “Hey, we are thinking about shooting the Hulk into space, would you want to write a story about the Hulk being exiled to an alien planet?” And I was like yes! So, that’s how that came about. And what goes up must come down. So, if you shoot the Hulk up into space, eventually, he is going to come back. So, I got to write World War Hulk where he takes

A Moment with


on the whole Marvel Universe which was nuts. : Was that intimidating at all to have the Hulk fight all of these superheroes? GP: Yeah, for a number of reasons. One, just because that’s such a huge thing to write. It involved so many editors and writers and affected so many other stories and books. It was a just a lot of coordination and finesse to make that all work. Also, to do a story like that, nobody gets to do those stories. That happens like ever 10 years where the Hulk goes and fights everybody. Maybe once every 20 years. So, that was kind of intimidating. But at the same time, every single comics job you take with these legacy characters is kind of intimidating. So, I kind of don’t think about it. I just try to have fun and try to do it as well as I can. : I would imagine with the fanbase, it is pretty intimidating because you are never know what they are actually going to like. GP: My take on all of that is to dig deep into the source material to try to really understand it. And to do a story that I would want to see that respects the source material but also downs something new. Inevitably, anything you do, there are going to be some folks that say, “That’s not how I would have done it.” Of course, and that’s fine. These characters have been around for 75, 80 years because they lend themselves to different kinds of stories. I don’t think there is any one way to write these characters. : It’s the idea you can give a script to 99 directors and get 99 different movies. GP: Exactly, and that’s the glory of these characters. They can shift and do different things and find new audiences all of the time. That’s why I love them. It’s very fun to have that opportunity. But you can drive yourself crazy… there’s no one perfect way to write something. You might find the one perfect way to write them in this moment in time with this particular creative team. But there is another perfectly great way to do it. So, you just do it the best you can do.


A Moment with

Shequeta L.Smith by JOHNNY YOON Shequeta Smith is the writer and creator of Rayven Choi and the CEO of Shero Comics. She was invited to take part in the Artist Alley at Comic Con Seoul 2018.

:You are a person of many talents. You’ve done some filmmaking and now you are doing comics. What made you want to take your screenplay [for Rayven Choi] and turn it into a comic? Shequeta Smith: In 2008, I saw what Marvel was doing with Ironman and they were kind of mixing the comics with the films. I was like “Okay, that might be something to do. A way to get my story out in a cheaper way.” I don’t have 20 million dollars to make a movie. So, maybe I can put it into a graphic novel or comic book. I walked into a comic book shop and asked them for a comic with a black woman on the cover. They couldn’t produce one. So I was like, “I can produce one.” : Can you tell us a bit about Rayven Choi? SS: Rayven Choi is about a girl. She is five years old. A hitman kills her parents in cold-blood. She is shipped off to Korea with witness protection and spends 20 years here. Adopted by a Korean family, which is how she becomes Choi. She finds a clue her dad left in her teddy bear, a taped confession. So, she decides to come back to America to find the killer and becomes a bounty hunter in the process. : Do you relate this character at all? How did this character come to you? SS: I wish I could relate. I wish I could go around kicking ass. (Laughs.) I mean I can make threats, but I don’t know if I can beat anybody up. I relate to her in... when I wrote this I was maybe 23. Most people at that time, it’s called the quarter-life crisis. Where you don’t know what you want to do with your life. That’s why in the story, she is trying to figure out what she wants to be. It’s kind of her coming of age story. I was the same way as her at that age. So, now as an older person (laughs) a little bit later on in life, I can see where I was at that time.


: This is your first Comic Con in Seoul. What do you think? Are you having a good time? SS: I’m telling everybody this is the craziest Comic Con I’ve ever been too. In a good way! We have almost sold out of books. We sold out of ‘Pussy Kills’ T-shirts, which is my number-one selling shirt. We have been selling stuff like crazy. We made our table back in probably one day. That rarely ever happens. You can go to a Comic Con in America for three days and not make your table fee back. So, I’m very happy. See, I’m smiling. : Have you had a chance to look around? SS: Yeah, I’ve walked around to see Marvel’s setup and to see what other people are here. To see if I have any other female creators here. I’ve seen some but not a lot of people have comic books. So, I’m kind of glad to be standing out in that regard. This [Comic Con] is more people-friendly. I think people are coming here to support the artists. You go to the bigger ones, it’s kind of like they are there to see Marvel and see what celebrities are going to be there. Here, I can tell people are actually interested in what we are doing. They will stop by and ask questions. : What’s next for you? Do you have anything coming up? SS: Yes. Next month I’ll be Johannesburg for Comic Con Africa. It’s their very first Comic Con. I’ve heard it’s going to be huge! Then, actually the very next Comic Con is in Salt Lake City at the beginning of September. That’s one of the biggest Comic Cons in America. Then I’ll go to Johannesburg, then it’s New York Comic Con. Then, it’s Indonesia. I’ll be in Jakarta. : You are very busy! When do you have time to write? SS: I don’t! That’s why people are like, “When are you going to finish your next book?” We aren’t going to start on this book until after we finish in Jakarta. Actually, in Jakarta, it’s when I’ll be able to meet my artist and colorist that live there. I’ve never met them before. : So, this will be your first time meeting them? SS: We have done three books together. Never met. Facebook and email is how we talk. So, when I go to Jakarta in October, it will be my first time meeting them. We will be able to have a conference room to talk about the next two books and how we are going to do those.

Over 48,000 people came out to Comic Con Seoul 2018 over Aug. 3-5 to see Hollywood actors Ezra Miller and Michael Rooker, along with over 100 booths manned by local artists and companies.



The Power of Discourse This young CEO encourages people to keep talking Story DIANNE PINEDA-KIM (@DIANNE_PANDA) Photos @BEHIGH_SHOT



The value of these forums is that you get to hear many different sides. It was also an attempt to show the audience that it’s okay to have different opinions and be able to discuss them in public.”


ae Young Woo sits in his meeting room on a Sunday, talking about his uncompromising vision for his company, CNH Studio, where he is the CEO. At only 25, he speaks with the go-getting idealism of youth, but also with the confident wisdom of an individual who is well beyond his years. He enthusiastically responded to every serious topic about some of today’s pressing issues, business, or his countless goals, until it came to a random, lighthearted question that proved quite difficult for him to answer: “What is your passion aside from work?” “I’m focusing now on my work and I’m at a point where I should be growing the brand and myself. I’m trying to see what other opportunities are there not only for myself, but also creating it for other people,” he said finally after taking his time, and ended up talking more about what he wants to do for the future. This isn’t to say that he is no fun, though he did admit that he doesn’t like “to go out and play.” Yet one thing could only be concluded from his obviously distinct weltanschauung and irrepressible drive – work is his passion. In other words, he’s someone who genuinely takes pleasure in what he does for a

living, no matter how challenging it may be, and this is something quite rare in this oftentimes jaded world. Early beginnings Born in Korea and raised in the U.S., Woo attended a boarding school in Connecticut, before pursuing business in a university in New York. From a very young age, he’s always been businessoriented, but his living arrangements didn’t allow him to go outside to attend business conferences and talks. He recalls, “So I thought, why don’t I invite people to our school and do small lectures instead?” He invited his friend’s dad, who happened to be a senior vice president at Apple. The timing couldn’t have been more right for this project, because it was right after revered Apple CEO Steve Jobs passed away. All eyes were on the multi-billion company, with people anticipating its next move during a very important transition period. Fortuitously, what started as a small classroom gathering turned into a buzz-worthy event. Close to 200 people showed up, and at that moment, Woo knew that it was his calling. >> “I was just a high school student



and seeing all those people lined up outside was overwhelming and a very inspiring experience for me,” he shared. “Some students came up to me and told me how much they wanted to work in Apple someday, and that I made their dream of meeting and hearing someone from that company tell their story come true.” Another one of his impressive feats was when he invited founding business editor of the Fast Company to do a special lecture, who was also an alumnus of their school. From then on until college he started inviting people and organizing small and big events, whether it’s hosting something as casual as a Christmas party or a business networking gathering. He was quite literally the “life of the party,” after all, because without him, the meeting and exchanging of learning of people from all walks of life wouldn’t have happened. But he wanted to do more. And that’s when he started CNH, an event management, media, and publishing agency in August 2016, with a goal that aptly defines its name: Creating New Hubs. Bringing discourse to South Korea “Everywhere I go people think I’m some sort of ‘angel of death,’ expecting that the reason why I’m there is because some war or big emergency is happening,” CNN reporter and host of his eponymous show, Anderson Cooper, said, as he addressed an excited audience that filled a hall in Kyunghee University. He arrived in Seoul as the feature speaker for “Quest for the Truth: Consuming and Navigating Media Today,” held August 18, 2018. It was a forum platform that gathered media practitioners and experts, and was moderated by some of Korea’s top radio and broadcasting personalities. Some of the key speakers included the viral “BBC dad” Prof. Robert Kelly, BBC correspondent


I felt that we needed a place to discuss these sensitive issues, and ultimately the goal of everyone in media was to find truth Laura Bicker, Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Cheng, New York University Journalism Prof. Mitchell Stephens, K-Pop star Eric Nam, and Prof. Jin-suk Kang, among many others. It was a Saturday yet many aspiring media students, professionals, and anybody looking to learn something new, attended. The man behind it all was none other than Woo, whose main intention was to shed light on some of today’s most grappling issue: the spread of fake news, how technology and commentaries affect public

opinion, the importance of media education, among many other relevant topics. “The reason why I chose a panel format is because we wanted to hear arguments and opinions, and we had the very best experts discussing very sensitive, current topics. The value of these forums is that you get to hear many different sides,” Woo explains. “It was also an attempt to show the audience that it’s okay to have different opinions and be able to discuss them in public.” The way that news is created,


framed, and consumed in this digital age shapes the way the public understands (or misunderstands) the world. News changes lives. And the dynamics of this immense power that both the media and the public hold is what Woo wanted to discuss. Woo continues, “Fake news is a major part in society not just in Korea but around the world. It’s a global issue. I felt that we needed a place to discuss these sensitive issues, and ultimately the goal of everyone in media was to find truth.” On to the next

The forum may have ended, but things are just beginning for CNH as they’re currently planning for more enriching and educational events. As for Woo, he’s still in awe, saying, “It was a surreal experience. I’ve watched Anderson Cooper since I was a kid, and he’s a role model for me. I was very grateful that he was very open to every question. It will be one of the most unforgettable memories in my life.” Perhaps you can expect to find Woo in his office even on weekends, because his idea of play is to look for more ways to bring discussions, readings, and

exchanges through different channels, be it digital, print, or podcast. For now, the stage will be his playground, and he encourages his younger peers to not only join the conversation, but also turn it towards themselves. He ends, “Self awareness is very important in Korea especially among many students who are at a crossroads of choosing. They never really give themselves a chance to reflect on themselves – What do I want? What do I really like to do? What do I enjoy? And what can I do to build a career out of that?”



BusanDragProm A Drag event for a Cause!

Busan’s Sole Queer Charity Event Story NELL ROBBINS Photos MIN SOO KIM




usan Drag Prom (BDP) is the first annual LGBTQI+ charity event created in the city of Busan. It’s a night where anyone and everyone can feel free to be themselves – or whoever they want to be – and all in the name of charity. BDP supports local and national LGBT organizations by raising awareness about queer culture and promoting understanding and acceptance. Running seven years strong, BDP donates a portion of the proceeds to ISHAP, a non-profit HIV and AIDS testing and counseling center based in Busan, and more recently they’ve added Dding Ddong, Korea’s only LGBT youth shelter. This year was the first time they also raised funds to assist an HIV+ member of the community with medical expenses. BDP started when organizer Christy Swain and a friend decided they’d had enough with the lack of Pride events in Busan. “We thought our city and community deserved a great party,” Swain stated. She got the initial concept for the “prom-style” event after an episode

of Sex and the City. Since its start in 2012, the team running BDP has grown into what Swain refers to as the “Fabulous Four”: Golden Sour, MoonD Garcina, Rinda Burl, and herself. The four alone recruit volunteers and performers for a night of makeovers, music, and performances, creating a party known throughout Busan and across Korea. What was once a small event with only one lip sync and a prom king and queen has now grown into a more drag performance-based party. “We’ve still retained the fun, freespirited atmosphere of the original night,” Swain said, and after seeing and participating in the events, I have to say I agree. Keeping to BDP’s tradition of a “decade theme” this year’s 90s theme was chosen by MoonD Garcia and Golden Sour. And it was evident from the start – from the attendees who arrived wearing Kurt Cobain plaids, Doc Martins, or crop tops, to the music chosen by the Fabulous Four and their volunteers. While Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys played throughout the club, performers

It’s a night where anyone and everyone can feel free to be themselves – or whoever they want to be – and all in the name of charity!

ran about preparing for their performances. When the time came to storm the stage, House of Tease started with a group act to Spice Girls, followed by Samia Mounts performing Alanis Morissette’s “You Outta Know” and Mia Pussy Sparkles paid homage to TV show Charmed. >>



BDP supports local and national LGBT charities by raising awareness about queer culture and promoting understanding and acceptance.


Flowerbomb danced to a Madonna cover of “Fever” and Vanessica Carver pulled audience members on stage for some animalistic fun to “The Bad Touch”. Next came performances from my own team, WhiteLies Burlesque. Sapphire Rain donned the drag king persona of Freddie Mercury while I was “Neal Fox” for our 90s themed acts – which included four on-stage costume changes and a fire performance. Following Whitelies was the event’s only other drag king. From the Haus of Extra, Jaxter came to the stage painted purple head-to-toe, and the crowd was enraptured with his performance. There were also drag queen acts from MoonD Garcia, before the finale of dance and pole performances from prominent queens in Seoul’s drag scene: Vita Mikju and Kuciia Diamant. The organizers considered the prom a success. “We raised 1.2 million-ish,” Swain said shortly after the show. She attributes some of the success of the proms to the fact that they’re still considered “smaller” events – despite the fact that attendance was so high the bar ran out of alcohol before midnight. “The beauty of keeping our event smaller is that it’s a very safe space for attendees. They know that they can feel free to be themselves, surrounded by other people who accept and support them.”

Over the years, BDP has raised over 12 million won for charity and provided a safe space for members of the queer community. “In the last couple of years we’ve noticed that our party is comprised mostly of young Koreans, which is wonderful to see,” Swain said. “This year we were able to talk with a few at-risk individuals and it really hit home how important it is for Busan to have more LGBT events.” There are hopes to expand into more events throughout the year to encourage those interested to embrace their inner drag personas and provide more opportunities for those seeking a safe space. Busan Pride takes place on Oct. 5, and Swain confirmed that BDP will have a presence at the event in one form or another. At a glance, BDP may seem like just a fun party, but it’s so much more. It’s a place where people can feel a sense of belonging, a place where there is support for those who are struggling. The only regular drag event in the Busan scene, BDP is a beacon of hope, positivity, and sparkles that shines bright to help those in the LGBTQI+ community.




Party like

GATSBY GSM to host annual Gatsby Yacht Party Story EMMA KALKA Photos GLOBAL SEOUL MATES



aefter the success of last year’s Gatsby Cruise, Global Seoul Mates is back with something bigger and better for all those Gatsby fans out there. Now in its second year, the Gatsby Party has moved to a new home – Seoul Marina – which can accommodate even more people. Organizer David Woodworth said last year they were turning people away at

the door because of the cruise ship’s safety limit of 1,500. But this year they can handle so much more. “People surprised the hell out of me last year,” he said. “Everyone showed up in amazing costumes and made the event much better. I’m expecting the same great costumes this year, except 2,000+ people because of our confidence in the party, and the new Seoul Marina venue can hold more.”


The party will feature DJs, live performances, musicians, roulette tables (without the actual gambling), and splendor. There are also private yacht rides available for small groups up and down the Han River. According to Woodworth, the DJ areas will have mostly electro swing, but guests can expect music in the style of Parov Stelar or Caravan Palace. The main DJ areas will be a mix of

electro swing and mainstream pop, hip-hop, and EDM. Woodworth said he always liked that era, which is why Global Seoul Mates decided to start the annual theme party. “There’s something about the 1920s which is very exciting and sexy,” he said. “Judging from the turnout last year, and the ticket sales this year, a lot of people agree with me on that.” And of course, no 1920s party would be complete without the alcohol, of which Global Seoul Mates promises to have plenty, including cocktails and champagne. Each guest will receive one drink ticket for a glass of champagne and from 7 to 9 p.m., select cocktails will be given to guests for free. During normal hours, beer and cocktails will be available for purchase (5,000 won) with a speakeasy-style whisky bar in the basement. As it is a Gatsby party, attendees are expected to dress their best. Men are encouraged to wear suits, dress shoes, bowler caps, ties, bow ties or suspenders, while the ladies are encouraged to wear formal dresses – flapper style if possible – according to the Facebook event page. There will be plenty of pictures to provide inspiration uploaded to the page for those who need it, along with links to stores in Seoul. Accessories will also be available for purchase at the party. Tickets are available for 30,000 won before Sept. 6, 35,000 won before Sept. 20, and 40,000 won at the door. They can be purchased in advance at the Global Seoul Mates website. There are also VIP tables available – 300,000 won for a 6-person table, which includes one bottle of Absolut, one bottle of champagne, two chasers, and six energy drinks. There are early bird prices available. See the Facebook event page or contact “jungho1664” on KakaoTalk for more information or to make a reservation. For more information, go to the Facebook event page “Gatsby Yacht Party! GSM” or GSM’s website,




ELEMENT Model Becky White uses the power of her looks and outlook to make a difference



Photographer DANNYSEOUL (@dannyseoul) Writer DIANNE PINEDA-KIM (@dianne_panda) Model BECKY WHITE (@sincerelybecky) Makeup JEONGMIN (a picture diary @a_picdiary) Hair HAIR AND JOY, HONGDAE ( Clothing SURREAL BUT NICE (@surrealbutnice_) Location LE STYLE BAR @ IBIS STYLES AMBASSADOR SEOUL MYEONGDONG




s I popped myself down on a seat in the waiting room of Hair & Joy Salon in Hongdae, letting the air conditioner cool my soul in the blistering summer heat, I was thinking about the task at hand—writing and styling for the very first fashion shoot for Groove Korea. Coming from Manila, where shoots were practically one big ruckus-filled and friendly bonding frenzy, I was expecting a stringent and serious shoot, having once had firsthand experience in how shoots are usually done here in Korea.. “You look so familiar! I don’t know why,” Becky White, the feature model who just had her hair done, told me as she greeted the team warmly. In the short 15-minute drive to the location, Becky shared her modeling experiences, giving some valuable insights about the industry and the best places in Seoul to explore cafes. At that moment, I knew this was going to be a fun shoot. Fresh-faced and dressed in a matching designer pink suit, the 27-year-old Korean-American model posed with ease and confidence, as though she was born to be in front of the camera. “I always loved the spotlight. In fact, my dream was to be a musical actress, a singer, and a talk show host,” she said. But modeling was the last thing in her mind when she was a young girl living in the U.S., where she never really felt different from the other kids besides being “so skinny and tall growing up.” She continued, “I actually really hated my body and height all the way up through high school. I was always the tallest in the class, and would never wear heels because I was embarrassed about being so tall.” >>





A Balance in Contrast Surreal but Nice flourishes in bringing the unexpected to the ordinary

Created by husband and wife team Lee Su-Hyong and Lee En-Kyoung, Korean designer brand Surreal but Nice has a very apt name. In its store racks and displays, you will most probably find expertly tailored classic suits with sleek silhouettes mixed with casual items like denim and statement T-shirts. This dynamic is what they thrive on: the perfect combination of sophisticated pieces and daily wear which, when put together, create an alchemy of a chic, nonchalant style. Their Spring/Summer 2018 collection is consistent with their design philosophy of mixing classic and contemporary: bandana-inspired dresses and tops, embellished denim jackets, suits in matching plaid and baby pink. It’s something that every fashion savvy Seoul youth would want to wear: a look that’s both relatable and aspirational, practical yet striking. 070-4156-9681

Korean-style childhood Growing up in a multicultural household with an unlikely combination of Korean and American elements may seem curious for others, but for Becky, this was simply her home. “I love now to see the books on philosophy, science, space, and theology in my dad’s office, and then see the dojagi pots, kimchi in the kitchen, and hear my mom singing Korean hymns. One of the earliest songs I ever learned was a Korean hymn my mom used to sing to us as a lullaby.” Despite being miles away from her Korean roots, she had it deeply ingrained in her, just like any other Korean kid. She said, “My mother taught us how to read and write in Korean from a young age, and I attended Korean school on the weekends. We usually ate Korean food at home; steak, potatoes, or hamburgers were rare occasions!” Her life would take an exciting turn when she decided to move to Seoul to pursue international community development and prelaw at university. But the call of her creative spirit proved hard to resist, and in retrospect, “coming to Korea sort of re-awakened that passion inside of me,” Becky mused. Her desire to enter the entertainment and fashion industry in Korea led her to being accepted to one of the country’s best modeling agencies, Esteem Models, who represent one of Chanel’s Korean muses, Soo Joo Park, and Europe haute couture runway favorite Hoyeon Jung. Needless to say, landing an agency with highly competitive candidates was not a walk in the park.

Coming to Korea sort of re-awakened that passion inside of me

A jumpstart in fashion “I remember walking through the hallways and an agent stopped


me and asked what I was doing. I just stammered that I wanted to make an appointment,” she recalled. “The agent looked me up and down and then took me to the office and asked me to fill out some paperwork, snapped some photos of me, and said they would contact me.” She passed the first and second audition and trained with the agency every day for a month. It would be easy to say the rest was history from this moment on, but not quite. She failed the final audition and ultimately had to rethink her future. “When I was rejected, I felt as though all my effort had been for nothing and that it was a sign to throw away my dream of being in fashion.” For the next five months, she worked as a freelance translator and English tutor and took on a part-time job in a small model agency as an agent. She had to bide her time behind the scenes, with the mindset that good things happen to those who wait. And happen they did, with Esteem calling her once again to offer a major contract after seeing her progress on Instagram. At present, she’s done editorial and commercial shoots (one of them with big-name Korean company LG), but she’s far from satisfied. Rather than take the easy route of relying on having other creatives work their magic while she fulfills her role as a model, she decided to make her own content as a one-woman team for her YouTube channel, Sincerely, Becky. She goes to cafes and interesting spots around Seoul to take photos, shoot videos, do interviews, and talk about life, culture, and relationships, among many other things. >>




I dream of being someone like Audrey Hepburn—someone who acts, models, and creates because of her ability and look, and then fights for human rights because of her beliefs and passion for humanity. 46

Beyond the spotlight But even with her plate already full, Becky is on to yet another huge collaborative enterprise: The Halfie Project. She aims to bring together half-Koreans like herself and tell their stories, and eventually seek them out in countries other than South Korea. “I’ll make portraits of each of my interviewees, and ultimately I’d love to have an exhibition showcasing my work. It’s half art, half exploration of the mixed culture identity,” she explained. Soon, Becky wants to transition from being in the glamorous pages of fashion

magazines to the bigger picture of social realities. “I still have not forgotten my dreams of fighting human trafficking and I believe that my paths will come together. I dream of being someone like Audrey Hepburn—someone who acts, models, and creates because of her ability and look, and then fights for human rights because of her beliefs and passion for humanity.” With her style and substance, Becky embodies the zeitgeist of today’s gogetting millennial generation—why be one thing when you can be all?











DESERTING YOURSELF Fighting loneliness in the modern age


ave you ever felt abandoned by yourself? Have you ever stopped being your own friend? The very idea may sound odd at first, but political philosopher Hannah Arendt raised the idea in 1971: “Loneliness, where I am […] deserted not only by human company but also by the possible company of myself.” Both perceived social isolation and actual physical isolation are painful. Loneliness is the modern era is a problem that looks set to intensify. Kluger (2010) reported that loneliness impacts over 40 percent of American adults and has accompanying health risks equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and dementia (Cacioppo, 2016), conditions that are caused by elevated blood pressure, increased secretion of stress hormones, and suppressed immune function. We now know that the pain of loneliness goes beyond the psychological; brain structures relevant to physical pain are activated during experiences of isolation and ostracism. Field consultants and

experts, even mean girls, leverage this: Exclusion and solitary confinement are meted out as punishment to inflict maximum pain on an individual. A testament to the magnitude of the problem, the U.K. appointed a Minister for Loneliness this January and has since allocated £20 million to charities and community groups directed toward addressing the matter. At the microlevel, loneliness is a common malady reported by my clients, and there is a sense that it is a recurrent theme. Director Spike Jonze’s 2013 movie Her offers a poignant glimpse into the near future that most of us will be aging into. Curiously, the movie’s characters do not explicitly voice feelings of loneliness (at least not that I recall), but they still manage to beautifully portray the striking feelings of despair and yearning for something more. While a gorgeous, visually and emotionally poetic movie, Her teases us with the idea of a future molded by artificial intelligence that will (superficially) enrich our lives, perhaps on all fronts but the relational. >>



BABY STEPS TO The story’s premise of relationships in a new age is not alien or far-fetched. Social network penetration and user numbers are staggering and everincreasing. Last year, we spent an average of 135 minutes per day on social media (Statistica, 2018). If we were to deduct the number of hours we are meant to be working (ahem, “working,” or maybe surfing YouTube in the office) as well as time spent on activities of daily living, then add 2 hours 15 minutes of social media time into that mix, it is clear why we end up feeling like there is little room or time to think about much else. No time to

Explore your meaning and purpose in solitude at your own pace, in your own time.

Bye Bye Loneliness MONDAY Check-in with yourself

Listen to your emotions when alone and when in social groups

TUESDAY Hygge it up with present moment, sensory pleasures

Find a simple pleasure

WEDNESDAY Block your inner bully

Reality-test the self-critical thoughts that make you feel bad about being alone

THURSDAY connect with oneself through me-time and hobbies; no space for we-time with family and friends. Science and technology have gifted us with a longer life expectancy, alongside with the capability and hardware to voluntarily self-impose social isolation. We get lost in the internet, web browsers, online shopping, Netflix, gaming, and social networking platforms, where connection is a nod to one’s perceived popularity in terms of the virtual network or social media followers. Having 1000 online friends makes us feel good for a split second, but that’s it. It promotes transient feelings of pleasure, a positive spark of emotion that sets off a chain of addictive reactions where we chase after the next social media high. >>


Reach out... on your terms

How much social contact would you like?

FRIDAY Drop someone you haven’t seen for a while a message to simply say he/she has been in your thoughts



You did it! Congratulations!




The difficulty in dealing with loneliness is that it lacks an elegant antonym. But look again at Arendt’s quote and realize that loneliness involves us having abandoned ourselves. It is something not many people consider; once you do, however, it is clear that the antidote to loneliness lies in (re) finding ourselves. In fact, forming connections promotes the health, reducing cardiovascular difficulties, boosting recovery in cancer patients, and enhancing physical pain management and relief. By acknowledging that the true embodiment of connection speaks to something larger than reaching out to another being, we open up more opportunities to reap personal benefits. One way of establishing connection is through spirituality (which should not to be conflated with religiosity or faith). Spirituality is “the search for meaning, purpose, and connection with self, others, the universe, and ultimate reality, however one understands it” (Sheridan, 2000). This definition expands the notion of connection beyond being with others. For instance, you may have had the experience of being lonely in a crowd or feeling misunderstood by another, clear examples of how loneliness can exist in the midst of a hotbed of social energy. Holistic well-being embraces a shift away from loneliness and an approach to solitude through meaning and purpose, as eloquently summarized by poet and novelist May Sarton: “Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.” Begin by listening to yourself. Solitude can be cultivated and appreciated by monitoring our inner voices for insights into our truer, more authentic reactions to an event. >>



Having 1000 online friends makes us feel good for a split second, but that’s it. It promotes transient feelings of pleasure, a positive spark of emotion that sets off a chain of addictive reactions where we chase after the next social media high.

Formulaic advice may well be foolish. For some, social activities alleviate feelings of dreariness; for others, they elevate feelings of anxiety. Those seemingly unremarkable yet can’tquite-put-my-finger-on-it moments of unease in social situations? Perhaps they are your body’s warning of a potential disconnect or an innate recognition of an interaction cue that should be red-flagged. Our bodies know more than we recognize, and internal check-ins can be telling. That perceived loneliness is as great a danger as actual isolation suggests that self-care is not about acquiescing to all invitations that come our way. There will be times where

you might feel better declining an invite and enjoying some meaningful alone time. Becoming newly reacquainted with me, myself and I might provide richer company than a dining table full of people you feel disconnected from. Loneliness is an intense, complex human condition. Put aside clichéd advice such as, “Get out there and meet new people” or “Be positive” (something close to none of my clients enjoy hearing but well-meaning people around them just cannot seem to stop themselves) and start connecting with and befriending yourself. Explore your meaning and purpose in solitude at your own pace, in your own time.

Cacioppo, J. (2016). The profound power of loneliness. National Science Foundation News. Retrieved from • Kluger, J. (2017, November 14). Everyone needs someone else: Why Americans of all ages are coming together in ‘intentional communities.’ Time. Retrieved from • Sheridan, M. J. (2000). The “Role of Religion and Spirituality in Practice” (RRSP) scale: Psychometric information and scoring instructions. Unpublished manuscript. Richmond: Virginia Commonwealth University. • Statistica. (2018). Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2017 (in minutes). Retrieved from https://www.statista. com/statistics/433871/daily-social-media-usage-worldwide/



Festival of connections 54


Zandari Festa to take over Hongdae


ith local festivals starting to shut down or downsize, there is one fest that stands out – not only surviving but thriving. And according to organizers, that’s because it takes risk. “The biggest reason for the ‘folding’ is that most of the festivals relied on having a mega lineup that came from just picking up some of the headliners of Japanese festivals such as Fuji Rock and Summersonic. I think that’s lame,” said project manager Cecilia Soojeong Yi. “Zandari Festa takes risks. We believe that we have a great lineup every year, and we’re very proud of it.” She continues that they want people to know this isn’t a festival where people can come, sit in their camping chairs or on a picnic mat, and listen to whatever music is playing while eating cheap steak from a food truck. “This is an experience of the real music culture that happens 365 days a year in Seoul or every other country that participates in Zandari Festa,” she said. “This is something that only we can do and no other festival in Korea could copy. That’s why we’re still alive.” Zandari Festa is, above all, a showcase festival meant to connect musicians and bands with music industry professionals – both those local and international. The festa has been able to help Korean bands play abroad and international bands to book shows here in Korea.

Just from last year’s festa, Korean band Say Sue Me is getting bigger in the U.K. and the rest of Europe, while this spring the organizers were able to bring National Pidgeon Unity, Dead Buttons, Billy Carter, DTSQ, In the Endless Zanhang We Are, and Danny Boy & the Carriages to U.K. festivals such as Liverpool Sound City and Focus Wales, along with Primavera Sounds in Spain. Yi says that Zandari Festa keeps the gate open for musicians whether they cross it or not. “We keep researching live music scenes around the world and networking with key people in order to connect them with the Korean music scene,” she said. “When a band is ready, they will easily go out of the country to explore other

Zandari Festa takes risks. We believe that we have a great lineup every year, and we’re very proud of it. Cecilia Soojeong Yi, Zandari Festa Project Manager

country’s music scenes and make more opportunities using our connections.” She adds that the local music scene won’t be enough for all these talented bands. Not to mention, the music scene should be geographically mixed. “That’s the future, and Zandari Festa exists for the future,” she said. This year’s festival has been revamped just a bit. Yi said that they’ve re-arranged the time schedule so that attendees can enjoy as many acts as possible. In addition to the official showcases from 5 to 10 p.m. each day, they are expecting more special events from participating countries and continents, along with other special themes. There will be special nights hosted by the French Institute and Liverpool Sound City, highlighting some of the best emerging musicians from France and the U.K. There will also be a new event presented by HOT – Hungarian Oncoming Tunes – that will present three bands, including Mongooz And the Magnet, who make “no bull-shit, feel-good rhymes,” and folk band Platon Karataev. “Our goal for this year is to match more musicians with more of the music industry professionals we’re inviting such as festival promoters, bookers, labels, etc.,” Yi said. “We want to continue to expand the opportunities from continent to continent.” >>




For Daniel Kim from Seoul band Danny Boy & The Carriages, Zandari Festa is a great opportunity to meet new people. It’s the band’s second time performing and he said they believe they have a better idea of what to do, and will work hard to get lots of people to come to their showcase. “First of all, it’s a great festival just by gathering all these bands from around the world together. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends, you know. And one of the things that many bands don’t know is that there are around 100 or more delegates from many different countries. They should try to network and get the most out of it,” he said. “I want to experience new bands from other places and see how they act on stage, how they approach music, and how they think. I want to watch as many bands as I can,” he added.

Artists need a network of people to help them move out of their city to new places. Zandari Festa is a great opportunity for that. Geoff Smith, Gunner & Smith


For Daegu band Drinking Boys & Girls Choir, Zandari is a good opportunity for regional bands like themselves, who are located out of Seoul and don’t have a label. “Before we played at Zandari Festa, we never imagined being able to tour in another country. But at the festival, we met so many musicians from around the world and it broadened our view,” said drummer Myeongjin Kim. “In August of this year we toured in Indonesia, and next year we’ll be doing a U.K. tour.” Kim added that they hope to meet a lot of bookers and promoters while performing this year, as well as partaking in the large amount of free beer that the festival is quickly becoming famous for. The band just released its first album in February and they plan to promote it at Zandari. “In my experience, the more active you are, the more you’ll gain from the experience,” Kim said, advising first-time bands and artists that are performing to “meet more people, talk lots with everyone, enjoy yourself and keep drinking.” For Geoff Smith from Canadian band Gunner & Smith, coming to Zandari is about more than just the people and the music. It’s also about the food. He said the last time they played at Zandari, they barely scratched the surface of the cuisine that Seoul has to offer, but this time he is committed to eating fried chicken every night. “After a late night of music and a few beers, that stuff is irresistible! I need to eat enough to last me a whole year in four days, so I have my work cut out for me,” he said. Beyond that, he said that any scene gets better by bringing in

music from different places and any chances artists have to meet artists from other countries is helpful. “Artists need a network of people to help them move out of their city to new places. Zandari Festa is a great opportunity for that,” Smith said. “I hope to keep meeting people from different places and share our music with new audiences. We’d love to come back to Korea for a proper tour sometime soon.” For band Anita Parker, who is coming from Basque Country and playing in Zandari for the first time, the chance to perform in a global festival is a gift. “We want to show our music to a new audience. We think that it is very powerful to create communication between different people through music. We want people to react to our music and have a very good time with Anita Parker,” said vocalist Ane Martinez. The band mixes electronic dance rhythms with different sounds and music genres, and performs in Basque. Martinez said the festival is an exceptional chance to showcase their music in an exotic place, but in a global environment. “We love learning about new cultures and places. Having the opportunity of being in a country like Korea, with a long history and which nowadays one of the most trending countries all over the world, is going to be something that we are not going to forget easily, for sure!” Martinez said. Zandari Festa takes place from Oct. 4-7 in various venues all over Hongdae, Seoul. Ticket information was not available at the time of publication, but watch the festa’s Facebook page and website ( for more information.






K turns to e r d n a b Estonian tour for Asian

k c ba KA ENCY MA KAL FISH AG Story EM rtesy of SMALL ou Photos c




or some foreign bands, Korea is a place they cannot seem to get out of their system. Case in point – I Wear* Experiment from Estonia. They first came to Korea as part of the showcase festival Zandari Festa and then returned for a solo concert in January 2017. This time, Seoul is one stop on a nearly month-long tour that will also take them to China, Japan, and Malaysia, a prospect that has them excited. “We are overwhelmed by the whole tour. What started in the beginning with just a few dates has now become almost a month-long journey,” the band said. “We’ve never been to China and Malaysia so with these concerts there is a lot of excitement [regarding] how the people will react.” This is the third time I Wear* Experiment has performed in Korea. They say they’ve fallen in love with the people and the country, so they are eager to be back again. Outside of the concert at CJ Azit, they plan to do a few radio shows and see as much of the city as they can. “It’s weird, but we’ve never been to the Gangnam area, so I guess we must go there too. Also, a few weeks ago

I watched a food documentary about Seoul and there was some really cool markets and a monastery somewhere up in the mountains I’d like to see,” said Hando Jaksi, who plays guitar and synths. He continued that what fans can expect from the upcoming concert are songs from their debut album Patience, which they are currently promoting. “Also, we have some super cool new songs we’d like to play. And with the help of some very cool designers and Dickies, we’ve created a line of t-shirts we’ll be taking with us to Korea – one of them is a special Korea edition t-shirt,” he said. The band gives all the credit for the tour to their management, Smallfish Agency, as well as DoIndie Korea and Leeway Agency, who have worked for months to make it all happen. “So, we are very grateful for their support.” Since the band was last in Seoul, they’ve been touring Europe and set up a new studio, which they hope will make it easier and more efficient to create new music. They plan to release a new single in the fall and a new full-length album in January or February 2019. “Besides touring and building a studio, we’ve been making many new songs and collaborating with different Estonian and

We are overwhelmed by the whole tour. What started in the beginning with just a few dates has now become almost a month-long journey. I Wear* Experiment

Also, we have some super cool new songs we’d like to play. And with the help of some very cool designers and Dickies, we’ve created a line of t-shirts we’ll be taking with us to Korea – one of them is a special Korea edition t-shirt. Hando Jaksi, guitar/synthesizer international artists – the result will be hopefully released in the beginning of next year,” Hando said. In Korea, Patience (originally released two years ago) is now available on all music platforms, along with “DOGS” – their first single since “Patience,” which was released in April. Most recently, they dropped an EP of remixes made by various artists from Asia and Europe, including Junjaman and Love X Stereo from Korea. They’ve also done a cover of the song “Drink I’m Sippin On” by Korean artist Yaeji. I Wear* Experiment will play in Seoul on Sept. 21 at CJ Azit with supporting act Peter Pan Complex. Another artist represented by Smallfish Agency, Vera Jonas from Hungary, will also be stopping by Seoul on her first Asian tour. It is her second time in Seoul and she has been touring Hungary in recent months. She will be playing at Café Unplugged on Sept. 13 with supporting act Hail and Manju Pocket.



ALONG WITH THE GODS - The Last 49 Days


long with the Gods: The Last 49 Days follows Gang-Rim, played by Ha Jung-Woo, as he guides Kim Soo-Hong, played by Kim Dong-Wook, through his trials in the afterlife while Hae Won-Maek (Ju Ji-Hoon) and Deok-Choon (Kim Hyang-Gi) head to earth to collect a soul that is overdue thanks to the house god played by Ma Dong-Seok. During their journey, we learn about each of their pasts and how they became the reapers they are today. Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days picks up right where its predecessor, Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, left off. Except in this film, you will notice a few changes. Oh Dal-Su and Choi Il-Hwa have been replaced as it seems the company is trying to separate themselves from them due to the accusations that popped up recently as part of the #MeToo movement. The actor replacing Oh Dal-Su is Jo Han-Cheol, who didn’t really hit the mark. It seemed at times he was trying to mimic Oh Dal-Su instead of trying to make the character his own. Due to this, his character was more distracting and at times felt unnecessary for the story. Just like the previous film, there is a lot of explaining and not a lot of showing. Due to this, the film comes off dull and


very slow at times. While watching it, I can understand how this would work for a comic, but I just don’t think it works as a movie. Unlike the previous film, where they focused on a singular story, The Last 49 Days jumps from story to story, making this film a bit hard incoherent at times and just sloppy at others. At one point in the story, there is a Jurassic Park reference and it really took me out of the film. The reference didn’t fit with the story and seemed like it was there to cash in on an cheap laugh rather than really adding anything to the story. Not only that, but Kim Dong-Wook’s character says earlier that he has not fears than a second later says he fears the raptors from Jurassic Park. The sequence seemed rushed and as if they

begins laughing as if he is going insane. The laugh comes off as cheesy and didn’t fit his character as they portrayed him in the rest of the film. Soo-Hong was one character it seemed they couldn’t figure out just how he was suppose to react. I found his character to be the most inconsistent throughout the film, almost as if he were directed by different directors for each of his scenes. The visuals are about the same as they were in the first film. Most of them are CGI heavy and tend to take you out of the film since you can clearly tell these actors are standing in front of a green screen, most notably in the Jurassic Park scene, where I found myself laughing at the visuals. Since we can tell they are standing in front of a green screen, it’s hard to feel scared for these characters. However, the costumes

Ma Dong-Seok steals every scene he is in and Ha Jung-Woo does a great job with his character, who is dealing with his own past and inner demons. had run out of ideas of how to move the story along. The humor in that GangRim was ready for battle and Soo-Hong asures him he has nothing to worry about was much funnier than this CGI heavy sequence. They could have simply cut away after Gang-Rim puts away his sword to the other grim reapers and the story would have flown more smoothly. As far as acting goes, Ha Jung-Woo playing Gang-Rim and Ma Dong-Seok playing the house god were fantastic. Ma Dong-Seok steals every scene he is in and Ha Jung-Woo does a great job with his character, who is dealing with his own past and inner demons. However, not all of the acting in the film was as good as these two and was more distracting than bringing us deeper into the film. Some characters actions didn’t always seem to match and some of their reactions would feel forced. There is a scene where Kim Dong-Wook’s character, Soo-Hong,

in this film were amazing to look at. They went into a lot of detail with each costume and was a nice touch to the film. I just wish the story and other effects would have had as much detail. Another thing is the characters seem to follow a similar pattern to the first film. By the end of the film, Kim Dong-Wook’s character has a very similar reaction to Cha Tae-Hyun’s character in the first film. I’m not sure what they could have done differently but being so similar didn’t really add any suspense and I never thought for once Kim Dong-Wook’s character was in any real danger. If you are trying to figure out what movie to watch this weekend and enjoyed the first Along with the Gods, then check this one out. However, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table and you will probably walk out thinking the first one was better. If you didn’t like the first one, I would stay away from this one. 




llang: The Wolf Brigade is an action, sci-fi thriller starring Jung Woo-Sung, Gang Dong-Won, Han Hyo-Joo, and Kim Mu-Yeol and is set in the future as the two Koreas are about to unite. Due to this reunification, a terrorist group called The Sect emerges, creating problems for the government. To counteract The Sect, a special force, The Wolf Brigade, is created in the hopes of putting a stop to the violence once and for all. Illang was directed by Kim Jee-Woon, who brought us movies like, A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, and The Good, the Bad,the Weird and marks the second time Kim Jee-Woon has worked with Jung Woo-Sung. They first worked together on The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, a fantastic homage to the spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Illang is a reimagining of the animation Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. Jung Woo-Sung has a much smaller role in this film as compared to The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, but whenever he is on the screen, it is hard to take your eyes off him. When he speaks, you are pulled in, making sure you hear everything he has to say.  Alongside him, you have Gang DongWon, who does a fantastic job with his role as Im Joong-Kyung, an officer of the Wolf Brigade. He is haunted by his past mistakes and we see this begin to affect his way of thinking as a soldier and a person.  Along with the acting, the action in this film is great. One thing about Korea, they certainly don’t pull their punches when it comes to action sequences, and Illang is no exception. The action sequences are long, beautifully shot, and create a kind of tension that other films fail to generate. But some of this tension has to be credited to the killer score by Mowg. There wasn’t any time in the film where the music seemed out of place nor was it overbearing. During some of the action scenes, I found myself sliding

Along with the acting, the action in this film is great. One thing about Korea, they certainly don’t pull their punches when it comes to action sequences, and Illang is no exception.

to the edge of my seat, anticipating the movements of the camera and characters with the beat of the music. However, this movie isn’t flawless. As much as I enjoyed it, there are moments when it seems to drag. This is mostly when Gang Dong-Won’s character (Joong-Kyung), and Yoon-Hee, played by Han Hyo-Joo, interact with each other. Joong-Kyung is the officer that witnesses Yoon-Hee’s little sister die when she detonates a bomb right in front of him. They used a lot of screen time for these two, but we aren’t ever told why they feel so connected to each other. I think this storyline could have been better written and maybe less time spent on other characters would have helped as well. 

It is a long film. It has a running time of a little over two hours and at times feels that way, especially towards the end. It felt like there were about four different endings before the credits began to roll. Sometimes this works, however, in this situation, the last 15 or so minutes could have been cut and this would have been a better film for it. If you are looking for a good action flick this weekend, I would check out Illang: The Wolf Brigade. The stunts are amazing and seeing what they do to Seoul Tower caused my jaw to drop. Just don’t expect too many surprises as it is pretty predictable with a stereotypical villain. 



Busan Film Festival 2018 23rd edition runs from Oct. 4-13 Story SIMON MCENTEGGART Photos BUSAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL




or cineastes, the beginning of autumn signals only one thing - that the Busan International Film Festival is right around the corner. Taking place from Oct. 4- 13 (Thursday to Saturday) in the dynamic coastal city, Korea’s biggest film festival is an absolute mustattend event for film fans and casual cinema-goers alike. BIFF itself takes place largely in two main areas. The Centum City area which hosts the Busan Cinema Center, Sohyang Theater, as well as CGV and Lotte cinemas - will screen an array of the biggest and most acclaimed productions of the year, while in Haeundae the eventfilled BIFF Village is literally located on the beach, alongside a nearby Megabox multiplex. In addition there will also be a plethora of Open Talk and Q&A events with filmmakers and actors both at BIFF Village and after certain films, Master classes with renowned directors, and much more to be announced. While information regarding screenings and events is yet to be released, the programs attendees are familiar with will undoubtedly remained unchanged. Gala Presentation contains a selection of the most celebrated works of the

year, while A Window on Asian Cinema hosts films from established filmmakers from the continent and World Cinema is a showcase of non-Asian features. For Korean film fans the Korean Cinema Today - Panorama and Vision programs highlight the years most significant K-film releases and independent feature films, respectively. New Currents and Flash Forward focus on up-andcoming filmmakers and their latest work, while Wide Angle is dedicated to documentaries, experimental works, and short films. For film fans who wish to enjoy the typically warm autumnal weather the outdoor theater Open Cinema program features a selection of family films, and for die-hard cineastes the Midnight Passion boasts horror, thriller, and action movies to excite audiences throughout the night. Notably, BIFF 2018 is set to be an even bigger and more extravagant celebration of cinema compared to the previous three installments, thanks to new Busan Mayor Oh Geo-don. According to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), just seven days after he was elected, Mayor Oh met with BIFF Chairman Lee Yong-kwan and pledged to support the festival

with US$90 million across the four years of his term in office, as well as promising to respect the autonomy of the event itself (author: Song Soon-jin; 10/07/2018). Such a move is particularly significant as funding and independence have been key issues following the decision to screen controversial documentary The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol at BIFF in 2014, and the new promises by Mayor Oh are a sign that the festival will quickly return to its former glory. The full lineup of films to be screened will likely be announced online in early-mid September, and as such it is advised to check the official website for updates. Furthermore, while there are several hotels, motels, and other forms of accommodation for attendees to select, options often become limited as the festival opening approaches and booking in advance is recommended. Featuring an array of acclaimed films, visits from renowned international filmmakers, beautiful locations, and guaranteed fun, the Busan International Film Festival is a cinematic experience not to be missed.



Ramen Hunting in Tokyo




rian MacDuckston could be a hunter. His lean body and long legs would serve him well in the wild, but this former techie doesn’t prey on beasts. Instead it’s ramen he’s after and he has been on the hunt for the best bowls in Japan for close to a decade. We first meet the San Francisconative in the lobby of Palace Hotel Tokyo, a grand setting that bridges the adrenaline-fuelled business hub of Marunouchi with the serenity of Japan’s nearby Imperial Palace Gardens. Hand-tufted green carpets and a perfectly placed tamukeyama momiji (Japanese maple) complement the natural surroundings, and several pieces of the hotel’s 1,000-strong Japanese art collection are prominently displayed throughout the space. This venue is as posh as ramen joints are plain. Brian is one the hotel’s foodie experts that offer tours from the property as part of its Savoring Tokyo ‘Palatial Pursuits’. As we make our way to the taxi and our first stop he starts to share his story. After too many long days in the fast-paced tech industry Brian decided to take a year to “clear his head” and moved to Japan. Twelve years later he’s still here. Around 2009 he realized that no foreigners were covering the mom and pop-style ramen shops, the really authentic places, so he started doing some research. By trawling through Japanese ramen blogs and magazines, watching Japanese shows that cover the popular noodle dish, and of course sampling his fair share of bowls, Brian began to ferret out some of the best spots and shared his finds through his blog and later through his book on the subject. When there was a boom of interest in ramen in New York his website got some attention. Suddenly his ramen knowledge was in demand.

Sora no Iro We pull up to our first stop, a 10-minute drive from the hotel. We’re in Kojimachi and we walk away from the main drag to a simple-looking ramen shop. A row of chairs flank the exterior. It’s 11 am and they’re empty, but by the time we leave they’ll be full. The place is called Sora no Iro which translates as “color of the sky.” It’s the original outpost of Chef Chihiro Miyazaki, a popular ramen chef who, according to Brian, blazed ramen’s way from pedestrian food fare to an upscale clientele. “About six years ago ramen shops started designing their interiors and their ramen so it was more appealing to a wider audience,” says Brian. “There was also a movement to target women. Before most places were a little greasy, you’d sit-alone, and it was male-dominated.” Miyazaki’s restaurant is also one of just a dozen in the city that caters to vegans as well as meat-eaters. They offer a completely meat- and fishfree bowl that still boasts a umami flavor that’s the draw of ramen in the first place.

Brian takes our orders and heads to the ticket machine to place them. Despite several staff hovering near it seems that the ticket machine is still the way to go. We opt for the vegan version. The noodles have a soft pink hue from paprika and the dish is piled with vegetables. A smear of spicy sauce, along with a dollop of mashed potato is on the side. One adds heat, the other thickness. The broth is rich and I have to refrain myself from slurping back the whole thing (as I know I’ll be too full for our second stop). Although Brian tells me I should in fact be slurping, even if I don’t plan to finish it. “It helps cool the noodles,” he explains as he quickly polishes of his bowl. Also adding that the act of slurping is also a complement to the chef. We don’t linger once we finish. It’s not the thing to do in a ramen shop. You eat fast and then you make way for the next person. There are no three-hour lunches here. We walk out to a line of customers and hail a cab for our next stop.



Noodle Stand Tokyo The second shop is in a more touristy area of the city, Harajuku. Noodle Stand Tokyo, which opened several months ago, is hidden away in a basement floor about 100 meters away from Takeshita Dori. Large signs out the front give away its location but then there are large signs for everything around there so we still need to keep a lookout. This ramen shop runs both extremes of the culinary preference spectrum. There’s a vegan coconut miso ramen that has a thick creamy soup base and textured soy protein to imitate the pork that normally dresses the dish; you can even order gluten free noodles for it. Then there’s the “back fat” ramen that’s creamy because of the high-fat consistency of the broth, not because of what too many bowls might do to your body. As we’re looking at the menu outside a bubbly woman who epitomizes Japanese cuteness pops out from the basement, excited to see Brian. She’s one of a growing number of women who are helping to drive the trend pioneered by Miyazaki. She’s working in the ramen shop and gleefully guides us down the stairs. While there we notice there are more women than men coming in and out of the shop (we didn’t do well at eating quickly and leaving this time). The modern, funky interior of the place and the creative interpretations of ramen seem to appeal to the fairersex and maybe the complimentary hair ties in a jar help when they’re slurping back those noodles. Brian tells us about another trailblazer, Satoko Morimoto, a ramen lover who started the Ramen Girls Club. She began by hosting monthly

There’s a vegan coconut miso ramen that has a thick creamy soup base and textured soy protein to imitate the pork that normally dresses the dish; you can even order gluten free noodles for it. events where she and a group of girls would book the whole ramen restaurant (which is not hard to do considering most shops are small). Now she’s switched her focus to ramen festivals that take place a few times a year at different locations throughout Japan. Of course, the festival is open to everyone but there’s a feminine touch - like a girls’ only section with butlers, and sponsorship by a beauty brand. Above our table we see a collection of stickers on display. If we were alone we may have dismissed it as Japanese kitsch but Brian explains that the stickers are designed after traditional popular Japanese stickers that used to be collectable. These modern interpretations have images of some of the great ramen chefs of the city, along with some

Before we say goodbye, we ask Brian one final question that we’ve been wondering about the whole time. What is the best ramen place in Tokyo? Brian laughs. There’s no way he can choose one. “It’s all about the hunt,” he says. Palace Hotel Tokyo offers tours with Brian as part of its Savoring Tokyo package, that introduces foodies to Japanese culinary delights. Brian tailors his tours to the guests preferences with each session normally taking two hours and including two ramen shops.


other characters. Brian points out a sad-looking character who is crying over his stickers in the picture. It turns out this one is of a passionate sticker collector that became so obsessed about getting all the ramen stickers that they made one of him. The stickers can only be collected from the ramen shops and not everyone gets them - you have to ask. Next thing I know Brian hands us a sticker to start our own stock. We realize the sticker is of him! With full bellies we make our way up the stairs as a new stream of patrons make their way down. We leave not just pleasantly sated but feeling like we’ve learned more about this popular Japanese dish and in the process learned more about the culture behind it.





Easy autumn hikes around seoul Story and Photos WENDY PALOMO


ne could argue it’s spring, but for me, autumn is easily the loveliest season. Its cool breeze is perfected by the earthly hues of leaves leaping and soaring from shrubs and trees of all shapes and sizes. When the sun illuminates the yellows, oranges, and reds of these leaves and the wind gently rustles them, the world becomes magical and dreamy. Where can you get the most out of this magical picture? Explore Seoul through easy hikes and immerse yourself in all of the beauty of autumn these mountains and hills have to offer.



Maebongsan (World Cup)

Maebongsan is a hill connecting World Cup Stadium and Oil Tank Culture Park. Come autumn, it is a glorious backdrop for the stadium and oil tanks. It is an easy and fast hike, just enough to pump up your energy, but simply put, you are there not just for the hike. You hike up Maebongsan because of its location and its spectacular view that extends to the Han River. With the completion of the Oil Tank Culture Park last September, hiking has become more inviting. The park has become the newest symbol of artsy ecotourism, a product of Seoul’s urban regeneration project. Maebongsan may be a little mountain and could be easy to take out of a regular hiker’s route, but with two of Seoul’s prominent spots as starting points for its trails, it is now hardly insignificant.

Haneul (Sangam-dong)

Haneul tops my list of autumn must-go places in Seoul. It is not wild terrain going up there and some may not even consider this a hiking spot. But this helps it to fall under my “easiest hike” category. You can opt to climb the stairs going up to the top - there are 291 steps facing World Cup Stadium or 425 steps facing Nouel Park. Take your pick. Or you could walk up using the well-developed road and alternate between brisk-walking and jogging. Or just take a leisurely stroll up to the top. If you want the easiest way, there’s an electric shuttle bus from the entrance of Nanji Parking Lot. Tickets are 3,000-won for a round trip ride or 2,000-won for one-way. At the top, it is so beautiful, especially during sunsets when fiery colors fill the sky. When autumn arrives, fields of Eulalia and pampas grasses dominate and create a whimsical wonder place, leading to the Eulalia Festival every fall. And no matter the volume of people flocking to the Haneul plateau, there’s room for fantasy. When you go up to the “Bowl of Sky” Observatory, you can feel the autumn breeze and bear witness to the beautiful 360-degree spread of whimsical grasses that silently speak to why it is a must-go place in Seoul in autumn.

Eungbongsan (Seongdong-gu)

Eungbongsan is another smallish mountain to hike. In fact, it is less-visited save for its spring Forsythia Festival. The steps are lined by charming yellow forsythia blooms, but autumn brings out enchanting foliage as well, so an easy hike to Eungbongsan in the fall is as just as rewarding. From its peak, the view of the Han and Yongbigyo Bridge has become a favorite of photographers in the city. If the hike isn’t enough, Eungbongsan has Eungbong Rock Climbing Park, which holds rock climbing classes for all levels. It is definitely worth the trip to Seongdong-gu. Public transport is easy by way of the Gyeongui Jungang Line. Since the hike is easy and rock climbing is open to all levels, this is one trip worth your family time even with little ones tagging along.



Inwangsan (Jongno-gu)

Inwangsan is not a very high mountain. There are more challenging and higher mountains in Seoul where you can celebrate your hiking feat, truthfully. In fact, you can just follow the fortress walls and climb the stairs to reach the peak. For a little more challenging route, you can take the path less taken from one of the entrances from Inwangsan-gil and pass by a Buddhist temple. It’s an undefined path from there until the fortress wall. The showcase of astonishing rock formations will push you to go up higher and higher. From the top, the mountain ridges look inviting to those who would willingly and gleefully take the hiking challenge and the imposing buildings of Seoul are magically less intimidating. It is exhilarating to be up there.

Gwanaksan (Gwanak-gu)

To say that Gwanaksan falls under the easy hike category is debatable. Personally, it was a struggle for me to reach its peak at 629 m. I did manage and I did enjoy the hike. But what convinced me to include this under easy autumn hikes was hiking with four kiddos age 7-11 years old who jumped from boulder to boulder like surefooted mountain goats. They hiked up filled with enthusiasm and without fear, bearing with them the perks of youthful carelessness. The Gwanaksan trail gives respite from time to time. It brings you to paths of steep incline then settle for a relaxing pace until it again brings you to another level. In one point before you reach its topmost peak, you have to pass a short distance of relying on a rope. The hiking stick is a necessity in this climb to keep your balance both in ascending and descending. But reaching the top and being able to absorb the beauty before you is understanding Adam Smith’s “the real price of everything is the toil and trouble of acquiring it”. The world below is a paradise.

These are just a few of the mountains in Seoul calling you to enjoy their fall foliage. Start your planning in time for the colors to be in their full glory. And when you have conquered these easy hikes, what’s stopping you from moving on to the next level… and the next? Until you find yourself appreciating every climb, every path, every peak.

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.” Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond

Wendy Palomo, author For more of Wendy’s work, check out her website at




FAMILY AND 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 Makgyedong, 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 Seochodong, Seocho-gu, Seoul

HEALTH ORIENTAL MEDICINE Lee Moon Won Korean Medicine Clinic 02) 511-1079 • 3rd fl., Lee&You bldg. 69-5 Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Specializes in hair loss and scalp problems and offers comprehensive treatments and services including aesthetic and hair care products. COSMETIC SURGERY MIZAIN plastic surgery Seoul National University College of Medicine graduate doctors offer the best quality medical services • (02) 515 6199 • Dosan-daero 423 (Cheongdam-dong 91-11), Gangnam-gu, Seoul MVP plastic surgery Welcoming environment for foreigners and friendly staff guarantees a pleasant visit for cosmetic surgery related consultations. (02) 3442 6669 •Nonhyeon-ro 819, Gangnam-gu, Seoul JK plastic surgery center Experience the best medical system in Korea. Its superb system allows the minimum efforts for your medical experiences. (02) 777 0337 • 584-2 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul FITNESS Exxl Fitness Gangnam Finance Center, 737 Yeoksamdong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul


UROLOGY & OB Sewum Urology (02) 3482-8575 • 10th fl., Dongil bldg., 429 Gangnam-daero, Seochogu, Seoul 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 AND 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, Jongnogu, Seou This museum has a program called Experiencing Royal Culture designed for English teachers to help learn about Joseon royal culture. Seodaemun Museum of Natural History (02) 330-8899 • 141-52 Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul Don’t know where to take your kids on weekends? This museum exhibits a snapshot of the world and animals. National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea (02) 2188-6000 • 313 Gwangmyeongro, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (02) 2014-6901• 747-18 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul • 10:30 am-6 pm Closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year and Chuseok holidays. Gallery Hyundai (02) 734-6111~3 • 22 Sagan-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul The first specialized art gallery in Korea and accommodates contemporary art. • 10 am-6 pm Closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year and Chuseok holidays. Plateau (02) 1577-7595 • 50 Taepyung-ro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul • 10 am-6 p. m. Closed on Mondays. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (MMCA SEOUL) (02) 3701-9500 • 30 Samcheong-ro, Sogyeok-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul Daegu Art Museum (053) 790-3000 • 374 Samdeok-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu Art space for local culture presenting Daegu’s contemporary fine arts and internationally renowned artists.


DRINK WITH CARE. STOLICHNAYA® PREMIUM VODKA 40% Alc./Vol. Distilled from Grain. © 2016. All rights reserved. ® – Registered trademarks, depending on the country, of ZHS IP Americas Sàrl, ZHS IP Europe Sàrl, ZHS IP Worldwide Sàrl, Spirits International B.V., or Spirits Product International Intellectual Property B.V.

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

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


Novotel Ambassador Gangnam (02) 567-1101 • 603 Yeoksam 1-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Grand Hilton Seoul (02) 3216-5656 • 353 Yeonhui-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul Somerset Palace Seoul (02) 6730-8888 • 85 Susongdong, Jongno-gu, Seoul Park Hyatt Seoul (02) 2016-1244 • 606 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Lotte Hotel Busan (051) 810-1000 • 772 Gayadaero, Busanjin-gu, Busan Park Hyatt Busan (051) 990-1244 • 51, Marine City 1-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan 612824, Korea


Seoul National University Hospital 1339 • 28-2 Yeongeon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul Seoul Samsung Hospital 1599-3114 • 50 Irwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Asan Medical Center 1688-7575 • 88 Olympic-ro 43-gil, Songpagu, Seoul Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center (053) 250-7167 (7177 / 7187) • 56 Dalseong-ro, Jung-gu, Daegu

AIRLINES Korean Air 1588-2001

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

Dulwich College Seoul

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

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

Jeju Air 1599-1500

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

British Airways (02) 774-5511

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

Delta Airlines (02) 754-1921

T’way Air 1688-8686 Jin Air 1600-6200 Cathay Pacific Airways (02) 311-2700v Emirates Airlines (02) 2022-8400

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



Groove Korea_September 2018  

KIXFF (Korean International Expat Film Festival) returns for 3rd run, Comic Con Seoul 2018 review, CNH FORUM young CEO Tae-young Woo, Becky...

Groove Korea_September 2018  

KIXFF (Korean International Expat Film Festival) returns for 3rd run, Comic Con Seoul 2018 review, CNH FORUM young CEO Tae-young Woo, Becky...