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Gwangju and South Jeolla International Magazine I January 2020 #215  Ice Skating at Gwangju City Hall

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Gwangju & South Jeolla Intern ational Magazine

From the Editor


elcome to 2020! Welcome to a happy new year! The new year is a time for new beginnings, new expectations, and rejuvenation. We hope that 2020 brings you good fortune, and we hope that the Gwangju News lives up to your expectations.

January brings us a second New Year’s celebration this year: the beginning of the lunar new year, Gyeong-ja, the Year of the Metal Rat. We look forward to this new year with hope, as the element Metal represents strong vitality, energy in social activities, and collaboration for success. The Rat brings new opportunities for the year, potentially leading to much success. So 2020 looks to be a very good year! To untangle the confusion that you may have concerning the lunar calendar, the Year of the Metal Rat, and having two New Year’s Days in one month, read our feature on the lunar new year (Happy New Year – Rats!). This month, we also feature the group GFET (Gwangju Filipino English Teachers). While their activities target professional development in English teaching, you will discover what other interesting things this group is doing. And in our music feature, you will “go ape” over our coverage of Gwangju’s best-known punk rock band with a distinctly punkish name. As the populace has become more health-conscious and the awareness of the need to curb climate change has increased, the move to vegetarianism and veganism has risen. But how does

January 2020, Issue No. 215 Published: January 1, 2020

Photograph by William Urbanski


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Dr. Shin Gyonggu Dr. David E. Shaffer William Urbanski, Karina Prananto Isaiah Winters Karina Prananto Sarah Pittman Kim Yunkyoung Park Min-young David Shaffer, Isaiah Winters Karina Prananto Melline Galani, Lee Younny

We of course have much more for our readers this month. Read about Joseon Dynasty punishments for crimes, marriage to an expat English teacher, and how to make cabbage soybean soup with our baechu doenjang-guk recipe. You won’t want to miss our review of a Fredrik Backman book, our opinion piece on the confusing pricing of big-box stores, and our creative-writing piece, “The Water Flow.” There is timely city news, city and province happenings, and our movie theater schedule at your fingertips. And for the aesthetic eye, we bring you our photo essay and photo of the month this January. Enjoy.

David E. Shaffer Editor-in-Chief Gwangju News

The Gwangju News is the first English monthly magazine for the general public in Korea, first published in 2001. Each monthly issue covers local and regional issues, with a focus on the roles and activities of the international residents and local English-speaking communities. Copyright © 2020 by the Gwangju International Center. All rights reserved. No part of this publication covered by this copyright may be reproduced in any form or by any means – graphic, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise – without the written consent of the publisher. The Gwangju News is published by Gwangju International Center: Jungang-ro 196-beon-gil 5 (Geumnam-ro 3-ga), Dong-gu, Gwangju 61475, South Korea Tel: (+82)-62-226-2733~34 Fax: (+82)-62-226-2731 Website: Email: GwangjuNews gwangjunews Registration No. 광주광역시 라. 00145 (ISSN 2093-5315) Registration Date: February 22, 2010 Printed by Join Adcom 조인애드컴 (+82)-62-367-7702 Special thanks to Gwangju City and all of our sponsors.

January 2020

Publisher Editor-in-Chief Managing Editors Production Editor Layout Editor Photo Editor Photographer Communications Proofreaders Online Editor Researchers

The “Gwangju News January Tour Guide” takes its readers to City Hall for a winter of ice skating pleasure in our cover feature, then to the Book and Practice Bookstore for some thoughtful reading and on to Café Bari E. for a delicious restaurant review before viewing the demise of Namgwang Hospital. Traveling outside the City of Light, we introduce you to the hidden hermitage of Hyangil-am, and then we transport you deep into Transylvania, best known as the habitat of Count Dracula!

Cover Photo Ice Skating at Gwangju City Hall

one sustain a meat-free diet in a country with a meat-laden menu? See our solutions in Expat Living.

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Photo of the Month By Sarah Pittman

January 2020



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s I was taking photos at the ice rink, it made me smile to see this little boy learning how to skate for the first time with one of the ice rink staff members. This photo really shows how important it is to help others learn, and I think that in 2020, we should try to be as kind to others as this staff member was to this little boy.

The Photographer

Sarah Pittman is an English teacher with a degree in psychology from California State University, Fullerton. She discovered her love for photography while working at Disneyland and has been honing her craft with practice and YouTube videos ever since.

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CONTENTS January 2020

Issue # 215

MONTHLY NEWS 04. Gwangju City News 54. January 2020 Happenings 56. Community Board FEATURES 06. Blades of Steel 08. Happy New Year – Rats! 11. Gwangju’s Punk Apes – Monkey Pee Quartet COMMUNITY 14. GFET: More Than Gwangju Filipinos Teaching English 16. The Difference Between Book and Practice: A Conversation with Indie Bookshop Owner Shin Hyeon-chang BLAST FROM THE PAST 19. The Penal Code in the Joseon Dynasty: Harsh Punishments

EDUCATION 38. Language Teaching: Married to an Expat English Teacher 41. Everyday Korean: Episode 25 – 대중교통 (Public Transport) OPINION 42. One Price to Rule Them All: Have Big-Box Stores Gone Too Far with Confusing Pricing Tactics? ARTS & CULTURE 02. Photo of the Month 44. Photo Essay: Gwangju International Center Turns 20 50. Book Review: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman 51. Gwangju Writes: The Water Flow 56. Gwangju News Crossword Puzzle

TRAVEL 21. Lost in Gwangju: Namgwang Hospital – The Demise of a Medical Disaster 25. From Abroad: Sighisoara – Birthplace of Dracula 28. Around Korea: Hyangil-am – Hidden Hermitage in Yeosu

FOOD & DRINKS 30. The Vegetarian Experience in Jeollanam-do & Gwangju 33. Bari E: Gwangju’s Next Dining Hotspot? 36. Baechu Doenjang-guk: Cabbage Soybean Soup

January 2020

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Gwangju City News


Reprinted with permission from Gwangju Metropolitan City Hall Photograph courtesy of Gwangju Metropolitan City Hall

January 2020

Gwangju Mayor Receives “Mokmin” Award


wangju’s Mayor, Mr. Lee Yong-sup, is the first leader of a metropolitan government to win the “Mokmin” Award. Mayor Lee received the Mokmin Award as the first head of a metropolitan government at the 2019 Mokmin Award Ceremony held at the 63 Building in Yeouido, Seoul, on December 5. Since 2017, the Small Businesses Federation has selected leaders of local governments or local councilors who have contributed to enhancing the rights and competitiveness of local small businesses. In the evaluation, Mayor Lee was credited with implementing Gwangju’s unique policy of supporting small businesses, including the Gwangju Win-Win Card and the protection of Bitgoeul micro-enterprises. In particular, the Small Businesses Federation has highly rated Mayor Lee for the following: successfully launching the Gwangju Win-Win Card to increase sales of small merchants in the region, creating the Bitgoeul Micro-Enterprise Protection Program to increase the utilization rate of

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small business support, keeping in close communication with small business owners through field trips for public welfare, revitalizing traditional markets such as the Yangdong Market, and promoting the Special Assurance Fund Support for enhancing self-sufficiency and stable sales activities by supporting special low-interest business loans for small business owners who have experienced a downturn due to economic recession and large retailers. The Gwangju Win-Win Card, which can be used only for small businesses in Gwangju, has contributed to the revitalization of micro-enterprises, with 66.2 billion won issued within eight months of its launch. The convenience of being able to use the card anywhere, except department stores, large marts, and entertainment establishments, is considered to be a big advantage. As word-of-mouth communication on SNSs is increasingly used, the card has also contributed to the growth in sales for local small businesses. In addition, Gwangju City has subsidized the

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5 fees for the Gwangju Win-Win Card by paying the full amount for micro-enterprise owners with annual sales of less than one billion won. The Bitgoeul Micro-Enterprise Protection Program, which has been promoted as a new business model this year, is also receiving great support from local small business owners. The Bitgoeul Micro-Enterprise Protection Program is a project in which local youths visit small business establishments every day to guide them through various support systems, including funds, education, and employment. Earlier this year, the city selected ten local youths and intensively trained them on the small business support projects being pursued by various organizations, including the national government and autonomous regions, as well as the city. So far, these young people have visited 13,215 small- and medium-sized businesses and have applied for 428 projects, linking them to receive more than 3.5 billion won in policy funds such as the business stability fund and the job security fund. In addition, Mayor Lee has held 15 rounds of field tours for public welfare, made 15 economic tours for smalland medium-sized businesses, held regular meetings on revitalizing traditional markets and shopping streets, listened to small business entrepreneurs, actively engaged in communication activities reflected in municipal administration, and operated various small business policies. Moreover, City Hall has also worked on aspects for enhancing the capabilities of traditional markets through advanced management projects, along with the modernization of their facilities, the improvement of parking areas, and other specialization projects.

Gwangju Celebrates Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights he National Human Rights Commission of Korea’s Gwangju Office held the 71st anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 9 at the city’s May 18 Memorial Cultural Center. The declaration consists of 30 articles concerning individuals’ rights and was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.

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he May 18 Democratic Movement commemorative street, Minju-gil (민주길, Democracy Road), has been under construction since December 4 at Chonnam National University, which is known as the origin of the Gwangju Democratic Movement. The university invited some 100 related foundations and officials for the groundbreaking ceremony, where they gave a presentation of the project plan. Over eight billion won will be invested for the construction to connect more than ten of the May 18 commemorative facilities and areas with three “roads”: “Justice Road,” “Human Rights Road,” and “Peace Road.” The fivekilometer regeneration project is expected to be finished by May of this year for the 40th anniversary of the May 18 Democratic Movement. The university is known for playing a leading role in the civil movements that occurred during the 1970s and 1980s in Gwangju.

Four Gwangju Districts Compete for Construction of Swimming Center


our districts in Gwangju have submitted letters of intent to become the site of the city’s upcoming Swimming Promotion Center. The city announced on December 1 that Seo-gu’s Yeomju Swimming Pool, Nam-gu’s Gwangju University, Buk-gu’s Ilgok Park, and Gwangsan-gu’s Nambu University were the candidate sites. The city and the Evaluation Committee planned to complete by the end of 2019 their examination of the feasibility of the sites, including accessibility and facilities. After the location is finalized, construction of the 12,000-square-meter project is expected to be launched in 2021 and to begin operations beginning in 2023. The project will encompass a standard competition swimming pool and aquatic contest exhibition areas as well. The center is to be a commemorative project for the successful hosting of the 18th FINA World Championships held in Gwangju in 2019.

January 2020


“Democracy Road” to Be Paved at Chonnam University

Mayor Lee Yong-sup said, “In order to resolve slow growth and polarization, which are chronic problems of the Korean economy, and to revitalize the regional economy, it is necessary to improve business conditions and protect the interests of small businesses.” The mayor added, “We will continue to develop policies to revive traditional markets and businesses, and take the lead in creating jobs and in social integration.”

The 2019 World Human Rights Day commemoration was hosted in conjunction with the Gwangju Human Rights Office, Gwangju City, the city’s Office of Education, the Human Rights Council, and the Gwangju Trauma Center under the theme “For All the People.” At the ceremony, various events such as presentations, contests, programs, concerts, exhibitions were held.

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Blades of Steel

January January 2020 2020


Written and photographed by William Urbanski


ne of my favorite Gwangju traditions is strapping on the skates at the city hall skating rink every winter. For anyone who hasn’t been there, it’s basically the best. For 1,000 won (yes, only a buck), you can rent skates and slash around a pretty well-maintained rink for about 45 minutes. I’m not sure how Gwangju puts this on every year without losing a ton of money, but then again, my guiding principle in life is to not argue with a good thing. Being from Canada, where virtually all people spend a good chunk of their childhoods in and around hockey arenas, enjoying an outdoor rink on a cool winter’s day harks back to a simpler time. There’s also something organic about enjoying a few dozen laps around the ice while listening to speakers blast the best of what the Korean music industry has to offer. So here’s how it works: Take a bus to Gwangju City Hall (광주광역시청) in Sangmu (parking in the area isn’t good) and make your way to the ticket booth just beside the rink. In order to skate, you need to buy a ticket for a specific start time, which is around every hour. After buying your ticket, you have to go to the next window to get your skates which, while not “professional quality,” are very usable and actually not that bad. After strapping those babies on, you’ll have to wait for your start time before getting on the ice. One thing that’s worth mentioning here is how well-staffed this whole skating operation is. The ticket window and the skate rental area both have plenty of people helping you out. There was one instance last year when I couldn’t get my skates to fit just right and had to change them a few times. Can you guess how much of a hard time the staff gave me? None. Another great feature is the convenience store that’s set up, providing all sorts of noodles, snacks, hot chocolate, and coffee. As for the rink itself, it’s surprisingly good. There’s a reallife Zamboni that comes out and cleans the ice pretty

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▲ The mayor of Gwangju speaks at the well-attended opening ceremony on December 14th.

frequently, so the surface is quite smooth and clear. My only real gripe (a nitpicky thing, I admit) is that skaters are only allowed to go in one direction for the entire time, which gets slightly tedious – it’d be better if they’d change the direction halfway through. For those of you who aren’t interested in testing out this rink because you don’t know how to skate, I have two things to say. First, I pity you. Second, skating is a

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▲ Check out the beautiful, even ice surface.

fundamental human skill, and this is your chance to learn one of the best and simplest pleasures of winter. So, channel your inner Kim Yuna and get out there.

1. Holding onto the boards while taking a selfie. 2. Falling on your rump and getting in my way while

Now, once you get there and master the basics of skating, here are a few trick tips to help take you to the next level.

Overall, wintertime skating at City Hall is a cheap, wholesome, quality outing that is perfect for friends, family, or even a little date with that special someone.

While we’re at it, here are a couple of moves I don’t recommend doing:

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William Urbanski, managing editor of the Gwangju News, has an MA in international relations and cultural diplomacy. In the wintertime, he can periodically be found on the skating rink at City Hall.

Gwangju City Hall Outdoor Ice Skating Rink 광주광역시청 야외스케이트(얼음썰매)장 t December 14, 2019 – February 9, 2020 (10:00 a.m. – 5:40 p.m. (weekdays); until 8:20 p.m. on weekends and holidays) ₩ 1,000 won/person P 111 Naebang-ro, Seo-gu, Gwangju (Gwangju City Hall) 광주 서구 내방로111 (치평동) 광주광역시청 Buses: 01, 02, 16, 25, 38, 45, 64, 68, 89, 89, 518 À 062-613-5670

January January 2020 2020

THE “SAVE THE LAST DANCE” This involves striking the iconic pose from the poster of the 2001 classic dance drama Save the Last Dance while dragging one skate sideways on the ice. To do it, gain a little speed going forward, lift up your left skate, and cross your left and right calf muscles. The tip of your left skate should be touching the ice and dragging. The key to this trick is to throw your arms above your head and to the right, just like Julia Stiles. The longer you hold it, the more points you get.

The Author

THE 180 Much like its namesake implies, this maneuver involves rotating your body 180 degrees while continuing to move in the same direction. Every person in Canada knows how to do this flawlessly, and it’s an essential hockey skating technique. While there are many variations on this one, the easiest way to do it involves doing the slightest jump while turning your body clockwise. It helps to think of pivoting on your toes. To make this one look good, keep the flailing arm movements to a minimum, and try to do the 180 as fast as possible.

I’m trying to do a “Save the Last Dance.”

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Happy New Year – Rats! Written by David Shaffer



appy New Year! Happy 2020! Happy Lunar New Year! Having two New Years to contend with in a single year – one solar, one lunar – is confusing enough, but one also hears the new lunar year being referred to as the Year of the Rat, or Gyeongjanyeon, or the Year of the Metal Rat, or the Year of the White Metal Rat, or the Male Metal Rat (or is it “Yang”?); the befuddlement becomes baffling. Here we will try to unravel the uncertainty so that all of us who are firmly grounded in Gregorian calculations can rest assured that we are living in a single year for the next twelve months (or so). As we all know, the new year begins on January 1 according to the Gregorian calendar (a.k.a. the Western calendar or the solar calendar). But we also see that the lunar new year begins on January 25 this year – “this year,” not every year – and ends on February 11, 2021. This is the “Year of the Rat,” and it is quite a bit longer than the 366 days of 2020. We will discuss the discrepancy in days later, but first let’s discuss why 2020 is a Rat Year.

January 2020


▲ The Twelve Earthly Branches. (Image from

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While Western astrology posits 12 zodiacal signs of roughly one month each in length, the oriental zodiac (a.k.a. Chinese zodiac, a.k.a. animal zodiac) is composed of 12 animal signs rotating each lunar year. These signs, in order, are rat (ja/자), ox (chuk/축), tiger (in/인), rabbit/ hare (myo/묘), dragon (jin/진), snake (sa/사), horse (oh/오), sheep/goat (mi/미), monkey (shin/신), rooster/ chicken (yu/유), dog (sul/술), and pig/boar (hae/해). This collection of signs is known as the twelve earthly branches (sip-i jiji/십이지지, or sip-i ji/십이지 for short). Last year, 2019, concluded the cycle with the Year of the Pig, so in 2020, the cycle begins anew with the Year of the Rat (and 2021 will be the Year of the Ox). Simple enough, right? THE TEN HEAVENLY STEMS Well, yes – but… But the Korean name for the year 2020 is Gyeong-ja-nyeon (경자년/庚子年), the gyeongrat-year. So, what is this “gyeong” bit, and where did it come from? Well, it so happens that in addition to the 12 earthly branches involved in naming the years of the lunar calendar, there is another set of symbols, the 10 heavenly stems (cheon-gan/천간, or sip-gan/십간) that are involved in naming the years. These ten heavenly stems are, in order, gap (갑/甲), eul (을/乙), byeong (병/丙), jeong (정/丁), mu (무/戊), gi (기/己), gyeong (경/庚), sin (신/辛), im (임/壬), and gye (계/癸). These ten heavenly stems pair with the twelve earthly branches linearly to create the names of the years: the first stem (gap) pairs with the first branch (ja) to form (gap-ja), the second stem and the second branch form (eul-chuk), and so on, circling back to the beginning member of a set when the end is reached. The linear pairing continues for 60 pairs, until the rotation returns to gap-ja (the reader is invited to check this out). This sexagenary cycle is most prominent in Korean custom in celebrating one’s hwangap (환갑, 60th birthday). So, the seventh stem pairs with the first branch to form the year Gyeong-ja.

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Though every twelfth year, is a “something-ja” year, only once every 60 years does it pair with gyeong to form the year Gyeong-ja. (Comprehension quiz: What year will next year, 2021, be – the Year of the ___? And what will the Korean name for the year be? If you say “the Year of the Ox” and “Sin-chuk” (신축), you are correct! THE FIVE ELEMENTS

You have probably heard 2020 referred to as the Year of the Metal Rat. “Metal rat”! What in the world (or out of the world) is a metal rat? Well, the “metal” part comes from the Five Elements (오행/五行) of oriental philosophy, which are considered to be the foundation of all natural phenomena and all things in the universe. They play a central role in geomacy, which employs energy forces to harmonize the individual with their environment. The Five Elements – wood (목/木), fire (화/火), earth/soil (토/土), metal (금/金), and water (수/水) – are also applied to the naming of years. They are associated with the ten heavenly stems: Each element is associated with two stems. Wood is paired with the first two stems (gap and eul), fire with the second two, … and metal with the fourth two (gyeong and sin). Therefore, Gyeong-ja is a metal year, and next year, Sin-chuk, is also.

PREDICTIONS The Year of the Metal Rat, 2020, is predicted to be a good year. It is considered to be a year of new beginnings and renewals. Success is predicted in one’s undertakings. New opportunities will open up for earning money and for finding true love. The Year of the Metal Rat is to be a strong and prosperous year, as well as a year of good fortune for almost all oriental zodiac signs (i.e., the 12

January 2020

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▲ Earthly Gods - Rat

YIN–YANG A quick Google search of “Year of the Rat,” will produce results that include items such as “Year of the Male Metal Rat” and “Year of the Yang Metal Rat,” and even “Year of the White Metal Rat.” What is all this about? How many kinds of rats does 2020 have?! Still only one, but there are a number of different things that the Year of the Rat (and each of the 12 branches) is associated with. We just discussed the association of the Five Elements with the 10 heavenly stems. It so happens that these are also associated with Yin-Yang philosophy. We saw that each of the Five Elements is associated with two consecutive stem, and for each pair of stems, the first is considered to be yang (양, yang) and the second yin (음, eum). In other words, each of the odd-numbered stems is a yang stem, and each of the even-numbered ones a yin stem. Since the gyeong stem is the seventh heavenly stem, it is a yang stem, making Gyeong-ja (2020) a yang year – the Year of the Yang Metal Rat.

In addition, yin and yang are associated with “female” and “male,” respectively, so 2020 can also be referred to as the “Year of the Male Metal Rat.” There is no female rat, however, because the gyeong stem is always associated with yang/male. The Five Elements are also each associated with a different color: wood–green, fire–red, earth–brown, metal–white, water–black. This association gives rise to the term “Year of the White Metal Rat,” though neither the metal nor the rat is considered to be white. These associations with the Five Elements as well as those of compass directions, seasons, weather conditions, planets, and numbers are all taken into consideration in geomancy predictions and foretelling future events.

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10 earthly stems listed above). Everyone has one of these 12 zodiac signs depending on the year they were born in. Those born in 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, and 2008 were born under the rat sign (쥐띠, jwi-tti); those born one year later were born under the ox sign (소띠, so-tti), and so on. It is to be a great year for founding and evolving. Individual determination will be forthcoming toward obtaining one’s goals and aspirations and in pursuing one’s hobbies. Businesses started in the Year of the Metal Rat and investments made in long-term projects have great chances for satisfactory results in the future, but one must take care to ensure that such projects are carefully planned and executed. For those with rat, ox, monkey, and dragon as their zodiac signs, the best months of 2020 are to be May, June, August, and October. Care should be taken not to fall prey to jealousy. Beware of arguments occurring especially in April and November. Starting a new relationship or marriage is not recommended for February, July, September, or November. Compromise and patience are recommended to avoid misunderstandings. In making plans, it is advisable to be as realistic as possible. Those born under the rat, ox, and dragon shall enjoy stable health but should guard against possible accidents.

January 2020

The Year of the Rat is predicted to be one of ups and downs for those born under the signs of the tiger, pig, rooster, and snake. They should guard against jealousy and spend more time tending to their relationships. The best months for marriage are March and December. Being natural leaders, their business sense is at a peak, and it is a good year for investment, but they should avoid borrowing in June. Health should be a concern this year as the vital life force is weak. February, May, July, August, September, and November are the best months of the Metal Rat Year for those born under the rabbit, sheep, horse, and dog signs. However, they will experience repeated periods of good times and bad. They should focus on putting extra effort into their relationship with their partner. Quarrels may occur out of a lack of a sense of self-confidence, but it is a good year to have children! They need to make the best of their opportunities by making solid, realistic plans. Generating an income should not be problematic, but they must guard against others talking behind their back. They will enjoy excellent health as long as they do not become preoccupied with work and making money. LEAP MONTH The oriental lunar calendar, like the Gregorian calendar, consists of twelve months. However, lunar months are only 29 or 30 days in length, making a lunar year only about 354 days long. While the Gregorian calendar

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employs the addition of an extra day every four years, the lunar calendar inserts an intercalary month to realign the months with the seasons every few years. The extra month is called a “leap month,” or yun-dal (윤달) in Korean. Coincidentally, 2020 is both a Gregorian leap year and contains a lunar leap month. There are seven leap months in 19 years, with one leap month occurring every 2–3 years. The lunar leap month is inserted between different months in this 19-year rotation for more exact alignment with the seasons. This year, the lunar leap month follows the fourth lunar month, sa-wol (사월) and takes the name of the month it follows with the prefix yun (윤) attached: yun-sa-wol (윤사월). So, when is it this year? May 23 through June 20. People born in a leap month who celebrate their birthday according to the lunar calendar celebrate it on the same date in the previous month. Since a lunar leap month has long been believed to contain no impurities or misfortune, it was traditionally considered to be an auspicious time for marriage, house repair or moving, gravesite maintenance, and the making of mourning garments. The common saying was “No harm can be done even if you hang a corpse upside down in a leap month.” Buddhists were allowed to engage in virtuous deeds for themselves that they would normally be forbidden from doing. In Gochang, in Jeollabuk-do, the ritual of walking around the town’s fortified wall took place in the belief that this would provide them with entrance into Paradise. Among Korea’s multitude of superstitions, there were a number associated with the leap month. It was believed that there were no spirits roaming in a leap month to affect human affairs, as they were unable to recognize a leap month. This meant that there were no evil spirits to interrupt passage to the afterlife. However, it also meant that there were no good spirits around to protect against misfortune. Accordingly, with time, it came to be believed that it would be best to avoid marriage and similar family affairs during a leap month. To this day, wedding halls experience somewhat less business during leap months. Here’s wishing good fortune and abundant success to all in the Year of the Metal Rat!

The Author

David Shaffer is a long-time resident of Gwangju. In 2020, he will be spending his fifth Year of the Rat here. He has written about the lunar calendar and Lunar New Year customs in Seasonal Customs of Korea (Hollym). Dr. Shaffer is the chairman of the board at the Gwangju International Center and the editor-in-chief at the Gwangju News.

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Yang Gun-yang, guitarist and co-vocalist.


Gwangju’s Punk Apes Monkey Pee Quartet Written and photographed by Jon Dunbar

Although punk dates back at least to the late 1970s, it didn’t arrive in Korea until the early 1990s, having been blocked from entering the country under the authoritarian rule of Chun Doo-hwan. Today, it exists in the shadows of the self-destructive K-pop industry, practiced by a small but dedicated community spread out across the country.

“Gwangju is definitely a city with a spirit of resistance,” said Yang Gun-yang, guitarist and co-vocalist of Gwangju poppunk band Monkey Pee Quartet. “We are the sons of the resistance.”

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“I don’t know why, but I think there are many punk bands in Gwangju,” he said. “Gwangju is a small city. There aren’t many bands either. But I think that the percentage of bands in Gwangju playing punk is higher compared to bands playing other genres. It’s hard, but the scene is still moving.” Yang rattles off a handful of names. There’s the “seomin” (서민, common people) punk band Dirty Rockhon. Yang’s own former drummer started the band Two Five. And he says there’s a new punk band, named Flight No. 8. The scene here dates back to around 1999, according to a Gwangju News article by Adam Hogue published

January 2020 2020 January

Gwangju, the cradle of Korean modern democracy, has its own punk scene. It’s not much, but it has produced a handful of great bands over the last couple decades.

His words are both irreverent, poking a little fun at the idea, and matter-of-fact. The band members are too young to have even been alive during the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising, but it’s a fact of life in their upbringing in this southwestern Korean city.


unk, a musical genre of disobedience and nonconformity, is just what Korea needs in these times of political discord and societal misery.

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▲ Kim Hee-jong, guitarist-vocalist.

December 2012. That was when the club Gok’s opened, followed the next year by Backstage Club, and then Club Nevermind in 2003. One of the big names from those days is Bettyass, but that band is long gone now.

January 2020

Punk, unlike K-pop, is built to endure, to not be forgotten the following week. Still, it’s been difficult to achieve permanence. Nevermind, according to Yang, closed and changed its name to Neverland around 2017, and he hasn’t been back since. Yang says most of the shows he plays are at Bohemian, which opened in 2014 across the street from the Asia Culture Center, and Club Boojik, opened in 2010 near the back gate of Chonnam National University by a local youth pastor who wanted to provide a space for musicians to do their thing. Yang’s band, Monkey Pee Quartet, celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year, a distinguished achievement for anyone, let alone a punk band in Gwangju.

“It was our first album, so I wanted to make it look like a appetizer,” Yang said. “‘Banana’ is also because of the band name.” Their music is classic pop-punk, a melodic subgenre of punk that’s easily listenable and welcoming to new listeners. They write lyrics in either Korean or English. The album contains their first song “Julie,” which Yang claims was originally titled “Jesus” in an earlier version on their demo CD. “But when I finished it, I changed the name to that of a girl that starts with J,” he said. “This was our first English song to try, and I couldn’t find time to put a message in it because I couldn’t complete it. Julie is actually nobody. I just wanted to feel the victim.” Also in 2013, Yang started working on the song “My Old Virgin Sister,” a song the band didn’t end up releasing until 2018.

He says the very oddball band name didn’t come from anything in particular, maybe just a desire to give people an uneasy first impression. “We didn’t want it to mean anything,” he said. “Originally, it was just ‘Monkey Pee,’ but I thought it was too short, so I added ‘Quartet’ to the end.”

“Did you notice this song is about ex-President Park Geunhye?” Yang asked. “It’s a song that I wanted to make to criticize her for her mistakes. I couldn’t finish the lyrics for so long because of the crazy incidents that kept happening while I was making it. Whenever I tried completing the lyrics, there’d be a new development – the Sewol sinking, influence-peddling scandal, impeachment.”

The band has released about a dozen songs throughout the years, starting with 2013’s six-song mini-album Banana Stew.

Lately, Monkey Pee Quartet has been releasing singles paired with music videos, which Yang calls the band’s “Singles Project.”

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1313 The latest was “Bad Ape,” released in September, featuring a music video of an ape wandering a post-apocalyptic landscape. Yang says the song is named after the character Bad Ape from 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes. “I tried to make the music video feel like ‘Planet of the Apes,’” he said. They used real scenery to create a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, filming in an urban redevelopment zone in Gwangju he stumbled upon on his way to make the video, and at an abandoned school in Boseong County in South Jeolla Province. “He lost his coworkers and family, and he was alone for a very long time, but he didn’t lose his sense of humor, he endured his grief, and then he met with Caesar,” Yang said about the song. “I sang about how he endured a time of loneliness, sadness, and anger. Unlike the movie, the ape in the music video meets a human companion. The message that I wanted to make is loneliness and reconciliation.”

Yang said the quartet’s next video should be out early this year, and it’ll mark the last release of the band’s Singles Project. After that, they have lots of plans for their 10th anniversary year. They want to return to making another full album, and Yang said he plans to continue making music videos. He also hopes to revive a plan to tour Japan this year after it fell through last year. “I hope we can become a punk band representing Gwangju,” he said. Visit to learn more about Gwangju’s Monkey Pee Quartet and find out about upcoming concerts. Their music videos can be found easily on their YouTube channel.

The Author

Jon Dunbar is a member of the Gwangju International Center living in Seoul. He is also a council member of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch and a copy editor at The Korea Times.

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January 2020

Kang Min-sang, bassist (left), with Yang Gun-yang and Lee Gang-san (drummer) in the background.

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More Than Gwangju Filipinos Teaching English


Written and photographed by Sun-young Yoon (Sherryl Sambo)

A monthly regular meeting inviting Dr. David Shaffer, Gwangju News editor-in-chief.

January 2020

Official group registration at the Philippines Embassy in Seoul in March 2019.

The Philippines Culture Day at the GIC, December 2017.

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Barista training for three weeks in Gwangju, October 2019.

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wangju is home to diverse foreign residents of different nationalities, professions, and backgrounds. This includes a significant number of Filipinos who have come here as either marriage migrants, workers, professionals, or students. Since the Philippines uses English as a second language, marriage migrants land opportunities to teach English in various institutions like English academies, schools, social welfare centers, and children centers. In connection with this, a small group of Filipino marriage migrants created a group of Filipino English teachers that aims to provide a place where fellow Filipinos teaching English in the city can gather and share teaching strategies that can help them become better educators. The group is called Gwangju Filipino English Teachers (GFET), and it conducts monthly meetings every third Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Gwangju International Center (GIC). GFET invites presenters every month who can impart information on any topic related to teaching that could help the attendees improve their teaching. GFET also participates regularly in various Gwangju foreigner’s community activities such as Gwangju International Community (GIC) Day, Gwangju Filipino Catholic community events, and volunteer programs like culture classes that promote the culture of the Philippines and English classes for multicultural children.

This year, GFET aims to create more programs that will benefit not just the Filipino community but the foreign community as a whole. In line with this plan, we encourage all the existing foreign communities in Gwangju to join hands in making Gwangju a friendly place for expats to live in.

The Author

Sun-young Yoon (Sherryl Sambo) has been living in Korea for 12 years. In addition to being the president of GFET, she is currently working as a full-time English teacher at Reading Star Academy’s Suwan branch. She also works as an English conversation class instructor (advanced level) at the GIC and participates as a translator for the GIC’s Multicultural Community Translation Program. At present, she is earning a PhD in English Language Education at Chonnam National University, serving as a volunteer for the Gwangju Filipino Catholic Community, and working as a coordinator for the Night Market program at Daein Market.

January 2020

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Recently, GFET has also become a bridge to initiate the Night Market program for foreigners at Daein Market every third and fourth Saturday of the month, where international food and crafts booths run by people from different countries will offer traditional food and other goods representative of their cultures. This project not only creates an environment where Koreans and foreigners can get together but can also help marriage migrants, foreign workers, and foreign students earn extra money and obtain their spot in Korean society.

As the group is about to celebrate its fifth anniversary in July 2020, GFET has decided to widen its scope of activities and programs. Aside from the regular monthly meetings for teachers and yearly GFET Hangeul Day Korean Song Festival events, GFET introduced the “GFET’s Livelihood Program” this year, which is not exclusive to Filipino English teachers but is also for Filipino workers, students, and people of other nationalities. GFET’s previous livelihood programs featured Korean cooking classes, barista training, and rice wine-making programs. In addition, at the request of Filipino workers, GFET will also launch its own Korean language

program, which will be taught in Tagalog so that attendees can understand the lectures more effectively, thereby helping them interact and communicate better in their workplace. Furthermore, this language program will help them prepare for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) in an attempt to change their visas from an E9 to an E7. This program will begin in January and will benefit 20 Filipino workers.

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Interior of the bookshop. A table of one’s own for sitting and reading.

The Difference Between Book and Practice

A Conversation with Indie Bookshop Owner Shin Hyeon-chang

January 2020

Written and photographed by Esther Kim


ook and Practice (책과생활, Chaek-gwa Saenghwal) is an independent bookshop specializing in literature, philosophy, art, and design located on the second floor of a gray building on Jebong-ro. It sits above The Kitchen restaurant and next to the IMF fruit store, and is just a ten-minute walk east of Gate 4 of the gargantuan Asia Culture Center. Belying its nondescript exterior, inside is a cozy, curated space with the distinct smartness of a design bookshop. A turntable in the far corner plays jazz. The owner, Shin Hyeon-chang, is a former book editor from Seoul who opened the shop’s doors three years ago.

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I caught Shin on a slow Tuesday afternoon. He brewed us some dark, pour-over coffee and sat down for a conversation about Korean book culture and publishing. I was accompanied by Han Jae-sub, a Gwangju local and art historian based at the ACC, who interpreted for us, and by Shin, who answered my flurry of questions. We spoke in a mixture of English, Korean, and “Konglish.” The wall closest to the entrance displayed books about the Gwangju Uprising (referred to as “5.18,” or oh-il-pal, in Korean). Next to the wall was a tall shelf of contemporary Korean novels by authors like Hwang Jung-eun, Choi Eun-young (to be published in 2021, Penguin Books),

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17 and Han Kang (winner of the Man Booker International Prize). Along the window was a display of art, design, and philosophy books, and the furthest wall of the bookshop held contemporary feminist books such as Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, Sister Outsider, and more in Korean translations. Though Shin is a Seoul local, he’s lived in Gwangju for about six years. He worked in Seoul book publishing for over 20 years, and he also did a bit of freelance work, copyediting, magazine reporting, and even the odd ghost-writing stint. When I asked about his experiences traveling outside South Korea, he mentioned living in Berlin for a few months (trailing his girlfriend, an assistant to a famous installation artist). He was an editor at Hyunshilmunhwa, or HyunsilBook, a prestigious academic publishing house responsible for introducing heavyweight theoretical works by British, French, and German academics to South Korea in translation.

Art and photography books, including Moon Sun-hee ’s powerful Buried (Mutda).

January 2020

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So why leave Seoul? Why Gwangju? It was something of a coincidence. After Seoul, Shin moved to Gwangju to establish the research arm of the new Asia Culture Center, conceived by President Roh Moo-hyun back in 2002 in an attempt to recast the city of Gwangju as a pan-Asian (international) arts and research hub. (It was like a form of reparations for the events of 5.18.) After Shin quit that gig, he contemplated his next steps. He considered moving back to Seoul to open a small press. But, he smiled, the rents are cheaper in Gwangju. “Somehow… I just stuck around,” Shin said. Because of that, there’s now a small and growing scene.

I asked Shin whether the strong regional and political differences within the peninsula are reflected in the publishing culture. (The Gyeongsang provinces are seen as wealthier and more conservative while the Jeolla provinces are considered working-class.) Was there a local Gwangju publishing scene? Not quite. Book culture here in South Korea is centered around the capital of Seoul or, more precisely, Paju – the famous book and publishing city located about one hour northwest of Seoul. It’s quite close to the DMZ (likely because the land was cheap.) Paju was first conceived in the 1980s, and the South Korean government asked the entire publishing industry to move, giving them some land and tax incentives, or something like that, so most of the country’s publishers moved. Today, over 100,000 people commute daily from Seoul to work in Paju. It’s a strange, quasi-urban industrial space – a meticulously planned, sprawling city out among the hills, packed with modern architectural buildings that house 250 companies covering every aspect of book publishing – from editing to printing and distribution.

While writers may live and write in Gwangju, almost everyone in the arts and culture industry (even if they are from outer provinces) will have gone to Seoul for graduate school or work. As the saying goes, “Body in Gwangju, Soul in Seoul.” Even amongst Gwangju locals, cultural consumption is oriented towards Seoul and copying the capital’s trends – there’s little homegrown book and literary culture – or perhaps not enough attention given to it. The only exception is books about the Gwangju 5.18 Uprising, which sell steadily here.

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Of course, worldwide, the rise of online retailers and e-books has made it difficult for small and independent brick-and-mortar bookshops to survive. In the US, where I’m from, we have Amazon (not paying taxes while) undercutting publishers and bookshops, effectively laying waste to local book cultures. In South Korea, Shin explained, there are the huge retail brick-and-mortar bookshops like Kyobo, Aladin, and Yes24, along with online retailers like Ridi and Millie, a kind of Netflix for books. Needless to say, it’s not as easy to run an independent bookshop today, championing independent tastes, as it was yesterday.

The rise of online retailers and e-books has made it difficult for small and independent brick-andmortar bookshops to survive.

The Author

Esther Kim is a writer, literary translator, and former book publicist. She earned one MA in Korean literature at SOAS, University of London, and another in English literature at the University of Edinburgh. She is a native New Yorker, and her mother’s side is from Gwangju. (Photo by Joe Liew)

January 2020

To spark something local, Shin organized “The City’s Yawn” this year. It’s Gwangju’s first indie bookshop festival with a few Gwangju independent shop owners. Drinks and snacks are provided. Admission is ten won. To kick off the series, the poet Lee Byung-ryul launched his best-selling collection of travel essays Alone for the Alone (Honja-gah honja-eh-geh). Held on the second and fourth Saturday evening of the month at 7 p.m., the series ended on December 14, 2019.

As for the bookshop’s name, Chaek-gwa Saenghwal, chaek means “book” while saenghwal commonly translates as “life”; however, Shin calls it “practice,” as in “theory versus practice” (and gwa = “and”). I prefer this second translation. Book and Practice is a fitting name for the little bookshop, which was opened by an editor of heavily theoretical books out of aspirations to foster an intellectual community within the city – from the grassroots upwards, through everyday practice.

He opened a neighborhood bookshop in 2016. Back then there was a flowering of small independents that catered mainly to buyers in their 20s and 30s. For a city its size, Gwangju has a pretty large concentration of bookshops compared to other South Korean cities.

Interior of the bookshop. Gwangju-focused books sit next to Korean novels.

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Blast from the Past 19

The Penal Code in the Joseon Dynasty

Harsh Punishments


In addition to the basic punishments (whipping, flogging, hard labor, banishment, and death), further penalties included tattooing, confiscation of one’s slaves, confiscation of one’s property, compensation levied for damages, and guilt by association, by which family, relatives, and associates could also be punished for the perpetrator’s crime.

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There were a number of customarily practiced extralegal punishments applied to officialdom. There were also numerous illegal punishments practiced in the private households of the powerful. Back-whipping, leg-twisting (juri-teulgi, 주리틀기), knee-pressing (apseul, 압슬), and indiscriminate flogging (nanjang, 난장) belonged to the former, while hamstringing, nose-cutting, foot-splitting, and ash-water waterboarding belonged to the latter. Legtwisting was applied to grave crimes such as treason, and it was also used by the police to interrogate thieves and other criminals. The suspects who underwent this legtwisting process were almost always left crippled for life, and its application was strictly limited. Back-whipping was used as a means of torture to extract confessions from suspects, but since it was at times fatal, King Sejong, the fourth ruler of the Joseon Dynasty (r. 1418–1450), finally decreed its abolishment. Kneepressing was also a form of torture in which an extremely heavy object, such as a stone weight, was used to put pressure on the knees of the sitting or squatting suspect. This punishment could also leave the recipient crippled

January 2020

Applied mainly to thieves who were sentenced to flogging, hard labor, and banishment, tattoos originally went on the criminal’s wrist or mid-forearm. The size of the tattooed Chinese character for “thief ” was about 4.5 square centimeters, with strokes of the character being five millimeters in width. The purpose was to inflict a

sense of shame into these lawbreakers by permanently branding them as convicted criminals and to control them by making them known to the public. However, since a tattoo on the arm or wrist could easily be concealed under a sleeve, thus diminishing the intended results, the placement of the tattoo was later changed to the face. The facial tattoo was devised to prevent thievery during severe famines, and was thus only seldom applied. In any case, the facial tattoo was a severe punishment and forced the bearer to spend the rest of their life with the stigma of being a convicted criminal. Tattooing was abolished in the 16th year of the reign of King Yeongjo (1740), when he destroyed all tattooing tools by royal decree.

oseon society could be characterized as a Confucian, centralized, bureaucratic, and feudal society. Confucianism was the national creed providing guiding principles for government, society, and education. All systems and policies established during the Joseon period (1392–1910) could be regarded as being influenced by the tenets of Confucianism. Styles of penal administration were in part carry-overs from the preceding Koryo era (918–1392) but were reinforced with Confucian ethics. The Joseon criminal code provided compassion clauses to safeguard the offenders’ human rights, and kings often attached much importance to compassionate administration of penal laws as a symbol of royal benevolence. This explains the frequent abolishment of certain punishments by royal decrees as unlawful and inhuman.

Leg-twisting (juri-teulgi). (Image courtesy of FMKorea)

blast from the past

Corporal punishment administered during the Joseon Dynasty was severe and of five basic types: whipping, flogging, hard labor, banishment, and death (see Gwangju News, December 2019, pp. 20– 21). In this companion article originally appearing in the December 2007 issue of the Gwangju News, Prof. Shin Sang-soon (1922–2011) describes an array of additional punishments that could be labeled torturous, mortifying, and just plain bizarre. — Ed.

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20 for life. Due to its harshness, King Yeongjo, the 21st king of Joseon (r. 1724-1776), decreed its abolishment.

collection to often require kings to be concerned with attempting to root out this corruption.

Indiscriminate flogging was the beating of a victim over their entire body. It too was a dangerous punishment that threatened the suspect’s life and, therefore, was abolished in the 46th year of the reign of King Yeongjo (1769). This practice of indiscriminate flogging, in the form of meongseok-mari (멍석말이, beating of one wrapped in a straw mat), however, lingered on for some time as a popular and customary form of punishment applied to one who violated a woman of high birth or committed particularly immoral crimes such as incest.

Many of these punishments and interrogation methods carried over into the colonial period (1910– 1945), but with the emergence of the Republic of Korea, a completely new penal code was established. Arranged by David Shaffer

Branding, also referred to as stigmatizing, was used when investigating high treason. It was often used when an aristocrat punished his slaves. King Yeongjo, in the 9th year of his reign (1733), abolished this finally, thereby putting an end to the practice. Nose-cutting was applied to privately owned slaves as a punishment by their master until it was strictly prohibited by King Sejong and successive monarchs.

January 2020

Hamstringing, or cutting of the Achilles tendon, was practiced to control rampant thievery in times of famine. This was a cruel punishment leaving the victim lame or crippled for the rest of their life. It was also randomly applied to privately owned slaves in the households of the aristocracy, which prompted King Sejong to prohibit the practice by decree. However, the practice lingered on in the form of clan punishment or village punishment, similar to “honor killings” in some countries where the perpetrator committed an immoral act. Ash-water waterboarding (pouring ash water into the nostrils) was a form of torture also applied in the households of the upper class to slaves or the low-born to interrogate them for crimes committed. This, however, in time, also came to be strictly prohibited by the Regulations of the Penal Code.

Knee-pressing (apseul). (Image from Namuwiki) Straw-mat beating (meongseok-mari). Painting by Kim Yun-bo. (Courtesy of Korean History Society)

The penal code of Joseon Dynasty times included a provision that might surprise even a modern-day Korean history buff: a ransom system that, except for certain prescribed crimes, allowed a convicted criminal to make a monetary payment in lieu of their prescribed punishment. This was somewhat similar to today’s system of fines, but this form of ransom was an optional substitute for physical punishments. There were several categories for which ransom was applicable: one applied to social status; one to females, the old, the frail, and the sick; one related to mourning and filial piety to one’s parents; and another was a provision for relief. Penalties for which a ransom could be substituted were stipulated by law and the ransom was collected by a legal enforcement agency. However, there was a sufficient number of cases of irregularities committed by officials regarding ransom

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Lost in Gwangju 21

Namgwang Hospital The Demise of a Medical Disaster Written and photographed by Isaiah Winters


▲ A frontal view of Namgwang/Seonam University Hospital and the unfinished behemoth next door.

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To dig into exactly why Namgwang Hospital lost its position as a training facility, a reporter from the Medical Times, Park Yang-myeong, turned up at the hospital in 2012 to have a look around. Describing it as “bleak,” Park found the hospital to be a virtual ghost town with hardly

January 2020

Located in Mareuk-dong, Namgwang Hospital struggled financially almost from the day it opened its doors

in 1988. With heavy debts looming, the hospital was audited in 1994 by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which found the hospital to be the furthest in arrears among the 35 hospitals under scrutiny. Unable to pay its mounting debts, the hospital was soon acquired by Seonam University in 1995 and used as a training facility for medical students. However, this acquisition merely kept the hospital on life support. In 2011, said ministry disqualified Namgwang Hospital as a training facility and, in response, Seonam University filed a lawsuit to have the disqualification revoked, though to no avail.[1]


n last year’s August and September issues of the Gwangju News, I wrote of the hundreds of vials and jars containing human organs that a friend and I’d come across at an abandoned hospital here in town. Spotted in a dark backroom, the specimens had been left helter-skelter in open boxes that reeked of formaldehyde. Though I’d kept the hospital’s name and whereabouts purposely vague so as to discourage further vandalism, it was all for naught: In November, a wrecking crew was hired to gut the place over winter and is currently making rapid progress. Since the entire hospital will have been eviscerated – literally and figuratively – by the time this goes to print, I guess now’s as good a time as ever to explore its interesting backstory.

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January 2020

A dental model in the surgical equipment room clutches two medical instruments in its teeth.

anyone coming or going. Cold beds, an elusive staff, and no heating along five floors of long, unlit corridors were what greeted him in the wards. Eventually, Park was able to find only six occupied beds and two nurses whom he described as silent rather than quiet. As for the hospital’s outpatients, Park said he observed fewer than ten during his two-hour visit.[2]

low salaries of 1.5 million won per month, most of the 28 professors at the training facility were found to have been born between 1928 and 1930, which means they would have been over 80 years old at the time the hospital lost its training facility status. Also dodgy was the fact that some of the doctors were found to have been practicing on “borrowed medical licenses.”[3]

On its own visit, the Ministry of Health and Welfare found 14 occupied beds, which is slightly more, but still only 2.8 percent of the hospital’s 500 beds. For comparison, any hospital designated as a training facility for students is required to have at least 70 percent of its beds occupied, which comes out to a minimum of 350 beds in the case of Namgwang Hospital.[3] With such a dismal occupancy rate, a natural question is whether the hospital was ever able to reach 70 percent occupancy. Of course, this is highly unlikely. Instead, the numbers of patients, occupied beds, and full-time specialists were found to have been inflated so the hospital could maintain its status as a training facility.[2]

When all these sordid details are considered as a whole, our discovery that an MRI room behind the hospital had been stuffed with flimsy boxes containing hundreds of organ and tissue specimens begins to make some morbid sense. It’s not hard to imagine some grizzled higher-up, in an effort to avoid responsibility, barking orders at a few unfortunate medical students to “just put ’em in the back” so the containers could be out of sight, out of mind. Of course, this is my most benign interpretation of how things might’ve unfolded.

Other oddities to emerge from the ministry’s investigation were germane to the hospital staff. In addition to getting

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On a recent visit to the hospital, I noticed that the organs had been packed up in cardboard hazmat boxes ready for removal, while most of the remaining medical equipment had been moved out of the hospital and into the parking lot. (I’m happy to report that the coy fish pond, though

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The MRI room containing boxes of organ and tissue specimens.

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January 2020

The diseased organ and tissue specimens sit in hazmat boxes ready for removal.

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24 partly frozen over, was still in good shape.) Although I would’ve enjoyed keeping this hospital a secret for a while longer – mainly as a place to shock visiting friends – not having diseased organs lying around in warped cardboard boxes is generally a good thing.

injuries.[4] Naturally, he was whisked away to the ICU at Chonnam National University Hospital for the treatment he needed, rather than to the ICU at Namgwang Hospital for the treatment he deserved.

I have no idea what’ll be done with Namgwang Hospital once it’s gutted over the next few months. In a way, I’ll miss it – I have a lot of weirdly fond memories there. For example, the unfinished building adjacent to the hospital used to have a rusty crane beside it that, once climbed, afforded one of the best views of Gwangju. (Sadly, my camera at the time was very poor quality, so the photos are unfit to print.) It was, in fact, the first crane I’d ever climbed, though it mysteriously went missing during the two years I was away from Gwangju. Further nostalgia comes from the fact that a few hospital scenes from the 2017 film A Taxi Driver were filmed there, primarily because the hospital maintained a 1980s vibe due to its owner’s reluctance to invest in its upkeep.


Moon Hyeon-ung. (2017, August 21). <디테일추적>영화 ‘택시운전사’, 서남대 부속병원을 세트장으로 쓴 이유는. Retrieved

from the website: site/data/html_dir/2017/08/21/2017082101881.html [2] Park Yang-myeong. (2012, March 19). 남광병원 실태 충격적“수련병원이 이 지경이라니”. Retrieved from the Medical Times website: NewsView.html?ID=1073524 [3] Choi Wan-gyu. (2012, April 13). 병상가동률 2.8%···‘남광병원’ 의 불편한 진실. Retrieved from the Medical Today website: [4] Lee Hyeong-ju. (2015, December 26). ‘이홍하씨 수감중 폭행’ 발단은 새 속옷. Retrieved from the website: http://

The Author

Originally from Southern California, Isaiah Winters is a Gwangju-based urban explorer who enjoys writing about the City of Light’s lesser-known quarters. When he’s not roaming the streets and writing about his experiences, he’s usually working or fulfilling his duties as the Gwangju News’ heavily caffeinated chief proofreader.

January 2020

The founder of Seonam University, Lee Hong-ha, who presided over Namgwang Hospital’s mid-1990s acquisition and eventual demise, is now in jail for having embezzled over 100 billion won’s worth of money from his numerous education institutions. Interestingly, in August 2015, Lee got into a dispute with another inmate at Gwangju Prison over a fresh pair of underwear, which resulted in the then 76-year-old getting his ribs broken, in addition to other


▲ An ambulance outside the emergency room shows signs of extensive vandalism.

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From Abroad 25


▲ Sighișoara in winter. (Photo by Sanoi)


Birthplace of Dracula

Written and photographed by Melline Galani

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Along with being an old Saxon city, Sighisoara is also famous for being the birthplace of Vlad III (also known as Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler, and Vlad Dracul). Vlad’s father was the ruler of nearby Wallachia but was in exile in Transylvania when Vlad was born. Vlad’s birthplace there is still marked with a placard, and now it is home to a very kitschy restaurant called “Casa Dracula.” Since Bram Stoker’s character Dracula was inspired by the former ruler Vlad Dracul, you will find many connections to

January 2020

Situated in the heart of Transylvania County, Sighisoara was built during the 12th century by the Transylvanian Saxons – a group of Germanic craftspeople and merchants who were dispatched there by their Hungarian overlords

– who went on to name the citadel Schassburg (with burg meaning “citadel” or “fortress”).


y favorite town in Romania, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s last remaining inhabited medieval citadel, Sighisoara, is a must-see for anyone who visits my country. It was the place where I first took my husband on his first trip to Romania and the place he specifically asked to see again on his second trip there.

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26 this subject in Sighisoara. From kitschy souvenirs to vampire wine, anything that could be related to Dracula is on sale. But what I love about this town is not the connection with Dracula but its old, colorful medieval buildings, the narrow streets paved with stones, the amazing clock tower, the ancient church on the hill, the Scholar’s Stairway, and the Fortress Square. The Scholar’s Stairway connects the Fortress Square with the church on the hill. It was built in 1642 as a safe passage for the school children who followed the pathway up the hill to their high school. Originally, there were more than 300 stairs, but only 176 stairs remain today.

January 2020

The view in front of the guesthouse.

Sighisoara Medieval Festival

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Every guild in Sighisoara – the ropemakers, tanners, tinsmiths, furriers, butchers, boot-makers, and tailors – had its own tower. Members were charged with raising funds to build and maintain their fortification and took on the responsibility of manning the towers in the event of a siege. Nine towers still exist of the original 14, but most of them are closed for visitors. The clock tower, one of the symbols of Sighisoara, guards the citadel entry and is accessible all the way up to the top, so it is a must-see attraction. The citadel’s highest and most imposing tower, the clock tower was used until 1556 for the gatherings of the town council. Due to its dimensions, the clock tower offers an excellent view from the top floor balcony over the historical center and the whole town of Sighisoara. Today, it hosts the History Museum and each room has a thematic exhibition, starting from ancient times. You can even see the mechanisms of the clock and the figurines that have announced the exact hour every single day for hundreds and hundreds of years. Every summer during the last weekend of July, the Sighisoara Medieval Festival takes place. Respectable women with long dresses, fearless knights, and master craftsmen fill the citadel’s

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27 streets to recreate the medieval-era atmosphere of Sighisoara. The citadel is alive with craft workshops for things like pottery, carpentry, ironmongery, jewelry-making, medieval dance representations, knight fight reenactments, archery, medieval poetry, and music performances. I was lucky enough to take part in this event a few times many years ago, and it was an amazing experience. These days, the festival is very popular, so if you plan to visit, you need to make a reservation some months in advance. Over 150 houses that are over 300 years old are still lived in, with many of them being either hotels or guesthouses. When I traveled there with my husband, we stayed at Citadela Guesthouse, a pension dating back to 1820, which is located in the shadow of the clock tower. For less than 30 dollars per night for a double room (breakfast included), we could experience this historic building, with a great window view of the clock tower for a romantic atmosphere perfect for couples.

I have always been in love with Europe’s Middle Ages, and Sighisoara allows me to travel back in time every time I visit, no matter what season it is. Schassburg offers many other attractions besides its historical monuments. Its colorful, old houses with their bizarre doors and windows, in addition to its streets crowded with tourists and artists during the Medieval Festival, make this small town a great place for those in search of memorable experiences. The “Burg” is also an excellent starting point for the discovery of the Transylvanian Saxons’ heritage, one of the special elements that make this region a destination unique to the world.

The Clock Tower

The Writer

Melline Galani is a Romanian enthusiast, born and raised in the capital city of Bucharest, and currently lives in Gwangju. She likes new challenges, learning interesting things, and being incurably optimistic. The plaque in front of Vlad Dracul’s childhood home.

January 2020

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28 Around Korea

Hyangil-am Hidden Hermitage in Yeosu Written by Melline Galani



ince I was a child, I have gone hiking with my mother. She is the biggest fan of the mountains and used to be a mountain guide in her youth. I guess that some of her passion was passed down to me, too. When she visited South Korea for the first time in the summer of 2019, one of the places I wanted to show her the most was the hermitage called Hyangil-am (향일암) because I knew she would find it amazing – and I was right. Located in the southern part of Yeosu, this small temple is probably the most important attraction in the area and is a very popular spot for admiring the sunrises (especially on the first day of the year) and sunsets. It is also one of my favorite places in South Jeolla Province, not only for its amazing view but also for the path to it.

Hyangil-am, which literally means “hermitage facing the sun,” is not a very big temple – hermitages never are. There are seven cave passages at Hyangil-am, and as the saying goes, if you pass through all of them, your wish will come true. What I like most about this small temple is the mountain path itself. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the temple at a slow pace. The road narrows through high rocks, and the combined smells of the sea, wood, and earth offer an incredible experience for those passionate about nature

January 2020

Hyangil-am (Cultural Heritage Material No. 40) is one of four Buddhist hermitages in Korea where the faithful

come to pray. It was originally named Wontong-am and was established by the eminent monk Wonhyo during the fourth year of the reign of Uija, king of Baekje (644 A.D.). Its name was later changed to Hyangil-am. Hyangilam was a base camp for Buddhist monks who helped Admiral Yi Sun-sin (이순신) in his naval battles against the Japanese fleet during the Imjin War.

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29 and mountain climbing. If you set your mind free from any thoughts while advancing slowly through the rocks, you will feel the sacredness of this place. Once you reach the temple, an incredible view will repay you for the effort it took to get there. The blue, infinite sea, the mountain backdrop, and the sound of Buddhist prayers all create a magical experience. The Buddhist shrine at the top is simple – nothing spectacular if you have already seen one of Korea’s grand temples, such as those in Gyeongju. Nonetheless, this hermitage provides a quiet retreat from the city and a view that will take your breath away. There are several resting points on the trail, the first being an area with statues and next a small cafe, followed by the temple itself and, a little bit closer to the top, a great spot for meditation. There are two trails that one can take to reach the hermitage. The quicker trail (and the most beautiful, in my opinion) has an unending array of stairs. The other trail is a gradual ascent along a dirt path (we returned to the village on this trail). In August, when the heat and humidity are at their peak, each step can be challenging but still worth climbing. Once the stairs end, the trail becomes much easier, and you will come upon the Buddhist interpretation of the “three wise monkeys” in the form of three statues of Buddha with the message “speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil.” The challenge of this hike is to pass through a narrow crevice between enormous rocks. The crevice opens into another hidden passageway of stairs that finally leads to Hyangilam. The temple complex has multiple prayer halls nestled in different areas of the rocky mountain. There is another pair of stairs that leads to a smaller prayer hall. The last section of hidden stairs opens onto the highest point of the temple. Another prayer hall is located there with many statues around it.

Hyangil-am 향일암

P 60 Hyangilam-ro, Dolsan-eup, Yeosu, Jeollanam-do 전라남도 여수시 돌산읍 향일암로 60 ₩ 2,000 won (adult), 1,000 won (children) À 061-644-4742

Melline Galani is a Romanian enthusiast, born and raised in the capital city of Bucharest, and is currently living in Gwangju. She likes new challenges and learning interesting things, and she is incurably optimistic.

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January 2020

The Author

At the end of her two-week holiday in Korea, I asked my mother to choose the place she had liked most, and it was Hyangil-am. It may be yours, too.

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30 Expat Living

The Vegetarian Experience in Jeollanamdo & Gwangju 2020 www.gwangjunewsgic.comJanuary January 2020


Written by Michael Goonan


ost people would say that Korea is not an easy place to be a vegetarian. The national cuisine is based heavily on meat and seafood, and in much of the country, the concept of vegetarianism is unknown, misunderstood, or thought to be very exotic. Some Koreans might be familiar with vegetarianism in the context of Buddhism, but the vast majority of Buddhists in Korea are meat-eaters, with ordained monks being the primary exception. While Seoul offers many vegetarian dining options given the large number of foreigners living there, a vegetarian diet can seem especially tricky to navigate in smaller cities like Gwangju or in the rural towns of Jeollanam-do. Last year, I made the decision to go vegetarian as a New Year’s resolution. I had previously been vegetarian back in the States from 2011 to 2013 but got away from it for a few years in favor of pescetarianism. I will not lie to you: Being a vegetarian around these parts definitely requires commitment and planning. But while it may take some getting used to, it is definitely possible to maintain a delicious vegetarian diet in Jeollanam-do. It is simply a matter of knowing the resources at your disposal and making the most of them. After nearly a year of trial and error, I can honestly say that I am very comfortable in my vegetarian routines and, to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere!” Here are some of my suggestions for making a vegetarian diet work in Jeollanam-do. GROCERY SHOPPING (The Internet Is Your Friend!) To be truly happy as a vegetarian in most of Jeollanamdo, I believe it is necessary to cook at home. Do not get me wrong. Bibimbap, sundubu-jjigae, and kimbap are all tasty, healthy Korean meals that are widely available and easily made vegetarian. But unless you are the type of person who really loves your routine, you are going to get sick of them and want some variety in your diet.

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Korean grocery stores are, of course, full of tofu and fresh vegetables. This can help you make lots of great stir fries and Korean, Chinese, or other Asian-style dishes at home. You do not have to be limited by what is available at your local Nonghyup or farmer’s market, though. Here are some great online resources to help stock your fridge with all your vegetarian ingredients. Expat Mart: This Indian grocery store in Seoul offers a wide variety of ingredients for home cooking, including bulk dal (lentils), basmati rice, fresh and frozen naan and roti, paneer, fresh vegetables, and a huge selection of Indian spices. They also offer lots of pre-packaged or canned curries for when you are in a hurry, as well as a rotating selection of items from Costco such as bulk cheese and whole-wheat pasta. Everything can be delivered to your door within a day or two of your order. ` Gmarket: Gmarket has lots of vegetarian foods available. I regularly buy chickpeas, hummus, and feta cheese from this website to make some of my favorite Mediterraneanstyle meals. Many items you are looking for will be easily found with a quick search. Two of my favorite “shops” on the site are those of Loving Hut and Vege Food. Loving Hut is an international chain of vegan restaurants. Vege Food is a Korean supplier of vegan foods. From their Gmarket stores, you can order vegan versions of various Korean dishes such as samgyeopsal, vegetarian dumplings, and soy “pork” cutlets. • Loving Hut Website: CustNo=TI0MR38zNzMxNkxxNjYzNDQ1OTF/Rw== • Vege Food Website: CustNo=TE0MR38TNzcxNk3xNzYxNDI1NjF/Rw==

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31 31

▲ Clockwise from top left: Pajeon (fried Korean pancake), Sundubu-jjigae (spicy soft tofu and vegetable stew), full-course set at the First Nepal (photo courtesy of First Nepal), plate of kimbap and tteokbokki.

RESTAURANTS IN GWANGJU SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS Sujata: This amazing vegetarian buffet is located at the foot of Mudeung Mountain, right next to a small Buddhist temple. For the incredible value of 7,000 won per person, you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet of possibly the best vegan food to be found this side of Seoul. Enjoy perfect vegan versions of your favorite Korean foods, as well as a full salad bar and various other creations that seem to be based

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on Chinese cooking. They also sell bulk kimchi, lentils, and other ingredients that you can cook at home. I cannot recommend this place highly enough! P 3 Dongsan-gil, 7-beon-gil, Dong-gu, Gwangju ` Review-g304129-d8737469-Reviews-SujataGwangju.html First Nepal: This Nepalese/Indian restaurant in Dong-gu has a wide variety of vegetarian options, including Palak Paneer, Dal Makhani, and Chana Masala. They have great samosa and appetizers as well. Many vegetarians swear by South Asian cooking, and this is the place to get your fix in Gwangju. P Seoseok-ro, 7-beon-gil, 6-44, Gwangju 2020 www.gwangjunewsgic.comJanuary January 2020

Mogo Eats: This is a great resource for those who are learning to cook. Mogo Eats offers plantbased meal kits with simple instructions to make meals at home. It offers Korean as well as Western fare, ranging from vegan bulgogi to mushroom stroganoff pasta, tacos, and Thai coconut curry. `

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32 32

The First Alleyway: The expat’s main hangout in Gwangju has a number of vegetarian options on the menu. Their full slate of burgers can be made with a satisfying falafel burger. My personal favorite is the Tex-Mex inspired “Gringo” burger. A variety of salads are offered as well, and a garden pizza is also available. P Chungjang-ro An-gil 5-2, Dong-gu, Gwangju January January 2020 2020

TIPS FOR ORDERING AT KOREAN RESTAURANTS Plenty of delicious Korean dishes can be made vegetarian. Some of my favorites are 비빔밥 (bibimbap, mixed rice and vegetables), 순두부찌개 (sundubujjigae, spicy soft tofu and vegetable stew), and 파전 (pajeon, fried Korean pancakes). More often than not, however, there is going to be meat or seafood in it unless you specify exactly what you don’t eat. This is true even when you order something like 야채 김밥 (yachae gimbap, vegetable kimbap), which customarily includes a stick of spam. Even if you say “야채 김밥 고기 빼주세요” (literally, “vegetable kimbap without meat”), you are still likely to end up with spam in your kimbap. Spam is a “flavor” in the minds of most Koreans, and is not considered “meat.” The same goes for imitation crab meat: That is considered a “flavor” also. You will need to be specific about the fact that you do not eat it.

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Here are some Korean phrases that will be useful for avoiding surprise meat on your plate. When in doubt, be extra specific. Saying “X dish without meat” is not always going to be enough to get your point across. If you are like me and frequent the same restaurants, the workers will get to know your diet, so you will not need to explain anymore. USEFUL PHRASES FOR VEGETARIANS 저는 채식주의자입니다 I am a vegetarian. 고기 빼주세요 Please remove the meat. 계맛살 빼주세요 Please remove the crab meat. 햄 빼주세요 Please remove the ham. 해물 빼주세요 Please remove the seafood. 생선 빼주세요 Please remove the fish. 조개류 빼주세요 Please remove the shellfish. A NOTE ABOUT PURITY Despite your best intentions, it is likely that at some point you are going to screw up. Do not be too hard on yourself. Especially if you are not proficient in the language and do not know the cuisine well, you will

likely accidentally end up with some meat side dishes that you have not asked for, unintended seafood stock in what you thought was a vegetable soup, or kimchi that was made with fish sauce. You can do your best to avoid these things, but the only surefire way to do so in Jeollanam-do would be to cook all of your meals at home or to eat only at vegetarian restaurants. This is especially true for vegans. Ultimately, the way one chooses to navigate these inevitable challenges is a very personal ethical decision. Whenever being a vegetarian in Korea is feeling difficult, I like to remind myself of the philosopher Peter Singer’s words from his classic book Animal Liberation: “The point of altering one’s buying habits is not to keep oneself untouched by evil but to reduce the economic support for the exploitation of animals and to persuade others to do the same.” I find this helpful because it keeps me focused on why being a vegetarian is important to me: protecting living beings from suffering as much as possible, and not simply feeding my ego or copping out by thinking I need to be perfectly pure in order for my efforts to be worth it. This may or may not jive with your own way of thinking about these things, but it has certainly helped me make this whole thing work in a meat-loving country like Korea.

The Author

Michael Goonan teaches English at Baeksu Elementary School in Yeonggwang. Originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, he has also lived in the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Australia, and the Netherlands. He blogs about travel, culture, politics, and more at

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Restaurant Review 33


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January 2020

Reviewed by William Urbanski

Gwangju’s Next Dining Hotspot?

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unning a restaurant is tough. Beside the inherent difficulties and skill involved in cooking up delectable dishes on a daily basis, restaurants are complex businesses that involve logistic and organizational challenges. That’s why any restaurant that hasn’t only survived but thrived for over a decade should immediately be on any self-respecting foody’s radar. Café Bari E., located in downtown Gwangju, just behind the CGV, is such a restaurant and provides a multifaceted dining experience with a certain touch of “je ne sais quoi” (“that indescribable quality,” for our non-Canadian readers). In business since 2009, Bari E. (very loosely translated as “at the rice bowl”) has recently undergone extensive renovations to commemorate its ten-year anniversary. When first entering the building, the premium ambiance is palpable and the interior of the whole building (especially the dining area) is gorgeous. What stood out to me most were the vintage-style tables and chairs; a refreshing change from the cookie-cutter “Ikea-inspired” furniture that’s all too common in similar restaurants these days. While I never had the chance to dine at Bari E. before its renovations, it’s clear that a lot of careful thought and planning went into creating a dining space that provides a comfortable yet classy atmosphere.

January 2020

Bari E. has three main dining areas: the ground floor, which accommodates couples and small parties; the second floor, for larger groups; and the balcony, which will open in the coming warmer months. All three of these areas will no doubt be seeing a lot of action from Bari E.’s loyal clientele, who range from Sunday afternoon casual diners to those looking for a more intimate experience.

Check out the berry “ade.” Amazing. Truffle Shrimp Pasta

During the recent physical renovations of the restaurant, the list of culinary offerings also underwent some changes. Many customer favorites stayed on the menu, but there are some new items, too. My wife and I sampled a large swath of the menu, and we were quite impressed by the care with which the dishes were prepared, the presentation of the food, and above all, the taste. Of the two types of pasta we tried, our favorite was a seafood pasta dish that was served in a small black pot, which meant that after gobbling it up, we could enjoy the sauce almost like a soup – I can’t say I’ve ever had anything quite like it. Although I am no pizza connoisseur, I’m without question a pizza aficionado, and that’s why I had particularly high expectations for what was coming next. The first thing I noticed was that the bacon spinach pizza had a thin crust, which is always a huge plus. Something a lot of people don’t know is that in Italy, home of the pizza, the crust is, without exception, very thin: None of

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Salad and fresh bread.

this deep-dish nonsense, which is little more than an abasement of culinary perfection. The bacon spinach pizza delivered, big time, and even had a special twist on a tried-and-true recipe. The crust was actually soft enough so that instead of just shoving it down my maw as fast as humanly possible, we were invited to try rolling up the slices first. While unconventional, this pizza gets an enthusiastic two thumbs up from me. I also tried the classic potato wedges (amazing in their simplicity) and scarfed down more than my fair share of tasty garlic bread. For refreshments, I had some berry “ade,” while my wife enjoyed some Spanish wine. All in all, it was one of the more memorable meals that we’ve had in Gwangju. Besides the gorgeous interior and the great food, the feature that I feel really sets Bari E. apart from other restaurants is its combined dining experience. In Yangnim-dong, there’s a well-known six-way intersection (in Korean, yuk-gak, 육각, or more colloquially, “6K”) that’s host to the well-known Yangin Bakery and 6K Coffee. Bari E. is actually part of a group of businesses that are managed and operated in tandem, which means the downtown location has a wide selection of bakery items that come in fresh and daily from the Yangin Bakery, as well as deliciously brewed 6K Coffee. At Bari E., a customer can enjoy all the tasty treats of Yangnimdong without having to trek all the way up there.

Our personal favorite: the seafood pasta! Now the Bacon Spinach Pizza was something else. Notice the thin crust.

The next time you’re downtown with some friends and are looking for a dining experience that’s a little more memorable and a little less conventional, drop by Bari E. If downtown Gwangju is flavor country, Bari E. just might be the new sheriff. Photographs courtesy of Bari E.

t Daily, 11:30–21:30 (break time: 16:00–17:00) P 14 Seoseok-ro 7-beon-gil, Dong-gu, Gwangju 광주 동구 서석로7번길 14 À 062-224-8241 cafebarie

The Author

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January 2020

William Urbanski, managing editor of the Gwangju News, has an MA in international relations and cultural diplomacy. He is married to a wonderful Korean woman and has myriad interests, but his true passion is eating pizza.

Bari E. 카페 바리에

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January 2020


36 Korean Recipe

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2019-12-23 �� 4:30:34


Baechu Doenjang-guk Cabbage Soybean Soup Written and photographed by Joe Wabe


he holiday season takes a toll on our health and weight. While December is full of joy and fun, January comes with lots of regrets and new resolutions, especially when it comes to food choices. It’s a month to clean up, reset, and start again. There’s nothing better than starting this year with a dish considered the mother of Korean comfort food: baechu doenjang-guk (배추된장국). For most Koreans, a bowl of this soup with some rice and kimchi will take them back to their childhood days. It comes packed with nutritional goodies due the soybean paste and napa cabbage that’s high in vitamins and fiber. This soup is ideal for people suffering from stomach or intestinal issues, so it’s a perfect dish to help you reset your gut back to where it was before hitting the December festivities.

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• •

1 medium-sized napa cabbage 6 cups of water 4 tablespoons of soybean paste 1 chopped green onion 1 tablespoon of anchovy stock (or soy sauce) 1 tbs red pepper flakes 1 loaf of tofu

Preparation Precook the cabbage in boiling water for 10–15 minutes until it’s soft and the color has changed to pale. Don’t throw away the water but use it for the soup. Remove the cabbage and let it rest in a strainer. Add more water and let it come to a boil; then add the soybean paste. Press the soybean paste on the side or bottom of the pot to dissolve it evenly. Then let it all boil for about four minutes. After that, taste for flavor and, if needed, you can add more paste to match your taste. Add the cabbage, anchovy stock, and tofu (cut into cubes). Reduce the heat to medium-low, and let it cook for about 20 minutes. Finally, add the black pepper and green onions, and let it cook for an extra three minutes. Then the soup is ready to be served. This goes well with white rice, kim (dried laver), and kimchi.

The Author

Joe Wabe is a Gwangju expat, who has been contributing to the GIC and the Gwangju News for more than 10 years with his work in photography and writing.

January January 2020 2020

Ready to start the year on a good nutritional note? Let’s put this simple and delicious soup together. It’s easy, healthy, and very economical.

• • • • •

(Serves 3)

Soybean paste, or “doenjang,” is made from fermented soybeans and brine. The soybeans are first washed and soaked overnight, and then boiled for many hours (sometimes up to eight hours). After being drained, they’re pounded in a mortar, then chunked and compressed into a cube form, which is called meju (메주). These bricks are hung to dry in a cool, shaded place, then after a few weeks sun-dried for later use. The specific time and method of making meju varies according to the region, and it can influence the taste as well. The process of fermenting soybeans, according to historical records, goes back prior to the era of the Three Kingdoms.


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38 Language Teaching

Married to an Expat English Teacher Interviewed by Dr. David E. Shaffer


What is it like to be married to an expat English teacher in Korea? This is something that I have always been a bit curious about because I’ve never been married to an expat English teacher – but my wife has. We were married for nearly thirty years before she passed on, but I am sure that she kept much to herself. So here is an interview with an anonymous spouse of an anonymous expat English teacher at an anonymous location in the Gwangju area. Anonymity was my idea in the hopes of getting more frank responses from the interviewee, whom we shall call “Julie.” — D. Shaffer

January 2020


e: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview for the Gwangju News; it is much appreciated. To begin with, before you met your husband, did you ever think that you would someday marry a foreigner, and did you ever think that your husband would be an English teacher? Julie: No, I’ve always considered myself to be openminded, but I never thought I would marry, or even date, a foreigner. I studied English intensely throughout my schooling so that I could attend a good university, but for no other reason, really. If I had been asked if I would marry a foreigner, I would probably have said, “Only if he’s a doctor!” Me: Could you tell us how you met your husband and how the two of you decided that you wanted to get married? Julie: We met in a summer English camp where we cotaught together. After the camp, we went our ways, but I ended up visiting him later that year on his birthday. After dating for seven years, we decided to get married.

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I wanted to get married earlier, but I was too worried about my family, so we kept our relationship secret for the entire seven years. But luckily, when we told my family about us, they were completely fine and supportive – so we should have tied the knot earlier. Me: I know that you are happily married. Could you relate some of the things that make you, or the two of you, the happiest? Julie: I find happiness in everyday life with him. Because we are so different in so many ways, even “normal” everyday things are kind of exciting. Also, spending time with each other’s family is another time when we are really happy, embracing each other’s cultures. Me: From experience, I know that life is not always peaches and cream. Could you share some of the difficulties that you have had to overcome? Julie: Interest in each other’s friends, sometimes. Sometimes I get bored with his friends because they talk way too quickly and about topics that aren’t interesting to me. I know he gets bored with my friends because they always speak in Korean. His level is still fairly low, so he gets bored easily. Me: Your first language is Korean and your husband’s is English. Has the difference in mother tongues caused any

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39 communication problems between the two of you? Julie: Once in a while, we lose patience due to some miscommunication. Sometimes we forget to speak slowly in our own languages, or we get irritated from having to repeat the same thing over and over again. Me: Flipping the previous question over, has having two different first languages had any benefits? Julie: Well, I spoil him a lot by helping him do his banking, taxes, membership discounts, and such things. He helps me a lot with traveling since English is used more internationally. We are a really good team. I’m an English teacher, so he does help me with some tough English questions. Maybe in the future, he will get a job in a different country teaching English, and I will be able to be a lazy housewife [chuckle, chuckle]. Me: Have you found that you have had to help your husband much in functioning in his adopted culture – with things like reading documents in Korean, communicating with others, following customs when associating with his in-laws, meeting your friends, et cetera, et cetera?

Me: Being an expat, your husband is separated from his family and home country friends. Have you noticed this as having an effect on him?

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Julie: My husband and I haven’t discussed about raising kids in too much detail. But, we have decided to use both English and Korean with them, maybe English at home since Korean is used predominantly outside. I’m Buddhist and he’s Christian, but neither of us really practices, so we won’t push our kids towards either religion. With customs, we’ll raise our children to practice and be knowledgeable of both. For schooling, we might do primary school in Korea and secondary and university in the U.S., but that could change. Me: Does it appear that being an expat English teacher in Korea is stressful for your husband? What kind of problems does he bring home from school to share with you? Julie: My husband has taught at both the elementary and university level, and he has had unique issues in each teaching position. He does get frustrated with how little the institutions care about English compared to other subjects or majors. However, my husband is pretty laidback, so he doesn’t complain too much. But I hear a lot of complaints from other foreigner teachers, and I understand their frustrations.

January 2020

Julie: Yes. During the holidays, I can tell it’s a little tough for him, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas time. If he doesn’t see his family within 18–24 months, he really gets homesick. However, he says that Korea has more and better Western food and drink options, so that does help a little. He hangs out with a lot of other foreigners, but I can tell a difference in how he communicates with friends in his home country compared to friends here.

Me: I don’t know if you and your husband have discussed having children, but if you have, what things have you discussed as being the most important considerations? For example, what language to use at home? What customs to follow? Where to go to school?

Julie: For banking, taxes, cellular services, and similar things, I basically do all the work. I also translate a lot with others for him. Luckily, many of my family members are fluent in English, so I don’t need to translate much with them, with the exception of some extended family members. My family, and many Koreans, I feel, understand that foreigners aren’t really aware of local customs, so they are quite forgiving of my husband.

An expat needs to see his friends and family back home to recharge every once in a while. If he really feels lonely, I tell him to watch a horror movie (particularly ghost movies), because nobody feels alone after a really scary movie.

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40 Me: What advantages, if any, have you found in being married to an expat English teacher?

Me: Do you have any funny stories about your husband that you would like to share?

Julie: This isn’t really an advantage, but people always think that my English level is amazing just because I’m married to a foreigner. A big advantage is that I don’t have an in-law problem (many Koreans will understand what I’m talking about). I’m introduced to a lot of cultural things that I probably wouldn’t have discovered on my own in Korean society – things such as varieties in music, movies, and comedy.

Julie: Well, let’s see… During my husband’s first year teaching at elementary school, he was studying Korean. He learned the Korean words for “money” (don, 돈) and “man” or “person” (saram, 사람), so he called the financial officer at his school the “don saram” (돈 사람) out loud in front of his students, because he was the “money man” who handled the finances. My husband was quite embarrassed when he learned that don saram also meant “crazy man” in Korean.

Julie: We might be living in a different country, where he has an English teaching job. I’ll be relaxing at home probably doing some Korean tutoring. We’ll have a child or two and will have a very multi-cultural household. Me: What has changed in your husband since he first moved to Korea?

January 2020

Julie: He’s more patient with Korean customs and doesn’t have little culture shocks very often. His taste in food has also changed a lot. Food that he hated when he first came to Korea, he has grown to like a lot. For example, he loves gamja-tang (potato stew), but when he tried it during his first year in Korea, he didn’t like it. His flavor spectrum has evolved.

GWANGJU-JEONNAM KOTESOL MONTHLY MEETING Date: January 11 (2nd Saturday) Place: Gwangju National University of Education • Two 50-minute Presentations/Workshops • SwapShop Mini-Presentations – All are welcome to contribute. • After-meeting Dinner For full event details: Website: Facebook: Gwangju-Jeonnam KOTESOL

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Me: That is funny! This is probably a good place to stop. I want to thank you for making time for this interview, and I wish you and your husband the best in the future.

People always think that my English level is amazing just because I’m married to a foreigner. A big advantage is that I don’t have an in-law problem.

Me: If you were to look into a crystal ball, what do you think you would see in store for you and your expat husband, say, ten years from now?

The Interviewer

David Shaffer has lived for many years in Gwangju and taught at Chosun University. He has been associated with KOTESOL since its beginnings. As vice-president of the Gwangju-Jeonnam Chapter of KOTESOL, he invites you to participate in the teacher development workshops at their monthly meetings. Dr. Shaffer is presently the chairman of the board at the Gwangju International Center and also editor-in-chief of the Gwangju News.

2019-12-23 �� 4:30:41


TOPIK GUIDE ( is the most comprehensive website devoted to the TOPIK exam. It has been helping Korean language learners pass the TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) for more than eight years. On our website, you can get all the TOPIK updates, grammar and vocabulary material, and study tips.

Everyday Korean Episode 25: 대중교통 (Public Transport) By Harsh Kumar Mishra

Grammar ~ 나/이나: Use this for giving options of two or more nouns. Ex: 비빔밥이나 김치찌개를 먹고 싶어요. I want to eat bibimbap or kimchi-jjigae.

~ 중에: Use this to give the meaning “among.” Ex: 내가 가 본 곳들 중에 광주가 제일 좋아요. I like Gwangju most among all the places I have been to.

Vocabulary Terms Related to Public Transport in Korea


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버스보다 KTX가 빨라.

[Gwangju-e-seo seoul-kkaji ga-ryeo-myeon beo-seu-na gi-cha jung-e eot-teon ge na-ayo?] Ana: Which one is better for going from Gwangju to Seoul, a bus or a train? [Beo-seu-boda KTX-ga ppalla.] Jeongmin: The KTX is faster than the bus.

아나: Ana:


KTX는 요금이 비싸서 못 타요. 무궁화 또는 누리로는 어때요? [KTX-neun yo-geu-mi bis-sa-seo mot tayo. Mu-gung-hwa tto-neun nu-ri-ro-neun eot-taeyo?] The KTX is expensive, so I cannot take it. How about the Mugunghwa or Nuriro trains?

무궁화나 누리로는 생각보다 시간이 오래 걸려. 광주역에서 용산역까지 가는 데 4시간 반 이상 걸리는 것 같아.

[Mu-gung-hwa-na nuri-ro-neun saeng-gak-boda shi-gani o-rae geol lyeo. Gwangju-yeo-geseo yongsan-yeok-kkaji ga-neun de ne-shi-gan ban i-sang geol-li-neun geot ga-ta.] Jeongmin: The Mugunghwa and Nuriro trains take longer than you might expect. They take more than four and a half hours to get from Gwangju Station to Yongsan Station.

아나: Ana:


그럼 버스는 얼마 걸려요? [Geu-reom beo-seu-neun eol-ma geol-lyeo-yo?] Then, how long does the bus take?

버스는 광주 유스퀘어터미널에서 서울 센트럴시티터미널까지 3시간 20분쯤 걸려.

[Beo-seu-neun gwangju yu-seu-kwe-eo-teo-mi-neo-re-seo seoul sen-teu-reol-shiti-teo-mi-neol-kkaji se-shigan I-ship-pun-jjeum geol-lyeo.] Jeongmin: It takes about three hours and 20 minutes from Gwangju’s U-Square Terminal to Seoul’s Central City Terminal.

아나: Ana:


버스가 제일 나네요. [Beo-seu-ga je-il na-neyo.] The bus is the best option then.

응. 그리고 일반 버스 타면 요금도 싸.

[Eung, geu-rigo il-ban beo-seu ta-myeon yo-geum-do ssa.] Jeongmin: Right. Also, if you take a regular bus, the fare is cheaper.

January 2020

낫다 to be better 요금 fare 비싸다 to be expensive 싸다 to be cheap 타다 to ride 걸리다 to take (time) 얼마 how much 오래 long (time) 버스터미널 bus terminal 기차역 train station 일반 general, regular

광주에서 서울까지 가려면 버스나 기차 중에 어떤 게 나아요?

일반버스: This is the cheapest type of bus. 우등버스: This is another, more expensive type of bus, which has comfortable seats, single-seat options, and USB ports to charge phones. 프리미엄버스: This is both the most comfortable and the most expensive bus option. It comes with personal screens to watch movies, curtains, and spacious seating. 무궁화: This is the slowest and cheapest train option. 누리로: This is slightly faster than 무궁화 trains. ITX새마을: This is faster than both the 무궁화 and 누리로 trains. KTX: This is Korea’s bullet train. It is faster and more expensive than the three train options mentioned above. Transportation apps: 고속버스모바일, 버스타고, and 시외버스모바일 (for buses); 코레일톡 (for trains).


2019-12-23 �� 4:30:42

42 Opinion

One Price to Rule Them All Have Big-Box Stores Gone Too Far with Confusing Pricing Tactics? Written by William Urbanski



ear the top of my list of things that really grind my gears are unclear pricing policies. Something we take for granted in our modern, high-tech, highflying society is that the price we pay for something is clearly indicated in advance. While sometimes shopping at a street market can lead to a little bit of haggling, some of the biggest and baddest offenders when it comes to creating convoluted, obtuse, and quite frankly, moronic price policies in Korea are, unexpectedly, the big-box stores.

As to whether or not this is an effective sales tactic, regrettably, I’d say yes. The first reason is because there for sure are going to be people who put something in their cart because they are confused (or deceived) by the price sticker and just end up paying more. The second reason is that the people with the cognitive resources and time to understand the pricing actually go ahead and buy the product because they have already invested time and cognitive resources into the product (and think they’re getting a deal). In Canada at least, many stores have a policy whereby if the price on the shelf doesn’t match the price at the register, the product is free. Canadians, by

Artist’s rendition of the big-box stores’ tiered pricing schemes.

January 2020

Years ago when I was still living in a coastal city, I’d occasionally make a special trip after work to a big-box store that, while out of the way, had such a good selection of candy and other specialty food products that it made the trip worthwhile. So, as I made my way through the aisles looking for pasta sauce one evening, I was shocked and quite frankly disgusted to discover that my coveted jar of pasta sauce had not one, not two, but three different prices. How was this even possible?

The short answer is incentive and reward pricing. Depending on whatever membership credit card (and level of said card) the big-box store was in cahoots with, the user of the card would receive a discount. So, the jar of sauce appeared to be on sale for the few people who used a specific credit card, while the rest of us plebes were out of luck.

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2019-12-23 �� 4:30:42


and large, hate this kind of nonsense, so stores take pains to make sure one price – and only one price – is displayed in the store. ANCHOR PRICING Anchor pricing is the idea that when evaluating what something is worth, people compare the final price to the very first price they see. So, if you go online and see something for ten bucks and end up buying it on a different site for five, in your mind you just “saved” five smackeroos. Of course, you really saved the monetary equivalent of jack squat, but this perceived savings probably helped you along on your purchase decision.

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The main takeaway from this article is that there’s absolutely no need to ever, ever give out personal information to a retail store. That includes your name, address, phone number, postal code, or whatever. If they offer you an incentive to sign up for a flashy new credit card, you should really ask what’s in it for them. At the end of the day, I still shop at my big-box store, but when I walk through those automatic sliding doors, I’ve got my guard up, not unlike Rocky Balboa entering the ring with Ivan Drago in Rocky 4. Graphic by William Urbanski

The Author

William Urbanski, managing editor of the Gwangju News, has an MA in international relations and cultural diplomacy. He is married to a wonderful Korean woman, always pays cash, and keeps all his receipts.

January 2020

INCENTIVES AND STORE CREDIT CARDS What characterizes and distinguishes incentive pricing is its exclusionary nature. It says that in order to get the benefit, a customer must join up with some club or get yet another credit card. And for that matter, what’s with the big-box stores’ obsession with peddling credit cards? For the answer to that, we must regrettably look towards one of my most hated, and certainly among the most useless, retail establishments to ever exist in North America: Sears.

For those who may not be familiar with this unholy and unnecessary former retail giant, Sears catalogues were present in almost all households, and its stores were nearly ubiquitous in North America before the people at large tired of its nonsense, stopped shopping there, and hilariously forced the bunch of idiots running the show into bankruptcy. After receiving its unambiguous comeuppance, Sears exists now only as a shadow of its former self. There was nothing really wrong with Sears’s products or anything like that, and the reason Sears became the target of universal scorn is as counter-intuitive as it is interesting: It wasn’t actually a retail establishment. Sears was a bank: a lending institution and a credit card company that used its brick and mortar stores to lure people into getting farcical, high-interest credit cards for the sole purpose of inflicting maximum carnage onto customers’ personal finances, and I suppose, their faith in the goodness of mankind.

In retail, anchor pricing is basic common knowledge. People are always out to get the feeling that they’re getting a great deal or saving money. Who wouldn’t want to save a few extra bucks after all? Truth be told, I don’t really have a problem with anchor pricing itself because it’s at least somewhat transparent and in the end draws the customer’s attention to low, low, rock-bottom prices. So, getting back to big-box stores’ ridiculous incentive pricing policies, isn’t this just a form of anchor pricing? Negative.

▲ Confusing prices.

2019-12-23 �� 4:30:42

The GIC th 20 Anniversary Written and photographed by Sarah Pittman

January 2020


44 Photo Essay

▲ The GPP (Gwangju Performance Project) Dance Troupe performing one of their two dances for the GIC anniversary event.

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ithout the help of those at the GIC and the community at large, our job at the Gwangju News would be much more difficult. As a thank-you to them, I wanted to feature the GIC 20th Anniversary party as our photo essay for this month. As we move forward into 2020, let us look back at all that we have accomplished in 2019. As Robert Baden-Powell once said, “Try to leave this world a little better than you found it....” I think that we, as a community, have done exactly that.

The Author

Sarah Pittman is an English teacher with a degree in psychology from California State University, Fullerton. She discovered her love for photography while working at Disneyland and has been honing her craft with practice and YouTube videos ever since.

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January 2020

▲ The staff members of the GIC sing an original carol to thank the community for their support over the year.

2019-12-23 �� 4:30:45

January 2020


▲ Lindsay Herron (left) and William Mulligan (right) sell sweets and baked goods during the GIC reception for the Global Families of Gwangju. ▶ Our newest staff member at the Gwangju News, Melline Galani, teaches a Romanian craft during the party. ▶ ▶ Dr. Shin Gyonggu (left), the director of the Gwangju International Center, and Dr. David Shaffer (right), Gwangju International Center’s chairman of the board, reminisce for the audience about everything the GIC has done over the past 20 years during the Special Talk: 20 Years of GIC with the Local Community.

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January 2020

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January 2020

◀ The GIC’s wonderful printing company owner, Kim Do-yeong, received a certificate of appreciation during the thank-you ceremony for his service in printing the Gwangju News magazine and other GIC publications. ▶ Ashley and John from Dreamers perform folk songs during the GIC ceremony. ▼ The Christmas Wrappers after working hard wrapping presents for the Sungbin Home for Girls’ Christmas party.

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2019-12-23 �� 4:30:53


January 2020

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2019-12-23 �� 4:30:55

50 Book Review

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman

January 2020


Reviewed by Kristy Dolson


appy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and warm holiday season, surrounded by your chosen loved ones. In my case, no amount of company could negate the fact that it was at this time last year when I received the shocking news that my uncle had suddenly passed away. He had had a heart attack shortly before New Year’s. It will always be a source of sadness that I never got to say goodbye, and it will certainly take time to let go of my grief and guilt at not being home for Christmas that year. So I turn to fiction to ease the grieving process. For it is within fiction that I have always felt more at ease with life’s more complicated emotions born from a chaotic universe. And Fredrik Backman’s second novel, My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, is a literary masterpiece all about saying goodbye and letting go of our loved ones. It is the story of Elsa, who is different from other seven-yearolds because her only friend is her fierce grandmother. But when her grandmother is stricken with cancer, Elsa’s world is thrown off kilter. Charged with delivering a series of apology letters written before her grandmother’s sudden death, Elsa makes a series of therapeutic and life-changing discoveries about the people in her apartment building – which ultimately leads her and her parents to the most lifechanging apology of all. Much like Elsa, I have always had difficulty relating to the people and systems around me. Like her, I take immense comfort in the imaginary worlds of fiction to help me make sense of things. These worlds were first introduced to me by my uncle, who was a great reader himself. Many happy hours of my childhood were spent compiling stacks of books and comics at the local Chapters bookstore, which my uncle would then purchase without blinking an eye. While I would not have been so bold as to argue with my teacher that Marvel Comics produced “quality literature” at seven years old, I was fortunate to have someone in my life who was not afraid to broaden my horizons with such odd and offbeat publications. As I have gotten older,

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I have taken it upon myself to seek these out in my own never-ending quest to discover diverse truths and unique perspectives. I must confess that I adore Fredrik Backman. Long-time readers of the Gwangju News may recall that my first book review was his debut novel A Man Called Ove. His novels are always an absolute joy to experience, even when my insides churn with dread and I cry for days in the wake of their bittersweet endings. His descriptive style is wonderful yet simple. While the writing is not overly fanciful, his characters always come alive as real people with hopes and dreams and fears and longings. A testament to his great talent is Britt-Marie, the resident nag and busybody who at the beginning of the story is painted as the primary antagonist but with whom we come to sympathize by the end. I did not want to, but Backman persuaded me. There is an inherent charm to his characters that cannot be resisted. I cannot recommend this book enough. If you have ever had a quirky older relative, ever lost a loved one, or ever been “different,” you should absolutely read this book. Even if you have not experienced or been any of those things, you should read this book – if for no other reason than to help you feel better about life in a chaotic universe. Despite my past losses, 2020 is looking to be a year full of promise and potential. I hope it proves to be for you as well. Best of luck as we enter the third decade of this new millennium!

The Reviewer

Kristy Dolson lived in South Korea for five years before taking a year off to travel, read, and spend time with her family in Canada and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Education and now lives in Yeosu, where she splits her time between teaching at the new Jeollanamdo International Education Institute and reading as much as she can. (Photo by Cheyenne Taylor)

2019-12-23 �� 4:30:55

Gwangju Writes 51

The Water Flow Written by Joe Wabe


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I waited on this big, flat cobblestone-like rock by the edge of the watercourse, which conveys the impression that it had been designed solely for the purpose of fishing. “What a magnificent natural creation by a brilliant maker, built with precision,” I thought. The distance to the spring allowed the fisherman to sit not too close and yet not too far from the water, just the perfect distance; the shape looked to be crafted perfectly to fit someone’s bottom, and the soft rounded edges allowed the knees to rest comfortably. All these factors harmonized well and synchronized with all the natural elements around.

January 2020

Although the water flow and all the surroundings were very close to how I’d dreamed and pictured them in my mind, there was one very important factor that was missing. In my dreams, I’d seen a man sitting by the edge. He was an older man wearing a straw hat, very old clothes, and no shoes. I’d pictured him there, but he wasn’t present. In my dream, I remember speaking to him, and although I don’t recall the content of our conversation, I remember feeling warm and impressed – the same feeling as when I met a good master teacher at the Academy. But he wasn’t there. I remember seeing his fishing stick, and seeing how unsuccessful his fishcatching day had been. “Has he gone for a short break after hours of frustration? Will his penchant bring him back in a little while?” I wondered. For all I knew he might’ve been

hungry and decided to go find something to eat or break bread with his family, assuming he had one. If the river has not been a provider for him today, it makes sense he left to find an alternative source of energy for his survival. I’ve read that their kind usually eats more than three times a day. I was convinced he might’ve been elsewhere, and would soon return. I decided to wait in the same spot where I’d imagined him to be. He would make an appearance, I was certain.

After one hour or two, or four – time seemed irrelevant – I finally arrived to the place my imagination had been looking for – the place I’d seen in dreams and that’s been dwelling in my thoughts. I’d finally reached the water flow, or “river,” a term that some history books used for natural H2O streams and a definition we weren’t allowed to use at the Academy. This watercourse was beautiful; my heart felt overwhelmed. There were compilations of trees standing along the banks, and rocks of all sizes resting on the edges and bottom of the stream. The sound emerging from the spring was sweet, calm, and melodious, and it reminded me of a childhood sound I could not really place. Was it the sound of me inside my mom’s womb? Hard to say, I was too young to remember. Was it the sound of my mom bathing me? Perhaps. “Answers will come later,” I whispered to myself and refrained from wondering.


alked all morning without a map, or a solid idea where my sixth sense was taking me. Only followed the feeling in my bones, and the sound of water I could make out coming from far away but yet unseen. As I walked deeper into the woodland, the sound sometimes grew louder and closer, but every so often faded or died out altogether, puzzling me at times. However, no matter how disorienting this expedition proved to be, I never felt adrift, because one thing profoundly kept providing me assurance: I knew I was walking in the right direction.

2019-12-23 �� 4:30:56


January 2020

I decided to sink my feet into the clear, calm, and cool stream, and although at first it felt like a gentle electric shock, a feeling of relaxation and peace followed that made me feel at ease and serene. I felt a deep connection with this natural world, and this awareness somehow produced in me a sense of power and belonging – a power not like the controlling type but a power of unity. I’m with nature now! I’ve read that natural H2O is also known as “water.” I’ve never seen natural H2O flowing like this before; we have special gadgets that can generate water. We learned at the Academy that H2O is created by combining two hydrogen atoms with an oxygen atom, and it’s not an easy process to recreate artificially because if these atoms are not combined properly, an explosion might occur. Looking at this water flowing like this and listening to the magnificent sound of it making its way through the small pebbles, plants, and bedrock was mind-boggling. As I sat contemplating this beautiful scene, I began to wonder why there weren’t any fish. I’d read that water flows like this were the habitat of fish, but all I could see were pebbles, cobblestones, and green plants that resembled little creatures dancing to the music of water as it made its way through and down the stream. Suddenly, an idea came to mind: I was going to sing to see if fish would come. I’d seen fish before in books and at marine exhibitions, but never in their natural environment. Maybe if I chanted the “Song of Nature,” a hymn most kids learn at the Academy, it might be possible that fish would be able to hear it and show up. Fish don’t have ears but they possess other perception organs that allow them to capture, process, and understand sounds, making it possible to recognize music. In our nature class, our master taught us this song, which, we were told, was written by the Spirit of the Forest. “The Spirit of the Forest wasn’t someone or a single entity, but a combination of all that exists in nature,” he had explained. This song was not an ordinary song, but a sort of mythical, enchanted composition. According to our teacher, humans weren’t able to understand the lyrics or the melody, only certain creatures living in the wild could. I remember clearly when we were introduced to this song in class – it felt like a melody I’d heard before. The unusual musical notes and strange sounds were something I could grasp easily; I almost felt like I knew the meaning and purpose; it wasn’t, to me, as intangible as the teacher had pictured it. I wanted to explain to the teacher that I could recognize the meaning and melody of the patterns, but we were taught not to contradict our masters and their teachings, so I refrained from expressing what I’d felt. I knew that if I pointed out this special connection with the song, I could get in

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trouble, so I reached the conclusion that I must keep this feeling of familiarity to myself. Back then, I followed the class’s lead, learned the lyrics, and chanted along like the rest of the pupils. Now was the time to see how magical this hymn really was. It was time to test the theory that fish can understand music and that this song could serve as a link to the natural world. Would it work? I sang and I sang until my lungs ran out of air and my stomach ached, but sadly, not a single fish made an appearance. Perhaps there was a time or a special place for this song to be performed. Maybe my voice was not attractive enough, and for all I knew, this song was just a fabrication, and there was no Spirit of the Forest after all. My mind began filling quickly with doubts. A sense of sadness and distress was taking over my consciousness. “What if I never get to contemplate what I came here to experience? What if my dream has been nothing but an empty dream, unconnected to any vision? I will probably have to leave soon, and who knows if I will ever have another chance,” I mused. The portal that had brought me here could only be used twice: once to come and once to go back. After that, there was almost no chance to repeat this quest. I had to decide if this world I’d been imagining for such a long time really existed or not. There hadn’t been any signs of the life forms that I had been expecting: no fisherman, no birds, no fish. I sat back on the rock staring at the water, wishing that somehow the waters from the river could pass through my chest and take away this sadness and anxiety. All the excitement and happiness I felt when I started this journey seemed to be fading away. “Breathe deeply, think nothing, let the blues fly away, accept the now, without judgment or negative emotions. Breathe deeply, think nothing, let the blues fly away, accept the now, without …” – I repeated this mantra countless times and, in the end, I nodded off. The comfortable and delicate sound of the water and wind passing through the tree leaves made me dip into a profound sleep. Before long, I found myself dreaming. In my dream, the old fisherman was sitting next to me; he was calm and soft spoken, and there was also a sense of familiarity with this moment, a sensation that I’d been there before. The old man wasn’t looking at me, but rather contemplating the calm flow of the stream; his straw hat covered his face. He spoke slowly, articulating well, and making long pauses with his husky voice, almost whisperlike. “Your dream brought you here. You visualized this place, and your vision made you decide to venture upon this journey. Trust what you’ve seen inside you. Don’t embrace fear or doubt, and you’ll find what you came looking for. Once you learn how to quiet your mind,

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53 you’ll reach again into the true nature of your soul,” he conveyed in a quiet manner as he sat silently for a minute. After a short moment, he further added, “Don’t force your vision. Let it come to you; time is irrelevant…” In that instant, I began feeling his voice and presence fading away, and I had an urge to look at his face, but my body felt paralyzed and locked in one position. His voice buried deeper into the background to the point where I could no longer feel his presence. Hopeless was I to see where he went since I couldn’t maneuver my immovable self; everything became static and still. Then a sudden feeling that I was quickly sliding into a hole occupied all my body; it was then that I abruptly woke up, afraid I might be plunging into the river. It took me a bit of time to make the transition from the deep sleep I’d fallen into to this awakened state. My body was still a little stunned with slight shocks of numbness, but it was quickly recovering.

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The night was coming and I realized that it was time to find shelter. I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I figured I was going to worry about food later. I filled my canteen with water, stood up, and decided to walk back into the woodland. As I stood up, I took a glimpse at the water flow, the trees, and the rock I’d been sitting on, as well as the trail that’d brought me here, and thought, “How magnificent this world is, but even greater is the creator of all of this.” A bird flew over my head and said, “The night is coming, the night is coming.” I looked up, smiled, and disappeared back into the woodland.

The Author

Joe Wabe is a Gwangju expat, who has been contributing to the GIC and the Gwangju News for more than ten years with his work in photography and writing.

January 2020

I had no idea how to react and was afraid of moving or making a sound. Mr. Fish might’ve gotten scared and swum away, so I sat still, holding my breath, appreciating this magical moment while in the presence of such an elegant creature and, at the same time, trying to figure out a way to communicate with him. I thought about trying the “Song of Nature” quietly, but then I became concerned about scaring him off. I watched and said nothing. This cherished moment had restored my confidence in my journey, and I found myself excited and thrilled once again.

Despite the fact that the experience had lasted less than two minutes, it was life changing. I had found signs of an extraordinary life beyond anything I’d ever studied, heard, or known. This was a good sign that more fascinating experiences were coming. “I’ll return tomorrow,” I said, “but this time, no matter how long it takes, I’ll sit here and wait patiently.” I learned a big lesson that day: patience. “Quiet your mind, and you will reach the essence of your soul,” said the fisherman in my dreams, and he was right. I now understood why he looked so relaxed – because he was patient. I’d been focusing too much on the length of time I’d been spending and waiting, and I’d forgotten to enjoy the moment, the here and now. But once I removed from my mind thinking about time, everything started to become unveiled. “Time is irrelevant,” he’d also revealed.

When I fully regained consciousness, the first thing I realized was that my sense of hopelessness had disappeared, and instead, an overwhelming joyful feeling had taken over. Maybe this feeling was coming from the fact that I’d repeated the mantra so many times, or just maybe I was exhausted and the nap had put me at ease. The hope I thought I’d lost was back. In that instant, I suddenly heard a soft water splash coming from the stream, and as I looked down, I was astonished to see a fish with its big eyes beaming directly at me. It was one of the most fascinating and delightful things I’d ever been in the presence of. A big white fish with blue, red, and green color patterns extending from the top of the head to the start of its breathtakingly white tail. Mr. Fish was staring at me, as if he had been waiting in the same position for some time, waiting for me to wake up. He floated steadily in the crystal water, flexing his tail and fins in such magnificent synchrony. Mr. Fish looked happy, and I got a sense that he was glad to see me. I could almost ascertain that he was smiling at me. “Is it possible for fish to smile?” I wondered. It certainty looked like they could.

After staring at me for a while, Mr. Fish’s tail and fins moved a little faster with greater intensity. Then after a spin, he pulled his head out above the surface and said to me, “Thank you for the song. We really liked it, and now it’s time to swim back. Have a good day!” Then he quickly submerged and swam away, leaving just a trail of tiny water bubbles behind that quickly disappeared. I was baffled; I’d just heard spoken words coming from a fish. Did this river creature just speak to me? I shook my head a couple of times in disbelief, trying to figure out if I was still sleeping and this was part of a dream. But I recognized that I was quite awake. My thoughts began wandering in all directions. Although I was excited, I regretted not having been able to say anything to the fish. I wish I could have reacted differently and wanted to at least say “Hello, Mr. Fish,” but he was too quick and I was too mindful. Mr. Fish was gone in a blink, and now my heart was pounding with joy.

2019-12-23 �� 4:30:56


Gwangju Happenings January 2020 MONTHLY NEWS

Compiled by Melline Galani


뮤지컬 겨울왕국 2

t January 4–5, 2020 P 60 Bukmundae-ro, Buk-gu, Gwangju

(Gwangju Culture and Art Hall) ₩ 20,000 won À 010-4095-3005, 062-613-8337 `


클래비키즈월드 사계절 실내설매

t December 20, 2019 – February 16, 2020


January 2020

P 30 Sangmunuri-ro, Seo-gu, Gwangju

(Kim Daejung Convention Center, Exhibition Hall 2) ₩ Adults – 12,000 won Kids over 18 months old – 15,000 won À 070-4821-1302 `



t December 20, 2019 – March 1, 2020 P 30 Sangmunuri-ro, Seo-gu, G wangju

(Kim Daejung Convention Center, Open Hall)

₩ Free À 062-611-3250~3253 `

2020�1��.indd 54


많은 섬들의 나라, 누산타라

t November 22, 2019 – June 21, 2020 P 38 Munhwa-jeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju

(Asia Culture Center, Special Hall 3)

₩ Free À 1899-5566 `



이주 서사 Migration: Speaking Nearby

t November 23, 2019 – February 23, 2020 P Munhwa-jeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju

(Asia Culture Center, Space 2)

₩ Free À 1899-5566 `



검은 강, 숨은 숲 – 6 Senses

t December 10, 2019 – January 27, 2020 P Munhwa-jeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju

(Asia Culture Center, Space 1)

₩ Free À 1899-5566 `


2019-12-23 �� 4:30:58


Gwangju Theater Movie Schedule P 62 Chungjang-ro 5-ga, Dong-gu, Gwangju (Two blocks behind NC Wave) ₩ 8,000 won À 062-224-5858 ` (Korean)

* Synopses excerpted from Wikipedia, IMDb, and Hancinema. All English language films are presented with Korean subtitles; nonEnglish international films are presented with Korean subtitles only.


보성차밭 빛축제

t November 29, 2019 – January 5, 2020 P 775 Nokcha-ro, Boseong-eup, Boseong-gun,

Jeollanam-do (Korea Tea Culture Park)

Drama, 110 min., English, French (Korean subtitles)

À 061-850-5211~4 `

A look at the life of painter Vincent van Gogh during the time he lived in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Director: Julian Schnabel Starring: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac


AT ETERNITY’S GATE 고흐, 영원의 문에서


Drama, 105 min., English (Korean subtitles)

A teenage boy must deal with his mother’s complicated response after his father temporarily abandons them to take a menial and dangerous job. Director: Paul Dano Starring: Ed Oxenbould, Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan



평화-소통의 헤르츠

t December 6, 2019 – January 26, 2020 P 116 Yudal-ro, Mokpo, Jeollanam-do

(Nojeokbong Art Garden, Art Hall, 1st Floor)

À 061-270-8300 `


Documentary, 114 min., Italian, English (Korean subtitles)

섬 겨울꽃 [애기동백] 축제

A look at the life and work of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. Director: Ron Howard Starring: Andrea Griminelli, Nicoletta Mantovani, Bono

t December 13, 2019 – January 31, 2020 P Cheonsa-sam Bonsai Park, 330 Surak-gil, Aphae-


eup, Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do

À 061-240-8778 `

Drama, Fantasy, 87 min., Korean (no subtitles)


Drama, 120 min., French (Korean subtitles)

2020�1��.indd 55

t December 20, 2019 – January 27, 2020 P 47 National Garden 1-ho-gil, Suncheon-si,

Jeollanam-do (Suncheon Bay National Garden)

À 061-749-3114

January 2020

On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman. Director: Céline Sciamma Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami


순천 별빛축제

An actor lives happily with his lover and cat but cannot shake this feeling that all is not as good as it could be. When he quarrels with his girlfriend and is kicked out of the house, he meets three people on a strange day where memories seem to overlap with the present. Director: Lee Sang-deok Starring: Kim A-hyun, Cho Hyun-chul, Jun Suk-ho

2019-12-23 �� 4:31:00



Created by Jon Dunbar

Look for the answers to this crossword puzzle to appear in February in Gwangju News Online (


January 2020

ACROSS 1 Viva Republica’s app 5 Cooking method 8 Death by five severings 12 Korean emo band 13 Promise to pay back a loan 14 Nintendo competitor 15 The 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar 16 Boryeong, AKA 18 Notification 20 Korea-US negotiations cause 21 GIC’s age 24 KGB replacement 27 Noraebang activity 30 East Asian country 32 Dangerous terrain 33 Goes with tonic or juice 35 Skating location 36 Prestigious US universities

2020�1��.indd 56

38 40 41 43 44 48 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

GIC’s Dr. Shin Netflix, Disney Plus, for example Greek goddess What you breathe Author Al-Khatahtbet Mendoza’s company ___ Air Cogito ___ sum Impeach Flying saucer Type of decorative sign Dec. holiday Explosive Russian news agency

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 17 19 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 31 34 37 39 42 43 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52

Socar’s embattled service Precious stone Decibels alternative Kia SUV Make an offer in an auction The queen of K-pop Mission US safety agency New Jason Momoa TV show Before Gamers’ linkup Subtractive color model 21 across divided by 10 Heart measurement Horse’s exclamation G-rated swear Hang ___ Index Azerbaijan capital GIC’s original name Afternoon, down under Surprise attack Decoration Science Guy Bill Spoken Cat ___ ___ hot tin roof Hwacheon ice festival catch Colony bugs ___ 51 Opposite of government agencies Charged particles Boston Red ___ Sing with mouth closed A penny saved ___ ___ penny earned 98.7 FM Alcoholic

2019-12-23 �� 4:31:01

Community Board Have something you want to share with the community? The Community Board provides a space for the community to announce activities and special events. Please contact for more information.

Calling All Dance Enthusiasts

Gwangju Inter FC

The Gwangju Performance Project’s official dance troupe is back in session! Our troupe offers classes, workshops, and opportunities to perform for people from all walks of life. NO DANCE EXPERIENCE OR AUDITION NECESSARY. All we require is a strong desire to TWERK and SLAY as hard as humanly possible.

Gwangju Spanish Club

* Classes are held twice a month on Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m. at the GIC or from 3 to 6 p.m. at one of our varying studio spaces. * Please Note: On occasion, our troupe holds classes at different dance studios throughout Gwangju. * Once added to our official Kakao group via our admin, we will be sure to notify you of the location. Access may be granted to our official Kakao group by sending a message to our admin, Iman Smith (Kakao ID: @Naima915). We hope to have you join us for this dance extravaganza!

Gwangju Toastmasters Club

Gwangju Toastmasters Club (TM) is a relaxed, alternative style Toastmasters club that focuses on building communication and leadership skills. We provide people with opportunities to improve and practice their communication skills with prepared and impromptu speaking roles. Guests are welcome! For more information, please visit our Facebook page: Gwangju Toastmasters or call 010-4614-7434.

Baseball in Gwangju

Are you interested in playing baseball? Do you enjoy the sport but haven’t had the opportunity to participate here in Gwangju? Well, you are in luck! For the past six years, the foreign baseball team, the Gwangju Bombers, has been playing competitively in a baseball league in the city. The team is always looking for players to add to the roster. The team consists of both foreign and Korean players, and plays every Saturday from March to October. Come, play, and have fun! If interested, contact Joel Klimas at

2020�1��_��.indd 3

The Gwangju International Soccer Team (Gwangju Inter FC) plays regularly every weekend. If you are interested in playing, email, phone or text 0107126-1207 Facebook: Gwangju Inter FC Every two weeks on Saturdays, 3:30–5:30 p.m., GIC Global Lounge (1st floor) Spanish – English – Korean language exchange No importa tu nivel de español. ¡Únetenos! Facebook: Gwangju Spanish Club – Int/Adv

GIC Citizens’ Choir

Are you interested in joining a choir? The GIC Citizens’ Choir is inviting sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. Send your application to with the following information: name, phone number, email, voice part, and brief self-introduction on your singing experiences. You can also visit and observe the GIC Citizens’ Choir rehearsing on the first floor of the GIC at 10:00 a.m. every other Saturday.

UNESCO KONA Volunteers

KONA Storybook Center (KSC) is a registered small public library supported by UNESCO KONA Volunteers (UKV). UKV is a registered organization that helps disadvantaged children learn English independently through storybooks and story-maps. We guide families and children to develop a love of reading storybooks in English. We also give guidance to volunteers in using storybooks. We are looking for long-term volunteers who desire to enrich their lives. We are asking volunteers to commit to helping at least once a month. For more information, please visit http://cafe.daum. net/konavolunteers or our Facebook pages for KONA Storybook Center and UNESCO KONA Volunteers. Also, you can contact Kim Young-im at 062-434-9887 or email

2019-12-23 �� 12:10:43

2020�1��_��.indd 4

2019-12-23 �� 12:10:44

Profile for Gwangju International Center

[EN] Gwangju News January 2020 #215  

Featured articles: - Blades of Steel: Ice Skating at Gwangju City Hall - Monkey Pee Quartet - Year of Rat

[EN] Gwangju News January 2020 #215  

Featured articles: - Blades of Steel: Ice Skating at Gwangju City Hall - Monkey Pee Quartet - Year of Rat