Morning in New York
I did actually manage to convince a few people that I was in New York, and not Songdo, one of Korea's most ambitious megaprojects. I'd visited earlier this year, but I've been meaning to go back for a while so I could see it at sunset, and visit a couple other sites, such as the rotting airplane (which turns out was still being used as extremely gaudy storage by the junkyard/used car dealership below it). Anyway, yes, Songdo has its own Central Park and Statue of Liberty, and a few other points of comparison with New York I discovered along the way.
These pictures were taken just as a wave of some of the worst pollution China's ever belched at us started to roll in. At some points I could literally taste something burning on my tongue just from breathing.
My Visit to New York
I had a couple days with nothing to do, so I jumped on the airport line and headed for New York. Last time I was here was in the '90s, and things have...changed a lot. The city has been totally redeveloped, and there are no people left. That could've just been the Chinese pollution. I walked through Central Park, visited a New York boutique, and had Chicago-style deep dish pizza. I tried visiting the Statue of Liberty but it was on private property and shut down for the night. Oh well.
1 December 2013
I finally got around to going back to this building, which overlooks the abandoned building in Hongdae and otherwise has a pretty good view of things.
29 November 2013
Ken's Night Off Part 2
This bundle of photos has Find the Spot and Scumraid, two bands I've photographed plenty of times, as well as My Man Mike, who I photographed from above at a park show once. Anyway, some weird stuff happened at the end of the show that won't be seen in this gallery, but be careful about any links you may click.
Ken's Night Off Part 1
There was a hardcore show at Club Spot that was going to include the first performance by Misawa, which is more or less Chadburger without Aaron and with more Find the Spot. There were a number of other bands I hadn't seen properly yet as well, especially K-Rampus but also Dead Gakkas and My Man Mike, so it seemed like a good show to shoot.
What's more, Ken had mentioned that he was going to be there but he wasn't bringing his camera so he could have some time off and relax instead of shooting more pictures compulsively and giving himself a lot more to edit later.
So up I stepped, the "photo terrorist" as I was called at the last show I went to. And yes, some of these photos will inflict terror upon you, but I think I did pretty well with a lot of others.
26 November 2013
Just a few photos from a number of unconnected places.
I went halfway across town to meet some friends at Yongma Land, only for the bus to take a lot longer than I remembered and to show up just as they were leaving. Still, I got one picture of the owner's contact information, which could be useful as he is stepping up his efforts to make money off people coming to see decaying amusement park rides.
Also some safety signs from a New Town, and a happy face.
I was in the area for a job interview and I had an hour to kill after while waiting for Jaeeun to meet me for a few drinks at the Big Rock Brewery, so I picked a random rooftop and went up.
16 November 2013
2013 Korea Japan Punk Fest Part III
And this is the last third of the show. It does look like I missed Yello Loko and Stoned somehow, but Ken probably got them all if you want to view them on his website (Ken, seriously, get yourself some webspace).
Anyway, for this gallery you can see a lot more audience participation, including plenty more from E-daeng, and you can see everyone a little more drunk and uninhibited, which includes me as I'm pretty sure my live music photography gets better the more I drink.
16 November 2013
2013 Korea Japan Punk Fest Part II
As I mentioned below, nobody was getting really excited about the bands this night, at least not until the last handful of bands. The exception to this was E-daeng, the bassist of Return Bois, who played a pretty good set and then spend the rest of the night jumping on stage during the Japanese bands. Sure, he was disruptive, but it really was good to see someone having fun for the rest of us. I laughed at his antics, a lot, but I salute him for keeping the show entertaining and demonstrating how properly to not give a fuck. MVP of the festival.
16 November 2013
2013 Korea Japan Punk Fest Part I
It's already been two years and the Korea Japan Punk Festival is back in Korea. This year's show featured 21 bands, which was way too big a number no matter who you are. Japan sent five bands, all of which I'm pretty sure I remember being pogo punk, and Korea had 17 bands presenting a very diverse picture of the Korean scene, lacking any strong niches. This show was a bit strange in that audiences weren't really moving inside until much later at night, but this gallery only takes us up to the first of the Japanese bands. More to come soon.
15 November 2013
Thunderhorse Tavern was opening a new location in the former location of Powwow, and finally the unpleasant history of that place may have been purged for good. It's been renovated quite thoroughly and looks very nice now.
11 November 2013
Just a bunch of pictures, ranging from the RASKB office to heading to TBS eFM late one night to a random rooftop to what my cats killed for me.
8 November 2013
If you read these posts chronologically, you might've been surprised at the lack of infiltration in the previous day's Expo visit. I was saving it for the next morning, upon which I came back before sunrise and crept through the amusement park before security woke up.
The amusement park itself isn't in bad shape, maybe just in need of a cleaning, but its main problem is probably just that it's kind of old-fashioned feeling. I've kept a list of all the abandoned amusement parks I've visited, ranked from how much I enjoyed them, and this one would probably come in around the 1/3 mark. It's a pretty large park, and the vigilant but non-threatening security does make it enjoyable to infiltrate.
7 November 2013
Recently another urban explorer posted pictures from the Expo, and I was surprised to see that the adjacent amusement park had been closed for a year. I tried making plans to go there myself which kept falling through, until I got a call back from a job application to KIPO, Korea's main patent office. Fully aware that I wouldn't be up for relocating to Daejeon, I went along with it and spent the previous night in the city so I could visit the Expo.
I met up with Adam, who I'd previously met back in 2008 when I visited the city to see another abandoned amusement park, Daejeon Greenland. That had been my first time meeting Nik, who became my best friend, stayed a couple years, left, came back, and now is gone. A lot of time had passed, it seems.
6 November 2013
A Rainy Day in Downtown Seoul
I stopped by the Canadian embassy to pick up some poppies for Remembrance Day, and then I walked along the street behind Deoksugung. I'd just been there a couple days earlier, but this time there were more people and due to the rain a lot more umbrellas were out, adding extra colour to the scene.
5 November 2013
After getting rained out the last time I visited, I returned to Oksu to survey the damage. It's pretty extreme, and certainly suggests a far different landscape than it used to. This isn't the largest abandoned neighbourhood I've seen, but due to the geography it is one of the more extreme ones.
4 November 2013
There was a lantern festival at Cheonggyecheon, and the timing was right to see it at dusk so I headed over. Most of the displays seemed to be related to Baekje, and there was some questionable content that fortunately hadn't been translated into Japanese.
4 November 2013
After having recently broken my tripod, I knew I couldn't last that long without a new one. I borrowed a huge metal tripod from Kanghee for one evening, but finally I got myself to Namdaemun to buy a new one. I also made sure to take a bunch of candid photos in the market as well.
3 November 2013
Matt invited me along to a party at Kelly McCluskey's place, one of my cowriters in a Scott Bug project many years back. And I don't think we'd even seen each other since then either. I showed up at his place and the first person I saw was Robert Koehler.
After Robert left, one of the other people was surprised to find out who he is. Kelly made a point of mentioning how three of Korea's top bloggers were there, which deeply offended me on behalf of Robert and Matt.
1 November 2013
I met up with Jen recently to hit a few rooftops around Hongdae and Sinchon. Most of our plans were thwarted due to worker activity, but we did manage to get to the roof of a radio tower under construction. We wussed out of climbing the radio tower though due to not being able to verify whether the tower was transmitting or not, although just a couple weeks ago two of my other friends climbed it and one seems to have passed out on the very top.
29 October 2013
I don't normally post names that help with locations these days, although I usually leave clues in contained within the pictures. Oksu has been an obsession of mine for years, ever since I found out it was going to be demolished. This whole area stretching between Oksu Station up to Singeumho Station has been getting knocked down, one area at a time, ever since I first moved into this attractive neighbourhood back in 2007. Now there's barely anything left, and I expect next time I come here I'll find another area set for demolition.
When I left home it was cloudy, and when I came out at Geumho Station it was heavily raining, so I only took a couple pictures before heading home, where I found it once again not raining.
29 October 2013
Rooftop Rescue Mission
I've been on a very weird sleep schedule since being unemployed, or maybe it's better to think of it as a lack of schedule. It started off by having me sleep briefly two times during the day, but my energy level was too low so I've consolidated it into one sleep period again. Now, any time after 6pm I suddenly get overcome with the need to close my eyes, and I sleep heavily for around six hours. I try not to wake up until 3am at the earliest, and I'm wide awake and active during sunrise.
After a lazy Sunday evening, I woke up shortly after midnight to see this update on Facebook:
Fuuucccckkk!!! Im stuck on a rooftop! Is anyone in Hongdae???
I picked up the phone and called, just as they were escaping. Even before I talked to Lizzy, I was pretty certain where they were stuck, as the same thing had happened with me and Javin earlier this year. Just heed my warning: beware the room with the inactive elevator doors; it's a trap.
Anyway, they were safe, but I was recently woken up so I decided to join them and we stayed out until sunrise.
27 October 2013
Halloween at Club Spot
Halloween seemed a bit more subdued in Hongdae this year, probably due to the fact that most of the parties were so far removed from the actual day of Halloween, which wasn't until the following Thursday. At Club Spot, where they always have a Halloween party, most of the costumes were half-assed, just an easily removable mask or going in costume like Jesse's douchebag costume. Anyway, the show was fine, though I showed up late, just in time to catch Mixed Blood's Misfits tribute called the Mixedfits. I also saw Full Garage and Yuppie Killer, although I was much more preoccupied with costume pictures than live music. And yes, upholding the longstanding tradition, there was a way-too-drunk antipodean there, but this year he didn't end up threatening or attacking me.
I went as UEey the Clown, and the latex mask proved to be insufferably sweaty to wear. Lately I've been getting a lot of coulrophobic comments because of my Kakao profile picture, and this just validates the fear that I too feel.
Recently I saw someone else on UER posting clown pictures, and I told him "If this is anyone but Urbex Clown, you're stealing my bit." For an added layer, I realised later I was stealing a Krusty the Clown joke.
22 October 2013
Drinking is a fact of life in Korea, and if you leave home you'll probably end up drinking, or if you don't drink, you can expect to spend a lot of time watching other people drink. Here are some pictures from a few nights of drinking in a variety of different places.
18 October 2013
A friend fell asleep on the bus on the way to Yonsei recently and overshot her stop. When she caught a bus back toward the university, she kept an eye out for my window and thought she saw a cat in the window. If so, it was Buster on his new ride, a suitcase with wheels I moved onto the dresser by the window, giving him a bit more height. I kind of want to make this thing look more like a racecar.
Anyway, now he knows that people on the bus can see him. I'm not sure what he'll do with this information.
16 October 2013
Man on a Ledge
When this first happened, it really deeply affected my mind. Then, the next day, I got a phone call from Robert Koehler saying that he knew who the guy on the ledge was, and it turned out he's just another rooftop photographer who's more daring than the other guys. So, just a crazy thing that happened to a likeminded individual, albeit one who spent way way too much time perched on the edge with his legs dangling over the side. If I'd been up there five minutes more without the cops coming, I would've moved to another position where I would've seen him, and as soon as I saw his camera gear I would've figured out what he was up to and would have almost certainly talked to him (after a few paranoid minutes of spying on him, of course).
So, despite all the craziness, it ended up being pretty inocuous. I've included the original write-up I posted on Facebook right after everything went down, mainly because I didn't want to forget any details but now because it allows me to remember the emotions I felt throughout.
15 October 2013
I met up with Ken in Myeongdong to go to Ho Lee Chow, where we redeemed a coupon I'd given him for his birthday. Afterwards, we walked around Myeongdong a bit. Ken always seems to like the market, although I consider it overdeveloped and without the charm of all the other markets. Well, there are one or two corners I favour.
13 October 2013
Sohn Kee Chung's neighbourhood
Not literally the name of the place, but a lot of the streets are named after him and it's next to memorial park bearing his name (though he himself was born in Sinuiju and buried in Daejeon. Knowing his legacy, it's sad seeing these ruins bearing his name.
If you aren't aware, Sohn competed and won gold in the marathon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but he had to compete under the Japanese name Son Kitei because Korea was occupied by Japan at the time. He famously bowed his head in shame/protest while accepting his Olympic gold medal (also note that the bronze medalist was following suit, although he isn't famous because he only got bronze). Back in Korea, the Dong-a Ilbo published the photo with the Japanese flag removed, the Japanese governor-general had eight people imprisoned and shut down the paper for nine months. Sohn and Nam's medals are still counted for Japan in the IOC's records.
Anyway, enough history. Wouldn't everyone be better off if a bunch of We'ves or I Wants were built here?
9 October 2013
We went back to the abandoned university, though this trip was less about photography and more about infiltration, as there are numerous buildings and numerous, numerous security measures to avoid. We got in okay, but I got a small tear on my beloved tiger shirt during a hurried exfiltration (yes, that's a word). And jeez did my pants ever take a beating throughout this trip, to the point where I was holding them together with safety pins; good thing they were only 5000 won at the flea market.
Oh yeah, also, Joseph gave me his old copy of Access All Areas, which I didn't mean to bring, but it was the only prop I had on hand when setting up this shot.
8 October 2013
I went to a very interesting lecture on Seoul during the Japanese occupation, but since I don't tend to photograph lectures, all the pictures are from after, in which I was drinking with Jaeeun who recently finished her LSAT and was in desperate need of deprogramming.
5 October 2013
Seoul International Fireworks Festival
For the fireworks festival, we returned to the area where I'd identified three potential rooftops. We got there too late for the one I'd been up on the previous time, and my second hope turned out to have tight security and was booked full, so we ended up sitting outside candidate 3 for about half an hour waiting for someone to go through the door so we could sneak in. This was also my chance to invite my only two Croatian friends in the world to meet.
4 October 2013
I caught another Jazz Five performance, this time in a basement bar in Sinchon called Nori. This one got a surprisingly high number of people out, surprising me as well as the band. I wouldn't have thought New Orleans jazz done by a Danish band would get such a great response, but it certainly did.
3 October 2013
As well as the series finale of Breaking Bad and the end of my time as a government propagandist, this week also marked my final show with TBS eFM. I'd been there just short of a year, but due to the "season" change they were moving Re:Play to the late-night slot and discontinuing the budget for regular guests like me. It's been an interesting year, and I've gotten away with far more than anyone could ever expect on a commercial radio station. Here is the list of shows that we put on:
1. Ska - two songs from each "wave"
2. Punk Goes Ska - punk bands covering ska/reggae songs
3. Mod - dealing mainly with the '70s mod revival
4. Skinhead Reggae
5. Lounge Exotica
6. TV Theme Songs
7. Christmas - all songs by punk or ska bands
8. New Year
10. Space Age Music - songs about space
11. Canadian Content
12. Hip-hop - documenting the rise of old-school hip-hop in the late '70s/early '80s
13. Soviet Music - of course mentioning Viktor Tsoi 14. Songs About Alcohol - I gave up drinking for January and this was in commemoration of that horrible period
15. Nonverbal Vocals - scat, doo-wop, a cappella, beatboxing, toasting, Jud Jud
16. Star Trek Singers - originally started as just "star singers" but I managed to find all six from Star Trek, albeit by bending the show rules slightly and delving into the early '90s
17. Train Songs - a theme show with all different genres pertaining to trains
18. World Country - I somehow managed to find six country songs from six different countries outside the US; this started as a tribute to Stompin' Tom and I decided to overlook American country
19. Outsider Music - this show generated a lot of feedback, not all negative
20. UK Reggae - I felt I owed the station something more listenable; this was originally going to be all songs about Margaret Thatcher but I didn't want to push my luck
21. Clash Covers - songs made famous by the Clash which they were just covering, eg "I Fought the Law," "Revolution Rock," "Police on My Back"; I was barred from playing "Brand New Cadillac" due to station restrictions on brand names
22. Proto-Punk - in recognition of the Television performance in Seoul
23. Spy Themes - this one was tough to do because there was another regular guest dealing with soundtracks and I was told to limit instrumentals
24. Canada 2 - after returning from Canada I did a show about my trip, including music I heard on the plane, my dad's old band, and a Shin Jung-hyeon album I bought in Edmonton
25. Boogaloo - after seeing the Slackers do a boogaloo song in Edmonton, I researched the genre and put this show together.
26. Jamaican Genres - I ran down mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, and dancehall
27. Korean War - this show was broadcast on July 26, one day before the 60th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement; part 1 and part 2 28. Dr Ring Ding - we had Dr Ring Ding in the studio with us to introduce some of the original songs he's covered over the years, and do a live performance for us in which he named us both; part 1 and part 2 29. Music I Hate - songs I had a problem with, though I respected all the musicians; included Specials, Social Distortion, the Beatles, Louis Prima, Johnny Cash, and Byron Lee
30. Jolly Fat Women - after reading this article I decided to spotlight the six named talented women
31. Chuseok Special - in which I molded Thanksgiving songs into Chuseok and also played songs themed around Chuseok regarding family and traffic
32. Best of retrospective
1 October 2013
On my first couple days of unemployment, I wandered around mainly. On Tuesday I went to Ilsan for another Jazz Five show, only to find I'd grossly miscalculated and arrived one hour too late to even catch the end of the show.
Next evening, I walked around Hongdae and scouted out rooftops for the upcoming Seoul International Fireworks Festival. I found three with good potential.
30 September 2013
You might remember last year when I managed to book a show for Danish ska bang Babylove and the van Dangos in Club Ta between festivals they were playing in Korea. This year, the saxophonist Johan returned to Korea with his jazz band, and he made a lot more time to play shows off the festival circuit. I made it to their Monday show at Club Auteur, which wasn't heavily crowded, but that's understandable considering most people had to work the next day. Not me.
30 September 2013
In early August I gave my notice that I was going to quit my job with the Korean government on August 29, my two-year anniversary. I showed up that day, only to be told there was no replacement and asked if I could stay longer. I stayed a while longer while they found a replacement, showing up once again on my last day, only to be told that the replacement didn't have a valid visa. I was asked to stay until Chuseok, at which point I was told I'd be coming back after the long weekend, and finally I was told I'd be working until the end of this month. So, today is the third day I've shown up being told it was my last day. Is it? I'll believe it when I'm gone and the new guy is here.
29 September 2013
It was raining all weekend but I decided to venture out on Sunday evening to test out some nearby rooftops. One of these I had been on before, but I felt like reshooting there. Due to the overcast conditions -- which are good for a lot of my type of photography but bad for long exposures -- I'll probably have to reshoot this again.
25 September 2013
This is Chicken
This is Chicken, a This is England-themed chicken hof run by everyone's favourite Korean skinhead Jiwoong, closed recently, and we were all crushed. Then, reports of a new This is Chicken surfaced, and at first I thought it was just another chicken place with the same name. But as I was walking south of Sangsu, I discovered its new location and was greeted by Jiwoong running out of the place after me.
The new place looks great, is cleaner, and holds much more room both for customers and in the kitchen. I'm glad to see it's back.
25 September 2013
Buster wanted to send a message, and due to lack of vocal cords and opposable thumbs, the best he can manage is to etch it into my skin while tripping balls on catnip.
20 September 2013
UE Meetup Afterparty
After we were done with abandoned stuff, we headed to Sinchon for food and drink. Since one of the guys is just visiting Korea, I suggested we test his tolerance of spicy food and take him for dakgalbi. And then afterwards, even though he doesn't drink we convinced him to try dongdongju, which came as a big surprise for him, as anyone who's wondered what the hell it is can attest. Also, I followed everyone to a noraebang and we ended the night sitting around in Lesbian Park, and attempted to answer the question of how it got that nickname.
20 September 2013
The last part of the meetup we had over Chuseok took us to an abandoned neighbourhood. Anticipating way too many people showing up, I was somewhat stingy with the details and had a backup plan if there were too many people. Ultimately there were eight of us which was a bit larger than I'd prefer, but when we were out we generally separated into two groups of four naturally, and nobody was ever too loud.
19 September 2013
Just a warning: this gallery contains some of the most disturbing pictures I've ever taken, so if you don't want to see closeups of various animals preserved in jars -- and far, far more disturbing -- don't click this link.
18 September 2013
As advertised on this page, we had a meetup over Chuseok. I was quite surprised by the number of people who came, but fortunately we'd chosen a roof that could comfortably host us all. It turned out there's some convoluted rental procedure, but we were eventually allowed to stay up there long enough to see the Sun set. There were so many people I didn't have time to talk with everyone, or get to know that many people or get an idea of who was interested in doing more. George and Jen, who hosted us there, seemed to have a great time, so we all seem to have survived.
We had a couple more activities throughout the long weekend but I didn't go out of my way to promote either of them because there really aren't many places that are safe to bring a large group. More on that later.
18 September 2013
We found a sizeable abandoned neighbourhood that's midway through demolition. The plan was to find one good rooftop to see it all from, though considering the scale I'm not sure we did see everything. We also ran into a short, stocky guy in a black uniform with an ID card hanging around his neck. He watched us with suspicion as we walked by, and we later proved him correct when he caught us in an abandoned apartment complex. Fortunately we were on the way out and we got over the fence before he could stop us.
17 September 2013
The radio schedule changed for Chuseok, so I ended up going to the station to be on air live. Before that, I stopped up at the roof to see what it was like.
15 September 2013
Morene Market Again
This is pretty much the same as last time, except I came back under better lighting conditions to reshoot some pictures.
14 September 2013
I went out right before sunset for some more photography, but this time I got on an old favourite rooftop that's had increased security in recent years, and then I went on a walk through the actual market, which is always quite an experience.
12 September 2013
It was Ken's 30th birthday, so we celebrated with beer, meat, and Choco Pies.
8 September 2013
I took a walk through the area around my home and visited a couple interesting places. I wanted a closer look at the New Town construction, and I managed to get on one very nice roof. Then I came back a little later to try to photograph it at sunset, but was a couple minutes later than I would've liked.
7 September 2013
I ducked out after the show to visit another subway entrance I'd been curious about. This one was a bit more climbing-intensive, notably more stealth-intensive, and a lot more door-checking-intensive. I almost certainly should not have gone down there by myself, but I got in and out quickly and I'll probably not go back to this one again.
7 September 2013
Reggae at Kuchu Camp
Alright, finally here are the pictures from the reggae show at Kuchu Camp. I finally saw Hellivision after numerous people telling me "They're a really good band despite their name," which confused me because I don't think it's all that bad a name, despite maybe being more suited to a rockabilly band.
Hakase-Sun was fun to watch but having seen Lim Ji-hoon put on a comparable act with a backing band I wasn't as overwhelmed as I could have been. He stuck around and played keyboards for Oki Band, a very interesting fusion band that combines reggae, world music, and electronica with Ainu folk music, which proved to be the highlight of the show.
Please remember that these photos are all copyrighted to me. If you want to use
them in any way, there's a 90 per cent chance I'll give you my permission, and be able to
give you a copy with a higher DPI.