Holy Mackerel Village
A walk through a pretty typical abandoned neighbourhood, barring the facts that it's quite extensive and it's outside Seoul. Also, some of the most vicious hired goon graffiti I've seen since the Yongsan Disaster, all targetting one woman seemingly. Definitely a refresher for all of our vocabularies.
20 February 2015
Return to the Nightmare Lab
Korea's biggest holidays are always great times to visit some of the more sensitive/intense places. This year we decided to visit the Nightmare Lab. It was a fairly large group which limited our mobility in certain ways, but we still made it into the Nightmare Lab. This time we looked closer at the specimens, and despite me fearing that the fluid levels were dropping (which looking at older pictures they aren't), we discovered that most of these specimens are extremely old, dating back to the '50s and '60s in most cases.
Entry is increasingly sketchy and we usually have to rely on prior acts of vandalism. Also according to some sources, this place may be getting refitted into something new sometime this year. Will the nightmare come to an end?
19 February 2015
Empty Embassy Compound
Back around 2007, my attention was drawn to the Empty Embassy Compound, a brownfield zone located in prime real estate between Gyeongbok Palace, Insadong, and Bukchon Hanok Village. Since writing that article for Asia Pundits, I've managed to find a way in, though it's so public that I could only do it at times when the area isn't crowded, such as late at night or on major holidays. So, now it's a major holiday.
Apparently Korean Air was getting ready to redevelop the area into a luxury Hanok hotel; a major roadblock had been the girls' school next door, due to zoning restrictions preventing hotels from opening near schools, but discussion was made of cancelling the law or closing the school.
But then with the blowback over the "nut rage incident," KAL lost the public support it needed to push this through, so we're ending up with a big empty weed jungle and mosquito swimming pool for the foreseeable future.
This is questionable interest to people who are into urban exploration for the photos, but it's a very bizarre tract of empty land inside the downtown core of one of the world's biggest cities. Going there, I was struck by the emptiness as well as the wide open views of Seoul's downtown skyline. Walking through there was much more a mind-opening experience than I would've figured -- well, I already knew that empty field plus downtown would be interesting for me -- but it was a very quality experience, up there with any abandoned neighbourhood I've ever visited. This is a new way to experience downtown Seoul, while standing in an urban wasteland.
18 February 2015
UE is a Crime
Javin tipped me off to Moses Gates, an explorer turned urban planner who was spending a little over one day in Seoul on his way across Asia down to Australia. Kind of odd timing being around during Lunar New Year, and he got to experience Seoul at half mast, as the crowds just weren't there, and too many restaurants were closed. With help from Ryan and Tyler, we took him to abandonments, rooftops, and subway tunnel. It was one of those days where we made the most of limited time and drank way too much.
And still, the highlight of the night was when we got the DJ at Vent to play "UE is a Crime" by the UE Kingz.
17 February 2015
FC Seoul vs Hanoi FC
Ryan Ihm is getting ready to leave Korea, and his last FC Seoul game was the night before the Seollal long weekend. Verv and I decided to come along and meet all the new foreign FC Seoul supporters--there sure are a lot of them, and they sure take the team seriously. No Dunbar rolls and double-fisting soju/baeksaeju, just lots of cheering and deep analysis of the game.
Anyway, FC Seoul destroyed Hanoi 7-0, which was entertaining but about halfway through I was thinking it would be nice if the Vietnamese got one shot in. It sure was a violent game though, with both sides racking up the fouls. I guess since this league plays so infrequently, players care less about getting red carded, because there's chance enough they'll have moved onto a different team by the time the next game comes up.
14 February 2015
Cry and Singalong Together
CST reformed after more than five years apart. I think their last show was in 2008, possibly the final Skunk Hell show. Even though they've been gone for so long, they haven't been forgotten, though maybe more the people than the band itself. Frankly, if you're going to drag your band out of retirement after over five years, better to call it a reunion show than a "last show," because then you won't seem quite as hypocritical at the next reunion show in 2022.
10 February 2015
Surprisingly I haven't visited Guryong Village before. It's the shantytown in Gangnam that is going to be redeveloped soon. It has always been a very tense place, and I really don't like going places where I could bother residents. But I figured it was time to pay it a visit before things get too crazy. There was a fire in November, and just four days before my visit there was a pretty crazy battle with hired goons.
The area is mostly still pretty lived in, and gets a lot of foot traffic (and car traffic) from people climbing the mountain behind it. There are lots of dogs and cats, and although this was a pretty casual day, I see bad things in this area's immediate future.
6 February 2015
One of my favourite parts of travelling is staying in motels. Nels disagreed with me that this place was chintzy, but there's no beating the hilarious name. For those of you who don't know, Walkerhill is a pretty upscale hotel in Seoul. This is on par with the Hilton Motel I found in darkest Gyeongbuk (although I just checked Daum and there may be as many as 71 Hilton Motels throughout Korea).
6 February 2015
Hitting the Slopes
We went out on the ski slopes and had a closer look at the chairlifts, which was my favourite thing to crawl around. I got many pictures of this exact scene from many angles, showing the park with the green lift in the foreground.
6 February 2015
The whole point of this trip was to reach the abandoned ski resort. There was only one other human on the site, but we gave him a wide berth. His guard dogs were very friendly though, and sad to see us go.
6 February 2015
Renting a car to get out into the mountains was a fun enough part of the trip. Despite recently getting a Korean licence, I decided to let Nels do most of the driving while I stuck to navigation.
5 February 2015
Last time I was here was June 2004 during the rainy season. I had a meal in the ship, which I'm pretty sure was random inedible seafood. It's a small resort area with not much beyond hotels and seafood restaurants.
5 February 2015
Six hours on trains. That's all I have to say about this.
3 February 2015
I spotted these buildings on a bus recently, and didn't think much about them until I was bored one day. Not the most exciting place, but it's certainly in a surprising location.
31 January 2015
Burning Hepburn vs SkaSucks
Walt is leaving Korea this month, so Redboi came up to Seoul and decided to have one last weekend with him. We hit Zion Boat and This is Chicken, and went to a pretty wild ska-punk show at Ruailrock which I think was the release party for a SkaSucks/Burning Hepburn split that I never got a copy of.
27 January 2015
Javin 2015 Part 2
Javin's finished his stint in Korea for the third consecutive year, which means 2015 is already over and we can just wait for 2016 now.
17 January 2015
This marks the third year in a row that Javin came to Korea to teach short-term winter break programs and travel a bit more around Asia. Just like the last couple years, this month has marked a busy period, as we get a lot done in a short time.
This time he brought his quadcopter with him, and we found a few places to launch it where we wouldn't bother any residents. I'm looking forward to seeing his footage soon. Hell, I'm still looking forward to seeing his stuff from 2013. Toronto is Home, Hong Kong is Home, but what's Seoul, chopped liver?
We also hung out with Ali, formerly of the Daegu math rock band Colours, now of the new project Mountains.
10 January 2015
RASKB Tour of Kyung Hee University Natural History Museum with Verv
As soon as I found out Verv worked at KHU's Natural History Museum, I figured it would be a very good choice for an RASKB tour. Verv talking about animals is always the best thing ever, and the museum has six storeys of taxidermy and fossils and so on. Plus the banner art running the stairwell is pretty bizarre in a retro sort of way, depicting natural history into an apocalyptic future.
We ultimately had a group of nine, which was probably right the size for moving around this building and staying together. Then after, we went out to a restaurant, followed by a bar, followed by a rooftop.
2 January 2015
The Bone Tunnel
I made it less than 24 hours into 2015 without doing anything of questionable legality. Anyway, as we discovered on Christmas, the way has been paved for reaching the Bone Tunnel without having to crawl over ice or scale a very sketchy fence (though you can still do the latter, if you like).
Anyway, I set back to visit the Bone Tunnel, mainly to scout out the entrance and only go a little ways inside. I brought a Ukrainian along with me because when has that ever gone wrong (NSFW)?
I hit three very difficult tunnels that day, and yes, I did find monsters at the end of it.
Also, you may note that the entire 2014 year is now open in the archives for you to look through.
31 December 2014
New Year's Eve
For New Year's Eve, I hiked up a mountain. Right around midnight, a big group of people came and fired off tons of fireworks, ruining the mood. They were up there for about 20 minutes, and left before the cops could respond. I was not involved with them, and Daehanmindecline does not support any illegal or disruptive activities. Here's for a crime-free 2015!
29 December 2014
Yonsei Under Construction
Has anyone noticed what a dump Yonsei looks like lately? Oh well, could be worse: you could be stuck in Songdo.
29 December 2014
Interview with Colin
Last summer, I was interviewed by Colin Marshall, an urbanist who was visiting Seoul for a limited time and interviewing anyone he could find, seemingly. He went on my RASKB walk of Yongsan, and afterwards we sat at the train tracks bar and did a one-hour interview that ended up being pretty thorough, touching on a lot of urban exploration and urban renewal issues, as well as the punk scene and how life in Korea has changed over the past decade. I can't say whether I recommend listening to it, but he is very thorough about what's in it, plus there's lots of train sounds.
27 December 2014
All Together Now
This show was the closest thing we had to a Christmas/New Year's show that I could find. There isn't that much to speak of happening on Christmas or New Year's Eve, but this one show between the two had a very interesting mix of older mostly punk bands and younger mostly hardcore bands. I was more focused on the zine, as well as the attendance of Verv, so I didn't start taking pictures until very late, starting at Rudy Guns and also getting Things We Say, Return Bois, and Find the Spot.
A Very Merry Host Christmas
Though I consider visiting the Host on Christmas Day to be an annual ritual, I'm pretty sure this is only the second time we've done it on the day (the first being my original visit in 2009). Things have changed a lot under Seoul, but still the only monsters down there were the ones in our group.
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.