19 June 2016


Yeomni-dong

It turns out, this isn't actually Yeomni-dong, but is nearby and has a church named after it. I saw this neighbourhood from the road and went for a closer look. At first I figured it would just be a small area at the base of the hill, but the abandoned section just kept going up and up, wrapping around to the other side of the hill. This place is also the reason I couldn't go to visit Pato Banton and Antoinette, especially considering how sweaty I was after stopping by here.

19 June 2016


Around Seoul

I'm working on a project that will require me to have a lot of pictures of parts of the city that are more touristy than this site is known for. So I made a list of about eight I had to hit and went out to visit as many as I could. While I was at it, I also visited many other places that you'd expect from me.

18 June 2016


Pato Banton and JoshRoy at Sejong Center

Considering Antoinette's love of Korean history gleaned through Korean historical dramas, here's a picture of them playing with King Sejong watching in the background.

This show was apparently suggested by the Urantia members, though they had to convince the Sejong Center that this wasn't going to be a religious event. It wasn't, though there was a banner in the crowd. At one point, one of those old cranks with the elaborate Jesus signs marched by, and as he was marching back Pato had a few words for his brand of proselytising.

I got most of Pato's set on GoPro but haven't had the chance to review the footage yet.

17 June 2016


Kingston Rudieska and Antoinette Rootsdawtah

Kingston Rudieska was playing on Friday, so I invited Pato and his wife Antoinette Rootsdawtah to see them. Pato wasn't up for it, but I managed to get Antoinette there just in time to catch their whole set. They were only playing a short set with six songs, but it was one of the most energetic sets I'd seen out of them and the crowded audience in Club Ta was really into them.

In the second-last song, Sukyuel pulled her out of the audience and got her to do a bit of singing for them. She didn't know the song ("Gimme Some Love") so they improvised. Hey, Antoinette, for next time...

16 June 2016


Pato Banton

Pato Banton came to Asia for a three-country tour, making Korea one of his stops. Naturally I interviewed him and met up with him after he arrived. He's quite a good person to talk to, probably the best interview I've done with a former member of the English Beat. The main purpose of his tour was to meet communities associated with the Book of Urantia.

The first show was at stay.round.GEE, a weirdly named venue I'd never heard of before, and the openers included JoshRoy and Rude Paper and a dance group I missed. Pato's set was backed by NST and the Soul Sauce, and they fit together very well, putting on one hell of a concert.

14 June 2016


Random Stuff

Here are a bunch of pictures from here and there that I decided to lump all together into one gallery rather than give each their own entries.

I got an overhead shot of Seosomun Park where they've dug fairly deep underground, as well as a six-word review of OK Burger, a poorly chosen hagwon name, an extra-demonic licence plate, and pottery.

12 June 2016


Jongmyo

Last October I slipped over the construction fence at Jongmyo Square, a long-delayed project to beautify the area in front of Jongmyo that's been going on for years. It finally finished and opened, and now they've closed down the other side for renovations. This basically means that all the elderly people who used to hang out there have no place to go. The new square is gravel which doesn't offer many places to sit and play board games. I guess the city doesn't want them around here anymore.

11 June 2016


RASKB Garden Party

This year's Garden Party was unfortunately scheduled on the same day as the opening of the Queer Culture Festival, which meant across the street in Seoul Square there was a big loud party playing dance music. Even worse, the sidewalk in front of Deoksugung was taken over by a similarly loud Christian protest, which RASKB members had to fight their way through to get to the British Ambassador's residence. Fortunately we had our own music which was too loud to drown them out.

While I was out trying to pull people from the crowd and behind police lines, the ambassador announced that another RAS member is getting an MBE.

5 June 2016


Seosomun Park

I went back to the park to find that they've cleared all the topsoil of the original park and are now gutting the massive complex that lay underneath it. So Seosomun Park wasn't so much a city park as a giant building with trees on its roof.

5 June 2016


Yongsan 4

Around January when I wrote this, they were just starting to send in machines to handle the dirt and put up a massive fence around the property. Turns out, half a year later, they just wanted to cut the space off from public view and access. The ground has been flattened and all the heavy machinery has left.

But hey, at least they put some of the evictee protesters in jail who tried to resist!

5 June 2016


Abandoned Places

Previously I found a semi-abandoned Hanok village, but came back this day for a closer look. It's a pretty humble area and people are still living here.

I also went to Soulkee's old apartment, which I'd last visited during Lunar New Year. The area is virtually unchanged, other than they removed the lock to his door.

4 June 2016


Club SHARP

The lineup for this show at Club SHARP looked promising, headlined by the new ska-punk band Talkbats. I guess it's basically Rudy Guns. There was also The Brigade who I hadn't seen in a long time and who have just released a new music video. Plus there was Full Garage who are touring the US soon, as well as Green Flame Boys and yet another of their side projects.

4 June 2016


Abandoned Neighbourhoods

On my way to a concert, I made three quick stops at three abandoned neighbourhoods.

29 May 2016


Punk Training with Murakami-san

After the show, we went out for seafood of some kind. I can't really tell what we had, and I didn't have all that much. And then everyone got a little goofy and I learned too much about people's sex lives.

28 May 2016


...Whatever That Means at Thunderhorse

Jeff is getting ready for a tour of the US and a bunch of album releases, so he wanted pictures of the band with its current lineup. Thunderhorse isn't the greatest place for taking pictures, but it's otherwise a fine place, and he promised me a couple beers for my trouble.

This was during HBC Fest and the whole place was a zoo, with police all around to direct traffic. Glad I don't live so close to it.

25 May 2016


Millie and Buster Join the Circus

Finally something interesting that I don't need left in the trash outside my apartment. Someone dropped off a little tent, not large enough for a person -- even a kid -- to sleep in, maybe a play area. I set it up on the roof and the cats took a gradual interest to it. Buster seems to like being inside, which is a reversal from how they usually behave.

Also, I have pictures of some bugs I've found on the coniferous tree on my roof. The tree seems to be in good shape so I don't think they're threatening, but there are a lot of them.

25 May 2016


Bong Juice

Just the thought of sweet cloudy bong juice makes me thirsty.

22 May 2016


Punk Wedding

I showed up for a wedding between Byeongjin and Jiyeon, two members of the punk scene. The invitation suggested dressing up in punk clothes, but not many did, instead opting for nice suits.

I ducked out during the ceremony to see what the roof was like, which was impressive, and I came back to discover I'd missed a short set by Billy Carter. Too bad, but at least the roof was pretty cool.

20 May 2016


Jeonju

I went with my parents to Jeonju for a day trip. First we visited the Jeonju Hanji Museum where they got to make their own free samples of Hanji, then we went to the Hanok Village to wander around for the better part of the day.

It seems very difficult to find regular alcohol there, other than moju, so I'm wondering if there are any kind of zoning laws in the village making it harder to sell beer or makgeolli there. Anyway, it's harder to find than the rest of Korea, which still isn't that hard.

14 May 2016


Bongwonsa

We went on an RASKB tour of Buddhist temples on the actual day of Buddha's Birthday.

Our last stop was Bongwonsa, the temple behind Yonsei University. After a pretty long climb up the road to the temple, we arrived to run into Brother Anthony, leading his own temple tour.

We missed a lot of performances but managed to see a few. I had to get back on the bus at 8, so I left during a choral performance that I thought sounded more Christian than Buddhist despite the drumming. It turned out going back down took less than five minutes.


Okcheonam
After a drive up north through Buam-dong, we stopped at Okcheonam, a hermitage between Buam and Hongje that I'd probably driven by about a dozen times before but never noticed.

It has a Buddha figure carved out of rock, sort of similar to Chilsongam but more visible from farther away due to its location. It's easier to appreciate from across the stream rather than up close, I'd say.



Gaeunsa
Gaeunsa is at the top of a fairly steep path that punished everyone walking up there, especially those of us who'd already visited three other temples this day.

They had karaoke going with people taking turns singing very loud songs, mostly trot. Snacks including fruits and cake were being handed out the whole time.

In the parking lot in front of the place were two buildings that were clearly in some stage of construction. As best as I can tell, both were formerly active and may have been going through renovations. The interior of the one I went in was basically gutted, and the other one still had storefronts on the main floor including a hot dog restaurant.

Leaving the temple, we saw a big billboard for a Christian church shoving a Bible quote in everyone's face.


Chilsongam
Chilsongam was a quick stop, mainly to see a rock carving of Buddha behind the main building. They also gave us watermelon here.

There also seemed to be a photo gallery in a Hanok there, but we didn't stop to look at that.

The tranquility was a bit ruined by some fairly loud noises coming from what sounded like a concert nearby.

Of course, it turned out that was our next stop.


Bomunsa
Bomunsa was the largest temple we visited, and we had a lot of time to wander around.

Unfortunately not much was happening during our visit, which seemed to have disappointed our guide.

But there were plenty of sights to see, including the recreation of Seokguram, some stray kittens, and of course lots of lanterns.

The most interesting room was on the top floor of the building right outside the front gate, which had thousands of smaller Buddha statues on display.


Mitasa
Our first stop was Mitasa, a small but nice temple tucked around behind Bomunsa. There's a stairway behind the temple building leading up the slope to an ancient pagoda.

They also had a bunch of food set up that reminded me more of a Jesa ceremony than something more Buddhist.

8 May 2016


Pictures

Here are some random pictures from here and there over a few days, some with my parents and some with my cats.

7 May 2016


Yeondeunghoe

This year's Yeondeunghoe was on a long weekend, the same day as Seoul Friendship Fair and a few other events. Still, a fair number of people were anticipating it, despite the fact most people forgot it was happening so early. We did our usual annual ritual of going to a hookah bar to watch the parade from above.

7 May 2016


Seoul Friendship Fair

We went to Seoul Friendship Fair for food and performances. It's usually run pretty well, though it took me a little extra time this year to find the Middle Eastern food tents.

6 May 2016


Huam Market

On my way to do some computer stuff, I took a detour through Huam Market to finally see what's in there.

6 May 2016


Dakgalbi

I went with my parents for dakgalbi, which wasn't too hot for them to eat.

5 May 2016


Children's Day

I met up with some people putting together a magazine on urban issues and we went to an abandoned neighbourhood.

1 May 2016


BBQ

I had another barbecue, and this time there was slightly more furniture. We also had more trouble with the charcoal. Buster had a good time, anyway.

30 April 2016


Dongdaemun

We went to Dongdaemun and walked around a few of the markets there, starting from the gate and moving through the flea market in Hwanghak-dong.

24 April 2016


Training with Kanghee

I met up with Kanghee again for another look at the overpass. It's been a while since I've been back, which is especially odd now that I live walking distance from it. They've covered it from below well, hiding how much of the surface itself they're removing. Walking around up there is starting to get pretty sketchy.

23 April 2016


Shugeibu in Korea

JP went to Japan and met Shugeibu, an all-girl band playing noise rock. Unfortunately he apparently left his equipment in a taxi the night before and wasn't able to play himself, but otherwise this was quite a show.

It was also my first time to Club Steel Face, which is a well-made, nice place... almost too nice. Give it time, I'm sure. Also, the roof is still pretty cool, which Sumin is fashioning to look like a ferry.

22 April 2016


Ninja Training

Kanghee started inviting people out for ninja training on Friday night, which turned out to mean a photo shoot for Red Bull done by the drummer of Cherry Filter.

18 April 2016


Millie's Expressions

The couch is where I spend most of my time, so it must be the best place in the apartment for the dominant one. At least that's what my cats probably think, as they really value their couch time. Millie was on the couch with me and I took a few pictures of her with some entertaining poses and facial expressions.

17 April 2016


Another Abandoned Neighbourhood

Shortly after last week's abandoned neighbourhood, I was alerted to another by Robert Fouser. This one is very close to Sinchon and is also almost entirely gone, so it's baffling that it went so long without me finding out about it, either by going past it and seeing it myself or someone giving a helpful tip, which is always welcomed and usually reciprocated.

10 April 2016


Host Legs

Nice Legs wanted to film a short video and they wanted there to be lots of fire, so we went to the Host tunnel.

9 April 2016


Rooftop BBQ

We had a barbecue, and Millie wanted to cook Buster. Well, she especially wanted out of the hammock. No pictures were actually taken at the barbecue itself.

8 April 2016


Abandoned Neighbourhood

Not too far from home, I randomly passed an abandoned neighbourhood I wasn't expecting to see. Unfortunately it's already mostly gone, with a whole hillside covered in debris already. I only got a quick look at the rest, as I was on my way somewhere and was in a suit I didn't want to get dirty.

4 April 2016


Seosomun Park

The park that my older coworkers used to walk through during lunch has closed and machines are digging up all the land, so I guess now it's the sort of park I'd go.

Apparently it's a historic site where a lot of people were executed, but following the pope's visit, they've decided to remodel it to reflect only the Catholic martyrs here, in an attempt to create a Catholic martyrs tourism belt. The whole thing is built on top of an underground complex that was a parking lot before, and I think will be some kind of church when it reopens.

2 April 2016


GBN Live House

GBN Live House was having a ludicrous show this night, with 18 bands playing over the course of three hours. The idea was each band only gets ten minutes, with two to set up, before the counter projected on the wall reaches zero, the power is cut and a buzzer sounds. And yes, one act was just a guy in a gimp suit.

2 April 2016


Mullae

I'm writing an article about Mullae, so I showed up on a Saturday to do some research on the ground. We went to a rooftop DJ party, a hostel, and wandered the alleys, and we just missed a mime show.

2 April 2016


My Roof

I went out with my tripod and my cats onto the roof for some pictures of the night view. This led to me creating one of the best accidental puns ever.

April Fool's Day 2016


Relocated

Unfortunately my new apartment in Huam-dong isn't working out, as my landlord came by and discovered I have cats which he doesn't allow. Rather than just kick me out on the street, he helped me find a new place, giving me an interesting new opportunity.

I bet you didn't know Namsan Tower has its own residential section, with its own elevator and everything. This is the uppermost level of the observation area, which has four circular apartment units, not to mention space to move around outside. No furniture but I'm moving in now.

Also, if you're looking for something to do tonight, how about this RASKB tour of Korea's convenience stores?

30 March 2016


Cats Inaction

25 March 2016


Moving

My landlord decided he wanted my room back, for his son moving back in, so he had to evict me. I was depressed about it because there aren't many better places to live, but ended up finding the perfect place in Huam-dong which is a little closer to the office and the overpass. These pictures mainly come from moving day, in which I moved the cats in ahead of all my stuff.

19 March 2016


Deep Seoul with Robert Fouser

Robert Fouser returned to Korea and has had time to lead three RASKB tours, the first being of the odd combination of Jongmyo, Seun Arcade, and Ikseon-dong.

16 March 2016


Seokjeon Daeje

It's been a while since I've been back here. I wrote an article for the Times about this year's first of two Confucian ceremonies, and I took a couple hours off in the morning to attend myself. This was my second time being there for the full performance, and its structure is starting to make a lot more sense now.

12 March 2016


Gangnam

I don't leave Seoul that often, but I headed down to Gangnam on Saturday to visit a few sites. I found out an old abandoned hotel district in Seocho might be completely demolished soon, though there's still one building I have a lot of memories in that's standing untouched. I made it across the city to a fairly large apartment complex being prepped for demolition. It's not as big as the Galaxy complex, with about half the number of buildings (60-70) and also quite a lot more natural, as it contours to the land more and includes some actual nature. This was the same day as David Gangnamhardt led his tour of Gangnam, and I planned to meet up with them after but apparently he went on his own way.

10 March 2016


Catnip

Millie and Buster had a boxing match, which in their case means they got high on catnip, went into boxes, and squared off in a slapfight.

5 March 2016


[RASKB] Seoul: Antiquity Meets Modernity

I'll be leading another RASKB tour in a couple months, this one simply retracing some familiar sights around downtown with a few personal stories about the urban renewal process there. We'll basically be walking Pimatgol, Cheonggyecheon, and Sejongno and analysing up close how the city tries to modernise while also holding onto some of its storied past as well. This tour will be a lot more interesting if you like urban planning and infrastructure more than history. There will also be zero overlap with Peter Bartholomew's Joseon Seoul tour or Robert Fouser's upcoming Jongmyo, Seun Sangga, Ikseon-dong tour.

And there's a charge for participating, with the money going to support the world's oldest Korean Studies organisation, which is in increasingly desperate need of funds.

Here's an article that should set the tone of the tour and discusses one of the places we'll be visiting (albeit all we'll see will be a tall fence and possibly some machinery).

4 March 2016


RASKB tour

A day early, I traced the route for the March 5 RASKB tour. All I got, picture-wise, was one interesting sign and a candid street photo.

The tour itself was basically rained out, as we were hit by a heavy rain right at the onset. The rain eased up a little but those of us who stayed with it were basically soggy all the way to the end. Or, halfway, which is as far as we got. The whole thing will be rescheduled for a new date soon.

3 March 2016


Food Tent Village

I got a message from Tyler that our favourite food tent village in front of Yongsan Station, at the former location of a red-light district, was being closed down and trashed out. I went for a look at lunch and crept around while workers removed stuff. Probably many of the workers were the business owners, as a significant number of the businesses are relocating to a nearby basement. Not actually a nice-looking new venue, but we'll see if they make something of it.

2 March 2016


New Apartment

My apartment hunt ended after seeing about five places. I found a new place in Huam-dong that has proper rooftop access, and I'll be moving in later this month, after some renovations are completed.

1 March 2016


March 1 Independence Movement Day

I got the day off, so I decided to scout underneath the Naebu Expressway, investigating an underground river and evaluating Cheonggyecheon Museum for a recommendation for tourists. Anyway, you'll like the museum, maybe not the tunnel or streambed.

29 February 2016


Korean Music Awards

I attended the KMAs this year to write an article for the Korea Times. Unlike previous years, there were no big winners, as nobody won more than two awards except Big Bang, and the methodology for their Netizens' choice award has been heavily called into question. And there were a lot of other little moments that made it into the article as well, despite the unpromising title.

Anyway, I brought my camera but it wasn't enough for an event like this. We ended up using a Yonhap picture. Here, you can see what I got that I decided wasn't Korea Times-worthy.

28 February 2016


Snow

I was sitting at home when I heard what sounded like rain on the roof. Turned out it was a raging snowstorm. I tried out my new GoPro camera, only to mess up and get no good footage as the thing was pointing down too far the whole time, so all you see is the road under me. After that, I went out with my regular camera and shot a few pictures, though the snow had already stopped falling and was quickly melting.

27 February 2016


Arirang Institute

I showed up in Itaewon after looking at a few apartments nearby, hoping to crash a going-away party. Instead, I got roped into going to a random bar by Stephen Revere of 10 Magazine and Kurt Achin (who taught me the correct pronunciation of his last name), where it turned out they were giving out plenty of free drink tickets and there was an event by the Arirang Institute, an NPO dealing with North Korea issues that probably wouldn't approve of what I was working on at the time.

26 February 2016


Apartment-Hunting

The same day I attended Nikola's speech about real estate in Seoul, I got the message from my landlord that I had a couple months to move out of my current apartment. I basically live in his attic and he's decided he wants it back as part of his household again. So on day 1, I went out to track down a few target areas I'd like to live.

And on the way of course, I stopped by an abandoned neighbourhood. I'd planned for two, but the second seems to have vanished -- and not just by being destroyed. The first is heavily disputed, with lots of people around I didn't want to do anything too crazy in front of. The second, I found several months ago, and now I can't even find the corner it was on before.

24 February 2016


Holographic Protest

So in response to the government cracking down on the right to assemble, Amnesty International Korea held a holographic protest, playing back a prerecorded projection on a screen in front of Gwanghwamun. Probably a good answer to what they're protesting, the way masks were so effective at that December protest, but partly due to the time of day and the temperature, the only people there were either organisers or journalists.

22 February 2016


Another Overpass

Just when I thought I was done with overpasses for a while, another one gets unexpectedly closed after structural flaws are found that seem to remind people of the Seongsu Bridge that collapsed in the '90s. Not really expecting an imminent collapse, I went up a couple times myself. The first day of closing, all the traffic lights were still on, but as of Thursday night they seem to be saving the electricity.

20 February 2016


Real Estate Investment in Seoul

Nikola from Kojects gave a lecture to the Real Estate Investing Meetup group for Seoul, and I went along to do an article on it.

25 December 2015


Overpass

On a very cold Christmas Day, they had one final open overpass event, mainly where people could paint on the road surface. There were balloons and Santa hat giveaways, and some live music, but it was too cold for much more. There were a lot of kids here and they seemed to be having fun.

20 December 2015


Overpass

A quick visit with a friend one night, when we witnessed an impressive multimedia display in the Seoul Square building.

15 December 2015


Overpass

I decided to try my luck and go up on the overpass during lunch break. I made it pretty far, but as I turned back, a worker saw me from one of the other off-ramps. He just told me "no" and pointed toward the exit. Not a big deal presently. But would it make it harder to get up here? A little, but not really.

14 December 2015


Overpass

The next day, I headed back to the overpass, taking pictures around the base and observing how the city has set up detour routes, making use of more lines in the road as well as traffic cops.

13 December 2015


Overpass

Seoul Station Overpass closed on Sunday, December 13. I had to work that day on the second edition, which meant right at 10:30 I was very close to the overpass. Seemed like a good time for a visit.

This early on, it was easy to get on by any ramp, which would change soon. I managed to crawl underneath the overpass at one point, where I discovered it had bridge rooms. Bridge rooms with pigeons watching me.

18 February 2016


Jericho and Cat visit

Javin and friends have sent a number of visitors my way, either coming from Hong Kong or Toronto or New York, but this time he connected me with a Chinese friend coming to Seoul for half a week, and an American friend living in China also coming to Seoul the exact same time. We met up for a few meals and a rooftop, nothing too crazy.

16 February 2016


RASKB Business and Culture Club

This was my first time making it to an RASKB Business and Culture Club meeting, held on Tuesdays once a month during the lunch hour. For this month, they were meeting up at City Hall for a tour of the historic relevance of the two city hall buildings.

I'd been expecting to breeze by it on my upcoming RASKB tour (still probably linked above), but discovered there's a lot more to the two buildings that fits directly into the main thesis of my tour (which will be better explained sometime in the next couple weeks).

14 February 2016


Amsterdam Faya Allstars at Gopchangjeongol

I didn't make it to the Saturday show at Steel Face, mainly because I couldn't stomach the idea of spending five days in a row in Hongdae. So I took that night off and went on Sunday to the smaller show at Gopchangjeongol. My liver thanked me. I wasn't able to stay late, mainly because I couldn't get home too late to stab Buster in the pancreas. Anyway, it was a pretty good show despite shortcomings in the sound system, which as a non-musician rarely ever bothers me, especially when the stage is so interesting looking.

12 February 2016


Amsterdam Faya Allstars at Prism

This was the second Amsterdam Faya Allstars performance, after the previous day's massive Crying Nut birthday party. Oriental Showcus was impressive, going for something between ska and Harlem-style jazz, and fronted by three very talented women. Kingston Rudieska put on a slightly calmer show playing their slower songs, and Amsterdam Faya Allstars conquered the stage. Their act has a certain physicality that's rare in Korea, let alone in ska bands, with the dueling sax players moving around the stage quite a lot. They also really like to solo, probably having more minutes dedicated to members soloing than there were vocals.

And of course the show concluded with a big jam featuring all horn players on stage, giving everyone a turn to individually shine and ensuring that all three bands got to actually make music side by side.

11 February 2016


Captain Rock Birthday Party

My first response to seeing how this place was done up was "I'm having my next birthday party here!"

Banners with his face on the walls, liberal amounts of free food and quality booze for supporters and wellwishers, and lots of music. Han Gyeong-rok, bassist of Crying Nut, knows how to celebrate birthdays. More than anything, it felt like what North Korea would be like if they had a really cool guy in power.

10 February 2016


Amsterdam Faya Allstars

The big show of the month is a four-date tour of Seoul by Amsterdam Faya Allstars, a ska band from Amsterdam. Well, the leader is Dutch, but the other members are from all over the world.

I met up with them on their second night at Zion Boat, where they didn't actually end up having a show due to equipment limitations. They're nice guys from a variety of not just national but also musical backgrounds, and all of them have extensive music careers. This is going to be a busy weekend.

10 February 2016


Overpass

I figured that this might be the last opportunity to get up onto the overpass before it opens again. It was the last day of the long weekend, and I was at work (we have to put out a newspaper on the first day back after the holiday), so I stopped by during lunch and again after the first edition deadline. I'll be revealing my earlier pictures of this place in the next while, when I have fewer pictures to dump on here.

8 February 2016


Bone Tunnel

We went back to the Bone Tunnel, and for some reason I was the only one who thought we might need flashlights. We went as deep as we could before it became a lot trickier and a lot deeper, and then we turned back and did the usual tunnel. I'd never walked down that one downstream before, which was quit different from starting at the main entrance.

7 February 2016


Yongma Land

We went to Yongma Land because it's always more fun on big holidays. I also wanted to ask the owner if it would ever be possible to have a concert there -- it wouldn't be.

6 February 2016


Overpass

I'm going to have a lot more to say about this place in the next few days. I've been visiting it a lot but keeping it quiet because of how prominent it is. Now that construction is speeding up, it's becoming harder to visit.

6 February 2016


Abandoned Neighbourhoods

It turns out that Soulkee found his cat -- the trap worked as intended -- but he didn't tell me this, so when I showed up at his old place with a search party, we were surprised the trap was gone. So instead, we went to another abandoned neighbourhood and ran into a bunch of friendly stray cats who gratefully accepted our cat food donation.

31 January 2016


Buster

Buster seemed like he wanted to get in trouble this day. He'd been playing with plastic bands as I was leaving, but at some point over the next few hours he got his head caught in the handle. Which means the return of Supercat, even if it wasn't as cape-like this time (despite me trying to adjust it so).

30 January 2016


New Town

My final stop was an abandoned neighbourhood right in the center of Gangnam (not the -gu, but the side of the river). It was also a hillside of razed land, but this one was better than the previous one simply because it had a better view. I've admired this little part of southern Seoul for several years, as it's cut off from the rest of Gangnam by a curved ridge pushing it up against the riverfront. It's a cozy little low-key area with a big university hospital and now a lot of demolition.

30 January 2016


Second Place Lava

On my way to my last destination of the day, I passed by yet another abandoned neighbourhood. This one was far gone, basically a fenced-off razed hillside.

30 January 2016


Find the Cat

A couple weeks ago, my friend Soulkee announced that his neighbourhood was being evicted and he was clearing out as of 15 January, with pictures of the area in a state of abandonment.

I asked him his old address, and he told me "If go up the rooftop, pls do not touch a trap I installed."

Trap?! That doesn't sound very safe, or even legal. What is this, Yongsan 4?

He clarified, "I lost my cat at the day I moved, but I'm sure that my cat still stay at the rooftop, so I just install the trap."

I replied: Let's Go Find the Cat*.

I spent a few hours looking all over the neighbourhood, but finding a lost cat in a Korean neighbourhood, let alone one that's mostly abandoned, is nearly impossible. The trap was of course nothing too dangerous, just a cage with cat food inside that closes if paws press a certain panel.

Soulkee should have realised he's part of a network of people who like visiting abandoned places, and many of them love cats. There have been cases where urban explorers have rescued lost animals from abandoned buildings, and in cases like that, the usual UE ethics go out the window. Smash through drywall to rescue a trapped kitten? No problem. Hell, even the whole "Take only photos, leave only footprints" rule is negated, unless you're cruel enough to re-abandon a stranded animal inside an abandoned building.

It's rare that I encourage anyone to go to any of the places I visit. There are exceptions such as Yongma Land and the entire punk scene, but I'm making this one an exception as well. Obviously nobody should be going there to smash, steal, or spraypaint anything, but the more eyes in the neighbourhood, the higher the chances we have of recovering Soulkee's cat.

So I'm putting a bounty on this cat. Not a big one because nobody should be looking for this cat for financial gain, but you can expect a large number of urban explorers to want to buy you a beer, or if you don't drink, I guess food or air or whatever else non-drinkers like. You will also become a legendary figure, and I could probably twist that into an article for my corporate overlords, along the lines of "Urban explorer rescues cat," right next to the article about UFOs causing volcanic eruptions and Kim Jong-un's sex appeal.

*I saw Grand Buffet sometime in the early 2000s when they came to Edmonton as openers for Wesley Willis and this song was one of the unforgettable moments of the night, aside from meeting Wesley Willis when I was auditioning as a house DJ -- they didn't hire me, despite his endorsement.

30 January 2016


Miscellaneous

All of this running around gave me several pictures unrelated to the subjects, so I crammed them all into this gallery of pictures taken going from one place to the next, some in Seoul and some in Gangnam. I especially looked at public art on my way around, plus a couple nice vistas of the area just south of the river.

30 January 2016


Secret Playground

I returned to the Secret Playground, which I previously visited at night with people. This time I was on my own in the daylight and more free to run around on my own. It's a medium-sized abandoned neighbourhood, but there are plenty of interesting buildings still standing that are worth a visit or two.

30 January 2016


Moonscape

My journey started off by visiting Yeomni-dong, near where friends (Jeff and Trash, and Jae) live and make tattoos (Badass Bomi), to find a huge crater where a neighbourhood must have been removed over the past couple years, and none of them thought to tip me off.

This is a good chance to remind everyone that I'm offering 10 000 won subsidies for "Jeff Sucks" tattoos from Badass Bomi. Just e-mail her at badasstattookorea@gmail.com and tell her Jon sent you.

29 January 2016


Abandoned Military Property

But whose military? Some of these buildings look like they date back to Japanese occupation. Jacco wanted me to have a look and tell him what I found prior to his RASKB lecture on Korea under American military occupation (1945-48) on Tuesday, February 2. Leading up to his lecture he's been doing a lot of research and uncovering a lot of very interesting things about the city. We're still unsure what to think of this area though.

29 January 2016


Under the Cop Titan

Along Sinmun-no, this gigantic cop fastened to the side of a building has been a local eyesore for years. It's probably made the situation more tense in the small commercial neighbourhood next door, as they face eviction under the steely eyes of some random anonymous cop titan.

This area is in a pretty prominent location visible to traffic, but doesn't get quite the pedestrians that a place like Yongsan 4 did.

25 January 2016


Gwangjang Market

It's about time for Javin to leave again for another year (though he once again pledges to come back sometime in a warmer month than January) and I wanted to show him a few of the more rustic markets. We went to one near Insadong that is literally a hole in the wall, and then walked over to Gwangjang which has a lot of character and is well loved enough that it's now full of Chinese tourists.

23 January 2016


WestGold Train

To get home, we got to a train station on a big enough line. The next train coming along was listed as "WestGold," and not knowing what that was, we decided it was worth the adventure to stow away on the route back to Seoul. The thing was painted bright yellow and hauled by a yellow locomotive that was far from aerodynamic. We slipped aboard and not too long after my two ethnically Asian friends were caught by a conductor somehow. But nobody really cared, as the train was on its return leg, about five stations away from Seoul, and it was shedding paying passengers at every stop.

Korail offers an increasing number of specialised train routes I'd liken to an inland cruise experience, and I'm interested to check more of them out -- either as a paying passenger or a stowaway.

23 January 2016


Abandoned Neighbourhood

Our cross-country trip took us to an old familiar abandoned neighbourhood out in the country that still hasn't changed over the years. Well, except this time a big fence has been erected around it. But as I frequently remind my Korean urban exploring conspirators, Korea isn't exactly known for its fence-making.

23 January 2016


Utopia Building

After Verv's Natural History Museum tour and its "oughtopia" murals, it was good timing to visit this abandoned research or education building covered in miniature models of proposed utopias, some clearly realised for particular regions and others maybe flights of fancy. This building is behind a fence and protected with an absurd amount of alarm systems, one of which we may or may not have tripped (if we had, it was silent and no one seemed to respond, which contradicts previous experiences with alarms here).

23 January 2016


Yongsan Disaster 7th Anniversary

Seven years have passed since the Yongsan Disaster on 20 January, 2009, when six people died so a bunch of buildings could be torn down. So they did that, and then just left the lot empty.

I wrote an opinion piece for the Korea Times titled "Yongsan's ongoing disaster," in which I underline that the greatest evil of that event was that nothing came of it.

Shortly after writing the article, right before my 13 January visit, some activity started happening on the site. An excavator's moved in and chewed up the ground, and there are some changes to the fences running the perimeter. Visiting again on the 23rd, in time for a rally planned there (thanks, noisemyulchi), it seems something might finally be done with the land.

A couple additional notes on my own personal feelings for the place. Obviously my close proximity to this whole thing unfolding gave me an intense look at how important the issue is and brought my urban exploration hobby up to the lifelong obsession level. First of all, this is good timing to revive anger at Kim Seok-ki, who is running for election in a Gyeongju riding, removed enough from the horror of Yongsan that his constituents might not understand what he's responsible for. On the other hand, I personally sympathise with the evictees, but on a more rational level I wish some things could be done differently. They were victims of circumstance as I outlined in the opinion piece, but what they could do in the here and now is to express their sympathy toward the one police officer who died. Not sure how it works to hold a shrine to someone, but a death is a death and his should be considered equally regrettable to any one of the evictees who died, without surrendering any legal inculpability.

22 January 2016


Buster

Buster remains in high spirits and doesn't mind getting stabbed by me twice a day. He's regained the ability to get onto the food table and I caught him in his rocking chair once, though he hasn't been able to get into bed which is about the same height as the chair but doesn't rock. After a half-day stay at the veterinary hospital, I've been told to double his insulin dose.

17 January 2016


Buster Goes to (Pizza) Heaven

For the past few months, Buster hasn't been doing well. After the first vet told me he was probably too fat and suffers back pain, his condition continued to worse and I was referred to a bigger animal hospital, where they diagnosed him with diabetes mellitus. They kept him for two days to run tests to find the right treatment, which gave me two awkward days alone with Millie. She loves being around me alone without Buster in view, but she hates being left home alone without her brother/uncle there.

When Buster came home, they gave me a week's worth of insulin plus needles for giving him injections. I've struggled greatly in the past to get him to take any kind of medicine, so I figured needles would be even worse. It turns out, he really doesn't mind and doesn't know to dread my ritual of getting the drugs out of the fridge and filling up a needle.

He's in high spirits despite the decreased mobility, and is extremely happy for all the time he has left. Which could be many years still. Many expensive years of expensive medicated cat food.

16 January 2016


Secret Playground

On the weekend, we hit a couple abandoned neighbourhoods, a former military installation, and an active subway tunnel. So, a typical January when Javin visits.

At one such location, we noticed a police car out by the road making noises, but it clearly wasn't there for us. During our walk, a mannequin torso was discovered, as was an abandoned suitcase. So anyway, it turned out that same night, a murderer dumped his ex-girlfriend's body in a suitcase in the area. I don't know exactly where or at what time, but he certainly wouldn't have come over to where we were skulking around -- at the very least, if he had, the body would not have been found quite so quickly. Though, reading the article, I can't help but wonder why he would have, upon being questioned by the police in Pyeongtaek, driven up to Seoul and dumped the body here.

14 January 2016


Times Roof

Javin stopped by to visit me at work one night when I was doing the second edition shift. It was a good chance to go up to the roof and take some night pictures from there, before the weather got cold.

13 January 2016


Yongsan

January 20 this year marks the seventh anniversary of the Yongsan Disaster. Long story short, evictees were pushed to the precipice by hired goons and the police were there to drag them off. Six people -- five evictees and one police officer -- died so that the area could be redeveloped. Seven years later, we have a wonderful new brownfield zone, with a parking lot directly where the rooftop clash took place.

I'll have more to share next week; pick up a weekend edition of the Korea Times if you can't wait.

9 January 2016


RASKB tour of Kyung Hee University Natural History Museum

For the second year in a row, Verv was our guide through KHU's Natural History Museum, where he shared all sorts of interesting facts and trivia about plants and animals throughout history. Then we ended up at Chicken Toilet.

Yes, this is a natural history museum which has exhibits including angels and apocalyptic robots. The university founder seems like a bit of a nutbag who didn't ascribe to any one religion, but took them all as a sort of pantheist truth. He thought the way to combat utopian ideologies bent on world domination was through respelling it as "oughtopian" and hoping things worked out better this time.

I also decided after two years it was time to retire the old banner for the page, which after two years had a good run. That image came from stained glass in the then-abandoned Dongdaemun Church, now gone. It was located across the road north of Heunginjimun, where there is now a park for the city wall. It suited the site well, but I think I now have the world's record for number of humans pictured being killed by a genocidal robot in a blog banner.

Also, as of the retirement of Marmot's Hole, this may now be Korea's oldest foreign-language blog. I hate the word blog but that's what it is. Although I don't offer much in the way of archives prior to 2011, this site was first started in December 2003. The pictures all still exist, though I've taken down the pages used to display them.

7 January 2016


Ukrainian Christmas

When I was young, we celebrated Christmas and then after New Year's, when you were finally done with the holidays, we went to my Ukrainian grandmother's house for Ukrainian Christmas. That's when Orthodox Christians celebrate, so it stands to reason the Russian district in Dongdaemun would be a fun place. We went on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve, so it wasn't so busy but was open.

Also note that the 2015 archives are up so you can more freely view all of that now.

3 January 2016


Abandoned Neighbourhood

So the guy I explore with doesn't like his face being posted online. Fortunately, the latest issue of Broke in Korea offered a convenient solution, as we printed a big yangban mask on the back for anyone to make their own DiY mask for protests, acts of terrorism, etc.

We revisited an abandoned neighbourhood and took the time to do our own tribute to Yangbantal.

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  • 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.
    Copyright Daehanmindecline 2014