New Year's Eve
Not much happened for New Year's Eve. I met up with Verv and Zeinab and a bunch of her classmates. We all parted ways around 9:30 and I went home. Before midnight I went out and met friends on the peak of Naksan, but no pictures were taken. Really didn't have the energy to be excited about the new year.
This year I had to hold it on Boxing Day, as the Korea Times decided it needed a weekend edition that would be put together on Christmas Day. This might've bothered me more, if there weren't a hardcore show at Yongsan Jeonja Salon on Saturday anyway. Probably the surrealist thing you can expect to see after walking 1.5 kilometers underground is a Christfuck show with the lead singer naked and swinging a Christmas tree. Those pictures have been buried in a link at the bottom of the main gallery, so you are warned if you accidentally stumble upon them.
25 December 2015
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.
Christmas Morning 2015
Millie and Buster Meet Santa
And you thought your portraits with Santa were bad? Millie and Buster are fine with coexisting in the same apartment, but try to get them to share a lap and all hell breaks loose. Doesn't matter if it's Santa's or not.
Christmas Eve 2015
Christmas Eve at Take-Out Drawing
For Christmas I had to work the day shift on Christmas Eve and then the night shift on Christmas Day. That left me a decent enough window for this show in Itaewon at Take-Out Drawing, a venue under dispute that is apparently owned by PSY. It was a pretty fun show.
21 December 2015
Buster continues to suffer, having basically given up on jumping up on things including the bed and his favourite chair. He's otherwise still as strong as ever in spirit and appetite, reminding me of one of those guys in a wheelchair who builds upper-body strength. But he's taken to hiding, now preferring under the food table where he can watch me and Millie or somewhere nearer the litterbox. I don't think he's in pain and the vet hasn't identified a more serious problem than back troubles, so I'm going to be patient and hope he gets back to his normal self. He's certainly lost a lot of weight already due to a stricter diet of dry food.
20 December 2015
A quick visit with a friend one night, when we witnessed an impressive multimedia display in the Seoul Square building.
20 December 2015
For the third year, Santa Claus returns to Seoul's rooftops, scouting out the optimal route for Christmas present delivery. And once again, he finds a bunch of buildings no longer lived in.
There will be more adventures with Santa this weekend, so keep hitting that F5 button. Or just contact me if you want to join in.
18 December 2015
Seoul Foreign Residents Council
I found out that that foreign government body that the government was recruiting for a couple months ago has been formed and was having an opening ceremony on Friday, my day off. I just missed the mayor by minutes, but got to sit through a bunch of boring speeches delivered in varying proficiencies of Korean.
17 December 2015
There has been an awakening...Have yousa felt it?
I went to see the new Star Wars movie at an event hosted by Seoul Rotary Club at Yongsan, with proceeds going toward Medecins Sans Frontieres. I donated 40 000 won for two tickets, which I thought was generous until I found out that's roughly what my dad is paying back in Canada for two tickets.
Anyway, I was going to share a fake spoiler that it turns out Jar Jar is the evil man behind the curtain known as Snoke, but that turned out to be true, so I need something else.
15 December 2015
RASKB Makgeolli Lecture
The last lecture of the year was by Julia and Becca about makgeolli, and it ended with a free-for-all of free samples. Then the real drinking began.
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
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
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.
12 December 2015
Broke in Korea 22 Release
I released the latest Broke at Second Saturdays again, the night of Stephen Epstein's documentary. It tied in well, as I had an interview with Epstein as well as Max Reynolds in this one. Downloadable here.
On my way home, I stopped by Channel1969 to use the washroom. I placed my camera on a ledge, and as I was leaving someone was angrily pounding on the door to be let in, so I forgot the camera.
About half an hour I noticed my camera wasn't with me. Hurrying back, it was gone. I told JP and Yoo Youngsam, and looked around hopelessly, already thinking about buying a replacement and lamenting the loss of tonight's pictures.
JP asked the owner of Channel1969, who had just had a camera turned in by someone who found it in the washroom. So it was safe.
I took it home, uploaded the pictures, and just now editing them I discovered the people who found it took a few pictures with it before returning it. They weren't identified to me at the time, but I thank them all, and Channel1969, for the safe return of my camera.
12 December 2015
I took my time getting to Hongdae, stopping off at the former site of the Geumhwa apartments and an abandoned neighbourhood, before spending a couple hours wandering aimlessly around Hongdae. I got a new pair of glasses for the high price of 120 000 KRW, and it took them ten minutes to make them. The zines took longer.
Friday night I stayed after the second edition deadline, after everyone else went home. It turns out, the lights in the office automatically go off at midnight, and shortly after that the hall lights do too. I stayed there working in the dark, wondering if the whole building was in lockdown. Turns out there was still a security guard in the lobby, so I had nothing to worry about. How many times for me has a security guard being there been a relief and not the opposite?
10 December 2015
On my way to work, I passed by Jogyesa, where the head of the KFTU had been holed up for 24 days since the November 14 protest. The police put out an arrest warrant for him so he took sanctuary in the temple, where they won't come in and get him. The monks ween't that happy, and have asked him to leave. He apparently said he'd come out if the December 5 protest passed peacefully, and when it did, he moved the goalposts saying he'd come out when the labour reforms are rejected. I think he may have been misquoted in the press because he did seem to be mentioning the bills prior to the peaceful protests. Anyway, he gave himself up willingly on Thursday, about an hour after these two pictures were taken.
Luckily for Jeff, they turned out to be a lot of fun, and the smallish audience presence was thrilled to have them there.
5 December 2015
I went back to this protest fearing the worst, but the police played a subdued role and the protesters consequently had a pretty good time, marching from point A to point B to point C and going home peacefully. Maybe the police should be so casual all the time?
5 December 2015
Buster still isn't quite doing well, with the ability to use his hind legs diminished. But his front half is still pretty strong, like a guy in a wheelchair who buffs up his upper-body strength.
4 December 2015
Every two weeks I get a Friday off. Usually I spend it having a business lunch, causing chaos around downtown, and winding up at the RASKB office. No pictures available for viewing from the first two yet.
3 December 2015
It's easy to take pictures like this when you live on a rooftop in Bukchon. Facebook Memories reminds me I took almost the exact same pictures the same day last year.
In Edmonton, I always accounted for the first snowfall of the year which would melt away quickly, as did this one. It was always the second snow that would stick around until thawing in the spring. This one may have been in December rather than September or October, and the next one certainly will melt as quickly as well. Gotta love the warm, humid Seoul winters.
2 December 2015
Brother Anthony's MBE
Before Brother Anthony received his official recognition from Queen Elizabeth, I asked him if I could write an article about the ceremony, which he vigorously said he didn't want. At the ceremony itself, I decided humility be damned, but by that time Robert Neff had already stepped up to write the article. I provided the picture, though they spelled my name wrong.
28 November 2015
The last time I was in this part of town was around 2007. My ex-wife and I were looking for a place to live, and we found one nice apartment where we would've had the top two floors. Then the landlady abruptly pulled the deal away from us, saying that international marriages never last. It took us a few more years before we admitted that yes, she was right.
27 November 2015
For the second year, I went to the Moses' apartment to celebrate American Thanksgiving. This year though, I had to work until the second edition was done, so I didn't get there until around 11. There were plenty of people there, but by the time I brought out my camera there weren't many left.
22 November 2015
Another weekend, another couple of abandoned neighbourhoods. I went back to the previous one, confirming that that interesting tree has been removed. Hopefully it's been relocated, because it seems a waste of effort to so carefully bring down buildings around it and then just destroy it too.
20 November 2015
Verv called me up late Friday afternoon asking if I wanted to go to Zeinab's birthday party in a couple hours. It was put together pretty quickly, just us and a whole bunch of Iranians, but I guess she's never celebrated her birthday in Korea so it was a big deal to her. We went to a barbecue restaurant that had beef and had a pretty good time. Verv invited people back to his place but I escaped, already aware what kind of hangover he'd get the next day.
20 November 2015
My work schedule gives me alternating six- and four-day work weeks, wherein sometimes I skip Fridays and sometimes I work Sundays. This day I had a three-day weekend which I spent wandering around Jongno. An errand to the bank led me to another way into Anguk Building past security and I was easily able to get up to the roof. It's about what I could've hoped, overlooking Insadong, the Empty Embassy Compound, and my neighbourhood. I wasn't able to spot any fugitive labour activists, though.
14 November 2015
Second Saturdays Mr Headbutt Reunion
The Second Saturdays show had two bands I hadn't seen before, JP's one-man band Octopoulpe and the new skinhead band The Brigade. Plus, Mr Headbutt, who I haven't seen in a long, long time. I also wrote about them in the Seoul Magazine article alongside Things We Say, so I was also planning not to let them down as well. Photographing Clayton was hard because the lighting was especially strong on him, creating high contrasts that don't work well for my style.
Things We Say Last Show
Victor from Things We Say announced that the band is breaking up, mainly due to the busyness involved in having three daughters and living at least an hour south of Seoul. I did an interview with him for Seoul Magazine and I've placed an order for buttons from his Button King business, so I wasn't going to skip the show. However, I also needed to get to the show in Hongdae to see the first act, so I left a little early.
14 November 2015
Said to be the largest protest in Korea since the 2008 mad cow protests, this one was a conglomeration of protest groups with various causes, ranging from the state-written history textbooks and labour reforms that would increase the number of unsecured temp jobs, to the lowering value of rice and youth unemployment, to Sewol and apparently the plan to construct a cable car on Seorak, among numerous others. I took a quick run by and hit a roof, then moved on with my life.
12 November 2015
Penta Security didn't have a roof. KOCIS didn't have a roof. This is not something I use to gauge a job's value, but if I did, the KT would rank very high. In this direction you can see two overpasses, the latter which is Seoul Station Overpass. There's Seoul Station, and I can also see the row of buildings mainly specialised for cobblers.
11 November 2015
American Thanksgiving is a little over two weeks away, which is just the right amount of time to make ewhaju. Maybe it'll make a good replacement for applesauce? Or rice pudding if that's ever eaten. Anyway, I invented a fun new kind of tteok out of the experience.
So far it's been fermenting enthusiastically. The first few days I had to shake out all the bubbles forming, which hadn't happened with my original batch which just kind of sat there for two weeks. It turned out alright but the texture to this one looks like it'll be a lot smoother.
Basically he sets up various boxes for donations of animals and toys, with one big one, and writes reasons for their owners abandoning them. Of course he didn't use real animals, which would have been kind of funny. He seemed to get a pretty good reaction from passersby, with the ones noticing him seeming appreciative. He was cold after an hour, so I got here just at the end.
7 November 2015
We went to a familiar abandoned neighbourhood, where demolition was proceeding at an expected rate. Just like last time, we got chased away from one section that seems to be vigilantly guarded by the locals. I can't imagine why at this point. I mean I get why evictees feel sensitive, but why just this one spot?
2 November 2015
Buster hasn't been feeling well lately. I first noticed he was having trouble jumping onto the bed and his rocking chair. Not so sure what it meant, I took him to the vet, who figured out that he has back pain that's making it hard for him to use his back legs. This is probably brought on by his weight, which has been increasing in the last year. Fattie.
31 October 2015
...Whatever That Means at DGBD
After the AA show, a bunch of us wandered over to DGBD where World Domination, Inc was having a big Halloween show. The place was packed and I only stayed for WTM. Jeff and Trash had pretty impressive costumes, and I'm guessing they actually put a bit of money into dressing up this year. The lighting in DGBD was favouring the colours that make people look less human, so it was tough taking suitable pictures.
Eat Brains: Halloween Hardcore 1
AA was double booked, with the first show going from 4 to 6 before the Yuppie Killer guys took over with Halloween decorations and free mystery alcohol. This first gallery has Dead Chunks, Acid Party, Yuppie Killer, MyManMike, Le crabe, and Food for Worms.
31 October 2015
Shining Cocks First Show at AA
I rushed from the secret bunker over to AA in Hongdae, where Shining Cocks were having their first show. Not too surprisingly, their sound is comparable to Green Flame Boys and Chongkook, all three bands which share one member. This show also had Green Flame Boys do a set, as well as Yokay Ingun, whose bassist was covered in green body paint which helped him to go pretty wild. I hope Shining Cocks stick around a little longer than Chongkook.
31 October 2015
I went back to the secret bunker to see what they'd done with it. It's been turned into a pretty nice space with pictures on display showing the history of Yeouido and the rediscovery of the bunker. I wonder if they'd ever let concerts be put on here.
30 October 2015
If you're like me, even a little, then you've probably been wondering why there's been a construction fence up in front of Jongmyo for years. I finally took the time to stop by at night, jump the fence, and figure it out for myself. Of course, it turned out the fence didn't offer protection on all four sides, so I probably could've gotten in easier. Looking at how the park next door is used, I think this area will be embraced by the local community when it eventually opens. Judging by the signage, there've been delays, and the end probably is not in sight right now.
29 October 2015
Buster's been extra lazy lately, and I've noticed him struggling to jump up on things like his favourite rocking chair or the bed. I guess it's time for a diet or exercise or cat liposuction or something. No, this is not connected with his newfound love for ewhaju.
28 October 2015
Two weeks after the course at Susubori, and the ewhaju was ready for bottling. I made just less than half what I made last time. It's mostly good, but with lots of large chunks of hard rice that shouldn't be there. Buster does like ewhaju and on two different nights I've gotten him to lick the spoon, but Millie doesn't care for it. Now that this is done with I'm looking forward to trying again in the near future.
25 October 2015
RASKB Joseon Seoul Walk with Peter Bartholomew
I joined up with the RASKB tour of downtown Seoul led by Peter Bartholomew. Last year I ran into the tour at its end, so this time I did the whole thing. It was a pretty long day but hearing about things from Peter's perspective drawing from the past 40 years was impressive. The most entertaining thing about the tour is that every year he finds something new that's been demolished, unnecessarily renovated, or ruined. This year, we found three such things.
24 October 2015
I wandered around Insadong on Saturday night, wasting time so I wouldn't be too tired the next morning. I didn't see much, just the usual demolition and urban renewal.
21 October 2015
Cop Day Night
If it's a cop holiday, I'm not going to just sit around. Unfortunately the cops did have to work on their big anniversary, but it's not like they were working hard enough to catch us A visit to one place was cancelled, and then as we were wandering away in disappointment I remembered this tunnel in the area I wanted to check out.
It's no subway tunnel but it ended up being pretty interesting, and for a tunnel, especially one with those big vinyl curtains at the entrance, it didn't smell so bad. Definitely going to have to revisit this place. We didn't see any evidence of a crime (other than possibly our visit), but that didn't deter me from CSIing the hell out of the place.
21 October 2015
In three pictures, I tell the story of the lives of two young girls who come to the Cop Day celebration, become enamored of cops, enlist in the police force themselves, and age from young to middle-aged before your very eyes.
Also, I was fingerprinted and given official-looking KCSI badges, which I figure is the next best thing to deputising me. So that means rather than urban exploring, in the future you'll see me Crime Scene Investigating.
20 October 2015
Tyler's parents were visiting Korea for the first time, and Tyler was back in Seoul briefly, so I met up with them and showed them around Jongno.
On our way through Gwanghwamun we found out that the next day was a cop holiday, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the police force or something. They were setting up for a festival the next day including all sorts of experience programs and giveaways, and I got a balloon and a box of police-issue crayons. And we got to go in the KCSI bus and see all the lab equipment.
We also saw a lot of cops hard at work guarding a right-wing demonstration, in favour of the state-issue textbooks that erase some of the uglier parts of Korea's modern history, such as the fact that many Korean traitors aided the Japanese occupation.
17 October 2015
Fanzui Xiangfa and ATF at Jarip HQ
And here are the pictures from the second day of the tour. They intersected with a Japanese band called ATF, and both bands went on to play separate shows on Sunday, with Nevin's band going to Busan and ATF going to Hongdae.
There were a ton of reunions this day, especially when you factor in the film screening with Stephen Epstein prior.
16 October 2015
Fanzui Xiangfa Afterparty
Afterwards, everyone went out to a nearby restaurant for meat and/or vegetables. Apparently Nevin and his band were up until 5am. Surprisingly they still made it for the next show tomorrow. Pictures coming soon.
16 October 2015
Fanzui Xiangfa at Yogiga
Nevin came back to Korea for the first time in ages -- I think the last time I saw him, I was married and Jeff wasn't (or at least was in the process of becoming married). He brought with him his cousin Adam and their Beijing punk band Fanzui Xiangfa. For the first of three shows, they played in Yogiga, which works as a punk venue better than I expected.
15 October 2015
On my way out to the RASKB office, I saw a riot police bus parked next to Changdeokgung, which I don't recall seeing happen before. Sure enough, while I was at the office, a fairly large protest headed down from Daehangno. There was one poor beer truck with a worker inside probably worrying about if he'll meet all the deadlines for his deliveries that day.
14 October 2015
Before this year, I'd never seen the infamous pesticide spray trucks. Then in a very short timeframe, I saw it happen three times all close together. This last one hit my neighbourhood, which freaked out the cats quite a lot.
Empty Korail Lot
Someday, someone's going to give me a tip leading to a deathtrap. This time, Jacco sent me to a Korail property north of Seoul Station. As I reported back, anything with this many homeless people wandering around outside and set up inside can't truly be called abandoned. I left quickly not out of fear for my life but concern that my presence might lead to increased security concerns.
13 October 2015
Secret Bunker and Mapo Bridge
I hoped to get inside the secret bunker at Yeouido, but it's only open on weekends now, and it's also no longer possible to sneak in.
Rather than let my time go to total waste, I walked out across Mapo Bridge and had a closer look at their anti-suicide measures. Which from what I hear don't actually work, and have been making more people think more deeply about committing suicide rather than the other way around.
11 October 2015
Ewhaju Lesson at Susubori
I previously took a class in making makgeolli specifically to prepare for a later class on ewhaju, the alcoholic mixture you eat with a spoon. Picture if makgeolli had very little water content, and that's basically what it is. Also, I almost blew up the Susubori room.
8 October 2015
Kingston Rudieska at Mu:Con
Walter was back in town for a visit and Kingston Rudieska got him to do a song with them at Mu:Con, another music showcase event. I got a free pass, but after Zandari I didn't really have the energy for another music festival, let alone that many more pictures. The venues were larger and less suitable for photography, and most of the bands were less interesting than Zandari's lineup. Kingston Rudieska did a half-hour performance that only improved by having Walter join them. The lighting wasn't great, and wasn't suited for someone of his height with his skin colour.
7 October 2015
Well I was surprised to find a few weeks ago that one of my favourite subway tunnel entrances had been removed. Fortunately the whole subway line has been mapped out from end to end, and I was able to scout along it aboveground and locate a few more ways down.
7 October 2015
Heavy Lies the Head
I've finally eaten my way through a whole box of Chuseok apples and pears, and I've collected a great deal of what I can only assume are fruit cozies. And they just happen to be about the same size as a cat's head, so maybe they'd fit...
Buster appears cooperative in these photos, with a regal look on his face, but that's really his "why does this shit always happen to me?" expression.
After TsuShiMaMiRe was Jungles!, a band with possibly more exclamation marks in their name than I'm letting them have. They were another all-girl Japanese punk band, which you'd think I'd be getting bored of by now. I think by seeing them I managed to watch all the bands I'd missed at the Skunk Hell show from a couple days earlier.
They decorated the stage with tinsel, bringing in some yuletide joy they probably wouldn't be aware of, and played a set that was once again Crying Nutted.
We made it back to Strange Fruit, where two of the Japanese bands were putting on their own afterparty show.
The first of these was TsuShiMaMiRe, who played a much less hungover show and proved that I wasn't wrong before when I thought they were the best Japanese band I'd seen this weekend.
Kingston Rudieska at Freebird
For the first time, I left that one little corner of Hongdae and headed over to the new Freebird, former location of 500, for Kingston Rudieska. They put on quite a good show, in a venue that was built for Jamaican music, and I scared away all the girls there on the dancefloor.
The venue itself looks pretty good. I miss the early days of 500 when it was a no-shoes club and everyone was in their socks. You could sit on the floor everywhere and it was a cozy experience, like sitting in the Flintstones' living room. Oh well, still a great place.
This was the second of three sets I saw where Crying Nut's Insoo jumped on stage and joined in. Obviously all three were planned, which leads me to wonder how many performances I missed that he joined. It's always fun to see him join a performance and it really energises the band he's helping out.
This band was some combination of Sato Yukie with some other Japanese musicians. I've seen Gopchang Jeongol once before, and I know there were originally no girls in the band. Anyway, whoever these women were, they took center stage and were a lot of fun.
It was strange seeing Sato Yukie, former frontman of Gopchang Jeongol, performing inside Gopchang Jeongol, the venue. I'd never seen this one room before, and it was not like something from our century.
Max Reynolds has apparently played the last two Zandari Festivals. He first came on Korea's radar when he connected with Galaxy Express on one of their visits to SXSW, and it sounds like he's finally relocated to Seoul to see what he can do with the music scene here.
This show featured him backed by two Korean musicians, and apparently they'd only had two practices prior to this. They covered Misfits and Rancid, but their best stuff was the original material. I'm not sure if the music scene will treat him all that differently than all the other foreigners who've been contributing already, but he'd probably have something to add to our scene.
I don't get as many chances to see Dead Buttons these days, as they've gotten big enough to not play the type of shows I can afford.
They're basically on the same trajectory of Galaxy Express, a really talented rock band whose style isn't offputting enough to turn away large numbers of fans. I can't even remember the last time I saw them, but I'm certain they didn't have such a sizeable fan club sitting up front (well, last show nobody would have been sitting).
Dead Buttons are that band that deserve any fame they get, and since there are only two of them, it's a lot easier to send them all over the world on tour. I couldn't think of a better band to act as ambassadors of our small music scene.
It seems they've had a major member change, which could explain why they aren't as well known these days. Their new stuff is fine and challenging for your perceptions of pop music, but I do miss the violin.
We started the second day of Zandari with TsuShiMaMiRe, one of the many all-girl Japanese bands playing the festival.
They ended up being my favourite of all the Japanese bands I saw, mainly because their sound was a little more original. Initially I thought they were a little less energetic than the other Japanese bands, which seems to be a selling point they all hit, but one song later they were doing some pretty crazy things I haven't seen on stage before. Their bassist was dressed pretty conservatively, but was still able to kick higher than her own head which is quite a feat for someone not holding a bass guitar.
They mentioned that they were all hungover from the night before, and that they'd have a second performance later tonight which, if you aren't reading this chronologically, you already know.
3 October 2015
Green Flame Boys at Zandari Day 1
I started Zandari Festival on the Steel Face Rooftop, where Green Flame Boys opened the show. I'd been meaning to check this place out for quite a while, as it seems a pretty obvious pairing for me.
As soon as the band started, people in the alley below gathered to watch, and sure enough the cops arrived shortly after. You can be as loud as you like in Hongdae, as long as you aren't playing live music.
Anyway, due to the Zandari connection, they were allowed to continue playing.
Lolita No.18 at Zandari Day 1
I was pretty surprised that Lolita No.18 was coming to Korea. They're basically one of the most important all-girl punk bands of Japan, and way back in the day they gave a break to Korea's all-girl band Nonstop Body by recording a split album together, including a cover of "I Fought the Law" which they performed together. Today, the only cover I noticed was "Video Killed the Radio Star."
Lolita No.18 reminded me more than I'd expect of Shorty Cat, both in the similar fashions right down to hairstyles and colours, as well as a lot of the musical style. Both bands had the convention, whether they intended it or not, of combining tomboy antics with hyper-infantilised vocals. Well, the lead vocalist has a very powerful, almost quacking vocal style, but the bassist's voice was as high-pitched as possible.
They played an extremely short set, starting late and ending early.
The plan was to meet up with Nik who'd gone off to see LOD way on the other end of Hongdae -- he arrived in time to see their encore song, which was five seconds long. Here, we would see a few songs by ...Whatever That Means before heading on to the next show. As such, we stayed for two or three songs and hit the road, and I only ever got one remotely workable picture of them.
PET at Zandari Day 1
Nik had gone to Skunk Hell and seen all the Japanese punk bands the night before, so he told me PET was especially good. I think they were the only non-all-girl punk band from Japan.
Their set was active and energetic. I recall the vocals being a bit more glam metal influenced, or that was in their DNA somewhere.
The audience loved them, though it turned out later that the Japanese punks were all here.
Plastic Kiz are from Daegu and I've only ever known about them through Kyle's reporting in Broke. I'd heard them described as skatepunk but they're nothing like that. Their music is deep and brooding, at least in this setting, with long songs that don't rely on cheap hooks.
And at the end of the set, the girl sitting next to me jumped up and started handing out "We live in fucking Daegu" (or something like it) sampler CDs they'd made specifically to proselytise at Zandari.
Veggers and Patients at Zandari Day 1
We returned again to the rooftop for the third time to see the Veggers. Crying Nut was also playing this slot somewhere else, but Nik had never seen the Veggers before and that seemed the more completist choice. Besides, we'd see Insoo jump on stage for two different bands the next day.
Also, we stuck around to see a couple songs by the Patients on their home turf, but we had to get going. The rooftop venue is the Patients' project, and they're working on setting up an indoor venue in the building sometime later this year. Hongdae could use something like that, though I'm sure the neighbours wouldn't be happy.
Jambinai at Zandari Day 1
I'd still never seen Jambinai before, so this was the perfect chance to give them a try. Their set is brooding and sort of not fun the way other bands are, but fascinating and stimulating nonetheless. There's no wonder these guys have been summoned to play their unique blend of fusion music all over the world. Listening to them, they're a hard rock band played on traditional instruments, rather than trying to play particularly traditional Korean sounds. Anyway, it works.
2 October 2015
My last visit here was in February, and the only thing that's changed since then is the vegetation. It seems like this project has stalled, which is a pretty big deal considering it's such a large tract of land in such a good location.
1 October 2015
Exorcising the Nightmare Lab
Every time I visit the Nightmare Lab, there's a different way in. Also this time, there were more security features, and we set off an alarm as we left.
Most unnerving, when we first entered the building, we heard a door slam somewhere upstairs, and thought we heard footsteps moving around. After five minutes and occasional repeats of the same noises, we decided to proceed. After a visit to the lab itself, we decided to track down the source of the noise. Sure enough, it was traced back to two doors on the top floor of the building, blowing in the wind. I encountered a similar but enhanced effect at the abandoned mental hospital, but with more doors at once. Here, not wanting this place to reach the ghost-hunting circuit, we secured the doors so no one else would come and hear strange things going bump.
What could've been a quiet, peaceful night (especially with Verv's absence) turned into a late-night piss-up when the RASKB afterparty ran into Changeun from Find the Spot and we ended up drinking all night on a Tuesday night.
28 September 2015
Chuseok Day 4: Home
Nik came back to my place to visit Millie and Buster. Surprisingly, it seems like they remember him, probably from when he spent a week catsitting them back in 2010 when I was in a country that rhymed with South Korea. Buster was as always the most social one, but Millie in a rare departure got really fucked up on catnip in front of a guest, something she normally doesn't do.
28 September 2015
Chuseok Day 4: Yulgongno
On the way home, we stopped at the tunnel being dug between two UNESCO sites. It was predictably pretty nice and peaceful for the holiday, and we had a quick look through while rain threatened. Then, dakgalbi.
28 September 2015
Chuseok Day 4: Yongma Land
Yongma Land is always worth an occasional visit, and I think I've been there about once each year since discovering it. But this time, we had a drone. Apparently, the owner said this was the busiest he's seen it since it became this semi-abandoned but supervised amusement park, and one of the members of our group remembered coming here back when it was still active.
27 September 2015
Chuseok Day 3: Magok Wasteland
For the afternoon, one more brownfield zone. We went to Magok, the largest wasteland in Seoul that shrinks every time I visit. So much of the land has been stirred up and rearranged, disrupting the nature gone wild I saw on my previous visit. We managed to visit the abandoned wooden factory where this disturbing video was filmed, we saw wildlife creeping back into the area, and we climbed over (and under) a lot of dirt. I find brownfield zones oddly attractive, and you don't have to care so much with no buildings around.
27 September 2015
Chuseok Day 3: Anarchaeology
On the morning of Chuseok, I intended to wake up early and hit a few locations. I ended up getting out of bed around 10am, which wasn't quite good enough. I visited a New Town construction site with a poor fence design, followed by three brownfield zones. The one in Deoksugung put me at unease, so I moved on to Sogong-dong where I documented the dismantling of the archaeological dig. Last, I visited the empty embassy compound in Bukchon, only to have a very patient security guard spot me right as I was scaling a fence.
Next, we went to the Galaxy Apartment complex, where it turned out our favoured entry point had been sealed up and also that seven foreigners lurking through an apartment complex is too much. So we had a feast and a couple guys cleaned out the local crane machine, which was a good enough time, and then those of us remaining at the end scaled the fence and gave the apartments one last visit. There are maybe six buildings left, and two of them still seem like they may be occupied.
25 September 2015
Chuseok Day 1: Subway
Friday night was the least busy day of the weekend, which meant it was the best time to do the craziest thing: active subway tunnel.
Things have changed down here, making this tunnel way less safe than before. Increased traffic has resulted in louder ventilation fans and more frequent trains. Usually I say we stay for two trains maximum, but having arrived just as two trains passed, we didn't have to wait long at all for the next two trains to come by. As we were in the tunnel deafened to the next incoming train, I only managed to see the glow on the walls and rushed everyone back to safety before the train passed. Then as we were leaving the fans shut off, which would've really helped a few minutes earlier. But yeah, this is why subway tunnels are not for beginners. Our close call still had a full minute of warning, which is the closest I've ever come.
24 September 2015
Chuseok Day 0: Scouting
Chuseok is always a big time in Korea. People with family get to spend one of the most intense family holidays together, and family-less foreigners are left to our own devices. In this case, devices means cameras, drones, and other gadgets.
On Thursday night prior to the long weekend, Kanghee and I met up to do some scouting. Our original plan was to visit a favourite subway tunnel under construction, but it's a good thing we scouted in advance because our original entrance is long gone and it'll take a while to figure out another entry point.
20 September 2015
Metal Show at Nori Bar
Two Japanese bands, Guevnna and Zothique, were in Korea for a weekend tour, and I caught them at Nori Bar in Sinchon on Sunday, also running into my old friend Nik back for a visit after so many years.
The show was definitely stolen by Christfuck, whose set included fake blood, nudity, and sodomy with religious icons. Probably NSFW.
20 September 2015
The McDonald's in Sinchon now has a customiseable menu, so you can basically make whatever you want. Within reason; I don't think you'd be able to make a McGangBang using this system.
Everyone's been raving about the cool part of Hannam downhill from the mosque. There are plans to redevelop a lot of the surroundings, so I paid a visit to see what it's like right now. I had actually considered moving here in 2007, but it really isn't all that pleassant to live in. Steep hills and not very nice buildings, so we moved to Geumho instead.
19 September 2015
I revisited the two latest abandoned neighbourhoods in Geumho area, both of which are now dustbowls.
18 September 2015
I got the morning off work so I could go back to Sungkyunkwan to see the Seokjeon Daeje ceremony for Confucius' birthday. I got there a bit late and saw most of the end of the ceremony, basically picking up where I last left off.
17 September 2015
Here are some pictures around Yeouido, including a sunset and a work dinner.
Yeouido is basically a corporate dystopia, and the only time it seems lively is during lunch hour.
13 September 2015
I'll have a bigger update soon, but for now, here's a look at the Golden Plot of Sogong-dong.
6 September 2015
People, Places, and Animals
Here are a bunch of pictures taken over a few days showing some of the people I met and places I visited and animals I snuggled with.
5 September 2015
Being up north in Seoul, I decided to look around a bit more and visit some of the moon villages in the area. They are not that nice, though not as awful as Guryong. I happened to time my visit to when the pesticide truck was making the rounds.
5 September 2015
For Korea Magazine, I'm doing an article on Korean music, so I looked up Hendrikje Lange to do an interview with her. I brought my speedlight to this outdoor performance to improve the picture quality, but got a bit of humidity on my lens filter which ruined all the pictures. Oh well.
29 August 2015
After the ska festival, we weren't tired of music yet, so four of us headed over to Blue Star to see if we could catch any of Funkafric Boostdah, who were playing a set there. Turns out the show didn't go so late, but we got food and good makgeolli and said hi to a few friends also there.
29 August 2015
NGOSKA Fest 4 - Toasters
Meeting Rob, who I don't feel weird describing as "the man who brought ska to America," was impressive. He was pretty low-key, as are most musicians on tour, but after the thought-provoking interview he did with Broke, I was curious to see what he'd be like in person. The band is almost as old as me, and I was surprised how intimately familiar the audience was with his music. I also learned the real truth behind his nickname "Bucket" which otherwise seemed like an odd thing to associate with, even with his explanation being it's from "Long Shot Kick the Bucket." It is but how it arrived in place as his nickname is kind of a big surprise I think he's not comfortable with making publicly known.
29 August 2015
NGOSKA Fest 3 - Beat Bahnhof, Respects, Skasucks
The night before the show, when I met with three members of Beat Bahnhof and Rob from the Toasters at a meat place in Hongdae, I told them I really liked Autocratics and Rollings. One member said "I used to be in Rollings" and another said "I used to be in Autocratics." That was amusing. Looking at their bio, if I'd mentioned Bon DX I may have been three for three. In concert, they were exactly what you'd think based on the label -- energetic 2tone-influenced Japanese ska, with no shortage of sunglasses. They were a lot of fun, and it was a good choice to pair with the Toasters, though they'd have to ratchet back the energy a little.
Respects were one of two newly formed bands this year, which is why I wanted to interview them.
Skasucks had a great show, I'd say probably even better than last year's, just because the venue better allowed them to access their secret weapon -- the audience. The lineup has had some significant changes from last year, adding in Janghyup and Jongo and making the whole thing a little more skinhead. And seeing Insoo from Crying Nut jump in to play keyboards alongside Goyang was a thrill.
Kingston Rudieska started a little slower, but they have some unbeatable hits they deployed at this show, including "Gimme Your Love" with their "macho" sax player Nakwon filling in for Stingers ATX's Walter on guest vocals. I think the band is starting to develop Nakwon and Cheolwook more as vocalists, which is great because they both sound fantastic.
The festival started a little slowly as people gradually poured in, and by Burning Hepburn it was in full swing. The first couple bands were helped greatly by the energy provided by our friends from Daegu and the inexhaustible dancing of a kilt-clad Ji Min-geun. That guy's a superhero.
23 August 2015
A Ninja-Flavoured Funerary Ceremony
Sunday, 23 August was the ten-year anniversary of the death of Ninjalicious, considered by those who've been around long enough as the originator of the current concept of urban exploration, and also possibly the name itself. A Torontonian, Ninjalicious was one of the first to write about visiting forbidden places, and unlike most contemporary urban explorers, he wasn't some camera geek who cared more about equipment than seeing an unbelieveable sight.
Ten years on, we have a small but productive and enthusiastic community, located 16 hours by plane away from his hometown, but still very much indebted to Ninjalicious and his writing. On the other hand, you can't count on Canadians to practice ancestral worship ceremonial sacrifices, and in the off chance the Koreans were right on this one, why not throw him a party?
The party in question is known in Korean as a gijesa, involving a ritual sacrifice of food and alcohol with incense and candles and bowing. And at the end we get to eat everything left there that's actually edible. At the end we cleaned up our garbage and vanished into the afternoon, in search of more food and alcohol.
Wherever Ninjalicious is, he may have felt a tug toward Korea, a country he's probably never visited, and he may have been surprised to see this meal spread out for him.
22 August 2015
Bye George and Jen
I'm losing friends everywhere this month. George's time in Korea is over, and he's convinced Jen to follow him back to Alaska.
They had a party at George's luxurious Myeongdong apartment, and after a full day of exploring, I figured that being coated in crane grease wasn't a good enough reason not to go.
22 August 2015
I forgot how terrifying cranes are. I didn't exactly cry up there, or at least I didn't shed any tears, but my reaction was a sort of more profane take on sobbing.
22 August 2015
The oil tanks have been getting a bit more attention, and some of what I've been seeing in pictures has surprised me. Anyway, here are some more pictures to surprise me.
22 August 2015
Yet Another Abandoned Neighbourhood
This was our third abandoned neighbourhood of the day. I'd already visited this one once before on my hunt for Captain Q. This time, the main difference was that urban renewal blankets had been put up over everything...really half-assedly.
22 August 2015
Another Abandoned Neighbourhood
Our visit to this abandoned neighbourhood didn't last long, as an elderly evictee didn't like us being there and chased us out. I really dislike making life harder for people living in eviction zones, so we left quickly and quietly.
22 August 2015
Going over a bridge, we both realised that we were suddenly on a bridge. Below us was a pleasant looking park with a stream, but where did that stream go? The answer may surprise you, but probably won't if you've been following this site for a while.
22 August 2015
On the day that North Korea was supposed to attack us because the South was blasting K-pop into their country, I met up with Kanghee to scout around some areas. We hit three abandoned neighbourhoods, two roofs, one underground river, and one crane. Busy day.
I was scouting for a location to put on a ceremony the day after, which you can read about above.
No Brain at Gwanghwamun
I went out around 6 to go to Hongdae for a show at Double A Studios with a ton of new young bands. But downtown was turned into a labyrinth and the police were the minotaur.
I went home, and came out again around 9pm to see what it was like around Gwanghwamun. Turns out, I arrived just as No Brain was closing the show. I can't begin to describe what it was like, celebrating the end of World War II and Japanese occupation of Korea, with one of Korea's oldest punk bands performing and managing to get thousands of Korean people to sing along with them.
15 August 2015
I went out on Liberation Day to see what kind of traffic was at construction sites. Turns out, construction workers work through this holiday. Also, say goodbye to one of two Geumhwa Apartments.
When I left home, it started raining, despite the Sun being out. When I got back home, the rain seems to have stopped. Good grief.
14 August 2015
Just an Ordinary Bus Stop
What lies behind that nondescript construction fence? Probably nothing. I mean it's not like there's a lot of room back there for anything other than a truck and some laundry...
14 August 2015
Someone dropped a flag-bomb on Korea in celebration of the 70th anniversary of liberation from the Japanese occupation at the end of World War II. Smooth sailing from there on out, right?
12 August 2015
This is my second time hitting this underground spot, first time with a camera. Due to the conditions inside, it was pretty worthless. These are probably some of my worst UE photos ever.
10 August 2015
Jaeeun is leaving for Cornell University to become a lawyer, but before she left
8 August 2015
Broke in Korea 21 release
The new issue of Broke in Korea came out, and Jeff was nice enough to let me hitch on to his August Second Saturdays show at Ruailrock. There was also a free show at Channel1969 that I stopped by and gave out a bunch of zines.
Second Saturdays was a lot of fun, though I'm leaning more and more away from late shows. Green Flame Boys and ...Whatever That Means were great as usual, and Rux did an enjoyable acoustic set (here's hoping Booil's brain surgery went well). Then BettyAss closed the show with a great set. I think I may have seen them at Spot several years ago, but I don't seem to have any pictures so I probably haven't ever seen them perform before. They were very talented, and apparently have been playing around Gwangju for a decade. Anyway, despite my distaste for late nights, we stayed out until sunrise.
8 August 2015
Sitting at home putting the finishing touches on the zine, and I noticed it was darker than a solar eclipse. An intense rainstorm was rolling in and it was dark. THe cats didn't seem to care, and I photographed a feast they had once the Sun was out a few hours later.
2 August 2015
If anyone's noticed I've been harder to reach lately, here's why. My phone battery pack caught on fire while charging on my bed. Fortunately I was home and stopped it with only minor damage to the mattress, but if I wasn't there this could've been a serious fire.
1 August 2015
Pegurians CD Release
It was a long, busy day followed by a long, boozy night. One of my favourite Korean bands released their debut CD, another favourite band started the show with an amazing set, and Redboi was there to celebrate his birthday.
1 August 2015
After a tip from Justin that demolition is speeding up, I returned to the Galaxy Apartments to see them before they're all gone. Somehow I ended up in a group with all Koreans, which is pretty rare.
We discovered they're using a demolition technique I've never seen before, which is probably best compared with a lumberjack felling trees. Not sure if it's a new technique, or just something they can't do with demolitions that are located closer to populations. Pretty bizarre thing to see though.
1 August 2015
I met up with Kanghee and we made our way through Gangnam. We visited an apartment complex closed down for "remodeling," which is another way of saying they'll be totally destroyed and new ones will be built in their place.
After a Sunday afternoon class, I had a big plastic container filled with fermenting rice. A week later, it was ready to bottle. It was pretty good, and after a few days it started to take on a chocolate taste.
18 July 2015
Return to The Host
Mas and Richard wanted to go somewhere dark to introduce us to this zombie game that they play. I suggested we try the Host tunnel, and loaded up on fireworks, steel wool, and alcohol.
11 July 2015
Seodaemun Overpass Concert
So, Crying Nut played. It was a very short but still pretty fun show, with a bunch of other bands I hadn't seen before who were generally pretty good.
Speaking of the Korea Observer, I also wrote this article about the scandal in Korea brewing due to the Hacking Team data leak. It may have been the first English-language article to point out that the NIS were trying hard to get surveillance equipment during the presidential election campaign, which they were already suspected of manipulating by trying to manufacture public consent through Twitter. Turns out they also had purchased equipment that let them listen to anyone's phone calls, during the election. Which they totally only used on North Korea.
Anyway, the day after this was published, the Times and Hankyoreh had their own articles about the connection to election dates. Shortly after that, one NIS spy was found dead in his car. It looks like they were talking about this a lot in the Korean media as well, so while I certainly contributed to this guy's aggravation, he probably didn't know about me or the Observer when he decided to kill himself.
11 July 2015
I heard about another overpass closing, so I decided to have a look and maybe write an article about it. This is what I ended up with. It was a pretty fun time, and then I noticed a poster saying that Crying Nut was playing later...
7 July 2015
RASKB Lecture: Complications of Urban Renewal
Here's the video for my RASKB lecture, which went online much quicker than I expected. I wish it had been framed a bit better, as the video doesn't offer a particularly good view of the visuals. Anyway, I'm not ready to watch it all the way through yet.
5 July 2015
I was contacted by a French urban explorer staying in Korea, and we ended up having a picnic on top of a familiar roof. Likely there will be more pictures with them over the coming months.
4 July 2015
Dead Gakkahs / Kitsches Split Album Release
I really did not want to go to this show, entirely because I had a huge backlog of photos to get through. I ended up going anyway, because it was a pretty good show, but next day I spent about five hours in a PC room where I could finally have proper access to the free Photoshop demo software again, on a computer that runs properly. Anyway, I showed them.
4 July 2015
I was doing some cleanup in the UER database the other week, and I discovered that I have now visited abandonments in every single gu district of Seoul, except Yangcheon-gu. Yangcheon is the one that has Mokdong, so it's pretty rich, and as it turns out the Yangcheon Hyanggyo is in another district.
In order to complete the list, I did some research into the district, revealing one big New Town project that very well could be shelved. I headed down there, and the area is quite nice with some thought into creating an elaborate road infrastructure for the buildings to go up around.
Did I find what I was looking for? Yes. Does that make me happy? Kind of no. But I met a couple friendly cats (though nowhere near as friendly as Jeju cats).
Gay Pride Parade
After the stress caused by shooting the opening of the Gay Pride Festival, I figured this one would be tough too. I showed up planning to mostly shoot the Christian protesters, but by the time I arrived they were a little less active. I decided not to go into the Pride grounds itself because of their strict rules for allowing photographers. And, not really knowing the rules that well myself, I didn't want to post any pictures that could get someone in trouble. So if there are any issues here with what I'm posting, please e-mail me to let me know.
For the actual parade, I found a high up perch right along the road, so I had a pretty good view of the parade. Quite a lot of people were cheering and waving at me, as if I was the one in the parade and I was on a float (strategically shaped like a ventilation box). Aside from a few elderly Christians who tried forcing their way into the parade near the beginning, it went very smoothly and was quite a lot of fun. I saw a huge number of my friends both Korean and foreign, all of them straight, and joined some of them later on in the parade. There were quite a lot of entertaining costumes there, with a Spiderman, a couple Jesuses, and all the usual gay stuff.
It was a very positive experience (no pun intended, Christians), and certainly helped stave off the negativity.
27 June 2015
Autocratics CD Release
This is their third time back in Korea. The Autocratics are an energetic Japanese ska band that are equally fun to watch and listen to. Like so many Japanese bands, their live act seems like a pretty good aerobic workout. Anyway, they seem to have built a relationship with the Korean scene if they're back here for a third time. Hopefully we'll see more of them, especially at bigger events.
27 June 2015
I was introduced to this area by Daniel Lenaghan, who gave me only the gu name. But as soon as I arrived there, it was pretty well the first thing I saw. This area is next to another abandoned neighbourhood that was worth visiting back around 2012. It looks like they're clearing out the entire hillside, which is to be expected but still a shame.
26 June 2015
I took a trip through Seongdong-gu to check in on two neighbourhoods, only to find that both have been almost totally moonscaped, which is a new word I'm going to probably use. I used an image from each of the two neighbourhoods to advertise my upcoming RASKB talk, so I decided to update the pictures with how the areas look now.
24 June 2015
I was mostly lucky with the weather, but it rained the morning I was leaving. The flight was a bit rough, but at least it was quick.
23 June 2015
My last night in Jeju City, I desperately needed a nap. Before that, I visited the amusement park across the street, and after the nap I went back to Magpie Jeju for fried chicken.
23 June 2015
Abandoned Water Plant
The last of four abandoned places we visited was this old water treatment plant. It's an old concrete shell with a couple pretty interesting buildings.
23 June 2015
Jeju in the Morning
We woke up in the morning with just the right amount of time to drive back to Jeju with time for getting lost in the backroads along the coast. Driving a car after all these years is weird, especially after getting used to scooters. Perhaps the strangest is that other drivers see you on the road. Best example, if a car sees you coming, it won't pull out into the road in front of you. It took some getting used to and felt a little more socially connecting with other drivers on the road.
22 June 2015
The day wound down when we reached Sanbangsan and met up with Andre. We stayed in a hostel south of the mountain, hung out with cats, and drank in the harbour until curfew.
22 June 2015
Green Resort Hotel
From the circus we went to an abandoned resort. Known as the Green Resort Hotel, its only claim to greenness seems to be the cheap coat of paint on the building. I think it may have previously been in use, but now its only visitors seem to be horses.
22 June 2015
The highlight of the trip was always going to be the abandoned circus, because, well, abandoned circus. I mean, good weather and seeing friends again is all well and good, but abandoned circus. That meant the return of UEey the Clown, the world's second most popular urban exploring clown (out of two).
22 June 2015
The first stop on our island odyssey was an incomplete resort sitting alongside a major road and wasting away. Getting in was a lot of work, which in the end turned out to be the most fun we had here. Least fun: scrambling up over a hill of disease-ridden pigeon crap. We held our breaths and muttered curses to the pigeon gods.
22 June 2015
The Beasts of Jeju City
Monday morning started with a visit to some very friendly alley cats, far friendlier than any strays I've seen in Seoul. We got a quick lunch and stopped by Tyler's place to say hi to his corgi Chagall. Or call around looking for any place with car rentals available. It turns out with the semester ending recently, the island was flooded with students who rented everything with two wheels and almost everything with four wheels.
21 June 2015
I'm the only person I know who's visited all three Sungkyunkwans, and now I've also visited all three Magpies, though I suspect that's a far less exclusive club. I spent Sunday night (and later Tuesday night) at the bar talking with Tyler whenever he wasn't distracted by work.
Magpie Jeju has the same beers delivered from the mainland (with plans to start brewing domestically soon), the same pizzas, and also fried chicken. The chicken is pretty basic and competent, and comes with a great doenjang-flavoured coleslaw.
21 June 2015
Going to Jeju
After getting a new job, I decided I needed to do some travelling before starting. It wasn't enough time for a visit to Canada, so I decided to finally hit Jeju instead. It's a short flight away that costs less for a round trip than a one-way KTX trip to Busan. On the first night I found a hotel close to the water in Jeju City, and also close to Magpie Jeju.
RAS Garden Party
The annual highlight of the Royal Asiatic Society is the garden party held to celebrate the anniversary of the world's oldest Korean studies organisation. This year marked the 115th birthday. We had around 200 RASKB members, as well as VIPs including US Ambassador Mark Lippert, UK Ambassador Charles Hay, and a handful of other ambassadors including Nepal, Netherlands, France (though I didn't get the chance to run into him), and Czech. My main contribution was dragging in Susubori Academy, which provided their own makgeolli and cheongju.
10 June 2015
Lured up onto my roof again for another sunset. This time, a recent rain had washed the tiles clean so I came back inside without blackened souls. I promise not to do this too much.
9 June 2015
Gay Pride vs Christians
The opening of the Pride Festival was cancelled/minimised/moved to YouTube, ostensibly due to MERS concerns, but that wasn't enough for the Christian extremists who showed up to protest human nature.
I had a pretty fun time stopping by and taking pictures of the nutbags, and when I got home and was editing pictures in a safe environment, I started to get mad. Now, having finished translating as many of their signs, slogans, and hate group names as I can, I'm feeling mentally ill.
I've addressed a lot of the propaganda on their signs in the main post, but here are a few general observations:
Everyone was well-behaved and jubilant while I was there, as both sides had been instructed to be civil and non-violent.
The protest against the gay pride event was entirely Christian, with no other active protesters of any other faith or lack thereof visible.
While you might support their right to have this confrontational protest (presumably if you're American), the dirty politics they played leading up to the event should be a different story.
The people participating in this protest are fucking stupid idiots, but we don't know who they are; maybe they had a family member come out of the closet, maybe they're fighting their own natural inclinations themselves.
Sick and tired of people saying the protesters were acting "un-Christian." If they were, then they statistically would've been far more accepting. Set aside what some 2000-year-old demi-god stood for for one minute: the Christians here are against another group of people. If anything, acting hateful -- which you could even accuse me of doing right now knowing my state of mind -- should be considered "acting like a Christian" and being accepting of LGBT people should be considered "acting humanistic."
7 June 2015
Even despite Uijeongbu's attractions, being back in Seoul feels good. Here are a few pictures from my trip home, and around my neighbourhood.
7 June 2015
I'm not on Tumblr, but I'd be curious if this guy has caught wind of this bizarre church. At first I thought it was a very unfortunately designed department store, until I saw the sign out front. The egg is eye-catching, and also from the street, that green trim behind it gives the impression of a dinosaur's back. What is supposed to hatch out of that egg? Also, if they coloured it better, they could really fuck over Vegreville.
7 June 2015
Oh look, another abandonment
After the week I've had, I'm starting to feel burned out enough on abandonments that one single apartment building doesn't hold my attention for long. This one is interesting in its own right, and the fact that it's one single building makes it a bit more unusual, as well as a mercifully quicker explore.
7 June 2015
Oh look, naked women. I stumbled across a sculptor's yard, with a variety of sculptures sitting out in the open doing their thing. These sort of places are not too rare, but it's always fun to take a walk through and admire the statues.
7 June 2015
Beck Suck Stream
Way back in 2010, a few of us visited a stream running through Uijeongbu that was buried for a stretch under a parking lot. I returned only to find they're in the process of daylighting the thing.
7 June 2015
Last time I was in Uijeongbu, there were all these elevated rails for a still-unopened LRT, the U Line. Unlike the elevated rails in Incheon and Yongin, this one opened with relatively little fuss, and to me feels like a great part of this city. I rode the train all the way from Uijeongbu Station to the far terminus, enchanted by the view the whole way. Seoul needs one of these things.
7 June 2015
Joseph and Soomin's Wedding
Seems like just yesterday I met Joseph for the first time and watched him crawl across a narrow ledge. Anyway, a little over three years later, he's getting married.
Okay, so there's a bit of a public panic right now, with schools closing and everyone freaking out about MERS. What better place to go during an epidemic than a crowded wedding hall with a buffet? And yes, I was sure to eat the raw beef just to tempt fate.
6 June 2015
Search for Captain Q
Now that there are two stores on my street that have slush machines, I decided it would be a good idea to stock up on rum so I can Captain Q up my slushes. Captain Q is the oldest Korean rum, with claims tracing it back to 1501 (which seem about as unlikely as Mr Pizza's campaign that Korea invented pizza). During the Korean War and its aftermath, Captain Q or at least bootleg versions were probably responsible for blinding as many soldiers as the North and its allies. It's a cheapass rum but it mixes well with other drinks and it's correspondingly low-priced.
I only know of one grocery store in Seoul where you can find it, and it's a bit remote, especially when my trek out that way uncovered yet another abandoned neighbourhood. This one is currently being trashed out, with a lot of activity in it still. Probably by fall it'll be cordoned off from public view before the excavators move in.
5 June 2015
With Buster's help and my increased understanding of the roof of my apartment, we've discovered a family of cats living on a roof next to us. It seems there's one mother cat and three kittens, all orange coloured, leaving me to ask Buster what he's been up to when I'm out at work.
4 June 2015
Skunk Hell III
As I previously posted, one of Korea's two most infamous punk live venues has returned, this time in Mullae. I stopped by to interview Jonghee about this unexpected news, and talk about Skunk's history. All I have for you now is a picture of the stage and a link to the official Skunk Facebook profile, where you can find upcoming shows listed.
I'm going to be working on Broke in Korea 21 with this as the main story which should come out sometime in August, and I'm hoping to have a release show at Skunk to celebrate.
3 June 2015
Thanks to someone on Flickr, I found out about another abandoned area in northeastern Seoul. It's getting hard to find these sites these days, so my bar is set low. This particular area is very low-rent, maybe not so far off from Guryong but on a much smaller and more manageable scale. There also doesn't seem to be all that much conflict over this place. Google Translate tells me the English name of this area is Westfall, which doesn't sound right.
3 June 2015
I've noticed a bit of graffiti right on the street next to Anguk Intersection. An early morning visit before traffic had woken up helped me get a closer look.
2 June 2015
I opened the window and slipped out onto the roof. Previously I had a look out there when I was trying to set up a bird feeder, but this time I was more curious, and wanted to repair some roof tiles. It's less dangerous than it looks, but it's still far from safe. You know it's not a good idea if even your cats are worried.
30 May 2015
Mullae Belongs to Me
The news caught nearly everybody by surprise that Skunk Hell was coming back. This new venue, the third, was reopening in Mullae, across the street from Space Moon and Lowrise. The opening show had only Rux playing a relaxed 90-minute set. Quite a lot of people came out, mostly new people I've never seen before as well as a few old familiar faces.
The new venue is clean and well constructed, maybe on par with Club Spot but with less of a bar and a much better lighting system. The stage is a good size, with a rail along the front maybe trying to do the same thing as that metal counter at Skunk. I don't know how frequently they'll have shows or how they'll advertise, but it's worth keeping an eye on for the next Skunk Hell show.
28 May 2015
Galaxy at Night
All concurrently, I visited this location, as did my old exploring friend Justin, as well as a popular urbanism blog. Seems like 134 abandoned apartment buildings is a pretty big deal. After my previous visit, I wanted to go back at night. Turns out I wasn't the only one.
25 May 2015
It didn't seem all that possible, but I'm always up for a challenge. I managed to slip inside the complex by crawling through the dirt and slipping through the fence. Then I left, wandered around outside, saw other people just randomly wandering in, and decided to give it a wander too. I'm not saying it's all-access, but with a few precautions I was able to avoid being asked to leave.
23 May 2015
I also used the opportunity to visit Galaxy Apartments, a complex of about 134 mid-level buildings all slated for demolition. A very tall wall has been built around the property and it seems it's being prepped for asbestos abatement prior to demolition. I didn't get inside and didn't consider it very possible.
23 May 2015
The conference was right up the street from Guryong Village, so I decided to revisit that area to see how the redevelopment plan was going along. Not really much noticeable yet, other than the total removal of that community center by the entrance.
23 May 2015
I was invited to join the AAJA's annual conference, as they needed extra tour guides. They got me to lead a few mostly foreign reporters around downtown, and I attended a few seminars and a few dinners. But the only pictures I actually did take were from the roof of the building next to Seolleung in Gangnam.
21 May 2015
Here are a few pictures from Buster's ninth birthday. We started celebrating right after midnight, but during the next evening he seemed uninterested in having more catnip. Moderation, thy name is Buster.
20 May 2015
I got an invite from the RAS to a tour of Jongmyo by Societas Koreana, a group run by the Academy of Korean Studies with apparently an attack website. The guide was Lee Bae-yong, former president of Ewha Womans University, and we were promised translation devices, unprecedented access to buildings, and a Hanjeongshik meal in my neighbourhood afterward. Well, they delivered. If they have future events I'd be happy to go along.
17 May 2015
I went from Bukchon to Seochon for a Hawaii-themed party at Jennifer Flinn's Hanok. During the party, her husband passed out noisemakers, then whipped out a birthday cake, revealing that it was Jenn's birthday. So, it was sort of like a reverse birthday party, where the hosts both knew what the day was, and we were all tricked into attending a birthday party. And all I brought was my camera. This is the only picture with actual humans in it, as I otherwise only photographed cats.
16 May 2015
Yeondeunghoe Buddha's Birthday Lantern Parade.
For the fourth year in a row, we went back to the same bar for the Yeondeunghoe Buddha's Birthday Lantern Parade. That bar has served us well, and I've never been there for any date other than the parade, which makes it increasingly special. This time, the parade seems to have started and ended extra early, proceeding mainly through daylight and ending around 8:30. It felt disappointingly short; hopefully next year it will run later into the night.
16 May 2015
Buster turns 9 on Thursday, May 21. Here are a few pictures of him early in the morning at in the evening doing what he does best: lazing around and being a bastard.
15 May 2015
I've been getting up a lot earlier these days. Well, I always am up around 5-7am, and I have to get up and feed my cats at some point in that period, but lately I've been trying to get out of bed and go out to take a few pictures. There are a lot of places around Jongno that are best to photograph before everyone wakes up, including security guards. Last week was Yulgongno, and this week was a familiar rooftop overlooking Insadong.
13 May 2015
With the recent news that Skunk Hell is opening for the third time in a new location, this time in Mullae, I'm probably not the only one fixated on Korean punk history right now. Here's a walk-through of Hongdae, stretching from Sinchon all the way to Hapjeong, with some glimpses of important sites along the way.
13 May 2015
I haven't spent much time around the northern part of the city, so I went up to have a look around. I covered a lot of ground, and revisited Dream Forest for the first time since 2008, when they were still clearing out the last traces of the amusement park.
12 May 2015
I've been curious about this place for about a year now. Basically, they're submerging Yulgongno where it runs through that unpleasantly narrow passage between Changdeokgung and Jongmyo Shrine. It's been ongoing for quite some time, and so far all they have to show for it is a narrow trench and one completed underpass walkway. They will likely expand this dig northward, changing the course of the road while they get this all completed. A lot of effort for just an underpass.
9 May 2015
Verv went on a walk in his neighbourhood one day, and found a newly opened chicken hof named "Chicken Toilet." Yeah, that's pretty weird. I agreed to go along, but I wasn't so sure I'd be able to stomach the food. Turns out, the food was fine and the decor wasn't that much of a deterrent. We were there with Hullaski Sivart, admin of Asia Pundits and OinK, so you will probably see a lot more about this place in the near future.
Last month, Archaeology Magazine put out a coupleimages of an archaeological excavation in downtown Seoul. It was treated as a real novelty by the archaeological community, as well as the Korean expat blogosphere, despite the fact that this sort of survey is mandated by law in the district, and is far from abnormal. The archaeological discovery would doubtlessly continue in every direction for a long way. This particular area is in the corner of Insadong area, directly north of the Eye of Sauron, which inspired the nickname Under the Eye of Sauron.
In preparing for my upcoming RASKB lecture on urban renewal, I decided I needed to take a closer look at this site. I also sought to compare it with another recent new building which introduced an interesting way to preserve some trace of such a site.
Ryan's obsession with DDP gave me the idea to bring him to Songdo. Unfortunately the wind was too strong to fly the drone -- we saw another pilot testing his out and then freaking out when a kid got too close. On the bright side, we found our way onto the roof of G-Tower, which is now pretty easy to get to following the closure of the 29th-storey observation deck and opening of the new one.
3 May 2015
One night we decided to just wander around downtown, which was pretty fun, and then we ended up at Blue Star where we found a wedding party in full swing. We managed to get a table to the side and then the wedding guests invited us into the fold.
1 May 2015
I was visited by Ryan, a friend of Javin and Neil from Toronto. He was here to fly his quadcopter and do timelapse stuff, and while a lot of the latter got done, he didn't have enough chance to do the former. Anyway, hopefully by the time he comes back the drone laws won't start being enforced.
2 May 2015
Here are the pictures from the latest Monkey Business show, which had an interesting lineup with Christfuck, Reddot, Sulsa, Pigbit5, and 100 Blossom Club. This was my first time seeing Reddot and my first time seeing Pigbit5 in a long time. Quite a bizarrely diverse lineup, between grind music, punk, and whatever you want to call Pigbit5 (indie pop?).
29 January 2015
Podcast interviews with Andre
My friend Andre does a podcast about Korea, and he wanted to interview me, mainly about urban exploration and punk. We sat out in the cold at Cafe Gondry in my neighbourhood, and he talked to me while a truck blared on trying to sell stuff in the background. He asked me a bunch of warmup questions about cults in Korea, and I stumbled through it leaving a lot of information gaps.
27 April 2015
Yes, I returned to Korea.net for a few days to fill in for someone else. It gave me time to write an article about Songdo and help plug my RASKB tour, but it also gave me time to reflect on some of the forgotten reasons why I left that job:
diminishing editorial control due to new boss
access restrictions to e-mail, left-wing news websites, and various other online tools
reading about Park Geun-hye all day
And yes, why not visit the roof there? It's a pretty wide open place with unlimited access, and the view across USAG Yongsan is so unthinkable it's worth seeing.
26 April 2015
104 Hill Construction
Is it urban renewal if they're just tearing down trees on an urban hillside? Whatever it is, it looks pretty significant. It's visible from the elevated road going past Yeonhee-dong, located directly above a school which would probably be the worst area to welcome a landslide if there's heavy rain soon.
25 April 2015
RASKB Songdo Tour
The Songdo tour went pretty well, with 16 people joining us. At the last minute an RASKB connection got us into the Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Hotel, the Hanok village being built inside Cental Park.
After the tour, seven of us decided to stay around. We walked through Canal Walk which seems like an okay execution of a good idea, got food and ended up at Cinder Bar, which was near the end of a three-day music festival based in Songdo. We got to hear some good country music and have a few drinks before heading back to the city.
The tour overall functioned smoothly despite some odd and surprising last-minute changes caused by things being open or not open. The weirdest one was the G-Tower's open-air observation deck being closed, and a newer observation deck being open instead. The city is always changing, and I'm going to miss it.
16 July 2014
Songdo Visit 2014
I only just realised I never shared these pictures from a trip to Songdo last summer. They were part of SKKU's summer program, so they were shared somewhere else. For this visit, we stopped by NEATT to find it wasn't fully opened yet, walked through Central Park, had a great tour of Compact Smart City, and then visited the observation deck of G-Tower, which accounts for a lot of what we'll be doing this Saturday with the RASKB tour.
18 April 2015
Monkey Business Show
It's nice having a show in your neighbourhood. At least when the cops don't turn said neighbourhood into a labyrinth of police buses. Getting there from Bukchon to Seochon was an ordeal, but I made it.
This was a free show, with a very good lineup. Madox opened, and I'm planning to interview Jinyong for the next issue of Broke, whenever that is, to find out more about how that band works. We also had Fishingirls who were more enthusiastic to be on stage than any other band I've seen, followed by Seoul Dolmangchi's second show and then an excellent set by Green Flame Boys, and finished with Joongshiki, who converted a lot of people at my Broke show a couple weeks earlier.
Sad news though: Monkey Business is closing next month due to rising rent.
Exactly one year ago, governmental authorities showed their shortcomings by allowing a half-assed ferry company operated by a religious cult to send a ferry out into the sea. When it listed and sank, the crew (recruited from the cult, all but one) told the passengers--mainly schoolchildren--to stay below in their cabins, while they evacuated. Over 300 lives went down with this ship, a situation that was exacerbated by a stalled rescue services response and further slowed by journalists gumming up the access roads for what few rescue services were being sent. The de facto head of the ferry operator/cult escaped justice, later being found after an extensive manhunt turned up his body, itself separated from its de facto head in a field amid a few bottles of bizarrely expired soju (no, I didn't know that stuff could expire). A vigil by the parents of the 250+ students was turned away by the government at almost every opportunity, and in response, the parents and their activist supporters turned away the government. The government clearly feels awful about this but doesn't want too much transparency. A year later, plus a handful of smaller civic disasters, and nothing has really changed.
This is probably the biggest protest I've ever attended in Korea, not necessarily by number of protesters but by size of police response. One article I read said there were 10 000 riot police deployed for this event. Another article said there were 10 000 protesters, which seems like a serious underestimate.
I attended the protest in Seoul Plaza in the early evening, then went home for a few hours and decided to head out again when I could hear the demonstration moving from my window. I discovered that the police had sealed off my neighbourhood, completely cutting me off from downtown in an attempt to defend Cheong Wa Dae, as they frequently do. I was trapped in my own neighbourhood...or I would have been if I didn't know about the mountain pass to Sungkyunkwan. Downtown Seoul was partitioned off by riot police buses and turned into a maze. I ran into a familiar face around Boshingak and we helped each other get through the maze to the center of the protest, in Gwanghwamun Plaza. Around 1am I decided to navigate out of the labyrinth, only to discover due to gates closing and police redeploying that the maze had completely changed.
13 April 2015
I went back to Songdo to do more follow-up research for the RASKB tour. This time I wanted to investigate an interesting building called Tomorrow City. Turns out it's closed since 2011. I also wandered around more of the island, finding very little other than a whale statue and a phone booth. It was an overcast day, and that made the place all the more depressing. Anyway, should be a fun tour, and there will be quite a lot to see. Just, some of it isn't completed yet, and some of it was completed years ago and now sits neglected and empty.
11 April 2015
Speaking of cops, there were a lot of them around Gwanghwamun Plaza. It's almost the one-year anniversary of the Sewol sinking, and Saturday was awash with activity and music. I expect that Thursday will have a protest as well to mark the actual anniversary. Curious how many peole will make it out.
11 April 2015
I went up Bugaksan and came down Inwangsan. It can be confusing up there. Anyway, I'll refer to this area as Cop Mountain due to the high number of cops everywhere. They're not in the pictures, but they were around to make sure nobody was taking pictures in certain areas.
9 April 2015
As you can be reminded by the post above, I'm planning an RASKB visit to Songdo. I've taken whatever spare time I've had to visit the place and figure out the best places to go. And the original itinerary has been ripped to shreds, seeing as how quite a few of the attractions are still not opened, unlike what I'd thought I'd heard. But we've also figured out a few more interesting attractions to visit instead.
9 April 2015
Every trip to Songdo takes you through Incheon. Well, at least if you do it right. I saw some interesting sights before being stranded in an abandoned neighbourhood. Escaping from Incheon is always a bit difficult.
We had a very interesting mix of bands, some familiar and some totally new or seen in a different light at this show. It was pretty wild but nothing ever really went wrong, other than the cops showing up around 11 due to noise complaints from the newly opened tourist hotel across the street.
1 April 2015
April Fools' Day
For obvious reasons, I want to be careful what I post on April 1. Other than hearing about some pretty extreme homophobic rezoning issues, reading a magazine from 40 years in the future, and discovering that some of my favourite bands were playing a reunification festival in North Korea, it was a quiet day with some interesting discoveries. I found a mildly interesting abandoned building on the way to Dongdaemun, and over there I found a highrise that seems to be having lots of problems.
27 March 2015
Four of my closest friends are going to be leaving over the next couple weeks. I managed to gather three of them here: Nels, Ken, and Jessica.
Nels has run down his six-month tourist visa and needs to go back to the US in order to keep the door open on applying for American citizenship. He is getting married to his girlfriend Sohhee before leaving, so soon enough both of them will be able to settle comfortably in either Korea, the US, or Canada.
Ken got into the master's program for documentary media at Ryerson, and is moving to Toronto where he will conquer the world's documentary media industry.
Jessica...passed her classes at Le Cordon Bleu Seoul and is going to take her next semester in Australia. Don't ask me why.
Tyler, who was too sick to come out, is moving to Jeju to work at Magpie Jeju.
We met up, visited a lot of places, set off fireworks, at a lot of chicken, and watched Nels propose to his fiancee.
Last September, last time I tried to do this tour, they changed the date on us. To make up for it I dropped the price and convinced the SKKU Museum to stay open. This time, we headed downhill and arrived just as the ceremony started. It was quite a performance and I had the music stuck in my head the rest of the day.
21 March 2015
After my camera battery died, I pulled out my smartphone and used that for a while. Most of the pictures are from around home.
As long as I've lived on this street, I've wanted to make a video game where you have to go down this road as quickly as possible, while avoiding any collisions and trying not to get into people's pictures. It can be played on the easiest setting which is walking, or medium which is on a scooter or bike, or hard which is a minivan.
21 March 2015
North of Seoul
I ventured up over the slope of Bugaksan into Seongbuk, the area immediately north of Seoul as of its traditional boundaries. What did I find? Abandonments, as usual. And other stuff.
20 March 2015
I just realised I'd been spelling this area wrong, as Cheongnyangnyi, for some reason. It doesn't look right but it still feels instinctual. Anyway, these were all taken from the roof of the Samsung Insurance building.
18 March 2015
Well, putting birdseed out did work this time. At least two pigeons have learned we have birdseed. It was a rainy day, but Millie was willing to sit on the sill where rain was hitting her in order to watch the pigeons come right over to her. These two pigeons were fighting quite a bit for dominance of the birdseed, and it sort of mirrored the conflict on the other side of the screen between these two greedy cats. We saw some magpies way in the distance, but no other birds yet. Initially there were five pigeons but only two of them stuck around long enough to find the seeds.
16 March 2015
In preparation for the RASKB tour to Sungkyunkwan, I stopped by the SKKU museum to learn a bit more about the relevant musical instruments used in the performance and visit the offices of Sungkyunkwan Confucian Academy. So, here are some of the main instruments. I'm pretty sure these aren't the actual ones they use for performances, if they do indeed use live music.
Anyway, the group is getting pretty big, but there's still time to sign up.
14 March 2015
Antifascist Show in Susaek
So there's a new government-funded venue right outside Susaek Station. It's a nice building filled with all sorts of things for musicians including live music space and practice studios. They don't allow drinking in the live music space itself which is a bit irritating. Anyway, this was the first show of Seoul Dolmangchi, a new band inspired by working-class politics as laid out by left-wing skinhead bands like the Oppressed. They were fun, and we also got a pretty bizarre Yuppie Killer set in which they were too sober to ignore their lack of musical skills, we played in traffic with Yamagata Tweakster. Plus, Kuang Program, Scumraid, Huqueymsaw, and a couple others I missed.
13 March 2015
Just a few pictures from a busy but not very photogenic night. I went to Zion Boat for their second anniversary to see Philip K perform, and while it was a very fun performance, it was a bit too intimate for me to pull out the speedlight or anything. And my pictures of Pegurians over at Ruailrock really didn't work out due to how those damn musicians never can stand perfectly still.
12 March 2015
Upstream of Cheonggyecheon
There've been talks of restoring all the streams that originally fed Cheonggyecheon. The latest addition is this newly constructed canal that runs along the property of the new Gwanghwamun D-Tower. This thing runs directly south to the source of Cheonggyecheon, and while it's for show, it traces the path of an ancient stream (that probably still is hidden away underground).
11 March 2015
After attending an RASKB lecture on birdwatching in Korea, I decided to try again with using birdseed to lure more birds onto my roof. I'm not too interested in birds, but Millie and Buster are.
10 March 2015
Ta, Neil Ta
For Neil's last day in Korea, we went for Ho Lee Chow in Myeongdong and then hit a few roofs. Things got a bit tense when we were ambushed by construction workers who'd seen us on one roof and wanted to know what we were doing. After getting Neil to erase a few photos (they couldn't care less about me), they let us go on our way and were quite nice about it.
9 March 2015
So, Neil Ta is fucking done with rooftopping? What about subways?
7 March 2015
Yuppie Killer Cotton Candy release
Yuppie Killer has released their latest album, in tape form for some reason. As expected, they had a show in Double A Studios, and thanks to their free alcohol, which was a mix of whatever they could get, including at one point Everclear, many memories were made and promptly forgotten.
The show also featured the possibly final performance by Mixed Blood, during which my camera died before miraculously coming back to life. .
6 March 2015
I discovered that the last time I visited Yongma Land was December 2013, meaning I didn't go there at all during 2014. The owner still seemed to remember me, and he keeps copies of all the articles ever written about his park.
Anyway, for a Friday afternoon, the place was pretty crowded.
6 March 2015
On the way to Yongma Land, we took the wrong bus, which meant that we had to get off a bit farther and walk through a market, which turned out to be a pretty good time. So good that we took the same way back when we left.
5 March 2015
Last year during Javin's visit, we discovered that one of the department store buildings of Dongdaemun Market has dogs in cages on the roof. There seem to have been two of them then, and two of them now, and their colourings are close enough that they could be the same or related. Pretty weird.
4 March 2015
Taking the ITX train from and back to Yongsan Station, we decided to hit the roof and then hit the tent village in the former red-light district, which has become a ritual of urban exploring in Korea.
4 March 2015
Seoul Ski Resort
Sometimes you get on a train and go on a long ride, only to find that what you were looking for is gone. This time, it was Seoul Ski Resort, an old ski hill located in Namyangju. Ironically, it's just uphill from the former location of Jumbo 747. However, I feel like fate will find a way to tempt me back to this small corner of the city again.
Anyway, despite security and increased razor wire, we decided to climb the hill and get in anyway, just to make sure the magnificent ski rental lodge was definitely gone.
I brought Neil along on a walk from one abandoned neighbourhood to another. We also did of course hit some roofs.
1 March 2015
To celebrate Korea's independence movement, we went to an abandoned oil tanker, then hiked across Digital Media City, hitting a rooftop, enjoying some public art, and ending up in a demolished shantytown.
27 February 2015
We had some time to kill, so Neil suggested coffee. I'm not a huge fan of coffee on its own, but how about a couple dozen cats? We went to the cat cafe next to Hongdae Playground.
27 February 2015
I needed to buy a new remote shutter for my camera, so that meant a trip to Namdaemun Market. I met up with Neil Ta who's visiting Korea for a couple weeks.
23 February 2015
A regular walk through the woods, followed by an interesting reveal: we've just discovered Korea's oldest arboretum.
21 February 2015
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.
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.