Gwangju Blog

March Streets.


March Streets


For the March installment of local street photography, we actually leave the open air of many downtown areas throughout Jeollado. While heading indoors, we nevertheless keep a perspective which hints at the unconventional viewpoints found within past iterations of this monthly segment.  Taken in the hills east of Jeonju, the photo above offers only hints at the action happening within this social setting. Reflected on the floor, we see the hazy outlines of a dozen or so figures. Our eyes are brought to these sketched figures from the reflected lights overhead which dot the floor in a concave V-shape. Together, the form the strongest highlights within an otherwise mute-toned scene, and allow our eyes to rest from hunting for more action which this image does not provide.

If you have been involved in the art scene in Jeollado, you no doubt have witnessed a scene like this. A large group of visitors at an exhibition opening surrounding a table with snacks, itself flanked by paintings on the surrounding walls. The scene above was provided by a small museum gallery in the hills outside Jeonju, and was no exception to the rule. However, the familiarity of such scenes offers still chances to reflect on what we tend to notice when we have seen the same street, the same house, the same neighbor countless times before. Often, our eyes find a way to reflect a need to delve deeper, past labels of the mundane. Either that, or we run, taking a new road home. Whichever we choose, the streets we travel are tools within the process of photographic awakening.


[Image taken with a Ricoh Gr V]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)



What to Do This Weekend: Zumba, Ballet, and St. Partrick’s Day!

Hello Gwangju!

It’s getting warmer and warmer by the day! Let’s see what you can do this weekend.

Thursday, March 15th

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

“Beware, the ides of March.”  You don’t have to worry about the ides of March in Gwangju because we have Zuma to start off your weekend. Zuma is a fun cardio class that is open to any level. You’ll work up a sweat for sure, but you will have a fun time doing it. Zumba takes place at the GIC starting at 7:00 p.m. The class is led by certified instructor Thando Mlambo. If you need more information, then please go to their Facebook page.

Friday, March 16th

Photo Courtesy of Tequilaz.

Photo Courtesy of Tequilaz.

Looking for a place with good Mexican food, and excellent drink specials? Well Tequilaz is the place you need to head to tonight. Not only do they have a taco special (1 taco only 3,000 won), but their drink specials are what keeps the place buzzing on Fridays. They have unlimited draft beer for only 12,000 won, and unlimited rail cocktails for only 20,000 won. Both specials are cash only please. It’s a great place to meet up with friends and start your weekend off on a good note. For more details, please go to their Facebook page.

Saturday, March 17th

Courtesy of the GIC

Courtesy of the GIC

If you’re a fan of survival shows, then you’re going to want to check out today’s talk at the GIC. The lecture will talk about wilderness survival, what it is, and what it isn’t. It will also focus on survival tips for the youth of the country. The GIC Talk series begins at 4:00 p.m., and lasts for about an hour. There is no cost to attend the lectures. You can get more details by going to the GIC’s site, or you can also check out the Facebook page for the series here.

Courtesy of the Gwangju City Ballet

Courtesy of the Gwangju City Ballet

Update!! This Saturday’s performance of the Gwangju City Ballet is sold out. There will be two more performances in April, and I will get the info on those shows in advance. Sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. The Gwangju City Ballet will be holding a performance today at the Gwangju Culture and Art Center. The show will start at 3:00 p.m., and tickets are only 10,000 won. This is the only performance during the month of March, but their will be two shows during April. To find out more information, and how to get tickets, please go to the GCAC website (info is only in Korean).

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Just when you recovered from Boozapalooza two weeks ago, Speakeasy will have their second big party of the year. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and that means it’s time for the St. Patrick’s Day Mega Bash! Of course there will be Guinness (one of the only places in town to get it on tap), green beer, green jello shots, and a favorite of the Gwangju crowd, Jameson Irish whiskey. Music will be provided by one of Gwangju’s favorite bands, Malarkey! Also, they will have a lot of free swag to give away. Throw on some green and get down to Speakeasy for one of their biggest events of the year! If you need more details, then please go to their Facebook page.

Sunday, March 18th

Last weekend the volunteers that help out at the Gwangju animal shelter had a wonderful turnout, and they want that to continue! if you would like to help them walk and play with dogs, then please go to their Facebook page for more information.



If you were wondering how to get your international driver’s permit here is how.


I went to the large police station next to the ACC downtown. ( Dong Gu police station)


When you enter the building turn left and you will find the reception office.


Go to station number 1 and fill out the form with your basic information



Please make sure to take your:

ARC Card


Drivers license from your home country or your Korean one

1 passport size picture


After filling out the forms hand it to the officer with the ID documents and your picture.


It will cost you 8,500 won and this needs to be paid by debit card.


The whole process takes about 5-10 minutes and the permit is valid for 1 year.


Drive safe,



Regarding what was.

Regarding what was


In this photo, we can see an interesting representation of what was. It shows a house, a classic ju-tek design made popular in the 1970s. Amid this Korean modernist architectural style shown in the photo within a photo, we can see a tree shading the second story building with a walled exterior compound. It is unclear exactly how long this image has been plastered on the newer building. However, what is of value in this scene is the juxtaposition of both architectural styles, and what the act of remembering a differing style of ‘home’ could mean to those who put it there.

This image was taken in a newly revitalized neighborhood in downtown Gunsan. Adjacent to an old marina, this area of smaller shops and two-story homes has become trendy in recent years. This town has seemed to be ahead of the curve regarding the value it places on preserving its architectural past. Whereas many other cities have moved to demolish such neighborhoods in favor of the ubiquitous high-rise apartments seen elsewhere on the peninsula, there is instead a sensitivity to these buildings which remain. Yes, they have become Disney-fied to a large degree, full of exorbitantly priced coffee and hamburger joints. However, if this visual past has been successfully recommodified to suit the needs of an emerging upper-middle-class who tire of the norm, it opens up deeper questions regarding what role the visual plays in telling local residents who they are within such a place. For example, does the significance of this re-imaging of the neighborhood lay in the memories of those who knew this place as it used to be? Or, does it become significant only when experienced in its newly represented state?

Viewing this image has reminded me personally of the power possessed by images of the past. Given the context of their display, images like the one within the image above are pawns in the hands of those who re-present them. For example, the sun breaking through the clouds reflected in the windows to the modern building to the left may hint at the emotions that I, as the photographer, hoped to imbibe within the scene. A mixture of nostalgic curiousity and unexpected confusion greeted me on this day in downtown Gunsan. However, the eyes of new viewers may allow entirely different emotions. So goes the artistic nature of photography; a release into the unknown for eyes which view the world differently than our own. It is a contemporary moment, linking what was within a process of inevitable transformation.


[Photo taken with an Olympus 35sp shooting an expired roll of Kodak Ektachrome 200.]


(Image & Text by Marty Miller)



What to Do This Weekend: The Return of Zumba and Trivia, Open Mic, and Art!

Hello Gwangju!

It’s beginning to warm up which means that my favorite season in Korea is right around the corner! Let’s see what’s going on in Gwangju this weekend.

Thursday, March 8th

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

The long winter hibernation is over . . . for Zumba! It’s back tonight at the GIC, and I know a lot of people have been waiting for it’s return. You don’t know what Zumba is? Zumba is a fun cardio class that is open to all levels. It is led by certified instructor Thando Mlambo, and it is one of the best ways to get your weekend off to an early start. It starts at 7:00 p.m. and goes for about an hour. For more details, please check out their Facebook page.

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Not only is Zumba back on Thursdays, but so is trivia night at Speakeasy. Trivia is 6 rounds of questions ranging from Movies, to music, and other topics. It only costs 5,000 won to play, and you can form a team of up to 5 people. Don’t have a team? Don’t worry, you can always find one to join. The second place team will get their money back, and first place will win the rest. This week the winning team will also get a 25,000 won bar tab! Trivia starts at 10:00 p.m., but make sure to get there early to take advantage of their happy hour specials. For more info about trivia night, please go to Speakeasy’s Facebook page.

Friday, March 9th

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

There are a lot of chances to hear great local talent in town, but there’s only one place where you can go to weekly and that is Loft 28. Every Friday night they have an open mic night where anybody who wants to can perform. All you have to do is bring your own instrument, and Loft will take care of the rest. If you need more encouragement you’re in luck because all performers will get a free drink. If you want to perform, or just listen, then get to Loft 28 on Friday night. It all begins at 11:00 p.m., and if you want more information, then please check their Facebook page here.

Saturday, March 10th

Courtesy of GIC Talk

Courtesy of GIC Talk

Saturday is a busy day at the GIC. It all begins with art class which starts at 12:45 p.m. Today’s subject will be male figure drawing. The model will arrive at 1:00 p.m., and then the doors will be locked for their privacy. It only costs 10,000 won to join, and all materials will be provided for you. For more details, please go to their Facebook page. Since you’re already at the GIC, you might as well stick around for their Saturday Lecture series, which begins at 4:00 p.m. Today’s topic will be very timely: promoting men’s participation in the promotion of women’s rights. Today’s speaker is Naw Khoo, who comes originally from Myanmar. She’ll be talking about how her home country deals with this issue. The lectures are free to attend, and they go for about an hour. You can get more info by visiting their Facebook page, and you can get details about both events by going to the GIC’s own page.

Courtesy of Gwangju-Jeonnam KOTESOL

Courtesy of Gwangju-Jeonnam KOTESOL

The Gwangju Jeonnam chapter of KOTESOL will be holding their annual conference today at Gwangju National University of Education. Registration will begin at noon, and the opening ceremony is at 1:00 p.m. Starting at 2:00 p.m., there will be over a dozen concurrent sessions starting. The conference is a great way to boost your professional develpment, and you’re bound to find good ideas for your classroom. It’s also a fantastic way to network with other teachers. For complete details about the conference, please follow this link.  You can also get information by visiting the chapter’s Facebook page.

Sunday, March 11th

Looking for a fun way to wind down your weekend, as well as volunteer for a good cause? On Sundays a group of dedicated volunteers go to a local animal shelter to walk and play with dogs. If you would like to help out, then please check out their Facebook page.