Gwangju Blog

Essentials with JD # 233 ** MAY 18TH NATIONAL CEMETERY **


May is an important month for Gwangju as it remembers the events that started in early May of 1980 and that came to a head on May 18th. After the killings by the then government Gwangju became an integral part of the fight for democracy in the country. With many events surrounding the actual day on the 5.18 downtown there is also the National cemetery located about 20 minutes from USquare that aims to not only remember those who died but also educate citizens and visitors about the legacy.


According to the Korean Tourism website :

“The May 18th National Cemetery, located in front of Mt. Mudeungsan, is the symbol of freedom and democracy and is the grave of victims during the contention for democracy in May 1980. Victims were carried and buried by handcarts and garbage trucks in 1980. In 1997 the cemetery was exhumed and reburied at this memorial.


To enter The May 18th National Cemetery, pass the Democracy Gate, built in a traditional Korean style. Passing the widely spread Plaza of Democracy, you will reach the Commemoration Passage. Keep walking and you will reach a round figure of an enclosing hand. This is the Memorial Tower, which symbolizes the resurrection of new life. Under the tower there is a worship platform with burning incense to show respect.


Through the Memorial Tower you will find carvings on both sides. On the right there is an enshrinement where pictures and monetary tablets are placed, and across from it stands the Door of History showing the images in those days. You can understand Korean history by viewing these works.”


Even though May 18th has passed it is still a vital part of the history of Gwangju and makes for an educational outing in open air or beautiful Gwangju.


To get there take bus 518 from one of its numerous stops around town or from USquare. The bus fee is 1,200 and entrance to the cemetery is free.


Services in English and Chinese are available upon request.




The bus, stops.

The bus, stops.



If any of you happen to be regular (or even semi-regular) readers of the photo blog, you probably know by now how integral access to the countryside is to my personal photographic practice. An attribute which Gwangju possesses is easier-than-average access to remoter regions of the province. While having a vehicle usually expedites the process, it is by no means a prerequisite method for encountering some semblance of solitude in this perennially over-populated nation.

Having grown up largely in rural areas, I find myself drawn to those places which contemporary visual branding of ‘modernity’ tends to overlook. It could be when in such open spaces, when there is little grasping for our attention and wallets, that background slowly becomes foreground. Our gaze grows simultaneously longer as well as more refined to those aspects of visual culture which are right in front of our noses. It is often these markers which would not typically have garnered much attention. Yet it is precisely the act of noticing the previously unnoticeable which tends to root our experience in that particular time and place of discovery. This was my experience when encountering the Jeollanam-do bus-stop mural for the first time.

Resting against the back of often overlooked and little-used bus-stands, these murals can be can be found on specific country roads surrounding Naju, Gwangju, and Hwasun. Often faded or peeling, these scenes usually depict some aspect of countryside life, and often show dream-like scenes of humans dancing or playing instruments. Likewise, butterflies and flowers tend to dominate the flora and fauna-themed paintings. The power of these murals does not lay only in the folk-art-themed subject-matter. Rather, it is the ability of these paintings to evoke deeper yearnings to know more about them. Questions which persist even to this day include,

“Who painted these, and on whose commandment?”

“What meaning if any do these images give to those who may still use the bus-stops?”

“Where can I see more?!”

In short, these murals have the power to humanize and even personalize a landscape which often seems to prefer to remain inter-personally anonymous. As such, they contain within their faced earth-tones, a distinct excitement which sits somehow comfortably alongside a growing sense of nostalgia or even slight depression. I often feel this latter emotion when confronting the ephemeral in create acts. As the median age for people in the communities which still encounter these murals is quite elderly, one can easily imagine the eventual destruction of not only the murals, but also the bus-stops and perhaps even the again countryside communities which they serve. Therefore, I hope that these murals will, to some degree, find their place in a collective appreciation for the visual culture which lays around us, in fading color; waiting.

[All photos shot with my Bronica SQ-ai shooting either Portra 400 or Ektar 100 120mm film.]


(Photos & Text by Marty Miller)


What to Do This Weekend: Storytelling, Synergy, and a Summer Jam!

Hello Gwangju!

The temperatures are rising, but don’t let that stop you from getting out and exploring. Let’s see what’s happening this weekend!

The GIC will host its second monthly open-mic storytelling event this Friday, May 20th, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The main topic of the meeting will be “Art and the World”. If you have a story about how you relate to art, then the GIC wants to hear it! There will also be a Best Cake Competition that will be taking place at the meeting. If you have homemade cakes, or cookies, then bring them to be tasted and judged. The event is free to enter, but donations will be gladly accepted. The first hour of the event will be family friendly, but from 8 to 9 p.m., there will be a time for more adult-orientated stories. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website here. You can also check out the Facebook event page as well. This sounds like another great event at the GIC!

Courtesty of Gwangju-Jeonnam KOTESOL

Courtesty of Gwangju-Jeonnam KOTESOL

Since last Saturday was a holiday, the Gwangju-Jeonnam KOTESOL Chapter has changed its May meeting to this Saturday. There will be two interesting presentations, and a chance to meet and chat with fellow teachers. This month’s meeting will focus on issues and ideas in the EFL classroom. The meetings are held at the Gwangju National University of Education Teacher Training Center. For more information, about the meeting you can follow this link: . You can also click on their Facebook event page. Come down for another excellent chance at professional development this Saturday. The meeting begins at 1:45 p.m.

This Saturday’s art class will be focused on female figure drawing. The first half hour will be spent learning some drawing skills, and then the model will be in class from 1 until 3. The cost for the class is 10,000 won, and materials will be provided (you may bring your own as well). This weekend’s class will be led by Áine Byrne. The classes are always held at the GIC. For directions to the GIC, please see our post above. For more information about the class, you can go to their Facebook event page.

Courtesy of A&L, and Zilla 101

Courtesy of A&L, and Zilla 101

Later on in the evening at the GIC, there will be an interactive art show entitled, Synergy. Synergy is an interactive showcase that features live instrumentalists, singer-songwriters, poets, and more, intertwined with a monthly art exhibition submitted by locals and internationals. This is the first event, and to celebrate there will be an open bar (first come, first serve). There will be performances by many local artists at the show. The event is free, and it goes from 7 p.m., until 9:30. For more information about the show, please go to their Facebook event page.

The  Open Space “Dreamers” area at the Daein Night Market has played host to many fundraisers. This Saturday night they’ll be doing it again in support of a local animal rights organization. You can sign up for the open mic, and help raise money for our furry, four legged friends. You can buy some art, baked goods, and other crafts while you’re there. General donations will also be accepted. So get on down to the Daein Night Market for a good cause! For more information, and directions to the market, please check out their Facebook page here. Proceeds will also go to a local animal shelter.


One more thing!


Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

It may not exactly be summer yet, but that’s not stopping Loft 28 from having a summer jam! There’ll be great music from the DJs, and of course fantastic drink specials. Also, congrats to Loft on celebrating their first birthday last weekend! For more info, please check out Loft’s Facebook page.


People You Should Know in Gwangju: Lindsey Andrews

In the studio, after coffee.

In the studio, after coffee.

Name:  Lindsey Andrews

Occupation:  Radio host

Hometown:  Ottawa, Canada

Length of time in Korea:  Seven years, all in Gwangju!

My hometown is famous for . . . really, really cold winters, maple syrup, the Rideau Canal (World’s longest outdoor skating rink? That’s what they say~) and the Canadian government.

I have never been able to . . . make it through a game of pool. I’m so terrible, it takes me forever to land a shot and I get bored and give up.

A great book I would recommend is . . . Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader, North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, by Bradley K. Martin, for an in-depth look at North Korean history and first-person accounts of life in the DPRK. Bradley Martin was just in Gwangju for 5.18 Commemoration Events as well, and was one of the foreign journalists responsible for covering May 18th when it first happened, so he’s played a pretty big role in popularizing Korean history abroad.

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is . . . Mat Jeon Jip, for my favourite jeon in Gwangju- they oblige me when I request no octopus in the kimchi jeon. It’s in Chonnam University’s back gate. Even the ramyeon is fantastic!

My favorite movie is . . . Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade– although Raiders is a close second.

How did you end up in Gwangju?
It’s an old story- I wanted to travel and work abroad after university. I actually tried to get a job first in Eastern Europe, but competition was fierce. At the time my parents hosted a Korean homestay student who first introduced me to Korean culture, and I started looking at jobs here. One of my first offers was for Gwangju, and as I researched, I found out Gwangju was known for food, arts and culture, and democratic movements. That was all I needed to know- I was sold! And it certainly hasn’t disappointed.

What is your best tip for living in Korea?
I remember my dad told me this the first week I was here, and I guess it holds true of any place you live- make connections with the people in your neighbourhood. The staff of the family corner store, café workers, your landlord- when I got to know the people in my neighbourhood, I felt more rooted in Korea and more involved in the community. It helps with language learning as well!

Our guests really make the show!

Our guests really make the show!

What is the oddest job you have ever had?
Considering how little I enjoy exercise or movement, it’s a little surprising I was actually a soccer referee throughout middle and high school and university.  My whole family, under the influence of my soccer-loving dad, were referees or assistant referees at some point. It was great fun, not a lot of money, a good way to see a lot of soccer games. I will never forget the rules for offside- thanks Dad- and it has been great to have a knowledge of the game as I travel, because it’s just so popular in so many countries.

Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you.
I’m obsessed- OBSESSED- with fashion history. I love to find out how people- particularly women- lived and dressed in the past. What was underwear like? What would you wear in the snow? I know it’s strange, and I’m not sure why I’m so compelled to know what different periods of time. I think I had a recurrent fantasy as a child where I fell into a time machine and had to survive in whatever period I ended up in, and knowing what to wear was part of that. Since I’ve been in Korea, I’ve really enjoyed finding out about the surprising history of hanbok, and how it’s changed over time with different social and economic shifts.

Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju?
I’m currently hosting the Korean culture morning radio show “Hello Korea” at the Gwangju Foreign Language Network a city-run public foreign language radio station, which works with a lot of different communities in Gwangju.

I’m so lucky to be a part of the Hello Korea team, and it really is in some ways one of the most interesting and fun jobs I’ve ever had. Getting to spend my days learning about different aspects of Korean culture from our hardworking radio guests, and getting to share my interest with others, is just so cool. Our guests bring in information and experiences with a variety of aspects of Korean culture- from language and cuisine to history, film, and trot music- we even have a segment where we learn folksongs, if you can stand me trying to sing Korean traditional tunes.

Promotional shots for the website- one of the best days working here. I wore that hanbok way longer than was necessary.

Promotional shots for the website- one of the best days working here. I wore that hanbok way longer than was necessary.

How long has GFN been operating in Gwangju?
GFN just celebrated its 7th Anniversary, and I’ve been on Hello Korea for the last year.

What is the best part of your day?
Working with my wonderfully creative and young team- shoutout to the handsome Choi PD and our super-positive writer Geehae- just brainstorming about different parts of Korean culture we can explore on the show. And sitting down with our guests, who really go above and beyond researching and preparing material for the show. You can really feel how passionate they are to talk about their respective interests, and it’s really thanks to all of them we can have such an interesting show.  And coffee. Coffee is a massive part of my day.

What can be the most difficult part of your day?
Starting early-morning recordings is tough, because I’m such a night owl. I sincerely and deeply thank every one of my coworkers who tolerate me before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.

What is the thing you wish more people knew about GFN?
GFN is not just for English! We also host Chinese shows in the evening, and on Hello Korea itself, we invite weekly guests to tell folktales in their native languages- we’ve had guests from the Philippines, Vietnam, China, Malaysia, and Thailand!

What is the best advice you can give to people listen to GFN?
Check out the GFN website for back episodes of different segments ( On the Hello Korea page, you can find episodes discussing language history and how to sing traditional folk music!

My friends oblige me by going to cultural events across Gwangju, including this street festival in Chungjangro. Now you know my musical ability.

My friends oblige me by going to cultural events across Gwangju, including this street festival in Chungjangro. Now you know my musical ability.

What is the most useful thing that GFN does for the people in Gwangju?
I hope Hello Korea can bring together international residents and the Korean community- anyone interested in the culture and history of the country we call home, if only for a brief time. GFN in general through its variety of shows provides really useful tips for living in Gwangju, and a slew of different perspectives on life in Korea.

Are there any amusing anecdotes you can share about your work day?
My Korean pronunciation is not the best, and one day we were learning a folksong as part of the traditional song/dance Ganggangsulleh, the circle dance traditionally performed by village women under the full moon. Anyways, the lyrics had the word “저색이”, a dialect word referring to “that scarecrow over there”, but because of my pronunciation, it came out sounding more like “that son of a –“. My writer told me after the live show. Mortifying.

What are some future plans you have at GFN?
Shameless shilling, but GFN hosts events for the community throughout the year- scavenger hunts and “Running Man”-type events. We have one event coming up at the end of the month- the 2016 GFN Photo Contest at the International Rose Festival Gokseong. You can sign up in teams of three or four, and hang out at the Gokseong Rose Festival taking pictures with your friends. Best pictures by public vote will win cash prizes, and GFN provides transportation, lunch, swag and free entrance to the festival. That’s coming up on Saturday May, 28th, and you can check out for details and registration! It’s really a great, free way to visit a different spot in Jeollanamdo and maybe win prizes at the same time.

Are there any places/services/experiences you can recommend in Gwangju that a lot of folks don’t know about?
Definitely get out to the traditional markets- Daein Market has tons of art and culture, and Yangdong Market and Namgwangju Market can be great places to buy cheap, fresh products and eat delicious traditional foods. Yangdong Market actually has six different markets all wrapped up into one!

A gift from a Chinese guest.

A gift from a Chinese guest.

For more information about the show, check out the website, or their Hello Korea facebook page  (where you can send Lindsey a message any time for questions or comments about the show, or if you’d like to appear on Hello Korea!). GFN is sponsoring a photo contest on May 26 at the International Rose Festival Gokseong. Get more information about signing up your team on the Facebook event page.

Where to Eat Wednesday: Burger Bridge

Out of all the food in the world, one of my favorite things to eat is a good burger. I understand that saying such a thing is quite stereotypical for me to say as an American, but what can I say? Burgers are awesome. Heftier than a sandwich, yet still portable enough to eat with your hands, it has everything you want and can be customized to your liking. Though decent burger places in Gwangju seem to be few and far between, if there are good ones out there, it can be guaranteed that it won’t be long before I make it a point to pay a visit.


I first heard about Burger Bridge through some mutual friends. With their raving reviews of the place, I just had to try it. After some prying, I learned of its location near Chosun University, which has apparently been the new trendy spot in town. Once I had the details, I set up a date and time to go with one of my favorite dining buddies as soon as I could.

As I drove through the narrow streets near Chosun, it took a little while to find the restaurant. Luckily, the giant poster of a burger gave it away as soon as it was in our sights. Finding parking, on the other hand, proved to be more difficult. After stashing my car in a questionably legal spot, we quickly made our way to the entrance with empty stomachs and curious minds.


Once inside, I was immediately charmed by the small, yet personal space that made up the restaurant. Littered with figures and random ramblings on the wall, there was something very welcoming and humbling about the place. Advertising options for dining in or take out, the only menus in the place were available on dry erase boards. Thankfully, all of the items were written in both English and Korean. The available options were as simple as the restaurant, offering five different types of burgers, a couple of sides, and a few drinks. The Bridge Burger, which was the top choice, was a basic burger made with a beef patty, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, raw onions, pickles, and mayonnaise inside a toasted bun. All of the other burgers were fairly similar to this main choice, except with some minor changes. The side options included French Fries, Wedge Fries, and Onion Rings. As for drinks, I was too excited at seeing Shakes as an option to even notice that they were offering choices like Beer. My friend and I ended up ordering two American Bacon Cheese Burgers, Wedge Fries, Onion Rings, and a couple of Shakes (chocolate and vanilla).

As soon as our order was received, the kitchen got busy as everything was made fresh. There was a short wait, but with the smell of grilled beef in the air, it felt like it went on forever. Before I could start drinking ketchup out of desperation, we received our food. Served on a tray and wrapped in paper, everything we received was painfully reminiscent of local burger shops we had gone to back in the states. The whole look and aroma of our meal left me feeling rather nostalgic, and the flavors only took that further.

ShakesWedge Fries

I first took a sip of my Chocolate Milkshake, which was cold, creamy, and delicious. The consistency was somewhere between ice cream and liquid, which is my ideal when it comes to this drink that’s more dessert than anything. I then dug into the piping hot Wedge Fries, which tasted identical to the seasoned goodness I would have all over Texas. Considering how much we paid for them, I was surprised at the large amount we received. This alone would have been enough for both of us. That being said, I absolutely had to try the Onion Rings, which were similar to beer battered onion rings I grew up enjoying at fairs. As much as I dig the thick, breaded stuff, I’m also a sucker for thinner options that hold their shape without falling apart after one bite. These rings were definitely closer to the latter. Even after sitting out throughout our meal, these golden brown onion rings stayed crispy and just greasy enough without going too far.

Onion RingsAmerican Bacon Cheese Burger

Finally, it was time to try my burger. As I unwrapped the grease-spotted paper, I looked over things carefully, holding my breath as I waited for some sort of disappointment in the form a surprise sauce or a unique, yet unwelcome ingredient. What I got was an honest, simple burger. The bun, which appeared to be homemade, had a small amount of sesame seeds and had been toasted. The beef patty was a little small, but still substantial and the right size for the shape and price of this burger. The cheese, which I’m sure was the processed stuff, was properly melted. The vegetables were all fresh and crisp. Even the bacon on my burger seemed like the kind I like that curls when cooked and isn’t ham in disguise. My only criticism? Sweet pickles. This is something I’m particularly sensitive to, as I loathe sweet pickles. Once I picked them out, the rest of my burger sent me into a place filled with happiness and nostalgia.

Overall, my trip to Burger Bridge left me more than satisfied. The prices were affordable, the food was fresh, and everything I had was delicious. It’s definitely not the classiest of places, but I assume that most people don’t seek out sophistication when they’re hungry for burgers. Due to the small size of the restaurant, I would only recommend eating in for small parties. Larger parties would be better off ordering take out and enjoying an impromptu picnic nearby. Be sure to come hungry.

Address: 광주광역시 동구 동명동 10-1 (near Blue Road Park)
Phone: 062-431-0118
Hours: 10:00AM to 9:00PM (break time from 3:00PM to 4:00PM)
Average Price Range: 5,000 to 7,000 per person