Gwangju Blog

Essentials with JD # 261 **PREMIUM EXPRESS BUS**


With the festive season coming up many might be travelling around the country to meet friends or just spend some time checking out various Christmas Festivals happening.

If you feel like treating yourself on your journey there is a new Premium bus service that runs between Seoul and Gwangju or Seoul and Busan offering a luxury seating experience.

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The busses only have 21 seats, compared to 28 on a regular express bus which not only means more room for you to recline, about 165 degrees, but also offers you your own TV monitor which screens live tv channels, some movies and also music. You are also provided with a hanger for your jacket etc, a tray table in case you have some work to do or for your snacks and a partition/curtain for privacy. Slippers, an eye mask and earphones are also provided. 


Forgot to charge your phone/ tablet PC? USB ports are provided to charge  personal devices so you can rest, relax and arrive at your destination worry free. 


Service runs on the hour from 7am. Be sure to check availability on the Express bus application for convenience.

If you are travelling alone I would suggest opting for the single seats on the right of the bus, as getting in and out on the two left hand side seats can be a bit tight. Overall the experience is a good especially if you feel that you will stay awake throughout the bus ride.
Tickets are around 34, 000 won compared to the regular 26-28 000 won. Travel duration however still ranges between 3-4 hours depending on traffic.


Dazed &

Dazed &


For the past couple of weeks, those of us with children, or who work with children in some capacity have been waiting in expectation (or bracing ourselves) for the onset of winter vacation. While currently childless (and thankfully so), I enjoy a bit of detachment from the annual year-end drama of tests, spankings, celebratory dinners, and perhaps not-so-secretive alcoholic excess. As a result, I can pretend to be aloof from such antics. If so, this photo blog could supply you with images of freshly barren trees, increasingly frantic shoppers, or any other stereotyped image of pre-holiday, late autumn blah. On the other hand, what better time than the present to turn one’s lens towards the dramas, triumphs, and prolonged exhales of students in transition?

Over the past week, I have consolidated images taken in Jeolla-do of students playing their designated role in this here society. When stepping back from the set of photos, it became clear that the emotions pertaining to ‘studenthood’ seemed similar throughout different age groups. If within (or even adjacent to) a formalized learning environment, they somehow looked similar. Subtly upturned/down-turned smiles, distant gazes, hunched postures. These all somehow seemed the baggage of a temporarily adopted ‘student’ identity.

A full range of emotions inhabit the image above. It was taken several weeks ago during an outdoor arts workshop for gradeschool folk. The expressions which all three characters hold reveal more than these words ever could. If only the camera had a mind of its own. I wonder how it would interpret such a strange and perhaps necessary ritual. With that in mind, here’s to an impending break from the theatrics. Cue the holidaze.

[Photo taken with a Sigma DP3 Merrill. This aging camera sports a Foven Sensor. If you are into digital photography, and have both an extraordinary amount of patience as well as a love for incredibly beautiful (at iso 100) photos, this camera might just be for you.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)


People You Should Know in Gwangju…Anissa Ghali

Good morning Gwangju! I hope that you are enjoying the beginnings of December, and gearing up for all the upcoming holidays (and for the lucky ones vacations). This week we are going to be getting to know the director of the upcoming show Little Shop of Horrors. So let me introduce you this weeks person you should know in Gwangju…


Chillin’ in Tunisia

Name…Anissa Ghali


Hometown…Topeka, Kansas

Length of time in Korea…three and a half years

My hometown is famous for…Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church

A shot from "Universal Remote"

A shot from “Universal Remote”

I wish I could…live without sleep and have boundless energy, also dance

If I could have any superpower it would be…teleportation (I could save so much on flights!)

A book I read once a year is…I don’t reread books often but if I did probably Crime and Punishment or The Picture of Dorian Gray

The show I am most likely to binge watch is…Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Versailles

My favorite movie is…Stand By Me

My favorite sport to play is…soccer

The food I am best known for is…My Tunisian dishes and peanut butter cookies


Fun in San Sebastian

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is…the Gwangju Performance Project and Nate 🙂 

How did you end up in Gwangju? On a whim. I was exhausted and working too much in Chicago so I took a much needed vacation to Brazil. When I got back, I knew I needed a change and three weeks later I had a job in Gwangju.

What is your best tip for living in Korea? No matter how short or long you stay in Korea, take advantage of the opportunities around you. There is so much to see and do!!!

Hosting Caberet

Hosting Caberet

What is your surefire way to beat the blues when you are feeling homesick? Thinking about student loans, paying high rent, and the government.

What is the oddest job you have ever had? I don’t know if I’ve really had an odd job. My first job, I was a soccer referee. I also worked at a temp agency where I did some random jobs, like proctoring law exams and putting on wristbands at a Three Floyd’s brewery event.

What is your favorite game to play? Trivial Pursuit, chess, GTA5


Fairies A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Are there any places/services/experiences in Gwangju you can recommend that a lot of people may not know about? The Gwangju Performance Project is a great group to be a part of or support! It’s a very welcoming group that is always looking for new people to become a part of our community. It’s a great way to make new friends and learn new things. We always having a variety of projects and opportunities year round.


littleshopposterDo you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju? Yes, I am the vice president of the Gwangju Performance Project and founder of Argle Bargle Productions.

What are some future plans for your organization? I am currently directing the GPP’s upcoming musical, Little Shop of Horrors. It’s one of our biggest shows yet and I’m very excited to be a part of it. We have a great cast, band, and crew that have been working hard for months. The show will be December 10th and 11th at the GFN Theater. More info at:

What advice would you have for people looking to start an organization or club? Just do it! There’s nothing standing in your way.



For information and tickets to the upcoming Little Shop of Horrors you can check out their facebook page, their website, or email them 

What to Do This Weekend: Mandalas, the ACC, and Live Music!

Hello Gwangju!

One more month left in 2016! Let’s see what you can do this weekend.

Saturday December, 3rd

Courtesy of the GIC Art Class

Courtesy of the GIC Art Class

The first Art class in December will show you how to make mandalas. Mandalas are symbols for meditation and healing. There will also be a special guest speaker, Simone Arthur, who will give a brief talk about art therapy. After that, you will make your own mandala. You may even have a chance for it to be displayed in the GIC gallery from the 10th-31st. All materials for the class will be provided for you, but you are also free to bring your own supplies as well. The cost for today’s class is 8,000 won, and there will be a maximum of 15 people allowed to attend. For more details about the class, please go to the Facebook event page. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. The class will begin at 12:30 p.m., and is hosted by Áine Byrne .

Last Saturday was Africa Day at the GIC. Today, during the Saturday talk series, the focus will be on Uzbekistan. This country, situated in the middle of the Silk Road, has always been an interesting mix of cultures, religions, and traditions. Two residents of Uzbekistan will be sharing the history of their country, as well as what it’s like living there today. The talk begins at 3 p.m., and it is located in the hall on the 1st floor. For directions to the GIC, click on the link in the above post. For more info about the talk itself, please go to their Facebook page.

Courtesy of the Korea Herald

Courtesy of the Korea Herald

There’s a lot to check out at the Asia Culture Center (ACC). You can see exhibits about one of the most revered poets in Asia, works from international artists, and even learn about the great country of Thailand. The best part is, many of these events are free! So take some time this weekend and head out to the ACC. It’s also a great place to take the kids. For more information, please follow this link. You can also check out the ACC on Facebook as well.

If you have ever listened to the often covered song Hallelujah, then you are familiar with the work of Leonard Cohen. Mr. Cohen was a well respected figure in music, and sadly he passed away last month. We’ve lost a lot of great musical talent in 2016-David Bowie, Prince-and they’ve all been honored here by Gwangju’s musical community. This Saturday night, it’s time for Leonard Cohen to be remembered. A Leonard Cohen tribute night will be taking place at the Dreamers Space, located at the Daein Market. Come down and listen to local artists pay their respects. It will all begin at 8 p.m. For more details, and directions to the Daein Market, check out the Facebook event page here.

Courtesy of The Manwons

Courtesy of The Manwons

If you didn’t catch Temper, Temper two weeks ago, then you missed a great show. But don’t worry fans of live music, another band will be rocking out at Speakeasy tonight. The Manwons are a band out of Daejeon, and they are looking forward to performing for the always appreciative Gwangju crowd. Terrific music and great drinks always make for a fun night at Speakeasy. For more information about the gig, please check out the Facebook event page.

Next Week!

Audrey II will finally be unleashed in Gwangju! Stay tuned to next week’s blog for more information about the GPP’s latest performance, Little Shop of Horrors!

Where to Eat Wednesday: 뼈통

When it comes to proper traditional Korean food, I still have a lot to learn. Though I grew up with some of the basics, I’m still not that great at differentiating between classic, legit dishes from newer, fusion inspirations. I welcome both with an open and nonjudgmental stomach, but some people, specifically my mother, require the most traditional flavors to be satisfied.


I was invited to have lunch at 뼈통 (Ppyeo Tong) by a couple of good friends of mine. My mother happened to be in town, and they were excited about having her try one of their favorite restaurants after learning of her ridiculously high standards for “proper” Korean food. It appeared that the fusion dishes filled with cheese and sugar just weren’t doing it for her.

Located in the quickly growing neighborhood of Jinwol-dong, this classic looking, yet surprisingly hidden restaurant was quite busy when we arrived. It was a good thing that one of my friends had arrived early to grab a tablet, as I imagine there would have been a bit of a wait if she had not. Unfortunately for my knees, the only option we had was to sit on the floor. Once we were seated, my friends placed our order for us before I could take a look at the menu. When questioned why, they guaranteed that I would love what we were getting. I grabbed a nearby menu to take a look anyway to see that this place specialized in 묵은지감자탕 (mugeunji gamjatang), which is spicy pork spine soup with vegetables and kimchi, and 우거지감자탕 (ugeoji gamjatang), a much milder variation of the former. The menu also offered different types of 해장국 (haejangguk), popularly referred to as “hangover soup”, and different types of 찜 (jjim), marinated and boiled/steamed meat. One dish in particular that got my attention was the 문어왕갈비탕 (muneowang galbitang), octopus and beef short rib soup. Honestly, everything looked good, and considering how chilly it was outside, I was ready for just about anything.


Not too long after we placed our order, our table was filled with side dishes (mostly in the form of different types of kimchi) and a plate filled with toppings for our meal. The toppings included ramen noodles, dumplings, that fake Korean sausage I have a weird love/hate relationship with, and 수제비 (sujebi), hand torn dough flakes. Those dough pieces are a personal favorite of mine.

I was left in the dark as to what my friends ordered until an almost ridiculous looking pot of food reached our table. The 우거지감자탕 came in the form of a mountain of a very mild, very green kimchi that had been supported by a foundation made of pork bones while surrounded by a moat made of a spicy broth. It was intimidating, to say in the least, and it took a few moments for my brain to figure out just how we would tackle this dish without making too much of a mess. There also appeared to be some onions and potatoes present in there somewhere. Just as quickly as it arrived, we had to dismantle the tower of delicious looking greens to a more reasonable shape before dumping in our toppings. Luckily, due to the meat and vegetables already being mostly cooked, it didn’t take long for the toppings to soften before we could start eating. The bubbling of the broth was such a welcoming sound, and the aroma that built up while we waited was like a comforting, porky embrace.


When it finally came time to eat, I enjoyed everything quite a bit. Due to the long and awkward nature of the kimchi, we had to cut it up pretty good with scissors down to manageable sizes. The broth was nice and rich, and it just got better the longer it cooked. The pork, which was at that tender consistency between holding onto the bones and sliding off without effort, was flavorful and meaty. The only issue I had was with the bones, as I’m not exactly an expert on finding meat in spine bones. Of course, that certainly didn’t stop me from trying. On top of enjoying the broth soaked dough flakes, I was also a fan of the ramen noodles, though I personally think ramen noodles belong in almost all Korean soups and stews.

By the time I was done with my meal at 뼈통, I was almost too satisfied to move. The warm and comforting flavors of the dish combined with the old fashioned setting left me longing for a time I’ve never really known. The fair prices were also a big plus. I would recommend this place for anyone in the mood for good 감자탕, and I imagine the restaurant’s 해장국 is also amazing. The size of the restaurant can host a reasonable number of patrons, and the fact that it’s open 24 hours just means that there’s no bad time for a visit.

Address: 광주광역시 남구 진월동 859-80 (next to the Lotte Supercenter & Uniqlo)
Phone: 062-675-1221
Hours: 24 Hours
Average Price Range: 7,000 to 10,000 per person