Gwangju Blog

Where to Eat Wednesday: Bulgogi Brothers

Meet Bulgogi. Literally meaning “fire meat”, this internationally known dish seems to have taken a backseat to pork down here in Gwangju, possibly due to the high cost of beef. As a result, it’s been difficult to find more than a couple of places that specialize in this classic favorite. After a bit of searching, it’s sad to think that the most obvious place ended up being one of the better spots I’ve tried during the years I’ve been here.


I recently went to Bulgogi Brothers with my best friend, who just happened to be visiting me from the states. We had been walking around Sangmu for what seemed like hours, trying to find Korean food that didn’t seem too heavy or Westernized. As an American, my friend was already familiar with bulgogi, and since I was drawing a blank on where we could eat for lunch, we ended up at the classy joint that I had always passed by but never actually visited.

There was a collective sigh of relief when we saw that we had made it in time to sample the more affordable lunch menu. It was nice that the restaurant had placed an English and Korean menu outside, as we both felt fairly poor and under-dressed once we walked into the classy, empty building.

MenuShrimp Chips

Though the menu had some delicious looking A La Carte items, our focus was on the lunch specials that seemed to offer a fair amount of variety for the right price. On the menu were different bulgogi sets that had American beef as the cheapest option while offering Korean beef as the priciest. Each set came with the porridge of the day, an order of the Grilled Beef Brisket Salad with Oriental Dressing, Bibimbap with Soybean Paste Stew, Bulgogi, and our choice of Tea or Coffee. Though there were different sets, we were told that the both of us had to order the same thing, as everything would be cooked in the same pan. As a result, we ended up going with the Korean Beef Bulgogi with Assorted Mushrooms Set.

Sweet Potato PorridgeSides

Once we placed our order, we received a plate of puffed shrimp chips. Though there was probably a proper way to enjoy these, I just ended up munching on them as they were throughout my meal. Before long, we received the first portion of our set, which was a small bowl of sweet potato porridge. Though the color wasn’t the most appetizing, the taste and texture were pretty decent without lingering too long in the realm of sweet and chunky.

Next to arrive at the table were a number of delicious and fresh sides, as well as the meaty salad that ended up being one of the biggest highlights of our meal. The combination of assorted greens, thin slices of beef, tangy dressing, and rice crackers made for a delicious salad that we couldn’t get enough of. If more fusion dishes could be like this, I certainly wouldn’t mind.

Beef SaladBulgogi

After we were done devouring our salad, the main course made its appearance. In a large pan was a pile of marinated beef, glass noodles, some greens, and at least four different types of mushrooms. Even before it cooked, the smell was divine. The aroma simply grew more tempting as everything cooked through. Before long, we were left with pieces of tenderly cooked beef and vegetables that had soaked up a fair amount of the sweet broth it was cooked in. My favorite aspect, surprisingly, were the glass noodles had a soft, addictive texture that wasn’t too soft or chewy.

While our meat was cooking, we received our rice with a side of soybean stew. This part of the meal came with instructions and an extra bowl that contained some vegetables. We were told to add our rice to the big bowl, then to mix in small amounts of the soybean stew to mix in. If we wanted things saltier, we’d just need to add more. I was initially hesitant, as I hadn’t actually liked any form of soybean stew since I was a kid. Despite my reservations, the mixture ended up being absolutely delicious. The stew was actually more savory than it was salty, and I probably mixed in way too much at the end.

Rice & Soybean StewTea

Overall, our classy and pricey meal was one we enjoyed quite a bit. As we sipped our tea, all we could talk about was how delicious everything was, as well as how the price seemed to be justified for what we got. I personally don’t see myself returning on my own, but this restaurant is definitely worth bringing visiting friends and family members to, especially if they’re looking for that Korean experience without being exposed to the scarier, more pungent aspects. I highly recommend arriving in time for lunch, as I’d hate to imagine how much the dinner courses would have hurt our wallets.

Address: 광주광역시 서구 치평동 1243-1 신환빌딩 1층 (within walking distance from the Uncheon Reservoir)
Phone: 062-384-0731
Hours: 11:30AM to 9:30PM (11:30AM to 5:00PM for lunch)
Average Price Range: 13,900 to 22,900 per person for lunch sets

Essentials with JD # 160 ** LEAVES ARE TURNING**

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Autumn is here and for those of you who love the outdoors and enjoying the turning foliage the perfect time has come in the Gwangju region. What are you doing this weekend? How about going on a hike up the most iconic mountain in Gwangju? Yip Mudeungsan is waiting for you.


According the weather schedules and tourist agencies starting from this week, the weather as well as colors of the leaves will be ready for you to snap away and have a great fall photo shoot. It is also time for the silver blade reeds to be on show and it is a great chance for you to experience pleasant outdoor sights before the chilly and cold winter sets in.


According to the Visit Korea website


“Mudeungsan Nationtl Park (무등산국립공원) is a mountain at the edge of Hwasun-gun, Damyang-gun and Gwangju. Mt. Mudeungsan (1,186m) features three rock peaks called Cheonwangbong, Jiwangbong, and Inwangbong, also known as the “Jeongsang Three.”

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Mudeungsan’s gradual slope makes it an easy climb for all. Locals once worshiped Cheonwangbong Peak as it was considered a mountain of God. Among the more majestic of these sites are the Seoseokdae, Gyubong, and Ipseokdae peaks. At the base of the mountain are several famous temples including Yaksaam, Jeungsimsa, and Wonhyosa. Mt. Mudeungsan is also known for its beauty throughout the year. The fall autumn leaves of Gyubongam and Eoksae grass of Baekma ridge is quite spectacular.


So get ready. Take busses from your area to Jeungsimsa Temple : Cheomdan09, Bongseon76, Jiwon35, Jiwon50, Jiwon51, Jiwon54 Wonhyosa Temple : 1187 or subway to Hakdong station and then take one of the above busses that pass by.


Happy Hiking



GIC Day 2014

Many different nationalities gathered together for the GIC day - Photo by Joe Wabe

Many different nationalities gathered together for the GIC day – Photo by Joe Wabe

The city of Gwangju celebrates once a year the GIC Day ( Gwangju International Center Festival). It’s by far the biggest international event of the year, and as an expat, a day you don’t want to miss. It’s the occasion when all the international community living in this town comes together, to celebrate and share more than culture. It’s a day that remains me why I love living in this city, its diversity, culture and unique community makes Gwangju a place you want to stick around for a long time.

This year, this traditional event was held at the ACC (Asian Culture Complex). Nearly completed the ACC was designed and built based on the idea that it is to represent the following three concepts: a landmark of the HCAC (Hub City of Asian Culture), a symbolic edifice reflecting the spirit of Gwangju, and a venue for daily enjoyment of culture for the general public.

The historical provincial office, the May 18 Democracy Square, and the myriad of facilities for contents development combined with forestry and light make for a splendid landmark, and with the celebration of the GIC day yesterday, this $680 million project was given a successful test run.

To view more of this even you can visit my photo blog: The Kimchi Tales.

What to do this weekend: Active and Outdoorsy Edition

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

The 16th Suncheon Bay Reeds Festival will be held Oct. 17-19 at the Suncheon Bay International Garden. Discover the beauty of these unique wetlands that shelter unusual fish that walk on mud and small wetlands crabs that call it home. Learn how to make reed noodles, build reed houses, enter the Suncheon food contest, cook with local food masters, enjoy bodypainting and more. To get there, take local bus no. 60~63, 65~68 or 88 from the Suncheon express bus terminal or Suncheon station, and get off at the Suncheon Bay International Garden busstop. Or more information call 061-749-4007, or check out the event website.

Photo courtesy of Adopt a Child for Christmas - Gwangju.

Photo courtesy of Adopt a Child for Christmas – Gwangju.

The Daein Night Art Market is happening this weekend at Daein Market near downtown on Oct. 17 and 18 from 7 P.M.-Midnight. This is the second last event before winter descends upon the land. There will be tons of local artists exhibiting their works and selling their wares. Our own baker extraordinaire Lianne Bronzo with be there on Friday night for ‘CAUSE Banana Bread. 10% of her profits will benefit the Adopt a child for Christmas campaign.

Looking for something a little more active? An indoor basketball club in Gwangju is recruiting basketball players for a Sunday league that meets every week from 9 A.M.-1 P.M. This indoor league has 20 active members, men and women, and needs some more players to round out their roster. Proper basketball shoes are required, and free beverages and shower facilities will be provided, though you must bring your own towel. For directions, check out this map. For more information, contact Sean Lee through Facebook, or this website.   ±¤ÁÖ±¹Á¦±³·ùÀdz¯ Æ÷½ºÅÍ

The 20th annual GIC Day takes place on  Oct. 19, from 11 A.M.-5 P.M.! Featuring lots of international food booths, culture and folk games booths, GIC day is yummy and fun tradition here in Gwangju! Come buy things at the flea market, and enjoy the talent show and other musical performances and check out the new venue at the Asia Culture Complex Downtown (site of the former Kunstalle installation). Get there early, since the best food stalls always sell out. For those folks living far out from downtown, the GIC has arranged for a shuttle bus to make stops at GIST, Chonnam National University, and Hanam Industrial Complex. A return bus is also available. Look for more travel details here. For more information, check out the GIC website or Facebook page, or call 062-226-2733.

The collaborative book club has picked its next book, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Discussion of the book will take place on  Oct. 26 at 1 P.M. at the First Alleyway Restaurant, so you have time to get started on your reading. For more information, contact Chris Bleeker through the Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.


News of the Week: October 16, 2014

Increase in Obese Students in Gwangju and Jeollanamdo

Gwangju and Jeollanamdo reportedly have the highest percentage of overweight students in elementary through high school in the nation.

According to the ‘Obese Students Index from 2011 to 2013’, released by the Ministry of Education, 15.6 percent of the entire student population is overweight in Gwangju with Jeollanamdo’s figure at 15.4 percent.

The national average stands at 15.3 percent and the number of students who are overweight in Gwangju and Jeollanamdo has seen a continuous upward trend since 2011.

In Gwangju, male students marked a higher obesity rate than female students at 16.7 percent with high school students recording the highest figures at 18 percent.

In Jeollanamdo, the obesity rate among female students, at 15.5 percent, was higher than that of male students while middle school students had the highest figure at 16 percent.


Jeollanamdo to Operate 100 Won Taxi Starting Next Year

One of the key election pledges to improve provincial transportation in rural areas made by the Jeollanamdo governor, Lee Nak-yeon, the ‘100 Won Taxi’, will begin operation starting next year.

Jeollanamdo has announced that the province will begin accepting applications for participation in the ‘100 Won Taxi’ project from 22 cities and districts through the end of this month.

Offered to those residents living in remote areas that lack public transportation, such as buses and trains, the ‘100 Won Taxi’ provides rides from distant residential areas to places such as bus stations, hospitals and other public service operators for just 100 won.

Each city or district will be allotted 100 million won and 11 cities and districts will carry out the ‘100 Won Taxi’ project throughout next year.


Gwangju Submits ‘Relocation Proposal’ for Military Airport

The city of Gwangju has submitted to the Defense Ministry an initial relocation proposal that requests the relocation of the military airport in Gwangju to a different area.

This is the first time that Gwangju has taken action on the relocation issue involving the troubling military airport in the city.

If the Defense Ministry approves the proposal, the city of Gwangju will build a new military airport in a target area designated by the Defense Ministry and support the operation with the revenues earned from new facilities to be constructed on the site of the airport in Gwangju.

In the relocation proposal, the city of Gwangju indicated that, in cooperation with the Defense Ministry, it will select a new target area for the military airport by 2017.

The total estimated cost for the relocation and development project of the old military airport stands at 2.4 trillion won.


Cultural Ministry Appoints New Chairman of the Asia Culture Development Institute

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has appointed Choi Jong-mahn (최종만), the current vice chairman of the Gwangju Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as the chairman of the Asia Culture Development Institute, which is the main governing body of the Asia Culture Complex.

The Suncheon-native new chairman of the Asia Culture Development Institute, Choi Jong-mahn graduated from Suncheon High School, Seoul National University, and finished his Ph.D in Senshu University Law School in Japan.

Choi previously served as the Gwangju Biennale deputy executive director, the district governor of Dong-gu, and the director of the Cultural Industry. He also served as the vice Administrative Mayor at Gwangju City Hall and in these positions he expanded his career and experience in culture and art.

Upon the recent appointment of the chairman by the Cultural Ministry, preparation for the cultural and artistic contents at the Asia Culture Complex is expected to gain momentum.