Gwangju Blog

Essentials with JD # 218 ** CULTURAL EVENTS AROUND TOWN**

Happy Lunar New Year :)


A series of cultural events celebrating the lunar New Year’s holiday, or Seolnal, will continue across Gwangju until this Wednesday.

The Gwangju National Museum will host various folk games such as Yutnori, top-spinning and the Korean traditional game of shuttle cock, known as Jegi or Hackey sack.

Address : 110 Haseo-ro, Buk-gu, Gwangju

광주광역시 북구 하서로 110

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The Gwangju Municipal Folk Museum will remain open during the Seollal holiday as well and will host various folk experience programs. (located close to the National Museum in Jungae Park)


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The Asia Culture Center will also remain open during the holiday period from 1pm to 5pm daily and a variety of performances and exhibitions for children will be showcased at the ACC Children facility.


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The Gwangju National Science Museum is planning to hold a ‘Traditional Game Experience’ program from the 6th to 10th to celebrate the Seollal holidays.

Address : 235, Cheomdangwagi-ro, Buk-gu

Gwangju, 500-480

Visitors will be able to enjoy yutnori, jegichagi, tuho, traditional top-spinning origami, arts-and-crafts, and kite-making.

In addition, the Museum will host its regular ‘Cinema Date’ program from 10:00am to 4:00pm on the weekend and holidays.

The film program seeks to showcase videos that introduce scientific principles to a wider audience.


Stay warm  and safe and have fun.



(information edited from

Winter Collage

Winter Collage


[collage](kō-läzh′, kə-)  A collection or combination of various things . An assemblage of diverse elements.

These are two definitions of the word ‘collage’ gathered via Merriam-Webster and the Free Dictionary (online). They suggest not just the simple definition usually applied to works of art, but rather a definition which leaves room for unexpected materials. Thoughts, ideas, peoples, or other cultural artifacts would also thus meet the above standards for this act of bringing together. However, both definitions fall short of a further step which we often hope to experience during our lives.

As a cultural and ethnic outsider to those born and raised in Gwangju or Jeollanam-do on the whole, I find the temptation at cultural isolationism an all-to-real temptation as a realized method for navigating my life here. Indeed, this case could readily be made for such an approach. Keeping my thoughts, opinions, and overarching cultural-norms for the most part intact is a survival strategy if knowing that I (and others like me) will one day leave this city. Experiences could be ‘collaged’ (given the above definitions), added piece by piece to an evolving mosaic of personal experience, creating a ‘self’ best appreciated in front of good light. However, the definitions above fail to go one step further, to asset a blending, or melding of experience. This melding of the approved sense of self cannot help but have its borders breached, and therefore redefined by the culture and ecosystem at-large. Now, as a wise, and hungry person once said, “when does bread become toast, exactly?” This question offers no clear answer, yet the possibility of recollecting on our experiences in Gwangju during these often internal winter weeks allows our sense of being within this town to change its subtle shape. When we emerge from our apartmentilized cocoons come spring, there is a chance that our sense of belonging here could be at the very least refreshed, if not reformed; given new shape and an appreciation of where we stand, and what stands around us.

This photo itself if made of four different images, the light reflected from which burned into the 35mm film at four distinct moments in downtown Gwangju these past winter weeks. A carscape, a snow-covered bush, a series of walls, and a tree, somehow spared the snowfall work together to create a visual and emotional interpretation which is (hopefully) greater than their individual profiles alone. As the light mixes, burns and blends through the chemicals on this Ilford Delta film, shapes and tones emerge which cannot be easily predicted by the photographer prior to releasing the shutter. Nevertheless, he pushes the primordial button, accepting what work the light must do on his small sheet of film; a sheet which he nevertheless can call his own, at least for that moment.


[Photo taken with the incredible Nikon FE2. Still doing its thing despite the winter chill. Thanks faithful friend for being there in the harshest of elements.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)


What to Do This Weekend: Hip Hop, Art, and the Super Bowl!

Hello Gwangju!

Happy (Lunar) New Year! It’s a long holiday weekend here in Gwangju so let’s see what there is to do.

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

Seems like Loft 28 had great success with their Ladies Night last Saturday. I hear there was even a faux bachelorette party! This Saturday Loft is holding another great party, and the theme is hip hop and R&B. If you’re tired of the same type of music being played in the clubs, come to Loft 28 to hear classic hip hop, rap, R&B, old school classics, and more. Will there be drink specials? Of course there will be drink specials. Kick off your New Year holiday at Loft 28 this Saturday! For more information, check their Facebook page.

Followers of the Gwangju Blog will know that John Jackson, a local artist, has been running his own gallery, Farther East. John wants the community to know that the gallery will be open February 6-10, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Check out some of the great work that John has at his gallery, and maybe even find that unique New Year’s gift! For directions to Farther East, please check out it’s Facebook page.

Coronas Mexican Restaurant, located near the Chonnam University back gate, will be open for the holiday through February 9th. The word on the street is that Coronas has the best steak in town. If your looking for great steaks, and Mexican food, then check them out this weekend. For directions to the restaurant, checkout their Facebook page here. For those of you not on Facebook, you can find directions by looking them up on Google.

Courtesy of Gwangju Cinema

Courtesy of Gwangju Cinema

For me, the holidays are a great time to catch up on movies. The Gwangju cinema is a great place to see films that don’t play at your local chain theater. This weekend you can see the Oscar nominated movie Carol, starring Cate Blanchett. To find movie times and directions, go to their Facebook page.

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

The long weekend means that those of you who are football fans have a chance to see the Super Bowl live! Speakeasy will be open Monday morning, February 8th, to show the big game between Denver and Carolina. Check Speakeasy for upcoming details on their Facebook page, as well as updates in the comments section of the blog.

Tequilaz, located in downtown Gwangju, will also be open during the holidays. Enjoy their great food and drink specials this weekend. For directions to Tequilaz, check out their Facebook page here.


Coming up next week!

Valentine’s Day in Gwangju!

Auditions for The Vagina Monologues

Gwangju Movie Club honors David Bowie, and Alan Rickman

Are you in a club or organization that is having an event in Gwangju? Let me know by leaving a comment on the blog, or on the Gwangju page on Facebook!


Where to Eat Wednesday: 행복한 임금님

Due to the celebration of the first anniversary of Gwangju’s very own Open Mic Night, this post has been moved back to be posted on today instead of Wednesday.

Since I first started writing food reviews for Gwangju Blog, I’ve somehow managed to eat at over two hundred restaurants. That’s a lot of food. While simply keeping up with something I was asked to do years ago doesn’t really seem like a big deal, I figured it would be worth celebrating this small, yet significant milestone in the form of yet another restaurant review.


I had been searching for some time for a nice place to celebrate at before a couple of people recommended 행복한 임금님 (Haengbokhan Imgeumnim), which means “Happy King”. Since our very own John Crook was visiting from Taiwan, I invited him and a couple of other amazing people to help me with reviewing this fancy and apparently popular place.

Though it required a bit of a drive, we eventually ended up at the restaurant without too much trouble. Located right next to a golf place and the highway, the restaurant stood out quite a bit, especially since there didn’t seem to be many other businesses nearby. It was nice to see that the restaurant did have a fair sized parking lot, though it was mostly full when we arrived for dinner.

Once we were seated, I read over the menu tacked onto the wall before us multiple times while trying to make sense of it. As with some of the best Korean restaurants I’ve been to, the selection was limited, and any ideas of substitutions or custom orders were definitely not allowed. The two main choices were the 임금님 수라상 (imgeumnim surasang) and the 떡갈비 수라상 (tteokgalbi surasang). These came with options for add-ons like 보쌈 (bossam), a steamed pork dish served with kimchi, 해물매운갈바찜 (haemul maeun galbijjim), spicy seafood and steamed pork, and 오리훈제 (orihunje), smoked duck. There was even a 돈까스 (donkkasu), also known as deep fried pork cutlet, dish for children. Going off of recommendations, we ordered the 떡갈비 수라상 for four people and added on an order of 보쌈.


Before too long, our food was out and ready. As our waiter approached our table, our eyes all grew in diameter as we all quietly asked the same question one usually asks before a traditional Korean meal: “How are all those plates going to fit on our table?” This restaurant found a lovely and tasteful solution which consisted of simply sliding the giant board all the dishes were already on over our small table, doubling the surface area with little to no inconvenience.

While we were now working with a large amount of table space, the sheer number of dishes we had seemed almost overwhelming. Not including the meat, we had about 18 sides to go with our bowls of red yeast rice, which came in a lovely pink color. Honestly, I couldn’t have named everything I was looking at if I tried. Some of the sides I did have enough knowledge to identify included fried tofu skin sushi, cold wasabi noodles, steamed eggs, seafood kimchi stew, ginger salad, radish kimchi, fresh cabbage kimchi, seaweed salad, mung bean jelly salad, spicy crab, marinated quail eggs, and, my personal favorite, stir-fried potato starch noodles. Each and every side dish was fresh and wonderfully prepared, and some even had interesting twists I had not seen before in similar restaurants.


When it came to the protein portion of our meal, we were all quite pleased. The 떡갈비 came in two forms: beef and pork. Shaped more like flattened meatballs than patties, these moist and meaty morsels came with rice cake in their centers, giving a nice, chewy texture to contrast with the seasoned meat. As delicious as they were, my personal favorite part of our dinner was the 보쌈, which came with perfectly ripe kimchi. Though pork served in this fashion is typically seen as bland and flavorless, I found myself growing quickly addicted to the rich and slightly sweet flavor of those fatty pieces of pork, and they went so well with that tart and crunchy kimchi. As someone who’s not a fan of having pork served with fresh kimchi (or fresh kimchi in general), this was a definite winner for me.


Overall, our celebration at 행복한 임금님 was one worth remembering. Indulging in so many classic Korean dishes left us all looking back upon our first culinary experiences in Korea, and how the food in this country left an impact on us all. While not the ideal spot for picky eaters, I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting to get a taste of the real deal without having to leave the city. Though it’s easy to focus on the meatier aspects, it should be remembered that when eating at places like this restaurant, the side dishes are what truly shine.

Address: 광주광역시 서구 벽진동 274-1 (next to the highway going through Pungam-dong)
Phone: 062-268-0100
Hours: 11:40AM to 8:30PM
Average Price Range: 16,000 per person for the 떡갈비 수라상

People You Should Know in Gwangju: Daniel Wallace

Hello, and happy Wednesday! Today we have a special edition of “People You Should Know in Gwangju” to highlight this special event for Open Mic Night. Jen Lee’s “Where to Eat Wednesday” column will run tomorrow, featuring her milestone 200th restaurant review for the Gwangju Blog. Don’t Miss it!!

Daniel2Name: Daniel Wallace

Occupation: English Teacher

Hometown: Manchester, UK

Length of time in Korea: Eight years in April. I’ve lived in Jeonju, Yeosu and Gwangju.

My hometown is famous for . . . Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis……..Oh, and some football team you might have heard of.

If I could have any superpower it would be . . . teleportation. I have so many people and places to visit. And I hate long haul flights.

A great book I would recommend is . . . Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

My “childhood” nickname is . . . .  Chatterbox. I’m sure everybody who knows me would agree that it’s unfounded.

A typical open mic.

A typical open mic.

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is . . .  that there were so many talented musicians hiding in the rafters, eager for the chance to get up in front of an audience and show off.

How did you end up in Gwangju?
It’s a tale as old as time. I followed a girl. She hasn’t let me leave yet. Thankfully.

What is your surefire way to beat the blues when you are feeling homesick?
A homemade Sunday roast. Potatoes and gravy take me straight home. Actually just making all kinds of food from home has been my secret weapon against homesickness.

What is the oddest job you have ever had?
I worked in a bookmakers all the way through university. Not such a weird job in England where the company I worked for is a national chain visible in every high street. For those from countries where gambling is a more illicit affair though it probably sounds somewhat gangster.

Watching a performer.

Watching a performer.

Describe your favorite travel destination.
It changes constantly but the place that stands out for me right now is the island of Mull in the Scottish Highlands. Tobermory, the main settlement, is an almost textbook example of quaint. And if you can get a clear night, you’ll have an amazing view of the Milky Way.

What event do you run in Gwangju?
I help to run the Wednesday Open Mic Nights in Tequilaz.

How did the Open Mic Night begin? 
We’re celebrating the 1st anniversary on February 3rd. It started when I wanted to play some songs I’d written and I decided to take up Mr. Kang on his offer of using his restaurant as a venue. I got together with my friends Nik and Sarah to set up a night, we picked a Wednesday because we thought people needed something to do midweek. A year ago we didn’t know if anyone would even show up but thanks to the wonderful community of Gwangju and all of its talented people we hit the ground running and haven’t looked back.

What’s do you think Open Mic Night does for the people of Gwangju?
It provides musicians with a place to show off their talents and everyone else with some great music.

Tonight Daniel will celebrate the one year anniversary of the Open Mic Night at Tequilaz. It runs from 9:30 PM – 12:30 AM. 

동구 광산동 91번지
Gwangju 501-180