Gwangju Blog

Essentials with JD #290 ** GFN SURVEY ON LISTENER BEHAVIOR**

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GFN is currently undertaking a listening behavior survey for all of its listeners in English, Korean and Chinese. The survey can be accessed on and is also available on mobile by scanning the QR code.


Below is a sample of some of the questions on the survey so please try to answer as honestly as possible.


One month after the survey has been completed you will be sent a voucher to be used at a particular coffee chain to the value of 5,000 won. Do note that is will only be issued around the end of August via text to the smartphone number you submitted. 

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The Musical Activist

Last Friday, Speakeasy hosted singer/guitarist, Tao Don Tajaroensuk, for their bi-weekly Gwangju Live series. The series began in April as a way to kick off the weekend by showcasing an acoustic set from a local musician. Tao Don sat with his legs crossed casually at the knee and sipped beer as he cruised through roughly two hours of covers, ranging from Bruno Mars to Oasis and Stevie Wonder. The gregarious crowd, full of expats and Koreans, cheered and sang along to the songs and shouted out for several “Doncores” (play on encore) each time he announced his final song. The night ended in a high fives and hugs, as long goodbyes from friends drifted out into the streets. Tao Don was a hit and another successful night of Gwangju Live was in the books, but when the music ends and the crowd goes home, this Thai native is much more than just another bar performer.

His musical story began when he was 14 years old. A young Tao Don first found inspiration to pick up the guitar after seeing a Coldplay concert on MTV. Although he initially began to teach himself the instrument, it was the help of a few local musicians that helped him develop the craft as he took to performing more seriously in his early 20s. He cites fellow axe men such as David Gilmore, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, and Chet Baker as his biggest influences, and continues to look for new artists to feed his creativity. However, his deep passion for music is undoubtedly challenged by his ambitious efforts to improve human rights for his home country.

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Tao Don performs at the Corona’s open mic.

His experience with human rights activism is personal, and his conviction to improving the situation in Thailand is earnest. “I have seen many poor people in my life, since I was very young, five years old. My mom is the one of my inspirations. She is a human rights activist in Thailand. I have seen that she always helps poor people all of my life. I want to keep her spirit and keep her intention.” He became heavily involved by studying various aspects of human rights, such as peace building for armed conflict areas, and strategies to refugee asylum and labor rights. This led him to actively participate in efforts for a democratic movement while he was living in Thailand, which eventually brought his music performances to a halt for the last three years as he poured himself into taking action. While he was obviously devoted to the cause, he knew that he needed a wider scope of knowledge and tools to accomplish his goals. This led him to seek out higher education here in Korea.

He came to Gwangju in 2016 to begin his Master’s degree at Chonnam National University and has steadily gained momentum on his specialized interests. “I came here to study in a international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) program which is called GNMP (Global NGOs Master Program). I got a scholarship supported by the May18 foundation. Learning about human rights and how to manage NGOs. I have to say Thank you to May18 foundation for providing me with this generous opportunity.” He just finished his second semester and is set to graduate in 2018. His goal is to work at the international level with leading organizations such as the United Nations, which has led to additional concentration on his English fluency skills and practice.

Tao Don performs on a fairy from Mokpo to Jeju Island.

Tao Don performs on a fairy from Mokpo to Jeju Island.

One way that Tao Don has focused his English practice is through his recent return to performing music. While his studies and involvement with human rights had put a three year hiatus on his music, he happily credits the Gwangju local open mics hosted by Daniel Wallace for his return to playing guitar and creating music. It has not only brought him closer to the community here, but it has set the stage for his future. “I have two goals of my life. First, is music. I’m doing my album, which has no need to identify in any genre. I’m making songs that are inspired by my experience. I have some songs which are inspired by refugee conflict, ethnicity, and human rights issues I was facing. Many of my songs come from a social problem which I experienced. I want to make human rights songs. My second goal, is I want to be a politician in my country. I want to help poor people, and I realize that how to help many poor people will be working as a policy maker. Thailand is massively corrupt and a hierarchy system country. I want to change Thailand’s structure to eradicate poverty, and give people dignity according to human rights principles.”

As previous generations of musical activists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Bob Marley have carried the torch throughout the last few decades, there is a strong beacon of hope in the genuine drive of talents like Tao Don Tajaroensuk. This world is full of battles, and the tides of humanity are ready for impassioned and dedicated individuals like him to shape the future.




I stumbled, quite literally on the above scene earlier this spring. I had spent the better part of a weekend photographing my way from Mokpo to Buam. Taking sideroads as they came, I remember feeling less pressure about what I might find at their ends. The sun made its presence felt by ten a.m already that Sunday. It had rained somewhat heavily the day before. A good May soaking; reminding me of home. Regardless, the previous afternoon’s torrent had left this day breezy and free of clouds immediately overhead.

The turnoff to this road was accompanied by a small sign. Faded from a combination of time (and most likely) questionable printing methods, specks of sky blue showed through the rusty exterior well enough to reveal the outline of a wave. This was a dangerous, yet still auspicious sign to follow. For, while the degradation of the metal itself hinted that the location around the bend was not often visited. In all likelihood, there would be no GS 25 convenience store or overly aggressive raw fish restaurant proprietor waving me into their eatery. If all went well, there would scarcely be a place to park my runty Daewoo. In my mind’s eye I could envision a once touristy beach now forgotten. Remnants of hastily constructed cabanas and perhaps even an elemental joke-jah, or sitting platform would still be visible among the encroaching sandbars. Disused campsites and the ubiquitous green Soju bottle, free of its label would be the primary visual hints at nights, long past, having been well spent.

These were dangerous thoughts. For, hundreds of similar excursions over the years had slowly instilled a singular lesson when walking with camera in hand. Don’t get your hopes up. For, once being entranced by the aforementioned visions of a blissful, unpopulated oceanside setting, waking up to the reality of the scene can be harsh. These thoughts occurred in rapid succession. And, had I been proceeding on foot, I might have not turned left, yielding the path’s secrets to another day. However, by the time this conclusion arose, my car had already downshifted into second, and turned onto the bumpy coastbound path.

The car stopped, almost on its own. Door opened, human exited.

My camera remained with me as I trudged up over the rise to find the scene above. A small building sits alone on the tip of a small thumb of land. It marked the end of an end, while opening to the watery expanse beyond. As such, it seemed to negotiate the emotions contained within these two worlds. Whether symbolizing an ending, a gateway, or a pit stop along the way, the structure sat with intention. It was supposed to be where it was. I liked this. In that moment, I felt the same.


[Taken with a Hasselblad 503cxi with a 180mm f3.5 lens shooting Kodak Tri-x 400 pushed to 800.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)


What to Do This Weekend: Gwangju Live, Counterparts, and Coward Jack!

Hello Gwangju!

It’s certainly getting hotter outside! We’ve got things that you can do in town, and you’ll be able to keep cool as well.

Thursday, June 22nd

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

Thursdays in Gwangju means that it’s time for Zumba! In case you’re new to the blog and don’t know what Zumba is, it’s a cardio class that is open to everyone, from beginners to advanced participants. Make sure you wear your workout clothes, have a towel handy, and of course a bottle of water. The class begins at 7 p.m., and is led by Gwangju’s owen veteran instructor Thando Mlambo. For directions to the GIC, please go their website. You can also get more details about the class by visiting the Facebook event page here. If you’re looking for a great way to stay in shape, then you need to head to the GIC on Thursday night!

Friday, June 23rd

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Gwangju Live is back this Friday night with an acoustic solo performance. Don, an artist originally from Thailand, will be playing a mix of your favorite covers, as well as some of his own compositions at Speakeasy. The advance word on this show is pretty good, so this is not something that you want to miss. Plus, as an added bonus there are the usual happy hour specials at that go until 11 p.m. So get there early, grab a drink (or two), and enjoy a great night of music. For more details about the show, please visit Speakeasy’s Facebook page.

Saturday, June 24th

Courtesy of Gwangju Art Class

Courtesy of Gwangju Art Class

The Saturday Art Class at the GIC is featuring another lesson in female figure drawing. The class will begin at 12:45, and the model will arrive at 1 p.m. Once the model is there, the doors will be locked for their privacy. The fee for the class is only 10,000 won, and as always materials will be provided for you. If you need directions to the GIC, then just click on the link in the first event. You can also get more information by checking out the Facebook event page here. The Saturday Art Class is also looking for more teachers to help out. If you’re interested, let them know on the event page. Today’s class will be led by local artist Jen Lee.

Courtesy of the GPP

Courtesy of the GPP

If you missed the performances last weekend of the GPP‘s newest production Counterparts, fear not! There are three more shows happening this weekend. Advance tickets for the shows are still available until June 23rd. To make your reservations, email If you miss the deadline for reserving tickets, don’t worry because they’ll be on sale at the door for 12,000 won. Showtimes for Saturday are at 3:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. Showtime for Sunday is 3:00 p.m. For more info about the production, you can go to the GPP’s website at: You can also go to their Facebook page as well. This is the last weekend, so don’t miss out!

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

I’ve got two different parties to choose from that you can end your Saturday night with. First at Speakeasy, children of the 80’s (that’s me!), as well as fans of cheesy pop music will want to head to their 80’s night party. GFN’s own Travvy G will be spinning your favorite 80’s hits starting at 10:30 p.m. Besides the awesome music there will be a costume contest, and of course it just wouldn’t be a party at Speakeasy without great drink specials! The doors open at 8 p.m., and you can get more details by visiting their Facebook page. If you missed out on the first performance of local musician Andrew Vlasbom’s debut album, The Ballad of Coward Jack, then you can catch it tonight at Loft 28. Andrew will be performing along with other talented artists-Eden Jones, Kaitlyn Wachter, Laureline Claeys, and Ashley Johnson. The show will start at 10 p.m., and if anyone in Gwangju has a cowboy hat, bring it. You’ll get two free shots for wearing a cowboy hat!. If you need more info, then please go to Loft’s Facebook page.


new festival

*****Please note that due to City Hall’s decision the Youth Festival date has been changed from July 28th – 30th and will now be happening from 4-6th August.


Therefore GFN Rock festival will now happen on Saturday 5th August 2017 from 8pm -11pm.


The celebrity guests have been announced and it is  SuperStar K winner Ooh La la Session

아름다운 한컷 (Feat. 우탄)

Furthermore, GFN is still scouting 6 foreign bands who will appear on stage at the World Youth Festival which will take place at the Asia Culture Culture.

So if you are in a band or know of some talented bands who have foreigner members apply asap ~ once the 6 groups are scouted entries will close.


GFN is also searching for a foreign DJ from around Asia to perform in the club session which takes place after the band performances.


So if you want to be part of this amazing festival all you have to do is send us


  • For the Band application :


band and member names,

genre of music and any links to your music.

All performances will be paid.  You can forward your email to


  1. For the DJ application :

Your name and links to your music and mixes.


All performances will be paid.  You can forward your email to


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