Gwangju Blog

What to do This Weekend: Pretty Fall Leaves Edition

Photo courtesy of Nancy Harcar.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Harcar.

According to the Korea Meterological Administration we are in the perfect time for a fall hike in Mudeungsan National Park. With the first appearance of the fall colors having started on Oct. 20, the peak (80% of the leaves changed) fall foliage usually happens two weeks later, which is estimated at Nov. 3.

Coincidentally, here’s a historic chance to travel to the top of Mt. Mudeung. The summit has been closed permanently to the public since 1966 for security purposes, because of the air force station on its peak near Cheongwangbong. So, for one day on Oct. 25, the summit will again be open. The city of Gwangju has been celebrating this ‘opening summit of the Mudeungsan Mountain day’ since 2011 and, on May 14th of that year, opened up the Cheongwangbong area for the first time in 45 years, attracting a total of 240,000 visitors to the mountain during the 10 times it has been opened since then. The upcoming opening of the summit will include courses to Seoseokdae, Inwangbong, and Jiwangbong. If you are planning a visit to the mountain, bring your ID with you for admittance.

Photo courtesy of Mariya Haponenko.

Photo courtesy of Mariya Haponenko.

Mariya Haponenko is leading a Model Watercolor art class Oct. 25 from 12:15 P.M.-3 P.M. at the GIC Samho Center downtown. There are a variety of drawing mediums to choose from, and the participants will have a chance to draw a model decided y random lottery among the participants. Participation fee is 5,000 won. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

The Gwangju Culture Foundation is Hosting the 2014 Rainbow Festival on Oct. 25 from 4-7 P.M. at Suwan Lake Park in Gwangsan-gu. The focus of the event is to foster communication among multicultural members of the community and help them to settle in to Korean society. The Cultural Ministry, along with local communities and multicultural households, will welcome the participation of married immigrants, foreign laborers, North Korean defectors, and international students. Activities include Asian traditional food sharing programs, traditional attire experiences, folk game activities, folk dances, and music performances.

Photo courtesy of USquare Culture Center.

Photo courtesy of USquare Culture Center.

Enjoy a free outdoor performance of acoustic guitar music on Oct. 29 from 6:30-8 P.M. at the U Square Outdoor Stage 1. For more information, call 02-532-4407, or check out the venue website.

Song’s German Bar has started a new tradition of weekly movie nights with a showing of Oldboy this past Wednesday. Next week’s movie night of Oct. 29 is close to Halloween, so Mr. Song is currently taking suggestions of scary movies for attendees to vote on. The movies start at 10:30 P.M., and there is food available for 6,000 won, including sausages, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut. For more information check out the venue Facebook page.

The Gwangju Design Center will host the ’2014 Bitgoeul Handicraft Fair’ from Oct. 30-Nov. 2 to promote values of handicraft items made in Gwangju and the growth of the local handicraft culture in the city. The upcoming fair will be feature exhibitions for ceramics, metal and wooden art, and fiber, paper and leather art, showcasing various handicraft items produced by local businesses. For more information and directions, call 062-611-5000, or check out the venue website.

Photo courtesy of Song German Bar.

Photo courtesy of Song German Bar.

News of the Week: October 23, 2014

South Asia Cultural Tourism Festival to be Held in Asia Culture Complex Yearly


An annual ‘Cultural Tourism’ festival introducing South Asian culture and promoting greater cultural exchanges between Korea and South Asian nations will be held yearly after the initial opening of the Asia Culture Complex scheduled for next September.

At the recent Korea – South Asia Cultural Ministers’ Meeting held from last Friday to Sunday, cultural ministers and delegations from six South Asian nations, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka issued a joint statement that pledges mutual cultural and artistic exchanges starting next year.

Based on the proclamation of a joint statement promising cooperation in various cultural and artistic exchanges, all participating nations and the Asia Culture Complex will work on joint creative and cooperative projects for performance, art, exhibition and art education exchange.




Kia Tigers Sign Manager Sun Dong-yeol Again


Kia Tigers have signed Sun Dong-yeol as its manager for two more seasons in 2015 and 2016 despite his disappointing three-year term from 2012 to 2014 when the team ranked 5th in the first year and then second to the last at 8th for two years in a row in the 2013 and 2014 season.

Sun, arguably the greatest pitcher in Korean Baseball history, had led the Haetai Tigers, the former name of the Kia Tigers, in the 1980s and 90s to win 6 Korean series, personally grabbing a total of three MVP awards and six golden globes while recording an accumulated earned runs average of 1.2 points.

However, his three years in Kia Tigers as a manager have had disappointing results, leading to strong opposition from Tigers fans to sign him again as manager for the next season.

Despite prevalent opposition on the re-signing of Sun as head manager of the team among fans, the Kia Tigers Club signed a contract for another two-year term with an annual salary of 308 million won.




Additional Trains to Run between Mokpo and Yongsan for Autumn Foliage Season


Korea Railroad Corporation and its Gwangju branch will run temporary trains from Mokpo to Yongsan in order to meet the need for traveling to different tourist attractions for the autumn foliage season.

Expanded train service will include the ITX-Saemaeul (새마을) trains linking Mokpo and Yongsan station in Seoul.

The respective trains will be in operation every Saturday and Sunday for two-day trips until November 30th.

Trains will depart from Mokpo at 2:25 p.m. to arrive in Yongsan Station at 7:12 p.m. with southbound trains leaving 7:39 a.m. to arrive in Mokpo at 12:15 p.m.

The domestically produced ITX-Saemaeul trains began operation earlier this year in May and are equipped with various amenities such as lockers and wheelchair seats for the handicapped.




Yeongam KIC as a Mecca of Motor Sports and Tuning Industry


The Yeongam-located Korea International Circuit, which has failed to host the Korea Formula One for two years in a row from 2013 to this year, is reportedly seeing an upward trend in its usage among the domestic automobile industry for motor sports and auto tuning business.

According to Jeollanamdo, the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam will be used for 266 days this year, up 22 days from last year and 39 days from the year 2012.

Jeollanamdo attributed the recent growth in the usage dates of the circuit to an increased awareness of the KIC as Korea’s newest, international-level race circuit on the cutting edge of the domestic automobile industry and business corporations.

Revenues earned from renting the circuit to different motor sports championships and race activities in KIC reached 2.6 billion won this year, up 450 million won from the same time last year.

The number of visitors at nearby auto camping sites and cart circuits also increased by 60 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

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.