Gwangju Blog

Rising Hot Place of Gwangju


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Gwangju has many small, charming villages.

Today’s post will introduce Chungchun Balsan Village,

new rising hot place of Gwangju.

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Located at Yang-Dong, Seo-gu,

Balsan Village was a typical shantytown of Gwangju.

The village was filled with dreams and energy

since young female workers and refugees gather around new textile factories in 1970s.

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Balsan Village was becoming hollow due to exits of female workers and facing demolish crisis.

But now, the village is becoming a new popular spot

retaining its original shape with a new name

‘Chungchun Balsan Village’ ,

Youth Release Village in Korean meaning.

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Isn’t the map of this village so charming?

There are many road signs,

so there won’t be a difficulty finding places.

A dog named ‘Bokgu’ is placed on the map.

Why don’t we go find out if there is a real dog or not?

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There are some cautions before looking around this village.

This place is a residential area just like other village tourist attractions of Gwangju.

Therefore, too much noise or littering is refrained here in Chungchun Balsan Village.

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Murals and letters stick out here and there in this village.

Words with sympathy, warmness, cheerfulness, etc

give pleasure while looking around the whole place.

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These stairs are a way to observatory called ‘108 steps’.

108 steps!

It can be challenging, but after walking up with an enthusiasm of watching village’s scenery!

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You can watch a beautiful scenery of Chungchun Balsan Village in a sight.

So, it is recommended not to give up and visit the observatory!

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This is Balsan Store, where old corner shop is reproduced.

The store is full of old snacks and provide nostalgia to people who miss good old days.

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A dog in the map, ‘Bokgu’ was right here.

It was wondering how famous she is to be on the map.

She’s a cute dog which loves people,

enough to be the icon of the village.

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Endless beauty of Balsan Village gave pleasure and favorable impression throughout the sightseeing.

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Colorfulness sometimes feel innocence and a state of balance.

Chungchun Balsan Village does give the feeling.

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Also, the name ‘Chungchun – Youth in Korean’ gives romantic experience throughout the village.

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It was a charming and pleasant village with warmness although the weather was cold.

How about taking a mental/physical rest visiting

Chungchun Balsan Village,

getting out from complicated everyday life?

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December Streets.

December Streets

 

 

For this month’s installment of local street photography, we actually leave the streets of Gwangju to venture southward to Wando. However, after arriving, we must continue our journey by boarding a mid-sized vehicle ferry bound for Changdo Island, an hour’s ride from this southern coastal town. If climbing to the ship’s rooftop deck, we may just see a scene like the one above.

In this photo, a man rests against the railing, seemingly unbothered by the chilly ocean winds sweeping ashore this weekday afternoon. We see him through the descending canopies of wooden Jung-jas, or wooden platforms. While likely engaged with the latest smartphone game or a life-or-death Kakaotalk moment, his actions are not surprising. It is these two platforms though, which seem entirely out of place in this moment. Usually found at the crux of country roads, ridgelines or farmer’s fields, these structures are ubiquitous throughout the southern part of Jeolla-do, and elsewhere around the peninsula. Often constructed ad-hoc from materials scrounged from local dumps, these structures hint at the communal aspects of an agrarian past which has become increasingly difficult to see. For, when driving around the countryside these days, many are left unused, or occupied by an increasingly dwindling number of locals.

Despite their perch atop this ferry, these platforms seem somewhat integral to the scene above. In the distance we can see the last of Wando harbor as the boat chugs ahead towards the islands beyond. While the man is engaged in his electronic devise, he nevertheless functions as a bridge of sorts between the nature beyond, and the reproduced hints at a more ‘natural’, agrarian past. When looking carefully, we can see such occurrences often in our lives around Gwangju. While our region still serves as the breadbasket (ricebowl?) of South Korea, visual reminders of communal action with nature related to farming are often underutilized, if not ignored entirely. However, when reproduced through an intentional Disney-fication of nature and an agrarian past, such platforms are once again considered culturally safe for use, albeit this time by a younger generation. For, while the absurd location of these platforms provides a comfortable amount of removal from the past, their communal function remains. In fact, several moments after this photo was taken, half a dozen brave souls, mostly of younger ages, occupied these structures with cigarettes and smartphones in hand, sharing their days with these structures just as intended.

 

[Image taken on Kodak Tri-x 400 with my Contax T2.]

 

(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)

 

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Scenery of Gwangju at A Look!


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Today’s post will introduce Gwangju Sajik Park Observatory,

where you can have a great view of Gwangju downtown.

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Although scenery at the top of Mt. Mudeung is great,

Gwangju Sajik Park Observatory presents awesome view also.

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It can be a little challenge to walk up the incline to arrive,

But it will be a fresh walk while looking around well-shaped surroundings.

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By going upstairs passing 3rd floor filled with pictures showing history of Gwangju,

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Sajik Park Observatory with a fair view appears!

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Here’s a scoped-view. It can be a trivial enjoyment finding spots you’ve visited or know of.

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There is a map nearby so that you can acknowledge where you are looking at easily.

How about enjoying your time finding your home and looking at unfamiliar spots of Gwangju?

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With a beautiful night view, here can be a perfect spot for a date.

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When the weather is great and sky is beautiful,

Isn’t it wonderful to visit Gwangju Sajik Park Observatory,

taking the scenery of Gwangju in memories?

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What to Do This Weekend: Open Mic, A Holiday Party, and Cabaret!

Hello Gwangju!

Looks like as we get closer to Christmas, the temperatures are dropping. Will we have a white Christmas? Let’s see what there is to do this weekend.

Thursday, December 14th

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

There are only two more Zumba classes before the holiday break so don’t miss out on the chance to get your weekend started on a healthy note!  Zumba is a fun cardio class that is open to any level. It takes place at 7 p.m., and is led by certified instructor Thando Mlambo. Make sure you wear comfy clothes, bring a towel, and a bottle of water because you’re going to need it. It will also keep you energized on these cold, winter nights! For more details, please go to the Facebook event page here.

Friday, December 15th

Courtesy of Tequilaz

Courtesy of Tequilaz

If you’re looking for a great place to end your work week, then look no further than Tequilaz. Friday is quickly becoming one of their best nights with their drink specials. Bottomless drafts are available for 12,000 won (cash only), and bottomless rail cocktails for 20,000 won (again, cash only). The specials begin at 9 p.m., and go until midnight. Don’t forget about their menu of fantastic Mexican dishes too. For more information, please check out the Tequilaz Facebook page. Gwangju’s only weekly open mic night takes place tonight at Loft 28! If you are interested in performing, all you have to do is show up and bring an instrument. Loft will provide the sound system, and microphone for performers to use. Those who participate will also receive a free drink as well. Even if you don’t play an instrument, come on down and enjoy some great local talent. Open mic night begins at 11 p.m., and if you need more info, then please go to Loft’s Facebook page.

Saturday, December 16th

Courtesy of City Hall

Courtesy of City Hall

I know there are a lot of ice skating fans out there, and this Saturday is the day you’ve been waiting before! The skating rink next to city hall opens on the 16th, and will continue to operate until the 31st of January. The admission is a very reasonable 1,000 won. Weekend hours will begin at 10:00 a.m., and go just until 8:30 p.m. Weekday hours will also start at 10:00 a.m., and go just until 6:00 p.m. There are close to a dozen different buses that will take you there, so just look at the picture above the post. Keep in mind though, weekends is when it will be the busiest. Get ready to hit the ice for the holiday season!

Courtesy of the GIC

Courtesy of the GIC

The GIC is holding their annual end of the year party today. There will be cultural experiences, food and drinks, Christmas crafts, and even a raffle! It’ll be a great way to celebrate with fellow Gwangju residents at the place that has done so much for the city. The party will begin at 1:00 p.m., and go until 5:00 p.m. You don’t have to worry about getting tickets because this is a free event! For more details, please go to the GIC’s website. You can also check the GIC’s Facebook page for more details.

Courtesy of the GPP

Courtesy of the GPP

Don’t forget that you still have time to make reservations for the GPP’s fourth annual Cabaret on the 16th! Reservations for the dessert package will be accepted until Friday, December 15th. To book your tickets, please email: gpptickets@gmail.com. Don’t wait until the last moment because tickets are selling fast! Please check the event’s Facebook page to see if there will be any standing room only tickets available.

Sunday, December 17th

Don’t think just because it’s getting cold outside that our four legged friends don’t need some exercise. On Sundays a group of volunteers go to a local animal shelter to walk and play with dogs. For more details on how to join them, please check out their Facebook page.

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones

 

Eloquently spaced, the rocks above have become a more ubiquitous touch to stream and canal design over the past few years. As weekends have become largely free of salaried work-related tasks, the demand for access to local natural areas has risen. Park development schemes have sprung up along the many small canals which criss-cross their way through the countryside south of Gwangju city. While no longer places of quiet solitude as in years past, it is good to see these spaces being utilized by non-fishermen for a change.

Often lined with cushioned bike paths and benches with restrooms every few kilometers, these spaces provide a workable access point for engaging with the land beyond the hi-rise apartment blocks where many middle-class people reside. I have often visited these places, and have made good use of stepping stone bridges like the one pictured above. For brief moments, I am transported to rural Appalachia in the USA, where, in my youth, I often hopped over similarly formed bridges on local creeks and streams. When easy to lament the lack of urban park space, such development projects can also be seen as stepping stones to a greater appreciation of the natural world which bore and sustained this city over the years. This symbolism may be superfluous, yet I can’t help but notice the change for the better.

 

[Image taken with a Hasselblad 503cxi shooting Kodak Tri-x 400 pushed 2 stops.]

 

(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)

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