Gwangju Blog


Rose Festival Web Poster


When the weather heats up, festival season takes hold of Korea. And here is another great event to enjoy Summer festivals for free and win tons of money.

GFN, Gwangju Foreign Language network as another great event for everyone to enjoy at the Gokseong International Rose festival which takes place on May 23rd 2015. And all you have to do is take a couple of selfies in the beautiful scenery to be a winner.

Here is how it works. Gather a team of 2-3 people, make sure you have a smartphone, enter the contest, go to the event, TAKE AMAZINGLY CREATIVE PICTURES, submit your best/most unique/rose-tastic shots and you could be in line to win MONEY MONEY MONEY!

EASY AS THAT! Copy and paste the link below into your browser and click attend/ going to get regular updates about the event. Spaces are limited and don’t forget each team will WILL NEED at least ONE SMARTPHONE to be able to participate in the event.

Food, transport, t-shirts and much more will be provided. So enter now. You can also find more information at #selfie #rosefest2015


** Ps don’t forget that registration for The Damyang Bamboo Festival amazing race will also close pretty soon. So if you haven’t registered you might want to do that asap.











Daein Night Market

Daein Night Market - photo by Joe Wabe

Daein Night Market – photo by Joe Wabe

On a normal day Daein Market will look just like any other regular traditional old market: vegetable stands, the smell of fish and meat and the calls from friendly shop owners. However, upon closer examination, one can also feel the vibrations of new life pulsing through the veins of each alleyway.

In 2008 the Gwangju Biennale commissioned a group of artists to live and work in Daein Market. Since then, the metropolitan and federal governments have supported this residency project. Assisted by director, Cho Seungki, artists and coordinators work year-round to produce and present art right inside of the market.

Part of this project is to provide Gwangju citizens with a twice-a-month (first and third Friday and Saturday) night arts and crafts market.

The Daein Night Market epitomizes Gwangju as the “City of Art”. It’s delicately interwoven with the course fibers of tradition. Quietly calling to citizens, it asks them to participate in art however they see fit; dancing to live music, buying handmade crafts or visiting a few galleries. Art in Gwangju does not attempt to compete with the neon signs and K-pop blasting on every city corner. It lies like hidden treasure waiting to be found.

For future night markets and directions you can visit (Korean language only).


Resources: Gwangju News

What to do This Weekend: The Big Language Chess Race Edition

Photo courtesy of Speakeasy.

Photo courtesy of Speakeasy.

The Big Day South 2015 cultural Festival runs Apr. 24-26 in Ulsan. Encompassing the creative worlds from music to art, poetry and spoken word to movie making, and theater to photography, this festival will allow Koreans and foreigners alike to showcase their talents. A weekend pass costs 20,000, but single venue entry tickets are available. Members of the Gwangju Performance Project will attend, performing Apr. 26 at 2 P.M an original play called Apogee, written by Gwangju’s own David and Rachel St. John. Pre-sale Tickets are available at this link. For more information, check out the event website or the Facebook event page.

Speakeasy downtown is hosting Jazz Night Apr. 24 starting at 10:30 P.M. Come out and enjoy live music to kick off your Friday night. Check out the Facebook event page if you have any questions.

Picture courtesy of Mariya Haponenko.

Picture courtesy of Mariya Haponenko.

Mariya Haponenko has planned a male nude model drawing class Apr. 25 from 12:30-2 P.M. at the GIC in room 7. Returning model Joe from Canada will be posing for the art class this week. All materials will be provided with the 10,000 won class fee, but feel free to bring your own supplies you want to try out. Ask your questions on the Facebook event page.

This week’s GIC Talk is France in Korea: Similarities and Differences, by Solene Heurtaux. Stop by the Gwangju International Center downtown in the Samho building on Apr. 25 at 3 P.M. to gain some insight as they compare the two countries. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of Salt Art Gallery.

Photo courtesy of Salt Art Gallery.

Jenny Jung and the Language Lounge have planned Movie Night Part Two on Apr. 25 from 4 -8 P.M. The afternoon kicks off with a showing of The Avengers: Age of Ultron at Megabox downtown, followed by dinner at B Plan. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

Salt Art Gallery is hosting the Seokjin Kim: photo exhibition opening on April 25 from 6-8 P.M. Seokjin Kim is a history teacher and photographer who lives in Jinju. In this series, he depicts Korean students’ struggle with competition, compliance, and desire of socialization. The series won a grand prize at the 4th Gyeongju Contemporary Photography Camp. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.

The Gwangu Chess Club is getting together Apr. 25 at 7 P.M. at the First Alleyway restaurant downtown. If you are interested, bring along your chess board and test your moves again the chess gurus of Gwangju. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

It’s Zumba Tuesdays!  Cailin Noble is leading a class Apr. 28 at 7 P.M.The cost is 5,000 won. For more information check out the Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Club Bohemian.

Photo courtesy of Club Bohemian.

Walking After U returns to Club Bohemian downtown on May 1 at 8 P.M. Supporting acts include Alien City and Heavy Gauge. Advance tickets are 15,000 won, 20,000 at the door, which includes one free drink.. To purchase advance tickets call, 137-107-202259. For more information call 416-1006 or 010-4605-0334, or check out the venue website.

Salt Art Gallery is hosting volume 2 of Bulgasari Gwangju on May 2 at 4 P.M. It will be 2 hours of musicians and performers on a chill Saturday afternoon. Plan ahead so you don’t miss this one. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.

The second annual Damyang Bamboo Festival Amazing Race competition takes place May 2 from 1:30-5 P.M. Space is limited to 50 teams of 3-5 people. There will be a free bus, lunch and t-shirts provided. There’s over 1,500,000 won in prizes up for grabs, so get your team together! For more information check out the Facebook event page, or go to the website to register.

The Collaborative Book Club will be meeting May 10 at 1 P.M. at the First Alleyway Restaurant to discuss the book sci-fi/fantasy book Ready Player One By Ernest Clive. This gives you a couple of weeks notice to get through the book before the discussion. If you have any questions, contact Chris Bleeker through the Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of the Collaborative Book Club.

Photo courtesy of the Collaborative Book Club.



People You Should Know…in Gwangju: Lorryn Smit

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit


This weeks segment is about an extremely talented photographer.  Her work has been recommended to me many times and, after looking at her work, I can see why.  I’m sure you’ll be able to as well.  Here, in her own words, is Lorryn Smit…a person you should know in Gwangju.

What do you do here in Gwangju?

I am a photographer specializing in wedding and family photography.  I  freelance for a few publications including the Gwangju News.  As well as being  the chief editor at Photographers in Korea magazine,  I also run their social media accounts.

I also co-own a postcard venture called Bohemian Korea: selling postcards of mostly Gwangju and the surrounding areas in Jeollanamdo.

What did you do before you took up your current job?

​I was working as a waitress in a local restaurant for about 4 months.  I had finished up at university and was waiting for my paperwork to be processed so that I could hop on the next plane to Korea.​

What has been your most rewarding achievement?

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

​I think life right now. I’m healthy, happy and I’m on the road to making a living from my passion. This is something that a lot of people dream of and so I consider this to be an achievement.

What do you do for fun?

Well, of course my favorite thing to do is take pictures, but Noraebang and 치맥 (Chicken and beer) are right up there too!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

Lived in Korea. Haha. Not too long ago I got into a taxi on my way to a meeting and the driver starts asking me the normal “where are you from” set of questions. Next thing he asks “do you like noraebang?”  He whips out a remote (that also serves as his mic) and starts singing my favourite noraebang jams.

I will always hope that this guy would pick me up again…

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

Any family? Pets?

​I have a dog who I probably take way too many pictures of…​

What is something you wish you could do?

​Not wish so much as hope… I hope that in the near future PIK magazine is able to be published and turn into a thriving business. We have put in a ton of work into this project and it would be nice to see it become stronger.

Is there any person you admire?

​Person? No. I admire people who work hard for what they want.​ It makes me very happy when I read about people who have put everything they have into a project and finally succeed.

Any personal code you live by?

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

​I believe we should be kind to​ one another. Helping each other is a win-win situation and life as it is, is hard and we don’t need to add anything else to that.

What’s your “perfect” day in Gwangju?

When my “to-do list” is empty and I can just enjoy the day.

Is there any place in Gwangju you recommend?

I don’t really have a specific place that I like to go to in the city but I guess now that the weather is great the Bienalle has a lot to offer (coffee shop, restaurant, lake, park, exhibitions). It’s an all round relaxing place.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their life?

​Live abroad. I think that you find out who you really are and what you are capable of.

Any advice you want to give the people of Gwangju?

​Make an effort to learn a little Korean and what is respectful in their culture. We are after all living in a country that is being very good to us for the most part so the least we can do is try to be respectful of the people and their culture.

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

Photo Courtesy of Lorryn Smit

Where to Eat Wednesday: 라멘만땅

When I’m in a certain mood, there’s nothing I find as comforting as a piping hot bowl of ramen. No, I’m not talking about the packaged stuff that requires nothing more than hot water and three minutes, though that stuff will sometimes do in a pinch. The type of ramen I need and love needs to adhere to a few simple, yet vital rules. First, the broth needs to be good. Bad broth equals bad ramen, and no one wants any of that. Second, the chashu, which is the slices of pork that is often found in traditional ramen, needs to have its own flavor outside of what’s in the broth. Third, and this is the most important rule for me, the egg that comes in my bowl of broth and noodles must not be fully cooked. Hard boiled eggs are great, but I don’t like them in my ramen.


I recently visited 라멘만땅 (Ramen Manddang) in hopes of finding that bowl of noodles that could satisfy my craving for salty carbs. The place came highly recommended, so I arrived with high hopes. I also dragged a few friends along to help me with the tasting process. Though my trips to to Bongseondong have been limited, the restaurant was fairly easy to find. The overall setup of the restaurant, including the decor, the signs, and even the limited seating space, reminded me of some of the local ramen shops I’d often visit during my time in Japan.

After we were seated, we were immediately greeted by the owner, who spoke fluent English. Though the menu was in Korean, he was more than eager to assist us with translating and even gave some helpful recommendations on what to choose. Considering how many delicious looking options there were to pick from, his guidance was appreciated. Not only were there different types of ramen featuring broths with bases like soy sauce, miso, salt, and pork bones, but there were rice dishes, sides, and other staples of Japanese cuisine as well. We ended up getting the 도리가라쇼유 라멘 (Torigara Shoyu Ramen), the 돈꼬츠 라멘 (Tonkotsu Ramen), the 타이완 라멘 (Taiwan Ramen), the 가츠동 (Katsudon) Set, which came with both pork cutlet over rice and a bowl of shoyu ramen, 치킨 가라아게 (Chicken Karaage), and 야끼교자 (Yaki Gyoza). We also ordered some warm sake, because why not?

MenuWarm Sake

Once our orders were placed, it didn’t take long for our food to arrive. Since most of the ingredients for each bowl of ramen were the same, outside of the broth, I made sure to focus on getting a good taste of everyone’s soup before letting them eat in peace. The first taste I had was from the Tonkotsu Ramen, which is traditionally made by simmering pork bones for a long period of time. I was happy to see that the broth was milky and opaque, which I’ve learned is a good sign when it comes to bone broths. The flavor was rich and porky, and none of the toppings took away from it. The oil in the broth was a bit on the heavy side, and I would have appreciated some bits of burnt garlic, but it was still a lovely bowl of ramen. The Taiwan Ramen, which was actually my bowl, was mildly spicy without going overboard. The slow burn combined with the clear, clean broth made this dish a little lighter compared to other noodle bowls I’ve had in the past.

Tonkotsu RamenTorigara Shoyu Ramen

The Torigara Shoyu Ramen, which is made with soy sauce and chicken broth, was my favorite. The clear broth was addictive and savory without getting too salty. The bits of fried tempura bits added a lovely contrast in texture as well. Overall, I was pleased to see that every bowl passed the broth test. Each bowl came with bouncy noodles, a grilled piece of chashu that I wish I had more of, and a soft boiled egg that pretty much guaranteed I would be returning in the future.

Taiwan RamenKatsudon Set

As much as I wanted to like the Katsudon that came in the set, I wish there could have been a little more of the flavorful sauce that traditionally sets this dish apart from all the other rice dishes. The Chicken Karaage, which is basically Japanese chicken nuggets, was properly fried and stayed juicy on the inside. It was good enough to have on its own, but a squeeze of lemon and a bit of sauce made it extra delicious. The Yaki Gyoza, also known as fried dumplings, came deep fried. Though I prefer to have my Japanese dumplings pan fried, what we got was still delicious. The warm sake, which even I had a bit of, helped round out the entire meal.

Chicken KaraageYaki Gyoza

When it came to passing my rules for ramen, 라멘만땅 definitely passed. Though I won’t say they’re authentic enough for me to cancel my next trip to Japan, they definitely had some of the best ramen I’ve had in Gwangju. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this restaurant to parties larger than four, as it is fairly limited in terms of space. That being said, if you ever find yourself in Bongseondong and are craving one of the greatest comfort foods in the world, it’s definitely worth stopping by.

Address: 광주광역시 남구 봉선동 144-8 (near the Mudeung Park Apartments)
Phone: 062-430-7757
Hours: 11:30AM to 10:00PM
Average Price Range: 7,000 to 9,000 for ramen