Gwangju Blog

What to do This Weekend: Five Angry Bohemian Bears Edition

Photo courtesy of GPP.

Photo courtesy of GPP.

Meg the Yoga Yogi has planned the “Savor Sip Om” social at the Salt Art Gallery July 17 at 6:30 P.M. Along with some Yin Yoga, the event will include dark chocolate mindfulness practice, and some wine to round out the evening. Contact Meghyn at the Yoga Yogi website to see if there is still room to sign up.

This is the weekend for the first musical in the Gwangju Performance Projects’ history July 17-19 at Gwangju Art Hall. “The Last Five Years” will be performed this weekend only, so don’t miss out! Tickets are 15,000 at the door. For more information check out the  Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of Club Bohemian.

Photo courtesy of Club Bohemian.

Club Bohemian is hosting several live music acts and special performances in the next several weeks. July 17 features a free show called the Sharp 3rd EP album Showcase at 7:30 P.M. July 18 is a special show called “A Solo Flight” which includes funk, jazz fusion, and smooth jazz. Call 062-416-1006 for more information and to make reservations. Bohemian has started a new ongoing weekday show at their venue through October. The next show is Alien City on Wednesday July 22 at 8 P.M. Tickets are 10,000 won. Call 062-416-1006 for more information and to make reservations.

Photo courtesy of Angry Bear.

Photo courtesy of Angry Bear.

Mariya Haponenko is holding a female nude drawing class with a live model on July 18 from 12:30-3 P.M. at the GIC. The cost is 10,000 won, and all materials will be provided. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

Alleycon is coming, Sept. 19 and 20! Hear more about this incredible event during the GIC Talk, July 18, at 3 p.m. at the GIC’s First Floor Auditorium! For more information on how to give a presentation for a GIC Talk, send an email to gictalk@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Malarkey.

Photo courtesy of Malarkey.

Speakeasy has added a live show July 18 from 8 PM-3 AM with Angry Bear and supporting act Gwangju’s own Malarkey. There will be awesome live music and probably a drink special or two, so check it out for a fun time!

The folks from Adopt a Child for Christmas Gwangju are planning their first fundraiser of the year July 25. The “Christmas in July” party will take place from 1-5 P.M. at Geumnamro Park downtown and proceeds will go to Adopt a Child for Christmas – Gwangju. Activities tickets will cost 5,000 won for 10 tickets and can be used towards various games, activities and more! Rain or shine. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of Adopt a Child for Christmas - Gwangju.

Photo courtesy of Adopt a Child for Christmas – Gwangju.

 

 

People You Should Know…in Gwangju: Anna Volle

Photo Courtesy of Anna Volle

Photo Courtesy of Anna Volle

Here’s the other half of one of Gwangju’s most visible couples.  She’s a dynamic performer of song, dance, and spoken word.  However, she’s just as comfortable behind the scenes as she is on stage.  Here, in her own words, is Anna Volle…a person you should know in Gwangju.

How long have you been in Gwangju?

I arrived in Gwangju with my husband Adam in February, 2012! We chose Gwangju because one of my best friends lives here, little knowing that it was the best choice we could have made in regards to city placement. #gwangjuroxxxx

What do you do here in Gwangju?

I am an EPIK public school teacher, so I do the teaching thing. I also do Zumba 3 nights a week – does that count for this question?

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

Before Korea, my husband and I managed a hostel in New Orleans, Louisiana in the USA for 1.5 years. Those were some wild, wonderful years – washing sheets, petting alligators, wrangling drunk guests… So many sheets… So many drunk guests… BUT WORTH IT. Turns out hostel management is my dream job: the job where my natural skills and favorite passions combine.

What has been your most rewarding achievement?

In Korea, without a doubt it’s the work I’ve been doing with the Gwangju Performance Project! If you don’t know about it, the GPP is an amateur performing arts group started back in 2010, and it has continued up to today through the passion and volunteer efforts of many members of this community. I had the pleasure of acting in 2 plays during my first 2 years here, which was sheer delight for this theatre major.  In 2014, I took over as president and kissed my social life and sanity goodbye. ALSO WORTH IT. I had my directorial debut in the spring of ’14 with the hilarious show Rumors (turns out that directing a full-length show was a bucket list item I didn’t know I had… CHECK.), produced all three 2014 shows, and facilitated a years’ worth of workshops on various performing-arts related topics. I’ve got a more backseat role this year as GPP Treasurer, but I’m incredibly excited about all the programs and shows we have on the lineup for this year! I’m super proud to be a part of Gwangju’s vibrant performing arts community. There’s a lot of talent and passion in this city. You can check it out here for more info, if interested.

What do you do for fun?

Photo Courtesy of Anna Volle

Photo Courtesy of Anna Volle

This year, I’m most often hiking, dancing, reading, or watching movies. But the list of things I find fun is loooong : extreme sports, watching documentaries about the food industry (the only horror movies I watch), dreaming about traveling, actually traveling, singing/dancing/acting, playing board games, wearing costumes, learning things, speaking French,  etc.

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

  1. A) I studied abroad in New Zealand and learned basic Maori language, and got to spend the night in a marae (which is a Maori traditional or sacred house, not typically open to non-Maori overnight guests)
  2. B) I was technically a Boy Scout from age 14-21 (as a member of Venture Crew 403, w00t!), during which time I hiked more than 150 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and tried as many extreme sports as possible.
  3. C) Went cliff-jumping. At night. During an impending thunderstorm. Did not die.
  4. D) Won a foreign language contest for homeschoolers and got to spend a week in Paris for my 16th birthday!
  5. E) All of the above.

Any family?  Pets?

Married to Adam Volle: the man who hung upside-down outside of my college dorm window in a suit, with a bouquet of flowers, while 2 jock athletes struggled to hang on to the rope  from the floor above. He’s my family. Back in the States I have some spectacularly lovely parents and in-laws, and 4 of the coolest siblings ever. My little sister Grace is in THIS band , my little brother Rob is in THIS band ,  my older bro Drew is an artist and designer at THIS sweet print shop, and my big bro Daniel is in THIS band.

Photo Courtesy of Anna Volle

Photo Courtesy of Anna Volle

What is something you wish you could do?

Play the violin, speak 7 languages, and do a full split.

Any embarrassing tales for public consumption?

Oh geez. Ok, it’s been JUST long enough that I’m not 100% mortified in the retelling of this one: My husband recently started working at a new elementary school, and a typical staff dinner one evening extended to having drinks with his new coteachers (unplanned). I called him to find out what was up, and upon hearing that he wasn’t coming home for a while I proceeded to let him know – explicitly, as spouses are occasionally wont to do – just what he was missing out on by not being home. I suddenly realized that I was being interrupted by NOT MY HUSBAND but a Korean man’s voice. Apparently at the precise moment before I started teasing Adam, a coworker had taken his phone away to encourage Adam to make his shot at the pool table. And I had been discussing my state of déshabillé with one of his new coworkers. Adam swears the guy was too drunk to understand me, but by god I will never be visiting Adam’s school.

Is there any person you admire?

To be honest, the first name that popped into my head is Ellen DeGeneres. That woman makes the world a better place. But I admire people who work hard when they want something. I admire people who are compassionate. I admire people who aren’t driven by appearances or other people’s opinions. I admire my friends. I admire my husband.

Any personal code you live by?

“Carpe diem.” It’s cliche, but it’s been my motivation since middle school.

What’s your “perfect” day in Gwangju?

Waking up when my body does, reading poetry with Adam over tea and breakfast in our awesome apt, going hiking for 3+ hours around Mt. Mudeung, reading books in the sunshine, having a meal at the Alleyway and playing some board games with friends there, and ending with a damn good movie – preferably in one of the swanky Lotte Cinema screening rooms.

Is there any place in Gwangju you recommend?

Photo Courtesy of Anna Volle

Photo Courtesy of Anna Volle

There’s this mountain that sticks out like a sore thumb on Gwangju’s skyline. Most people climb it at least once. You should totally do that. But it turns out there are a BUNCH of lovely, lonely side trails all around the mountain. If you crave some solitude, or just a ramble off the beaten path, check out those encircling trails.

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

Live outside of your comfort zone. And I mean really truly out of your comfort zone. Do something that not only challenges you but you aren’t even sure you can achieve.

Any advice you want to give the people of Gwangju?

Life is too f’ing short to hold grudges. People are going to occasionally baffle you, piss you off, enrage you. So: accept that, accept them. Move on, move forward!

 

Where to Eat Wednesday: Mono Cheese

When it comes to simple and satisfying, very few things offer more comfort than a grilled cheese sandwich. There’s just something about combining toasted bread with melted cheese that takes me to a happy place. Combine it with tomato soup and you have what I consider a small glimpse of heaven.

FrontInside

Though South Korea has yet to really jump on the tomato soup train yet, grilled cheese sandwiches seem to be growing in popularity, at least from what I’ve seen. A recent trip to Mono Cheese in the Chonnam Backgate area was the first time I got a look at this blossoming trend.

After being informed about a grilled cheese spot in Gwangju, I made it a point to check it out. Without doing much research beforehand, I invited a few friends to tag along with me. When we arrived, my face turned red upon seeing how small the space was, as well as the very limited number of seats. To put things into perspective, there were four of us, and only two out of six seats or so were available. On top of that, though grilled cheese sandwiches were featured, there was nothing on the menu that could have passed as a meal. Due to the lack of space and proper dinner food, half of my party split off to go to an actual restaurant, leaving the rest of us to dine on cheese and bread.

MenuCream Cheeses

The menu was not lacking in the least with cheese. Grilled cheese options included choices like the Classic, Ham Cheese, Honey Gorgonzola, Kaya Cheese, and more. There were a few paninis available for anyone hungry for a heartier option, all of which appeared to be served on squid ink bread (not to be confused with rye). One thing that caught my eye and turned me into a giggling mess was the Cream Cheese Hole. The oddly named choice was basically a bagel that came with one of the many different flavors of cream cheese, ranging anywhere from Pimento to Strawberry Black Tea. There was also a Salmon Cream Cheese Hole, which came topped with salmon and left me wondering what fish would taste like when combined with Nutella flavored cream cheese. The menu offered drinks as well, most of them being typical options outside of the intriguing cheesecake shakes. We ended up ordering a grilled cheese sandwich (Bacon Cheddar), a panini (Tomato Mozzarella), a Grapefruit Ade, and a Strawberry Cheesecake Shake.

LegosOrder

As small as the place was, it took a little longer than expected to get our food. That being said, I was mildly entertained by the decorations, which included Lego figures and a logo that my friend pointed out looks like a rabid Pac-Man. After some time had passed, we got our food hot and fresh off the grill.

I first tested my Bacon Cheddar sandwich apart to see if the cheese had been melted properly. It passed. The outside also passed at being nice and crunchy without going into burnt territory. As I bit in, I was taken back to a time when most of my meals consisted of processed cheese. Despite having “cheddar” in the name, the cheese was fairly creamy and didn’t have that sharp tang I expect from cheddar. The bacon wasn’t quite crispy, but it added a salty component. I personally like my grilled cheese sandwiches with a different type of bread, but the overall experience was nostalgic and fairly positive.

Bacon Cheddar Grilled Cheese SandwichTomato Mozzarella Panini

I then tried half of my friend’s Tomato Mozzarella panini, which came with proper grill marks and a healthy amount of cheese. Though the combination of juicy tomato slices and melted mozzarella was tasty, this was a bit of a messy sandwich. The wet ingredients didn’t fare so well against the soft bread which had been squished as it was grilled. I found that waiting a few minutes for the cheese to re-solidify definitely helped.

The surprising highlight of my meal ended up being the Strawberry Cheesecake Shake. Maybe it’s just been a while since I’ve had a nice, creamy shake, but I enjoyed every sip of this dessert drink. It was definitely richer than most other shakes I’ve had in the country, and the added pieces of cheesecake on top reminded me a lot of shake shops back in my home state.

In the end, Mono Cheese ended up being a better spot for a snack than dinner. We weren’t exactly satisfied after our food and ended up joining the rest of our party at a nearby restaurant to eat a proper meal. Still, I kind of wish this small shop existed close to my job, as I’d imagine some of those cheesy options would make for a great on-the-go breakfast or even a quick snack. Due to the small space and very limited seating, I would not recommend this place to any groups unless you’re ordering take out and plan to eat elsewhere.

Address: 광주광역시 북구 용봉동 160-15 (on the main street between Paris Baguette and Baskin Robbins)
Phone: 062-264-5798
Hours: 10:00AM to 10:00PM
Website: http://www.monocheese.co.kr/
Average Price Range: 2,000 to 3,300 for a grilled cheese sandwich, 4,700 to 5,300 for a panini

What to do This Week: Recurring Events in Gwangju

Photo courtesy of Zumba.

Photo courtesy of Zumba.

Cailin Noble leads regular Zumba classes at the GIC on Tuesdays and Saturdays. These classes are open to the public and there is a 5,000 won participation fee that goes to the GIC to cover costs for the space rental. There is a Tuesday class tonight from 7-8 P.M., on July 21, and July 31. The Saturday classes are usually 10:30-11:30 A.M. Check out the Facebook event page or contact Cailin for more information and for the summer schedule.

Speakeasy runs a regular trivia night every other Thursday starting at around 10:00 P.M. The next one is this week on July 16. Max teams of 5 people will answer questions on music, film, general knowledge, etc., to win a chance at winning the money pot at the end of the night. Cost is 5,000 won per person. If you work late and need some food before quiz, you can make an order with the First Alleyway restaurant and they will deliver to Speakeasy for you. Check out the Facebook event page for more information.

Graphic courtesy of Speakeasy.

Graphic courtesy of Speakeasy.

Tequilaz hosts an open mic night every other Wednesday (opposite weeks of the Speakeasy quiz) at 10 P.M. You can be brave and play music, tell jokes, sing–whatever! Or just come down and be a part of the audience cheering on the performers! Check out the Facebook page for more information.

Mariya Haponenko has been holding a great series of regular art classes for a while now on Saturdays from 12:30-3 P.M. at the GIC. This week’s July 18 session is a female nude drawing class with a live model. Get in on these events while you can, as there will be no art class on July 15, and only one or two more classes in August, as Mariya will be leaving Korea. The cost is 10,000 won, and all materials will be provided. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of Mariya Haponenko.

Photo courtesy of Mariya Haponenko.

The Gwangju International Center downtown hosts the weekly GIC Talk, Saturdays at 3 P.M. Every week a different speaker presents an idea or a topic to benefit the whole community. The lecture is followed by a Q&A session for the speaker, and to discuss the topic as a group. The GIC Talks are in English, and free and open to the public. If you would like to view a past talk, you can find the video, or photos. To suggest a topic or become a presenter yourself, send an email. This week’s talk will be given my Ana Traynin on the topic of “education in Korea.”

Looking for something a little more active? An indoor basketball club in Gwangju is recruiting basketball players for a Sunday league that meets every week from 9 A.M.-1 P.M. This indoor league has 20 active members, men and women, and needs some more players to round out their roster. Proper basketball shoes are required, and free beverages and shower facilities will be provided, though you must bring your own towel.. For more information, contact Sean Lee through Facebook.

Graphic courtesy of GIC.

Graphic courtesy of GIC.

The Daein Night Art Market in Downtown runs Fridays and Saturdays every 2nd and 4th weekend of the month up through the end of fall. Local artists, crafters and merchants sell and display their wares, while some folks will demonstrate their art techniques. There’s also plenty of great food and street musicians livening up the place. The next event takes place July 24 and 25 from 7-11 P.M. 

People You Should Know…in Gwangju: Adam Volle

Photo Courtesy of Adam Volle

Photo Courtesy of Adam Volle

This week we have a great couple of segments featuring one of the expat community’s  most visible couples.  Let’s start with the husband.  You’ve seen him on stage, you’ve likely read his work.  He’s often seen about but never far from his laptop.  From what I’ve read of his work, he needs it with him…so he can keep writing!  Here, in his own words, is Adam Volle…a person you should know in Gwangju.

 

How long have you been in Gwangju?

This is my fourth year; my wife Anna and I showed up in February of ’12. We actually would have arrived in ’10, if not for a few unfortunate decisions; it was always the plan to come specifically to Gwangju in Korea because one of Anna’s best friends is from here.

 

What do you do here in Gwangju?

I presently teach English at the Hwajeongnam and Yangdong elementary schools. I’m also starring in the Gwangju Performance Project’s forthcoming summer musical, “The Last Five Years.” And — that’s about it, really. Heh.

Sorry, that’s the funny thing about this interview — most of the reasons anyone might have had, I think, to consider me a Person You Should Know are kinda dated. if you had asked me last year, I might have added that I had a second job as an online teacher at the Office of Education, was the editor-in-chief of Gwangju News, ghost-edited a lot of other stuff around the city and regularly recorded for programming on GFN. But this is sort of my off-year. I ran a little hot in ’14 and am giving myself a break.

Photo Courtesy of Adam Volle

Photo Courtesy of Adam Volle

 

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

I managed a hostel for a year-and-a-half in New Orleans, which was every bit as fantastic and infuriating as you might imagine. To cop Dickens’s line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” We were working or on call twenty-four hours a day, six days a week; made money hand over fist, spent it just as fast in an effort to de-stress; won awards, broke up fights, sabotaged sex, cleaned blood off walls, helped people out of bad jams, screwed over others. Somewhere in it all Anna confirmed for herself that this insanity was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, so we’ve been saving up money so she can start her own hostel ever since.

 

What has been your most rewarding achievement?

In Gwangju? The year’s worth of Gwangju News issues I edited took a lot of hard work, and by the end of my run I had both met Mayor Yun Jang-hyun and helped write an interview with Governor Lee Nak-yeon. That’s cool; I’m glad I did that.

But really, I think I’m probably most proud of having figured out this whole teaching English thing. My first job post-university was teaching ESL up in Seoul, and I really do still feel pangs of guilt when I remember how terrible I was. It turns out I have a particular gift for teaching kids, though, and just needed to figure out how to apply it. If my wife and I weren’t planning on eventually opening up a hostel back in the States, I’d be tempted to get an MA in TESOL or Education and make a career out of it.

 

What do you do for fun?

I write stories, and hope to turn that into a second career down the line; I have two comic books being drawn right now. I also take Muay Thai classes 3-5 days a week, play volleyball with my fellow teachers and am rehearsing for the aforementioned musical.

 

Photo Courtesy of Adam Volle

Photo Courtesy of Adam Volle

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

You’re probably looking for something kinda far out, so I’ll say my protracted and ultimately successful campaign to marry Anna. I carefully and deliberately planned each of our dates in hopes of making them so memorable that whatever she thought of me, she wouldn’t want to stop going out. That year we explored a massive decommissioned factory at night and hid from passing security. A friend helped me build an illegal potato gun so we could try shooting it in a field. We went on a night-time cliff-jumping expedition and her brother backed me up on guitar while I serenaded her at her window. One thing after another like that, usually weekly, until I eventually popped the question. When I finally began running low on ideas and energy I started freaking out about it. Anna told me I could relax; she wasn’t going anywhere.

 

Any family? Pets?

In terms of immediate family, the only other person hanging around my apartment is Anna. And that’s fine for now.

 

What is something you wish you could do?

Decently speak Korean. I try not to beat myself up about it too much – I’m far from alone and I understand why it happens – but I still consider it my biggest failure here. I’m really embarrassed by it. I’m going to give it another try after summer break.

 

Any embarrassing tales for public consumption?

Oy. Yeah, OK.

After taking the first semester’s exams one year at my university, I once tagged along with this little group of guys who made a habit of going to a tanning salon. Nobody showed me how to use the equipment, so I made what I thought was the reasonable assumption that on a scale of 1-10, a normal guy could probably get away with a midrange number without sterilizing himself or giving himself superpowers or something.

The way I emerged from that bed looking, I would have been admitted to the rolls of any Native-American tribe on the spot. I made a beeline for Walmart, stocked up on fluids and microwave foods, borrowed every DVD collection I could get my hands on, then took advantage of my roommate having already left for the summer to spend the next several days naked in my room, because even wearing clothes was painful. The first night, I didn’t fall asleep until near-morning because lying on the bed hurt. Probably I should have seen a doctor.

Never again.

 

Photo Courtesy of Adam Volle

Photo Courtesy of Adam Volle

Any personal code you live by?

Well, one I try to live up to, at least. I don’t suppose I’ve ever put it into words, but: “active bravery”? Bravery is my favorite virtue, because by definition, it’s doing the hard thing, and so many other qualities we revere are often used as cover by people taking the easy way out. “I’m a jerk to others because I’m just too honest and real.” “It’s not that I don’t like conflict, I’m just so kind.”

Bravery is a progressive quality, too. No matter who you are or how much you’ve developed as a person, there’s always something out there that makes you uncomfortable (or flat-out want to pee in your pants).

And it’s life-changing: if you’re actively seeking to grow by doing hard things, there’s simply no way you won’t become a better and more interesting person.

 

Is there any person you admire?

I married my wife because I admire her. She’s my hero.

 

What’s your “perfect” day in Gwangju?

I’m sure it would include breakfast at The First Alleyway, which by definition would make my perfect day a Sunday, and that would be followed by a writing or reading session somewhere downtown. Otherwise, tho': I don’t know.

 

Is there any place in Gwangju you recommend?

It took me forever, but I recently got to the Gwangju Cinema. I love old theaters that show artsy flicks; I don’t know why I never went before. Guess there’s just too much else to do!

 

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

I don’t think there’s any experience more educational than living in another culture. I’ve no idea who I would be now if I hadn’t moved to Korea after graduating college. I’ll miss it when I eventually leave for good.

Any advice you want to give the people of Gwangju?

Yeah, y’all should really see that musical I’m going to be in, “The Last Five Years.” The thing is absolutely brilliant, hilarious and heartbreaking and just brilliantly structured – it’s been my very favorite play for years, no lie. I can’t believe I’m in it. You’ll love it, trust me.