Gwangju Blog

People You Should Know…in Gwangju: Lianne Bronzo

Photo Courtesy of Lianne Bronzo

Photo Courtesy of Lianne Bronzo

This week’s  person packs more into a day, it seems, than many do in their whole life.  Besides traveling, teaching, and trying out any hobby that comes her way, she’s also into fundraising…and all with a smile on her face.  Here, in her own words, is Lianne Bronzo…a person you should know in Gwangju.

How long have you been in Gwangju?
Since August 2012.

What do you do here in Gwangju?
Most of the time, I teach little people some words I know. I also moderate the Gwangju Freecycle  group and organize clothing swaps, write/proofread for the Gwangju News, and bake for ‘CAUSE Banana Bread . A portion of each sale goes to a local cause of the buyer’s choice. You might have tried some at Alleycon, Rumors, Freecycle, and the Sungbin Bake Sales.

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

While a full-time student working my thesis, I held five jobs at once (research assistant/lab coordinator, teaching assistant,  brain trainer, telephone poller, and newspaper delivery girl). All worth it, as it funded my first travels to Asia, which sparked my interest in coming back to live.

My most recent job was as a psychometrist in an outpatient rehabilitation center. I conducted neuropsychological batteries to find evidence for dementia or brain disorders resulting from traumatic brain injury or stroke. Please, always wear a helmet when cycling and motorbiking. I like your brain.

What has been your most rewarding achievement?

Photo Courtesy of Lianne Bronzo

Photo Courtesy of Lianne Bronzo

A tangible achievement was being awarded my university’s Senior Service Award which one student is selected per graduating class for volunteerism. The scholarship was nice, but it was mostly a time to reflect on my university years, the skills developed, and friendships formed as it was awarded at the graduation ceremony.

An intangible achievement is now being able to spend the day with my birth parents and communicate only in Korean.

What do you do for fun?

I love gathering people, organizing events, fundraising, being outside and trying new hobbies. While in Korea, I dabbled in rock climbing, swing dancing, painting, taekwondo, and tennis. After these experimentations, I learned my heart lies in bicycling, running, and hiking.

My other passion is travel, so when I’m not traveling, I’m reading about other cultures, studying Korean or Spanish, hosting CouchSurfers and planning my next adventure.


Photo Courtesy of Lianne Bronzo

Photo Courtesy of Lianne Bronzo

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
One of my most memorable experiences was CouchSurfing with a Mongolian family of six in their ger. They didn’t have running water, but they did have cows and Internet. There is a lot I could say, but I already did. Read about it here if you so desire.

Any family?  Pets?
My parents, sister, and brother are back in America. I reunited with my birth family in Korea in 2012, so I’ve been getting to know them while I’m here. Don’t have pets in Korea, but sometimes I chase cats around the neighborhood.

What is something you wish you could do?
I wish I could pick up every piece of trash on the ground and prevent it all from existing in the first place.

Any embarrassing tales for public consumption?
After teaching classes for the day, a woman from the vice principal’s office came into my classroom and pulled on my long skirt. It was tucked in my underwear all day. My coteacher, who didn’t speak much English, was too shy to tell me, so he got someone else to do it. Actually, I wasn’t really embarrassed. This kind of stuff happens to me often, but now I have a boyfriend who wipes toothpaste off my face and tells me my shirt is on backwards before I leave the house.

Is there any person you admire?
Many. In general, I admire people who are passionate and not afraid of failure. People who are chasing their dreams instead of always working for someone else’s dreams. People who smile and laugh more than complain and regret.

Any personal code you live by?
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”

What’s your “perfect” day in Gwangju?
It’s Autumn and foliage season. First, I’ll drink coffee and stretch. Then, take advantage of the beautiful day by cycling around with Adam until we find some new trails to hike. I’ll find a particularly gorgeous tree with red leaves and lay underneath with my Kindle, play chess, and eat apples. When it starts getting chilly, we’ll go home, cook something, and share it at a rooftop potluck party with friends.

Is there any place in Gwangju you recommend?
The new observatory in Sajik Park is neat for a sunset. Follow it by having a drink and listening to live music in one of the many intimate bars lining the street near GFN.

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

Photo Courtesy of Lianne Bronzo

Photo Courtesy of Lianne Bronzo

CouchSurf or host someone in your home from a different culture.

Any advice you want to give the people of Gwangju?

If you want to do something and it doesn’t exist, create it! The Gwangju community is quite receptive to new ideas and you will receive support.

I am eager to help others and give travel advice, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need help!

Where to Eat Wednesday: 1st Recipe

It may be harsh for me to assume, but I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone has experienced the dreaded surprise work dinner. While some of them may be awesome, others can be awkward and come with food you’d never order on your own. Due to the unexpected nature of such situations, when things go bad, they seem to go very bad. On the flip side, they can end up offering fairly pleasant surprises as well.


I was taken to 1st Recipe in what would turn out to be a last minute work dinner. After hearing a colleague rave about the place so much, we all felt it necessary to give it a try. Though I did find the name oddly reminiscent of another place I frequent often, I made sure to go in with an open mind.

Located on Wedding Street, the restaurant itself is quite easy to miss. I was left feeling a little foolish for never having noticed such a big place, considering how often I had walked past it during the many hours I’ve spent downtown. Those spots above ground floors always seem to be easy to miss.

When we entered, I was immediately charmed by the adorable and very personal interior. Filled with all sorts of toys, plants, and random trinkets, it was evident that whoever owned the place had put a lot of themselves into the decor.

Once we were seated, I flipped through the very convenient menu that came with both English translations and pictures. Though I had been expecting to see Italian inspired items like Cream Pasta with Mushrooms, Shrimp, and Bacon, as well as Gorgonzola Cheese Pizza, I was surprised to see less common dishes like Meat Sauce Lasagna (spelled Lazanya in the menu) and Olive Ravioli. Not only did the restaurant have pasta and pizza, but it also offered salad, pilaf, steak, side dishes, and a fair amount of alcohol. Going off of my colleague’s recommendation, we ordered the Fresh Salmon Sushi Pizza, the Pasta Vongole Al Rio Olrioh, and the Italian Beef Kebab & Fried Rice.

Drink MenuSalmon Sushi Pizza

The first dish to arrive at our table was the very unique Fresh Salmon Sushi Pizza. I initially had no idea how to approach this pretty, yet complicated dish that came with raw slices of salmon, apple slices, greens, mayonnaise, and chili sauce, all on a toasted thin crust. After a few failed attempts, everyone at the table figured it would be best to roll up each slice before attempting to consume it. Though I had been expecting the worst, what with all the sauces and unusual ingredients, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this pizza. I’m usually not crazy about raw salmon, but something about combining it with the crisp apple, slightly bitter greens, creamy mayonnaise, and the slightly sweet chili sauce made for a delicious, yet messy bite. Maybe this was a sign that my inner Korean is coming out?

Next came the Pasta Vongole Al Rio Olrioh, which my colleague had ordered despite not liking seafood. Her reasoning was that she loved the way the pasta was seasoned in this dish, and I was inclined to agree. Served with clams, squid rings, mushrooms, and a healthy amount of garlic, the noodles in this dish were tossed with oil that had been infused with roasted garlic, giving it a deep, charred flavor. The whole thing came with a sprinkle of pepper flakes and green onions to offset the richness of the dish.

Pasta Vongole Al Rio OlriohItalian Beef Kebab & Rice

Our final dish was the most expensive one. At 30,000 won, I was breathing a sigh of relief knowing that I wasn’t paying for the Italian Beef Kebab & Fried Rice. That being said, the amount of food we got for the price seemed pretty fair. Resting on a bed of fried rice came two fully loaded skewers that had mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and tender chunks of steak that had all been topped with melted cheese and greens. The dish came with a couple of extra roasted mushrooms and a salsa dipping sauce. As much as I loved the beef, which had been cooked to a beautiful medium, I found myself savoring the deeply charred vegetables. We were left feeling quite full before we could finish, only to end up leaving a few spoonfuls of rice behind.

At the end of the day, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed 1st Recipe. Though I went in concerned about the fusion aspects of the menu, each dish I tried was quite delicious, and had a nice, personal touch that set the food apart from so many similar restaurants. Though there is a fair amount of seating room, I would mostly recommend this place to couples and small groups who are okay with waiting, as there did seem to be a delay for our food. Either way, I hope to go back soon to try some of the other interesting looking menu items.

Address: 광주 동구 충장로안길 44-1
Phone: 062-234-4567
Hours: 11:00AM to 10:30PM
Average Price Range: 11,000 to 18,000 per dish (25,000 to 30,000 for steak and kebabs)

Essentials with JD # 188 **MERS UPDATES**


Hi everyone, I hope this finds you well. I thought I’d update you with a round of information local and national about MERS.


Of course firstly we wish that you stay safe and abide by the general rules regarding precautions about the virus. One of the best defences is to educate yourself on what is going on around and and keep updated and informed. Washing your hands regularly, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoid spitting, possibly invest in some hand sanitizer and for those who are extra cautious, wera a face mask for when you are out in public.


Here are some highlights from article in Korean Herald published on the 7th June 2015


“MERS is a highly contagious respiratory disease, caused by a coronavirus. The key symptoms of MERS include fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.


Initial signs of MERS are detectable from at least two to 14 days after the initial infection. The disease is not contagious until the symptoms emerge, according to the Health Ministry.


As MERS can spread through coughs or sneezes, mostly within at least 2 meters in distance, health authorities have urged the public to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing.


Washing hands with soap is the top priority for all, infected or not, the authorities added.


The ministry also advised avoiding physical contact with people with signs of fever or cough.


The ministry urged people who have been exposed at least once to a patient or suspected patient of MERS to call a health center and seclude themselves at home for self-guided quarantine, “for the sake of their family members and the community.”


Those who have had direct physical contact with the virus carrier or have visited Middle Eastern countries, the origin of the disease, within the past 14 days must seek a doctor to check for possible infection.


MERS-infected patients are to be put in quarantine for intensive care. Critical cases require breathing machines and hemodialysis.


Suspected patients are released from medical centers only if they do not show signs of fever or other known symptoms of MERS for 48 hours and their blood test turns out negative two consecutive times.”


(Read the full article here :


Locally here are some reports from the GFN news centre :


South Jeolla Province to Operate 49 Selected Clinics for MERS (Published June 8th, 2015)


The South Jeolla Province government announced yesterday that it will open 49 ‘Selected Clinics’ at 3 major local hospitals and other smaller medical institutions to combat the growing spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome otherwise known as MERS.


Public health officials will be sent to the designated medical institutions to coordinate emergency procedures in cooperation with local medical staff in case of local outbreak. The clinics will be on alert 24 hours a day and follow regulated procedures in identifying and containing MERS in their areas by providing immediate treatment and isolating suspected patients.


The South Jeolla Province will also start a social networking service to share the information with local administrative agencies, related organizations, and health care experts as well as with the rest of the local community in real time.


Other news :


FISU Reveals its Plan to Host the Universiade As Planned

(Published June 8th, 2015)

The main governing body of the Universiade, the International University Sports Federation or FISU sent an official letter to the organizers for the Gwangju Summer Universiade and participating nations across the globe saying the upcoming Universiade will be held as planned despite the recent outbreak of MERS in South Korea. FISU added that it has had previous experience in monitoring, preventing, and managing the deadly SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome during the 2003 Daegu Summer Universiade in close cooperation with South Korean emergency services.

For National news of course keep updated with

    • offers you the most up to date local and regional news in English on the website and listen to the live news broadcasts
  • 08:00 ~ 08:05, 10:00 ~ 10: 05, 12:06 ~ 12:10, 15:00 ~ 15:05, 18:06 ~ 18:10, 19:00~19:05


And if you are on twitter just search the #MERS for all the real time updates that you might need.

Stay safe, stay educated and don’t panic






Prize Out



It’s early morning, the air still brisk from an abnormally chilly spring night. The spring has lasted longer than expected this year. All in all, there was a solid eight weeks or so of weather worthy of a hoodie with shorts and flip-flop combo. As I drove back into Gwangju from my camping spot outside Naju, hunger called. Two nights of eating hobo dinners (essentially a Tabasco charred squash and prefab curry concoction burned to perfection) left me missing my bready-heady daily dose of saturated fat. I could feel my body coming down every-so-slightly off it’s carb-infused stupor, and all I wanted to do was to ingest the nearest loaf of bread. So, “thank freakin’ goodness for Lotteria’s early morning cuisine” I thought to myself as I steered the car into restaurant row in downtown Naju. Car parked = check. Enough cash for four cheeseburgers = check. Today was going to be alright. So, corner rounded, I strode up the ever welcoming entrance of Lotteria, its golden-rimmed doors glistening in the early-morning sun. The gates of (some sort of) heaven…..locked….for another hour.

Head spun, odometer checked, time to the nearest McDonalds in Nam-gu calculated and crossed checked for early-morning ajusshi traffic, divided by how much I really gave-a-darn about eating cheeseburgers at 8am verses the ready-made gimbap in the 7/11 across the street. Dejected, yet hopeful at the glory with which the Kraft-single-esque cheese would taste wedged between a patty and two portions of carbs, precious carbs, I decided to test my stamina, gamble that I could spend the next hour NOT thinking of a cheeseburger. So, in order to take my mind off the obvious, finding out what normal humans do at 9am on a Thursday morning seemed like a worthy distraction. At the time, it seemed like a worthy gamble, that the next hour could be well spent. I’m not a gambler, not by a long shot. Yet, I love watching other people gamble. It’s as if by some mere shred of osmosis, I can delight not in their winnings, but in their effort! The willingness to keep coming back to that table, machine, or doorstep (think star-crossed lover), shed some dim yet painfully honest light on the human condition. Yet, while my favorite show in high-school was “The World Poker Tour”, I, again, am not a gambler.

I hate the insecurity involved in putting something out there worth loosing (older age has taught me the trick to this very predicament is to convince yourself that you are indeed NOT putting anything of value out there at all). Yet, in this moment, while wandering around the streets nearby Lotteria, I found myself strangely exhilarated by the waiting. “Tom Petty got it all wrong, man” I thought to myself as I round a corner and was greeted by a shaft of light owning the alley between a small temple and a groove of evergreen trees. There was nowhere else I would rather have been. Those were 10 glorious minutes.

My phone confirmed, to my dismay, that fifty, yes 5, 0, minutes remained till the paper-hatted angel parted those gates, allowing access to the that sorry excuse for beef and an uncanny cheese-like substance wedged between two lovely carb-filled morsels of…..yea, you get the picture. So, “as come the peaks, so come the valleys” I thought to myself. As if on spiteful cue, the rising sun hid itself behind the pine trees to the left of the Lotteria, and left me adrift in waiting-land. Ten minutes of pure stalking of the Lotteria front door evolved to walking around a series blocks in concentric circles, hoping that 9am would just get on with it and come already. It didn’t. Mood soured, I rounded the corner of the last block to the right of the Lotteria, and there she was. Or rather, there ‘it’ (as in, the scene) was. Seemingly innocuous at first, an initial first glance demanded a return stare. A woman in purple, hair dyed scarlet stood abreast of gift-giving vending machine. Smart phone in one hand, joystick in the other, she pumped 100won after 100won coin into this contraption. It was enough. It was all I really wanted. I didn’t even have to know what she was aiming for. I stood silent, catty-corner to her, and watched her for the final 15 minutes until the opening of Lotteria. Gambling addiction or not, this striving for something as innocuous as an owl-shaped alarm clock, or “Hello Kitty” hand-sanitizer, or cell phone car charger, made this waiting a time of expectation, possibility, and dare I say it, joy.


(Thanks to my Ricohmatic 225 TLR for taking this shot. You kind, and most-likely dead Ricoh craftsmen of the 1950’s sure knew how to make glass which would stand the test of time. A joy to use this camera is. Simple as that. Gracias.)


(Photo and Text by Marty Miller)


What to do This Weekend: Bohemian Barim Bulgasari Edition

Photo courtesy of Salt Art Gallery.

Photo courtesy of Salt Art Gallery.

Salt Art Gallery is hosting Bulgasari Volume 3 at 4 P.M. on June 6. This is an open mic for experimental music and performance.  Come and see what it’s all about! Check out the Facebook page for more information.

Club Bohemian downtown is featuring a folk singer June 6 at 7 P.M. The cover charge for the event is 20,000 won. For more information call 062-416-1006 or 010-4618-7379, or check out the club Facebook page.

Barim is hosting the opening of the Residency 2015 International Artist Showcase, part 2, June 6 at 7:00 P.M., featuring a performance from Saori Ando at 7:30.  International artists from Japan, Germany, Australia, the U.S. and the UK have been staying at Barim since May, and the result will be on display from June 6-8. For more information, check out the Facebook venue page.

Tequilaz is hosting an Open Mic Night on June 10 from 9:30 P.M.-12:30 A.M. Musicians and entertainers of all styles can have fun showing off their talents. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of Barim.

Photo courtesy of Barim.

Since the GIC will be closed this week to celebrate the national Korean Memorial Day holiday, there will be no GIC Talk and other usual events taking place. Please join us next week at 3 P.M. for the June 13 GIC Talk “Celebrating Service,” where we will be honoring Al Barnum, the 2015 Recipient of the Michael Simning Community Builder Award, and the other nominees and finalists. Attendees are asked to wear Hawaiian shirts to celebrate the life of Michael Simning and his love for this unique fashion statement.

The summit of Mt. Mudeung will be opened to the public on June 20 from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. for the second time this year. A 0.8-kilometer section in Jiwangbong and Inwangbong will be opened and hikers will be allowed to make stops at the Nuebong (누에봉) and the front gate of the air force base station on the summit of the mountain. Hikers are required to bring and show their identification cards.

Registration for Alleycon 2015 will open on July 1 for this event Sept. 18-20 at the Gwangju Design Center in Bukgu. Watch for the official announcement coming soon.  For more information about the event, check out the Alleycon website.

Photo courtesy of Michael Simning.

Photo courtesy of Michael Simning.

The opening and closing ceremony for the 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade were unveiled yesterday in Seoul by the organizers and production teams for the ceremonies. Scheduled to be held on Saturday, Jul. 3 in the main Gwangju World Cup stadium, the opening ceremony will host an array of music, ranging from rock, a Korean traditional folk song of Minyo, and an electronic performances as some 13,000 worldwide university athletes make their official entrance. The closing ceremony, set to be held on Jul. 14, will feature performances by various K pop groups and performers as Shiny, Jinu-sean, Ullalla Session, Yuno-yoonho, and popera singer Yim Hyeong-ju. To buy tickets for these events and others taking during Universiade, go to the Interpark website.