Gwangju Blog

Outdoor Skating Rink in Gwangju City Hall Opened as of Christmas Eve

An outdoor skating rink located outside the Gwangju City Hall in its culture square opened its doors for the second year in on a row on Christmas Eve.
Previously operated throughout the last winter season from December to February, the outdoor skating rink at Gwangju city hall is expected to attract a surge of visitors and citizens to Gwangju’s one and only outdoor skating rink.
This year, the skating rink will be opened from Christmas Eve to February 15, and function as a great leisure spot for local adolescents and children, as well as adult skaters, throughout the winter season.
Along with the opening of the ice skating rink, a playground located at the city hall will be opened for citizens.
Price of tickets to the ice skating rink is set at 1,000 won per hour. Citizens of Merit, the handicapped, and those from lower income brackets will receive a 50 percent discount on their admission tickets.
Tickets include admission to the skating rink and rental fees for skates and helmets.
The ice skating rink will also be equipped with a cafeteria, a medical emergency room, and a rest area.
Operating hours for the skating rink are set at 10 a.m. through 8 p.m. from Monday through Friday, with closing time extended by 1 hour and 30 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays.
Please check the image below for detailed information on operating hours and ticket prices.


Where to Eat Wednesday: King Kong Cutlet & Steak

If there’s one thing that’s a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, it’s themed restaurants. Though they don’t always have the best food, it’s always fun to marvel at the thoughtful decorating decisions that went into setting these places apart from the rest. Due to such places being so rare in Gwangju, I can’t help but get excited when I do see a place that has even the slightest potential to satisfy my need for such tackiness.

FrontKing Kong

I first passed King Kong Cutlet & Steak back when it was in the process of opening. Now, when I think of the name King Kong, I think of large apes, lots of screaming, and cheesy movies. The idea of fried cutlets and steak had never really crossed my mind, but the restaurant’s giant sign combined with the fun artwork that adorned the walls leading to the entrance definitely grabbed my attention.


On a snowy evening, I went with my favorite dining partner to finally check out the restaurant. Though we had arrived with expectations that the place would be somewhat fancy, we were rather surprised to see a dining area in what I’m pretty sure used to be a night club. Despite the unusual setting, the romantic and somewhat classy atmosphere worked. While this wasn’t exactly a themed restaurant, the King Kong motifs could be found everywhere from the decorations to the menu itself.


Speaking of the menu, it did not disappoint when it came to offering delicious looking pictures, English names of each dish, and reasonable prices. Though the restaurant’s specialty was indeed cutlets and steak, there were so many other options like pasta, salad, and rice dishes. Some of the tasty looking choices that caught my eye included the Ricotta Cheese Salad, the Mafia Chicken Rose Pasta, and the Diablo Chicken Steak. While temptations ran high, we decided to go with what we originally came for. We ordered the Snow Cheese Roll Cutlet and the Pork Belly Steak. I also got a Lemonade after drooling over the refreshing looking drink pictures.


After we placed our orders, it didn’t take long for my drink and the usual sides consisting of kimchi and pickles arrived. Soon after, we both received some cream soup and two pieces of bruschetta. The soup was nice and warm, and the addition of sliced almonds helped elevate the flavors some. The bruschetta, which was made up of thin slices of toasted bread that had been topped with tomatoes, greens, tuna, and a balsamic glaze, was a little odd, but decent overall. Personally speaking, I could have done without the canned fish.

Not too long after we finished our small appetizers, the rest of our food came. Both dishes looked absolutely scrumptious and came with a side of rice. I first tried the cheesy pork cutlet, which came drowning in sauce and had fried vegetables and a salad on the side. I was rather saddened to see that my salad came topped with a blueberry yogurt dressing, but the rest of the vegetables were quite good. I was also a little worried at first when I saw the amount of sauce on my cutlet. Thankfully, the sauce that had been used was not the overpowering tangy sauce that can often be served with dishes like these. What I got instead was a savory and mild tomato based sauce that had streaks of mustard in it to add another layer of flavor. The warm sauce went beautifully with the tender pork and melted cheese, giving it a chicken parmesan-like quality.

Snow Cheese Roll CutletPork Belly Steak

The pork belly dish was something else. Though we had expected thick cuts of pork belly, we didn’t think we’d receive something that I could only liken to holiday ham. Served with grilled vegetables and even some pineapple, the two large slabs of smoked pork belly that had been finished off on the grill came topped with a sweet, soy based reduction that tasted a lot like teriyaki sauce. While the mess of sauce was a bit on the sweet side for me, my dining partner, who had been craving sweet holiday ham for years, devoured each and every bite. Each bite of the pork was tender and delicious, and the combination of lean and fatty pieces made the entire meal rather luxurious. Some of the grilled vegetables, such as the onion, were a bit intense, but the pineapple was quite possibly my favorite.

Overall, our experience at King Kong Cutlet & Steak was a nice one. Even after we finished our meal, we sat around chatting for what seemed like hours while enjoying a 90’s R&B playlist that we wanted to steal from the restaurant. The relaxing setting combined with tasty fusion food that came out tasting pretty good made for a nice and unexpectedly romantic meal. Though possibly not the ideal spot for children, I would recommend this to parties of six or less looking for a nice place for lunch or dinner.

Address: 광주광역시 동구 황금동 78-9 (located on Wedding Street near Cafe Drop Top)
Phone: 062-228-7890
Hours: 12:00PM to 10:00PM (break time at 4:00PM to 5:00PM excluding weekends)
Average Price Range: 15,000 to 25,000 per person

Essentials with JD # 169 **LOVE 911 **

love 911

Just a couple of days till 2015 and the countdown has begun.


For many Korean’s watching the sun rise on morning of January 1st is a huge tradition but unfortunately according to our GFN news desk the weather might not play along. Check out below


First day of the New Year to See Snow in Gwangju and Jeollanamdo (from

“A band of snow showers are forecast across Gwangju and Jeollanamdo on the first day of the New Year, ….snow showers are in store from December 31st to January 3rd in Gwangju and Jeollanamdo.

Snowfall is predicted from the 31st and subfreezing conditions and gusty winds will continue to persist for the rest of the week into the New Year.

As for the weekend, mostly sunny and clear skies are forecast but conditions will remain cold with the lowest temperatures dropping down to -5 degrees Celsius in Gwangju.”

If you are like many out there who will be having a huge New Year’s Eve, staying put and recovering on the 1st might be a great idea. So snuggle up and watch 반창꼬 / Bandaid or Love 911 which is all about finding complicated love, loss, betrayal and missing the one you love which was a huge hit about 2 years ago.





Gwangju: Keeping Tradition Alive

Flute artisan Kwang Chun Soo in his workshop. Photo by Lorryn Smit

Flute artisan Kwang Chun Soo in his workshop. Photo by Lorryn Smit

Words and photography by Lorryn Smit

The South Jeolla Province and Gwangju are home to many cultural landmarks and traditions. I recently had the opportunity to learn about one of these beautiful traditions: the making of the Korean flute. Kwang Chun Soo works quietly away in his workshop making the traditional Korean flutes danso, sogeum and daegeum. The danso is small like the sogeum, but is played straight down like a Western recorder rather than to the side like the daegeum and its smaller brother. The daegeum has a unique feature named chung, a reed concealed under a decorative metal cover. It vibrates when the sound reaches a high pitch. Each flute is made from hand-selected bamboo which is then dried for one year. Kwang then works his magic and crafts the beautiful instruments by hand in his workshop here in Gwangju.

Kwang describes it as one of the easiest Korean traditional instruments to learn but many young Koreans are not interested in playing the danso. “It’s not a subculture. It’s Korea’s own traditional culture … if someone gets interested in traditional food and traditional music they’re going to love it.”

What to do this weekend: Holiday Food Coma Edition

Photo courtesy of Viscocity records

Photo courtesy of Viscocity records

Soultrain downtown is running a Christmas Hangover event Dec. 26 from 10:30 p.m.-1 A.M. there will be electronic hiphop, jazz and R&B by DJ Twelvey, Marshall Bang, and Visco City. There will be drink specials on cocktails and tequila-3 for 10,000 won. For more information contact Kim Hong Jun through Facebook.

Mariya Haponenko will be running a nude female model drawing class Dec. 27 at the GIC Center downtown from 12:15-3 P.M. All materials are provided with the 10,000 won workshop fee. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

Pedro Kim is running an all-day ski and snowboarding trip to Muju Ski Resort on Dec. 28 from 7 A.M.-8 P.M. Basic cost of the trip is 108,000 won, which includes transportation, full day life pass, ski or snowboard rentals, beginner ski lessons, and food and drinks. The group will meet in front of Lotteria at U-Square at 7 A.M. For more information on what to bring, and how to reserve your space, check out the Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of Mariya Haponenko.

Photo courtesy of Mariya Haponenko.

Ring in the new year watching the sunrise in Yeosu. The Impo Village area is holding the Hyangiram Sunrise Festival on Dec. 31. Activities include traditional gukak music, a sunrise singing contest, a dance festival and more. For more information check out the Visit Korea English website.

Gwangju’s favorite band Malarkey will be playing at German Bar on Dec. 31. at around 11:30 P.M. Here’s your chance to check out their classic covers as well as some new numbers they have been working on.  There is no cover for this event.

Photo courtesy of Pedro Kim.

Photo courtesy of Pedro Kim.

Holiday Event Leftovers

The Boseong Green Tea Plantation Light festival will run through Jan. 25. The rolling fields of Boseong are brightened with Christmas lights and themed light exhibits such as an enormous Christmas tree, the Love Galaxy Light Tunnel, the Green Tea Themed Street, and more. Admission is free for the festival, and the hours are Mon.-Thurs. 6-10 P.M., And Fri. and Sat. 6P.M.-Midnight. There are special extended hours until Midnight on Christmas Eve, and on New Year’s Eve, the lights will stay on all night until 7 A.M. the next day. For directions, check out the Visit Korea website in English.

Malarkey photo courtesy of Waygook Photography.

Malarkey photo courtesy of Waygook Photography.

The city of Gwangju outdoor skating rink in front of the city hall Culture Square will be open until Feb. 15., 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. Mon.-Thurs., and from 10 A.M.-9:30 p.m. Fri-Sun., and will cost 1,000 won per hour.

You still have a chance to sign up for the 1st Session of the GIC 2015 Korean Classes that start Jan. 5 and run through Feb. 21 for 7 weeks. Registration is first come, first-served basis. For more information, check out the registration link or the GIC Facebook page.