Gwangju Blog

Weekend of February 20: Sleepy Seollal Edition

Photo courtesy of Language Lounge.

Photo courtesy of Language Lounge.

Jenny Jung from the Language Lounge is hosting a special Lunar New Year event on Feb. 21 from 4-6 P.M. called Coffee and Play. Participants will play a mix of traditional Korean games and classic card games. Feel free to bring your own and join in the fun!!! For more information check out the Facebook event page.

The First Alleyway restaurant is hosting a Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8 tournament on Feb. 21 starting at 8 P.M. Bring your own controller if you wish, or use the house equipment. This event is a fundraiser for the upcoming play A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer. The winner of each tournament will win bragging rights and two tickets for one performance on either April 4 or 5. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

Photo courtesy of The First Alleyway restaurant.

Photo courtesy of The First Alleyway restaurant.

Tequilaz is hosting an open mic night on Feb. 25 from 9:30 P.M.-12:30 A.M. Work up some courage and wow the crowd with your singing or instrumental abilities. For more information check out the Facebook event page.

For Future Fun

Photo courtesy of Elice.

Photo courtesy of Elice.

Elice (located on the second floor of Boongoos Bab Burger Café in Jisan-dong) is hosting an acoustic performance of local Gwangju bands on Feb. 28 at 7 P.M. Featured bands include Bandstar23, Garodeung Music, Uncle Soon, Pusol, and guest Woman No. 01. Advance sale tickets are 10,000, 12,000 day of show, which includes one free drink. For more information call 010-2318-0118, or contact Kim Jinsong on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of GIC.

Photo courtesy of GIC.

Registration for the second session of GIC language classes is now open until Feb. 28. Classes take place from March 7-April 18. You can choose from classes of various levels in Chinese, English Russian, Latin, and Korean. For more information on fees, schedules, and other policies, check out the GIC website, or contact Mira Kim at or 062-226-2733.


News of the Week: February 19, 2015

City Gas Fees to Fall by 10 Percent from Next Month

With the continuous downward trend of oil prices worldwide, the national government will bring down city gas fees starting next month.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, city gas prices will be reduced by 10 percent nationwide, the biggest reduction rate since 2002.

The recent change in the price of city gas fees comes as a result of the worldwide drastic fall in international oil price since November of last year.


Gwangju and Jeollanamdo Photographers’ Exhibition to be Held from the 25th

The Gwangju and Jeollanamdo Photo Journalists annual exhibition will be held at the Gwangju Shinsegye Department Gallery from February 25th to March 3rd.

With the theme, ‘View of the Sites’, the upcoming exhibition will display some 100 domestically and internationally shot pictures taken by Gwangju and Jeollanamdo-based photojournalists throughout last year.

Photo works on display include on-site pictures taken at the April 16th Sewol Ferry Disaster and the preparation process of the national Asian Culture Complex as well as the 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade.

The second round of the exhibition will be held at the Jeollanamdo provincial office building in its Yoon Seon-do hall from March 5th.


Media Contest Featuring Gwangju to be Held Once Again

Gwangju Culture Foundation will host its second Gwangju Media Contest that is aimed at collecting video clips featuring hidden places in Gwangju and promotional clips of the city called ‘Ojinggol’.

The contest seeks media work from the citizens and tourists of Gwangju to use for the promotion of Gwangju’s tourist attractions and well-known specialty foods.

January’s ‘Ojinggol’ event selected a promotional video clip that was shot in Yangrim-dong, which introduces historical and artistic assets located in the area, as the excellent award winning work, winning 100,000 won worth of cultural vouchers.

The second highest prizes went to Yeomju General Gymnasium and Asian Culture Complex for media artwork introduction clips. Both winning entries won 50,000 won worth of cultural vouchers.

Media clips of less than 1 minute are eligible for submission and video work shot by smartphones will also be accepted.


Gwangju to Translate Safety Guidance Signboards into Foreign Languages

The city of Gwangju will translate and post safety guidance signboards into foreign languages to secure and improve the safety and the overall working conditions among foreign laborers.

The city has announced it recently adopted customized multi-language safety guidance signboards to prevent possible dangers caused by a lack of Korean language ability among foreign laborers working in construction sites.

The city also predicted that the number of foreign construction workers will continuously increase and so the city has expanded the customized multiple language safety guidance posts installed in different construction sites across the city.

Where to Eat Wednesday: James Chicago Pizza

During the time I’ve spent in Korea, I’ve seen the most interesting food fads come and go with the changing seasons. Some have been managed to be quite delicious while others have left me with little to no desire to eat out. With said food fads, it seems only natural for the city to get an influx of new restaurants featuring whatever is popular at the time. So then, what’s the cool new thing of the moment? The answer appears to be Chicago style pizza.


Located only meters away from the beloved First Alleyway, it’s hard not to notice the bright lights of the new James Chicago Pizza. I won’t lie, I was quite hurt to see that this flashy new restaurant replaced my favorite ice cream guy. Still, the promise of warm, melty pizza on a cold day eventually won me over enough to give the place a try.

A few friends decided to join me when I finally went to pay the restaurant a visit. Once we arrived, we were happy to see that the large menu by the register had English translations, though typos and menu items like Energy Salad left some of us feeling a bit confused. We initially showed up for pizza, so we ordered the one and only pizza option they had without toppings (available toppings included chicken breast, salami ham, and shrimp). While placing the order, I noticed the side menu that offered other unique options like Bulgogi Fries, Bulgogi Kimchi Risotto, and Cheese Oven Spaghetti. Since my party was quite hungry, we ordered all of that as well.

MenuSelf Serve

After we placed our order, everyone sat down while I made my way to the self serve area. As with other similarly fashioned restaurants, we were given the freedom to get our own water, pickles, garlic sauce, and even strawberry jam. While some people may prefer having waiters, I have always been a fan of not having to wait for water refills.

Bulgogi FriesCheese Oven Spaghetti

Before long, the Bulgogi Fries arrived. What we got was a pile of french fries that had been topped with marinated beef, corn, peas, onions, some sort of tomato based chili sauce, cheese sauce, and sour cream. Though colorful, the taste was interesting, to say in the least. I personally would have preferred a little more simplicity, but we still ended up eating all of it. The next dish to arrive, which was the Cheese Oven Spaghetti, was more cheese than anything. While I’m usually not the type to have anything against large amounts of cheese, a few of us actually had problems trying to find pasta in the sea of melted mozzarella we had received. As expected with all dishes with large amounts of gooey cheese, it cooled down quickly and didn’t take long to go from a liquid to a solid.

Bulgogi Kimchi RisottoPizza

The Bulgogi Kimchi Risotto, which also had a fair amount of cheese, was a nice surprise. The meat, kimchi, and cheese somehow all went nicely with the rice. It should be noted that those of us with Korean genetics seemed to enjoy this dish more than the others. The final dish, which was the pizza itself, offered a different kind of surprised. Though I had been expecting a mess of cheese, tomato meat sauce, and slices of tomato on my pie, the ring of powdered sugar on the crust was not something I thought I’d see. I actually thought it was flour at first, only to quickly realize that the tables around us had been eating their crust like a dessert. I will admit that I’ve seen this practice outside of Korea and famous pizzerias back in the states, I prefer having the option to add sweetness to my pie instead of having that decision made for me. The rest of the pizza was fairly standard.

At some point during the dinner, there was an unfortunate mishap that caused the hot metal skillet holding the pizza to fall on one of us when the unbalanced stand holding it up fell over. Though no one was seriously hurt, it’s something one should be careful with when enjoying pizza that’s being held up over a small flame at all times. On the bright side, the employees were helpful and quickly brought over a bag of ice to help with the very minor burns.

Overall, James Chicago Pizza was decent. Though there are some things I would have personally changed, it turned out to be a decent place with a fair amount of seating available for larger parties. The non-pizza dishes were quite unique and may be worth trying at least once.

Address: 광주광역시 동구 충장로안길 4-1 (located on the same street as First Alleyway)
Phone: 062-226-8253
Hours: 10:00AM to 10:00PM (last order at 9:00PM)
Average Price Range: 19,000 for pizza, 12,000 for sides

Essentials with JD # 175 **SOLLAL – LUNAR NEW YEAR -새해 복 많이 받으세요 **


It is finally here and the day before the big trek begins. For many Sollal is a time to spend with family and friends. Much like Chuseok it is a holiday where people go back to their hometowns to pay ancestral rights and wish family health, wealth and happiness. That is if you are Korean of course.


For non Koreans though it is a long holiday and it might be a bit boring and some might have used the extra time to get out of the city. But for those who are here and want to experience the new year cheer and traditions why not go to the Gwangju Folk Museum which is situated on the Biennalle grounds where you can immerse yourself in some traditional games from the holiday.


According the the news team at GFN : The Gwangju National Museum will be opened from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. over the holidays from February 18th to 22nd and host various traditional folk experience programs and movies. Gwangju Municipal Folk Museum will operate Seollal holiday-themed folk culture experience programs such as Yutnori, Korean traditional shuttlecock game, throwing Tuho and top-spinning games.


Also don’t forget to indulge in a bowl of hot Rice cake soup to bring in the new year as “it is believed to grant the consumer luck for the forthcoming year and gain a year of age. In the book The Customs of Joseon written in 1946 by historian Choe Nam-seon, the New Year custom of eating tteokguk is speculated as being originated from ancient times. The white tteok signifying purity and cleanliness would be eaten as a ritual to start off the New Year for good fortune.”


So go ahead fill up and say 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (saehae bok manhi baduseyo) which means Happy New Year and I wish you receive lots of good fortune this year.






(sources / wikipedia)