Gwangju Blog

A 400 Year Old Friend

Zelkova Tree monument, Sogu, Gwangju photo by Joe Wabe

Zelkova Tree monument, Sogu, Gwangju photo by Joe Wabe

The main reason we like trees is because they are both beautiful and majestic. No two are alike. Different species display a seemingly endless variety of shapes, forms, textures and vibrant colors.

Even individual trees vary their appearance throughout the course of the year as the seasons change. The strength, long lifespan and regal stature of trees give them a monument-like quality. Most of us react to the presence of trees with a pleasant, relaxed, comfortable feeling.

Standing firm, like a king in front of his people, in the heart of Gwangju (Sogu, Yodok-dog) with his magnificent presence above the other village houses; it is easy to spot a 400 years old Zelkova Serrata tree.  Its important community value, made the city declare it a monument in 1982. This amazing life form rises 18 meters above the ground with a 4.4 meter trunk and provides the local village with a strong and guardian-like presence.

The  Zelkova serrata tree (Korean: 느티나무 neutinamu) is a species of flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, eastern China and Taiwan. According to statistics data investigated by Korea Forest Service in 1989, the most numbers of old trees over 500 years were Zelkova serrata, while more than 10 old trees have been registered as Natural monuments of Korea.

Sitting by this majestic tree, and thinking about the amazing history that lies behind it, is overwhelming. How many of your childhood memories include the trees in your backyard or old neighborhood? The sentimental value of a special tree is simply immeasurable.

The 2014 Gwangju World Kimchi Festival is Just Around the Corner!

Kimchi Festival Poster




1ST PRIZE (1 TEAM): 300,000 WON
2ND PRIZE (2 TEAMS): 200,000 WON
3RD PRIZE (2 TEAMS): 100,000 WON
4TH PRIZE (2 TEAMS): 50,000 WON


Spaces are limited for 50 teams so send in registration right now.

To sign up as a team, you will need team of 3 to 5 people!

Discover wonders of the Kimchi and learn all about Korean traditional culture.

You can download the registration form on here and email the form to

Weekend of September 26: Culture Edition

Photo courtesy of USqare Cultural Center

Photo courtesy of USqare Cultural Center

The culture complex at USquare has some great performances and art exhibits going on right now. First up is a Korean drama called All About my Wife. This performance started Sept.19 and will continue through Oct. 19 in the Hall Place Garden. The recommended age for this event is 15 and up and seats are priced at 30,000 won. For more information call 062-360-8437 or check out the website.

The Kumho Gallery at USquare currently has a high school painting art exhibition on display from now until Sept. 30. The gallery is open from 10 A.M.-7:30 P.M. For more information call 062-520-8835 or check out the website. The admission to the exhibit is free.

The Gwangju Asia Content and Entertainment Fair (ACE) is at to the Kimdaejung Convention Center until Sept. 28. There will be exhibits and seminars on a wide range of industry areas such as broadcasting, games, animation and more. Hours for the exhibition are 10 A.M.-5 P.M., and admission is 5,000 won for adults, children are free. For more information or directions, you can consult their handy English website.

Club Bohemian is hosting their latest concert series at their downtown club on Friday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 P.M. Your 20,000 won entry fee covers an all-accoustic set called The New Beginning with three different bands sharing the stage for the night. For more information and directions check out their website.

Photo courtesy of Cafe Bohemian.

Photo courtesy of Cafe Bohemian.

Calling all geeks! It’s finally here! Alleycon 2014 takes over Gwangju this weekend. Starting with a casual meet and greet at the First Alleyway restaurant on Friday, Sept. 26 at 7 P.M., the next day is when the geekiness really sets in, with an all-day event out at Kwangju Women’s University from 9 A.M.- 8 P.M. There will be role play games, video game competitions, board games galore, and a dedicated art room so you can try your hand at being creative. There will be vendors selling art, books, food and drinks, and a photo stand so folks can get pics with their friends. The 20,000 won entry fee is more than covered with the deals and discount coupons to local vendors and restaurants include in your registration bags. Pre-registration ends today, but there are still a few walk-in spots available. For more information check out the Facebook group.

Photo courtesy of Alleycon 2014.

Photo courtesy of Alleycon 2014.

This week’s GIC talk is on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 3 P.M. is The Art of being Fully Human, with Dana Han, a professor from Chonnam University. She will share wisdom and advice from the book Living, Loving, Learning with Leo Buscaglia.

The 2014 Asia Culture Forum started in 2006 to join together many Asian countries to encourage cooperation and competition to strengthen all the member countries. This year’s event will take place Oct. 1-2 at the Convention Hall at Chonnam University, with the theme of Cultural Prosperity and Mutual Growth of Asia. Many cultural experts from 12 countries will participate. For more information about the event, check out the website. To pre-register for the event, check out this link.

Autumn Tourism Week (September 25th-October 5th) is HERE

Since 1980, the United Nations has designated every September 27th as World Tourism Day, to celebrate the economic, cultural, social and political importance of tourism.

This year, 155 member countries in the United Nations World Tourism Organization will host memorial and celebrative events and South Korea will host its own official celebration of Tourism Day this year.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has designated a certain period of time each spring and fall as ‘Tourism Week’ to encourage travelers nationwide to travel across the country.

This autumn season’s tourism week falls on September 25th to October 5th and throughout this period nationwide municipalities, governmental organizations, and tourism associations will cooperate in offering major discount rates on various tourism attractions, accommodations, and other convenient facilities.

The city of Gwangju will also join hands with the national government to provide an array of ‘Special Gwangju Tour Programs’ this fall, aimed at attracting travelers from across the nation to our city to enjoy a variety of tour programs, experience events, cultural performances, and artistic exhibitions.

Representative tour programs include historical and cultural trips to find traces of General Kim Deok-ryeong, who gathered and organized civil troops in Gwangju to fight against the Japanese army when Japan invaded Joseon during the Imjin War.

Other experience events that will be available to tourists include a special Kimchi-making experience at the Gwangju Kimchi Academy and a variety of handicraft activities that will allow visitors to make their own fans, kites, ceramics and dyed goods using natural substances.

Exhibition and performance programs for tourists will also be offered throughout the tourism week at the Gwangju Museum of Art, including an animation exhibition.

News of the Week: September 25, 2014

Gwangju to Prepare Integrative ‘China-Friendly’ Policy

The city of Gwangju recently finalized an integrative municipal plan for a ‘China Friendly’ policy that is aimed at promoting greater cultural, economic and political exchange with China.

A total of 6 major projects in 18 categories will be carried out under the leadership of Gwangju Mayor Yoon Jang-hyun over the next four years.

The 6 major projects include the establishment of Hallyu or Korean Wave tour infrastructure using local cultural tourism content, the promotion of Gwangju through the East Asia Cultural Hub City project, the revitalization of cultural and artistic exchange with China, and the building of a China-friendly urban environment for Chinese tourists.

Upon the finalization of the integrative plan, various China-related projects such as the Gwangju and Jeonam Joint China Tourism Belt, the China Culture Center Gwangju branch and China Street in Gwangju will be conducted throughout the leadership of the incumbent mayor, Yoon Jang-hyun.

The city of Gwangju will also facilitate its medical tourism infrastructure, targeting Chinese tourists through medical tour coordinator, interpretation, and a global health care information center along with the construction of a foreigner-only duty free shop.


Honam Express Railway to Stop at Gwangju Station

The Honam Express Railway or Honam KTX that is scheduled to open next March will include Gwangju Station as a stop for trains whose last stop is located at Gwangju Songjeong Station.

Currently, there are two KTX train stations that serve Gwangju and the soon-to-be opened Honam KTX line linking Gwangju and Seoul only included Gwangju Songjeong station in Gwangsan-gu previously, raising concerns for great inconvenience for residents of Dong-gu and Buk-gu.

In response, the city of Gwangju will push ahead the ‘Switchback’ method that allows trains arriving in to Songjeong station to move backward to Gwangju station. Finalization of the plan will be made in November.

In addition, the city of Gwangju will host a task force team meeting to revitalize Gwangju station and promote Honam KTX’s inclusion of Gwangju station.

When Honam KTX is complete, a total of 48 KTX trains will travel through Gwangju Songjeong station daily.


Screen Doors to be Installed in All Stations on Gwangju Subway Route 1

The city of Gwangju has announced plans to secure national funding of 8 billion won to install screen door facilities in Gwangju subway route 1, which are designed to secure greater safety and promote safe use of subway trains.

The Platform Screen Door is a safety installation that automatically opens and closes subway train doors when the trains are departing and arriving.

A total of 9 stations, including Sotae Station, were previously not equipped with screen doors due to cost considerations.

Urban railway officials in Gwangju City Hall reportedly visited the National Assembly and Transport Ministry in Seoul early this year to secure national funding for the installation of screen doors.

Installation of screen doors in all stations on Gwangju subway route 1 will be carried out during the remainder of the year.


Asia Culture Forum to be Held from October 1st for Two days at CNU

The 2014 Asia Culture Forum will be held from October 1st for two days at the convention hall in Jeonam National University.

A total of 24 culture and artistic experts from 12 countries in Europe and Central Asia will take part in the discussions on ‘Cultural Development in Asia and Sustainable Growth of Cultural Contents in the Region’.

The opening ceremony, set to be held on October 1st, will feature an opening video produced by Gwangju-based media artist, Yi Yi-nam and welcoming speeches by Gwangju mayor Yoon Jang-hyeon and the president of Jeonam National University, Ji Byeong-mun.

The Asia Culture Forum takes place annually to revitalize cultural contents through case studies of successful overseas cultural city creation projects as well as to promote greater networks between Gwangju-based cultural associates and their counterparts in overseas countries.