Gwangju Blog

Gwangju City to host Civic Festival for New Year at 5.18 Democratic Square

Gwangju Metropolitan City has stated that the ‘2015 Civic Festival for the New Year’ will be held at the 5.18 Democratic Square on the 31st from 8:00pm to 1am on New Year’s Day.

The festival has been created by a task force team consisting of 14 event organizers and citizens while various events including a bell ringing ceremony and a citizen’s ensemble are scheduled to take place.

At the bell-ringing ceremony, old democracy activists, children who were born in the year of the Monkey, multi-cultural families and Goryeo-in will attend the event and ring the Democratic Bell 33 times in tune with the New Year’s countdown.

What to Do This Weekend: New Year’s Celebrations!

Happy New Year Gwangju!

I know I’m a day early, but I have to let you know all the ways you can ring in the new year here in Gwangju. Let’s get started.

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

It’s time to break out the fancy clothes because Speakeasy is going to usher in 2016 in style! On Thursday, December 31st, Speakeasy will be holding its New Year’s Eve Ball. You don’t have to dress up like Cinderella, or her Prince Charming, but if you do then you may be eligible for a prize. Besides, it’s fun to get dressed up for the last night of the year. Cover charge? I don’t think so! Famous Speakeasy drink specials? Why of course! Plus, D.J. Jamie will be making sure that the dance floor is full. For more information, and directions on how to get to Speakeasy, please see their Facebook event page here.

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

I heard from a friend that Loft’s Christmas party was a great night. You can be sure that they will try and out do themselves for New Year’s Eve. Since 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, Loft is going with an animal theme. Anyone who comes in an animal costume, print, or animal decorated clothing, gets a free drink! So, break out that reindeer sweater that you got for Christmas and head to Loft 28’s New Year’s fiesta. For information, and directions, check their Facebook page.

Maybe you prefer the lounge vibe? Then Getsome  in the Sangmu area can help make your New Year’s Eve chill. Start the night off in their lounge, which is open until 11:30, and then watch the giant bell being rung in Seoul when club time picks up immediately after the lounge closes. For more information about what is happening on New Year’s, check out their Facebook page.

Tequilaz will be getting into the New Year’s Eve action as well. They’ll be raffling off bottles of tequila, and at the strike of midnight everyone will get a tequila shot! They will also be having drink specials as well. For more information, and directions on how to get to Tequilaz, check out their Facebook page.

Courtesy of City Hall

Courtesy of City Hall

Before all the New Year’s Eve shenanigans, you might want to hit the ice. I know a lot of people enjoyed skating at the outdoor rink in front of City Hall, and you can too! The cost is 1,000 won per person (must be six years or older), and skating times run from 10 a.m. to about 8 p.m. For more information on how to get to City Hall, please look at the picture next to this post.

The New Year’s weekend is a great opportunity to head down to the Gwangju art cinema and catch a movie. There’s always a wide variety of indie and foreign movies playing right here in Gwangju.  For more information about what’s playing, check their Facebook page here.

John Jackson is a local photographer whose work you have probably seen all over the city. He was running a temporary gallery exhibition in December, but due to popular demand it has been extended! You can check out the Farther East Gallery this Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information about the gallery, please check his profile here from Nancy’s column on the Gwangju Blog.

However you decide to celebrate New Year’s, I hope it’s a safe, and happy one. I’ll see you all in 2016!

People You Should Know in Gwangju: Yunoo Kim

Yunoo near the Tibetan Museum.

Yunoo near the Tibetan Museum.

Name:  Kim Yunoo

Occupation:  Calligrapher

Hometown:  Gwangju

Length of Time in Gwangju:  almost my whole life

I have never been able to . . . dance well

A great book I would recommend is . . .  Illusion by Richard Bach.

The show I am most likely to binge watch is . . . Bering Sea Gold on The Discovery Channel.

The food I make that I am best known for is . . . stir-fried noodles and vegetables (Japchae).

On my days off I like to . . . clean everything using baby wipes.

My favorite movie is . . .  The Mood for Love by Wong Karwai.

Do you belong to any clubs in Gwangju?

The “Rock Music Club” at Chonnam National University. I joined when I was a freshman. It’s been many years now and we still meet but don’t listen to music, just drink and chat about career, life, etc. It’s almost prohibited to talk about music now!

What is the oddest job you have ever had?

First Love

First Love

I’m not sure which one is odder. I worked in the Tibetan Museum in Boseong as a curator and I was a DJ for 5 years in several music clubs and cafes (Goks, Cico, Klaatu, The Beatles, Ricky Martin) in Gwangju. I loved both jobs. Thinking about odd things, maybe the first one, because I was wiping thousand years-old bones even until midnight to prepare exhibitions, and I was not scared at all. That was odd and I scared myself.

Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you.

If I have any interests in a certain area, I don’t stop just as an interest. People say learning something is always good and shouldn’t stop until you die. But I can say mine is like a sickness. After endless interests and learning, I have 20 kinds of licenses (soon) and a poor bank account.

Another one is an attachment to cleaning. I have to clean the house at least once a day (if I don’t, the dirty part will show up in my dreams), so sometimes I feel like I am “Monica.” BTW, Monica has a secret closet room in the kitchen, which is full of shitty stuff, things never can be arranged. I have a place like that too.–that’s my workroom, haha! One day Caleb went inside and said, “What chaos!”

Describe your favorite travel destination.

Thailand. A trip to Thailand is always right. I’ve traveled 3 times there now and I stayed two weeks with Caleb last year, and I reconfirmed it is the best place for me. Unfortunately, I had to travel on crutches many days (I got in an accident and got a broken toe), but still I like Thai beer, affordable massages that I can do every day, beautiful nature, and more beautiful minded people. That’s Thailand. I will be in north Thailand next month with my lovely handsome 3 guys (Caleb, Sahn and Jin). I hope I can visit again in the future, too, and I hope Thailand is open for me to choose as a country to live in when I get old.

Caleb and Sahn.

Caleb and Sahn.

What business do you run in Gwangju?

I work as a calligrapher under the name “Yunoo Calligraphy

How long has Yunoo Calligraphy been operating in Gwangju?

It’s been 2 years now.

How did your business begin?

I majored in Art until high school, and I also love Korean letters. They’re beautiful, and I love stationery (don’t say it’s childish!). Doing calligraphy fulfills many of my interests.

What is the best part of your day?

When Caleb suggests we watch American series together with a glass of wine or beer.

When my son Sahn comes home from daycare in a good mood and says “I love you, mom.”

When my second son Jin smiles at me or when he’s not throwing up after his meal.

When the delivery guy delivers my things.

And like once a week, after all the chores, like feeding my little boys, Caleb comes home and I go out for a drink. I normally go to the downtown bars alone or with my neighborhood and high school/university friend, my partner-in-crime Kyungmi Lee, and drinking monk, Al.

What can be the most difficult part of your day?



Sometimes I don’t feel like grabbing any brushes, even for many days. I want to do it when I’m willing to, but sometimes, unavoidably, I just need to work. In that situation, it’s hard to think of any good ideas and I don’t like my calligraphy either. That is the most difficult thing.

Do you have any volunteer or charity work you perform for the community?

It’s been 12 years now that I’ve volunteered or donated to 2 Buddhist communities. One is “Jabi“that volunteers for solitary old people in the Dong-gu district. Another one is “Life sharing” that volunteers for people who have blood cancer, or need an organ donation.

When I started, I volunteered making weekly side-dish boxes for solitary old people, shooting portraits of people for when they are deceased (yes, before they die), and helping them look nicer for the shoot. I don’t do these now sadly, but still I donate to them.

What are some future plans you have for your business?

Talking about the future of my business, prospects and profitability, need to be thought about. But the future of my business is in a tunnel. I didn’t start just for the money, so if I can make any money, I am happy. Certainly I’m making some. If I have to say, I started to give some air towards all of my art desires, and I like to communicate with people who love all kinds of art.

Are there any places you can recommend in Gwangju that a lot of folks don’t know about?

Calligraphy frame

Calligraphy frame

I can think of only one related to places-services-experiences. It’s a BAR! Yes, I love music and drinks. One of my favorite bars is located in 1-ga in downtown named “Kino,” and another one is on Art street, close to Joong-ang Elementary school, named “Sound of Music.” KINO has cheap drinks (Jack & Coke is 5$ only), electric darts, and free billiards. Most of all, the owner has a wide knowledge about any kind of music and you can request songs too. Sound of Music is a Korean style building (Hanok) bar. They have a diverse wine collection, vacuum-tube speakers, and antique music equipment. The owner of Sound of Music loves tea and incense as well, and can make them. I suggest you go there and listen to Diana Krall’s Under My Skin through vacuum-tube speakers on a snowy day (there’s windows on the ceiling too)!

Where to Eat Wednesday: Raj

Though the year is coming to an end for many of us, that just means new beginnings for others. This definitely goes for new establishments around Gwangju that are willing to take on the risk of trying something a little different. As someone who is hoping to get to try these places and possibly help them grow, I welcome their attempts at surviving in an unforgiving and difficult market.

I was completely unaware of the fact of Raj’s existence until a couple of cool people who live near the Chonnam Backgate area advertised its grand opening. Though I’ve reviewed Indian restaurants all over Gwangju, I believe this is the first one I’ve seen to that has opened up in that particular area. Considering how cold it’s been, the thought of having warm curry and naan for dinner was incentive enough to force me to make my way out to the busy university area.


The location was a bit tricky to find, as it was not on the main street or near any of the spots I frequented. With a bit of walking combined with my usual refusal to give up, my date and I eventually found the brand new restaurant. Lucky for us, once we started heading in the right direction, the big sign, large windows, and the words “INDIAN RESTAURANT” left us with no doubts that we had found the right place.

Once we arrived and took our seats, I went about my business and looked through the menu, looking to see what all was available. Though the laminated English and Korean menu didn’t have as much variety as other Indian restaurants I had visited in the past, it seemed to have a good idea of what the local favorites are. When it came to curries, options included Butter Chicken Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala Curry, Prawn Curry, Vegetable Curry, and Palak Paneer. Other menu options included different types of Naan, BBQ Chicken Tikka, and an assortment of Curry Pizzas. While all of the options looked pretty interesting, what got my attention was the very affordable Lunch & Dinner Thali Set, which came with the Curry of the Day, Green Salad, Naan, Rice, and a Plain Lassi for under 10,000 won. We ended up ordering one of those sets, a Butter Chicken Curry, and an order of BBQ Chicken Tikka.

MenuLunch & Dinner Thali Set

As soon as our order was received, the owner of the restaurant went right to work in the kitchen. From where I sat, I could see him working hard to bring us our meal. Considering how empty the kitchen was at the time, it did take a little time for our food to come out. As we received our curries, we were informed that the owner was actually waiting for a chef from India to arrive in a few months, and that the food would be much better then. While the meal I received did seem to have a bit of a local touch, it certainly wasn’t bad. The Curry of the Day in my set was the Vegetable Curry, which came with peas, carrots, and an assortment of vegetables that had become quite soft after cooking for a long time. This curry reminded me a bit of the curry I’ve had in Japan and even South Korea without having too much sweetness added to it. The salad it came with was alright, but I found myself really enjoying the rice, which I believe had been colored bright yellow due to the addition of turmeric. The Plain Lassi, though small, offered a nice and tangy contrast with just a touch of sweetness.

Plain LassiButter Chicken Curry

The Butter Chicken Curry, which we paid full price for, was surprisingly not much bigger than the curry we received with our set. Still, it was nice to see that it too came with that lovely yellow rice. The curry itself had chunks of flavorful chicken swimming around in the buttery, mild sauce that begged to be used as a dip. Speaking of which, with our order came a healthy serving of regular Naan. It had been freshly rolled out and baked to order, giving it a bit of a crunchy exterior with a soft interior. Though it tasted a little doughy and had a bit of a thick consistency, it still went nicely with the curry. Due to all the carbs we had at our table, it did get a little difficult to finish.

Plain NaanBBQ Chicken Tikka

While we were fairly full at this point, the last of our order, the BBQ Chicken Tikka, arrived before I could regret requesting it. Next to a bed of salad were six juicy pieces of chicken that had been marinated, skewered, and cooked before being placed on a smear of hot sauce. The chicken was incredibly moist and piping hot. The single slice of lemon it came with provided a freshness to the spicy protein. Though it may not be the proper way to enjoy such a dish, I was left wishing this dish came with some rice, as the heat and lack of variation in texture could have been helped with some carbs.

Overall, Raj was a fairly positive experience. Though it certainly wasn’t the best Indian food I’ve had in Gwangju, I can only imagine the relieved sighs coming from those living near the Chonnam area, as they will no longer need to go all the way downtown or to Sangmu to get their fix. Due to the small kitchen size, larger groups will need to wait longer for their food, but the restaurant certainly has the space to host such parties. At this point, the only thing I’m left wondering is how much the menu will change in the future, especially with the addition of a new chef. Maybe a second review will be in order by then.

Address: 광주광역시 북구 용봉동 161-45 (across from So Delicious)
Phone: 062-252-2200
Hours: 12:00PM to 10:00PM (break from 3:00PM to 5:00PM). Closed on Sundays
Average Price Range: 7,000 to 12,000 per person

Essentials with JD # 215 **NEW YEAR WARDROBE UPDATES**

최근 업데이트

2016 is upon us and for many it is just a few weeks before vacation time and possibly jetting off to a tropical destination. For others it is time to get ready to ring in the new year. Both however mean time for new outfits or a little wardrobe update for 2016 the year of the RED Monkey!


And it is great news that H&M is having massive reductions up to 70 % off on a variety of clothing perfect for a New Year’s party. With prices starting at 7000 and up for separates for both men and women you don’t have to spend all your holiday budget on looking great this Thursday evening.


This is also good time to stock up on some accessories and cheaper ‘trendy’ items to update your wardrobe with poncho’s starting from 9000 won, one piece dresses from 15000 won and for men bowties from 7000won, ties from 5000 won and winter hoodies from 9000won.


Another plus is that not only is it easier to find International standardized sizes but they also have some summer items on sale including vests, t-shirts and swim shorts in limited quantities if you are planning ahead.


H&M is located downtown in Chungjanro across from Lotte Cinema close to First alleyway as well as Zara. 동구 충장로 72 (광주와이파크점), 광주광역시, 501-718, 대한민국


Look great and save some money for that well deserved January vacation.  


Stay warm  and safe and have fun.