This past Saturday, Open Space Dreamers hosted their second anniversary party in a neighboring basement concert hall of the Daein Market. The floor was a bit damp from the rain and the July humidity had invited itself in from outside, but the room was filled with happiness and gratitude. Friends and families packed in to get a seat for a night full of performances from local musicians as video footage from previous performances were projected onto a wall near the stage. Although this creative space has only been around for two years, the depth of its service to the community is profound.
Normally, Dreamers hosts an open-mic style event every Saturday night for anyone who finds themselves veering through the bustling night market. There are some regular musicians and attendees, but the space is open and available as a sanctuary for all forms of artistic expression. Sometimes there are dances, poetry readings, album release parties, and even fundraisers that have helped out a variety of groups such as the Gwangju Performance Project and other individual causes. In as much as there is a celebration of individualism, there is also a strong sense of unity for peace and understanding. But a gem such as this didn’t just fall from the sky, it was created from the mind, heart, and soul of Gwangju’s own Tae Sang Park.
Many may know him by his faded red cap and jovial spirit. With a seemingly never ending supply of energy, Tae Sang keeps a steady trail of projects in motion at all times. While he readily gives his time and efforts generously, he remains humble and praises others freely for their involvement in the community. As someone who has accomplished so much and brought so many people together, the story behind Dreamers is in the spirit of Tae Sang.
He is theoretically from Gwangju, but he claims his roots in a deep connection with Mongolia. Four years ago, he was going through a period of deliberation. He had already been working at the local migrant workers center for six years, but felt a calling to travel toward Mongolia and Siberia with some colleagues from the migrant center for a cycling and camping trip. Several of his friends promptly told him not to go. They insisted it would be dangerous and that he might even die, but as Tae Sang traveled through and spent time with the people around Mongolia he found that the people there were hardly any different from most Koreans he knew back home. Many of the locals accepted him with an open heart and would help him during difficult times of the trip. They knew he was from Korea and did what they could to make him feel at ease. On the flip side, there were also those that judged him for his skin color and the fact that he was a foreigner, which also paralleled the cultural rationale of many of his fellow Koreans back home. It were these moments and epiphanies that lead to his goal of having a public place in Gwangju where Koreans and foreigners could interact and find their common ground. With the help of a few friends, Tae Sang opened Dreamers in 2015, gracing it with a name taken from the John Lennon song, Imagine.
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you join us
And the world will live as one
As a functioning non-profit, Dreamers has gone on to organize music performances for festivals, parties, temples, and gatherings of all kinds throughout Korea. After a successful tour to Jeju this past April, Tae Sang has his sights set on returning to Mongolia this October for a set of concerts with a small tribe of some of Gwangju’s most talented musicians. Tae Sang still works for the migrant workers center and remains heavily involved in bringing people of various cultural backgrounds together. On top of that, his keen photography work has been on display at several events to exhibit the vivid scenes of his journeys and the people he encounters. His exhibition display at the anniversary party captured so many of the joyful moments where people from all walks off life found themselves breaking down the walls of misconception, prejudice, and fear. Tae Sang’s photography helps to document his very active life, and also brings serious attention to his talent as an artist, as featured below.
Meet the man for yourself this Saturday, and other fellow dreamers from around the world for a night of music and stories.