Gwangju Blog





Yesterday marked the end of this year’s international music festival. Held at the Asia Culture Center, and now appropriately named the ACC World Music Festival, the event has been through a number of iterations in the past decade. At times stressing either local talent or larger international acts, the event has been a mainstay of summer life in Gwangju for the past nine years. While other similar events may deliver the goods talent-wise, you also must bring your wallet. Experiencing quality live music in South Korea is rarely cheap, and almost never free for the listening. However, this music fest in Gwangju thankfully bucks the trend.

Costing nothing but your time, the world music festival brings out locals for a balmy evening spent on the gassy incline which makes up the roof at the northern end of the complex. However, due to the typhoon on the horizon, events moved indoors, with lawn chairs replacing the ubiquitous blankets which festival-goers often bring to the party. While typhoon Solic proved more bust than boom, the events eventually went off without a hitch.

The photo above was taken at the culmination of the last act to perform on Friday evening. The crowd had slowly petered out after eleven, however those that remained were treated to soothing vibes emanating from a Spanish jazz-fusion quintet. There are few times when I am more grateful to have access to such events. As the Koreans say “service” to mean something free that is included with your purchase, last weekend left me feeling slightly unworthy of such a gift. Nevertheless, I enter this week with a slightly more pronounced sense of pride to be in a sense, ‘local.’ As the summer enters its final weeks, there will surely be more events to come, and more opportunities to visualize a fleeting glimpse of life in Gwangju.


[Photo taken with an aging Nikon d600. Far from the best full-frame option 2013 had to offer, this camera still puts out the goods at iso1600. I used a Zeiss ZF 50mm f2 MAKRO for this image. Luckily a shaft of light caught the spectator in mid-clap, with a palpable sense of appreciation on his face. Yes, the highlights are blown out, and even this Zeiss glass could not compete with the sometimes sub-par resolving power of this aging sensor. Yet, the feeling is there, fuzziness and all. The same applies to my experiences in Gwangju over these past few years.]


(Image & Text by Marty Miller)