Gwangju Blog





The doldrums, rainy days of summer, the end of the monsoons, the heat, all collude towards a slowing of life. In turn, we hominids tend to retreat into interior spaces. Not unlike the dead of winter, the ecosystem dictates our behavior if ways we may not have predicted just several weeks before. The weather is constant with its predictable summer rains and increased temperatures. However, within this predictability lays not only the realities of a warming climate, of which Gwangju and southern Jeolla Province is no exception, but rather the irrational hope that somehow this year might be different. For, when imagining the heat of August while enduring February chills, this time of year may seem not only preferable, but also not nearly as oppressive as it inevitably turns out to be. Therefore, each summer brings with it the initial joys of the suns rays, soaking into hardened skin, but also the necessary realization that we may yet again be no match for what the earth has to offer.

The photo above poignantly captures this simple act of retreat and the emotions it engenders. It is yet another rainy day, as the wetted windows clearly show. Behind their blurred panes, subtle textures of branches and leaves can be seen. Buttressed against a suburban mountain park, this scene is both indicative of Gwangju proper, but also could have been captured in countless locations on the peninsula.

These blinds half-cocked, rested haphazardly against the spines of books left unread; we have likely experienced a similar setting in our lives around Gwangju this summer. The lack of color also adds to the emotional impact of the image above. Its monochrome tones exude subtle hints of nostalgia for those times when we we thus stuck indoors with only our books and they visions they will undoubtedly implant.

At times, photos need not overwhelm the senses. In fact, as this photo shows, the opposite can often be true. Their power to underwhelm can open the looker to the more opaque, yet potentially instrumental emotions which define our experience of a particular location. It is these images which when we look at in our later years, can more sufficiently connect the emotions within our past with what we call the present. Perhaps such inner retreats are necessary to reflect on our experiences in this way. For that, this photographer gives a slight nod to the forces outside his window, all-the-while dreaming of the coolness to come.

[Image captured with a Contax T2 shooting Tri-x 400.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)


What to Do This Weekend: Open Mic, Gwangju Live, and a Way to Keep Cool!

Hello Gwangju!

Looking for something to keep you occupied this weekend? Well, then you’re at the right place! Let’s see what’s happening in our city.

Friday, August 11th

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

Loft 28’s weekly Open Mic night takes place every Friday. Those that are interested in performing only have to bring their own instrument, Loft will provide the rest of the equipment. Another incentive to participate is that you will receive one free drink! Before Open Mic begins, make sure you try some of their delicious homemade food. I understand their Jamaican Jerk chicken was a big hit at last weekend’s Youth Festival. If you need more details, then you can go to Loft’s Facebook page. Open mic night will begin at 10 p.m.


Photo Courtesy of Tequilaz.

Photo Courtesy of Tequilaz.

With the summer here in Gwangju you’re going to need a cool drink to help you out. OK, you’re going to need more than one cool drink! Tequilaz has come to your rescue with their bottomless drink specials! For only 12,000 (cash only) you can enjoy all the draft beers you want. Not a beer drinker? Don’t worry, they also have bottomless rail cocktails (again, cash only) for 20,000. Bottomless drinks plus Tequilaz’s great Mexican food? Not a bad way to spend a Friday night! If you need more information simply go to their Facebook page.

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Daniel Wallace will make his return to Gwangju Live tonight at Speakeasy. Regular attendees of Gwangju Live will know that Daniel was the first artist to kick off the series. If you’ve seen him perform live before then you know you’re in for a good time. If for some reason you haven’t, then get down to Speakeasy tonight!. Make sure to enjoy their happy hour specials which run until 11 p.m. The music will begin around 10:30 p.m. if you need more info, then go to Speakeasy’s Facebook page here.

Saturday, August 12th


The Gwangju-Jeonnam chapter of KOTESOL will be holding their August meeting today at Gwangju National University of Education. Their will be an extended workshop, and as always the chance to meet and network with fellow teachers. It’s a great way to get some ideas and tips that you can use in your classroom! The meeting begins at 1:45 p.m., and the workshop will begin at 2 p.m. The meeting is free, and if you are interested in becoming a member you can register while you’re there. For complete information about the meeting, please follow this link. You can also get details by going to their Facebook page.

You still have a week left to enjoy the mini water park that is set up at the Gwangju Citizen’s Forest in Cheomdam. It’s a great, and free way to keep the family cool during the summer. The park is  open until 5 p.m, and it is closed on Monday for maintenance.  The park is only open until the 20th of August, but like I said, that’s still plenty of time to take advantage of the fun. If you do go, get there early because parking is limited. Now if you need more details about the water park at the forest, all you have to do is type in “Gwangju Citizen’s Forest” in your favorite search engine.



Due to the heat the City has installed many tents around town at traffic lights or rest areas so that you can stay out of the sun. Well done Gwangju. Please also note that most water parks are scheduled to close down at the end of next week so make the most of it. Let’s hope they keep it open till later though.


Here are some other festivals going on.


The Fringe festival is back downtown at the ACC this week.

전주 Jeonju Ga Meak Festival (Beer festival) kicked off last night – run till this Saturday.


여수 Yeosu City will host the 2nd 여수 Yeosu Night Sea Fireworks Festival for 2 days from the 11th under the theme of ‘Night in 여수 Yeosu, and Stars.’

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여수 Yeosu World Expo’s representative entertainment Big-O Show and rainbow fireworks are prepared to welcome visitors.

The festival will also be broadcasted live on Youtube and Facebook.


순천 Sucheon City is preparing a party with DJs and food. The party welcomes any guests from the 11th to the 13th at its famous 순천만 Suncheon Bay Garden.


광양 Gwangyang City will also be holding an event called “Night of Counting Stars” from the 11th to the 12th at 광양 Gwangyang Port Ocean Park in commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of late poet 윤동주 Yoon Dong Joo’s birth and the 72nd year anniversary for the release of his poem Night of Counting Stars.


무안 Muan’s Lotus Festival 2017 will open its 4-day run on the 12th.

Various experience programs are ready for visitors and GFN will be hosting a tour around the festival site. If you are interested, register now at <>.

There will also be a concert in Jisan Dong Park with great music. So go and enjoy the outdoors

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GFN World Youth Festival – Armada Dance Crew

This past weekend, the World Youth Rock & DJ Festival was held at the ACC.  There was tons of food, an energetic crowd, and plenty of amazing performances. The acts hailed from all over Korea to bring together a mix of rock bands, DJs, K-POP, live painting, and dancing.

Courtesy of the World Youth Festival

Courtesy of the World Youth Festival

Although the main stage featured most of the action, there was a nice pocket of live entertainment and various tents at the area run by Butlers Korea. The company is known for being highly active in the community to help with traveling, moving, tickets, translation, and trouble-shooting of all kinds. Recently they’ve begun to focus on live entertainment and festivals in addition to their services. The head of the company, Daniel Choi, could be seen actively running the events on his side, while still socializing and dancing to the performances.
At one point, there was a brief threat of heavy rain, but Choi had a smile on his face as he and his colleagues quickly covered the speakers with plastic, proudly exclaiming, “I love my job!” Their efforts held up, and helped one of the top acts of Saturday to keep going. The Armada Dance Crew put on a high-energy show that turned heads and got the crowd moving. They were dancing to remixes of hip-hop, pop, soul, and EDM songs, but the progression of their dancing sequenced a story to perfectly enhance each song. Sometimes they would dance as a complete group, but other times they would revolve to do a solo or couple routine.
Armada Dance Crew's Joshua Wright

Armada Dance Crew’s Joshua Wright

The four member group is headed by Joshua Wright, who explained the story behind how this group got started. “I formed Armada, out of the pure need and want to dance with like minded creators.” Wright is well known in creative circles around Gwangju, and always as a friendly face bar-tending at Loft 28. “I’ve been preforming (acting/dancing ) for 12+ years, and instructing seriously for about 5 years,” he explains, going on to the creative process of Armada, “Each piece, when choreographed, is tailored to the feeling or message we want to convey, or in the most playful of ways. A crew just really vibes with a song, and through that raw inspiration, myself and often along side Miriam, our co-choreographer, helps that creation process along.” Without a stage, or any sort of barrier between them and the audience, the Armada Dance Crew’s performance unleashed an unadulterated kinetic energy into the crowd.  While it was my first time seeing the group, I am hoping that there will be more opportunities for them to perform locally and around Korea.  “The World Youth Festival was wonderful. Being able to share and see others share their cultures and talents was beautiful, and I need it to happen more, haha.”

Its Hot.

Its hot


There’s not much else to say at times like this. The heat ripples off the pavement surrounding Chosun National University. The rare ginkgo offers little shade as the sun beats down upon this windless city. Those without air-conditioning have gone nocturnal, or underground in an effort to protect their last sense of comfort in their own skin. It is hotter now than before, older folks tend to say when asking them about this August compared to last. For them, the past seems to start now, and continue ad infinitum. I press for more details, but no luck. The differences between years and decades have melted together no doubt. Such differences seem to matter little in this “past” they recollect.

Yet, when walking through these empty streets and alleyways, one might be forgiven for thinking this a relatively suburban area. Therefore, when changing upon the occasional human-in-passing, a brief acknowledgment is shared. For, in a sense, this heat is the great democratizer. It spares none, and oppresses equally. It scoffs at this season’s ubiquitous mini-fan’s which many young-in’s seem to carry. For, if not overtly overcoming these cheaply made contraptions, the heat seems content to imprison their carriers within arms length of their necessary, albeit temporary salvation. Such is the reduced state of affairs these past weeks. We live, yet at times thriving seems a long way off.

While dripping down an alleyway the other week, I happened upon the scene above. It was one in a short line of old workshops. This one held pieces of bicycles, and under them, pieces of a man. It was shortly after midday, with the temperature in the high 30’s without even the wisp of a breeze. He was coping the best he could. Yet even in this reduced state, he seemed kingly, a testament to the wisdom gained within yielding to what is.

It will be cooler, oh yes.

But for now, it’s hot.


[Photo taken with a Contax T2 shooting Tri-x 400.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)