Gwangju Blog

End of an…

End of an...


An era, often more than a period of time, in popular vernacular refers to the tangible within the ephemeral. Today is would not be what it is without those who inhabitable it. And they themselves would not be who there “are” without the sights, sounds, colors, and textures which imbibe them. Despite obvious new construction like the Asia Culture Center, downtown Gwangju at times seems slow to change its outside appearance. Even the aforementioned center was built in an inverted manner, tunneling into the earth rather than towering above it. Perhaps this was done in an effort to preserve a certain visual continuity between landmarks which have slowly yet surely become visual comforters over the years. Whether seen as strength or flaw, the reluctance of neighborhoods to architectural change, such as the one pictured above have been somehow reassuring. Even after long absences, when visiting areas adjacent to downtown, the casual wanderer can rely on visual mainstays to navigate her or his journey. In my many years in and out of Gwangju City, the frame shop above was just such a signpost.

Above the shop name and to the left, “Since 1976” can be seen on the sign. Considering the changes which have swept the country since the late seventies, staying in business as anything but a restaurant for forty years is commendable. After all, how often do you really need to have your favorite landscape painting or calligraphy elaborately framed in shops like the one above? Although unlikely to fully disappear from Korean visual culture, such frames, and the shops that do it to it them are becoming an increasingly rare sight.

The shop above endured a slow decline. In fact, for the past year, it was difficult to find it open for business. Yet, over the past decade, I was fortunate enough to encounter its owners on my regular walks through downtown. As an artist working with found materials, I would often frequent the impromptu dump pile outside its front entrance. Amorphous in shape, and often with more than a hint of mold, it was nevertheless a gold mine for antique bits of glass and frame, as well as the odd ornate hinge or hanging mechanism. In the wintertime, I would often stop to warm my hands over a small fire on the front stoop; the owners convenient solution to all of those discarded wooden frames.

On my last stroll through the neighborhood several weeks ago, I found the shop in its current state. Through the back door, the last few trash bags were being packed. A lone figure piling them up into what had stood since, well, most people now care to remember. In all honesty, I am usually one of them. However, in this case, my hat remains tipped to the frame shop that was, and in all likelihood, the corndog stand to come.


[Image taken with my Contax T2.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)


What to Do This Weekend: Stand-up Comedy, Live Music, and Alleycon!

Hello Gwangju!

We’ve got a lot of great things going on in our city this weekend. Let’s see what you can do!

Thursday, Sept. 21st

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

How about starting your weekend off with some laughs? Speakeasy is holding another comedy show to get you in the right mood. Neal Myers-Perry will be making his second appearance on the Speakeasy stage. Opening up for him will be local favorite Kelly Kim! There aren’t a lot of chances to see stand-up comedy in Gwangju, so don’t miss your copportunity tonight! Seating is free, but it’s limited so check out their Facebook event page to reserve your space (there will be standing room as well). The laughs begin at 10 p.m., so get out and support local talent and business.

Friday, Sept. 22nd

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

If it’s Friday, then that means it’s time for Gwangju’s only weekly open mic night at Loft 28. If you would like to perform, then all you have to do is bring your own instrument, and Loft will provide the rest. They also offer free liquid encouragement-one drink is available to all performers. Open Mic night begins at 11 p.m., and it’s a great way to hear the talented artists of Gwangju. For more details, please go to Loft’s Facebook page.

Saturday, Sept. 23rd

Courtesy of Alleycon

Courtesy of Alleycon

Lovers of film, television, comic books, and all things sci-fi/fantasy-this weekend is for you! Alleycon is back and they are having two events this weekend. Hey Bill, what is Alleycon? Alleycon started a couple of years ago as a convention to celebrate all things geeky. This year it will take place at the ACC, and of course, The First Alleyway! Today’s event will take place at the ACC from 5 p.m., to 11 p.m. There will be food and Alleycon themed drinks (perhaps the Pan Galactic Gargleblaster?), plus games, live entertainment and more. Then on Sunday the 24th, come down to the Alleyway for brunch and board games from 11 a.m., to 4 p.m. To find out all the details about this two day event, please go to their Facebook page. Embrace your geeky side at Alleycon 2017!

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

After you enjoy the fun at Alleycon, head over to Speakeasy to hear some great live music! CCTV will be performing another great show. Sadly though, it will be the last with band member Josh Garcia. All the more reason to come on down and wish him well! Last weekend’s jello shots proved to be very popular, so they’ll be offering them again. Plus John Howard (who along with his 4tae band mates had an awesome show last weekend!) will be opening up for CCTV. The music will start at 10:30, and there is no cover charge. For more info, please go to Speakeasy’s Facebook page.

Sunday, Sept. 24th

On Sundays a wonderful group of volunteers head out to a local shelter to walk and play with dogs. For the past couple of weeks they’ve had their biggest crowds, and they want to keep it going! If you would like to join them, and get some exercise in the process, please go to their Facebook page here.

Essentials with JD # 302 **CULTURE FORUM CAMP**



Want to have your say in things cultural around you? Are you between 19 and 29 and want to travel and change how we see culture? You still have some time to apply for the Asia Culture forum International Youth Camp.


Deadline is September 28th


Find details below and apply asap


[2017 아시아문화포럼 청년캠프 Asia Culture Forum International Youth Camp 2017]


[2017 아시아문화포럼 청년캠프 참가자 2차 모집

2nd Call for Participants: ACF International Youth Camp 2017]

광주광역시 축제를 기획하고 아시아 문화도시 탐방기회를 잡으세요!

■ 신청마감: 9월 28일 (목)

■ 신청하기:

* 결강사유서 발급 가능

Propose the festivals in Gwangju and get a chance to travel to one of Asia culture cities

■ Deadline: By Thursday, September 28

■ Application Download:

* Possible to issue the certificate of absence



All we need is…

All we need is...


This post speaks in part to the photographers among us. To start off, if you have ever taken smartphone photos of some found object you deemed strange, interesting, or click-bait-worthy, you qualify. While taken through a high-end, somewhat vintage, German-engineered piece of glass, the image above nevertheless occurred for just such a reason. As many of you readers no doubt already know, looking for strange visual occurrences in the countryside outside Gwangju is a favorite pastime for this photographer. As such, I have a soft spot for images which seem slightly out of place, or somehow interrupt what I personally expect to find in a given scene. As such, note this week’s photo above.

This image was taken along your typical rice-pattied homestead near Wando several weeks ago. Far from touristy, the only folks under seventy years of age can be seen fleeing the scene in their white SUV to image right. As such, I was left with amidst several farmers hunched over their crops, two stray dogs, a still smoldering trash-heap, and a streetlamp who apparently just wanted to be loved.

Looking quite out of place, the lamp above had clearly seen better days. Its single remaining light was hanging by a thread with shattered remnants of lightbulbs still visible on the ground below. In fact, when taking note of the surrounding landscape, its purpose was still not clear. If my projections were clear, I knew, and still often know how it felt. At times, my existence as an expat photographer can be summarized as merely the result of another person’s wishful thinking. Many times I also have stood at awkward, wounded attention as things changed around me in a way which I could neither understand nor adapt to. Yet, just like it, there seemed little else to do but to stay where I was planted. (Perhaps, at such times, it is the only ground we know.) All of these thoughts aside, it melted my heart to see that someone had adorned the post with the vest above. Sure, it may be an old farmer’s means of scaring away that one last, pesky, crow. However, I will stick with my own naivety, and be glad in the knowledge that even dilapidated lampposts sometimes just need a hug.


[Image taken with a Contax T2 shooting Kodak Portra 800.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)


What to Do This Weekend: Zumba, No Man’s Land, and Half Paddy’s Day!

Hello Gwangju!

We all should be getting back into our work routines, which means we’re all looking forward to the weekend! Let’s see what’s happening in Gwangju.

Courtesy of Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of Zumba with Thando

Thursday, Sept. 14th

A great way to start the weekend is with tonight’s Zumba class at the GIC. Wait, you don’t know what Zumba is? It is a fun filled cardio class that is open to all levels. The class begins at 7:00 p.m., and is taught by certified Zumba instructor Thando Mlambo. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing, bring a towel with you, and of course a bottle of water. For more information about the class, please click on the link for their Facebook page. Start things off on a good note with Thursday night Zumba!

Friday, Sept. 15th

Courtesy of bellybao

Courtesy of bellybao

Need an excuse to go out tonight? Don’t worry, I’ve got two great ones! Start your night with the bottomless drinks special at Tequilaz. For only 12,000 (cash only) you can enjoy all the draft beers you want. If you don’t like beer then they also have bottomless rail cocktails (again, cash only) for 20,000. Put them together with Tequilaz’s awesome Mexican food and you have a great night out with friends! If you need more information simply go to their Facebook page. There’s also a new restaurant in the myong dong neighborhood called Bellybao. Tonight is hip hop night, and it will run from 9 p.m., to 2 a.m. If you want more details about what’s going on, or want to find out more about what kind of food they serve, just go to the Gwangju page on Facebook, and type in “bellybao”.

Saturday, Sept. 16th

The Gwangju Design Biennale is going on now, and runs until the 23rd of October. It takes place at the Biennale hall, which is the same location where the art one is held. There are four main exhibition halls, as well as a number of other special events that are being held. Ticket prices start at 12,000 won for adults, and there are discounts for children, and groups. Check out some exciting design concepts at this year’s Biennale! For more details, please go to their website: ( information is in both English and Korean).

Courtesy of the GPP

Courtesy of the GPP

The Gwangju Performance Project (GPP) is proud to present No Man’s Land. This mixed media production expresses the rise and fall of mankind through dance, poetry, music, and visual media. The production is directed by Thando Mlambo. There will only be three shows this weekend-today at 3 p.m., and 7 p.m., and tomorrow at 3 p.m. Reserved ticket prices are 10,000, and they are 12,000 at the door. To reserve your tickets all you have to do is email For more information about the performance, you can also go to their Facebook event page.

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until March, so that’s why this weekend Speakeasy is celebrating Half Paddy’s Day. Yes, it really is a thing! There will be Guinness on tap (probably the only place in town to get it), free(!) green jello shots, and many other drink specials throughout the night. Will there be live entertainment? Of course there will be, and it will be provided by one of Gwangju’s most entertaining bands, 4tae. Drink specials, live music, and enough good craic to hold you over until March 17th is going on tonight at Speakeasy starting at 10:30! For more details, please go to their Facebook page here.

Sunday, Sept. 17th

On Sundays a dedicated group of volunteers head to a local animal shelter to walk and play with dogs. Last weekend was their biggest yet-18 volunteers! Help them break the record today, and get some fresh air in the process! For more details, please go to their Facebook page.