Gwangju Blog

What to Do This Weekend: Open Mic, World Youth Festival, and Live Music!

Hello Gwangju!

There’s a lot happening this weekend, so let’s see what are your options!

Thursday, August 3rd

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of GIC Zumba with Thando

The best way to start your weekend in Gwangju? The answer to that question is Zumba at the GIC! You can get a great workout this Thursday night at the with the weekly Zumba class.  Zumba is a cardio class that is open to everyone, from beginners to advanced participants. Make sure you wear some comfy workout clothes, bring a towel, and a bottle of water to help you cool off. The class begins at 7 p.m., and is led by experienced instructor Thando Mlambo. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. You can also get more details about the class by visiting their Facebook event page here. This class will be the last one before a short, summer break. Classes will resume on August 31st.

Friday, August 4th

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

Open Mic nights are very popular in Gwangju, and the only weekly one in town is tonight at Loft 28. Those people who are interested in performing only have to bring their own instrument, Loft will provide everything else. Another incentive to participate is that you will receive one free drink! If you need more details, then you can go to Loft’s Facebook page. Open mic night will begin at 10 p.m.

Bottomless draft beers and bottomless cocktails? Yes please!  Tequilaz’s bottomless drink specials are back, and they are proving to be very popular. Bottomless draft beers are available  for 12,000 won, and rail cocktails are only 20,000 won during the same period. For more details about both of these great specials, check their Facebook page. Don’t forget to check out the tasty menu of  Mexican food which goes great with all those drinks.

Saturday, August 5th

Courtesy of the World Youth Festival

Courtesy of the World Youth Festival

The World Youth Festival will take place in Gwangju from the 4th to the 6th, but today will be the main day of activity. You can start by sampling food from India and Bangladesh downtown at the ACC (Asia Culture Center). Delicious food from both countries will be available to try, and the best part is that prices are all under 3,000 won! Just some of the dishes that will be on sale include curry, chicken tikka, and porota. If you would like more information about what food is being offered, then please check out the Gwangju page on Facebook.

In the evening the World Youth Rock and DJ Festival will be taking place at the ACC. There will be six bands and two DJs that will be performing. Among the bands that are playing are new local favorites CCTV. One of the DJs that will be spinning at the concert has one of the best names in my opinion: Goat the Funky! It is sure to be an eclectic collection of music that will be played in downtown Gwangju. The concert begins at 8 p.m., and will go on until 11 p.m. The performances will be at the ACC Youth Lounge stage. The best part about this night of music is that it is free! So take part in these World Youth Festival activities this Saturday at the ACC.

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

If you enjoy CCTV at the music festival then you will get a second chance to see them tonight when they perform at Speakeasy. They’ll be taking the stage at 10:30 p.m. for their own headlining set. After you enjoy the festival, head to Speakeasy for some great rock and roll, and of course their fantastic drinks. For more info about the show, please go to Speakeasy’s Facebook page.

Essentials with JD # 295 **THIS WEEKEND : GFN ROCK & DJ FESTIVAL AT WORLD YOUTH FESTIVAL 2017 세계청년축제 락 앤 디제이 페스티벌 **


Gwangju will become a hive of activity this weekend as the World Youth Festival takes over the city and it is all happening down at the ACC from Friday 4th of August till Sunday 6th.

Loads to see and do and remember that most of the main activities will take place after 6pm when the weather cools down. (But other features run throughout the day)



You can also join GFN as they host a World Rock and DJ festival from around 8pm and you can see 6 amazing foreign bands from around Korea including Gwangju’s very own CCTV as they entertain the crowds. DJ Chunja and Goat the funky will also keep you dancing while Super Star K winners Ooh la la Session will headline the festival performing some of their greatest summer anthems.



So join the festival all weekend and don’t miss out on the Rock & DJ festival

For more info and updates check out or




Don’t Ask When. It’s Today Tomorrow.

There’s a lot that goes into musicians coming together to form a band. There are the countless hours spent rehearsing, personalities, goals, scheduling, and so on and so forth. More often than not, it’s like some sort of hippie commune marriage between folks who are pouring passion like it’s liquid steel. But every once in a while, you catch a band that is cruising through the ice box. They nail it. They are on the money, and you can sit back and enjoy it without even second guessing whether the next note will ring true or not. It’s as if their music flows as easy as breath, and the stage is a shameless page from their diary. In Gwangju, I’ve been lucky enough to see a band with this same combination of both ease and tenacity, and they are happening now.

Today 1

The Today Tomorrow band is a recently formed group of exceptional musicians. They maintain a sound full of harmony, melody, and an intelligent sense of balance. It is definitely grounded in folk, but the quartet churns out a heavy, smoky, landscape of sound that warms you up and wraps around your skin. The group was just formed four months ago when three friends decided to form a band. Edward Kim (vocals, rhythm guitar), Hyeon-je Choe (bass, lead guitar), and Dong-min (lead guitar). These individuals are all already widely known in the music community for their respective talents. Edward frequently brings hauntingly beautiful songs to the weekly open mics. Hyeon-je is a multi-instrumentalist who not only adds to performances around town, but many times helps shape things sonically behind the soundboard. Dong-min plays in several groups with his organic style of guitar-playing, and also works as an animator for a living. The group was then finalized by Jinseon Yun on vocals.

Jeju Island performance (courtesy of Tae Sang Park and Dreamers)

Jeju Island performance (courtesy of Tae Sang Park and Dreamers)

Edward explains the combination of their intent openly. “We love folk songs, and Jinseon has a great voice for that so when we choose a song, we are thinking about her voice.” There is a very casual sense in their presence. They aren’t there to put on airs, but there is prowess in each of their abilities. Edward and Jinseon’s ability to harmonize and marinate their vocal melodies enriches each song. Many times their songs are slower, but there is plenty of peppering from lead guitar lines provided by Dong-min and Hyeon-je. And when Hyeon-je moves to bass, he adds low-end sustains that hum like a whale’s song from a deep canyon.  The energy they create can’t be forced, it’s a natural sway that comes through whether or not the audience is there to catch it. “Our best moments are when we practice and hang out together. That’s it. We are happy when we are together.”

Be sure to catch them soon at Open Space Dreamer’s in Daein Market or one of their upcoming shows around town.

Dreamer's 2nd Anniversary Party

Dreamer’s 2nd Anniversary Party




At times, when practicing street photography, or at least image-making with an interest in visual-culture, the eye notices juxtapositions more easily than before. The philosopher in us might say that these are largely the product of a conceptual attachment to relational differences being the maker of visual meaning and emotional impact. However, for the photographer, the experience of noting juxtapositions is a more experiential in nature. For, we know that a few minutes with a camera and truly open eyes can breathe new life into a once familiar location. Such a state allows us to find wonder within what had just previously been predictable, routine.

If you have a history of reading the photo-blog, you have already seen examples of photos with commentary about how the slightest of visual elements can enhance the visual impact of an image. However, at times, the important visual elements in an image are not so subtle. Rather, like a good gift basket, they give you everything you need right away, providing the user makes time to utilize everything within. With that awkward analogy in mind, we can hesitantly begin an analysis of the photo above.

In short, this photo excels because it shows not only physical contracts between light and shadow, but also juxtaposes visual themes which are relevant to life in coastal Jeolla-do with simple, clean composition. In it, two similar rectangular Styrofoam platforms share the central part of the image. Highlighted against the darkened water, our eyes are naturally drawn to the shape on the right. However, black and white Tri-x 400 film has rendered the green netting on the left-platform a darker tone. As such, it contrasts with its twin, yet also possesses a tone similar to that of the rocky shore to which they both are attached. In doing so, the visual-conceptual differences between “natural” and “artificial” are slightly blurred, and our eyes can more easily navigate the frame. Such subtle distinctions create a simple visual language with which we can contemplate other blending of human life within the ecosystem which this fishing village near Muan undoubtedly relies.

When spending time in places like the one above, it could be to our temporary advantage to be alone, smartphone battery dead, with little but our senses (and hopefully) camera to keep us company. For, with fewer distractions these locations may offer up more contrasts and connections than we otherwise expected.


[Image captured with a Nikon FE2 shooting Tri-x 400 pushed 1 stop.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)



What to Do This Weekend: Support Local Businesses, Figure Drawing, and Gwangju Live!

Hello Gwangju!

I hope everyone out there is finding a way to deal with the heat! We’ve got a lot of things you can do indoors, so let’s check it out.

Thursday, July 27th

Courtesy of Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of Zumba with Thando

If you’re going to sweat, it might as well be for a healthy reason. Get a great workout this Thursday night at the GIC with the weekly Zumba class.  Zumba is a cardio class that is open to everyone, from beginners to advanced participants. Make sure you wear some comfy workout clothes, bring a towel, and a bottle of water to cool off. The class begins at 7 p.m., and is led by veteran Zumba teacher, Thando Mlambo. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. You can also get more details about the class by visiting their Facebook event page here. If you’re looking for a great way to stay in shape, then Zumba is the answer!

Friday, July 28th

Photo Courtesy of Tequilaz.

Photo Courtesy of Tequilaz.

It seems like Tequilaz’s bottomless draft special is so popular, that they decided to include cocktails as well! The bottomless draft beer special is still on for 12,000 won from 9 p.m. to midnight. Starting tonight, they will also have bottomless rail cocktails for 20,000 won during the same time period. For more details about both of these great specials, check their Facebook event page. Don’t forget to check out the tasty menu of  Mexican food to enjoy with your unlimited drinks.

A new restaurant downtown called Mcleod is having a Friday special of their own! They’ll have 2,000 won draft beers, 3,500 won burgers, and a 5,000 won burger plus draft beer special, all starting at 7:00 p.m. Check out these great offers, and help support local businesses. For more details about this, please follow this link to a post on the Gwangju Facebook page.

Saturday, July 29th 

Courtesy of GIC Talk Series

Courtesy of GIC Talk Series

First, we start with the very popular Saturday art class. This Saturday’s GIC Art Class  will feature another female figure drawing class. The class will begin at 12:45 p.m., and it goes until 3 p.m. The class will start with some drawing tips, and then the model arrives at 1 p.m. Once the model arrives, the doors will be locked for her privacy. The cost of the class is only 10,000 won, and as usual, all materials will be provided. Do you have artistic skills? If you do, then you might be interested in asking about leading a future class on Saturday. This Saturday’s class will be led by local artist, Jen Lee. Now since you’re already at the GIC, you should check out their Saturday Talk series as well. The topic will be, “The Quest for Justice and Human Rights in History as Spiritual Practice. The discussion will be led by Louis Vinciguerra, whose current job is the international coordinator at the May 18th Memorial Foundation. The talk begins at 4 p.m., and it goes for about an hour. For more information about both of these events, you can go to the GIC’s website: You can also check out the art class Facebook group here, and the GIC Talk’s page here. These will be the last activities for both before their traditional summer break. There will be no art classes, or talks during the month of August, but they will return in September.

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

If you’ve been to Speakeasy on a Saturday night, then you know who Ernie Allen is. But what a lot of people probably don’t know is that Ernie is an accomplished DJ. This Saturday their will be a special edition of Gwangju Live featuring a DJ set by Ernie. So get down to Speakeasy on Saturday night, enjoy some cool drinks, and some great music from Gwangju local Ernie Allen. The music begins at 10:30 p.m., and if you need more info then you can check out Speakeasy’s Facebook page.