Gwangju Blog




For this week’s entry to the photography blog, I have decided to submit an image which is both relevant to life in Jeolla-do (province), but also to this writer’s personal artistic pursuits. To be transparent, this image is part of an exhibition which I will be having as part of the Cheongju Artist Residency Program. The exhibition opens this coming Friday, March 3rd and will be open through the 16th. It consists of family and personal photos which I have recovered from abandoned buildings or old film cameras bought from junkyards. The images are then, for lack of a better word, framed in certain ways to create differing emotions about these anonymous figures. Perhaps the brochure put it best:


This exhibition, titled ‘Frame’ focuses on methods of displaying societies’ discarded personal photos to connect with individuals and a society I will never fully know. Images were picked up from the street or abandoned homes, or bought from junkyards while still in their digital or film cameras. The photos are provided differing contexts. Many are documentary, displayed next to an image of where they were found. Others are shown with a context imagined from the emotions the photos provide.  Some are even mixed with other images, texts, or objects found nearby, thereby confronting traditional visual narratives about what the role and function of the “frame”. Certain frames seem more important than what they themselves contain, while other images seem lost without the subtle meaning-making a frame provides. As a result, the frame can be seen not only as physical object, but also as psychological process, a framing of mind about the people and locations which surround us. These images reveal the boundaries of emotional connection and meaning-making to each other. However, they also promote an experience of empathetic not-knowing. As such, they serve as an extension of the artists own desire to live within a new culture; subtly framing small pieces of others as they pass by.


The process of collecting these images has been slow. Often, I did not find any images for months and then by chance might come across a dozen images in a week. However, patience seems to have been rewarded. The past three years of hunting primarily in Jeolla-do have lent me around 100 images. It is an interesting experience noting what is left behind, and begs the question of when a home becomes a house. Living as an ethnic and cultural outsider within this society has lent me to question how an experience of ‘home’ is created, and where the limits lay between personal and public identities. From all of the countries I have lived, I personally find the role of the visual to be exceedingly fragile yet curiously of the utmost important within this culture. As such, living within it has not only buoyed my own self-inquiry and artistic pursuits, but also the topics contained within this photography blog. In fact, if any readers out there would like to share their experiences and/or participate in future photographic projects on this theme, please contact me at:

Or for a peak of similarly found images, please check:

Until next week, I’m all eyes.


[Photo taken of a found object within the location where it was found using a Nikon d600 and a 25-85vr f3.5-4.5 lens.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)



People You Should Know in Gwangju…Alex Holland

Hello Gwangju! I hope all are enjoying this last full February week, and are getting ready for the new school year beginning next week. This week we have a community member that has been here for over four and a half years, and in that time has managed to scope out some great places to visit near and far. Here is this weeks person you should know, in his own words.


Hiking in Autumn

Hiking in Autumn

Name…Alex Holland

Occupation…English Teacher

Hometown…Shebbear, Devon, UK

At Halmi Bawi with the Bongseong climbing gym community(1)

At Halmi Bawi with the Bongseong climbing gym community

Length of time in Korea…about 4 years 6 months

My hometown is famous for…The Devil’s stone. The villagers have to turn it over every November or the devil comes out and destroys the world.

I wish I could…Cook!

If I could have any superpower it would be…The ability to make things grow and flourish at a thought.

A book I read once a year is…Any book I can get my hands on. I read a lot but I don’t often reread books. Right now I’m reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

My nickname is…Sloth

The show I am most likely to binge watch is…The Walking Dead

My favorite sport to play is…Rock climbing! I love climbing.

The food I am best known for is…Pumpkin pie! I can almost cook it right.

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is…All of the peaceful hiking routes away from Mudeungsan and the little villages tucked up next to them.


Under the Student Independence Memorial, Ssangcheondong

Under the Student Independence Memorial, Ssangcheondong

On my days off I like to…Play board games, miniature games or go climbing.


My favorite movie is…If I had to pick only one then maybe City Of God. I love how energetic it is.

How did you end up in Gwangju? Good question. I’m glad I did though.

What is your best tip for living in Korea? Try learning Korean. It takes a while but it’s worth it.

What is your surefire way to beat the blues when you are feeling homesick? Fried egg sandwich. Works every time.

What is the oddest job you have ever had? I was an extra in a trot video. Me and a couple of other foreigners had to pretend to be friends with the singer. It was pretty fun and we got lots of free food.

What is your favorite game to play? Right now either Magic: The Gathering (although I’m really bad at it) or Frostgrave, a miniature wargame in which you control a wizard looking for treasure.

Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you. I used to DJ in Chile.

Describe your dream day in Gwangju. The sun is shining but it’s not hot. There is a breeze and I’m outside. Work has been cancelled!

Playing with toys - a game of Frostgrave in progress

Playing with toys – a game of Frostgrave in progress

Are there any places/services/experiences in Gwangju you can recommend that a lot of people may not know about? I’d really like to encourage people to get out and about! Cycle to Mokpo, Naju or Damyang. Go hiking away from the main routes on Mudeung, such as the southerly ridge to Anyangsan, Manyeonsan above Hwasun, or Odeungsan which overlooks the women’s university. Getting out and about really gives you a sense of the land. Sometimes your adventures might fail but sometimes you’ll find somewhere totally new.

Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju? I’m part of a group of tabletop wargamers, and I’m a pretty active climber at the gyms downtown.

What are some future plans that you have for your organization? Uh….climb more? Also I’d like to encourage more people to climb, and also join our little tabletop wargaming community!

Small temple entrance on Mudeung mountain

Small temple entrance on Mudeung mountain

What to Do This Weekend: A GIC Talk, Ladies Night, and Synergy!

Hello Gwangju!

Let’s see what’s happening during this last weekend of February.

Saturday, February 25th

Courtesy of the GIC Talk series

Courtesy of the GIC Talk series

There is no art class this weekend, but the GIC Talk series continues today. This Saturday’s talk will be about the benefits of water. Think you know what all the benefits are?  You should still come down to the GIC and learn about something that we need every day. This weekend’s discussion will be led by Kim, Sung-ho. The talks begin at 4:00 p.m., and they are held on the 1st floor of the GIC. For more information and directions to the GIC, please go to their website. You can also check out the Talk series’ Facebook page here.

If you haven’t been to the Asia Culture Center (ACC) yet, then this weekend is a perfect opportunity to go and check it out! There are a lot of great exhibits to see, and there’s even a special area just for kids. To find out more about what’s happening at the ACC, please go to their website. If the weather is nice this weekend, (and apparently it will be) the ACC is also a great place to walk around.

Courtesy of Synergy

Courtesy of Synergy

The 4th installment of Synergy will be taking place tonight at the GIC. Synergy is a show that features art, dance, music, and poetry. There will be a lot of fellow Gwangju residents performing, and it is guaranteed to be a good night out. If this is your first time going to a Synergy show, then you are in for a treat. To find out more info, including who is performing, please go to their Facebook event page. The show begins at 7:00 p.m., and goes until 9.

There’s only one place in town that has a ladies night and that is Loft 28! Ladies you’ll be able to enjoy House, Hip-Hop, Old Skool and many more types of music. Be sure to make a reservation for yourself and at least three of your friends to get a free bottle of alcohol! It’s another great ladies night at Loft, and it all begins at 11 p.m. Actually, you should get there earlier so you can try some of their delicious food. I hear the jerk chicken is excellent! For more details about Ladies Night, please go to Loft’s Facebook page.

Courtesy of Tequilaz

Courtesy of Tequilaz

Looking for a great place to cap off the night? I don’t need to tell you that Tequilaz is a great place to go to, but I’m going to anyways! Great food and drinks are just two of the reasons why you should stop by Tequilaz. Your friends are already going to be there, so you don’t want to miss out! For more info and directions, please go to their Facebook page.


Where to Eat Wednesday: 낭만공작소

Though food is easily one of the most important aspects of a restaurant, I’m learning that at times, factors like setting and the overall feel of a place can help to leave an impression. After all, eating out is often a social activity. In many cases, it helps to be in a comfortable place, at least when it can be helped.

FrontDrink Menu

I was invited to check out 낭만공작소 (Nangman Gongjakso; Romantic Work) by a friend of mine who lived in the area. As often as I had visited Sangmu, I rarely ever found myself hanging out near this area, which just happened to be near the KDJ Convention Center. As I arrived first, I got to find some good seats in the moderately busy cross between a restaurant and cafe and studied the menu with anticipation while waiting for my company to arrive.

InsideFood Menu

As expected, there was no shortage of drink options on the menu. The usual suspects were all available, though some of them went under cute names like Oh, Choco and Gentlemen Green Tea. There were also a few unique choices like the Berry Sister Con Latte and the Salty Cheese Crust Ice Cream that left me hesitantly curious. Since I was there for food, I opted to continue looking through the menu, passing a page filled with a large variety of beers from around the world. I then reached the food items which consisted of choices like Nacho Chips, Frittata, Buttered Squid, French Toast, and an assortment of options ranging anywhere from breakfast to dinner fare. My attention was immediately grabbed by stuff like the Chicken Parmigiana and the Arancini with Tomato Curry Sauce. Honestly, I was really torn on the two for some time before I eventually settled on the former. My friend and I also ordered the Cream Sauce Shrimp Brunch after debating between that and the Spain Cazuela Brunch, both of which came in the form of platters meant to feed at least two people. As dinner was already getting a little pricey, we didn’t bother with any drinks.

Chicken ParmigianaCream Sauce Shrimp Brunch

After we placed our orders, the wait ended up being a little longer than we hoped. On the bright side, we were able to serve ourselves water as we caught up during the time it took for our food to be prepared. The first to arrive was the Chicken Parmigiana, which had me all sorts of excited. Unfortunately, that excitement was quickly dashed as I cut into the pool of melted cheese that I hoped was hiding some variation of a chicken cutlet smothered in marinara sauce. What I got, and failed to take pictures of, was a piece of breaded and fried chicken breast that was cooked in some sort of spicy and mildly sweet kimchi sauce. I’ve had a lot of unique variations on this classic comfort dish, but this was definitely my first time having a kimchi version of it. It wasn’t exactly bad. If anything, it reminded me of some of the fancier versions of the popular fried pork cutlets I’ve had in the past. Unfortunately, when you’re expecting tomato sauce and get kimchi, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed.

The Cream Sauce Shrimp Brunch, which came shortly after, certainly offered a fair amount of food. We received a small cast iron skillet filled with what was basically shrimp alfredo without pasta that had been topped with greens. On the side, we received a simple salad and some bread to dip into the sauce. I enjoyed the simplicity and the presentation of this platter, especially since the salad had not been drenched in any sort of sweet dressing, but it was a bit of a hassle to eat at times. One thing that took me by surprise was just how filling this dish was, as we struggled to finish off those last few bites. Who knew bread could be so filling?

Overall, our experience at 낭만공작소 was a decent one. Though the food was memorable for unexpected reasons, the overall setting and atmosphere was nice for my platonic date. What was supposed to be a simple dinner easily evolved into hours of chatting and reminiscing comfortably. I would recommend this spot to any small groups who may be searching for something different that’s a little further away from the usual hangout spots. Just be prepared for surprise fusions if you’re ordering the food.

Address: 광주광역시 서구 치평동 1278-8 (near the Kim Dae Jung subway stop)
Phone: 062-385-9019
Hours: 10:00AM to 1:00AM
Average Price Range: 10,000 to 12,000 per person

Essentials with JD # 272 ** DIY SEWING & HOT FOOD TRENDS**

Spring is around the corner so you better be getting ready for all of those cherry blossoms and weekend trips. Before that tho you might want to save some money and stay home and check out downtown.


It always surprises me how quickly buildings change in Korea and since I was downtown last week new stores have opened and some of my favorites are being reformed. This got me thinking as to reforming some of my clothing to be fresh and new for Spring 2017.


And it is super easy – just add a few accents or fix up some holes on some of your clothing items that might have evolved some holes etc.


Great idea is to go to your local dry cleaners as they usually have someone doing alterations for you. But if you want some DIY why not head over to Daiso which usually have all the sewing supplies that you might need at a super cheap price – 1 000 won!

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While you are also downtown check out some of the latest food trends which can be found near Burger King downtown. The first being a Rice Hot dog filled with various interesting stuffings. And almost right next to it is the Taiwan ‘huge’ Castella shop selling fresh Castella cake. Just a tip – there are usually long queues so get ready to wait.

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Take care and stay warm,