Gwangju Blog

What to Do This Weekend: Trivia, An Important Documentary, and 90’s music!

Hello Gwangju!

The cherry blossoms are gone, so that must mean we’re half way through the month of April. Let’s find out what’s happening this weekend!

Thursday, April 20th

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Do you have a head full of trivial information? Well, put it to good use tonight at Speakeasy’s Trivia Night! Join quiz master Sarah, and the rest of the Speakeasy staff for a night of questions, and answers. It only costs 5,000 won to enter, and you can get together a team of friends (max. 5), or find a group to play with. The second place team will get their money back, and the first place team gets the rest. Don’t forget the free shots if you get a perfect round (trust me, it’s not so easy!). Trivia night is eight rounds of ten questions, and it all starts at 10 p.m. If you need more details then check out the Facebook event page.

Friday, April 21st

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

There are a lot of venues for local musicians to play and sing, but on Friday night Loft 28 is the place to be for their Open Mic night. If you want to perform, all you have to do is bring your instrument and show up. Loft has their own mics, and sound system. Plus, if you perform, you get a free drink! You’ll also want to go to Loft and check out their menu of delicious food. I’ve heard a lot of good things about their sandwiches! Open Mic Night begins at 10:00 p.m. For more information, and directions to Loft 28, please go to their Facebook page.

Saturday, April 22nd

Courtesy of Matthew Root and Neil George

Courtesy of Matthew Root and Neil George

This Saturday’s GIC Talk series will be a special, and powerful one. On April 16th, Korea remembered the third anniversary of the tragic Sewol Ferry sinking. Today the GIC will screen a brand new documentary entitled, After the Sewol. The film wast just released on the third anniversary of the sinking. Filmmakers Matthew Root, and Neil George will be on hand for the screening. They’ll also be there for a Q&A after the movie. The directors, as well as the GIC hope that you attend this presentation of a very important film about one of Korea’s worst tragedies. The screening begins at 4 p.m., and they ask that you arrive a little early so the film can start on time. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. For more information about the movie, and to watch the trailer, please go to

Courtesy of the Gwangju Animal Shelter Volunteers

Courtesy of the Gwangju Animal Shelter Volunteers

There have been a lot of fundraisers this month, and that’s because there are a lot of good causes to contribute to. This Saturday night Speakeasy will be holding a 90’s dance party-Who Let the Dogs Out? GFN guest, DJ Dave will be spinning your favorite 90’s tunes, and the Speakeasy staff will serving great drink specials as usual. The money raised will go to support the Gwangju Animal Shelter. A 2,000 won donation per person is requested. So end your Saturday night with good friends, good drinks, and all for a good cause. Finally, I am not responsible getting Who Let the Dogs Out stuck in your head! For more details about this event, check out the Facebook event page here.

Sunday, April 23rd

After dancing up a storm for the Gwangju Animal Shelter on Saturday night, head out on Sunday with a dedicated group of volunteers to walk and play with dogs! For more info about how you can help, please check out the group’s Facebook page.

Essentials with JD # 280 ** GWANGJU BUS 419 **


Earlier this year Gwangju updated its bus lines and also added new ones. In a new series of posts we will introduce some bus lines and also some of the notable stops on the route that might be of interest to you.


Bus no. 419

  1. The meaning of the bus number.

419 represents 19th of April. Gwangju city said that they named it 419 because the movement started from Gwangju, and they wanted to commemorate the event.  It is the second bus that named after the date of historical movement. Another one is bus no. 518.  In 1960, a rigged election happened. Students and Citizens rebelled against the dictatorship, and participated in democratic movement.

The route goes around street name 419.


광주시에서는 광주에서 첫 419 시위가 일어난 것을 알리고, 그 정신을 기리기 위해 419번호를 버스번호로 사용하기로 했다고 합니다. 그래서 이 버스는 도로명 419로(중앙초교- 대인시장-광주고-서방4거리) 를 지나가게 됩니다

  1. Where it goes? (Some highlights)

살레시오 high school – traditional food museum – Gwangju biennale – CNU backgate – 서방 market – East district office 동구청 – Chosun university etc

  • Remember! When it departs from Chosun university, it does not drop by East district office. It goes to ACC and Art street.


이 버스는 살레시오고등학교를 기점으로하여, 향토문화박물관, 비엔날레전시관을 지나고 전남대후문, 서방시장, 동구청을 지나 조선대학교 안으로 지나가게 됩니다.


기억하실 점은, 이 버스가 종점인 조선대학교에서 다시 출발할 때는 동구청쪽을 지나지 않고 국립아시아문화전당역과 예술의거리 쪽으로 지나간다는 점입니다!


  1. Where can we visit? (hot places)
  • 남도향토문화박물관 (Namdo folk food museum)

The museum is opened to introduce traditional Namdo (Gwangju and Jeolla province ) food. Here, you can experience making traditional food, and you can take a lesson about traditional Namdo folk food.

Admission fee – free

They will be closed every Monday.

Guide service- Saturday, Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm.

Those who are interested in making traditional food, or taking lessons on their program, visit their website or call the museum to make a reservation.

Experience program (making folk food) costs money ! I saw a review that says it costed 4000won per person.


  • 동명동 (off at east district office)


When you get off at East district office (동구청), you can find 동명동 area. There are a lot of local coffeeshops, restaurants, bakery, pubs, and handcraft shops etc. It is hot place for hipsters. It is special because most of the shops are owned by the locals, no franchise.

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  1. Survival Korean


Situation : You want to go some hot places with your Korean friend, but you don’t know how to ask !


Hey! Do you want to go to gwangju biennale with me?

나랑 비엔날레 갈래? (Narang biennale gal lae?)


Hey! Can I have a cup of coffee with you ?

커피 한 잔 해요~ (little bit formal or old-fashioned … BUT cute) / 나랑 커피 마실래?


Handy Tips:


  1. Things to remember when transferring busses.
  • You can only transfer with your bus card,  not cash. (Cards are available at convenience stores T-Money works in Gwangju and other cities in Korea)
  • You can transfer from bus to subway and vice versa.
  • You cannot transfer to the same bus that you got off. (you have to pay another fee)
  • If you transfer from general bus to 좌석 or 농어촌, which has higher fare than general one, extra fare will be charged.
  • When you transfer from 농어촌 bus (that has last stop outside of Gwangju), then you have to swipe the card before you get off at the final destination, even though you don’t transfer. If not, extra fee will be charged.


(For more Bus tour Gwangju you can listen to The Afternoon Show with JD every Wednesday at 2:30pm on )

People You Should Know in Gwangju…Community Builders Award.

Hello Gwangju! This week you’ll notice that we are on a new day. Also we have something a little different. Some of you may have seen a post on Facebook about the Michael Simning Community Builders Award. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Michael Simning or the award you’ll find some information here for you.

A Brief Biography of Michael Simning By Brian P. Burgoyne

On June 4th, 1974, Gwangju was given a great gift in the form of one Michael Simning.  Although, at the time, The City of Light didn’t know it, this Canadian ex-patriot would quickly become a light that would shine as bright as any other.

Simning Image

Michael came to Gwangju to visit his brother in 1997 and chose to make it his home.  A few short years

later he would be married to Ko Young Mi and graduate from Seoul National University with a degree in Korean Language.  After a brief time back in Canada, he settled back in Gwangju to resume his teaching.

But it isn’t his teaching for which he is most remembered.  It was through his dedication to the community that people came to know and love Mike.  His mother Margaret Law said he always had an incredible sense of what people wanted.  He organized volunteers for Sungbin Orphanage, translated for the police department, and finally opened his first business, the Speakeasy.  It was not long after that he became father to Tiberia Eunsol.

Mike at GFNWith the Speakeasy in business, the Underground Grocers, and finally, the First Alleyway restaurant, Mike also gave people what they wanted: a home away from home.  They were places of support for any who wanted it.  He would use the resources of each business in succession to support bake sales, host community events or whatever was needed.  Mike became the organizer or supporter of nearly every group in Gwangju, including the local baseball team, gaming events, even becoming a host of the flagship radio program on GFN.  All you had to do was start a conversation with “You know, Mike, we should . . . .”  His response was usually the same: “Let’s do it!”

Tim and Mike

That was Michael.  He would likely tell you that he didn’t do anything special or he would brush it off with a smile.  But we remember him for what he was:  A friend to all from any country or walk of life.  He was a bright light in the city bringing people together.




Mike Simning

About the Michael Simning Community Builder Award Organization

The core committee is made up of Dr. Shin, Tim Whitman, and Chris Bleeker. They are the key organizers of this award and the selection process.

Dr. Shin is the director of the Gwangju International Center. He was Michael’s friend for years and also worked on many projects with him for the GIC.
Tim Whitman is a longtime Canadian expat living in Gwangju, and was a close friend and business partner with Michael.
Chris Bleeker is an American expat living in Gwangju since 2011. She was a friend of Michael’s and volunteered with many of his community projects.

Award procedure 2017

The announcement of the award and the opening of nominations will be April 5, 2017.
April 26, 2017 is the closing of the nominations process. Nominees will be contacted to confirm that they wish to be considered for the award and that they will be available to attend the award ceremony in person on June 3, 2017.
Once the slate of nominees is identified, the core committee will add a total of 4 more committee members–2 expats and 2 Koreans–to round out the selection committee. This is timed specifically to make sure that no nominees are also on the selection committee.
The selection committee will announce award finalists by May 17, 2017.
The award recipient will be announced on June 3, 2017 at 3 P.M. during the award ceremony at the GIC, in honor of Michael Simning’s birthday.

Award criteria 2017

  • Must be an expat, or a Korean working with/starting an expat-involved organization.
  • Must be a club/organization/charity that has made a significant impact in the Gwangju community
  • Must be a club/organization/charity that has achieved, or has the potential for, a lasting legacy in the Gwangju community.
  • Must be a club/organization/charity that seeks to involve expats and Koreans together in the wider Gwangju community.
  • For consideration for this award, the time frame of the volunteer involvement may cover the previous 2016 calendar year, up until March 2017.
  • Nominees must have lived in Gwangju within the previous calendar year (2016), and be available to attend the June 3, 2017 GIC awards ceremony in person in Gwangju.
  • Selection committee members are not eligible for award consideration.
  • Self-nominations are acceptable, and must be noted with volunteer reference contact information.
    2016 Community Builders Award Finalists

    2016 Community Builders Award Finalists


    If you know someone that you believe is deserving of this award please don’t hesitate to nominate them! You can use this link.

What to Do This Weekend: Zumba, An Easter Egg Hunt, and Live Music!

Hello Gwangju!

Let’s hope this nice weather we’ve been having extends into the weekend! Let’s see what’s going on in Gwangju.

Thursday, April 13th

Courtesy of Zumba with Thando

Courtesy of Zumba with Thando

Let’s start things off on a healthy note . . . with some Zumba! Zumba class is back on at the GIC on Thursdays. What is Zumba you ask? Well you should go and check it out! Thando Mlambo leads a high energy workout that’s good for even people who don’t have much rhythm (that’s a hint on what to expect!). The class starts at 7 p.m., and make sure to bring your own water, and a towel. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. For more details about the class, please check out the Facebook event page.

Friday, April 14th

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

If it’s Friday, then it must be Open Mic Night at Loft 28! Come down and support the local music community, and perhaps discover some new talent. If you would like to sing or perform, then just bring your instrument with you. Loft provides the mics, and sound system. An even better plan is to get there early and enjoy some of the home cooked food that Loft prepares. I’ve heard great things about the Jamaican Jerk Chicken! If you need more information, or directions on how to get to Loft 28, then please head over to their Facebook page. Open Mic Night begins at 10 p.m.

Saturday, April 15th

The Saturday art class returns, and this weekend it’s all about male figure drawing. The class will start at 12:30 p.m., and the model will arrive at 1 p.m. Once the model arrives, the doors will be locked for his privacy. All materials will be provided, but of course you can bring your own. The cost is only 10,000 won to take part. If you would like more info on the Saturday art class, then please go to their Facebook page here. If you need directions on how to get to the GIC, then please click on the link for the Zumba post.

Courtesy of KOTESOL

Courtesy of KOTESOL

This Saturday the Gwangju-Jeonnam chapter of KOTESOL will be holding their monthly meeting. They  welcome members, and non-members for a fun afternoon of professional development. There will be two great presentations, as well as a special section on a book making project. You’ll also get the chance to meet and network with fellow teachers. Meetings are held at Gwangju National University of Education, and you can click on this link for full information. You can also find out what’s going on by checking out their Facebook page. The meeting starts at 1:45, and the first presentation will begin shortly after 2 p.m.

There will be another great family event this weekend sponsored by the Global Families of Gwangju group (GFOG). Since it’s Easter weekend it can only mean that it’s time for their annual Easter Egg Hunt. The main event will of course be the hunt for colorful eggs, but they’ll be much more going on as well. Kids can take part in games, arts and crafts, and even egg decorating. The Easter Egg Hunt will be held at a local park, and to find out the exact directions please see the Facebook event page. The family fun starts at 10 a.m., and goes until 2 p.m. GFOG hopes to see you and your family there!

Courtesy of Doindie

Courtesy of Doindie

The live music scene has really been growing in the past couple of weeks, and a new monthly musical showcase is being added to the mix. Doindie is a promotions group that wants to expand indie music in Korea. Patrick Connor, a Seoul based musician who has performed in Gwangju before, is one of the people behind Doindie. His group will be bringing two bands to rock out Speakeasy on Saturday night. The two bands that are performing at DTSQ, and DirTy RocKHoN. They’ll be tearing up the stage for a very appreciative crowd. There is no cover for this event, so plese come on down to Speakeasy and support indie music in Korea. The show will kickoff at 10 p.m, and if you need more details then please check out the Facebook event page.


Essentials with JD # 279 ** SPRING WALK ALONG GWANGJU STREAM PART 1 **


The weather has changed and it is officially Spring. Before the hot and humid summer weather sets in I will be starting a series about getting outdoors and going for a walk and listen to the sounds of calming flowing water. 


This week I took a stroll along Gwangju Cheon or Gwangju Stream which starts from Mudeung Mountain and passes through 동구, 남구, 북구, 서구. For those who want to take a relaxing walk or if you want to bike it you can enjoy a little bit of nature. The stream ends in the Yeongsan river with a big Eco park and many stop around the way.

IMG_3150 IMG_3149 IMG_3152



For this edition I walked from the Nam Gwangju Market known for its fish as well as the night market which also started up towards Sajik park. I would suggest going during this time as it gets extremely hot and muggy with loads of insects later on the summer. There are lots of benches and stops along the way and also stones in the river if you want to cross. If you are lucky you can also spot some wildlife such as herons and fish in the river. For those with dogs or pets it is also great – just make sure to keep your pets leashed and also no smoking is allowed on the path!


You can exit from Namgwangju Subway station or many busses stop near the there and make your way to the river. There are tons of bridges along the way which light up at night making it perfect for an evening stroll. During some months the river also features a lantern festival

Get out and enjoy!