Gwangju Blog

Lost n Found.



The photo above is striking for the simplicity in which it renders its subject. A lone television, rusting and encrusted with mud sits alone in a vast expanse of intense green sprouts. What offsets the tube from its surroundings is not just the difference in shape and color, but what each of these disparate elements symbolize. How often can we see a touch of decay amid such new, unrestrained growth? Living in South or North Jeolla province, we are sometimes privy to such seeming contradictions. In fact, some longer-term ex-patriot residents to the region could likely react little to such juxtapositions. This makes sense, as even locals often react with amused perplexity when asked their take on the rapidity of change and decay of local landmarks and other once familiar elements of Gwangju’s visual culture. Personally, while a relative new-comer to the Gwangju area, I too have been guilty of such a laze-faire attitude towards the unexpected. While driving south of Gwangju, a variety of once unusual sights now warrant nary a look as I speed by.


Newly-built skyscrapper


Junked car painted hot pink to advertise already defunct bicycle shop?

(say huh?)

Life-size plastic cut-out of a horse perched gently on the roof of minivan hurtling down the expressway at twice the speed limit?

(puh-lease, what else you got?)


Yet, when we stop not-looking, yet also hold off from the instinctual (yet depressing) search for new photographic inspiration, sometimes the universe kicks one our way. Such was the case with the dry reservoir bed pictured above. When exiting the city this week for calmer climes, it becomes readily apparent that the summer drought has demanded more than its usual share of local water reserves. In this case, the waters in the small, man-made lake had receded to the point of revealing treasures once lost to the naked eye. Out of several hidden gems, the television beckoned the most. The result of recent rains, the fresh growth which surrounded it exploded into the frame with a green rivaled only by the rice-patties of rural Cambodia. Amidst this fluffy expression of new life sat an object which had the power to snap me out of my malaise. This poor, once-forgotten appliance reminded me yet again that each place does indeed carry its secrets. And, while such mysteries may be temporarily out of view, it does not mean that they are lost.


[Photo taken using my Nikon d600 while shooting with a 60mm f2.8d lens. One very few nice ‘d’ lenses in my opinion.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)



What to Do This Weekend: A Festival Downtown, Live Music, and Date Night!

Hello Gwangju!

It’s the last holiday weekend until Christmas. There’s a lot to do, so let’s get started!

Courtesy of the Gwangju Art Class

Courtesy of the Gwangju Art Class

The Saturday Art Class at the GIC kicks off its October schedule with a Female Figure Drawing class. The class begins at 12:30 p.m., and the model will arrive at 1 p.m. Once the model arrives the doors will be locked for privacy  (the model will be nude). All levels are welcome to attend, and the cost of the class is 10,000 won. Materials will be provided for you, but you are free to bring your own if you want. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. For more details about the class itself, you can go to the Facebook event page here. This Saturday’s class will be led by Jen Lee.

The 7080 Chungjang Recollection Festival began yesterday, and runs through until October 3rd. The festival is one that is uniquely Gwangju in that it recreates what it was like to live in the city during those decades. There will be musical performances, shopping, food (lots of it!), and activities for kids. The festival will be taking place in many locations downtown, including the Asia Culture Center (ACC), and Art Street. It’s one of the best festivals of the fall here, and with the holiday weekend it’s a great opportunity to check it out. My advice is to take public transportation. Driving around downtown will be a nightmare! For more info, please check out JD’s column here on the blog.

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

Loft 28 is taking advantage of the long weekend by offering two nights of fun! Saturday will be hip hop night, and that kicks off at 11 p.m. Then on Sunday you can enjoy the best of 80’s and 90’s music, which also begins at 11 p.m. Two great nights of music at Loft this weekend . . . what are you waiting for?! For more details and directions to Loft 28, please go to their Facebook page.

What better way to start off October than with a marathon of horror movies? This Saturday the Gwangju Movie Club will be doing just that. They’ll be showing classics like The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, and other movies that will send a chill up your spine! Personally, I think The Exorcist is the scariest film out there. The marathon is being held at the Korea Mac/PC Guys office, and while it is free, a donation to the Guys would be appreciated. For more info about this event, please go to the Facebook event page here.

Courtesy of Adopt-A-Child-For Christmas

Courtesy of Adopt-A-Child-For Christmas

Looking for a fun night out? Want to meet some new friends, possibly even Mr. or Mrs. Right? Then you need to head to Tequiulaz on Saturday night for the Date Auction to benefit Adopt-A-Child for Christmas. Last year’s event was so successful that they decided to do it again. You can bid on a date, or you can just come and watch the fun. It all begins at Tequilaz at 10 p.m. Plus as an added bonus (as if you needed any), you know that the staff at Tequilaz will take care of all your food and drink needs. For more details about the event, go to their Facebook event page. Come on down to Tequilaz on Saturday night! Remember, it’s to help out others.

Courtesy of Club Bohemian

Courtesy of Club Bohemian

This Saturday will be a great night of live music at Club Bohemian. There will be four rock bands playing, and it all starts at 7 p.m. Oh, did I mention the best part? It’s free to get in. Yes, there’s no cover to enjoy all the bands that are performing. For more details and directions to Bohemian, you can go to their Facebook page. Just in case you didn’t get it the first time I mentioned it, it’s a free concert!

Enjoy the weekend Gwangju!

People You Should Know in Gwangju…Douglas Baumwoll

Hola Gwangju! This weeks person you should know is a great resource if you’re looking to up your Spanish game, or become a bit more relaxed and centered. This native of Pennsylvania is known for his Indian Cuisine and his unfailing support of local Gwangju charities. Here in his own words is Doug Baumwoll a person you should know in Gwangju!


Name…Douglas Baumwoll

Photo by Ben Robins

Photo by Ben Robins

Occupation…Public School Teacher Trainer

Hometown…Lewisburg, PA, USA

Length of time in Korea…7 years

My hometown is famous for…Bucknell University and a maximum security federal pennitentiary

A great book I would recommend is…“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini

My nickname is…Slug (yes, I like to sleep)

The show I am most likely to binge watch is…Law & Order (original series)

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is…Gungjeon Bakery in Bukgu (sugar free brown bread!)

On my days off I like to…read, binge watch, and hike at Mudeungsan.


How did you end up in Gwangju? I moved here from Andong for a new job at the Jeollanamdo Educational Training Institute.


What is your best tip for living in Korea? Be flexible, tolerant, nonjudgmental, and in the moment.

What is your surefire way to beat the blues when you are feeling homesick? Blast the Stones or the Dead (or Hendrix) and cook something expensive and imported.

Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you…I have worked as a dishwasher, waiter, bartender, bouncer, gardener, carpenter, engineer, language teacher, fire-fighter test administrator, mover, dog-walker, dairy stocker, translator, freelance editor, and writer.

Are there any places/services/experiences in Gwangju you can recommend that a lot of people may not know about? I don’t know how many folks have been to the 5-18 monument and cemetery just north of town, but it is an absolute must-experience. I have been to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and though the scale is certainly not the same, the underlying emotions I felt were very similar.

Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju? I founded the Gwangju Spanish Club and have helped to resurrect the Gwangju Meditation Group. I also founded a small writers group, but that is private at this point in time.

You can join Doug, and other writers this Friday for their event “Shut Up and Write!” More information can be found here. Also there is a Brunch and Mudeung Temple Meditation event this Sunday. More information can be found here.   

Where to Eat Wednesday: 1913 송정역시장 (Part 2)

Last week, I wrote about the savory aspects of what has quickly become my favorite place in Songjeong. In case you missed it, here is a link to said post.

While the savory offerings at the 1913 송정역시장 (1913 Seongjeong-yeok Shijang), it should be noted that there’s so much that goes beyond fried goodies and meat on a stick. Though this post will be a little shorter by comparison, I thought it would be cool to cover the sweeter aspects of this traditionally hip street while also bringing some focus to some of the lesser known shops.


Though I was quite full from my savory journey, my sweet tooth began acting upon noticing the many dessert and drink options that were scattered throughout the street. My friend and I were mildly devastated to see that the 호떡 (hotteok) place had closed for the night, especially after she had told me how amazing it was. Considering how amazing 호떡 is in general, I could only imagine how good it was here. I’m planning to return soon to try one (or three) once the weather gets cooler.

As we walked along, I noticed a long line outside of a small bakery named 또아식빵 (Ttoasik Ppang). After a bit of research that came in the form of me bugging my friend for answers, I learned that this bakery was quite famous for its fresh bread that was only offered in limited portions. From what the signs said, they only bake around 50 loaves at a time (once every few hours) and are limited to one per customer. To get around this, entire families were sitting together for what would easily be a forty minute wait. From what I could tell, the bread came in flavors like Cheese, Chestnut, Pizza, and Chocolate. Had there not been a large crowd already in line, I probably would have waited to see what the hype was about. Unfortunately, there was no way I was going to get any bread within the next two hours, so I opted to move on.


After a bit of walking, we ended up at 쑥’s 초코파이 (Ssook’s Choco Pie). As someone who grew up eating the packaged and processed version that’s pretty much the Korean answer to Moon Pie, the idea of having a version of it made from scratch left me curious. To make things extra interesting, the pies were offered in different flavors like Original, Blueberry, Banana, Mango, and even Strawberry. I ended up trying the 쑥 (Ssook) flavor, which translates to Wormwood and is the stuff that’s used to make green rice cakes. As I bit into my purchase, I was reminded of a simpler time, but without the awkward processed aftertaste. The texture was a little more cake-like than I remembered, but it was still pleasant. I was also quite happy that the sweetness wasn’t overpowering, as it made it possible to enjoy the whole thing in a few bites without feeling overwhelmed.

As we continued walking, I grabbed a 미숫가루 (misutgaru) drink, which is basically like a thick shake made with mixed grains, and browsed through sweets ranging from bagels, coffee, rice cakes, to even shaved ice. As I looked around, it was also fun to see places selling local ingredients like noodles, different types of rice, dried fish, produce, and even meat. Outside of food, there were also old fashioned stores that offered toys, blankets, and even Gwangju-themed stationery.


Eventually, our evening came to an end. As we left, we made one last stop at a handmade dessert shop to grab a couple of adorable popsicles. While I unfortunately don’t remember the name of the place, it had a number of delicious looking candy and sweets that would dangerous for any diet. The milky icy treats we got were delicious, but they melted pretty fast, forcing us to chomp down while trying not to make a mess (I failed).

At the end of the night, I walked away from the 1913 송정역시장 with a full stomach and happy mood. The entire trip was as fun as it was delicious, and it was clear that everyone else walking out with me was feeling the same. I would definitely recommend this place as a necessity for anyone coming through Gwangju, especially for visitors from out of town who might not be feeling brave enough to take on some of the more traditional markets in the city.

Address: 광주 광산구 송정로8번길 13 (across the street from the Seongjeong KTX Station)
Phone: 050-7145-53434
Hours: Varies
Average Price Range: Varies

Essentials with JD # 251 **CHUNGJANG STREET 70/80’S FESTIVAL **


The 13th Chungjang Festival (충장축제), the biggest street culture festival in the nation, will open this weekend September 29th to October 3rd, for 5 days.

The theme this year is ‘Beyond Memory, To the Future’ and will take place downtown the ACC and will feature 29 newly launched programs and will offer various and amazing cultural activities to visitors so as to give them good, unforgettable memories about Gwangju.


The festival also features various kpop and korean singers in concerts in the evening from around 8pm, and this year will feature Crush, Romantic punch and Han Hae to name a few.


If you want to see the concerts make sure you get there early as seats fill up fast.


Also this Wednesday is the last Wedneday of the month is Culture day where various places will be offering discounts and most museums will be free. Be sure to check out ACC creation which opens till 9pm and Yangrim dong will also be having their 1930’s festival with cosplaying and music from 1930’s.