Gwangju Blog

Essentials with JD # 257 **FALL FOLIAGE AT BAEKYANGSA**


Autumn / Fall is upon us and there is a just a short window of opportunity to see the foliage turn before it is too cold to go outside.

If you wish to see some amazing hues try checking out Baekyangsa which is located near Jangseong, about 40km from Gwangju by car or about 1 hour by bus from Usquare

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“Founded during the reign of King Mu of the Baekje Dynasty (632), Baekyangsa Temple is located within Naejangsan National Park. The combination of the mountain and valleys on both sides creates beautiful scenery. Nature reveals its beauty throughout all seasons here especially the red maple leaves during the fall. “


There are also loads of restaurants and a few coffee shops to fill you up while enjoying an afternoon out.

From Gwangju Central Bus Terminal (U-Square)

– Take a non-stop bus bound for Baekyangsa Temple. (1 hour bus ride / 5,100 won)

– Bus departure times: 06:35 07:35 09:00 11:00 13:20 15:40 17:40 19:40

Long Gone.

Long Gone.


On a Sunday afternoon several weeks ago, I spent time at a location which had for some reason escaped my countryside meanderings the past few years. It was an experience which both conformed to, and transcended my expectations. In short, I saw big rocks. However, getting to those rocks proved half the fun. The roads leading towards the dolmen site meandered through small villages along yellowing fields and workers clad in pink gaiters and broad-rimmed hats. It was one of those rare days which left little excuse to enter the historic site with any mind other than one content with what was. After forty-five minutes, two wrong turns, and an LPG-related pit-stop, I had arrived. I was at largest of several dolmen sites in the Gwangju area.

The Hwasun dolmen site is potentially subversive to the senses. It fails to overwhelm the eye at first, second, or even a prolonged glance. Perhaps sensing this, upon entering the park, spectacle-seekers are given a modest reward for their trouble. What greats them is a giant row of hedges on the embankment of a dam spelling out something or other. (Perhaps my lack of memory regarding what this sign said reveals my priorities all-too-well.) However, those willing to venture past the aforementioned distraction, past the picnic areas, past the sparkling-clean restroom (truly a marvel) and over the next hill are greeted with a seductively beautiful scene. What greets them there are tens, if not hundreds of large boulders gently placed upon flat alters of similar, smaller stones. Dolmens. Do your research. Truly fascinating!

While the majority of cars coast past along this dusty country road, giving only a second or three’s glance out their darkened windows, several folks can be seen sitting among the fields of stone. It is to them whom this setting offers up its deeper secrets. Such was the feeling which slowly enveloped me over the course of several hours among the boulders.

In actuality, no secrets will likely be heard in such a place. Or, if they are heard, they are spoken in a language which very few of us can understand. Such is the age of this place. Perhaps sitting within this unknowing space of pure intention, both from those thousands of years ago, and our own, is the farthest we can extend ourselves across such great distances. However, therein lays the paradox of such a place. For, while we cannot know precisely who made these, or why, or in some cases, even how, these stone giants still remain. They sit with me as I habitually check my Facebook status, think about lunch or my awkward date on Friday night. They remain stubbornly present, in this moment. By doing so, they are not merely a link to the past, but a destroyer of what was. They are here now, with all their incomprehensible mystery, and will likely be after I am long gone.


(This is one of the last photos taken with my Bronica SQ-Ai. On this day I was using a 50mm, semi-wide lens shooting Ilford Delta 400.)


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)


People You Should Know in Gwangju…Thando Mlambo

Happy Friday friends! I hope that you all  have had a lovely week. Today’s person you should know is a newer arrival than many of our past featured Gwangjuites, but her presence has been noticed from the start. A welcome addition to many groups in Gwangju, this week’s person you should know is super active (both in the community and just in general). This Zumba loving, choreographing lady is most certainly a person you should love in Gwangju!

Naturally me

Naturally me

Name: Thando Mlambo

Pen in Ten 2016 photo by Ben Robins

Pen in Ten 2016 photo by Ben Robins

Occupation: ESL Teacher

Length of time in Korea…1 year, 2 months

If I could have any superpower it would be…be able to teleport home when I want.

A great book I would recommend is…Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga & Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My nickname is…Tea.

The show I am most likely to binge watch is…Suits and The Walking Dead or any good comedy.

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is…One Top Fitness. The best damn gym in town!

GPP Cabaret 2015

GPP Cabaret 2015

On my days off I like to…Listen to music, coffee shops and long conversations. Maybe also catch up some sleep.

What is your best tip for living in Korea? Do more, explore more, learn more and eat even more.

What is your favorite game to play? 30 Seconds. South Africans know how they get when they play this game.

Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you…I am a two time national kung-fu champion. *hides*

Describe your dream day in Gwangju…Good company and warm food, maybe a Zumba session somewhere there to start the day.


Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju?

I am a member of the Gwangju Performance Project. As many know, it is an amateur theatre group (full of kickass people) which provides many different performance arts opportunities and development.

I am currently the Workshop coordinator and Head of the Dance Troupe. We are currently working on two big projects, “Little Shop of Horrors” musical where I am choreographing and Cabaret. These will be in November and December.

Zumba Performance

Zumba Performance

We also have dance workshops monthly if you ever feel you want to release that inner Janet Jackson or Michael Jackson. They are full of fun and easy to follow.

I am also an active member of the Zumba collective which is huge fitness movement in Gwangju, all we do is Zumba.

Vagina Monologues 2016

Vagina Monologues 2016

What is the thing you wish more people knew about Gwangju Performance Project? It is for everyone, no experience needed.

What to Do This Weekend: Trivia, Figure Drawing, and Embarrassing Stories!

Hello Gwangju!

Well it seems like mother nature just flipped a switch and let us know that winter is not far away. Break out those coats and see what’s happening in Gwangju!

Friday, November 4th

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Trivia is back this Friday night at Speakeasy. Grab a group of friends (up to four), or just come on down and join a group. It only costs 5,000 won to enter, and you’ll have a chance of winning cash and prizes. The second place team will get their money back, and first place will take the rest of the pot. Quiz master Sarah will be calling out the questions, and Derek and his staff will keep you from getting thirsty. This will be the last trivia night for awhile due to the winter vacation season. Keep checking the blog for when it will return! For more information about trivia night, check out the Facebook event page.

Saturday, November 5th

Courtesy of Gwangju Art Class

Courtesy of Gwangju Art Class

It’s a new month of Saturday art classes at the GIC! November will start with a male body figure drawing class. Free drawing will begin at 12:30 p.m., and the model arrives at 1 p.m. Once the model gets there, the door will be locked for their privacy. The cost of the class is only 10,000 won, and materials will be provided for you (you may also bring your own). The class will run until 3 p.m. All Saturday art classes are held at the GIC. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. For details about the class itself, please go to the Facebook event page here. This Saturday’s class will be led by Áine Byrne.

You know that Loft 28 is a great place to hang out on the weekends, but did you know it’s also a place to get great food? They serve appetizers, gourmet sandwiches, Jamaican cusine, and for you vegetarians out there, fresh hummus. So get over to Loft 28 to enjoy their delicious (and eclectic!) menu. While you’re there you might as well stay and have a drink and enjoy the fun that is Saturday night at Loft! For more details about their menu, and what is happening this weekend, please go to their Facebook page.

Courtesy of the GPP

Courtesy of the GPP

Tonight at the GIC you’ll be able to hear another round of embarassing stories from your fellow Gwangju citizens. That’s right, it’s time for another edition of Mortified! If you have a funny and/or embarassing story, and you feel brave enough to tell it, then come to the GIC starting at 7 p.m. The audience will decide who has the best story, and the winner will receive a 100,000 won gift certificate to Lotte! Think of all the winter clothes you can get. The Gwangju Performance Project (GPP) will be sponsoring this event, and they will be selling goodies to help raise money for the organization. For more details about this fun event, please check out the Facebook event page.


Sunday November, 6th

Help out our furry, four legged friends by volunteering at a local animal shelter. Every Sunday a group of people go to a local shelter to help walk dogs there. If you are interested, then check out their Facebook page for more information.

Today will be your last day to catch the Gwangju Biennale! For more details, please follow this link.

Where To Eat Wednesday: 동명동 소주집

Though I may be passionate about food, I often feel like as someone who doesn’t partake in much alcohol, I can’t actually call myself a foodie. With the number of bars that offer fantastic food in the city, I’m often left wondering about the world of delicious drunk food I’m missing out on. Being the curious person that I am, every so often, I’ll force myself out of that comfort zone and make it a point to check out such places with hopes that the food will be good. Luckily, that’s how things usually seem to go.


I was invited to check out 동명동 소주집 by an acquaintance who had nothing but positive things to say about the place after having spent a significant amount of time there. It should be noted at this point that this is technically a sponsored review, as my food was paid for (against me requesting otherwise). That being said, all of my praises and critiques are ones I stand by, and the following is no different.

I arrived on a slightly rainy Sunday with a friend of mine. I was told that it would be better to come at this time, as the place is known to get fairly packed during typical drinking times. Though it took a bit of walking, the place was surprisingly easy to find, especially when considering how much the warm glow coming from inside and old fashioned wooden decor made the place stand out.

As we entered, it was evident that there weren’t a whole lot of seats available. Luckily, we were able to snag a table before the place was mostly full. Once we got comfortable, we received an adorable, handwritten menu that was entirely in Korean with no pictures. There were a handful of food options that apparently all went well with alcohol. Some of the common choices included 해물파전 (haemul pajeon), which is the classic seafood pancake, 돼지 김치 찌개 (dwaeji kimchi chigae), pork kimchi stew, and 육회 (yukhoe), seasoned raw beef. Since we had no idea what to get, we took recommendations until we settled on the 쥐글쥐글 닭똥집 (jwigeuljwigeul dalgttongjib) and the 존슨탕 (jonseuntang). We also got some drinks, though due to me not being much of a drinker, I ended up focusing mostly on a bottle of ramune, which is a Japanese soda that’s famous for having a glass marble in the bottle.


While waiting for our food, I made a bit of a mess while breaking into my bottle of liquid sugar. As the waitstaff kindly hooked me up with a roll of toilet paper to wipe up my mess, we were given an appetizer serving of raw sweet potatoes and a sweet chili sauce to snack on. The starchy snack was a little strange, but not as sweet as I feared it would be.

Before long, we received our 쥐글쥐글 닭똥집, which arrived piping hot and wrapped in foil. I wasn’t told exactly what I was eating until after I took a bite of chewy and deliciously marinated meat that had been cooked with whole cloves of garlic. Though I was eventually informed that I was eating chicken anuses, I actually didn’t mind. The chewiness was actually kind of fun. The dish came with both mayonnaise and a combination of sesame oil to use as dipping sauces, which added some nice flavors to an already interesting dish. We also put our leftover slices of sweet potato into the simmering marinade while it was still hot so that they could soak up some of that goodness while cooking a bit at the same time. I may have had a little too much garlic at this point, as those slightly charred cloves were favorite aspect of this dish.


Our favorite part of the evening came in the form of 존슨탕, which is a spicy stew filled with luncheon meat, sausages, vegetables, and slices of processed cheese. It came in a cheap pot and a burner to heat everything up, sending me back to the days when I used to go camping in the country with my grandfather. Now, the broth alone was quite tasty, but once the cheese melted and got mixed in with everything else, there was a rich and creamy aspect of the dish that my friend and I found rather addictive. As a sucker for all things Spam, the luncheon meat was my favorite part, especially after it had soaked up so much of that broth. The hot soup went beautifully with the few sips of beer I had. If we weren’t so full, I definitely would have gone with the option of having ramen noodles added to the already delicious stew.

Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to 동명동 소주집 quite a bit. Though I’m not much of a drinker, the food was more than enough to keep me satisfied. The general vibe of the place was both welcoming and comfortable. Due to the limited seating space, I wouldn’t recommend this place for large parties of any sort. That being said, if you’re looking for a spot to hang out with some friends over drinks and good food, then this spot is definitely worth checking out.

Address: 광주광역시 동구 동명동 235-7 (near Chonnam Girls High School)
Phone: N/A
Hours: 6:00PM to 4:00PM
Average Price Range: 14,000 to 20,000 per dish