Gwangju Blog

What to Do This Weekend: Ice Skating, A Holiday Pub Crawl, and Christmas!

Hello Gwangju!

I just want to wish all the readers of the Gwangju Blog a Merry Christmas! Here are some things you can do this holiday weekend.

Friday, December 23rd

A lot of Gwangju residents have been asking when the ice skating rink will open for the holiday season. Well, the wait is over because the rink is now open for ice skating fun! The rink is located at Gwangju City Hall, and is open from 10: a.m. to 5:40 p.m. on the weekdays, and open until 8:20 p.m. on the weekends and holidays. You can also check out JD’s column for more info about skating in town, and another place to go to in Naju. You can get to City Hall by taking buses 01, 16, 22, 25, 38, 45, 46, 50, 62, 63, 64, and 518. You can also go to the Gwangju City website for more details as well.

Saturday, December 24th

 Courtesy of the ACC

Courtesy of the ACC

The Asia Culture Center (ACC) will be open Christmas weekend, so head on over and discover exhibits on everything from architecture, to Thailand. The ACC is also a great place to bring the kids as well. For more information about what’s happening this weekend, please check out their website. Even if you’re just walking around downtown enjoying the winter weather, the ACC is a beautiful place to take a stroll!

Many Gwangju residents might be celebrating their first Christmas away from family. Don’t be a victim of homesickness; come out and celebrate with your friends as you make your way through some of the city’s drinking establishments. That’s right, it’s time for the annual 12 Pubs of Christmas! I think the name says it all-a 12 bar crawl through some of the best bars in town! Can you make it to the last one? Will you remember the last one?! For more info about this merry event, please go to the Facebook event page here. Remember, you’ll have all of Christmas to recover! It all begins at 7:30 p.m.

Courtesy of Loft 28

Courtesy of Loft 28

Hey Bill, Loft 28 has to have a party on Christmas Eve right? The answer is, of course! Loft will be offering special Christmas cocktails, and there will be two different contests. Make sure to wear your ugliest Christmas sweater for a chance to win a free bottle. There will also be a dirty Santa dance off for a free bottle as well. Come celebrate Christmas with your friends at Loft 28! The party begins at 10 p.m., and you can go to their Facebook page for more info.

Sunday, December 25th

Courtesy of Tequilaz

Courtesy of Tequilaz

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Two of Gwangju’s most popular hangouts will be open on Christmas Day. First, Tequilaz will be serving lots of Christmas cheer. There will be Christmas night specials such as 3 shots of Jamesons for 12,000 won, and 4 shots of tequila for 10,000 won. For more details, please go to Tequilaz’s Facebook page. After you start your holiday celebrating at Tequilaz, keep it going by visiting Speakeasy. They’ll be open starting at 7 p.m. to make sure no one feels alone at Christmas. Meet your friends, or make some new ones at Speakeasy! Two great places to make sure that you’ll have a great Christmas in Gwangju.

Get ready Gwangju because next weekend is the last one of 2016!

Where to Eat Wednesday: 호남주먹구이

During the holidays, it can be easy to fall into the trap of spending too much to celebrate this chilly and festive season. As fun as the experience may be, it’s not uncommon to feel a little light in the wallet after sending out gifts all over the world. Though I can’t speak for anyone else, I definitely find myself seeking out affordable dinner spots to keep me fed until next year’s first paycheck.


I found myself meeting a couple of folks for dinner in the Chonnam Backgate area a few weeks back. We were a little torn on where we wanted to go for dinner, but it was clear that none of us were in the mood to spend too much. After some walking around while checking out recommendations, we ended up at 호남주먹구이 (Honam Jumok Gui) for dinner.

Despite having walked by this restaurant many times, I never thought to give it a visit. I had assumed for a long time that this was another typical meat spot, and I wasn’t exactly wrong. This spot perfectly fit what I imagined would be the textbook definition of a Korean BBQ restaurant in terms of decor. The only aspect of it that wasn’t so traditional was presence of chairs, which was quite appreciated. What ultimately grabbed my attention was the menu.


The small, yet efficient menu offered only three choices when it came to protein. The main feature was 주먹구이 (jumok gui), which translates to “grilled fist”. The name actually refers to a cut of pork that is shaped like a fist, and is not actually made of any sort of fist meat. For those in search of something more familiar, there was 생삼겹살 (saeng samgyupsal), which is the classic pork belly that most of us have tried within our first month in Korea. The last of the protein available was 새우한판 (saewoo hanpan), which is basically whole, grilled shrimp. While the menu wasn’t particularly exciting in terms of its offerings, what really set it apart from most other places I’ve been is the fact that everything was under 6,000 won. Considering how each order of meat comes in servings of 200 grams (or 10 pieces of shrimp, that was an amazing bargain. I also loved how cheap the sides were, including a 1,000 won portion of 계란찜 (gyeran jjim), which is steamed egg served in an earthenware pot that stands as one of my absolute favorite side dishes. Since everything was so affordable, we ended up getting one of all the meat options, some bowls of rice, and those eggs that had caught my attention.


After we placed our order, our table was quickly filled with the usual sides and sauces one would expect at any place offered grilled meat. Our grill was set up, our meat arrived, and we were cooking things up in no time. The 주먹구이 came in relatively easy to manage pieces, making for easy flipping as it cooked. Though my friends weren’t too thrilled at its high fat content, I personally didn’t mind. After all, fat is where flavor is, right? It was a similar situation with the 생삼겹살, which wasn’t very thin or thick in terms of how it was cut. The 새우한판 came with surprisingly large portions of whole shrimp, though I wasn’t too thrilled at the thought of having to clean them after cooking them. These were added last, as shrimp tends to cook much faster than pork. We also filled our grill up with mushrooms and garlic, as that is how it should always be done.


When it came time to eat, everything was pretty delicious and as standard as could be. I practically inhaled the piping hot pot of eggs, and probably would have asked for more if I hadn’t already burned my tongue from the first batch. Some of the portions of meat were a little on the tougher side, but it definitely wasn’t an issue for any of us. If I had any criticisms about this restaurant, it would be due to their sides, especially their cold noodles. After we had finished our meat, we ordered two portions of 냉면 (naengmyeon), a cold soup version and a spicy mixed version. While I usually love this dish in both forms, what we got here was sweet to the point where it was off-putting. It was nice to see that they were using what I assumed were green tea noodles, but both the broth and sauce they came in were far too sugary for my tastes.

Overall, my trip to 호남주먹구이 was both tasty and affordable. I can’t remember the last time I was able to spend under 25,000 to fill up three people with grilled meat and some extras, but I imagine any fan of the grill would agree with me when I say that such experiences are rare. The restaurant is quite large, so groups are parties are more than welcome. There are no English menus available, but considering how limited the options are, I can’t really see this being a problem.

Address: 광주광역시 북구 중흥동 275-2 (near the Bukgu District Office)
Phone: 062-252-4273
Hours: 3:00PM to 2:00AM
Average Price Range: 6,000 to 8,000 per person

Essentials with JD # 263 **ICE SKATING**


Looking for something to do this Christmas weekend? How about going ice skating? With options in Gwangju or about 30 min away in Naju.

The first is in Sangmu outside of the Gwangju City Hall which extends to  

1,800 square meters and can hold up to 300 visitors per time slot.  

The Rink opens from 10 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8:20 p.m. on weekends and public holidays and skate and helmet rental is only 1000won.

The skating rink will be in operation until the last day of January. Accessible by bus or subway is about 20 min walk 


The second and probably less crowded option is in Naju City,

Geumgye- dong which opens this Friday 23rd.  With 1,200 square meters about  500 visitors can enjoy the ice per session. Rental of skates and helmets are 2,000 won and runs until February 20th, open every day from 10:00am to 8:00pm.


Some tips for going skating includes wearing clothes with enough room to move around in as well as wearing gloves to protect your hands in case of a fall.


Stay warm and Season’s greetings.


Sweet Relief.

Sweet Relief


The relative warmth over the weekend has revealed a larger number of people to emerge from their pre-emptive winter retreats. It was wonderful to see. My 6×6 tlr was no-doubt happy to have something to photograph beyond the usual mid-December urban drudgery. However, film development will have to wait at least two more days. In the meantime, above rests an image for your only slightly-diminished viewing pleasure. A gaggle of makoli bottles it is. That’s right, nothing cures moderate December homesickness quite like walking into a small room packed to the brim with an assortment of regional unrefined rice wines.

Oh the purest of joys. Such was my feeling when a local sound-art residency performance turned into a gregarious display of social immodesty. In fact, the work which emerged from this years Sound Art Residency in Namwon was not only topnotch, but dare I say it, inspiring! However, it seems that I remain a slow learner as to what to expect after such inspiration takes place. For example, on this day, I had forgotten that such displays of makolic-wealth should be expected at the end of local artistic performances or exhibition openings. Having attended more such openings than I currently care to recall, I somehow retain my surprise at their choreographed nature. If often proceeds as such:

  • 1. guests arrive, slowly partake in art-ing (in this case, interacting with local/foreign soundart)
  • 2. everyone sits (if floor is warm), or stands in some sort of semi-circular mash while a mic is given to what usually is the oldest man in the room slash artistic director slash important financial backer
  • 3. incredibly long speech commences
  • 4. mic given to next most important person (have also seen this process inverted, from least important first climaxing with the headiest of honchos)
  • 5. ridiculously long speech given
  • 6. steps 2-6 repeated ad nauseam
  • 7. out comes the booze, and possibly food as reward for enduring said specticle
  • 8. more art-ing if time, or rather, sobriety allows

Given such a sequence of events, there is little doubt as to potential joy inherent in being greeted with an image like the one above. Happy post-art, pre-holiday indulgences to all, and to all, a monday worth enduring.

[The photo above was taken with my aging Iphone 5, still truckin’, yet dying a slow, inevitable death.]

(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)


People You Should Know in Gwangju…Rob Smith

Good day Gwangju! I hope you are all enjoying your Friday, and are staying warm! This week we have another member of the community to meet. This community member has been here for almost 13 years and is one of the champions for Gwangju’s Animal Shelter. For those of you that are looking for a place to donate your time or money, (or maybe looking for a new furry family member) I’d like you to meet this weeks person you should know in Gwangju.

Dog Shelter

Dog Shelter

Name…Rob Smith

Occupation…English Instructor at Chosun University

Hometown…Rodney, Ontario

Length of time in Korea…Just under 13 years, I came to Korea in March, 2004.

My hometown is famous for…having the smallest, oldest jail in North America. Many years ago the town renovated it and tried to market it as a tourist attraction. It didn’t work.

I wish I could…find a home for every shelter dog in Gwangju.

If I could have any superpower it would be…teleportation. I love traveling but hate paying for plane tickets 😉

My nickname is…Smitty

Nieces in Canada

With my nieces in Canada

The show I am most likely to binge watch is…Breaking Bad

My favorite sport to play is…baseball.

The food I am best known for is…barbecued meat cooked on my grill on my patio.

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is…my apartment where I currently live.

On my days off I like to…volunteer at the Gwangju Animal Shelter

My favorite movie is…Good Will Hunting, Back to the Future, and many many more

How did you end up in Gwangju? I was a business major in university and worked at 2 different accounting firms after graduating university. I was unhappy and unsatisfied in that line of work, and after I left my second firm I was very lost and confused about my career path. I was on the job website “Monster” looking for ideas and inspiration when I stumbled across a post by a recruiter looking for teachers in Korea. I had always wanted to travel again (my only other big trip was a backpacking trip in Europe during university), so I decided to submit my resume. The recruiter placed me in Gwangju, and 3 weeks later I was on a plane to Korea.  

What is your best tip for living in Korea? Get involved in the community. Ask yourself, “what is my passion?”, and search for others that share that same passion. Chances are there is already a club or group that does that thing, but if not, start it yourself. Also, learn to read Korean. It makes your life so much easier, especially at restaurants.  

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends

What is your surefire way to beat the blues when you are feeling homesick? Easy – hop on Skype and video chat with family or a close friend.

What is the oddest job you have ever had? Two come to mind – The first was in high school when I was the lobby cleaner at McDonald’s. I spent a lot of time cleaning public bathrooms and changing garbages. It was pretty gross at times. The second was my summer job between first and second year of university. I worked at the local wood factory manufacturing house and truck flooring. I unloaded raw materials, piled wood on carts, trimmed wood with a saw, and was even the forklift driver’s assistant. It was a hard job, a 10 hour afternoon shift 4 nights a week, and it definitely motivated me to study harder in university.

What is your favorite game to play? Euchre (the greatest card game EVER)

Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you. When I was in middle school our house was struck by lightning on a Saturday afternoon in February. There was a huge explosion when the bolt came down our TV antenna, through the basement window and hit our electric power box. 20 minutes before the explosion I was in the same room playing Nintendo. The only reason I stopped playing was because my mom told me to go upstairs and do my homework.  

Describe your dream day in Gwangju. It would be sometime in mid May on a Sunday – I sleep in late, enjoy brunch at the First Alleyway, spend the afternoon walking dogs at the Gwangju Animal Shelter, come home and shower, head to Champions Field and watch a KIA Tigers game, eat dinner at Thai Holic with friends after the game, and watch a movie on my couch with my 2 dogs to wrap up the day.  

Kia Tigers game

Kia Tigers game

Are there any places/services/experiences in Gwangju you can recommend that a lot of people may not know about? I think you can pretty much find anything you need or want by just asking on the Gwangju page on Facebook nowadays.  

Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju? I volunteer at the Gwangju Animal Shelter, and this year I was the treasurer for the Adopt-A-Child for Christmas initiative.

What are some future plans that you have for your organization? Fundraising events (including one this Saturday), weekly visits to the shelter, and hopefully a lot more rescuing and finding homes for dogs.  

For more information about the shelter or their upcoming events please follow the links. This Saturday’s Fundraiser is being brought to you by: 

GACHI (Gwangju Animal Care Humane Institute), a logachical animal welfare non profit is hosting a fundraiser at a local doggie kindergarten. You can come between 6-9 to enjoy music and buy some baked goods and other items for pets. There is a 3,000 won entrance fee which will be donated. The profits will go towards buying dog food for the Gwangju Animal Shelter and to help dogs currently in rescue who need medical assistance. You may bring pets but they must stay on a leash. Hope to see you there 🙂 Please see the event poster for more details.