Gwangju Blog

Essentials with JD # 238 ** JEONJU ULTIMATE MUSIC FESTIVAL 5-8 AUGUST 2016**


Love Korean music and want to enjoy it in a great outdoor atmosphere?

JUMF or the Jeonju Ultimate Music Festival will be happening at the start of August with an amazing line up for a 3 day festival at price that can’t be beat.


Sometimes the treck to Seoul or some of the other parts of the country can be quite tedious and time consuming and not to mention a drain on the budget – but with music festivals becoming a hot item in Korea – this festival in Jeonju is a real treat.


Ticket prices range bought from May 5th to August 4th till 5pm

1day pass – 45,000 Won, 2days – 65,000 Won 3days – 85,000 Won if booked online before the festival. And you will be able to see some of Korea’s best acts live!


Line up includes I.O.I, DJ DOC, Zion T, Bobby Kim, Gukkasten, Crying Nut, Romantic Punch, No Brain, YB, BuHwal, Rose Motel and many more

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The greatest thing is that it takes about 1 hour from Gwangju by bus to get to Jeonju and not only can you enjoy the festival but also the historical Hanok village and delicious regional food that the city has to offer i.e Bibimbap and some great makolli too.


If you will be around during the start of August this is a great festival to check out. For more info copy and paste the links below



School’s out

School's Out


This week’s photo has special significance for those of us who in one way or another have experience within the Korean school system. As such, it is not only culturally specific but also environmentally so. At first glance, the average viewer can note the pleasing composition. Symmetrical sets of leading lines easily bring the eye to the subject at the end of the hallway. As the umbrella rests gently against the back wall, our eyes may even be drawn to the top of the stem. If so, we are again being drawn into the frame even further as the star-shape supports for the umbrella provide even more lines with which to focus our attention on the single black dot at their center.

However, what significance could such an object have in such a place, at such a time of year? Well, to set the setting, the country is, of course, South Korea. Specifically, this photo shows an empty dormitory hallway at a university in Naju, just south of Gwangju city. It is now late June, and most students have returned home after final exams. A hallway which until recently bustled with actively now finds itself in waiting. When knowing more of the setting, we can almost feel the uneasiness which often comes with sudden silence spaces.

As the rainy season approaches, umbrellas often become a necessary accessory in Gwangju (and for that matter, throughout the peninsula). The day before this photo was taken was likely provided no exception to such a fundamental fact of summer life in the region. However, on this day, as we can see, the afternoon sun rebelled against such expectations, and confidently shone through the windows lining the hallway.



On a personal note, when taking this photo, I actually happened to have both color film and black and white film available. What first caught my eye was the bright red hue of the umbrella in an otherwise white, grey, and blue hallway. However, what happened in the minute that followed was a feeling of unexpected stillness in a location which has just days prior been teeming with life. As such, I grabbed a roll of Delta 400 and gambled that a proper exposure and composition could portray this sense of stillness. Now, some time later, I find myself wondering as to the emotional impact which such a color photo would have made on the viewer. Nevertheless, I will still have both rolls ready when venturing out into increasingly darkening skies as the rainy season approaches.


[Photo taken with my Bronica Sq-ai. This camera has removable film backs which can be swapped at will, thus giving the photographer more leeway to choose a film which best suits the shot she/he desires to make.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)



What to Do This Weekend: A Theater Festival, A Flea Market, and Ladies Night!

Hello Gwangju!

It’s another weekend, so let’s see what there is to do!

Courtesy of the GPP

Courtesy of the GPP

The plays have been chosen. The auditions have been held. Now, in honor of their fifth anniversary, the Gwangju Performance Project is ready to bring you the “Pen in 10” festival this Saturday, the 25th. Over 15, ten minute plays will be presented, and all of them have been written by local residents. The GPP have performed plays by big name playwrights, but now it’s time to see local talent on the stage. Advance tickets are now available (up until 5 p.m. today), so go to their website,, see what ticket package is best for you, and then email: with your order. The plays will be performed at the Tong theater, and the doors will open at 2 p.m. The performances will start at 3 p.m. It’s great that Gwangju has such a productive theater scene, so please show your support by going to the “Pen in 10” festival this Saturday! Fore more information, please go the Facebook event page.


This Saturday’s art class at the GIC will be all about  female figure drawing. The class will begin at 12:30 p.m., and the model will arive at 1 p.m. The door will then be locked for the safety of the model (the model will be nude). Of course all materials will be supplied for you (you can also bring your own if you wish). For more information about the class, please go to their Facebook event page here. For directions to the GIC, please go to their website. The fee for the class is only 10,000 won. This weekend’s class will be led by Susan Sahab. There will also be a second art event later on Saturday featuring art from the Sketchbook Challenge. This will also be held at the GIC, and it will start at 5 p.m. For more details about this event, please see the Facebook event page.

Courtesy of Sochon Art Factory

Courtesy of Sochon Art Factory

A new flea market is happening this Saturday at the Sochon Industrial Complex. You can enjoy handmade items, delicious food and drinks, and even live music. The market will be held on the last Saturday of the month until October. If you would like more information about the flea market, then check out their Facebook page. You can also check out the photo next to this post. The market runs from 11 a.m., to 3 p.m.

loft ladies 2

Courtesy of Loft 28

It’s another Ladies Night this Saturday at Loft 28! Any group of 4 ladies or more will receive a free bottle of gin, rum, or vodka. In order to take advantage of this, you must make a reservation. To do this, simply go to Loft’s Facebook page.  Don’t forget about day drinking on the roof patio during the weekend at Loft as well!


What else is happening?

Local artist Michael Simon will have an opening reception for his latest exhibition entitled, “For Awhile Just Not Forever” this Saturday at 6 p.m. at Kunst lounge. For directions to Kunst Lounge, and more details about the show, please go to the Facebook event page here. Please support local artists!

There will be an after party for the “Pen in 10” festival happening at Speakeasy Saturday night. The party begins at 10 p.m.

Cap off the weekend by walking dogs at a local shelter! Please go to the Facebook event page for more information.

People You Should Know in Gwangju…Caitlin O’Neill

This weeks person you should know is no stranger to the stage. She is the current president of the GPP (Gwangju Performance Project), and a singer for Malarkey. She is currently taking some time off stage to manage and direct this weekends Pen in Ten festival. Here she is in her own words is Caitlin O’Neil.. a person you should know in Gwangju.

Photo courtesy of Caitlin O'Neil

Photo courtesy of Caitlin O’Neil



Caitlin O’Neill

Photo courtesy of Caitlin O'Neil

Photo courtesy of Caitlin O’Neil


English Teacher


Helena, Montana USA

Length of time in Korea

3.5 years

My hometown is famous for…

Being the capital of Montana? I think that’s it…

I have never been able to


If I could have any superpower it would be


A great book I would recommend is

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

My nickname is

Cat. No one will call me “Your Majesty,” despite my best efforts.

Photo courtesy of Caitlin O'Neil

Photo courtesy of Caitlin O’Neil

The show I am most likely to binge watch is

Whatever I’m currently watching. Binge watching is the only way I know how to watch TV.

The food I make that I am best known for is

Egg melts.

The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is

The Gwangju Performance Project.

On my days off I like to

Sing, play my uke, read, watch TV, and eat new foods.

My favorite movie is

Pan’s Labyrinth.

What is your best tip for living in Korea?

Find your people. Whatever your interests may be, there’s a group (or several) of people doing what you love. It’s been said before, but it works. Get involved, volunteer, and make some great like-minded friends. Those of us in Gwangju are lucky. We have the best expat community in Korea!

What is the oddest job you have ever had?

I used to be a dog groomer. Animal beautification is a weird culture. Also, huskies are the biggest babies. You’d be surprised.

What is your favorite game to play?

I love almost all tabletop games but if I had to choose… Dungeons and Dragons probably.

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

I’m the current president of the Gwangju Performance Project, the local theatre group for expats and Koreans. We do some cool stuff. This month, we’re putting on a festival of 10 minute plays written, directed, and performed by local talents. I’m really excited about this project. I love seeing all of these talented Gwangjuvians work so hard to bring something like this together. If anyone wants more information on this festival and the plays that will be featured they can go to our website:

I’m also a singer in Gwangju’s favorite band, Malarkey! Check out our Facebook page if you want to hear some of our recordings.


Photo courtesy of Caitlin O’Neil

Where to Eat Wednesday: Organic Welcome Cupcake Cafe

When I first came to Gwangju, simple desserts like cupcakes were surprisingly difficult to find. Over the past few years, this has been becoming less and less of a problem. While everything that’s been put out hasn’t been great, it’s been nice to see baked sweets growing in popularity. Though I’m not always the biggest fan of sweets, in the few instances where I do want them, it’s nice to see that I do have options.


I randomly found the Organic Welcome Cupcake Cafe while wandering the streets of the Chonnam Backgate area. My roommate was visiting the doctor, and I had a couple of hours to kill, so I figured I would scope out some of the restaurants in the area. Due to me being there in the middle of the day, some of the better looking food joints weren’t open. As it was quite warm, I found myself seeking out a cool, air conditioned place to hide that also wasn’t full of people. When I saw the word “cupcake”, it didn’t take much convincing for me to go inside.

Though this place didn’t look like much on the outside, it was quite adorable inside. The entire cafe had so many personal touches in terms of decoration, and the cupcake displays looked absolutely lovely. There was also a giant bookshelf that was shaped like the United States, which I was a fan of.

Cupcake TowerBookcase

I was a little heartbroken as I looked through the display case to see that all of the cupcake options weren’t available. The owner said that she was keeping a few of the flavors in storage, but there’s just something about looking at all of my options that I really enjoy. The menu told me that the available options included Vanilla, Lemon, Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Blueberry, Tiramisu, Carrot, Red Velvet, and Double Green Tea. I was informed that everything was homemade with organic ingredients, which seemed pretty cool. The cafe also offered drinks like coffee, tea, ade, and juice for reasonable prices. I ended up ordering a Lemon Cupcake with a Black Tea Latte. Just to be nice, as well as to apologize for the long wait and lack of selection, the owner threw in a free Red Velvet Cupcake.

Lemon CupcakeBlack Tea Latte

I sat by the window and watched young students walk by as I waited for my food, which took a little longer than expected. Despite the wait, my drink arrived hot, and my cupcakes looked delicious. Both of them came topped with a cream cheese frosting and a piece of some sort of candy I couldn’t quite figure out. They both had a decent frosting-to-cupcake ratio, though they were a little on the small side.

I first tried the Lemon Cupcake. It was a nice balance of sweet and tart. The cake itself was a little dense, so it was a lot more filling than I was expecting it to be. The lemon flavor was also present in the frosting, which went nicely with the tangy cream cheese. The only downside was that the cake portion was slightly dry, despite how dense it was. That being said, it wasn’t all that noticeable, especially when paired with my creamy and warm Black Tea Latte. The Red Velvet Cupcake was also nice, offering a nice chocolate flavor that wasn’t too sweet. I was actually surprised to see this flavor on the menu, though it seems like red velvet has been growing as a trend in this country.

Red Velvet CupcakeTiramisu Cupcake

Overall, my unexpected trip to the Organic Welcome Cupcake Cafe was a pleasant one. Having the entire cafe to myself was quite nice, and hearing acoustic versions of old songs was fun. Due to the decent amount of seating space, I would recommend this spot to any group of people looking for a quiet place for something sweet after a normal meal. If going to the Chonnam Backgate area is not an option, no worries! The cupcakes made and sold at this cafe have also been known to make appearances at the Daein Night Market.

Address: 광주광역시 북구 용봉동 152-50 (around the corner from Starbucks)
Phone: 070-4202-0090
Hours: 11:00AM to 9:00PM
Average Price Range: 3,500 per cupcake