Hello Gwangju, I hope you are enjoying this rainy Korean Memorial day! Today we have another member of our exceptional community to get to know. While he lives in Naju he is a regular fixture in Gwangju, and without further ado here in his own words is this weeks person you should know in Gwangju!
Length of time in Korea…8+ years
My hometown is famous for…Oktoberfest. A lot of Germans settled there in the 20th century, and there’s a fair bit of German culture still alive in the city. It’s promoted as the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany but I’ve seen a lot of other cities make that same claim.
I wish I could…survive with just 2 hours of sleep each night.
My favorite sport to play is…ultimate Frisbee? I prefer non-competitive activities, to be honest.
The best discovery I have made in Gwangju is…the old 505 Security Force Base. Empty, overgrown and eerie.
On my days off I like to…I would like to hike or spend time at home reading, but really there’s always more work to do.
What is your best tip for living in Korea? Cast off your habits and hobbies from your old life back home and start fresh. There’s so much to do and be involved with here that I never would have explored if I had tried to maintain a bubble of my life in Canada.
Tell us a strange or interesting fact about you...I moonlight as a human rights researcher / journalist. I’ve been a research fellow with Korea Human Rights Foundation in Seoul for about 4 years now, writing human rights related news and analysis pieces for Korea Exposé. The foundation’s webpage is www.humanrights.or.kr, and Korea Exposé’s is www.koreaexpose.com (or just follow on Twitter or Facebook). I wrote an article about Gwangju and May 18th recently, which is here: https://koreaexpose.com/gwangju-the-city-of-democracy/
Also, I actually live in Naju, not Gwangju, but Naju’s quite close and I regularly come in to Gwangju. But I wish the buses to Naju ran later.
Describe your dream day in Gwangju…I spent a few days doing a very long walking tour of the various historical sites in the city, and i quite enjoyed that. Wandering around residential areas and other parts of a city where everyday life takes place is always more interesting to me than going to the tourist areas.
Are there any places/services/experiences in Gwangju you can recommend that a lot of people may not know about? I think many of the historical sites around the city are pretty interesting to see in person, though for some there’s nothing to actually see and you may as well just read the site instead. The museums dedicated to the May 18 uprising are all free and reasonably well designed, and people here really appreciate you taking the time to learn about the city’s history.
Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju? I’m an active member of the Gwangju-Jeonnam chapter of KOTESOL, though I’ve been teaching a grad class this term every Saturday so I can’t always attend the monthly meetings. I used to volunteer with the people who now run the Gwangju Animal Shelter (much admiration for all the work Lisa Crone does for the shelter). And I sometimes join the Sungbin Orphanage volunteering on Saturday afternoons (shout-out to Sarah Hale and everything she does for the orphanage).
What are some future plans that you have for your organization? I personally hope to have a lot more time to write for Korea Exposé, and as a whole we’re looking to branch out into more types of reporting and to grow its readership. Lots of ideas floating around and we’ll see which ones prove feasible.