13 January 2019


Finally Home

I got home after three days of travel, to find Coetzer had kept his promise to feed my cats. They were hungry when I arrived, which is pretty normal. Buster insisted on eating separate from Millie, and had his food while hiding under the bed.

13 January 2019


Cultist's Market

Downhill of the abandoned hillside was a still active market. Somewhere within its bowels is a house belonging to a guy my friends called "the Charles Manson of Korea," based on his face tattoos, or at least face art.

We will hopefully get more information about this guy soon.

13 January 2019


Abandoned Hillside

Uphill from the abandoned houses was a whole hillside of abandoned small-scale homes. They tried showing me around, but we got separated after I tumbled through a door into an entirely new corner of the neighbourhood and didn't see any point to backtracking.

13 January 2019


Old Houses

They took me to an area not too far away, where we visited a couple of old Hanoks. They'd given nicknames to them, something like "The Artist's House" and "The Printer's House," but complained stuff had been removed. Both were still quite interesting.

I had to put my shoulder into opening the front door of one, and when it came time to leave we realised we couldn't shut it like we had found it. So I wedged stuff against the inside of the door, then jumped out over the madang wall.

13 January 2019


Red Cross Hospital

Our first stop for the day was the abandoned hospital. The way in was easier than I previously thought, possibly because it's commonly used by squatters living inside.

The interior is interesting, and still in decent shape. with quite a story to tell.

13 January 2019


Waking Up

I engaged in some more Love Motel Tourism, waking up in the morning and heading to the roof to see the view. I chose this motel based on its closeness to the abandoned hospital, and sure enough parts of the property were visible from the roof. I had attempted to stay in the ritzy-looking Bentley Hotel, but it cost double what a love motel should cost, despite the obvious theft of intellectual property.

12 January 2019


Red Cross Hospital

We visited an abandoned hospital which Isaiah had written about recently.

We didn't go inside, but saw two interesting signs out front, one which thanks prostitutes for donating blood during the 1980 Gwangju Uprising, and another later one which cautions people that HIV can be contracted from prostitutes.

12 January 2019


Ryan's GIC Talk

The main reason for visiting was to see Ryan's talk on urban exploration, which I believe can be viewed in full here. p<> I spoke up twice, once when Ryan asked me if visiting the Pyramids of Giza counts as urban exploration and I contradicted him by saying no, and again at the end when I said trespassing itself as we do it is not a crime, or at least does not break criminal law.

12 January 2019


Colatec

We were wandering down the street before Ryan's talk, and saw the entrance to the abandoned colatec. So we went in for a quick visit. I was at this place a year earlier, and my camera battery died right after we finished here. It's basically become a parking garage, with no awareness given whatsoever to protecting the venue itself. It is all there for anyone who wanders in.

12 January 2019


Jeonil Building

After reading at work that the Jeonil Building would undergo renovations starting in February, not to mention seeing the photos by my colleague, I inquired about visiting the site myself. The timing was perfect, and thanks to Dr. Shin at Gwangju International Center, we got permission to enter on the last day possible.

We got to enter in a group of urban explorers with some media credentials, and my reaction to seeing the scene surprised me. I only felt hot anger, something I've never experienced while exploring before, not even in connection to the Yongsan Disaster.

In 1980, people in Gwangju didn't like that Chun Doo-hwan had taken control of the country in a violent military coup following the assassination of Park Chung-hee. They took to the streets, and the military moved in to suppress them. What exactly happened in the chaos remains unclear, with the exact number of dead unknown, as journalists became entangled in the events. Apparently at a few points, helicopters were dispatched with machine guns, and at one point one fired on Jeonil Building, in an attempt to suppress the journalists inside who were observing the uprising.

People have been claiming for almost 40 years to have witnessed a helicopter firing on the building, and they've been told they are lying or are communist agents for saying so, and that it didn't really happen. Meanwhile, the bulletholes were all right there, for anyone who wanted to go and look. Finally a couple years ago, now that Moon Jae-in is president, an investigation went and said, yes, there are bulletholes here. Until recently, we had to report on this incident with words like "allegedly"; when I pitched an article about this visit, I was told to give both sides.

What's the other side right now? The government tried to scare journalists into not doing their job, and for decades Korea has struggled with a war on truth. All this to protect a newly minted dictator who'd taken control of the country by force. The other side is bullshit.

11 January 2019


Butterfly Island and Oh Mae

I joined a Facebook group for expats in Yeosu and learned my best chance of having craft beer in the city was at Butterfly Island, a brewpub a stone's throw away from where I stayed in Yeocheon in 1996.

The two places are run by a Canadian husband and Korean wife. He handles Oh Mae, a small brewpub in an inconvenient location and unpredictable hours that houses the brewing equipment, and she runs Butterfly Island, more of a restaurant atmosphere in the middle of a sleazy-looking district near the harbour.

I arrived at Butterfly Island right as it opened, and tried each of their beers while talking with the woman who runs it. Then her husband showed up. He he claims to be the second-longest-term expat in Yeosu, so he was surprised to meet another foreigner who had older memories of the place. He offered to bring me to Oh Mae where he had some more experimental beers I could try. One was a mustard stout with gat-kimchi flavouring. He poured it out, and as soon as I tasted the foam I was surprised by the kimchi flavour. If you've ever had kimchi chocolate, you can have an open mind to how good this was.

Craft beer hasn't totally caught on in Yeosu yet, and this place reminded me of early Magpie back when its Gyeongnidan location was a beer brewing equipment store just starting to experiment with being a bar. It's probably inevitable it will catch on in Yeosu, in which case I hope these two are given their due recognition. If it isn't them who get all the attention, it will likely be their students/customers.

I'm waiting to publish an article about this place, which is one reason this site hasn't been updated in a while so I could include a link, but they want to wait for the right time for the article to come out. So we'll just go ahead here.

11 January 2019


Expo Grounds

After the aquarium I wandered around more as it got dark, and entered one of the hotels there. I got up to the roof, where they had a heated swimming pool. I had my bathing suit with me, and was tempted to change and jump in, which they totally would have let me do. But they didn't have showers, and I was already quite sweaty from walking around with a large bag, so I decided to spare them.

My camera malfunctioned and I started to suspect my whole trip had just ended photographically, but I popped off the lens and put it back on and it seemed to work again.

11 January 2019


Yeosu Aquarium

I saw the aquarium back in 2012, and it is just as exciting now as it was back then, just with much smaller crowds. This one seems to be run by Hanwha, same as the 63 Building one.

Hanwha: We know gang violence, and aquariums.

11 January 2019


Yeosu Expo

I had my first actual proper three-day weekend in weeks, so I headed down to Yeosu. My main goal was to visit the former Expo grounds, which I had previously visited in 1996, 2009 during heavy urban renewal, and twice in 2012 before and during the Expo.

In consideration of the previous Expo in Daejeon, I wanted to see how this one was holding up post-Expo. What I came away with was more positive than Daejeon, but still wasteful, albeit as construction continues in the area. Most interesting was Darakhyu, a "capsule" hotel that was built in the former USA Pavilion. Darakhyu is under Walkerhill's brand and is basically a modular design that can be built up in any large space, such as an airport terminal, and then disassembled and moved somewhere else.

The article I ended up writing turned out a little more touristy than I had initially thought.

10 January 2019


Gongpyeong Historic Sites Museum

I've written about these glass floor installations across Seoul, specifically Jongno along the former Pimatgol, but this is the largest I've seen yet. It's also the most interesting, though it's more interesting for a look at the processes in modern architectural preservation rather than having any historic value. Also, there are VR devices that allow you to walk through a Hanok.

10 January 2019


Hotel Academy House

Jacco alerted me to this place, telling me it was originally built by West Germans and it had played a major role in Korea's democratic activism. Research currently underway.

There's a mean-looking guard dog up on one of the roofs, and I brought dog treats to throw at it until it stopped barking.

Someone left water running, and the same building was turned into an ice rink on the ground floor.

5 January 2019


Abandoned Neighbourhood

I saw a picture of roughly the same view on Instagram and was wondering where it could be taken with Namsan in the background. Driving around looking for it I realised how little I know about my own surroundings.

I encountered one stray cat here, and it looks like someone was leaving out food, possibly to catch it. I left a note giving directions to where I saw the cat and its description, just in case it was an owner looking for a lost pet.

29 December 2018


Reseters First Show

The Reseters are a new reggae band, which I first heard about last summer when I was planning Jenny Woo's tour. They weren't able to get ready in time, but they played their first show before the end of the year.

The band is a little more middle-of-the-road than its obvious predecessor, the skinhead reggae band Pegurians, covering "By the Rivers of Babylon" rather than "Tilly," but while I'd really prefer to see Janghyup with his head shaved, the band brings popular reggae music to the Korean underground and offers something I haven't seen these individual musicians do before.

This show was also my first time seeing The 1234-Dah! who were amazing.

This is the last gallery of 2019, unless I upload Note7 photos.

27 December 2018


Bodhidharma

I've been seeing this guy all over my neighbourhood. It took Ryan explaining to me who exactly he is to get us to go here. I showed him around my area, where we saw at least six visages of this Buddhist figure.

Also, Ryan was really not dressed warm enough.

27 December 2018


DGBS

After an article revealed an infamous torture chamber would be turned into a human rights memorial hall, I made plans to stop by and see it for myself.

I'd visited this site, nicknamed DGBS (Anti-Communist Interrogation Room, or Dae-Gong-Bun-shil), a few times over the years, but had never gone inside. Its modernity somewhat obscures its horrific history, but now that the police have handed over control of the site to the central government, we can expect it to reveal former taboos and secrets, at least until the next conservative government.

25 December 2018


Abandoned Scooters

After having seen a scooter I could have easily cannibalised for parts for my own, and then being told doing so is a serious crime, I kept an eye on the abandoned scooter.

Oh yeah, and there's another one also seemingly abandoned for a long time, further uphill. It is best not to take chances with any traffic laws these days.

22 December 2018


Santa Claus vs The Host

Here's the annual Christmas voyage. My time was limited as I was filling in for my boss who took a much-deserved two-week break, and we ended up going underground on the Saturday before Christmas, literally my only free day.

Unfortunately a lot of others couldn't make it at the same time, so there were only four of us, a record low since Lunar New Year 2010.

This ended up getting a writeup in the paper, by one guy who goes along on pretty well every journey I take down there.

16 December 2018


Euljiro

These pictures were taken sometime between this article and this article.

What could've been a quick visit to an industrial district in that dead zone east of the downtown core turned into a difficult experience, when this kitten emerged, shivering and begging me for help. I wasn't able to do much more without putting my own cats at risk, but I've had trouble forgetting this guy.

2 December 2018


Crying Nut at GBN Live House

I was busy writing all weekend, so by the time I finally made it out, it was Sunday night and I caught the last band performing as part of a multi-day punk festival, Crying Nut. Seeing them play there was a spectacle enough.

2 December 2018


Shilla Sculpture Park

I was tasked to review the self-published novel "Excellency," written by a Canadian veteran of the Korean War. It has a lot going for it, but desperately needed one more proofreading. Ultimately the author did not like my review, which was written to warn certain sensitive Koreans they would not like certain aspects of it. I also think he didn't like that I interpreted much of the book's content as more salacious than he intended.

Anyway, one of the more interesting parts is a crime scene investigation set at the sculpture park behind the Shilla Hotel, so I decided to revisit the site. I couldn't find the statue where a shootout took place in the book, but was able to otherwise enjoy the park and the late fall leaves.

2 December 2018


Cartoon Museum

I revisited the cartoon museum during the daytime, stopping by an overpass so I could get a better view of it. At the time, there seemed to be no activity there.

This seems like one of those projects that is neat, but there's no way I'll make the most of it before whatever happens to it.

1 December 2018


Dilkusha

I revisited Dilkusha after dark, and found it was easy to get inside simply by jumping a fence. Getting out turned out to be harder.

1 December 2018


Stream

This stream travels underground for over 3 kilometers, from up in the mountains to a linear city park. I am hoping eventually to walk the whole distance. There are still some variables that need to be worked out first.

1 December 2018


Abandoned Neighbourhood

I returned to an area I visited recently for a hasty visit and took a few pictures while there.

30 November 2018


Cartoon Museum

I noticed metal fencing going up around the cartoon museum, though even on a quick drive by a flaw in the fence appeared. I returned late at night, but mostly kept away from the buildings, which seemed not abandoned exactly, just locked and probably cared for. From what I've seen online, I'm still not entirely sure what's in store for this facility.

30 November 2018


Geumho

Over a decade ago, I moved to this neighbourhood, originally attracted to the hilly scenery. Shortly after moving in I jumped on my scooter and rode around looking for ways to photograph the area. One of the sites I visited was this roof overlooking the valley. It's on top of a building that has an active medical facility on the bottom floors, but then just empty upper floors. This marks my third time coming up here.

Originally, after this stop, I went further west and found myself at the foot of the abandoned Dankook University campus.

30 November 2018


Compounds

With news recently that a former UNC compound had been handed over to Korea for redevelopment, I wanted to go for a closer look to see what exactly is over there. I found one compound far gone, and another that looks empty but not yet unused. We'll see what happens here.

30 November 2018


Yongsan Park Gallery

I got a sudden invitation to go to the former Camp Kim USO building, which was being reopened as Yongsan Park Gallery. This building is where USO tours used to start, and it was always open to public access. We had Yongsan Legacy meetings here.

This reopening was rushed, and the land is still owned by USFK and just rented to Korea. Out front as I was leaving I ran into this very big guy who asked me if I was a reporter with USA Today or some similar American-sounding publication I can't exactly remember right now. We talked a bit and it turned out he was the guy in charge of handing over all USFK land back to Korea, or at least connected with Yongsan, not sure.

Sometime in the near future there will be much more to see here, and hopefully an activity space.

28 November 2018


Abandoned Scooter

I took these pictures to figure out some legalities. My own scooter, which is very very close to this model, was having some problems, and I recalled seeing this one sitting abandoned for weeks and figured if possible I could cannibalise it for parts. Ultimately it turns out that's illegal, so it's a good thing I didn't do anything more than photograph it.

Though I am still confused, as I was told by a government employee when I deregistered my previous scooter that I should just leave it at the side of the road somewhere.

26 November 2018


HBC Regeneration Center

At the risk of embarrassing him, this is Lim Jin-gyu, director of HBC Regeneration Center. I wrote a series of three articles based on weekly meetings they were holding, and was impressed with their attempt to involve the foreign community of HBC, which has so far been ignorant of the inner workings of local government. Jin-gyu really wasn't a fan of how he looks in photographs.

24 November 2018


American Thanksgiving

I decided to bring a taste of North Korea to this year's Moses Thanksgiving. Photographed here is everything I was prepared to dispose, although probably more than half this stuff came back home with me.

This was a day that will live on in infamy, as a KT facility caught fire, taking out internet and cell service for KT subscribers in western Seoul and Goyang. I'm not a KT subscriber, but the party hosts were, causing extra difficulty when I discovered I didn't exactly remember where they lived.

On my way to the party I drove by the fire site, near Chungjeongno Station, and got a good look at where it was happening.

23 November 2018


Dilkusha

I heard about an exhibit at Seoul Museum of History about Dilkusha, an old house built by Westerners in the 1920s, so I asked Robert Neff to write about it. Turns out, he was one of the people who put the exhibit together, so he was easily able to give me an article. Somewhere in this process, I decided to visit the house itself and see its current state. The plan is to fix it up and turn it into a museum, and although there is a lot of work ahead, I'm looking forward to the final result.

22 November 2018


Downtown

I met up with friend to show him around downtown and get some food. He was pescetarian so I thought of getting grilled mackerel, which used to be a staple around Pimatgol. Looking online, I was only able to find one mackerel restaurant left in the downtown core. It was a little poor but still a good experience. I've since heard there are plenty of mackerel restaurants in the alley southeast of Samgakji Station.

As we walked around, I discovered a temporary fence set up in Seoul Square as they installed the skating rink. The fence had some pretty glaring exploits, so I helped myself to a picture of the area under construction.

20 November 2018


RASKB Business and Culture Club

One group photo I took while walking through the "King's Way" in Jeong-dong. One of the houses of the Chosen Savings Bank residential compound is behind the fence.

19 November 2018


Hitler Car Shop

I was working on an article about Korea's Hitler Bar past, which ultimately wasn't published. A mention in the article that there were no Hitler businesses remaining in Korea got me curious, so I checked the two main portals, one of which revealed there is indeed a Hitler business, dealing with imported cars from Europe. The idea seems to be, when you think of import cars, mostly German, you think of Hitler. I'm sure all these companies would be flattered.

18 November 2018


Pegurians Last Show

One particular beloved friend is leaving the country, off to make a new life in New York. Bum-joo/Jude/DJ Bombed You has been threatening to leave for a few years, but now that he does, the country's ska scene just lost a lot of its potential.

They managed to scrape together one more Pegurians show, with Jude playing keyboard for the keyboard-centered band. It was a great show, and brought out some guys I haven't seen in a long time.

18 November 2018


Northern Seoul

A few months ago I was contacted by a guy telling me about some of the abandoned Japanese architecture up by Danggogae Station. I finally had the opportunity to drive up there, finding everything torn down. Fortunately I was able to look in on a few other known sites and discover a few more.

17 November 2018


Abandoned Neighbourhood

A new urban explorer moved here, so I met up with Coetzer and we showed him around to a few places in Seoul. This one hillside of old buildings, which I've photographed many times before, is now abandoned and ready to disappear. Something I need to capture before it's all gone.

16 November 2018


Jeong-dong

Here are just two pictures from when I was scouting Jeong-dong, preparing to lead a tour of the RASKB Business and Culture Club. Demolition has started on the Chosen Savings Bank residential compound. Also interesting, the Hanjin Versium highrise, abandoned since last decade, is now showing signs of remodeling. I expect they will totally take down the building and replace it with new materials, as the current structure has been improperly protected from the elements for a very long time.

16 November 2018


Abandoned Neighbourhood

Just some light scouting of an abandoned neighbourhood ahead of a more serious visit. Reminder: always carry cat food.

16 November 2018


HBC's Stairs

I'd seen a map showing the number of abandoned buildings in HBC, which included some parts of the neighbourhood I'd never considered before. While checking it out, I didn't see any blatant signs of welcoming abandonments, but I did take an interest in the various staircases I saw. One major change is the new inclined elevator they put in on the 108 Staircase, which I later rode and put on Instagram.

15 November 2018


Millie is a Teenager

I knew I had to make Millie's 13th birthday special. I also knew milestones like this mean less than nothing to cats. So I bombarded her with rare gifts, some of which were to get her high and others which were to make her feel better. No birthday candles or sparklers this time, but she didn't seem to mind.
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