11 July 2015


Seodaemun Overpass Concert

So, Crying Nut played. It was a very short but still pretty fun show, with a bunch of other bands I hadn't seen before who were generally pretty good.

Speaking of the Korea Observer, I also wrote this article about the scandal in Korea brewing due to the Hacking Team data leak. It may have been the first English-language article to point out that the NIS were trying hard to get surveillance equipment during the presidential election campaign, which they were already suspected of manipulating by trying to manufacture public consent through Twitter. Turns out they also had purchased equipment that let them listen to anyone's phone calls, during the election. Which they totally only used on North Korea.

Anyway, the day after this was published, the Times and Hankyoreh had their own articles about the connection to election dates. Shortly after that, one NIS spy was found dead in his car. It looks like they were talking about this a lot in the Korean media as well, so while I certainly contributed to this guy's aggravation, he probably didn't know about me or the Observer when he decided to kill himself.

11 July 2015


Seodaemun Overpass

I heard about another overpass closing, so I decided to have a look and maybe write an article about it. This is what I ended up with. It was a pretty fun time, and then I noticed a poster saying that Crying Nut was playing later...

7 July 2015


RASKB Lecture: Complications of Urban Renewal

Here's the video for my RASKB lecture, which went online much quicker than I expected. I wish it had been framed a bit better, as the video doesn't offer a particularly good view of the visuals. Anyway, I'm not ready to watch it all the way through yet.

5 July 2015


Rooftop Picnic

I was contacted by a French urban explorer staying in Korea, and we ended up having a picnic on top of a familiar roof. Likely there will be more pictures with them over the coming months.

4 July 2015


Dead Gakkahs / Kitsches Split Album Release

I really did not want to go to this show, entirely because I had a huge backlog of photos to get through. I ended up going anyway, because it was a pretty good show, but next day I spent about five hours in a PC room where I could finally have proper access to the free Photoshop demo software again, on a computer that runs properly. Anyway, I showed them.

4 July 2015


Yangcheon-gu

I was doing some cleanup in the UER database the other week, and I discovered that I have now visited abandonments in every single gu district of Seoul, except Yangcheon-gu. Yangcheon is the one that has Mokdong, so it's pretty rich, and as it turns out the Yangcheon Hyanggyo is in another district.

In order to complete the list, I did some research into the district, revealing one big New Town project that very well could be shelved. I headed down there, and the area is quite nice with some thought into creating an elaborate road infrastructure for the buildings to go up around.

Did I find what I was looking for? Yes. Does that make me happy? Kind of no. But I met a couple friendly cats (though nowhere near as friendly as Jeju cats).

3 July 2015


A Few Sites

Here are a few places that don't seem all that connected. First I took a couple pictures of the banners up at Namdaemun voicing opposition to the Seoul Overpass park plan. Apparently some of the vendors are against turning the old overpass into a park because it will create traffic jams. I guess they don't remember when the demolition of Cheonggyecheon Overpass resulted in less overall traffic. Anyway, the plan is certain to create a whole lot more foot traffic, and Namdaemun will now be more conveniently connected to Seoul Station, and the market is certain to benefit from the added convenience.

I also had to hurry down to my favourite part of Cheonggyecheon to get a picture of the Cheonggyecheon Museum. One of those pictures will find its way into my RASKB lecture tomorrow.

28 June 2015


Gay Pride Parade

After the stress caused by shooting the opening of the Gay Pride Festival, I figured this one would be tough too. I showed up planning to mostly shoot the Christian protesters, but by the time I arrived they were a little less active. I decided not to go into the Pride grounds itself because of their strict rules for allowing photographers. And, not really knowing the rules that well myself, I didn't want to post any pictures that could get someone in trouble. So if there are any issues here with what I'm posting, please e-mail me to let me know.

For the actual parade, I found a high up perch right along the road, so I had a pretty good view of the parade. Quite a lot of people were cheering and waving at me, as if I was the one in the parade and I was on a float (strategically shaped like a ventilation box). Aside from a few elderly Christians who tried forcing their way into the parade near the beginning, it went very smoothly and was quite a lot of fun. I saw a huge number of my friends both Korean and foreign, all of them straight, and joined some of them later on in the parade. There were quite a lot of entertaining costumes there, with a Spiderman, a couple Jesuses, and all the usual gay stuff.

It was a very positive experience (no pun intended, Christians), and certainly helped stave off the negativity.

27 June 2015


Autocratics CD Release

This is their third time back in Korea. The Autocratics are an energetic Japanese ska band that are equally fun to watch and listen to. Like so many Japanese bands, their live act seems like a pretty good aerobic workout. Anyway, they seem to have built a relationship with the Korean scene if they're back here for a third time. Hopefully we'll see more of them, especially at bigger events.

27 June 2015


Abandoned Neighbourhood

I was introduced to this area by Daniel Lenaghan, who gave me only the gu name. But as soon as I arrived there, it was pretty well the first thing I saw. This area is next to another abandoned neighbourhood that was worth visiting back around 2012. It looks like they're clearing out the entire hillside, which is to be expected but still a shame.

26 June 2015


Abandoned Neighbourhoods

I took a trip through Seongdong-gu to check in on two neighbourhoods, only to find that both have been almost totally moonscaped, which is a new word I'm going to probably use. I used an image from each of the two neighbourhoods to advertise my upcoming RASKB talk, so I decided to update the pictures with how the areas look now.

24 June 2015


Leaving Jeju

I was mostly lucky with the weather, but it rained the morning I was leaving. The flight was a bit rough, but at least it was quick.

23 June 2015


Jeju City

My last night in Jeju City, I desperately needed a nap. Before that, I visited the amusement park across the street, and after the nap I went back to Magpie Jeju for fried chicken.

23 June 2015


Abandoned Water Plant

The last of four abandoned places we visited was this old water treatment plant. It's an old concrete shell with a couple pretty interesting buildings.

23 June 2015


Jeju in the Morning

We woke up in the morning with just the right amount of time to drive back to Jeju with time for getting lost in the backroads along the coast. Driving a car after all these years is weird, especially after getting used to scooters. Perhaps the strangest is that other drivers see you on the road. Best example, if a car sees you coming, it won't pull out into the road in front of you. It took some getting used to and felt a little more socially connecting with other drivers on the road.

22 June 2015


Sanbangsan

The day wound down when we reached Sanbangsan and met up with Andre. We stayed in a hostel south of the mountain, hung out with cats, and drank in the harbour until curfew.

22 June 2015


Green Resort Hotel

From the circus we went to an abandoned resort. Known as the Green Resort Hotel, its only claim to greenness seems to be the cheap coat of paint on the building. I think it may have previously been in use, but now its only visitors seem to be horses.

22 June 2015


Coulrophobia

The highlight of the trip was always going to be the abandoned circus, because, well, abandoned circus. I mean, good weather and seeing friends again is all well and good, but abandoned circus. That meant the return of UEey the Clown, the world's second most popular urban exploring clown (out of two).

22 June 2015


Incomplete Resort

The first stop on our island odyssey was an incomplete resort sitting alongside a major road and wasting away. Getting in was a lot of work, which in the end turned out to be the most fun we had here. Least fun: scrambling up over a hill of disease-ridden pigeon crap. We held our breaths and muttered curses to the pigeon gods.

22 June 2015


The Beasts of Jeju City

Monday morning started with a visit to some very friendly alley cats, far friendlier than any strays I've seen in Seoul. We got a quick lunch and stopped by Tyler's place to say hi to his corgi Chagall. Or call around looking for any place with car rentals available. It turns out with the semester ending recently, the island was flooded with students who rented everything with two wheels and almost everything with four wheels.

21 June 2015


Magpie Jeju

I'm the only person I know who's visited all three Sungkyunkwans, and now I've also visited all three Magpies, though I suspect that's a far less exclusive club. I spent Sunday night (and later Tuesday night) at the bar talking with Tyler whenever he wasn't distracted by work.

Magpie Jeju has the same beers delivered from the mainland (with plans to start brewing domestically soon), the same pizzas, and also fried chicken. The chicken is pretty basic and competent, and comes with a great doenjang-flavoured coleslaw.

21 June 2015


Going to Jeju

After getting a new job, I decided I needed to do some travelling before starting. It wasn't enough time for a visit to Canada, so I decided to finally hit Jeju instead. It's a short flight away that costs less for a round trip than a one-way KTX trip to Busan. On the first night I found a hotel close to the water in Jeju City, and also close to Magpie Jeju.

15 June 2015


Anarchaeology

We check in with a couple anarchaeological digs, one over in Insadong, and the other which I noticed while hitting a rooftop during the Pride Festival opening. The Insadong site is getting scrubbed from the location, possibly with some removal, and the Golden Plot will be interesting to watch over the next while.

13 June 2015


RAS Garden Party

The annual highlight of the Royal Asiatic Society is the garden party held to celebrate the anniversary of the world's oldest Korean studies organisation. This year marked the 115th birthday. We had around 200 RASKB members, as well as VIPs including US Ambassador Mark Lippert, UK Ambassador Charles Hay, and a handful of other ambassadors including Nepal, Netherlands, France (though I didn't get the chance to run into him), and Czech. My main contribution was dragging in Susubori Academy, which provided their own makgeolli and cheongju.
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