After walking by this site with Jericho earlier in the month, I decided to have a closer look, and I found a very easy entry point around the corner from where we'd been looking. I got in with no trouble.
The watch market is going to be the site of a fairly large and probably long archaeological survey, as there's probably a lot of stuff to sift through down there.
The alleyways of the area are ancient, and some of them were built over water. I found traces of that as I walked around.
The final plan for this site is a large building that will preserve the alley courses on the ground floor.
My first goal for the holiday was to go back to the train station. It turned out my usual entry point had been cut off, as the staircase down from the entrance had been removed. So I entered, got to the top of the stairs, and then saw there was nothing below me except a two-storey fall onto new concrete.
The way down to the tunnel was unpleasant, as the passageway is filled with metal bars that are probably part of some process to form concrete structures or something.
I didn't start taking pictures until I was at the bottom, so this gallery is sort of in reverse, documenting my exhausting struggle out.
As I was leaving the hotel, I saw a number of sex cards scattered on the ground.
Most of these seemed to be for clubs where men pay to look at women wearing some amount of clothing, and they can do a lot of things that don't involve undressing the women.
I used to see more of these cards around, but not anymore for whatever reason, probably changing areas of town where I go. I recall once in Hongdae seeing cards for the kissing room being scattered by a guy on a scooter.
An extra indignity is that the models for these things always seem to be Japanese models. But maybe that also protects the privacy of the actual sex workers here.
We went up to a couple roofs, one being an obvious one, and the other being something new. To get up to the helipad, we had to go through this one big open room that was two storeys high and sort of cube-shaped.
From the roof there, we looked over and saw the building's twin, which had a similar cube-sized room, except this one had the light on. And on top, there was something black we couldn't quite fully make out. So I raised the film speed and took a picture as we were leaving. Later, I was able to blow it up to confirm that, yes, there are anti-aircraft cannons on that roof.
What's the most despicable location you've ever explored? I think I likely set a record with this one, as I was tipped off that the hotel housing Burning Sun was closed down a couple years ago. Thinking it was too late to see, I stopped by on a Sunday night, only to find everything left wide open, with nobody else in sight.
It won't be long now until the I.Seoul.U slogan fades into history. In fact, vote on it here (Korean) and here (English). My vote's for "Make it Happen Seoul," because I like the idea of Captain Picard saying "Make it Seoul."
Anyway, I drove past the former animation museum site, which now bears "I.Animation.U." Shouldn't it at least be "I.Animate.U"?
I walked around downtown Seoul with Jericho for an afternoon, visiting Euljiro and Sewoon Sangga. After that, we went to Itaewon, which she had never seen before, and walked through Hooker Hill and the disaster alley.
I returned to this abandoned building, which houses a shaman or Buddhist shrine, a goshiwon, a PC room, and a few miscellaneous ground-floor businesses.
It's a good UE destination because it's convenient, but entry is just challenging enough -- in both skill requirement, danger, and risk of being caught -- that not anyone can just go in. Most people would probably back out in fear.
We stopped by Noryangjin Station, where a friendly cat greeted me right at the turnstiles. I followed the cat around a bit, and discovered he's friendly but there's one single way he doesn't like to be touched.
Apparently his name is Yeokjeoni and he's pretty well-known to the people frequenting the station.
That includes the fish market evictees, who are still occupying the overpass that once led to the now-demolished former market, long since replaced with sports fields.
We had pretty good timing with this abandoned neighbourhood visit. Alley entrances around the perimeter have been fenced off, but many of the buildings inside remain sealed, with doors and windows intact and with a fair number of those police warning stickers, something I'm not generally comfortable with openly defying.
We found a few good places, including a couple roofs where we could observe darkness fall over the city, revealing how much of our surroundings were abandoned.
Abandoned Wedding Hall
Before an RAS Korea lecture, I eloped with Jenn and Ryan to an abandoned wedding hall nearby. We came back a little late and nobody even knew we were now married, not even Jenn and Ryan's spouses.
Jericho's back, for the first time since the very beginning of 2018.
We walked through Gwanghwamun and saw the lit-up lanterns, including the 2023 rabbit and a despised wheelchair user. I didn't get a single picture of her.
My last stop of the day was in "Hipjiro," the name I'm going to use for Nogari Golmok, now that the bad guys have won and forced the good guys out.
There is a great deal of metal-shutter hoarding up around many buildings in the area, and it seems like it'll have to be wiped out now. That's not so sad because the alley has become a monopoly.
At one point, I was driving away and I stopped to take a picture, and by pivoting to take the picture, I hurt an abdominal muscle that seems to be located somewhere around my diaphragm. It caused a sudden horrible pain that repeated about five times on my drive home. If I hadn't had a heart attack already, I would have assumed this was a heart attack and I was about to die, from my heart bursting. Stupid organs.
Abandoned Wedding Hall and Motel
Ryan reported that a fairly prominent wedding hall was closed down, so I went in for a look. I had last been here in 2016 for a punk wedding, during which I explored around the upper levels while tragically missing a Billy Carter performance.
Anyway, this time I didn't have a chance to see Billy Carter play, but I did get to see a lot of the building, plus the motel next door.
Hotel on Vacation
The other night, I had been driving home when I caught wind of this one hotel that seemed to be all closed down. I came back for a closer look, and found signs declaring it's on holiday. Also, on the front side there's a BK and a cafe, so it's not totally gone yet. Curious to keep an eye on it.
I was trying and failing to get a prescription filled at a Severance-adjacent pharmacy, so I stopped by a burger shop I found on Shuttle that looked promising. The guy misunderstood my order for a chili dog as chili fries, so out of guilt he gave me a free order of chili fries. So if you are bad at speaking, go to this place and you'll get a lot of free stuff. Plus their food that I tried, which ended up including a burger, hot dog, and fries, was pretty good.
It's at a mini-mall built out of cargo containers near Ewha Womans University, right at the same site I remember seeing a few punk bands play in about 2004 or 2005.
Brother Anthony's birthday
I got my first invite to a Brother Anthony birthday since he was in his 70s. Anyway he hasn't changed much since then, despite surrendering his RAS Korea presidency. He took us to a restaurant, then a tea house, then a brewpub. Also I had a look at a cop shop that seems to be about to meet its maker.
Brother Anthony shares his birthday with two other guys, poet Jeong Ho-seung who he has translated a lot, and a professor whose name was saved in my phone until right when I went to write this.
One day after its closure, the Hilto is becoming a fortress. Also they took down the rest of the name.
It was a pretty adventurous year. Here is the latest photo dump of pictures taken on my smartphone.
We'll start with a picture that signals the times we're in: drinking in a bar with the lights off after curfew.
This gallery also has some other views of things I otherwise documented on this site at the time, including the conflict at KOTE and partying at Turn Lounge before its demolition. Plus there are images from an anti-drug book I found at work.
The pictures for the first gallery seem to run into April.
Gallery 2 runs from April until July 16, during Seoul Queer Culture Festival.
You can see Buster wearing a hat, and then celebrating his 16th birthday. There are more pictures of drinking, and of the cats.
I used my smartphone to take pictures of Joey at Dice Latte, mainly because I thought it would be easier, and I was probably right.
There are also a few pictures from when I saw what appeared to be a horrific traffic accident, and then on driving past it became clear it was a film set. I never was able to figure out what they were filming.
It was also during this period when I started experimenting with Corn Flakes foods being sold in convenience stores, and you can see a picture of the only one I didn't try, the salad.
There was a heavy rain during the parade at SQCF; it stopped right around when the parade started moving, and it ended right around when it finished. I tried to keep out of the rain, but my camera started acting up and wouldn't work properly. I ended up having to take it in for repairs.
That night I went to see 13 Steps at ACS, a venue I'd never heard of in Euljiro. There were other bands, but without a working camera, I didn't feel motivated to push forward to the front of the crowd to see the bands, except for when 13 Steps played.
Also at this show, Victor had a table set up to sell kendamas, plus get rid of his old CD collection. I got a lot of rare old GMC stuff that would probably be hard to find anywhere else.
The pictures in this gallery are mostly from July, up until right before I left for vacation in Canada.
There are pictures of several zines, plus a few from the night of the Broke 15th anniversary show on July 29. Because I had priced the show at 6,000 won for entry, I started saving up small bills for weeks in advance. I made it up to 110,000 won in 1,000 and 5,000 bills, and when I took them all out for the float, my wallet nearly fell apart. It doesn't feel right anymore, if it isn't stuffed with money.
These photos run from Zandari Festa in September through to early November when I started photographing Pepero Day displays.
You can see the skateboard I found in the garbage somewhere, plus a lot of pictures taken around the neighbourhood.
A lot of times I take phone pictures for instructive reasons. There are a lot to show people where I am and how to get there, which explains why there are so many at bars. That led to some odd ones in this gallery, as we drank in some weird new places. In one other case in this gallery, I photographed two flavours of potato chips from Canada, in order to get my coworkers to vote on which to try next.
There's nothing related to the Itaewon disaster, as I'd already processed those images and included them in with my regular camera stuff.
The final gallery is filled with all sorts of things, showing a lot of things around HBC as well as the office plus RAS Korea. I took a lot more photos on my phone than my camera of the RAS Korea book sale, and I also photographed some odd mail we got at work. There are a lot of pictures at Phillies, which was supposed to close at the end of the year, plus a few of Gogi Boys where it will probably move to.
Pictures from the Moses Thanskgiving this year appear here as well, plus a cosmetics trade show and some more views around Songdo. There's one notable photo I took on my smartphone to send to people after I'd been left behind in a venue in Cheongju.
I also have a few photos in here of the time I had to chew my arm off in order to get away from my cats. Plus, Chris got new teeth. And there are more pictures from my last visit to the Hilto penthouse, looking mainly at the small objects left on display all over the place.
New Year 2023
I started taking pictures around midnight on January 1. I went to Phillies for what was originally expected to be their final night, although the place is still running.
31 December 2022
I swung by the Hilto, to see a force of workers at the front door ensuring that none of the many visitors out front came back inside. Then I went further up the hill to a point where I could see the whole building, and saw how they're taking care of the sign.
31 December 2022
Another Abandoned Neighbourhood
The last stop on my journey south of the river was an abandoned neighbourhood that was a little too fresh, not quite ripe enough for exploring. This is a considerably smaller gallery than the others.
31 December 2022
I visited this mural village a while ago, but didn't prioritise it because I was unable to get inside any buildings. I stopped by again, to discover most of the area had been ripped apart. Squeezing under the curtain, I got a final look at some of the murals in the area, and found some timely images taken from Sugungga, the tale of the rabbit lured to the Dragon King's underwater domain who tricked his way out and escaped having his organs harvested. Hopefully a good sign for 2023, the Year of the Water Rabbit.
31 December 2022
I had several locations to check out, but I decided to drive out to the farthest one first and work my way back, rather than moving outward, because otherwise it'll just be a slog and I'll probably never make it to the farthest site. Which was a good choice, because this valley area on the edge of Seoul was must-visit. I'll have to revisit it a few times.
31 December 2022
Just two pictures of an abandoned building I passed on my way down south. There was a weak spot in the fence in the back, but it was across the alley from a couple other active restaurants, and I imagine it would be high-risk to try to get past their attention.
30 December 2022
I was surprised to find out that one of my coworkers had rented a room at the Hilto on its last night open ever, at a cost far higher than I would have expected or considered paying (which she split two ways). I wormed my way in by promising to show her the penthouse, and I did not let her down.
30 December 2022
I went out with some coworkers for drinks in Euljiro area. First we went to the Ggeek brewpub on Sewoon Sangga, then we walked through Euljiro Nogari Alley -- which was even more shuttered than my recent last visit -- to get to Seendosi.
30 December 2022
On the last full day of the Millenniu Seou Hilto's opening, I paid what I thought could be my final visit. I used some tricks on the elevator to try to ride up higher so I could walk up to the top floors. Fortunately, it seemed on level 19 there was a restaurant area that people were flocking to. Once I boarded an elevator with actual guests, I followed them up, held the elevator door open for them when they got out, then slipped out to the stairs. From there it was a quick jaunt up to the penthouse, which had once housed the former Daewoo Group chairman. I took my time and got a fair number of pictures.
28 December 2022
The construction site is now getting tall enough that I can tell the building will be at least as tall as mine. This comes right after the tree that would have given privacy was removed.
27 December 2022
Order Pizza Here
Phillies was going to serve pizza for the first time, and in the alley out front of my apartment I saw this sign.
25 December 2022
I decided, with the dismembered evergreen tree on my roof, I might as well grab a branch and give myself the most pitiful Christmas tree possible (at least that's organic). It's a little over a meter tall and sheds needles whenever I touch it, but it would make Charlie Brown envious.
24 December 2022
Millennium Hilton Seoul
I paid a visit to the Millennium Hilton Seoul, which has an annual toy train display around this time of year.
The hotel is set to close down at the end of this year, with reservations not being accepted overnight from New Year's Eve to New Year's Day.
21 December 2022
This is the site of a former neighbourhood I visited a few times after abandonment. Right around here was a gate I could squeeze through. Interesting to note that the bandos are being replaced with a Bando. Also, because of the incline, the bottom of the gate couldn't be made flush to the ground, leaving room to squeeze under.
18 December 2022
Abandoned Cuck Chair
A researcher wanted to interview me about urban exploration, so I suggested we go to an abandoned hotel. I didn't take many photos, just a few, including of the abandoned cuck chair.
17 December 2022
This is definitely one of the most unique acts I've seen in a while. It features Sato Yukie on guitar, as well as a pretty good singer, and also a crossdressing Jinyong from GIOK/Christfuck/Mateo/Halajae. And it was still somehow good.
17 December 2022
Earl at Phillies
Phillies invited Earl for what will likely be his last show at this location. It's possible he could still play if they move, since he's not exactly as loud as Incestrul Lust.
17 December 2022
I came home between outings, and the cats barricaded me in. Not sure if they didn't want me to leave again or if they just wanted cat food, but I fed them and they got out of my way.
17 December 2022
There was a film screening at an old closed movie theater, but we had to keep a lot of details secret for fear of Christians crashing the party, since this used to be a major gay hangout.
15 December 2022
I had a look at the snow as it was coming down, coating the disassembled tree on my roof. Not exactly good feelings.
13 December 2022
Just a couple festive photos from around downtown late at night.
Since the last time I was there, Cheongju has a new KTX station...opened in 2010.
Trains go through frequently, but when I showed up, I had to wait a full hour for one headed the right direction for Seoul.
10 December 2022
Iman's League Day 3 in Cheongju
I went down to Cheongju for the first time since maybe 2005 to see a show. The venue was pretty strange, basically inside an illegally built structure on the roof of a building. It was nice being at a show not underground in a basement.
9 December 2022
Iman's League Day 2 at Phillies
This was sort of a crazy night. Right as I showed up, there were police cars in front of The Studio HBC. Apparently Ryan had told one of his employees "Change the garbage bag," and some nearby Russians thought he was calling them garbage (which is understandable considering the world today), so they jumped him. The police showed up pretty quickly and brought the conflict to an end, but it was the second-craziest night in the neighbourhood this year.
Tension was high at the Iman's League show as well.
8 December 2022
Iman's League Day 1 at Craic House
I left the zine fest to drive back to Seoul in time to see Iman's League
on the first day of their latest four-day Korea tour. As mentioned in the article, this show was pretty close to the site of the Itaewon disaster. The bands were a bit subdued, playing acoustic only (with mics). More coming soon from the rest of the tour.
7 December 2022
UAC Zine Fest
I went to Songdo for a zine fest at the University of Utah campus there. It seemed simplest for me to drive up the night before and sleep nearby, so I ended up at the area overlooking the former Songdo Resort area. A little over nine years earlier, I stayed in another motel in the area, so this time I decided to try a new one, specifically the one with the Statue of Liberty on the roof.
No pictures at all from the zine fest.
6 December 2022
Orthodox Church Area
While heading to Copy Salon to print Broke 31 among other things, I stopped for a moment to survey the demolition in this area right behind the Orthodox church, in land that appears to fall almost entirely in Gongdeok-dong. There was much to explore here earlier, but it's all gone now.
3 December 2022
As Phillies is leaving its original location at the end of the year, they're putting together a fairly small festival which ran on two Saturdays early in the final month. This was the first of two Saturdays, and I showed up mainly to see the new metal band Rogue Warriors, which was said to be made up of 11 musicians taking turns performing. A member told me they wanted to increase the roster to as high as 50. It's a ridiculous idea, which is why I want to see it work.
2 December 2022
Another view of Namdaemun. This one's from the alley I frequent the most, looking toward the gate, with the name of my employer in the background.