Korea's very first urban exploration film festival is arriving on April 6.

Video entries are being sought until March 2.

Click image for more information or visit @dotamfilmfestival on IG.

BROKE PUBLISHNG


Cats on Keyboards
A full-size book written entirely by cats


Through the Joseon Door
A collection of short essays about urban exploration in Korea, written by whoever Ron Bandun is


Hongdae Fire
A story set in the mid-2000s Korean punk scene

"A love letter to the punk scene"
-Gwangju News

Available on Amazon, Google, Book Depository, Bookshop, Bookmate (ebook), Aladin, at the physical store Kenektid, and various other smaller websites


Rapscallion's Den
Short stories about a fictional punk house in Edmonton

Only available through direct purchase so far

View this post for price and ordering information

Contact brokepublishng@gmail.com

As Seen On on Unite Asia!


20240224


Club SHARP

I started the day out with a visit to Club SHARP, where there was an all-day event including DJing and tattoo stuff. Later there would be a show that would feature the reunion of Things We Say, but I was torn and had to end up spending the night at another show, where there was a touring band visiting from out of hemisphere.


Spiky Brats

Over at Club Steel Face, the first band was Spiky Brats.

I think this is the third time I've seen them in this resurrected form, and they've grown on me a bit more. They play recognisable Spiky Brats songs, which is nice, but also I wonder if they can actually move on and start creating more new material.

At the end of the day, it seems like more of an attempt to have one extra band of this style to play shows. And I can stomach that.


18Fevers

I took a lot more photos of the three spikier bands, but 18Fevers was the next closest band that can match their visual presence. Pogo punk is more of an interactive style than "death punk disco," but 18Fevers isn't boring. The members like to occasionally take turns marching into the crowd. Even in the last song, the drummer set up a cymbal right in the middle of the crowd and started bashing it.

They will be performing again this year at Rebellion Fest, as will the War Lovers, so it made sense for them to play this show.


Pogo Attack

Pogo Attack is almost the same as Spiky Brats. They share two members (in different roles), and they're led by Edaeng who's also pretty active during Spiky Brats sets. The main difference is Pogo Attack is a new original band.

Someone asked me during the show about my mediocre camera setup and reliance on the on-board flash. And they're not wrong that I could be trying a lot harder. But sometimes even an on-board flash gets a good enough image.


Rux

Rux was the fourth band, which was different from seeing them play first as I've observed several times in the recent past. However, they still always seem to be the height of the show, and after them the audience was notably thinner.

It would have been a better idea for them to go last, even after the War Lovers, though I can understand why they wouldn't want to.


Stoned

Stoned were up here from Busan, and I have to admit I didn't get as many photos of them as I did of the others.


War Lovers

I had to leave midway through the War Lovers' set to go stab the cat. I still saw a fair amount of it and even recognised some songs. They were fun and I'd like to see them again, both on stage and have more of a chance to talk. I did get this interview done, at least.

20240223


Skunk Sindang

It was the day before the War Lovers show, and I stopped by Skunk Sindang hoping maybe the band members would hang out there. I was wrong, but wasn't going to go all the way over to Hongdae.

Skunk's basement-level washroom has an amazing decor. It's like an art gallery you can piss in. But no No.2s -- those are for the stairwell.

I also noticed that among all the decorations, they had used posters from shows I remember from back in the day, as well as pages torn out of my own zine. Coetzer is on display, as is the entrance to Burning Sun, and I thinmk it looks great.

20240209


Temples

Whoops, I forgot to share this gallery of a visit to an abandoned neighbourhood during Seollal. I visited one temple I suspect isn't quite abandoned yet, and another that is newly abandoned.

20240222


Snow

It snowed a fair amount, making me even more convinced this is the snowiest winter we've had in years. The last one that came close was around 2010, but that one might stand out in memory more because of the inadequate snow removal services at the time. This year it's pretty good, but just a lot to remove.

20240220


Itaewon Memorial

Nobody else was going to do it, so I finally went out and wrote an article about the poor-quality memorial at the disaster alley. It's not often I write articles where the people in them are legitimately frightened by what will be published -- maybe just this one and the wall soap one.

20240217


New Monorail

There's a new monorail lift at an otherwise pretty obscure park in Singeumho area.

It's free and unmanned, but it's also slower than a person can walk. If you were to decide to race someone walking uphill, that person would probably beat you. Worse, this lift seems like it has a pretty long wait time, and also there are generally a lot of people waiting for it, so if you don't get on the next one, you'll be there a long time.

I'm quite certain the lift at Haebangchon's 108 stairs moves fater than this.

My original plan was to ride this thing and take video looking through the glass at the city view. But the thing moves so slow that it would not be an interesting video. Also, the windows are tinted, and there are seats lining the interior facing inward, actively making it hard for you to admire the city view as you ride.

This seems like a location where they would have benefitted from more of a funicular-type lift, with two cars operating in tandem of each other and hopefully travelling at faster speeds.


Majang Market

I had never actually visited Majang Market before, so I stopped by this time, after passing b the cow and pig heads welcoming visitors.

Most of it is just typical butcher shops, but some of them seem to delight in showing off weird things. I passed by one shop displaying spines, and another with a bucket of large hearts out front. I don't like seeing disembodied hearts.


Abandoned Electricity Site

Right next to the market, I found a fairly large property that turned out to belong to a well-known utility company. This site seems totally closed down, albeit covered in sensors everywhere.

Next door is a bigger, more modern facility that looks like it takes up less land. I'm assuming they've phased out of the old one into the new one. Curious what will happen, and if there's anything worth seeing inside.


Subway and Roof

I scouted out a subway line under construction, only to find workers still around. But it turned out the restaurant I wanted to go to opened at 6 not 5, and I had an extra hour to kill. Plus the workers seemed to have left at 5. The site I visited just led down to a big open empty space, possibly where they're building a station. It's also possible that the tunnel is deeper than this, and it's already down there. Though if I had to guess, I'd assume there's just not much to see down there yet.

After, I went aboveground and noticed I was next to a small area that had a few Hanoks and love motels that seems to have fallen into some kind of disputed status. Almost all the buildings still standing seem to be resisting redevelopment. I went to a roof next door and got a good look from above.


Aqua Duck Pizza

After Tom left his pizza place, apparently when someone asked online where to go now for pizza, instead of recommending his place under new ownership, he recommended Aqua Duck in Majang-dong.

I'd been there once about a year ago, and found it was pretty good. So I went back for another visit. This time I stayed to eat, rather than taking a pizza home. It was a little better to have it fresh rather than 30 minutes old, but on the other hand I also found it made good leftovers the next day.


Skunk Sindang

I stopped by Skunk Sindang, which is officially no longer a live music venue but a bar.

It's a shitty situation, but I have to admit they had a decent amount of customers, including a number of musicians I had wanted to talk to. They should probably shut it down and move on as soon as possible, but until then, I think it's worth visiting.

20240216


Office Next Door

It was Friday or Saturday morning around 2am, and I noticed a light on outside my window. Turns out the new building across the alley has an office, and I guess they sometimes work late. I went out onto my roof to spy on the three or so people there. You can see a guy near the right standing, and it turned out he was heading up to the roof to probably smoke. I retreated inside, pushing Buster with me, before he would notice.

20240216


Itaewon

I paid a visit to Itaewon where I found three things to piss me off:

  • Hannam New Town.
  • Grand Ole Opry has a "No Koreans" sign out front, which some have blamed on this video. Apparently it got so many views that it led to an increase in Korean customers, and that's why the sign went up. I've decided just to not take responsibility for that -- she could just as easily have enjoyed the significant boost to her business.
  • The Itaewon disaster memorial, which is itself a disaster.
  • 20240212


    Teen Host

    After the previous day's adventure in Son of the Host, I decided to look for another possibly similar stream. That turned out to be Teen host, but unlike the others it doesn't look all that explorable, except for the large underground space it empties into.

    20240211


    Son of the Host

    This was my first time actually venturing into this tunnel since late 2012. It's tougher than the Host Tunnel because you need rubber boots. Also it curves a lot more, so you lose the daylight from the entrance much more quickly.

    A little way in, you encounter the Seontongmulcheon tunnel, which is an artificial channel that was created during the occupation. The other end of it connects with another stream to the east called Teen Host. The water in both those tunnels is too deep and too rapid for us to currently explore.

    20240211


    Dog

    Coetzer was dogsitting in Itaewon, and he invited me over for a while.

    20240210


    Return to the Joseon Door

    Without much to do, I ended up wandering over to Hongdae, which I found surprisingly dead for a Saturday night, even if it was the Lunar New Year long weekend.

    This led to me scouting some of the subway vents I used to access the tunnels through. And it turned out one of them had been left unsecured. So I got to go down and visit the Joseon Door, a deadly place. Tyler lives on Jeju now, so I didn't mess around with it this time.

    20240209


    Tunnel Construction

    My first destination of the holiday was the tunnel underneath Seoul Station. Not sure if I'll get another chance to visit it before it goes into use.

    This time I went only with my phone and I was taking video most of the time, so there isn't that much to see here.

    20240207


    Roof

    On my last day of work before the Lunar New Year long weekend began, I had lunch with Bereket, and brought him up to the roof.

    20240206


    Tom's Pizza

    I went to Tom's Pizza one final time, and the only photo I took was this one. I had been thinking of putting up a sticker for Tom Tom Tom, but Tom ended up getting it from me and keeping it.

    It was also Joe McPherson's 20-year anniversary in Korea, so there were a number of familiar and interesting faces there.

    20240205


    Rabbithole

    I took this photo needing an image to run with this article. The article got a lot of negative comments on Instagram, but all this ended up doing was helping spread the word. Apparently they got way more people out than they expected, and it was a huge drunken mess. I think they said they'll do it four times a year.

    20240204


    The Vervs

    I received a visit from some long-lost friends who moved all the way out to Ansan.

    20240203


    Casa JiHoon

    I visited JiHoon in order to pick up a sample of the "Scratch Tile book he and Nate Kornegay just published. Article coming soon.

    After a visit in which he showed me some of the rarer items in his collection, I passed by Sarangjeil Church, which has been a fortress resisting urban renewal for years. I'm surprised Mayor 5mb didn't give in to their demands.

    20240202


    Thunderhorse

    Somehow I hadn't noticed or had forgotten that the Thunderhorse sign is still up. It outlived Elpino 323 in this location.

    20240202


    Tim Hortons III

    The country's third Tim Hortons has opened, and this one is right in Grand Central, directly across from my office. I went there once, around 2pm when it was empty, but during the lunch hour and right after, it's a mess. The setting is nice though, nicer than the Gangnam ones.

    20240201


    Witch Gimbap

    There's a new plan to try to discourage glorification of drugs by banning names of regular food products from making drugs sound good, like "mayak gimbap." How will that work though?

    This gimbap place I spotted in Gwanghwamun has a solution: all you need to do is change one character, and you go from Mayak to Manyeo (witch), which I'm sure will result in a wave of Christian protest.

    20240131


    Itaewon Memorial

    Last month, a friend sent me a message about the horrific state of the Itaewon disaster memorial. It appears they just made it with some kind of stickers on a reflective surface, and it has been wearing away quickly. It's possible this is the result of deliberate vandalism, but might also just be from passersby bumping into it. Hard to tell, but I was able to find out the gu office had a meeting around the time that these pictures were taken. So I'm totally sure it will be taken care of right away. Don't make me go back and look again.

    20240128


    More Soap

    At some point during the day, I observed soap in a building. Pretty sure this was after seeing Bart and on my way to the Hanokers event.

    20240128


    Old-Time Jam

    I showed up at Baeuksaeng Makgeolli for the next Old-Time Jam performance.

    20240128


    Bulgasari

    After I left the Hanokers event, I went to Bulgasari which was held at Space Hajae. Coetzer was performing, and also Jennifer from Lucy Valentine performed using a homemade guitar made by Coetzer. It was pretty wild.

    20240128


    Hanok

    Across the alley from the Hanokers Hanok is a Hanok undergoing pretty strong reconstruction. I just took a few pictures looking in from the alley. I might have done more if I hadn't just left the Hanokers event where there were a lot of refugees.

    20240128


    Hanokers

    Finally I made it to a Hanokers event. Hanokers is an NGO that, among other things I'm learning about, gets to use a Hanok in Seochon for its "Refugee Insights" monthly talk series by refugees in Korea.

    This time, it was a talk from a member of the Jumma community who had been displaced from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. He gave a lot of information that is also available online, but I noticed wasn't really talked about on the related Wikipedia page, which sort of makes it sound like the situation was resolved in 1997.

    20240128


    Hongdae

    I went back to Hongdae to meet up with Bart again. No further comments about this for now, other than to say this is the first time I considered getting Trash to pose with trash.

    20240126


    Buildings

    I was driving around and saw this view. Lots of medium-rise buildings, beneath highrises, all well-lit by the sun. I'm sure the smaller buildings have a very short remaining life. A lot of people see the advantages of transitioning from the foreground buildings to the background ones, but I see it not as an upgrade but a replacement. Not just of the buildings but of the people and communities that are displaces. Just in case that wasn't already obvious. Why is Seoul better off if the working class is pushed out in favour of idle-rich real estate investors?

    20240124


    Tax Office

    I've been trying to navigate the Korean income tax system, and decided to visit the Jongno tax office. It is absolutely easier doing that than using Hometax, although I have an advantage thanks to my scooter. Highlight of the visit was I went up to the roof and got a pretty fantastic view of Ikseon-dong.

    20240124


    KOTE

    I heard the official news that KOTE was closed. Juyoung surrendered all rights, except for the one building that contains Joseon Salon. I have to admit, compared to what she'd been doing before, there's not much future in hanging onto this little corner of Insadong. I fear that what we've seen in Euljiro Nogari Alley will repeat in this area.

    While visiting, I noticed an open door on the larger building out front. I entered and noticed a second-floor management office occupied. I hurried upstairs and saw the rest of the building, while also concerned that if the person in the second-floor office left, I'd be locked in.

    20240123


    Tom's Pizza

    I went to Tom's Pizza in order to put together an article about Tom moving away. Not many photos were taken because I already had them contributed by other sources, but it was a memorable experience nonetheless.

    20240123


    Soap Soap

    A lot of foreigners get grossed out by this type of soap, which is mounted on a stick coming out of the wall over a sink. I hear complaints that it's unsanitary. But also, why would it be? An initial analysis seems to indicate that the worst thing about bar soap is when it's sitting in a soap dish filled with liquid containing a lot of bacteria. If it's just like this, and you use it properly, it should be perfectly sanitary.

    I think there's more to it though -- I suspect people are grossed out by it because they associate its shape or use with sex acts. Which sounds ridiculous, but is a textbook case of magical thinking.

    20240120


    Old-Time Jam

    I went to Casa Amigo where there was a jam session of old-time musicians of various backgrounds. They treat this as an informal thing but it's also pretty great to watch. I was focused on getting pictures, especially group shots and happy facial expressions.

    20240120


    Buster

    I decided to break out the catnip, and Buster seemed to be doing pretty good by this point.

    20240119


    Skippers

    I showed up after work for this show at The Studio HBC, part of the Skippers' tour of Korea. I was surprised by how many people in the audience seemed to know the lyrics to all their songs. It was a pretty good show for a Friday night, and I assume and hope the rest of their tour was also good.

    20240119


    Suit Fitting

    I went back to the Hilto for a suit fitting. You can tell by my expression that it wasn't a very happy day, because Buster was spending it at the vet.

    20240118


    Buster

    I came home to find Buster basically like a watermelon lying on the floor crying with four useless limbs. I stuffed him into a bag and brought him to a veterinarian ER. He had gone hypoglycaemic, which is a result of an insulin overdose. As soon as he got a bit of glucose, he started recovering, but there was apparently damage to his pancreas and heart.

    Since this incident, he seems to be recovering. He's back to his old self, so I'm hopeful it's behind him for now.

    20240117


    Abandoned Restaurant

    I posted about this recently, but here it is in the snow.

    20240116


    RAS Korea Lecture

    We've moved lectures to a new location now, and the first lecture by Matt VanVolkenburg filled the room.

    20240115


    Music Collection

    I opened one of the two tubs I have that's filled with CDs. This is most of what's in it, excluding non-Korean stuff.

    20240113


    Club Victim Show

    At the end of the previous engagement, we went by Club Victim, where three Korean punks -- all in their 40s -- were hanging out on the front steps.

    This is a pretty large photo dump for not a large number of bands. I focused on Rux which opened the show, as well as the new Spiky Brats, Pokemanchi, and 18Fevers. My parents have been encouraging an idea I had to follow 18Fevers to Rebellion Fest this summer, but they might change their minds after seeing these pictures.

    I stuck around most of the way through the show until it was time to go home and stab Buster.

    20240113


    Hongdae

    Not sure what I'm allowed to say about this yet, so I'll just share it without mentioning names.

    20240113


    Crane

    I stopped by work on a Saturday, only to see they were taking down the crane at the construction site out back. Sort of sad to see it go.

    20240112


    Hilton Tailor

    Ever since it closed a little over a year ago now, I've been looking for a way back inside the Hilto. Finally I found a pretty legit one: I need a new suit made, and there's one single tailor remaining in the building. When I made my first visit, he escorted us out and let us look a little around the lobby. That's one way to explore with permission, but be prepared to pay through the teeth, because this guy does not come cheap.

    20240111


    Millie

    The Queen of the Bed woke up when I came home, and converted her head into a drill to fend me off.

    20240111


    Itaewon Memorial

    A friend alerted me to this memorial plaque in front of the October 29 Memorial Alley in Itaewon. It appears it was made with nondurable materials, and has been chipping away.

    It's currently unknown if this is a natural process, or the result of deliberate vandalism, or even possibly accidental vandalism, from people walking close enough to it that their coats are scratching it. Some of the marks look pretty deliberate though. There will be a government meeting about this in a few weeks.

    20240110


    Tim Hortons

    My passport is set to expire, and one of the things I have to do to renew it is go to Tim Hortons. So far there are only two in Korea, both in Gangnam. There have been complaints about high prices, but my biggest problem was with the small selection of donuts.

    20240107


    Cold

    Riding around in the cold on the way to work.

    20240106


    Snow

    It was a snowy day.

    20240106


    Someone's Birthday

    I stopped by Hair of the Dog, right in time for the birthday of someone I didn't know.

    20240106


    The Soiree and Liquid Arts Network's Liquid Screens

    There was a screening of two films as part of an event by The Soiree and Liquid Arts Network. I wrote about it here.

    20240106


    Gangnam Apartment Remodeling

    After a friend tipped me off, I visited this apartment complex in Gangnam (technically right over the border in Seocho, which is not much less posh).

    It was dark and I mostly stayed outside.

    20240105


    Morgan and Leah's Birthday

    Time for another birthday party in HBC. This time they tried harder to commit to the TMNT theme, giving everyone colour-coded Ninja Turtle eyemasks based on which turtle they thought you were.

    Morgan had a cold so it was somewhat subdued, at least compared to last year.

    20240105


    Chris

    Chris is out of the hospital and back on the soju. After letting off some steam following a few nights in the hospital, he thankfully spent a week staying at home sticking to his antibiotics and recovering.

    20240104


    FastFive

    This is the new venue for RAS Korea lectures. I think it sounds more like a Vin Diesel movie, but maybe that's the energy the society needs.

    2023 Phone Photos


    Smartphone Pictures 1

    The first few months of the year were filled with abandonments, drinking in the cold, new K-entries, and various other shenanigans.

    I've started incorporating phone pictures into regular galleries, so for instance my phone photos of the tiger in the abandoned amusement park have been merged in with the regular camera pictures I posted early in the year.


    Smartphone Pictures 2

    Part 2 seems to be getting more serious.

    More cats, more serious gentrification, more food and drinks.


    Smartphone Pictures 3

    2023 never stopped being interesting for me, and I'd have to say it was the best year I've experienced since at least 2018, if not earlier.

    There were bad things, including Buster getting diagnosed again with diabetes, and lots more gentrification, but this gallery has some pretty interesting memories.


    Smartphone Pictures 4

    This gallery covers the middle of the year, from around when I got an electric scooter to after my trip to Canada.

    It's also when I lost the use of a pretty large lens I had borrowed from work for over a year. I had to go back to a cheaper lens that isn't in great shape, resulting in some distortion at the left and right sides of the frame. As long as I keep the subject matter centered, it doesn't matter too much, and sometimes it gives a free tilt-shift effect.


    Smartphone Pictures 5

    Here's the last gasp of the year, maybe the last couple months. Life as usual. I got sick, I went to the usual places, and got to know the scooter battery more.

    You can also see my phone case was falling apart, which means sometimes it blocks the right edge of photos (which could end up being any edge). In this preview image you can see it in the upper left corner.

    20231021


    No Tresssing

    What's the worst that could happen if I share this photo gallery from a few months ago?

    20231231


    New Year's Eve

    On New Year's Eve I went to YouKillBong to see some acoustic performances, and also Eulji Space where I'm co-planning an event that will happen in a few months. At midnight I was on the roof of Eulji Space where we could see what was going on in both Gwanghwamun and Dongdaemun Market, though not that we got a clear view of either.

    20231230


    Club Victim Show

    I finally made it to Club Victim for the first half of a show that had a lot of familiar faces from over the decades. I managed to see the first show of Tom Tom Tom in particular. The latest issue of Broke in Korea was handed out. Then I had to go home to stab a cat.

    20231230


    Snow

    It was apparently record snowfall for Seoul -- for December -- but I had to go to an apartment, retrieve dentures and a computer, and transport them to the hospital. I made it without incident and got some interesting pictures along the way.

    20231229


    Host Tunnel Construction

    After workers crashed our Host Tunnel party earlier in the month, I made a second return visit, only to find no workers on site this time. Best I can tell, they're diverting water from one side of the tunnel to the other so they can possibly repair something on the first side.

    20231229


    Red Light

    While stopped at a red light, I got a good look at two construction projects. One is a building that seems to be hollowing out its lobby, and the other is subway tunnel construction.

    20231228


    Blue Dragon Train

    In order to help make this article, I had to drive across the city to look for a mothballed roller coaster. Anyway, there it is.

    20231228


    Hospital

    It's kind of hard to describe what happened, and maybe a violation of privacy and possibly speaking ill of the dead, so I'm not going to disclose more details on what this is about. All I'll say is I put my knowledge gleaned from a month stay at Severance Hospital to infiltrate it to visit a patient who lost his wife in a very preventable death that was brought on by substance abuse and mental health issues.

    20231227


    Yeontral Park

    While delivering newspapers around Hongdae, I stopped by Yeontral Park for a look at some key infrastructure facilities.

    20231226


    Boxing Day

    What holiday is better for cats than Boxing Day?

    20231225


    Silent Night

    It was late at night/early in the morning but I was thirsty and didn't have anything at home, so I went out to the convenience store.

    20231223


    Gangnam

    For Christmas weekend, I decided to go clubbing in Gangnam. Except we were at Burning Sun, and the club was an club, I think a pestle for mashing rice.

    20231222


    Frozen Pipes

    When it got cold, my water pipes froze. There was no permanent damage, just pipes that stopped working. For a couple days I couldn't get hot water out of any of the taps. Fortunately the floor heating still worked.

    Not sure why so many Korean residences are built with the most cold-vulnerable components exposed to the outdoors.

    20231222


    Cats

    Both cats have developed the odd habit of sitting on the floor in the washroom in front of the water dishes. Not sure if they like the cold floor, or the luxury of being able to lie down while drinking, but it's weird.

    20231221


    Daily Commute

    Just a few pictures from my way home from work.

    20231220


    Blackmarket

    I stopped by Blackmarket in Itaewon, a place that is both a barbershop, a screenprinting workshop, and soon an actual open bar.

    20231219


    Euljiro in the Snow

    A couple pictures during the snow when I visited Eulji Space.

    20231219


    Graffiti

    Gyeongbok Palace was hit two days in a row by taggers. The second time, somehow the cops didn't spot the perpetrator. That person later turned themself in. Later, two suspects in the first case were caught, and apparently now police are looking for someone who paid them to deface a national treasure.

    20231217


    Seth Mountain

    I skipped out of the night shift at work to attend a couple hours of this concert at Baekusaeng Brewery in Ahyeon Market. It was officially to take a photo for this article, and while I did that, I stayed longer than I had planned due to the music as well as the makgeolli.

    This was also my first time seeing Zee perform and she was also very good.

    20231215


    Busan

    I was invited to go down to Busan to attend Liquid Arts Network's book fair, and decided it was finally time for me to go back to Busan after my last trip was in 2014.

    20231213


    Gangnam

    I went down to Gangnam to scout out a location and also to get a sandwich.

    20231212


    Werner Sasse

    We had a very interesting RAS Korea lecture by Werner Sasse, a Korean studies scholar whose history with the country goes back as far as 1966. It was about Confucianism, and I wasn't expecting it to be as interesting or as easy to follow. There's a writeup here and I'm hoping we didn't exaggerate any of his claims.

    20231210


    Return to The Host

    After the visit to the Host Tunnel the previous day, I wanted to return to figure out what was going on with the construction inside the mouth. I confirmed that, yes, there is a worker on site, and had another close encounter. Kind of curious what he would have done if he caught me, let alone 15 of us.

    No photos of the worksite because I had to be stealthy.

    20231209


    Spider-Man vs The Host

    For the second time in less than a month, I explored the Host Tunnel with a Spider-Man. I'm not going to say more about the identity of this Spidey due to privacy concerns, but this webslinger was also ready for action, and seemed to like fire.

    We had a very large turnout, roughly tied for the other biggest crowd in 2017. The group was pretty easy to manage, and despite a lot of potential problems we overcame them all.

    The topside of Seoul should remain safe from monster attacks for another year, and hopefully many connections were made among the participants.

    20231203


    Nels

    Nels, one of my oldest friends, was visiting, for the first time since January 2020, though that visit wasn't as fun because we were all suffering health problems and a pandemic was about to start.

    This time, we had a couple days together, and used it to drive around central Seoul and view things of architectural note. I didn't photograph much of it, but we went between Dongmyo Flea Market and Neo-Pimatgol, with many stops along the way.

    20231202


    RAS Korea Visits Railroad Museum

    Finally after about a year of planning, RAS Korea launched its tour to the Railroad Museum in Bugok.

    Michael Duffy was set to be our guide, but the museum decided to send its top official to guide us around, and there wasn't really a way to shake him. Some of the participants appreciated his efforts, and others struggled to appreciate his efforts, while a few more couldn't stop from vocally complaining. I was in the last camp.

    Afterwards, we went to Suwon, which I figured was the closest area with good restaurants. We also walked through the Suwon Station red-light district, which has almost completely vanished.

    20231201


    Sangbong Bus Terminal

    The Korean explorers had posted a few days earlier that Sangbok Bus Terminal was seeing off its last bus a day or two prior to this date that I visited.

    When I showed up, there was an active driving school on the property, which made walking around pretty easy. I spent some time up on the rooftop parkade, where I recorded minutes of footage of cars driving slowly around a mock city grid out back.

    20231201


    Miari Texas

    I had been meaning to hit this one big rooftop in the middle of the city's last remaining red-light district. I had to tailgate someone in through the front door, then I went up to the top floor, only to find the roof door locked tight. Then I went to another tower, repeated the process, and found the door was sort of jammed open. I got quite a view as hoped for. I also went down into the area and saw up close how it looks near the end of its life. Plus I had a possible close call and a smooth getaway.

    20231201


    Abandoned Neighbourhood

    On the way to a location I was planning to hit, I came across another location. This happens way too much in Seoul. The location, an abandoned neighbourhood, wasn't the most interesting, but I still had to stop and see.

    20231129


    Hotels

    Al Matto in HBC closed a couple weeks ago. The motel upstairs stayed open, until it closed too. I think I probably noticed pretty quickly after, at least within less than a week. I went inside for a look around. The building has since been gutted further.

    20231128


    Cross

    I don't think this church has closed, despite being downhill from the now-closed Millennium Seoul Hilton.

    20231128


    Tagger

    Here are a few pictures showing this tag that has popped up all over my neighbourhood. All these photos are taken close to where I live.

    The culprit was arrested but all these tags remain. I'm personally not a fan of urban blight appearing in my area.

    20231127


    Downtown

    I took a detour on my way from Hi There, Pie There, to my office, and passed by a couple closed office buildings. Probably not worth trying to get inside, unless they stay there for a long time. I expect they'll be gutted and de-asbestosed fast.

    20231125


    Moses Thanksgiving

    I got the golden ticket to attend Jeff and Trash's Thanksgiving party this year. As usual per the last few years, I brought Korean carrots, which I think are good company with turkey, and also a few extra cans of root beer.

    20231121


    Sool Diplomacy Lecture

    Matt/Rob gave a lecture on the use of alcohol in gastrodiplomacy.

    20231119


    The Dark Side of Seoul Ghost Walk

    Before printing my article on The Dark Side of Seoul, I decided I better also do Joe's tour. While Shawn focuses on folklore and people's daily life experiences, Joe goes a little more grand, sharing information about events that happened at particular locations around Seoul. It would be hard to choose one over the other. Shawn I think introduces Korean culture and how folklore beliefs are weaved in, without churning out dry historical data that visiting tourists can't be expected to remember, and Joe had a more fun rapport with me, plus his tour focuses a bit more on the sites you're actually seeing and their background.

    20231119


    British Spider-Man vs The Host

    It seems kind of redundant to call him British Spider-Man, considering the last two official movie Spider-Men were both British, but anyway, he's leaving Korea after several extra months.

    I wanted to do something more with his time here, so I invited him to go draining for the first time. It seemed like a safe enough activity, and also something totally new for him. Of course it turns out he's gone caving before, but at least down here you don't need to squeeze through that many narrow openings.

    There's going to be another trip to the Host Tunnel later this year in time for Christmas, so if anyone happens to see this and wants to come along, find a way to contact me.

    20231117


    Second Place Lava

    On the way home from Noryangjin, a traffic light turned red and I saw the next light after turn green, during a period where it would be impossible for any vehicles to take advantage. This sort of situation makes me angry, so I turned right into the area here, which I've been

    20231117


    Death Trap

    I returned to the Noryangjin Death Trap, which I discovered is several years old and possibly could have killed someone while the site was active. Although back then the really lethal possibility of using it while crossing the gap and it falling on you would have been less likely unless you had criminal intent.

    This side of the construction site has been covered with netting, which makes entry here less likely. It also means if you grapple with the net, you're likely to pull the death trap down and it'll miss you.

    I made one additional change, rotating it about 5-10 degrees so its disconnectedness will be more apparent to an up-close observer.

    20231117


    Christmas Decorations

    Last year, I noticed that this ENT clinic had Halloween decorations up. This year I returned a few times in October, to confirm that they didn't decorate this year. They did put up Christmas decorations in November though.

    20231116


    HBC

    Just a couple photos to remind you that HBC is always changing.

    20231115


    Millie's 18th Birthday

    Millie celebrated becoming an adult in human years by having a catnip party with her book, "Cats on Keyboards."

    We put this together in a full-sized book in the summer, but haven't done anything with it since. Gotta put the word out there.

    If you want to reserve a copy, email brokepublishng@gmail.com. The price is 20,000 won, and it will be the equivalent of that plus postal expenses for overseas orders.

    20231115


    The Dark Side of Seoul Ghost Walk

    I joined Shawn Morrissey for a ghost tour of Seoul, for an article I was working on. I later did Joe's tour also. Both of them have very different approaches.

    20231112


    Abandoned Bar

    Won't say the name of this bar for the sake of not making it too easy, but anyone who's been there will probably recognise it.

    20231111


    Gate

    This is the locked gate at a construction site I've been monitoring. I'm tempted to climb that thing like a ladder and climb down on the other side, but also tempted to not take such a dangerous risk.

    20231110


    Itaewon

    That hotel on Hooker Hill has completed its full renovation, and it is now apparently French-themed. An interesting choice.

    20231105


    Changing HBC

    I drove through HBC and saw a few things of note around a few sites undergoing various stages of reconstruction.

    20231105


    Schoolhouse

    I decided to get up on an overlooking roof to see what was going on with this former Army Corps of Engineers site. It appears they've removed all buildings except one, a historic old school building. Not sure if I'll ever see it from closer up.

    20231105


    Hipjiro

    I had noticed even more buildings being fenced off at Euljiro, the part that has basically become nothing but construction sites and a nogari hof chain named after a serial killer.

    20231104


    Abandoned Neighbourhood

    Here's another abanndoned neighbourhood. When I have an hour sometime, I should count up all the abandoned neighbourhoods I've visited. It must be at least 200 by now.

    20231103


    Hannam New Town

    There's been a lot of talk about the beginning of evictions for Hannam New Town, started on Monday this week apparently. I drove all around the area looking for signs of mass evictions, only to find very little. My only conclusion is that they've begun evictions on 8,000 homes, and most of those 8,000 haven't been evicted yet.

    People are getting bent out of shape about this whole redevelopment project. Maybe they should get more bent out of shape, but I want to be careful that they don't bend in the wrong ways. This project will ruin one of the most diverse parts of Seoul, and take away vital affordable housing geared to the financial conditions of foreign residents.

    The article I linked above makes the dubious claim they're removing 8,000 households to make room for 6,000. Those numbers are so stupid that I suspect there's something completely wrong in them.

    This project has already been 20 years in the making, so we'll see what happens.

    20231102


    Death Trap

    At this abandoned neighbourhood, I identified a potentially lethal problem that could strike anyone who tries to enter or exit the area a certain way. It's adjacent to an active road, and an act of vandalism could take away all risk. I'm not sure if it's illegal as all it involves is taking something heavy that's on top of something else and placing it on the ground.

    20231101


    Huam-dong

    Just a couple pictures from around the neighbourhood.

    20231028


    Itaewon Halloween Saturday

    This was the big night, the Saturday of Halloween weekend. What was going to happen?

    Long story short, they didn't get anywhere close to a dangerous capacity this year, and the police presence was an overreaction, one that was certainly performative. Rather than assuage people's (at least foreigners') concerns, it put the cops right up on display for all to see, and the comments I received did get pretty ugly.

    The article I made out of this night kept circling back to people commenting on the cops, both their inadequate response last year and their overresponse this year.

    20231027


    Itaewon Halloween Friday

    Friday was a work night for me, so after I left the Revisit dinner, I hurried back to the office, passing by close to Itaewon. I was sitting at work with more than an hour to go, so I decided to go back to Itaewon to see what it was like. That resulted in this article.

    20231027


    Peace Corps Revisit Farewell Dinner

    I hadn't originally planned to join this dinner event, but multiple people urged me to come along. It was useful to see how much the Revisit had changed the participants, bringing them closer together in their shared, or at least parallel, experiences. I wrote this article from the experience.

    20231026


    Peace Corps at Donuimun Museum Village

    I decided to join the Revisit participants on their morning visit to Donuimun Museum Village, an old neighbourhood that had been evicted, frozen, and turned into a museum version of its former self. The reactions I heard ranged from negative to bewildered.

    20231025


    Return to the Diving Board

    The Diving Board, which in my opinion is the best rooftop in the Dongdaemun Market area, had been locked up for the last several years. I put it on my to-do list to solve this problem, and see if there was an alternate way up, even if it were to involve climbing a lot of stairs.

    But a sign I passed right out front gave me a crucial tip, and I discovered that it's as easy as ever to get up there.

    20231025


    Gay Movie Theater

    Matt sent me an article about "Paradise," the documentary about Korea's basically vanished community of gay cruising at movie theaters.

    I thought I had exterior photos in my archive, but it felt easier to just ride over and take more. I went on a business day, when all active businesses in the building were open and most of the doors were also open. This enabled me to visit the spaces that had been locked up on my previous visit.

    20231024


    Christy Gavitt RAS Korea Lecture

    Peace Corps volunteer Christy Gavitt was in Korea for the Revisit, and she also gave a presentation to RAS Korea. We got an article out of it.

    20231024


    Soon to be Abandoned

    I paid a trip to southern Sajik-dong, which apparently is slated for redevelopment next year. It's been in ugly shape for at least a decade that I've observed, and also it seems some of the houses there are undergoing renovation. So we'll see.

    20231022


    Peace Corps Revisit Orientation

    I was invited to play paparazzi for the latest Peace Corps Revisit program, attending some of their events, soliciting them to contribute their own articles to the paper, and of course eating free food.

    Prior to the orientation dinner, I wrote this article, which helped get my foot in the door.

    20231022


    Hotel Roof

    One more thing on my to-do list was hitting the roof of this particular hotel on the slope of Namsan.

    I tailgated hotel guests up, luckily to the 18th floor, just a couple under the top floor. The top floor seemed to be a maintenance area, but in the stairwell there was a ladder leading up through a very narrow hole to a roof hatch. It was also in view of a surveillance camera, but I did it anyway.

    Long story short, I got onto the roof and the view was phenomenal. And when I went down, a well-dressed worker stopped me in the lobby. He let me go telling me not to go back, which I am appreciative for. They will catch whoever goes next, and they will be less forgiving I'm sure.

    One reason to target this roof was to verify a story Peter Bartholomew had told me a few months before his death. He claimed to have witnessed Chun Doo-hwan's violent 12/12 coup in 1979, while at a bar in the hotel. I thought it must have been a bar up at the top, but on my way down I saw out the window of the lobby-level bar, where I could very clearly see the Hannam Bridge and Banpo Bridge. I don't remember what bridge the coup forces crossed, but it seems plausible even from a relatively low level. Even today, the view was still relatively unblocked, from that low level.

    20231022


    Around Yongsan

    At the event the day before, someone lamented to me that the Host Tunnel entrance had been sealed up. Having difficulty believing it, I went down the next day to see for myself. It's entirely possible this person saw some maintenance work, but it's all wrapped up now.

    I also checked one more thing off my to-do list, hitting a rooftop with a view into the railyard site. There are these big tents in there and it's unclear what's going on inside them. I'm especially curious because there used to be similar large tents, housing some really cool equipment, but they were all removed years ago.

    20231021


    Festival of the Flesh

    Fleischfest returned for its second run this year, and this one was themed around Barbie. It was well-attended, and the theme was popular, so they sold out on shirts before I could get one. I'm quite choked, because they were great. All I have is my "Smoke Game" shirt.

    20231018


    HBC/Itaewon

    Just some pictures from hanging around various areas in the neighbourhood.

    20231017


    Peace Corps Revisit

    There's a Peace Corps Revisit program underway, and prior to its opening I had dinner with Jim Mayer, the last Peace Corps Korea director, the one who turned the lights off and shut the door behind him.

    We met at Somerset, and I took him on a walk through Jogyesa, Insadong, and Ikseon-dong, before arriving at the galmaegi alley I had hoped to have a meal at. At one point along the way, he mentioned he was 81, which made me rethink my whole plan. But yeah, we had a good time hanging out, and then walked back together to his hotel.

    20231016


    Construction in HBC

    I was riding around in HBC, when I heard what sounded like a kitten in distress crying for help inside a construction site. I entered, only to find that the cat was definitely not there, possibly having left it. Also, the construction site was a complete mess.

    I've been to construction sites before, sometimes even legitimately, and you call this construction?

    20231015


    Rooftop Cat

    Buster slipped outside when I cleaned the litter box around noon, and then I went to work without noticing he wasn't inside. I came home around 10:30, only to find him curled up in a corner on the roof. He recovered pretty quickly, it seems.

    The vet office pictures from the next day are from when I did an insulin run for him.

    20231014


    Paik Hospital

    I had been watching this thing before leaving for Canada in August, and while I was gone, the thing shut down. It's not 100% totally abandoned, which means it's not in my purview yet.

    Actually, can I reword that? I want to say "perview," which is a malapriapism of purview.

    20231010


    RAS Korea

    Just a few photos from an RAS Korea lecture.

    20231007-8


    Block Party

    Finally, here's my full coverage of this year's Block Party.

    You can read more about Block Party here, or see some of the pictures I got here

    20231008


    Itaewon Disaster Memorial in Seoul Plaza

    After visiting the actual site the previous day, I also paid a visit to the official memorial, which marched from Noksapyeong area to Seoul City Hall several months ago.

    20231007


    Itaewon Memorial

    Before hitting up Block Party, I went by Itaewon to take some photos for an upcoming article about Halloween in Itaewon this year.

    I'm never really fully proud of any article I write, and am more likely to be proud of the fact I got to cover a particular thing, but in this case with this article, every time I get in a discussion or argument about what will happen for Halloween this year, I hear people regurgitating arguments made by the interviewees in this article.

    There are very few additional new thoughts, other than the occasional safety tip, which I figure will be unnecessary because I can't imagine the area hitting a critical mass this year.

    20231005


    Whale Hanok

    I went by the Whale Hanok, only to see them stripping off the old giwa roof tiles. Later, the roof was covered up again with cheap roof material, the thing that looks like tin mimicking traditional Korean roofs.

    20231004


    Croc Pizza

    This pizza place has been open for maybe a couple months by now, though the hours have at times seemed unpredictable.

    After trying that new gimbap place and the excellent new Turkish restaurant, I wanted to also try this place. Why "That's Not a Big Deal"? Why the whole "Croc" thing? In the end, the sauce was so sugary that only a Korean who had never had a real pizza before could like it. Still, make one tweak and it would probably be pretty decent.

    20231004


    Namdaemun

    It was a gloomy day, and I went to Namdaemun to stop by the store that supplies me with Cherry Coke. On the way out, I took this picture showing the gate and my office behind it.

    20231002


    Night

    I didn't feel like sleeping, so I went out in the middle of the night.

    First I went to the train tunnel entrance, but ended up deciding I wasn't ready for another trip all the way down there. The lighting was different, with a lot of illumination around the entry point, even though it was several hours later at night, and while I was standing there considering this, a group of migrant workers walked by and were able to see me, and they looked at me a little too long.

    So I got out of there and went over to see what it was like at the Hilto. No workers or security were visible, although it's possible I tripped an alarm or two walking around the outside/looking in windows.


    Sillim

    In the morning (at least 2pm), I drove down to Sillim to see how things were going there.

    A lot has been demolished, and it didn't look easy to walk through. I decided to write this area off for now, but it should be revisited. There's a very interesting community there, with a traditional market that doesn't seem well-known as a tourist destination, and quite a lot of lowrise buildings with small businesses.


    Save Mart

    The navigation app seemed to indicate the fastest way to my next destination was up over a ridge, rather than going back to the streets I know.

    Going a new way gave me a chance to see some new sights.

    One of them was a Save Mart, which on the outside appeared to be a retro-looking supermarket. I didn't go inside, but it ended up looking more like it sold groceries as well as clothes and probably other products.


    Cop Shop

    After I passed by Save Mart, I kept going, until I passed by a public-looking building behind a wall. One thing that caught my eye was the number of murals on the exterior that seemed to be police-themed.

    I figured it was a police station, which certainly got my interest, but I couldn't find any evidence to back that up. There were signs on the exterior of buildings that seemed sort of police-related, but also there were signs inside that seemed more like it was a community center.

    Later I found that, yes, it was the police heaquarters for the district several years prior.


    Iron Hill

    I chose to go to Iron Hill not because I figured there would be a lot to do, but because I expected I'd see it, realise there wasn't much going on, and cross off an intermediate-distance trip from my to-do list. I'd just been back here almost a month earlier, checking out a different area, and it would be kind of nice not to get entangled with a lot more things to do.

    Turns out there's a whole mountain covered in abandonments.

    Well, except for one building...


    Temple

    There was a high likelhihood this temple was abandoned. It wasn't in ruins, but I couldn't see how people could still be here. So I jumped the fence. Then it turned out there were two women still living there. They did their best to be welcoming, and even showed me inside the temple.

    Currently they're waiting for relocation compensation, and after that they expect to move away.


    Pink Apartments

    On the way home, as often happens, I found something else interesting I couldn't just pass up. I recalled these pink apartments from a few years earlier when going through here to get a look at the redevelopment next door. Now that redevelopment project is complete, and they're ready to tear down these buildings as well.

    20231001


    Driving to Bucheon

    The way to Bucheon is weird. There's no really good way, but the route I picked out went a little south compared to my usual route to Incheon.

    I had to go through Mokdong, where there is this really weird development. It's sort of like they made a big racetrack, all a one-way street going counterclockwise around a line of buildings one block thick. One of the exits is at the tip of this configuration, which spurts you out in the direction away from the city and into Bucheon. Not sure why they thought to introduce such an odd urban plan.


    Abandoned Amusement Park

    On the way out of the city, I stopped by an abandoned amusement park I hadn't been to in several years.

    It's still there, and still in pretty much the same condition. There are two sections of the park, one which is easy to get to and the other with more interesting rides that's a little harder. When I arrived, a car was parked there with the door open, so I decided not to go past. Later I discovered that an archery range had been built, making the walk by there feel less safe than before.


    Miniature Theme Park

    Coetzer asked about this miniature theme park, and I recalled having investigated it about a decade ago when I was in the area for a wedding. But it didn't seem like it would amount to much.

    More recently, the whole park closed down, and most of the miniatures have been sitting there ever since, decaying out in the elements. It was pretty interesting to see, but what made it more interesting was that I brought toys along to play with in the miniatures.

    I went around to the side gate, where I encountered a worker. He told me the place wouldn't reopen, and then said I could just go in and look around anyway.


    Abandoned Circus

    As I was leaving, I saw a large cylindrical building that had broken windows and was behind a construction fence. I had to stop and have a closer look.

    Entry wasn't anything special, but on the way out I tripped a beam alarm I had somehow bypassed on my way in.

    Later I found out this was intended to be built to house Dongchoon Circus, but the deal with the city fell through and it has been sitting empty for over a decade, right on the edge of a big public park.


    Driving Home

    Just a few pictures on my way home. Because the city's slogan seems to be "Fantasia," some people had thought I was in Tongdo Fantasia on this trip.

    As I crossed over the river back in Seoul, a very large moon near the horizon glared at me. It was almost as intense as the full moon I'd seen a month earlier while still in Canada.

    20230929


    Buster's Medicine

    I fucked up, because the local veterinary clinic only gave me enough insulin doses to last until halfway through the Chuseok long weekend. I detected the problem the first day of the holiday, when we still had a few doses left. There is a 24-hour clinic where Buster has gone in the past, so I went there. They told me I had to show the cat, and they couldn't just magically prescribe more insulin for Buster, which might make sense, not sure, but not going to challenge it.

    Buster did not have a good time, although transporting him there by electric scooter was an improvement for him. On the way back, he chundered while inside the carrying case and smeared it all over his underside.

    In the end, we ended up needing one extra dose before the local clinic opened and refilled the prescription. It was probably still worth it to put him through this, not sure, but ultimately again the fault was mine.

    20230929


    Sinchon Abandonments

    On a visit to the emergency veterinary clinic in Sinchon, I was told I'd have to come back with the cat I was asking for medication for. During this separate initial visit, I stopped by some abandonments in the area, where I saw a stray cat and engaged in other sorts of tomfoolery.

    20230928


    UE Meetup

    For Chuseok I organised the usual holiday meetup event. These meetups are always held on big Korean holidays, which are when foreigners are typically left with not enough to do, and not enough people to do it with. In the past, I made the most of it by hosting UE meetups.

    But more recently, we've discovered that there is an actual local Korean UE community, one that has existed for a few years without our mutual awareness. While this is definitely a good thing, something we've been working toward for years, it also means that holiday UE meetups are less practical going forward.

    For this one, we got two of the more active Korean explorers out. Of the foreign UE community, I like to say there are five really dedicated foreign urban explorers in Korea, three of which were here this day; the other two live halfway across the country. We identified growing pains, especially in language barriers, but we also identified ways in which both sides can help each other. One of the Koreans we met does most of his exploring by drone, and the other guy was a little quiet around us, but then over the next few days of the lond weekend, I witnessed online as he went and slayed a lot of sites all around the region, showing his true commitment as an urban explorer.

    The contact with this domestic UE community presents an existential crisis to the UE community I have developed and to me especially, but unlike previous such existential crises, this one seems like a good problem to have. I'm hoping that we are now especially well-situated to help put Korea's UE community on the global map, with new talents, more curation of sites, and a breath of fresh air as the rest of the world could be suffering a lack of momentum.

    In my 18 years of exploring in Korea, I've always felt that there are too many sites and not enough people to cover them, and with this sudden scaling up, that principle seems to still hold true.

    20230927


    Tunnel

    After coming home from the Black Air concert and giving Buster his stab, I ventured out again. I'd seen that my previous Seoul Station subway tunnel entrance point had vanished, so I didn't have high hopes that this would lead to anything. But I ended up uncovering a new entry point, which brought me down all the way to the bottom as I'd experienced on previous construction worker holidays -- but now the tunnel interior is more developed, and from my entry point it is now possible to finally get down to the tunnel floor.

    I wish I had better equipment because some of these pictures have blurring problems around the edges. This may be a problem for the next while, as I'm still able to technically take photos and not feeling too incentivised to spend a lot of money for new equipment.

    20230927


    Black Air

    Earlier this year, I was visited by Sue, who had been introduced to me by Apollonia who had visited almost five years earlier. Apollonia had been introduced to me by Tassilo, another Austrian who had lived in Korea but moved away at least 10 years ago.

    Of course all these Austrians know each other. Sue messaged me that her friend who plays in the "doom-jazz" band Black Air was coming to Korea, and so I made sure an article was made. The band's ties with Korea were a little deeper than I had expected, and their show was well-attended. I can't say I got good live shots, but we did get some group photos aboveground afterward.

    20230927


    Start of Chuseok Long Weekend

    Unbeknownst to me up until the last second, I was excused from a shift on the last day before the Chuseok long weekend. So I started checking things off my to-do list. One of these was trying to get an overview of the Yeongcheon Market redevelopment site.

    I suspected that a view over the fences might reveal a section of Manchocheon tunnel that could have been dug up. I tried a few techniques and saw from a few different angles, and could find no evidence in favour. Not to say it's been 100% ruled out, just that I can't provide positive evidence.

    20230926


    Military Parade

    While at work, we suddenly heard a loud grinding, clanking noise outside, even though all the windows were closed. When we all crowded around the windows, we saw a phalanx of tanks roll by down in the street. I and one of my coworkers abandoned our desks in the middle of the day shift and went downstairs to see what was going on in person. It was raining, but still quite a show.

    20230925


    Roof Work

    Latest update on the roof situation at home.

    20230924


    Show Us Your Dong Itaewon

    I'm apparently going to appear on a YouTube channel video about Itaewon in the near future. Maybe I'll promote it more when it arrives, but it will be here.

    I am not the best choice of experts for Itaewon, as my only expertise comes from reporting on the region over the last few years and I have a relatively low stake in the area. But I told the host that nobody would be more suitable for explaining the Itaewon disaster than me (although this was done in collaboration with Matt), and I introduced him to a variety of other sources to interview on the topic of Itaewon.

    I told him he should have me on for a video about Hongdae, and then started imagining similar videos about various other areas, including HBC, Huam-dong, Bukchon, etc.

    20230922


    The Moon

    When I came home, it looked large, even though it was less than at half.

    20230922


    Half-Brothers and Sink to Rise

    I returned after stabbing Buster to see Half-Brothers and Sink to Rise.

    20230922


    Care Less First Show

    Care Less (not Careless or CareLess) had their first show at The Studio HBC, so I showed up to take way too many pictures.

    20230922


    Aaron Cossrow's "The Guys of the Park"

    Aaron Cossrow is having an exhibit at the oddly romanised Topgoal Art Museum showing off some of his work. Thinking about his work more just now, I realised the best two words to describe his exaggerated, sometimes fantastical take on Korean everyday street scenes is "heightened reality."

    I was going to write an article about this, but Bereket pitched it to me, so I let him have it -- but with plans to insert my own commentary based on what Aaron had said to me during this visit.

    20230922


    Hidden Space

    After finding out previously the security weakness of the Hidden Space, I revisited an hour after one tour and an hour before the next tour. And then thinking I hadn't really gotten the shots I wanted, I went and got my tripod and came back two hours later between the next tours.

    This site was a culmination of news monitoring, collaborating with people who had more information/access than me, scouting, and executing a plan. It goes to show that whenever urban exploration starts to seem boring and routine, something happens: a tiger pops out, the ground opens up beneath you, something like that. That's why I haven't been able to quit after all these years.

    20230922


    Goodbye

    We had exchanged reporters with SCMP, and it was time to send Holly back. She was the second reporter from Hong Kong we had at the office, and she was actually a journalist -- a science one. The previous guy was more about China affairs. Both hopefully have had a lasting influence on my coworkers.

    20230922


    Buster's Green Paws

    In the latest installment in roof work, they coated the newly exposed, cracked surface with green paint. One of the workers tried scaring Buster away, but he put on his UE tactical gear and came back to infiltrate the site as Bucky the Urban Exploring Cat. Anyway now there are green paw prints all over the other parts of the roof, and Buster's paws are still green (even as I write this almost two weeks later).

    20230921


    Itaewon

    Finally after multiple flubbed attempts, I went to the area during lunch and found it low key enough to attempt entry. It's a pretty basic structure, and I learned a bit about the backside facing the base.

    If you've walked this way, you've probably seen the Desperados sign.

    20230919


    K-Roll

    I got an eager message from a friend looking to score an entry on the K-Iceberg as this sign went up. I have deemed that any business that uses a K- in its name or for any of its significant products including menu does indeed meet notability standards for the K-Iceberg.

    Later when I showed up after taking this picture, I said the name to Chris, who was unwilling to crane his neck to read it for himself, and the guys opening it overheard and we started a conversation. They are hoping to serve basic Korean foods at affordable prices, not just gimbap but also pork cutlets and various soups, and it will be available for takeout and it will be open until like 2am. I think they could make bank if they serve draught beer for 5000 won a cup (stealing business from Rabbithole and Studio).

    A few days later, Chris looked back and saw the K- and remarked on it to me.

    20230919


    RAS Korea Ashtray

    Yes, I was one of the two people who won an RAS Korea ashtray in the Garden Party raffle. The other person also is not a smoker.

    20230918


    Roof

    Latest update on the roof situation: everything has been cleared away except the cracks, and a couple buckets.

    20230918


    Itaewon

    A photo went sort of viral showing one of the arches over the road into Itaewon being torn down. I went out and confirmed that, yes, they had been removed a few days earlier. On a previous visit a couple days earlier than this, I had noted the taped-off areas around the former bases of the arch, but I hadn't noticed its absence. It's not something to get upset about missing, but I would still like to know why they were removed.

    20230917


    Cats

    Just a couple pictures of cats. After having joined a FB group for IBS and IBD shitposting, I've discovered it is like a currency to have photos of your cats joining you in the washroom.

    20230913-15


    Roof Work

    This gallery shows the progress of work done on my roof over three days. Quite a lot of major changes happened, but it still wasn't complete.

    Also in the middle of this I found a good new brunch place downtown.

    20230916


    HBC

    Just a few pictures from around HBC. I don't think the date is right.

    20230916


    Hidden Space

    On my way to the RAS Garden Party, I made one stop, seeing if I could get into the Hidden Space beneath Seoul Plaza. I found out that yes I could, but also it was hot inside. I didn't go in any deeper.

    After the Garden Party, I went back, only to find the door now locked. It turned out they left this door unlocked only on doors that they were doing tours, and closed it after the last tour. Information for next time.

    20230916


    RAS Korea Garden Party

    We finally had a garden party. It was a little smaller than before, and I don't know when the next one will be, but we did it. I saw quite a lot of people who haven't been around in years, and hopefully they'll start coming to more events again. And there were a lot of people still not there.

    20230913


    Night

    Just a few photos around walking distance of home, late at night.

    20230912


    RAS Korea

    I went to another RAS Korea lecture, but I had to rush back to the office for the city edition deadline.

    20230912


    Parking

    Worthy of Failed Parking in South Korea?

    20230912


    Roof Work

    Workers came over and started tearing up my roof garden. When they went for lunch, I went out to see what they were doing, and Buster followed.

    20230911


    Whale Hanok

    On my way to the office, I saw workers doing something at the Whale Hanok on the corner. I went back later only to find they'd sealed it up. So I found a way over the fence. A day later, they removed parts of the wall making it easier to just walk in.

    20230911


    Roof

    Just a cat enjoying a roof.

    20230910


    Swiss Chalet

    After eating at the real Swiss Chalet (in Canada), I returned to Korea only to find that the building that had hosted the Korean Swiss Chalet was undergoing some kind of work. Well, I guess urban exploring this counts as going to Swiss Chalet, so I now grant my sister one visit to Swiss Chalet. But she's probably taken many over the last 20 years without me, so let's just cross one of those off.

    20230909


    Goths on the Beach

    Well, I finally saw Goths on the Beach, and they did not disappoint. This is despite one of the members having her leg in a cast. But it still seemed like she knew how to do her dance moves despite this hindrance.

    I have interspersed in this gallery several images generated by Ddal-Ddal-E when it was prompted to come up with images of goths on the beach.

    20230909


    Iron Hill

    A friend had told me there were more abandonments in this area, but when I went back all I saw was lots of apartment construction, plus one tall hill in the area that looks like it's being violently removed.

    20230909


    LSD Station

    I last visited this site way back in 2012. Now, over a decade later, it's the same but just dustier, and possibly with more alarm sensors. Pretty weird, considering it's right across the street from a pretty important government building.

    20230909


    Slide

    On the way out to my destination, I spotted a building along the side of the road. The windows were out and there was a fence around it, but I could tell it otherwise didn't offer much. Expcet it had a slide, the kind where kids get to go down at the end of the day to go home. I've seen several of these but never had a chance to use one.

    It was at about a 45-degree angle, with a sharp landing. It's now 12 days later and my tailbone still hurts.

    20230908


    Gangnam

    I went down to Gangnam to test out my scooter battery (the roundtrip took out about a third of my battery), and also to check in on one or two sites, plus get a sandwich.

    There is one change: in the area viewed in this preview image, there used to be a revolving door, but they took that away. Otherwise, stull a hulking shell.

    20230907


    Abandoned Stuff

    On the way to a photo exhibition about abandoned places, I passed by some abandoned places. They looked closed up pretty tight though.

    20230906


    British Spider-Man

    I met up with British Spider-Man again, and we officially urban explored something. Also, that guy can really drink.

    20230904


    Downtown

    I was stuck at work, still editing photos from my vacation, so I jumped on my scooter and went out to pick up some food.

    20230903


    Eggies

    The cats were happy to have me back. Enduring Coetzer and his music hasn't fazed them much.

    20230902


    Back in Korea

    After returning, I went out to the usual area to say hi and do my rounds.

    20230901


    Back to Korea

    After two weeks, I headed back to Korea, where I had a lot waiting for me: two hungry 17-year-old cats, an RAS Garden Party, a disturbing new underground space in the city center, a native Korean urban exploring community I'd never heard of before, an electric scooter, two pages a week, and a lot more.

    20230831


    Farewell Dinner

    On my last night in Edmonton, we had one final dinner at Sorrentino's, an Italian restaurant where I worked as part of a semester-long student program in 1994 when I was in grade 9. While working there, I stuck my finger into an electric parmesan cheese grater, and it sliced into the fingertip pretty deep. I still have the scar.

    The food is good, and any traces of my sliced-off bodyparts are long gone. I was overcome with fatigue somehow. Is it possible to get preemptive fatigue? Anyway it made me sleep well before my early flight the next morning.

    20230831


    End of the World

    We had to drop a car off at a shop for some kind of repairs, so we took two cars out, and one car back, then later one car out, and two cars back. I got a little lost on my way home, driving through the university campus and then ending up at the End of the World.

    20230830


    Whyte Ave

    On my last non-family night in Edmonton, I went to Whyte Ave where I met up with Jim, the outgoing owner of Phillies, and his wife, who have relocated to St. Albert.

    Later, I was joined by three good Edmonton friends, and worlds sort of collided.

    20230830


    Canada Brewhouse

    We went for lunch at Canada Brewhouse, which seems to be a chain that offers good beer and pub food.

    20230829


    Comedy Night at Blakbar

    After seeing his one-man Fringe play, I decided to go back for Kamal's comedy night at Blakbar. It promised four comedians hosted by him, but we got more like eight.

    20230829


    Capilano Library

    I went to Capilano Library which had some digitisation equipment I used to put an old VHS tape from my 1996 first trip to Korea into digital. Unfortunately, the tape only had the first few days of the trip, and didn't include the later stuff I was interested in, such as Seoul, and especially the footage on the last day when we saw the police mobilised against the protest at Yonsei.

    Also about half of it was footage I shot in Edmonton in 1996, mostly in school, in an attempt to show Koreans what Canada was like. Looking at the footage, if I had ever shown it to any Koreans, they would probably have thought we were insane delinquents.

    20230828


    Shopping

    Just a few pictures from shopping on various days.

    20230828


    Gus

    Here are some pictures of Gus, the cat that doesn't trust anyone other than my parents.

    20230828


    St. Albert

    We went to St. Albert, where I bought a camera battery charger and was able to start using my camera again.

    We had supper at Swiss Chalet, a chicken rotisserie restaurant that always seems to be run by Taiwanese people. From a young age I couldn't be blamed for assuming Switzerland was full of Asians.

    Partly because of the addictive dipping sauce, my sister and I are very competitive about visiting here. In the past, if one of us was brought here, the other would have to go too. I've been gone from Canada almost 20 years, so I think my parents owe me several visits, but bringing Annan along means we didn't even the score.

    20230827


    UE Meetup

    After my camera battery died at Purple City the night before, I had to resort to using my phone. I met up with the local UE crew which included guys from Edmonton as well as Calgary, all people I'd met previously in 2017. This time we just went for a meal together so we could talk shop, rather than going on any adventures.

    20230825-26


    Purple City Music Festival

    This is going to get messy. I have a few dozen separate galleries of my coverage of the first two days of Purple City. I lent my camera to help their cause, and did what I could to cover as much ground as possible, while also covering 100% of what the organisers wanted me to hit and stopping in on a couple other acts I needed to see. It was quite a journey.

    If you want to know more about Purple City, you can now read the newly created Wikipedia article about it.

    20230825


    Valley Zoo

    When my former CJSR programme director visited Korea earlier this year, we got to talking and I came up with the idea of visiting the Edmonton Valley Zoo during my visit.

    There were two main objectives to this visit: see Lucy the 47-year-old elephant, and the historic carousel. We accomplished one of those, but the carousel was under a big tent.

    20230825


    Talus Dome

    "I love the balls; I think they're great."
    -Ester

    This thing has been sort of in limbo ever since some dude got trapped inside it.

    I'm pretty indifferent to this thing, and I think it only symbolises Edmonton's sprawly car culture that allows you to view art as you zoom by on a freeway.

    20230824


    Annan

    My sister flew in from Vancouver, and once we were at our parents' home, we went on a walk and came back high.

    20230823


    Night Sky

    After the Fringe event, we headed home around 9pm, as the sunlight was fading.

    20230823


    Arabic School Dropout

    My old friend Kamal had a Fringe event, which was basically a monologue where he explained his turbulent childhood, which started off with him in Arabic immersion to him ending up becoming an actual literal superhero in high school, no exaggeration. I knew much of it but not all, and learned quite a lot by sitting through the whole thing.

    Kamal has gone through a number of name changes (which is explained throughout the performance) and has ended up a cornerstone of Edmonton's comedy scene. I'm proud of him and continue to cite him as the person who pushed me down the path of journalism (or at least my version of it).

    20230823


    Drive

    The only day I got to do this, I borrowed one of my parents' cars and drove around the city on a nostalgia tour.

    First I visited Summerlea, the neighbourhood where I grew up next to the at-the-time world's largest shopping mall. I also stopped by next-door Terra Losa, a community that was under construction at the time, where I got some early formative experience in what would later be called urban exploration.

    Plus I had lunch at Arby's, which lived up to my expectations very well, except for the fact they no longer had peach juice.

    Plus I went to Freecloud, where I bought one single calypso record and also spent about 20 minutes waiting for Rich to get off the phone.

    I also drove through downtown before heading back to the west side, finding a closed hotel along the way, and then ended up at West Edmonton Mall, where there'd been a shooting a couple days earlier (which turned out to be gang-related). I had taken a very similar photo to this one a year ago, on which I ruminated on the bizarre death of Metallica lead singer Blair Piggott at that shooting range. But this time, the sign was directing me to go literally back to the actual scene of the shootout.

    20230822


    Gus

    Here are a few cat-related photos from around my parents' home. Even though I picked this guy out 10 years ago, he now hates me.

    20230822


    Jebus

    I visited Aaron, who I would describe as a legendary-level promoter of the Edmonton scene. I had done this last year, but had been unsatisfied with how the pictures had turned out.

    Last year had found him laying kind of low, but this year he was getting involved in events on sort of a consultant level, from what I gathered.

    I had given him a copy of Rapscallion's Den last year, in which there is a character that is obviously somewhat based on him called Moses, who is landlord of the main characters and an unlikeable hippie. I explained to him that the intention was not to make a parody of him, but to make a character he could play in a TV show.

    20230822


    Calgary to Edmonton

    When we woke up in the morning, we were fogged in. Not bad enough that we couldn't drive, but still pretty bad. Time to spend three hours driving 300 kilometers north, with a stop for breakfast in Red Deer halfway along the way.

    20230821


    Korean Food

    During my time in Calgary, I had dinner in a Korean restaurant called Sudam. They had pretty good bossam.

    20230821


    Edmonton to Calgary

    On Monday, my dad drove me down to Calgary for a game of disc golf.

    20230820


    Greg

    On my last two visits (2017 and 2022), I failed to meet up with Greg, my childhood best friend, who always seemed to go on a family vacation whenever i was visiting. This time we did succeed in meeting up, for the first time since 2013.

    For this visit, we had a family dinner, and then he brought me into a nearby ravine (at which point I started taking pictures). We rode a couple of Lime scooters down the ravine, until we arrived at the river. The whole time, my scooter was low on batteries, and I worried about it running out, but I was with Greg so I followed after him. It ran out as we were trying to get out of the River Valley, and we had to walk all the way back.

    20230820


    Cats

    I have pretty high standards when it comes to cats, at least in the written language. My parents' cats didn't quite cut it.

    20230819


    Untouchable Crew

    Way back in 2017, I found out that Arlo Maverick was coming to Korea for Zandari Festa. I made contact and we had one more amazing day exploring Seoul together and going up to the roof of The Korea Times, during which K-Riz, one of the artists in the group, started composing a song.

    I was one year ahead of Arlo in high school, but I do recall seeing him and other rappers performing at a school event, maybe in a configuration similar to what I saw at Zandari.

    Anyway, he put out a documentary film about Edmonton's b-boying scene, which you can read about here and watch here

    20230818


    Edmonton

    Edmonton on the surface looks like a pretty boring place, a metropolitan area that's larger than Seoul but with less than a tenth the population. It's awash with arts and culture as well as festivals, but due to geopolitics it's outside the zone where people really care what happens. It also has a lot of urban sprawl, which you can enjoy in some of these pictures.

    20230818


    Going to Canada

    On the heels of the World Scout Jamboree, I peaced out and left the country for a couple weeks. I had taken two weeks off work last year, but two things were different this time: I brought my work computer with me, and also things were a lot more opened up in Edmonton during the period of my visit so a lot more stuff was going to happen.

    Last year was more about recovering and reconnecting, but this year was about once again seeing what Edmonton looks like with me there.

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