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


As Seen On on Unite Asia!

22 November 2022

Christmas Tree Shopping

It struck me the night before that I have the materials to build a Christmas tree laying right out on my roof. So on this day, I went out and looked for a sawed-off branch that could rival Charlie Brown's. Next step is decorating it. After that, putting presents underneath.

21 November 2022

Itaewon Memorial

After my previous post with the meme about Christians being annoying next to the Itaewon memorial, Steve Shields wrote an opinion piece about the role of religion in this period of grieving. However, I was a bit worried that he was basing some of his observations directly on the images I presented, which didn't give a clear enough view of what was happening, so I returned once again.

Specifically, he said there was one lone monk, when I had observed that monk visited by other monks, and when I went back to fact check, I discovered that, yes, now it's just one monk again. I believe that monk is the same one mentioned in this article. So actually Steve's description was accurate enough, even if this guy had company on a few occasions.

His description of the Christians present was broadened a bit, as the site has seen a revolving door of Christians being a bother at the site, but not one unified Christian voice making statements that could be said to be representative of them all. So based on this visit, that part was fixed.

Steve calls them "imposter Christians," but I disagree with that terminology, because it's not like they're secretly Buddhists or atheists pretending to be Christians. I've settled on the term "hardcore Christians," but could go with "fanatical" or "radical" Christians too. Let's face it, taken as a whole they're a powerful voice representing Christendom, more powerful than the other Christians.

21 November 2022

The Cage

When my Stars & Stripes reporter friend ditched that job to work for a newspaper in Hawaii, she left me this cage which she'd used for her three female rescue kittens in. Whenever I leave home, Buster often follows me, just so he can get a whiff of the cage. On a few occasions, I've opened it so he can walk in and have a look around. This time, I closed the cage, which didn't really alarm him.

20 November 2022

Whale for Rent

This banner popped up on the Whale Hanok near my home. It seems to indicate it's for a commercial space for rent, but doesn't go as far as indicating it means the Whale Hanok specifically. It could mean the space in front where a shack was torn down recently. I'm not sure what to think, yet, and I'm not brave enough to contact the number.

18 November 2022

11.18 for 10.29

The Studio HBC had a fundraiser for bereaved families of Itaewon victims, which we ran an article on. I wasn't there for much of it, and I was comfortable photographing only the Jonny Birds at the end.

18 November 2022


Just a picture of my cats hanging out doing computer things while I'm preparing to go out.

15 November 2022

Millie's 17th Birthday

We had a birthday party for Millie, with catnip, cat food, toys, and a big box. She's 17 but still my eggy.

14 November 2022

Itaewon Memorial

After my visit the previous night, I decided to go back in the daytime to see what the memorial was like. It's getting a lot fewer visitors now, although I guess around 1pm on a weekday might not be the busiest time.

13 November 2022

Itaewon Memorial

I stopped by the Itaewon memorial to see what it was like. It was pretty quiet, probably because of how late it was. The alley was reopened, although I didn't go in.

12 November2022


Both these pictures were taken on my way to and from the RAS Korea book sale.

9 November 2022


There was a country band playing at The Studio HBC as part of their Wednesday program, so I stopped by to listen.

8 November 2022


There was an eclipse. It hit its height right in the middle of an RAS Korea lecture, but I saw a fair amount of it prior to 7:30, and as it was ending a little after 9.

8 November 2022

RAS Korea Business and Culture Club

We went to a Buddhist museum next to Jogyesa for the RAS Korea Business and Culture Club, and saw a lot of murals and statues. It was a pretty good museum I'd never noticed before somehow.

5 November 2022

Itaewon Mural

After seeing reports of Christians bothering people in Itaewon near the memorial, I went to have a look myself. When I arrived, the Christians were singing Christmas carols, in front of a sign saying "Homosexual love is Sin! Believe Jesus!" One was handing out flyers about Hell, one of which I was able to grab.

4 November 2022

Catnip Holocaust

I gave the eggies some catnip that was stored in the fridge, and then as their narcotic fervour increased I gave them all that remained.

4 November 2022

Camp Kim

I think on the night of the Itaewon disaster, I noticed a curtain going up around Camp Kim. It looks like the site is being demolished. A few days later, I stopped by for a closer look. It would be possible for me to get inside if I had a rope ladder or something, which isn't beyond the realm of possibility, but I doubt I'll follow through.

4 November 2022

Min Young-hwan Statue

While I was performing a somewhat complicated manoeuvre on my scooter (a nieun-turn) at Chungjeongno Intersection, I found myself facing this statue I'd never noticed before. I took a couple pictures so I could look it up later, which led me to the Wikipedia page claiming the statue was near Changdeok Palace. In the process of correcting it, I went down a bit of a rabbit hole, which is now reflected in the lower half of the introduction to his Wikipedia page (everything in the intro paragraph after the words "a statue to his memory now stands" was written by me). Quite an adventure he's been on.

Min himself was a "conservative proponent for reform" which sounds like quite an oxymoron. He committed suicide in 1905 in protest of the Eulsa Treaty. He was given the posthumous name Chungjeong, and had the area where his statue is now located named after him.

4 November 2022

Midong Apart

After all the news about Chungjeong Apartment being set for demolition, I went to the area several months ago to get a closer look, but ultimately walked away with more curiosity about Midong Apartment across the street. I'd like to see inside, but haven't made it all the way in yet to a place where I could see its guts.

4 November 2022

Christmas in Namdaemun

Halloween decorations across the city disappeared quickly after the disaster. I recall sitting in HBC when the guy at the kebab shop took down his Halloween directions, and I was thinking they must have been the last Halloween decorations on display in the whole city (can't remember the date now).

On a visit to Namdaemun, I saw that all the Halloween decorations I'd photographed previously were gone, and Christmas decorations were creeping in.

4 November 2022


I stopped by Euljiro Nogari Alley, where a block of old buildings has been curtained off and demolition is ongoing.

3 November 2022

Rab Nichols

I was at Hair of the Dog when someone asked for the usual YouTube playlist to be turned off, and then Rob played a small set on acoustic guitar. If you're Facebook friends with me, you can hear his tribute to Itaewon here.

2 November 2022


The crane on the construction site behind my office looked like it was getting another segment raising its height. My eye is caught by how it is viewable between these two buildings, so I took this picture to compare it with later, but the thing never did end up growing.

31 October 2022


I went to the City Hall memorial around lunch, and after work I went to the Itaewon one.

30 October 2022

Halloween Crowd Disaster

I've said too much about this catastrophe, some of which made its way into print.

29 October 2022

Lucy Valentine

I had actually napped earlier and came out later, just so I could be awake enough to see Lucy Valentine around 11:30. During their set, I heard something was happening in Itaewon, so I left in the middle.

29 October 2022

Battle Robot Antweight Championship

I went to RobotWorld in Kintex where I got to see antweight robots fight it out. I had a chance to finally meet Cheog-gyu and Sangeun of Team ORBY, who I interviewed earlier.

It was interesting to see the event, which featured people of different ages from middle school up to adult competing with tiny robots, which I think weight a maximum of 500 grams, but sources online say antweight is 150 grams and under.

The two Team ORBY members each played with their own bots, and I saw a battle where they went up against each other. Ultimately, ORBY Buzz emerged victorious.

28 October 2022

Auto Wash

I hate the word "auto." People use it sometimes in English, mostly in formal settings, but why wouldn't you just say "car"? We all know what a car wash is, but what's an auto wash? Is it an automatic car wash? Or a very-much-not-automatic place to wash your auto?

26 October 2022


A Latvian-Korean fusion band was playing at Studio HBC, so I went to see what that was like. Sometime in the future there will be an article about this, although I hope we get better pictures.

25 October 2022

RAS Korea

Paul Courtright gave a lecture on his book about witnessing the Gwangju Uprising. Afterwards, after the Q&A ended, I asked him what colour his eyes were, since the Korean title of the book claims his eyes are blue. Turns out his eyes are really brown.

24 October 2022

Open Songhyeon

The former Empty Embassy Compound of Songhyeon-dong has been opened all of a sudden for anybody to enter and enjoy all the flowers. I'm shocked at the rapid completion of this project, although I should use that word carefully since it will be all torn up in the future to start construction on the Samsung museum.

23 October 2022


I went to a housewarming at Steve Shields' new place on church grounds in Yeonhui-dong, which he had garnished with all sorts of Halloween decorations. It seemed like a fun party, but I had to rush across town to another Steve, this time Epstein who was having a get-together in a makgeolli bar in Insadong.

Later I went to HBC and saw Woori Mart on its final day in operation.

22 October 2022

Oily Rag at HBC Fest

I took more pictures of Oily Rag than anyone else at HBC Fest, because I can't stop taking hilarious pictures of them.

22 October 2022

HBC Fest

Well, HBC Fest finally happened. Whatever was going on, I got a close view of it.

22 October 2022

HBC Fest

When I showed up for HBC Fest, I ran into this masked bandit who I'd seen many times before. This time, when he went into the store to buy beer, I followed him in to see how that would go down. Only in Korea can you walk into a convenience store, pull out a (toy) gun, and make a purchase politely and walk out with your beer.

20 October 2022

Elderly MKGA Protest

Trump already made it apparent which Korea prefers, and it certainly isn't this one. But anyway, let's energise all these old people so they'll be ready to protest Halloween next week.

20 October 2022

Hahn Dae-soo Streetcar

I call this the Hahn Dae-soo streetcar, because Hahn Dae-soo took this picture with it way back in 1969.

20 October 2022

Abandoned Convent

Ryan got a tip online about this site, and I guess I made it there first. Or he just never shared his pictures of it, because it wasn't all that interesting.

20 October 2022

Abandoned Mental Hospital

I heard about this abandoned mental hospital from Jack, who will give an RAS Korea lecture on Nov. 22 about mental health.

Turns out this is the first independent mental hospital of the nation, founded in 1945 and closed in 2018. I did not get inside, and don't consider it likely.

20 October 2022

Dongdaemun Rooftop

I talked with a French urban explorer recently and suggested she try hitting rooftops in Dongdaemun Market area. She tried hitting this one, but reported back that the roof was inaccessible. I made a quick stop to confirm that I guess she was wrong.

16 October 2022


My old friend Grant who was around in the Skunk Hell II days with me, was back in Korea for a few weeks. I believe the last time he was back in Korea was in September 2014, based on him remembering meeting my parents at Jeff and Trash's place.

14 October 2022

Halloween in Namdaemun

I took a few pictures of stores with Halloween decorations in Namdaemun, one of which ended up later in an article about Halloween in Korea.

14 October 2022


A group of workers came by and chopped the tree on my roof down into smaller bits. Now my roof is covered with dismembered tree parts. The sap is pretty serious, and after I touched it and gave the cats a chance to taste it, I couldn't wash it off.

For some reason the first few pictures in this gallery have some cracks in the way, as my lens filter had shattered somehow and it took me a few pictures to notice.

13 October 2022


There's a magnificent evergreen tree on my roof. Or there was, as I guess it was starting to get too heavy or the roots were getting too intrusive and the unit below was complaining of leaks.

I took both cats out to the garden for a final farewell with the tree. Neither of them were all that thrilled, but maybe next morning they'd start to appreciate the experience.

12 October 2022


For whatever reason, I took a lot of pictures of Rob. Overall there were 30 pretty similar exposures, though the best ones were near the end. One of them ended up being used in my Rocktober article (but only the print version).

11 October 2022

RAS After Dark

Just a couple pictures from after Wayne Patterson's lecture.

11 October 2022


I stopped by KOTE for a quick update. The one-year anniversary of the eruption of conflict is approaching next month.

10 October 2022

Around HBC

I decided to take a slightly closer look at the wheatpaste art near the kimchi pots exit of Yongsan Garrison, looking closer at all five heads pasted there.

Also, the picture I took in front of Woori Mart was a good opportunity, because as of about 20221023 Woori Mart is now closed.

8 October 2022

Seoul Gypsy

Being from the home of the Edmonton Elks, I'm not convinced it's entirely kosher to name your bar after an ethnic group you aren't part of, so I peppered the evening with remarks like "Seoul Gypsy? Everybody watch your wallet!" and "I hope they don't gyp us on the bill."

Anyway, I was afraid they were going to steal my camera, so I only took pictures before and after we were there. We did find what appears to be a north-south-running Pimatgol that follows along the western wall of Jongmyo.

7 October 2022

Pabali Exorcism

On the way home from the shamanism festival, after seeing that horrific hoarding art on GTX construction near Yeonsinnae Station, I decided it was time to exorcise Pabali, the horse-like mascot that seems affiliated with Eunpyeong-gu.

7 October 2022

Geumseongdangje at Shamanism Museum

I went out to the Shamanism Museum again this year, although after spending so much time there last year and taking so many pictures (back when it was less crowded due to social distancing rules), I opted this time to limit my exposure to it. I showed up late, after all the animal tricks, but just in time to catch some of the singing.

3 October 2022

Bandit Bandit Encore Show at Strange Fruit

The owner of Strange Fruit happened to post online earlier this day that Bandit Bandit would have a show at his place that night. I had interviewed the band back in June, for a tour they were planning across Korea at the time. Turns out one of them later tested positive so they never made it here. Instead, they were invited back for DMZ Peace Train, which I ended up not making it to, so this was just what I needed.

I showed up to find a bunch of French people out front, and thinking there wouldn't be anyone inside yet I went down for a drink, only to find about 40 Koreans standing facing the empty stage. I joked with the band later that all these people had probably rushed past them, hoping to get a glimpse of the French band.

The show was intense, and also surprisingly orderly. The crowd was really into it, but fully able to keep back a respectable distance to give the band enough room. I guess we can thank social distancing?

1 October 2022


I went to an RAS Korea meeting for the excursions planning committee. We met at Pureunkkot, which may host an upcoming event.

After, we walked over to Seodaemun to do some scouting for a potential new tour to be announced soon.

28 September 2022


A Russian friend stopped by for supper with me, so I showed her up to the helipad at work. She was a little nervous about the heights, although I reassured her I came here a couple years ago with a woman in her mid-80s who had no problem.

A week or so later, I saw she was posting pictures from the roof, and I figured it was just her getting around to sharing the pictures a bit late (earlier than me), until I noticed someone else in some of her pictures. I was in my office at the time, so I went up to the roof and caught them.

27 September 2022

Subway Station

Many people go into Seoul Metro and find beauty, but I mainly find ugliness -- which is my favourite thing to photograph. I've been meaning to take more pictures showing subway station architecture, particularly the most mundane areas like this.

This was taken on the way home after an RAS Korea lecture.

26 September 2022


Just a couple pictures from around HBC.

25 September 2022


I'd heard that this old building in my neighbourhood might have been repurposed, turned into an architectural firm's office, although the pictures looked a little unnatural and I suspected they might have been photoshopped.

But nope, seems legit, and they did a good job fixing it up.

24 September 2022

Block Party

I decided I should be around the block during Block Party, the first event of Rocktober, and from what I saw it went off pretty smoothly. Foot traffic was never worse than a good day at HBC, and I didn't hear of anything bad happening.

Later on, I was dragged into joining Incestrul Lust, and they'll probably give me a tambourine or something later. But anyway, it got me inside, and I stuck around long enough only to see them.

24 September 2022

Black Hole Seoullo 7017 Concert

At the RAS Korea lecture the week before, one person there mentioned this show. It's close to my home, so I was interested in showing up to see it for myself.

Sometime after I first heard about it, I also saw that Yamagata Tweakster was playing too, which added to my interest in going. I saw him play here a few years ago, in a pretty wild show where he rolled his mobile sound system from one end of the overpass to the other. This show wasn't nearly as wild, but that's more the audience's fault, and not Hahn Vad's.

I was also blown away by a band that featured two members I'm assuming haven't experienced puberty yet, the youngest whom I'm estimating is about 8.

23 September 2022

Pit Stop

On my way back from the archery range, I stopped by Pit Stop, a motorbike shop in Cheongnyangni run by an English-speaking Korean guy. I've never had the chance to speak comfortably with any scooter shop owner, so this was a new experience for me.

23 September 2022

Surakjeong Archery Range

I got a message out of the blue from a foreigner who's really into Korean traditional archery, who told me that the range where he's a club member might have to close.

There was a district office meeting there on the morning of my Friday off, starting at 10am, so I headed out to attend. I got there unforgiveably late, maybe around 10:45, but so did the gu office.

My contact gave me a bit of basic training in the first steps in learning traditional archery, and then I watched him using real equipment to tag targets that were about 100 meters away. It was a good morning that ended up ending around 2pm.

22 September 2022

Grand Central

I took a picture a while ago of a drunk guy sitting catatonic out front of Grand Central, the new office building across the street from my own office. There are a lot of benches out front, and I figured they might come to regret it. So I ended up sitting there to drink a few beers, and during the course of that I turned one other guy there into my photographic muse.

20 September 2022

Geoffrey Lewis

I ran into Geoffrey Lewis in the street in HBC, and asked him if he wanted to be interviewed for an article that would promote Block Party. I think the article came out well, and is pretty representative of what I think makes good music journalism.

Originally, I was cautious of covering Block Party, since it was started by a copyeditor at our rival newspaper. So my idea was to profile one of its performers, and tease the festival at the end. I looked at the bill and Geoffrey Lewis stood out to me.

But then I heard its main organiser had quit the company after getting a look at what the job would entail, which (a) kind of had sad implications for my own profession, but also (b) meant I was free of conflicts of interest and could proceed to cover the event. So we ended up with a nearly full page of the newspaper supporting a small publisher putting on a pretty ambitious music festival.

Anyway, one more month and Rocktober will continue.

20 September 2022

RAS Korea Business & Culture Club

I really wanted to have an RAS Korea Business & Culture Club visit to the newly reopened Gwanghwamun Square. I hadn't been there yet, and was looking forward to learning about it from some of my colleagues.

So Jacco, who had a business trip that day, created the event, under the idea that I would co-host it with Jun Shin. And then that morning, Jun Shin contacted me to say he'd be 20 minutes late.

I showed up and thought no one was there, but then one by one about six people descended upon me and I found myself in a group. I had not prepared at all, and it probably showed because I couldn't remember which mayor was responsible for which iteration of the square at first, but it was a fun time anyway because there were other knowledgeable people present who could add their input.

These B&C meetings are fun, because they're a little more collaborative. They're free, so nobody's paying to hear a guide speak, which means everyone is empowered to add their own observations, anecdotes, and expertise. I think it would be fun moving forward to turn this into a roving band of urbanist critiquers, who show up at some site in downtown Seoul one Tuesday lunch break a month, and just trash everything.

17 September 2022


I went down to Pyeongtaek to get to know Anjeong-ri better. It's sort of like if the most enterprising aspects of Itaewon moved out to escape gentrification and ended up outside the world's largest US garrison. Wait, that's exactly what it is.

I wanted to figure out some of the establishments and owners that used to be in Seoul but moved down here, and I certainly got only a partial list.

Compared to previous visits, I think I got to more places than before, and made contact with more owners. It seems worth writing about in the future.

My main reason to go down there was to meet LRD, the man behind HBC Fest. Our conversation influenced the latter part of this article.

13 September 2022

Lee Jun-seok's Career

It's always sad to see these things when they're deflating or not fully erect.

But don't worry, just like that little creep's political career, you can't keep these things down for long, and it will be inflated tomorrow.

12 September 2022

Subway Tunnel

It had been years since I last tried accessing this active subway tunnel. Not for any reason, just lack of a reason to go down there. But the entry point has stayed exactly the same, and there are now heavily experienced explorers in Korea who still haven't done subway stuff.

So I brought one of them down with me for a look around.

Getting in was perilous due to a water trap, so next time I might have to wear rubber boots.

11 September 2022


Check out this gyu's Prosche he drove through Haebancghon!

11 September 2022

Boy Scouts

After looking at some other abandoned buildings in the area, I discovered a second abandoned building.

And appropriately, while exploring this abandoned building, I discovered a third abandoned building nearby. It's like they're luring me somewhere.

9 September 2022

Great Train Express

I decided to have a look beneath Seoul Station to see how the GTX tunnel is coming along. Compared to my last trip, it seems now that it is possible to go from my perilous entry point into the tunnel itself -- but it wouldn't be possible to get back up. So I went as far as I could safely. Probably in a month or two, I'll be able to get into a large bullet train tunnel.

9 September 2022

Abandoned Hotel

I like to tell people my all-time-favourite abandoned place was Seoul Motel in Pimatgol, because it was 11 storeys mostly of suites that were left in pristine enough condition that you wouldn't feel gross sitting on the beds (although active motels are probably worse anyway).

But then I discovered this motel actually has a great deal of suites in the same condition, over a year after closing, and I had been squandering the opportunity to have more fun here in the past. That will change soon.

9 September 2022

Welcome to Smurfs

While I was up in the northeast, I took a quick drive through Baeksa Village, one of the last remaining moon villages in the city. It has seen better days, but still doesn't quite feel like a place trespassers should roam around unrestricted yet. Remembering my experiences at Bamgol Village several years ago, I know that time could come, or it could not, or it could but I forget to return during the brief window and miss out.

9 September 2022

Northeastern Seoul

A big goal of mine was to check out a subway tunnel construction project I had mainly only scouted aboveground in the past. It still seems like it hasn't ripened yet.

9 September 2022


This is another amazing site that I learned about from Long Distance Runner. Oddly, looking at his pictures, it appears the temple name was taken down after his visit but before mine.

This building didn't look like much, but it had a lot. An abandoned PC room, still furnished except for the computer bits, a goshiwon, and a pretty large shaman's place. I had an encounter with the local wildlife that probably would have freaked normal people out.

3 September 2022

Subway Line Extension

I went back to that subway line extension in southern Seoul, only to see that they'd already laid all the tracks. But no electricity yet, and judging by the vehicles parked on the tracks no test runs yet, so I was free to walk around.

3 September 2022

Bone Tunnel

I happened to pass by the area where the Bone Tunnel meets the mortal world, so I had a look down at the entrance, which looked a bit damp.

2 September 2022

Zandari Festa

I covered Zandari Festa this year, although partly due to it being scaled back, partly due to my post-vacation work schedule, and partly due to the rain we were getting, I only ever went there on Friday night to see Seed le Moor performing.

2 September 2022


These pictures were taken on a quick ride through Dongdaemun area.

31 August 2022


My cats wanted to go out on the roof, and as I was sitting out there I noticed the clouds looked good, so I pulled out the tripod to take some long exposures. The ladder you can see leaning up against the side was brought down, after remembering the damage it had caused in a typhoon two years earlier.

26 August 2022

Oily Rag Show

Bovver put on an album release show, and so I covered it and showed up.

26 August 2022

The 1234-Dah! Meets Pro Wrestling Society

I went to another Pub Brawl at The Studio HBC, this one featuring the soundtrack by The 1234-Dah!, a band that's really into pro wrestling.

25 August 2022

Around Yongsan

Here are some pictures I took around Yongsan, including the doomed video game market, Shinheung Market, and one or two other places.

24 August 2022

No Dog

I got a message from a friend expressing concern about a dog she'd seen tied up at a location I was familiar with in central Seoul. So I stopped by, only to see no dog there. In fact, there are no dogs in any of the pictures in this gallery.

20 August 2022


Studio HBC advertised a BDSM show, whatever that means (not the band). This included 18Fevers which, fair enough, as well as Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, although I'm not entirely sure why them, at least if the implication is to group lesbians with fetishists (probably because the DBGC members support the chairty), and then also Vampire Hotel, which was pitch perfect for whatever this show was supposed to be.

19 August 2022

Back in Korea

Here are some pictures I took after returning, showing my cats greeting me again, although not as enthusiastically as the time I was hospitalised for almost a month. But maybe thsi time it was because they were more interested in the all-dressed potato chips than they were with me.

18 August 2022

Returning to Korea

The flight back to Korea was pretty simple. I had been given a middle seat, so at the last minute before boarding I said I have special needs and asked if any aisle seats were available. So they seated me closer to the front in an aisle seat, where I could leap up and run to the washroom whenever I wanted.

I found myself sitting behind and across from a guy who was literally the worst Solitaire player ever. At first it made me angry, but eventually I started to enjoy the experience.

The process of returning to Korea was not smooth. I had gone for a rapid test within 48 hours of the flight, only to find on the morning of departure that it should have been within 24 hours. Fortunately I was able to get tested at the airport, leading to no real delays, but on landing in Incheon, I was told that printed test results were mandatory (which makes total sense for a low-tech country like Korea), so I had to wait in line for a computer where people were logging in and printing their test results. Would've been a better experience if I was with the lead singer of a Korean punk band.

17 August 2022

The Whole Family

My parents drove out from Edmonton so all four of us could be together, for the first time since 2017. It takes about 12 hours to drive from Edmonton to Vancouver, and they stopped for the night somewhere along the way. I don't think I've ever made the trip, but my time was too limited to spend that much of it in a car.

17 August 2022

Dirt House

I'd passed this weird house a few times in cars and buses, only ever getting glimpses of a sight I can't really describe or explain. It appeared to be a house being covered up with dirt, but...why?

Finally on this morning I gave in to my urge to see it up close, while the rest of my family was trapped in a parking garage. Seeing it up close did not answer any questions about why it seemed to be getting buried in dirt, unless the plan actually is to fill it with barrels (the ones I looked at seemed to contain petroleum products).

16 August 2022

Still Vancouver

On my second day in Vancouver, we did some shopping, and then ended up at a bar where we'd invited friends in the city to meet up. Everyone who came was originally from Edmonton, which included three friends I invited -- a fourth had to cancel at the last minute because they were experiencing symptoms.

15 August 2022


After staying in Edmonton from a Friday to the next-next Monday, I flew to Vancouver to spend Monday to Thursday in the same city as my sister. On the first day, we met up with some long-lost family members, and once I had all my stuff checked into the hotel, we went downtown to ride a ferry, walk around, and go drinking.

Vancouver in comparison to Seoul is a weird place. Some of the apartment architecture reminds me of Pyongyang's most modern apartment complexes, while some of the neighbourhoods remind me of Seoul moon villages, although everything is of course far less affordable than their equivalents in those two cities. Also, Vancouver's downtown seemed quite lively in most areas, more than I was expecting or remembered from last visit, which was in 2008.

14 August 2022


Here's Gus sitting on his throne.

This was my last full day in Edmonton, and I savoured it by staying at home, and also napping a lot.

13 August 2022

Driving Around

My parents trusted me with their cheaper car, so I picked up a helpful guide and we drove around the city center area for a while. Notable stops included the Coliseum, the neon sign museum, and the former city center airport site.

A plan was to go to see Kamal Alaeddine, AKA Powermann, do a stand-up show, but we couldn't make it on time. He's someone I'd still really like to see.

13 August 2022


There's a bit of wilderness near my parents' home where it appears the plan was originally to build a road through here. That fell through, but it's likely this will be developed sometime in the next few years.

12 August 2022

Kroovy Rookers

These guys seem to have been around for a while, although they're after my time. For a while, Jenny Woo was a member of the band, so I figured I should see them.

12 August 2022

Old Wives

I went to the Backyard, a bizarre venue that's basically a caged-off area in a disused area on the edge of the downtown core. I later described it as a "diving cage into a lot of the social problems of the city," many of which were on display while we sat there.

This was my first time seeing Old Wives, a band that released a song on WDI because of me. Their drummer is also the drummer for Teenage Bottlerocket, so my goal was to get him to sign an LP for Jeff.

11 August 2022

Whyte Ave

I went down to Whyte Ave to see who I could run into there. It was a small group, but all people I hadn't seen in a long time. We went to Black Dog, and then Tavern on Whyte, which turned out to be a fairly run-down place where nothing's working, but that has a bit more counterculture to it. Working in the kitchen was Sean, a guy I've come to respect more over the years and online distance.

And Sheri, who I had thought was taunting me for my invitation earlier, actually showed up, wearing a shirt informing me that she was going to have sex with my dad. Which worked out perfectly when my dad came by to pick me up.

The only person not pictured here was Leith, a friend I've known since probably the late 1980s. I was glad to see him, and we had a conversation about our friend Eli, who was badly injured recently and recovering slowly.

I also walked around the Fringe which was just starting. I never ended up spending more time there, mainly because I was too busy doing other things to ever sit for a performance.

11 August 2022


Here are a few pictures taken around my parents' home. You can see the altar they built to me, including some of the souvenirs I've sent home over the years. The latest additions are two hahoetal that had been hanging from my home sprinklers until a safety inspector told me to take them down.

10 August 2022


Something I urgently needed to do was stop by Freecloud, a record store run by Rich, the lead singer of Mad Bomber Society (which is still active after probably about 25 years). I gave him a copy of Rapscallion's Den, and if he ever reads it he'll come across a passage where he and the rest of his band all fall mysteriously ill.

This might surprise people who know me in Korea, but back before I moved away, I was pretty notorious as a photographer who would get ridiculous pictures of everybody. One night I was at the Sandbar taking pictures, and I ran into Rich who was apparently newly back on tour. He told me to stop taking pictures, and when I didn't, he threw a beer bottle at me. It missed, but it started a long series of me photographing him threatening me with bottles. This time, I suggested he pick up a bottle of hand sanitiser to pose for this picture, but he opted not to, probably because for him this old ritual actually involves throwing the bottle at me.

9 August 2022

Scooter Rental

I rented a scooter for three hours from VespaYEG, which was enough time for me to wander around the city center as well as Whyte Ave area. If I'd had more time, I might have wanted to expand the area to the university, but oh well.

The scooters they rented out were weaker than what I'm used to, even for 50ccs, with oddly slow acceleration. But as I said, it keeps you out of trouble. The rule here was that if a car can't do it, a scooter can't do it, and while that is pretty counterintuitive, it keeps four-wheelers from killing us. I don't thinmk I was ever honked at once throughout the day, despite once or twice filtering forward at red lights, as well as a few times becoming an honorary pedestrian.

It was definitely an experience I think more people should try. There's no better way to explore a city than by scooter. I've been doing it for most of my time in Korea, and I needed to do it in my hometown as well.

9 August 2022


Early in the morning, probably around noon or 1, I woke up to find a lot of geese sitting around on the grass behind my parents' place. Apparently earlier one morning I missed seeing a pelican.

8 August 2022


I got back one night to see a pretty solid moon over the pond behind my parents' place. This would have been around 11pm, since the sun sets pretty late here compared to what I'm used to in Korea.

8 August 2022

The Mall

After getting addicted to Best Edmonton Mall, one of my goals for this trip was to go back to West Edmonton Mall, which had once been the world's largest shopping mall.

7 August 2022


I met up with a couple old friends from my time in Edmonton, and we had fried chicken.

7 August 2022

Rock Art Garden

We went for a walk around a pond near my parents' place, which turned out to be stormwater backup and is also facing some signs of development.

7 August 2022


Gus was spilling over his cat tree, and I attempted to photograph it. He had moments where he seemed to like me, but most of the time he was ready to strike.

6 August 2022

Sharp Sharp Knives

I went to Blakbar to see Sharp Sharp Knives, a band fronted by Luke, who previously led the two bands Bedlam Heights and Team Dread in Cheongju in the mid-2000s. He is now living in Edmonton where he hosts a radio show on my old station.

6 August 2022

Feeding the Cats

I attempted to feed my parents' cats, who each get one treat at 4pm or as soon as possible thereafter.

6 August 2022

CariWest Festival

My first full day back in Edmonton, I went to a Caribbean festival.

5 August 2022


I went to the airport to travel to my hometown for the first time in over five years. While waiting for my flight to board, I ran into an old friend I met way back in 2004. This seems like it helped me relax during the flight, knowing that I was on board the same flight as the lead singer of Bad Idols.

4 August 2022


Millie hides out in a box, knowing something is happening that she won't like.

4 August 2022


I was driving around and found this interesting mural in basically a parking lot that didn't seem to invite guests. It seems like it centered around two drawings of two American celebrities, only one of which I could identify.

31 July 2022

Empty Office

This is just one picture of a temporary office set up in a vacant space on the same floor as my office. They have a different view on this side, where they get to see Seoul Station while we only get to see Namdaemun.

30 July 2022

Equality Road 1110

I wrote an article about this screening, and during the event the organisers asked me to take a few pictures.

29 July 2022

Broke in Korea 15th Anniversary Show

It's been two years and I've decided it's finally time to have an anniversary show for Broke in Korea.

We ended up with six bands all playing different kinds of music: SBW Riders, Reseters, metal band Incestrul Lust, and Bovver's oi band Oily Rag. The price is staying the same but I've added Vanmal and Sweet Gasoline. The whole time, I only ended up taking pictures during Sweet Gasoline at the very end.

The show was the official release for Broke in Korea 30, as well as a new Best of Broke in Korea covering issues 24 to 29. Plus, Broke Publishng released two more publications: photo book Seonbi City and Through the Joseon Door, a collection of essays by columnist Ron Bandun. So, you might say the collection of writers at Broke Publishng is expanding and diversifying, maybe.

I also invited other zine makers to take part to make it more of a zine market, including The Bulldozed Future and Photon Wave Function.

25 July 2022

Train Tracks

Another look at those buildings next to the train tracks. I tried walking in in broad daylight, and a truck drove in and the workers inside turned me back. I have a feeling I won't get to see this one any closer.

24 July 2022

Metal Stands with Ukraine

I covered the Metal Stands with Ukraine show, but I was working on the day it was on, so all I could do was stop by for about 40 minutes. I timed it so I could see Nikolai's band Dreamy Europa. I also got to see the woman who modeled for the Motherland Monument, since they needed a lifesize model to pose for it. I also saw someone contact the (presumably Ukrainian ambassador) and livestream the event for them.

Going to metal shows feels really different from punk or hardcore shows. The people look different, and they act more tame. The musicians also tend to be a few years older on average than punk musicians, even compared to bands like Crying Nut. It can be fun, but in different ways from punk.

23 July 2022

All Kinds of Victim

The tour for Victim Records' "All Kinds of Victim" compilation was passing through Seoul, so I showed up to give the musicians physical copies of the newspaper article. I'm also planning to interview the Gwangju band TwoFive sometime in the next few months.

20 July 2022

Downtown Seoul

First I photograph a crazy Christian cart, and then I view a Falun Gong parade. Last, there are some Korail buildings across the train tracks from work that appear to be on their way out.

19 July 2022


I came home to find Buster sitting at the roof door, and Millie crying on the other side of it. I'd had the door open about 10 hours earlier when I did the litter box, and must have not noticed her slip out. When I finally let her in, her fur was sticky around the mane area. Not too sure what happened to her out there, whether she tried to jump in a birdbath or just sweated that much. But a couple days later and she still loves going outside.

After this picture was taken, I filled the bathtub with water and threw her in. She hated it.

19 July 2022

Yongsan Game Arcade

One of the remaining buildings of Yongsan Electronics Market, specialised in video games, is going to disappear soon. I've been watching for a while, although haven't had much success lately.

19 July 2022

Fouser's Former Home

On my way back to Bukchon Hanok Village, the only place that has a mill I know how to work with, I passed by Robert Fouser's old Hanok, which I'd passed on his RAS Korea walk a few weeks earlier. The fences are down and it looks like the intent was to do a minimal restoration rather than anything crazy.

18 July 2022

Abandoned Namdaemun

While taking a shortcut from my neighbourhood to Namdaemun Market, I came across a smallish corner of oldish buildings.

17 July 2022


I went to a zine market and then a convenience store, and met some interesting dogs along the way.

17 July 2022

Camera Shop

After my camera started malfunctioning during the Queer Parade, I decided rather than waiting for it to dry to take it to the shop where I got it to see if they could do anything. I ended up having to leave it overnight, missing the chance to photograph a show at ACS in Chungmuro, and when I got it back, it had this picture in it.

16 July 2022

Seoul Queer Culture Festival

I went this year mainly to photograph Christians' signs. They were a little less insane than I've seen in previous years, possibly because they're actually trying to find more persuasive messages.

The festival was shortened this year to only one day, because the mayor took seriously the Christian complaints about it happening. Two of those complaints included that people wore too-revealing clothes, and that booths offered items that were too perverse. I've never seen anything like that in the two times I've been to the SQCF in the past, but I wasn't omniscient, so this time I attempted to be more thorough. I visited every booth (split with two coworkers who handled the area with embassy booths), and I kept an eye out for nudity. Nothing.

Of course, that won't stop the Christians from complaining anyway. They have the advantage that they can report without presenting evidence. They also are free to report that they saw lewd things at previous events, even if not this one, which they can keep complaining about. And also in the past Christians have carried protest signs showing examples of vulgar displays, which I think is enough for them to feel like they saw live nudity this year too. So anyway, if we see article drafts with those complaints made, we'll be ready.

Another complaint Christians have had about SQCF is that it's costly to deploy such a large riot police force. But why are the cops deployed in the first place? To protect everyone from the same Christians making the complaint. It's like a lion at a zoo complaining about the bars that keep it from eating human visitors.

If anything, the necessity of police protection should be seen to justify the need for this festival, which is under threat from hostile, sometimes violent Christians. In other parts of the world, including my own hometown, there is a debate centered around whether cops should be allowed to participate. I've never understood if this meant that LGBTQ cops are specifically disinvited from participating, or just police forces in general aren't welcome to lend official support, or if it means they don't want riot police protection. In Korea, these events wouldn't be possible without large masses of riot police, most of whom are probably unwilling conscripts anyway. I know ACAB, but on this one day a year, I am grateful to see them out in force.

The Christians have the support of Mayor 5mb. But seriously, if you find that you can't care about a significant social minority in your electorate, maybe you aren't fit to represent them. You're a servant of the people, so do your fucking job.

Last major thing I was looking into, the new US ambassador was present at the festival, and set to make a speech for the first time as a US ambassador at this event. There has been a serious backlash against him, with Christians rejecting him saying he's gay. But the only information I can find about his sexuality, dating earlier than his appointment to Korea, is news about Duterte calling him a "gay son of a whore" when he was US ambassador to the Philippines. The US Embassy itself is stubbornly quiet on the subject. It's possible he's not gay and Duterte was just using slurs, and it's also possible he is gay and wants his privacy. So I wanted to know what he'd say in his speech. Turns out, not much. He just gave platitudes, saying the US stands with the LGBTQ community, even though the next presidential election could go very badly.

Another thing that sickens me, there are religious people on both sides of this whole thing, but it's a lot harder to claim there are atheists on both sides. So sometimes I see people say the Christians on the side of SQCF are the "true Christians" and the others are only "Christians" (with scare quotes). This seems illogical to me though. The former group is willing to have less orthodox views and side with secular people, while the latter group is full of hardcore adherents who let it control every aspect of their lives, even to the point of potentially casting out family members. I guess you could argue the former group are more "pure" or something, but wouldn't it just be better to say they are just more compassionate? And the latter group are just trying to force themselves up Christ's ass to soak up all the Christianity they can get.

15 July 2022

Oily Rag Debut Show

I booked Bovver's new band Oily Rag to play my show on July 29, but shortly after that, he booked his own debut show on this day, and it had a pretty good lineup. Still annoyed.

14 July 2022

Millie's Sphere

MMillie has had a rough week. Shortly after this picture was taken, her sphere toppled over, as the nut holding it to the base loosened too much. She was inside when it fell, and didn't seem too stymied. I was able to fix it.

Then six days after the date of this photo, I was cleaning the litterbox and had the roof door open, and I guess I didn't notice her go out. When I came home from work 10 hours later, she was crying on the roof. Her fur was rough, maybe as if she'd been sweating through the hot part of the day. I started a bath and threw her into it, which she probably hated more than the roof. But she seems back to normal now.

12 July 2022

JiHoon's RAS Korea Lecture

I didn't take any camera pictures of JiHoon's lecture. But I did take pictures before and after, focused mainly on a closed hotel nearby.

11 July 2022

Cloudy Sunset

I've always said "All Sunsets Matter." I like this one because it's sort of similar to the colours of my scooter.

10 July 2022

From Brooklyn

One restaurant I like to hit up at the end of a night shift is From Brooklyn, which is open late and has some good things on its menu. Although the labels for the washroom are a little too honest.

8 July 2022

Passed Out

When I went out to my scooter after work, this guy was passed out sitting up in the new benches in front of Grand Central. But I guess this must be why the new building was so generous with publicly available seating out front.

3 July 2022

Convenience Store Newspaper Survey

I drove around to almost every convenience store in HBC/Gyeongnidan, curious how many I could find newspapers at, let alone our newspaper.

Previously it was known there were two, both in Gyeongnidan, but then one of them (a GS25) closed and was turned into a different convenience store (I think an Emart25). And I don't know if it's the same GS25 or one under completely different ownership, but a GS25 appeared directly across the street from the ex-GS25 Emart25. And it doesn't sell newspapers. Also, these two new stores are directly in front of the 7-Eleven that sells Slurpees.

Driving around to about 20 convenience stores I wasn't familiar with, I found a single one that stocked newspapers, but the only foreign-language newspaper it had was NYT.

I had skipped a handful of easily accessible stores (such as ones along the main road through HBC) I knew not to stock our paper, or presumed being confident Chris would already know about them if they did. Although I kind of regret not checking in because I might have determined if they stock other newspapers, which is also important data.

So we're down to one single place to buy domestic English-language newspapers in all of the area. I might expand my search to include the area around Itaewon Station in the future.

At each store, to assuage my guilt, I bought face masks, which actually were often pretty hard to find. Somehow in most stores they're really hard to see.

I also wish I had taken more note of which and how many stores stock pet supplies, because some do, probably a minority, and when you really need cat food late at night or something, you can never find the right ones.

2 July 2022

Songnim 3

On the way home from Dongincheon, I didn't get very far before I ran into another pretty significant abandoned neighbourhood. I found only one easy entryway (and a possible second one) and drove in. There were quite a lot of cats there. I looked around quickly before continuing the long drive home. It was certainly an interesting area and merits another look.

2 July 2022


I met up with Olga, a long-term Russian resident of Korea now living in Incheon. When I heard she was living in Incheon I suggested we visit Dongincheon/Baedari/Ugakro together. We also stopped by the Sudoguksan Museum of Housing & Living, which is a museum dedicated to moon villages, specifically the one that was demolished to make this museum. It was a pretty nice afternoon.

1 July 2022

KOTE Four Play

I went back to KOTE for another Four Play concert event. While previous ones were a little more focused on various types of art, this one was more about music, offering several bands that didn't need drums.

And also Doug, the organiser, showed up wearing a nice new white suit and carrying four bottles of wine, with which he invited everyone to pour wine over him.

1 July 2022

Empty Embassy Compound

I'd noticed recently that there is construction work being done at some of the buildings backing on to the Empty Embassy Compound, and that meant it was highly likely I could get access to the compound itself. I was right. Actually it appears they may be working on the entire wall, which may be in the process of being totally removed.

This lot has gone from a wasteland to looking more like a construction site, as they now have heavy machines inside and the weeds seem to have been cleared out.

Apparently it will be turned into an open green space soon, before beginning construction on the Lee Kun-hee museum.

1 July 2022

Jamsu Bridge

The day before, Jamsu Bridge had been closed due to the rising river level. I was curious how it would look this day, so I stopped by. It was open, with not much traffic, and there were a lot of cops at the north end for some reason. It appeared the beach I took Buster to for his birthday was still underwater.

30 June 2022


On my way home, I needed to use the washroom, so I approached this interesting-looking place, located right at the traffic circle. In my quick visit, I could tell the place had a lot of charm, and decided I should return sometime.

29 June 2022

Yongsan Mural

I'm certain I photographed this before, but wanted to take another picture so I could admire the bizarre imaginary geography for the Yongsan area. Note the completion of Yongsan Park, as well as the Yongsan IBD. After that, everything else makes less and less sense.

28 June 2022

RAS Korea Lecture

This was my first time going back to an in-person RAS Korea lecture. It was a smallish crowd, and even the lecturer wasn't there in person. After, a small group of us went out drinking, and I found out one guy there was related to Fray Tormenta, the guy that Nacho Libre is based on. That was quite a surprise.

27 June 2022

Hair of the Dog

Just one picture from Hair of the Dog.

26 June 2022

Hooker Hill

I stopped by Hooker Hill, only to discover more sections of it were now closed and gutted. I got into the former space of Stompers, and saw the rest of the building. It seemed to have a lounge above it. All that's left in the area now is transgender bars.

26 June 2022


I gave this apartment complex another try on Sunday, only to find the only really feasible way in was to scale a wall next to a shop that was open. Its hours said it closed at 7pm, but it was open much later. I came back around 11pm and it was finally closed. But I should have brought a tripod.

25 June 2022

PWS Street Brawl

I showed up in HBC just as the latest PWS Pub Brawl was spilling out onto the street. This time, Chris was there to witness it.

25 June 2022


There's been a lot of attention given to Chungjeong Apartment lately, the old green apartment building that will be demolished soon. I wasn't feeling like going inside, but I got onto a nearby roof to get a good look at it, and I also found the nearby Midong Apartment which is vaguely somewhat familiar, albeit much younger.

25 June 2022

Bandos Next to Bandos

Someone posted on the Urban Exploration Shitposting forum about an area in Japan called "Bando," which happens to be a slang term for abandonment which I don't use. I added that in Korean it means "peninsula," and can be found here and there. Then I drove by this riverside area, where there is a complex of bandos about to undergo remodeling, right across the street from an actual Bando Apartment complex.

I wanted to get to a very high roof, so I entered a very tall, new apartment nearby. On my way up to the 60-whatever floor, I had a bad case of vertigo, stopped the elevator, and went back down. I don't like heights, and can't understand how people live up there.

24 June 2022

Phillies Show

I went to Phillies for a show that as far as I know was hosted by ADxHD, and it was pretty wild throughout.

21 June 2022


A few pictures around the area, including a look into an abandoned apartment.

21 June 2022

RAS Korea Business & Culture Club

I brought a group of people onto the roof of Sewoon Sangga, now that it has been opened after pandemic restrictions. It was a pretty hot day, and people eschewed the sunlight, but the view was interesting.

19 June 2022

Refugee Festival

After I saw a social media post by Omar, I headed to Cheonggye Plaza to see this festival in time for World Refugee Day. There were several events I took part in, and I got contacts with a lot of interesting people I hope to write articles about in the future.

19 June 2022

Pinoy Iskolars sa Korea

I showed up at the Philippine Embassy to cover this PIKO event, after a reporter who was going to do it broke his leg. It was a pretty interesting time, although as I told them, I hope the next time we cover an event like this, it's done by someone who looks more like them.

18 June 2022

Club SHARP Show

SBW Riders put on a show with a very interesting lineup, including a couple bands that hadn't played in years, a few bigger names, a few pogo bands, and a very appropriately raucously drunk crowd.

14 June 2022


More speculation about the former drycleaner site. Construction was proceeding fast, as was speculation.

12 June 2022

Jongmyo-Changdeok Park

I went to the new park between Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo, which looks pretty close to opening. It's still kind of steep, where the land rises up over the tunnel, which isn't quite how I pictured they'd do it; I thought they'd fill more in so the land would be more flat. While nosing around the back wall of Jongmyo, I saw a creature that a friend was able to identify as a raccoon dog that had lost its hair.

12 June 2022

JiHoon's Rocks

I wanted to find a site relevant to one of my favourite anecdotes about JiHoon. During a Business & Culture Club event several years ago, we were walking around behind the old post office, when my foot struck a rock that was somewhat hidden among the plants. I remarked on this and JiHoon stopped and gave a five-minute, unrehearsed, speech about the rock's story. On returning, I couldn't quite remember which rock it was, but it was here and there are a few possible candidates. I suspect it may have been a natural rock that was fastened to a concrete base, and the rock has been removed leaving the base behind.

11 June 2022


After the RAS Korea event, I wanted to scout out a few sites, inspired partly by conversations. First I visited the walkway at Sewoon Sangga, specifically around the ugly building with Sampung and PJ Hotel. The walkway is essentially complete but hasn't been opened to the public.

Next I went to Gwanghwamun to check on the square renovations, as well as try to get more information about this one smallish building with an airstream on the roof for no apparent reason. I could not get any answers about the latter, but while looking around for a roof, I got into the abandoned top floor of an otherwise active building.

I also had a closer look at the KT building being renovated, plus a GTX construction site.

11 June 2022

RAS Korea Anniversary

We couldn't have the usual garden party this year to celebrate the 122nd anniversary, so instead we had a smaller get-together at the RAS Korea office. It was a pretty good time, with some impressive traditional music performances, and a walk through the area led by JiHoon. It was also the release of Transactions vol.96; we printed a smaller amount this year but apparently ran out already, which comes as a surprise.

10 June 2022


We've been watching the development of the former drycleaner. By this stage, it was impossible to tell what was taking shape in the location.

9 June 2022


A couple more pictures of HBC area and on the way there.

8 June 2022


Right on cue, the drycleaner's closed. I went inside for a quick last look. Literally that same day, I published an article that mentioned this place (although incorrectly called it a laundromat) as one of the last remaining old businesses, and now it's gone.

7 June 2022

Dramatic Sunset

There was a very dramatic sunset this day. I drove around Sowol-gil looking for places to photograph it, and caught it at some pretty opportune times.

7 June 2022


I went home during lunch to spend time with the cats. They were appreciative but probably wondering if I'd been fired or something.

7 June 2022

Empty Playground

Steve Shields posted about a closed testing center at Sogang Station, but by the time I went to look, all the tents had been removed. So I went to Hongdae Playground to see if the one there was still open. It had vanished without a trace, leaving the playground just as lifeless as before. You know the playground is in bad shape when a COVID-19 testing center adds life to it.

5 June 2022

Robert Fouser

I joined Robert on his RAS Korea walk through Ikseon-dong, Bukchon, and Seochon. There were a few points along the way where I ducked into a construction site to watch the Hanok "restoration" process up close. This walk made the basis of this article.

4 June 2022

Incestual Lust

I was drinking upstairs in Phillies when I heard bands playing downstairs, and eventually ran into friends coming up from the show. I showed up in time to see the last band, Incestual Lust, a southern metal band that had a pretty good show buoyed by a very drunk audience, plus an elderly Korean man who'd followed them from the subway.

4 June 2022

Transactions 96

We printed the latest volume of Transactions, to be released a week later at an RAS Korea anniversary event.

3 June 2022

Mural Village

I visited a mural village south of the river that's nearing the end of its days. It was an interesting place to walk through, although I didn't go inside any buildings.

I also saw what at first looked like "SEX" graffiti, but on closer inspection, it was just indicating the water had been shut off. It made me wonder if all past cases of "SEX" tags were the same.

3 June 2022

Southern Seoul

I had a few underground destinations on my list in southern Seoul. First I wanted to go to the newly opened Sillim Line, but it was too close to rush hour so I gave up. Then I went to this old railway culvert near Noryangjin Station. Steve Shields told me a lot more about it, how it was originally just a small culvert, but as the number of railways increased, they kept building the culvert outwards, always in a different style. So now that it's been recovered, we can walk through and see all these different tunnel styles. It's also a nice cool place to go on a hot day.

3 June 2022


I drove around Chungjeongno and North Ahyeon area, looking around at an old hillside neighbourhood I hadn't known about before. Apparently Annabel walks through this way on her way back from the hospital, which must be some walk.

31 May 2022

Farewell Drycleaner

This drycleaning business in HBC, one of the few old businesses predating all the gentrification, announced it was closing its doors. Much speculation was made on what it would become.

29 May 2022


Just a couple pictures around HBC on a work night. I ran into friends outside a nonbinary event in Rabbithole, and saw the laundromat right before it would announce big changes.

28 May 2022

Copy Salon

The print shop I rely on was having a party, so I decided I should stop by, especially considering it was one week before we would be printing the next Transactions. I was joined by Wei, a Chinese friend I'd met at KOTE, who had her own printing needs, and we found out the owner's wife is a Chinese speaker.

28 May 2022


PWS had another Pub Brawl in Studio HBC, so I went hoping to get a picture of Shiho with Ryan for an article I was working on, which would show Ryan conducting a choir and also squabbling with Shiho.

27 May 2022

KOTE Four Play

I went to KOTE to see a Four Play event offering all sorts of performance types. One was Le chat au cafe, a ukulele player I'd interviewed for an article and introduced to the place. KOTE can easily handle any kind of performance...that doesn't require drums. Or mic stands.

It was quite a lot of fun, and one of the performers even turned out to be a firespinner.

27 May 2022

McDonald's Sausage Wrap

I went to McDonald's to try the Sausage Wrap, having never had a McDonald's hot dog of any kind before. Mac McDonald got a burger named after him, but what did his brother get? They should have named this after him.

26 May 2022

Paying Taxes

I went to Yeongdeungpo to pay taxes, or rather fill in an impossible-to-understand Hometax webpage, which resulted in me getting a tax refund due to not being very profitable. On the way back, I took my time and viewed a few things in the area.

24 May 2022

Foreign Artists' Rights

I went to a press conference to hear a group of artists talk about the problems they face, and how a new law to make working conditions better for artists will possibly make things worse for them. The other reporters there were also from The Korea Times, and they made a video version of the article I was working on.

23 May 2022


I went to HBC as usual, and met a lot of dogs as well as Peruvians.

22 May 2022


Just a lonely picture of an election campaign.

22 May 2022

Subway Construction

I drove out of the city hoping to scout some subway tunnel construction. Ultimately I didn't find much notable, just an abandoned neighbourhood and a huge subway tunnel entrance I can't get to.

22 May 2022


Two years earlier, I'd gone to a Noryangjin event involving art and music that was held in a repurposed sauna. Now the sauna is facing redevelopment, so I found a way in and had a final look around.

21 May 2022

Horrific Car Crash?

On my way home from Camarata, I passed by what appeared to be a catastrophic car crash. On closer inspection, I started to understand there was much more to it than that.

21 May 2022

Buster's Birthday

For Buster's 16th birthday, I wanted to do something special. So I took him to the beach. He didn't have a fun time, but he was much less irritated than he could have been. Hopefully he'll be able to look back on it as a fun memory.

21 May 2022


The day after seeing Ryan putting on a punk show, I went to see him conduct a choir and orchestra through Mozart's Requiem. A pretty sharp contrast.

20 May 2022

Punk Show at Studio HBC

There was a show with a few old bands, and a few new bands, and it cost only 10,000 won with free pizza offered. For a place like Studio HBC, it was a bit imbalanced. Additionally, Rux played first rather than last, and for the rest of the night the audience was slowly diminished.

19 May 2022


Sometimes vehicles are parked in the parking garage in a way that doesn't allow two-wheeled vehicles to slip by. Usually I'm trapped out, rather than trapped in. I get uglier when I'm trapped in. All they need to do is park slightly farther apart, and there's no problem.

18 May 2022


I went to Sounddog for jazz for the first time in a long time. They used to have bands play out in the market corridor, but now the place is expanded and they fit the band inside.

18 May 2022


Just one picture of Namdaemun on my way to the bank.

17 May 2022

RAS Korea Business & Culture Club Visits KOTE

We went by KOTE during lunch for our monthly meetup. I had help from Joe McP of Dark Side of Seoul who I let introduce Pimatgol, and while we were wandering around inside KOTE, Juyoung came over and took over the tour guiding duties, just as I'd hoped.

16 May 2022

Common Plaza

I squeezed through a very small hole, only to find it would be impossible to squeeze out the same way, as the inner side was on a ledge and there was a tree stump in a painful place, and on the other side it squeezed out into a cramped space.

So anyway the building was all gutted as I figured, but the roof had a decent enough view anyway.

16 May 2022


I stopped by KOTE again scouting for an RAS Korea event I was going to lead here. This time I climbed to the roof of Haebong Building where I got a quick look around, and I found some interesting writeups about the place. I ended up writing this article about the place finally.

15 May 2022

Buster's Cage

When Stars&Strips reporter Kim Gamel left Korea, she gave me one of her cat carrier cages, which turned out to be too big, so I keep it outside in the stairwell. Whenever Buster gets out there, he likes to sniff around it, probably because it once housed three female rescue cats. I let him indulge his curiosity, and locked him in. It bothered him, but he was able to kick the door open and escape.

14 May 2022

Subway Extension

After my previous visit to this corner of the city, I was kind of not looking forward to making this sort of trip again, but then I was looking at a map and noticed they're extending a train line. And that means tunnels. I went over for a look around, only to find the least secured subway tunnel construction site I think I've ever seen.

14 May 2022

K-Sports Factory Outlet

Also present here are some pictures of the "K-Sports Factory Outlet" which has been started in the ground floor of the KOTE gallery.

13 May 2022

Phillies Comedy Open Stage

I went by Phillies' Friday night comedy open stage, and when their headliner was performing, I got this one picture where he was decently lit.

13 May 2022

Common Plaza

While driving around downtown, I found a highrise building in Namdaemun Market that's been closed off. I had a quick look and determined it would be pretty easy to get in without being seen. Later, I realised that this would be impossible on the weekend when more people were there. Also, the way I found in didn't also work as a way out, but more on that later.

13 May 2022

Watch Market

Bad news, I have confirmation the watch market is now being demolished.

Good news, the roof of Sewoon has been reopened finally.

12 May 2022

Called by Another Name

David Lee Dolinger was back in Korea for a book tour in the period around the Gwangju Uprising anniversary. With help from Matt, he published a memoir about his experience during that event 42 years ago. There's an article about it here.

11 May 2022


Just a few pictures I took walking home over the hill.

10 May 2022

Eulji OB Bear Protest

I showed up in Euljiro Nogari Alley to see the protest at Eulji OB Bear. I met with a friend involved, who's been flyering people walking by to let them know that the one really common bar name, that's popped up at about 10 locations, should be boycotted.

It's an odd situation, in which the owner of one bar bought out the building the other one is in, in order to shut them down. There's more about it here. It looks like this alley is on its way to becoming a monopoly, and we'll see if that has an effect on the local business.

The protest has actually been really widely supported by a lot of my Korean friends, to the point that I'm pretty surprised.

9 May 2022

Yongsan History Museum

I returned to Yongsan History Museum to get some pictures of the exterior. It turns out the best time to photograph it is in the early evening, when the light hits the western face.

9 May 2022

Train Tracks Shack

This building, which appears to have been a warehouse, is still standing as before, just with the entrances sealed up.

9 May 2022


That area with the Hanok neighbourhood is almost all destroyed now.

8 May 2022


Robert Fouser has returned to Korea, so we brought him to Dongincheon for a look around, and a stop by Space Beam.

This time I brought dog treats, which were greatly appreciated.

Earlier this day I'd learned about "samsasunrye," a pilgrimage to three temples, and here we went to religious sites of three different religions, none Buddhism.

6 May 2022

Driving Southeast

I set out with a list of stops to make, and overall I felt like I didn't really accomplish much on this trip, other than seeing a few interesting sights.

5 May 2022


Buster didn't want to get out of his chair to eat, so I just brought it to him, and he took this odd pose.

Also, there's a picture of the construction work across the alley.

1 May 2022

Seoul Station

After work on May Day, I finally got back into the GTX construction site. It seems like they're building a new subway station area, which involves a lot of cutting through rock. It doesn't really lead anywhere yet, but at least now I know how to beat all the entry systems.

1 May 2022

International Trespassers' Day

It was May Day, which is both International Workers' Day and International Trespassers' Day. I decided to get a closer look at the construction site by my office, and while I considered climbing the crane I decided against it. It's good that I did, because I needed to save my energy.

30 April 2022

Peter's Jesa

There was a jesa approximately at the death anniversary of Peter Bartholomew, which gave another opportunity to see his two hanoks (which are back to back with a secret passage-like entryway between them). It was a collection of RAS people and Navy people, and the latter did most of the work.

27 April 2022


This large bird landed on our roof and made some pretty loud distinct noises. I thought it was a raven, but an expert told me it was a crow.

25 April 2022


There's a crane up at the construction site behind my office. And the fence is the same, which means I can get inside just as before.

24 April 2022

Yongsan Electronics Market

Another visit to the emptying building, which was more sealed than last time.

24 April 2022

Sadang Area

I went back by this neighbourhood, and didn't feel right about looking around too much due to the amount of foot traffic nearby.

24 April 2022

Yongsan History Museum

I went to this newly opened museum, built in the railway hospital which I have some history with. I posted about it sometime within the past year when I got in during renovation, and back in 2011 I was caught inside.

24 April 2022


This was my only time seeing inside one of the actual apartment units, and it was a little nicer and bigger than I was expecting.

23 April 2022

Watch Market

I got inside that big green cube building at the corner of the watch market, right next to Sewoon Sangga. The lights were on in the upper floors, and I was able to visit the church facilities up there. I had hoped to get onto the roof or find a back way out into the watch market, but no such luck.

23 April 2022

Nogari Alley

I stopped by Nogari Alley to see the Eulji OB protest, but I was too early and didn't feel like sticking around. I'd pitched an article earlier about this alley to KOCIS, but on second thought considering the political situation, I decided against it. It's much more suitable for a private newspaper.

23 April 2022


I'd driven past this little KT protest before, and this time I decided to stop and take a picture.

This is the first time I can remember seeing Junghakcheon filled with water.

22 April 2022

Hardcore show at Studio HBC

I was just hanging out at the local convenience store, but it turned out there was a hardcore show at Studio HBC next door, and quite a lot of my friends showed up.

22 April 2022


It was time to get a new scooter, as my old one was breaking down frequently and could no longer go faster than about 5 kph without another expensive repair. The engine still ran strong, albeit a bit loud, and so I was in the market for another Besbi, the Korean knockoff of Vespa. I found one in a shop down in Dongjak, and got it my first day out of quarantine.

21 April 2022

Rooftop View

The light side of being stuck at home is when you have an interesting home like this.

19 April 2022

Rooftop View

Oh look, I still have a bowling ball!

I took some pictures from my roof to demonstrate the not-so-flat landscape of Huam-dong to Matt in response to this post. There's still a hill downhill of me, although it's covered with so many buildings that it's no longer easy to detect. Once you're over in that area, you can see where the land is higher.

12 April 2022

Construction Progress

Nothing like trucks on stilts.

12 April 2022


Just a couple more pictures from that construction site I've been documenting here.

10 April 2022

Homeward Bound

After the dog shelter, we made our way slowly down the hill, and then I started the long drive home. I also visited two more abandoned sites along the way. This ended up being the last voyage for my scooter, and what a voyage it was.

10 April 2022

Boksuni's Shelter

At the top of the hill was an old building constructed in the 1960s, on the spot of the former Allen Villa. In more recent years, this interesting piece of architecture has become a dog shelter. Unfortunately, due to the urban renewal project, all the dogs face eviction, and I'm not sure what's going to happen to them.

I wrote this article about the situation.

10 April 2022

Ugakro Cultural Village

On past visits, I could tell the writing was on the wall. But I was still a little surprised at the speed at which they started demolishing this area. It was, in all fairness, mostly abandoned already it seemed.

Except for one building...

10 April 2022


While walking through the area, we passed through Baedari and stopped by Incheon Culture Brewery, formerly known as Space Beam, with the robot still out front.

10 April 2022

Songhyeon Tunnel

On my way to meet my friends, I saw a road sign pointing the way directly where I was going. But whoops, it led to an incomplete tunnel through a mountain.

When I got to my friends, I brought them to the other side of the tunnel, where we found one side with an open gate, something I'd never encountered on previous visits.

This gallery also shows my first encounter with Harrow, the urban-exploring Jindo they rescued from the road. Ryan has his own story up online about the day which is worth a read.

10 April 2022

To Incheon

I was meeting up with friends in Incheon for a look around several sites in the area. Unfortunately I was delayed a bit because I came across an abandoned neighbourhood on the way there. It had some noteworthy architecture and abandoned objects, as well as flowers.

9 April 2022

Busy Weekend in HBC/Gyeongnidan

It was a big weekend, with Magpie celebrating 10 years, Phillies celebrating 25 years, and Namsan Sool Club celebrating its opening. It was a lot all at once.

9 April 2022


So I'd been hearing from multiple sources that the video game market in Yongsan was disappearing, so I went for a quick look. That turned into a longer visit than I intended, as I turned down a random corridor and ended up in the abandoned hallway of this place.

I never bought anything in this market, but it's sad that this area is vanishing because that's just more of Yongsan area that's going to end up as luxury hotels or whatever. Hey maybe President Yoon can move in here.

8 April 2022

Burger Place

I went here a couple days earlier, and then all of a sudden it started going viral online again. People in other countries seem very fascinated by their claim that "We believe that other burgers are shit," but when you actually visit, it's not that impressive. The burgers are fine, and pretty competitively priced for sliders.

8 April 2022

K-Cop Museum

I'm not saying I'll show up to every place that adds to the K-Iceberg, nor for that matter that I didn't already have K-Cop on the K-Iceberg.

But I was very curious to see this museum for myself. It is not uninteresting.

8 April 2022


After almost a year, there is progress at the demolished lot across the alley. They've been digging out the dirt that has been sitting there since last year. But what am I, an architect?

4 April 2022


Wendell Louie opened yet another establishment, this one a sci-fi-themed cocktail bar, and right before we published an article I showed up to take pictures.

3 April 2022

Demolition Progress

While driving home, I noted that the Huam Turn site is now totally removed, but it appears to have exposed another abandoned building behind it.

As of almost a month later, the building is still standing and I still haven't checked it out.

1 April 2022

Punk on Fire

After leaving the PWS Pub Brawl, a guy in front of Studio HBC asked me, "Do you like Rancid?"

"No," I said, "but I like Punk on Fire."

So I came in and watched their set. Izoki the Flame Fighter came in, and at one point things got tense and he threw me violently to the floor, but no harm no foul.

1 April 2022

I covered PWS' return to Seoul and made it out to the event.

Shiho came out and had the audience eating out of his hand, but then very quickly he alienated everyone and had them booing him. Also despite all their moves, they were careful never to strike the very low ceiling over the stage, or even hit my feet right beside where they were fighting. I guess I should count myself lucky that I escaped collateral damage while they were fighting so savagely right in front of me.

30 March 2022

Buster's Den

He hadn't previously been a burrower, but after I put this foam padding on the couch, he made himself at home. I think he likes that it camouflages him.

29 March 2022

Bill Cosby?

Do the giant unnerving murals in this HBC burger place contain a huge image of Bill Cosby's head? I guess watch carefully when they make your drinks.

Almost but not quite as weird as the Bill Cosby cafe in Cheonho, but that place had the good taste to now be called 1943 (because Korean bars with WWII references are always safe).

29 March 2022

Hanok Whale

I was a little alarmed to see more demolition near home, removing the head of what I call the Hanok Whale, which is a useful landmark on the street. So far, it seems they're content to remove only one smaller shack, and it has revealed better views of the actually pretty classic Hanok right behind it.

28 March 2022

Abandoned Convenience Store

Years ago, when I moved in here, there was a small convenience store right outside my building. Then it was closed, I believe bought out by the people who set up a larger Emart 25 further up the alley, which also didn't last.

This one was part of the property I watched get demolished last year, although it appears this small structure was spared. Now, almost a full year later, construction workers are coming in and working on the vacant lot, and they've since claimed this shack as their space.

27 March 2022

Huam-dong Rooftop

I'd been meaning to try the roof of one apartment building in my neighbourhood for a while. It's not particularly tall, but still taller than everything else around, and seems old.

26 March 2022


On the way home, I got a view of Namsan in good lighting, and for the first time ever on this stretch of road I stopped and tried a roof. It was, as usual, very easy.

25 March 2022

Fill U

I went out on a quest for a new contender for worst apartment brand name in Korea. Not saying it's the worst, but it's a notable entry. I'd only noticed it recently while going by in a train. Would be more suspicious if it were closer to TOP's VILL.

25 March 2022

Abandoned Neighbourhood

I got to talking about redevelopment with people at the bar in Beer O'Clock, and the bartender happened to mention knowing an area nearby. I went a few days later, and turns out he was right. I'd been expecting this area to disappear since I used to live nearby, and it doesn't surprise me much, nor will it affect the gentrified neighbourhood on the other side of the mountain.

23 March 2022


I interviewed Jason at Shuttle Delivery for a newsletter article, but before that came out I needed to fill some space so I put an article in the paper that was significantly more thorough, at least about Shuttle. It had to be embargoed until after the government got to break the story.

This night after work, I showed Shuttle my commitment to the profession by delivering newspapers to their office, then I went on the roof to get a picture.

22 March 2022

Yongsan Presidential Palace

When Yoon pledged to differentiate himself from the current president by opening the "era of the Gwanghwamun presidency," I pointed out that this was Moon's exact same pledge five years earlier, and it was given up then because it just wasn't a good idea, when taking into account the security and financial problems. But nobody listened.

So after he got elected and showed he was serious about this pledge, but then realised outright that he couldn't move the presidential office to Gwanghwamun, he did the next best thing: move the presidential palace in with the Ministry of National Defense, right into the one more forbidden part of Seoul than Cheong Wa Dae.

I jumped up onto the roof on top of my roof to see how well I could see the new presidential palace. I don't get an attractive view of it, but I can certainly see the thing.

20 March 2022


I got a sudden surprise visit from a Facebook friend, saying he was in Korea on a layover and wanted to know if we could meet up.

We hadn't ever met in real life before, but he had introduced me to his cousin who moved here several years ago and became a close friend.

It turned out he was already at a hotel five minutes away from me, and it was a site I've been watching closely. So we met up and hit a roof, then went out for food, and then set up camp in an abandoned penthouse.

It was just the two of us, and oh yeah, Ron Bandun was there.

This is the first international visitor I've received since before the pandemic.

19 March 2022

Hongdae Streets

I had the dubious honour of restarting RAS Korea's walking tours program, rerunning my Hongdae Streets tour. Six people signed up, and three cancelled at the last minute, two due to Omicron and one expecting rain, which didn't come.

We made it through the tour, and afterwards some of us went to Club FF to see Daddy O Radio play. It was two days after St. Patrick's Day, and we had Michael Duffy, an actual Irishman with us. He ended up surprising me by actually enjoying the band.

I tend to leave my camera behind when I do tours, so all pictures here are on my phone.

18 March 2022

Salvation Army Bridge Corps

Back when I was in the process of writing this Transactions article, I noted this Salvation Army Bridge Corps site not far off the course of the stream, right around where I was looking for possible bridge sites.

There is apparently no relation, and the name is just a coincidence while the nearest bridges are not significantly close.

Anyway, that particular building is now apparently being torn down.

15 March 2022

Turn Turn Turn

Welp, Turn is gone.

For what it's worth, we had it for about a month longer than I expected. Truly a gift that should just be appreciated.



Since last fall, I've been taking pictures out one window of this building being torn down. I gathered them all in one gallery here, and put them together into an animated gif so you wan watch the building be torn to the ground. When you open this, expect it to take a while to load, due to the data-heavy GIF at the top.

13 March 2022

Abandoned Hanok

I came back the day after discovering this building, and got inside with little difficulty.

13 March 2022

Haechi Hunting Day 3

I drove all over Seoul hunting for haechis, and in the end they only used one image.

12 March 2022

GIOK at Studio HBC

Jin-yong was performing solo, and I had to see what that meant, so I stopped by Studio HBC. It appeared to be him performing solo as his band Grotesque Idols of K-Pop, or GIOK, which I found out is pronounced "Jiok," just like the Korean word for hell. It was a pretty in-your-face performance.

12 March 2022

Abandoned Hanok

I found an abandoned hanok, but no way in. The fence netting was zip-tied to the bars...and I have the exact same zip-ties at home. Sounds like a return trip is in order.

12 March 2022

Donuimun Museum Village

I returned again, a little earlier this time so I could see more of the insides of places. One of these stops included the VR zone, where I put on a helmet that took me on a guided course around Seodaemun Gate.

12 March 2022

Northeastern Seoul

These pictures are from some of my non-haechi-related stops throughout the day. I saw a few neighbourhoods totally or almost totally destroyed, including Sarangjeil Church which is still holding out in Jangwi-dong.

12 March 2022

Haechi Hunting Day 2

I drove all across the city shooting haechis. Looking for one of the modern statues of the Seoul mascot, I went all the way up to Dream Forest. Then I went back and passed Gwanghwamun just at blue hour and got the best haechi pictures I could.

11 March 2022


While I was driving up around Namsan, I stopped in a couple places to take pictures of the views.

11 March 2022

Donuimun Museum Village

I'm also working on an article on Donuimun Museum Village, so I made a few trips there to see it. And they only ended up using one picture, from a much earlier trip. On this day, I got there too late and things were already closing.

11 March 2022


I stopped by KOTE to show some friends around, but we ran into Julie and she gave us the full guided tour.

11 March 2022

Haechi Hunting Day 1

For a new article, I went out looking for haechis to photograph. I visited all sorts of them, but wasn't totally satisfied after my first day.

9 March 2022

Election Day

I took one picture on election day, which seems to be of an anti-Yoon sticker, calling him the "prosecution king."

7 March 2022


The lot across the street, after almost a year, is finally showing signs of something happening. At the very least, they're moving the dirt around.

5 March 2022

Namsan Sool Company

After the Seokjeon Daeje, I went to Namsan Sool Company, Dustin Wessa's new bar, to show him a type of traditional Korean alcohol he's never tried before. I managed to walk away with three small bottles of charyeju used in the ritual.

Unfortunately I got no pictures of the bar itself.

5 March 2022

Socially Distanced Seokjeon Daeje

After writing this, I went to Sungkyunkwan for the biannual sacrifice to Confucius, only to find they were following some pretty serious social distancing rules. That meant reduced crowd and reduced seating, and also no performers. It was a bit disappointing, but I was able to take pictures showing the disappointment anyway.

4 March 2022


To go shoot the Seokjeon Daeje the next day, I borrowed some fancy lenses at work: a zoom and a wide angle. If it weren't for those, I would have gotten nothing that interesting.

3 March 2022

Where's Waldo Pizza Burger

After trying the Frosted Flakes Pizza Gratin, I encountered another oddball convenience store food: the Where's Waldo Pizza Burger. I took a picture and planned to come back later, only to find it was gone. This led me on a Where's-Waldoesque journey across the city's convenience stores looking for one that had it in stock. In the end, it was much more edible than Tony the Tiger's abomination, but it would still have been much superior if they had removed two or three ingredients.

2 March 2022

Black Hawk Village

I heard about a new photo exhibition at Black Hawk Village with pictures showing the current status of the base, but when I went there I saw a lot of photos all over the place. The newer pictures were even the less interesting ones.

1 March 2022


On my way to work, I passed by two election rallies that might have been working together. One was a really crazy one that's just a cult of personality, and the other was for Huh Kyung-young.

28 February 2022

Ukraine Flag

After Russia's invasion began, many landmarks all over the city have been coloured like the Ukrainian flag. I'm writing this as of 29 March, and they're still doing this, over a month later.

26 February 2022


On my way home from Seongsu, I stopped by Itaewon looking for food. I also saw something I don't think I've seen in a while: MPs.

26 February 2022

Seongsu Punk Show

There was a show at a new venue I hadn't visited yet, so after reporting on it, I decided to show up.

Apparently one of the bands had an outbreak of COVID-19 later that was probably spread to each other at this show, but I've heard nothing about any other infections.

25 February 2022


At night I showed up in HBC.

25 February 2022


I went back to KOTE to do an interview, only for this plan to be interrupted by more struggling.

25 February 2022


Another section of Euljiro is being prepped for demolition. This time it's targeting slightly larger buildings, and some famous restaurants, including one place that was apparently visited by BTS.

25 February 2022

Demolition Site

The house that was demolished last year across the alley from me has sat as an empty dirt lot ever since, but suddenly the fence down and an excavator showed up for one day. Since then, the excavator has been gone and the lot is just left open.

24 February 2022


I stopped by KOTE, where things have become a lot more tense. It appears court rulings and police have been helpless to resolve the conflict, and it has become just a matter of who occupies what space.

23 February 2022

Grand Central

When I looked up, I wondered if the lights on in those windows were arranged to spell out my name.

22 February 2022


One picture from across the street of this complex. I've been a little surprised that demolition hasn't started already.

19 February 2022

Studio HBC Show

I showed up at Studio in time to see Get to the Point and catch another wardrobe malfunction of 18Fevers, which I won't share here.

19 February 2022

Party at Turn

I showed up with Coetzer and Pac-Man (our portable power pack) to power up the abandoned stereo, take videos, and drink. Coetzer is going Hollywood, and there will likely be a music video soon.

Turns out the 10,000 won for 4 beers is still valid, in the form of 20,000 won for 8 beers. It was one of those nights.

17 February 2022


I had to go back to Pimatgol to do some more on-site research. This project...will be ready...soon.

17 February 2022


I stopped by Hongdae, I believe because I wanted to go cape shopping at Joy Party -- they didn't have any.

Then I discovered that Hongdae Playground went through a metamorphosis: this time into a temporary testing site. For the first time in a long while, this was actually an improvement from what was there previously.

16 February 2022

Turn Turn Turn

I found an impressive abandoned building on my way to the gas station. The architecture is old, and it could be older than it looks. I determined that I would have to come back here with other people and party in this room.

13 February 2022

Hooker Hill

Ryan posted images of another abandoned red-light area, so I risked taint-shotting him to see it for myself. There were three or four abandoned establishments in a row, and all of them were connected by a back hallway leading to bedrooms.

12 February 2022

Watch Market

I went back to the watch market, a day after my previous visit, only to find tape up right where I'd gotten in. My previous visit was Friday after 5pm, so who was on duty to deal with this, if they had indeed figured out I'd gone in this way? Not sure, but I don't like it.

12 February 2022

Banpo Jugong 1

I passed through Banpo-dong, getting on a couple roofs and taking a closer look at some of the commercial buildings there.

12 February 2022

Funny Gym

I visited another abandoned neighbourhood south of the river. This one hasn't quite ripened yet, and the most interesting thing was getting on a good rooftop overlooking it. That and the two slides, which I currently am unable to use.

11 February 2022

Watch Market

I returned to the watch market, this time wearing a cape, and I got in only to find all the doors left open, giving me the run of the place.

8 February 2022


I've been getting into the habit of drinking outside in sub-zero weather.

8 February 2022

Seoul Station

I went to Seoul Station Lotte Mart looking for any elaborate Valentine's Day displays, only to find nothing. On the bright side, I saw some work being done on the GTX tunnel, as well as got a look at the temporary testing site.

7 February 2022

Valentine's Day

Another thing I wrote about was Korea's version of Valentine's Day, an easy enough thing to put together.

7 February 2022

Danginri Line

For this month, I wrote about the Danginri Line. I asked around to several people and got absolutely no positive responses about what this street has become. Anyway, I was more interested with writing about its origins, so here we are.

For one day, I went out and hit a bunch of rooftops looking for ways to photograph the street. The results were pretty good.

6 February 2022

Frosted Flakes Pizza Gratin

Pizza, gratin, breakfast cereal, and tigers, together at last!

20 -- no, make it 30 likes, and I will buy, eat, and review this abomination, on a scale of "Great!" to "Grrrrrreat!"

...I did get the 30 likes, and so I went through with it. See inside for what happened next.

31 January 2022

Koa Building

According to this 1984 article, Korea had a punk scene way back then. I have extreme doubts that's what it actually was, and they probably just wanted a pejorative to throw at these kids.

But the article mentions one of their hangouts was in this building in Jonggak area, right off the Avenue of Youth in the same building where the Taco Bell used to be. I went in, and managed to get a shot of this plaque before jumping in the elevator, which only took me up four flights to the "Rock Bowling Alley." By today's standards, any sort of venue would probably be in the basement, but it's also possible it was on a higher floor. There's no real way for me to know, so the trail goes cold for now.

31 January 2022

Watch Market Maps

I went back to the watch market alone, only to find the entrances I'd been using had been sealed up. I attribute it to the fact I didn't have a cape on.

While wandering around waiting for a chance to slip in, I ended up looking at the various maps showing directions to relocated shops. It was mildly entertaining to see how various people had expressed that.

30 January 2022

Caped Explorers

As luck would have it, at our next stop we found a house filled with capes of multiple colours, two-sided even just as I envisioned. These were part of Hanbok, but we didn't let that stand in the way. Now properly caped, we were finally able to truly urban explore.

30 January 2022

Yeongdeungpo Market

We met up at Yeongdeungpo Market, which is likely going to be mostly demolished. Sounion was on the phone for a large part of the visit, arranging to get interviewed on TV after rescuing a runaway dog from the middle of the street recently.

We found this store selling various uniforms, including medical uniforms, and decided there should be a UE uniform. What's more, if you're not in uniform, then you aren't urban exploring.

We then refined this uniform concept to capes, although based on one person's mishearing, there would also be cakes, probably shaped like capes.

The uniform cape we envisioned would be reversible red on one side and blue on the other, so that if someone reports "four foreigners wearing red capes" then we can just reverse them and be four foreigners wearing blue capes. I envisioned it would be made of the same material as a Santa suit, so it would look good with my Santa suit. The cape would be knee- to ankle-length, sort of Superman-length. Also there would be a logo on the cape which would be a taegeuk with the letters UE on it. The cape would also have a collar, sort of like Burt Ward's Robin costume, and might be a separate colour, either red, yellow, or black.

We decided on that much by the time we were ready to depart for the next stop.

29 January 2022


After the red-light district, we decided to hit a nearby moon village uphill from Jeongneung. It's been drilled into me by JiHoon that only certain places are moon villages, and I believe he excluded this one. Some neighbourhoods, like Ihwa Village, are just old communities dating to before the war, and if they looked run-down and resemble moon villages, it's just because they're old. But I suspect this place has its origins as a refugee community.

29 January 2022

The Best Little Whorehouse in Miari Texas

To start the Lunar New Year, four of us met up at Miari Texas, the last remaining major red-light district in Seoul (even though when Cheongnyangni 588 was demolished, that was popularly called the "last," and people were shocked this one was still going).

I met up with Annabel, right as she was being harassed by one of the old women running the place. Annabel had dressed unisex thinking that would be safer, but I think she may have been wrong. She convinced the woman she was also a woman, and that she was waiting for her boyfriend, so when I showed up, I was interrogated about whether I was her boyfriend.

Anyway, exploring-wise, it's still a pretty tense environment.

25 January 2022

Itaewon Tunnel

I drove over to Itaewon to pick up food and I took a different way which took me past a construction site. I just so happened to pass by as a worker was leaving and closing up the fence, and I caught a glimpse of a big tunnel being bored into the side of the hill. Unless there are plans to open a fourth car tunnel, the only other reason for something like this to exist is the GTX-A. And that train line certainly runs by here, although I'm pretty sure it'll be much deeper underground, and can't see a single reason for a train-size tunnel to be connected to the surface. It'll take a better trespasser than me to answer these questions.

23 January 2022

Uhee Ska

My original plan would have taken me to four shows this weekend, certainly playing with fire. But the first show, which would have been on Friday and would have featured a Catholic priest performing mass, was cancelled. I heard it was because Changeun of Find the Spot and Seoul Dolmangchi (the latter which was performing) had gotten sick. I figured the obvious, but nope, turns out he needed his appendix taken out. Currently, almost a month later from the date of these photos, he seems to have survived and grown a moustache.

Anyway, on Sunday I skipped out on work for an hour to hit up Channel1969, where Uhee Ska was playing a show that may have been their fourth anniversary. I have never had a chance to see them before, I think because they usually play festivals rather than dingy basements, but now was my chance.

Uhee Ska is my new favourite band, basically a combination of Kingston Rudieska and Yeonhui Company, a pungmul troupe with a singer I'm guessing has pansori training. It makes sense not just because this type of traditional fusion is blowing up these days, but because Kingston Rudieska were the first that I know of to dabble in this kind of fusion, dating back to the mid-2000s (shortly before I&I Djangdan was formed).

The only other people I knew at this show were performing or working, and it was a seated show with no drinks served, but it was still phenomenal. The gugak performers were right in front of me, probably a little too loud, and at times I felt like I was close to getting struck. On the downside, the stage lighting gave everybody Smurf skin.

These guys still haven't released a recording (which might be about to change), but the best two live recordings I've heard are Seoul Gugak Music Festival 2021 and this one which has a great performance from Suk-yuel halfway through.

22 January 2022

The Mandus

I went to FF for WDI's release of the third "The Mandus" compilation, a name Jeff has made it clear he blames me for, even though I'm pretty certain I didn't come up with it, although I have certainly spread it.

The show was certainly more restrained than the Steel Face one, and if it weren't for all the people going between them, we probably would have been a lot less likely to have an outbreak. But despite the fact that Steel Face was practically a virus incubation chamber, absolutely nobody got sick at either show this night, unless it was from drinking too much. The audience here was seated and seemed complacent to do so, and the bands were somewhat isolated when they performed, but singers were allowed to unmask and the microphones only had smallish spit guards.

A highlight was when Caspin joined ...Whatever That Means on stage to perform the Bikini Kill cover she'd recorded with Gumiho for the compilation.

22 January 2022

Pogo Attack

I showed up at Club Steel Face, paying for the entire show just to see Pogo Attack, a new band made up of old pogo punks who've been around longer than me. I suspect that most of them got married and had kids, and now that the kids are a little older they finally have the time to start playing again.

Between this and SBW Riders, it seems like we could be having a pogo revival, something that would make me happy.

Also, there were virtually no pandemic restrictions taken. People wore masks mostly on their own free will, and there might have been some screening at the door, but it was otherwise standing room. And in the time I was there, it got very humid.

I stuck around for a bit of Stoned, and then headed off for FF to see the WDI show. When I showed up there, I ran into Bongsu and Hyeri in front -- basically the front row for Pogo Attack's set had relocated to FF>

21 January 2022


I was driving home, going past Insadong, when my scooter died. So I decided to go to KOTE and drink. I didn't stay that long, because I wanted to catch a bus home.

They had just won a court case, and it looks like the conflict is virtually but not completely over. People were hanging out in the bar, rather than the squat, which gave me a chance to see the basement.

21 January 2022

Untitled Void

I've decided to call this area the Untitled Void, named after an art gallery I found nearby. For about a decade I've been coming out Sajik Tunnel and noticing a small section of traditional houses in very bad condition. I'd been up in the area behind once or twice, but not really stopped and looked around, so I determined to do that one of these days.

It's a lot of steep streets, and the traditional buildings in bad shape are basically stuck in that one little corner. The rest of the area has more early modern architecture I'll need an expert to help me with.

I got up to a pretty good roof overlooking the area, except the setting sun was behind it, so lighting wasn't optimal. It would be best in the morning, or maybe deeper into blue hour.

21 January 2022

Jongno-gu Demolition

The district office building has been all but demolished, before I ever had a chance to explore any of it. As I drove by, I took interest in some of the hoarding art, which at this location spotlighted fire safety, which makes sense because they also knocked down an old firehall (which I also really wish I had explored). But because of its location right behind the US embassy, there were always roving police foot patrols everywhere.

20 January 2022


This post is the reason I fell behind in updating this site. On this very cold day, we started working on an audio tour of neo-Pimatgol. After recording initial audio, I went back the next day and took more pictures in the daytime, and then I sat on it waiting to take the next step, which would be putting together a final script. That's finally done, so I managed to get through this gallery in the process. There are a lot of pictures of just signs saying not-too-interesting things about Joseon history. Soon, you'll be able to download a series of audio recordings, and walk through while listening to my voice.

19 January 2022

Rooftopping in Snow

It was still snowing while I was at work, so I figured I might as well just go up to the roof and get a few pictures.

19 January 2022

Watch Market

When I saw it was snowing, I knew I couldn't miss the opportunity to photograph the watch market under a light coat of snow. The canopies made interesting snow patterns on the ground. I also was able to tell that I wasn't in there alone, thanks to tracks in the snow.

19 January 2022


There's a large box behind the couch where Buster sometimes hides out. Getting in there makes a lot of noise so I don't know who he's fooling. I stuck my camera inside a couple times just to see what it's like. He didn't seem to appreciate that.

18 January 2022

Watch Market

After going back to the recently sealed watch market, I went back again on a cold day to get some pictures from above. It's a shame the rooftop of Sewoon Sangga still isn't open, but there are other places on the building to view the market from.

16 January 2022

Seongnam and Back Again

I went out to Seongnam for the day, and then came home without taking many pictures. But what I got gives a pretty good sense of the journey.

15 January 2022


I was invited to contribute articles to the KOCIS newsletter, and one of my first articles was on Korean street food. To make that one, I went to several markets around downtown Seoul and took a ton of pictures; they only used one.

My first visit was to Namdaemun, which was probably the most impressive of them all, at least judging by the lines. People were willing to stand in very long lines just for hotteok. So I went around the corner to a different street food stand seeing much less traffic.

I also drove all the way around Namdaemun and stopped by Adnan Kebab, where Adnan's 20-year-old son was working.


Myeongdong is the area everyone says isn't doing great. I went there wondering how much street food I'd see, and thinking it might be easy to shoot some of them without pesky customers in the way. It wasn't as crowded as Namdaemun, but there were still street food vendors and people eating them. I also noticed the street food vendors here tended to be considerably younger than the ones in Namdaemun, probably mostly being in their 20s.

I bought a "twist potato" there, and discovered the biggest problem with street food these days: how and where to eat it. I brought the thing over to a low-traffic spot in the alley and ate it with all the discretion as a Korean woman smoking in public 20 years ago.

Gwangjang Market

Namdaemun was most impressive, but Gwangjang Market was far more crowded, to the point where it was too crowded. I don't recall it being this full prior to the pandemic. Amazing what the social distancing rules allow.

I did not stay here long, and I didn't order any food at all. A decade earlier I wrote a previous article about this market for KOCIS, back before it was on the tourist radar -- did I ruin Gwangjang? The article is no longer on for whatever reason -- I guess they clean house when administrations change (or at least when ruling parties change). Fortunately, another site swiped it, and that version is still online.

Watch Market

I took a break from visiting downtown Seoul markets to visit an abandoned downtown Seoul market. The watch market's various alley entrances have been boarded up, using amusing pieces of hoarding displaying various art on them that give the barricades a sense of self-reflexivity. But no need to dwell on these fences for too long; I sure didn't.

With the hoarding up, the watch market is ripe for exploring. It was good before, but back then there were still people around. Now I have the run of the place with no supervision.

Avenue of Youth

If I had to pick a most disappointing place, it would be Avenue of Youth, which is sort of like a Sinchon in central Seoul. There's less tradition to it than the other markets, but it's also the most dense with restaurants. I also remember before the pandemic it was the most reliable place to go late at night, as something is always open at any time of day.

There's one wide street dividing the area -- maybe that's the only one known as "Avenue of Youth"? -- and this is where I was expecting street food. But there were only about six, and a number of those were fortune tellers.

Most people probably call this area Jonggak because it's right behind Boshingak, but I've been trying to stick with this name, despite the fact no one knows it and it seems irrelevant and ahistoric. Apparently it used to be "Piano Avenue," and there was a giant piano keyboard motif going through the alley. They decided it had too much character, I guess, so they took it out, maybe to make a designated place for food tents.

There seems to be little interest in this area, even though it likely has some stories to tell, somewhere beneath the Sinchon-like sheen of bright signs and mostly franchise restaurants. It's wedged between Cheonggyecheon and Jongno, and according to this sign, the area is host to another "Pimatgol" (a notion I haven't heard anybody actually endorse). This is also apparently the location of a 1980s punk hangout as reported in 1984 by Donga Ilbo, a newspaper that certainly didn't know what it was talking about. According to that article, there used to be a punk hangout centered around this building, although who knows what they were talking about. "Punk" was probably just a scareword they used to mean dropouts or delinquents.


Insadong was alright, with a number of street food carts still and none of them boasting particularly large lines. I think it may have also been the only place where I photographed tteokbokki being served as a street food.

There was a street food stand directly in front of KOTE, and I got hotteok there without any waiting at all. I photographed it thinking it might be fun if KOTE showed up on a government website, but it wasn't the picture used. I also went inside KOTE to photograph some of the street food I'd accumulated; I had been about to leave to go to my office or home to do that, but at the last minute realised I could just use one of the table spaces in KOTE and nobody would mind.

Nagwon-dong Street Food Tents

Last stop was the line of food tents east of Nagwon Sangga. I'd hoped to visit these during blue hour, although it was overcast enough that blue hour was never really achieved.

A few years ago I spent the occasional late night around here, and it was a pretty fun place to go. It was set up well as a place to go for these food tents, and I'm not sure if it's gotten worse, other than the usual decline with the pandemic. I also found more food tents than I'd previously known, including one area that seemed a little rough due to old people.


After I was done shooting street food, I ended up in HBC where I saw a couple pretty good metal bands.

14 January 2022

Jabroni and Vanmal at Studio HBC

Studio HBC had the cover band Jabroni playing, as well as the punk band Vanmal. I'd never seen Vanmal before, despite having interviewed them in one of the recent Brokes, and Jabroni is the new version of the band of my ex-boss, back when I worked at a cybersecurity company in 2015. It still doesn't seem so long ago.

13 January 2022


I met up with Romain after writing this article about his photo exhibition. It's worth a visit to see the impressive details in his tree pictures, and my own photo doesn't do it justice when you can get up close to the originals and feel the wood frames.

We'd only met once before -- he was the guy on the ledge in this story. We talked about that a bit, and I got to know that he'd been listening to music, unaware of anything else. He noticed when I arrived from the vibration of me touching the structure he was on top of. He was up there trying not to be noticed, until the cops came up.

10 January 2022

More Jeong-dong

I went back to Jeong-dong to get a look in the gates of that construction site when the workers would hopefully be on lunch break. It 65% worked.

10 January 2022

Pink Garbage Wolf

I met a pink garbage wolf outside my building.

8 January 2022


The day after my last visit to KOTE, I found a little icon for the women's washroom in one of my bags. Best guess is I attempted to hang a bag on the sign, and it fell off and fell into my bag, and I took it home not realising. So I got around to bringing it back, although the next door slam it will probably fall out.

I also met a woman who works as a playground designer, and she showed me the roof of the central KOTE building.

8 January 2022


After Jacco called my attention to the other thing in Jeong-dong, I'd been meaning to jump the fence and finally see the Seonwonjeonteo site for myself. It's been expanded a bit thanks to work on the next-door Chosen Savings Bank residential plot, which also meant that I had access to both those houses. One looked well-kept so I didn't go near.

7 January 2022

Morgan's Birthday

Morgan had his birthday party at Gogi Boys, the new restaurant in the place of Linus' HBC location. He got more drunk than I'm used to seeing him, and told me and Kiseok that we were family. He's not wrong, although we probably should have been paying more attention to the road.

5 January 2022

Street Art

When I showed up for work, someone had set up a bunch of paintings in the street out front, leaning against the planters there.

3 January 2022


I'd been informed that the "Faux Hanok" site in Jeong-dong, a former restaurant that was later turned into another restaurant, was being demolished, and that in the process they were digging up traditional stone blocks that may have been part of a tomb. I hadn't had much luck at finding out more, beyond just a walkby during late lunch hour. But I saw more in the area that got my attention.

2 January 2022

Millennium Seoul Hilton

The five-star hotel within walking distance of my home has been sold to a new owner, and they plan to demolish it and replace it with a building with much more floor area.

So I decided to visit before I lose access, and get a look at some important sights, such as the expansive lobby and the toy train Christmas display. I tailgated a guest up the elevator and made it to the top floor, where there is a large two-level penthouse area that had once belonged to the owner family of Daewoo. It's now empty and unsecured, and worth seeing. Unfortunately I couldn't get onto the roof.


Smartphone Pictures 1

Here's my annual collection of smartphone pictures, divided into three fairly stuffed galleries. This is a good way of recapping the year, while showing things I decided to shoot on my phone rather than camera, as well as phone takes on things I did shoot with a real camera.

There are a great deal more cat pictures in here, mainly because it's just more convenient to use my phone when the cats are sleeping peacefully or trampling over my keyboard.

There's also some stuff that went into zines, plus pictures of my expanding zine collection.

Smartphone Pictures 2
The second gallery is from early summer to late summer.

There are more cats on keyboards, more zine pictures, pictures from my trip to Gwangju, and not to freak you out, but a naked clown.

Also there are various food pictures, including KFC's suspicious chicken ribs, a pretty decent jerk chicken restaurant in Itaewon, McDonald's "iconic" BTS bags, and a very good breakfast in Gwangju.

The first gallery has one picture of Peter Bartholomew at his final RAS Korea council meeting, the last time I saw him, and this one has pictures from his funeral. The third gallery has pictures of some of his possessions that were brought to an RAS Korea book sale.

Smartphone Pictures 3
The third gallery all feels more like more recent history, from when the weather was still warm before Halloween all the way to Christmas.

A few pictures of sitting outside the convenience store in HBC with my boss, although we kept doing that even after the weather got too cold.

It was during this time that my cats discovered TV for Cats, which they are now obsessed with.

All three preview images are related to the pandemic. The last one shows my mild complications from the second Pfizer vaccine shot. The doctor says it looks worse than it is.


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    Copyright Daehanmindecline 2021