BROKE PUBLISHNG


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


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


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

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

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


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

Only available through direct purchase so far

View this post for price and ordering information

Contact brokepublishng@gmail.com

As Seen On on Unite Asia!


20240616


The Hechyeomoyeo 6

I went to the opening party for The Hechyeomoyeo 6, which was at KOTE. A number of these pictures made it into the newspaper.

20240615


Downtown

A couple pictures around downtown, including an obese President Yoon in disguise.

I'm pretty sure the first picture was taken on the corner where there was a horrific car crash on 20240701.

20240615


...Whatever That Means at IT'S A FEST!

I showed up in time for ...Whatever That Means at IT'S A FEST! The crowd was pretty big, and considering they'd had to make last-minute changes to bring the show indoors and sell tickets, they probably did well. Though knowing them, I'm sure they spent as much as they brought in.

WTM played a pretty solid set to a large crowd that was really into them.

20240615


Full Garage at IT'S A FEST!

Right before their set, I was told it was Keunyoung's birthday. What better way to celebrate your birthday than to play a festival with your band? I wouldn't know if that's actually a good way to do it.

20240615


End These Days at IT'S A FEST!

End These Days was the hardcore palate cleanser of the day, something I always appreciate.

20240615


Iman's League at IT'S A FEST!

Iman's League were here on their seventh Korea tour. Or visit? I don't know if that counts times they came here to record.

20240615


The Skippers at IT'S A FEST!

The Skippers were back in Korea after an appearance in January. They're kind of easy to remember due to being barefoot.

20240614


Itaewon with Elaine

It was the last full day of my cousin's visit to Korea, so I brought her to the obvious places: we went to Itaewon and wandered through Hooker Hill, then Hannam New Town, then the disaster alley, and ended up shopping at a Daiso and then had food and drinks. She wanted to buy a jersey for her brother-in-law, but as soon as she mentioned he's 6'4" I gave up hope.

20240614


Broke 26

I finished the latest issue of Broke in time for It's A Fest. This gallery shows a draft of the cover, and a place where I dropped off copies for the first night.

I didn't go to the first night because my cousin was visiting.

20240613


Millie

Just watching her stories.

20240612


The Hechyeomoyeo at KOTE

I stopped by KOTE where they were setting up for the next Hechyeomoyeo.

At this point, there wasn't much on display, but in a few more days they would put all the art up.

20240612


HBC Lightning

I photographed some papers attached to the front of the burned-out real estate agency. They didn't reveal anything too interesting, just people organising to maybe eventually redevelop.

20240611


RAS Korea

We had another lecture at the alternative FastFive. I took a few photos figuring out what we'd do.

20240610


Hyatt

My cousin was visiting and staying at the Hyatt. I took these two photos on the way to meet her to show her how far I was away.

20240608


Guro

Robert Fouser led his first tour of the Guro area, looking at the industrial sites in the area, plus the multicultural fabric.

20240605


Vietnamese Food

A Vietnamese restaurant opened up in the alley across the street from my work, near the abandoned dog meat restaurant. I gave it a try, and it was pretty good. I'm pretty sure at least one of the people working there at the time was Vietnamese.

20240604


Bruce Fulton RAS Korea Lecture

Bruce Fulton was back in Korea and gave a book talk for RAS Korea about a collection of short stories he'd published with Penguin UK. Along with his wife who also does translation, three of the short story authors were present.

Bruce and his wife Ju-chan had won three Korea Times literature translation awards in the 1980s, so I knew about them by reputation but had never met them.

20240604


Millie

Millie started acting weird and hid out in this cat hideout that I don't think she'd ever gone in before. I was worried that something was wrong, but by the next day she seemed totally back to her usual self.

20240602


HBC

I ran into a lot of people this week in HBC, including Neil, the guy putting on the Hechyeomoyeo group exhibitions. The next one was coming up at KOTE, and some of the things he said this night made it into my article.

20240601


Goths on the Beach Final Seoul Show

Isaac and Kim of Goths on the Beach are moving away, and this was the final GOTB show in Seoul. They still have a few more planned into July in Busan.

20240601


Seoul Queer Culture Festival

For the second year in a row, Mayor 5mb, the OECD's Champion Mayor for Inclusive Growth," for "going together with the socially neglected," found a way to keep SQCF from entering Seoul Plaza.

This was sort of good because it made it harder for the Christians to harass and attack, but holding it on a large lawn is preferable to one long skinny festival grounds along the side of a street.

The Christians were out in large numbers, although the two opposing sides were ably kept apart by the riot police.

20240531


Abandoned Neighbourhood

I met up with a few Korean friends and we visited an abandoned neighbourhood I was familiar with. We got into two abandoned temples, both of which I'd been in before, although at the time one had not been as abandoned as I had been expecting.

20240531


Tongbang Books

After going to DCC for Free Comic Book Day earlier in the month, I started cooperating with a guy from Tongbang Books, a major importer of English-language books to Korea. Among all the books they go through, they also peddle in Korean literature published in English -- having copyrighted the term "K-Lit" ("Foreigners always laugh at that," the guy said).

I went to their warehouse, and it is huge. The picture seen here is the largest room, but it's one of several rooms similarly filled with books. Forget What the Book and forget Kyobo Book Centre.

20240530


Namdaemun Beer Festival

There was a beer festival happening at Namdaemun Market, and I could see it from my office window. I went with some coworkers, and we met up with this guy.

20240529


Abandoned Building

I noticed this building with hoarding up around the base, right across the street from City Hall. It appears this is the start of a revitalisation project. I assume the building will be demolished.

I found a few places where it looked like it would be easy to get over the fence, and later I did succeed in doing that. They I discovered there was a worker of some kind, I suppose a security guard, sitting in a chair in an innocuous spot on the other side of the fence. I have not encountered security like this before. He was annoyed and was quick to kick me out the front gate, since I couldn't speak any Korean at all to explain what I was doing there.

20240527


Gary

I met up with Gary one more time before writing this article. I had thought he was leaving the country, but he just went to Japan for a visit. After this meeting, he went to Japan again for another visit, and is expected to come back one more time, at which point we might meet up again.

20240525


Songtan

After the previous weekend in Anjeong-ri, Chris had a hankering to go visit the ville in Songtan, in front of Osan Air Base in the same city. There wasn't really any reason for doing this, other than why not. We walked around, went to a few bars, and had pizza at a very good Detroit pizza shop, before heading back to Seoul so I could stab Buster.

20240524


At Night

These pictures are from various places over one night, in which I went to eastern Seoul, then ended up in the usual neighbourhood. I stopped by Dialogue Seoul, a new place that opened that billed itself as a language exchange venue, but also seems to be open to anything else as well. I remarked that it looks more like a living room even than Living Room across the street.

20240524


Crane

After seeing a chunk of the TBM being lifted up a little earlier, I've been watching this hole to see if I can identify other pieces of the machine being removed. I thought I had another one this day, but turns out it was actually just another crane. Although somehow that crane itself also disappeared shortly after this picture was taken, leaving just the one orange crane.

20240523


Buster's Belated 18th Birthday

Buster was born either on May 21 or 25, but most likely the 21st, and because of that ambiguity I often mess it up. So I decided to throw him an 18th birthday party this day, in which we did some of the usual urban exploring and then he got into the catnip.

20240523


Hannam New Town

After not being satisfied with some of my photos from the day before, I returned to Hannam New Town and visited some of the same areas. And here's that freaky doll.

20240522


Hannam New Town

I went back to Hannam New Town and saw that the eviction process is well underway. I drove around and then got into the building where I had attended an eviction party one month earlier.

20240521


Northeastern Seoul

I didn't have a full battery charge, but I went up the mountain behind Bukchon Hanok Village and followed along a sequence of ridge roads and overpasses, which took me as far as Korea University. I was surprised it was so easy to ride across this much of the city without ever really touching down on the lower ground level.

20240521


What's Left of KOTE

KOTE has been shrinking this year, and after I heard they destroyed the annex, the same building we had been holding RAS lectures last year, I went to have a look.

There will be a Hechyeomoyeo here soon.

20240520


Sunset

As I was driving through Sinchon, I noticed the sun hanging over the road. I'm pretty sure I've seen it like this before, long ago, but this time I stopped and got pictures.

20240520


New Workshop

The renovation on the Workshop building seems nearly complete, giving us a glimpse of what they have in store for the space... for rent?

Good idea, evict an active business, only to wind up with vacant real estate.

20240518


Pyeongtaek

A coworker told me about an open house event being held at USAG Humphreys, so I juumped at the chance, having never had the opportunity to set foot in that base. Somehow I convinced Chris to join me, although it didn't take much work.

We took a train down there and arrived around 2pm, about when people were starting to get drunk.

Our first stop was Revolucion, a nice bar with a big outdoor area that I've been to several times before. Both Chris and I ran into several people we already knew here.


The Hump

While at Revolucion, we could hear the first of two sets by Rolling Quartz. I decided we would be too late if we left now, so I just waited for the members of B3 to head over there and follow them.

When we arrived, we found that the live music schedule was at least half an hour behind, so we wandered and had a look at everything they were allowing visitors to see.

There wasn't that much, basically just the bricks in the ground and a couple buildings offering amenities, plus a few military vehicles parked for visitors to look at.

This included a large beer hall with a very nice stage.


B3

Finally after a delay, B3 took the stage. Tom deputised me as their "official" photographer and I felt no risk standing right at the corner of the stage.

He was also disappointed that they had not let me bring in my camera, so all of these pictures were taken on my phone.

They're entirely a cover band, or at least mostly, and the members all have a lot of performing talent. They're way more soulful than they look.


Rolling Quartz

The scheduling changes ended up meaning B3 led into Rolling Quartz, which fortunately meant no period of waiting between the two bands.

I maintained my position during their set, and dragged over Chris so he could see them up close. At one point he's pretty sure we were winked at.


The Ville and Returning to Seoul

After Rolling Quartz, we returned to Revolucion, where Ramy dragged us over to Whiskey Chuck's (where no pictures were taken).

Soon we had to catch a bus back to the train station so I could return in time to stab Buster in the neck. We made it back with perfect timing.

20240517


The Host

Apparently Mayor 5mb has decided to continue erasing his predecessor's -- and successor's -- legacy, and the latest thing to go will be this statue of The Host on Yeouido, the same area where the Bong Joon-ho monster attacked in the original movie.

Apparently it's considered an eyesore, despite not really being prominently visible. Meanwhile, the ugly purple Christmas tree at the top of Cheonggyecheon remains intact.


Gwangmyeong

I went down to Gwangmyeong to check on the area. A large portion has been demolished, but the most interesting features are still intact, including two Buddhist temples.

After a previous encounter in which I was caught by two women still living there, I wanted to be careful. I decided to hold off on that one and try again in a couple weeks.


Noryangjin

On my way home, I was driving through a surprisingly green area in Dongjak, just north of Seongnam High School, when a bee flying across the road collided with me and went into my helmet. It stung me on my ear, leaving a stinger sticking out of it. I quickly found the nearest doctor's office and went there for help.

After, I drove by Noryangjin New Town, which has been heavily wiped out, at least the places I was familiar with.

But the market buildings that local resident Bereket had shown me were still intact, and I got a good look at them. I didn't explore around that much and I think there might be a lot more to see here.


Fake Rock

As I was driving toward the World Cup Bridge, some really bizarre scenery caught my eye.

It was weird enough that after I passed it, I crossed the bridge, turned around, and went back, just for a closer look.

It appears they're building a rocky facade to a small mountain overlooking the river. I'm very curious why.


North of the River

After I crossed the river, I made a newspaper delivery and then went to a pizza place.

I'm a fairly big fan of Detroit-style pizza, which is better than Chicago but not as good as New England, and I'd been attempting to try out this one in Yeonnam-dong for a while.

It's not the best at this style, but it's still pretty good.


Chosun Hotel

I was working on an article about the Chosun Hotel by Matt, and it sent me to the archive to look up one page that advertised the reopening of the hotel, with apparently Korea's first disco. .

20240514


TBM Chunk

While in the vicinity of the office, I noticed the big yellow crane hovering over that gigantic pit was now holding onto a giant piece of what I believe is part of the TBM we witnessed on May Day. I think it's the area located directly behind the cutterhead, and in the main image of this page you can see the exact area I'm talking about.

I've been trying to observe for other pieces on subsequent days, but while it seems they're still doing this, I haven't had the timing to photograph other pieces.

20240514


Robert Fouser

Robert Fouser is back again. He's a contributor for our competitor but I still suck up to him. I will definitely join his Guro tour.

He gave an RAS talk on attempts to "modernise" Hangeul, which included ways to unclump it from syllabic to linear writing.

20240514


Itaewon

Just a couple pictures from Itaewon. The Hannam New Town development project is coming along.

20240513


New Art

Some artist had tagged all over a public mural in my neighbourhood. I have to say, this is trashier than Igali.

20240513


Abandoned

Just an abandoned building I saw on the way through Seocho.

20240512


One-Year Anniversary

Bereket decided to celebrate his one-year anniversary of writing for the paper, which he ended up doing by inviting two friends along and serving Ethiopian food he'd gotten from the restaurant in Noryangjin that he'd brought me to last summer.

He helps me to cover a lot of events that I don't have the time to give proper attention to, so hopefully this is the first year of many.

20240512


Cats

Here's Millie being Queen of the Bed again.

20240511


Exploring with Chris

I probably spend more time with Chris than anyone else these days, but we've never gone urban exploring until now. The former pizza restaurant/love motel in HBC had an open door, so we peeked in for a look around.

20240511


Baby Doll Show

From Euljiro I took Line 2 directly to Sinchon, where I went to a show at Baby Doll, a new venue. It had a pretty great lineup, with Lucy Valentine, Nite Echoes, and The 1234-Dah! The venue is nice, and much larger than I was expecting.

20240511


Dreaming Trees Exhibition

I went to the closing party for the Dreaming Trees group exhibition at Eulji Space. It occurred to me too late that I had low-key contributed by providing newspaper articles about the exhibition in print, ie trees that had been ground up for supposedly human consumption.

I managed to get pictures of all the artists in attendance as they introduced their works.

20240510


Random Stuff

I came out of my apartment (or came home, can't remember now) to find all this kitchen stuff piled up on the landing outside my door. It looked unsalvageable, and it stayed there for about a week. I never really found out the story behind it.

20240509


RAS Korea Lecture

The lecture was held in another venue which wasn't that bad, especially as it was walking distance from my work (I guess so is the other, but whatever).

We had two lecturers from the central RAS in the UK, and they gave a pretty interesting lecture that defied my initial expectations. They're looking for evidence to connect the extreme far ends of the Silk Roads in the UK and Japan, but what I found most interesting was how they debunked several myths and narratives about the Silk Roads.

20240508


RAS Korea Scouting

The following night, we would have a lecture at a different FastFive from usual, so I decided to scout around for potential places to go afterward. At 10:30 this night, there were several promising places. Unfortunately, at 9 Thursday night, none of them panned out, and we had a disappointing time being unable to seat a group of 20 of us all together.

20240507


Northeastern Seoul at Night

I became curious how Baeksa Village looked at night, so I went back at the soonest opportunity after rain and work all ended. I didn't go too deep into the neighbourhood, other than to visit the public washroom.

On the way there and back, I scouted a few subway construction entrances, and mostly failed. One site was still active, and another was locked, while the others just led to mud pits. I can't tell if they're in the early stages of digging out spaces for the project, or if there is a tunnel already formed even deeper beneath what I could see.

20240506


Free Comic Book Day

It was announced that Ryan Estrada was coming to Seoul to sign books at a Free Comic Book Day event at Dice & Comics Cafe. I showed up to get a photo for an upcoming article, although he ended up providing a better one himself.

This was my first time at the new DCC, and while I liked the old one and its cramped, cozy feel, the new one is advantageous in pretty well every way. It's spacious with plenty of room for shopping as well as tables to sit at with groups. Joey has really done great things with the niche he's carved for himself in Seoul.

20240505


RAS Korea Tour of Baeksa Village

Eleven of us walked through Baeksa Village on a warm day. Right near the start, a security guard came out and gave us a few safety rules. There were fewer than what I specified, with the only two being don't enter homes and don't go down alleys where there is a danger of collapsing walls. The guard bowed and sent us on our way.

20240503


Buster

Buster had a day at the vet. Apparently his diabetes is being managed well due to the insulin, although the vet is concerned about his pancreas. Currently he seems pretty stable.

20240502


Subway Locations

A day after descending the pit, I passed by a few related facilities, noting that work had definitely resumed.

20240502


Kang Hong-goo

This photographer went from digital art in the 1990s to spending a lot of time in the 2000s documenting the development process of Eunpyeong New Town. He had an exhibition so I stopped by.

20240502


Donation

After meeting Gary and Mary Ann Mintier, I went to the National Library to see the items from their collection on display. There were only a few items, and I don't know too much about these, but they'll apparently be there for several more months.

20240502


Farewell Scooter

After several months of storing my previous scooter in the parking garage, hoping some use for it would pop up, or there would be a replacement muffler, I had to get it taken away. The system of zero tolerance on reuse of old bikes is frustratingly wasteful, although I suppose it probably protects us from theft.

I'll miss this bike and the ability to drive long distances.

20240501


Tunnel

I started the festivities by scouting out a subway tunnel construction access point in Itaewon. However, the tunnel I was expecting to see here was either long gone, buried, or had never been. Still not sure which.

I accessed the site by using a simple trick of unlatching a lock from outside using a plastic card. Not a credit card or ID card for fear of losing it.

After a quick wander inside, I concluded there was nothing left to see, but also that the workers were definitely off for the day.


Apartments

The next stops involved apartments. First I saw a nice-looking apartment complex near Namsan. But getting inside was weird. It wasn't hard, but there were cameras everywhere. Then I noticed elevators didn't seem to work for me, only for others, which seemed alarmingly like a security feature, even if the elevator equipment all seemed old. I exited near the top and got a view out the balcony, but started having vertigo, which coupled with my fear of being monitored made me leave.

Exiting the apartment complex was also an adventure, as it was a real maze. Finally I decided to enter the top floor of the parking garage where I had reason to believe there was an exit at the bottom. On my way down, I noticed a great deal of cars just parked along the edges of the corkscrew ramp, causing quite a lot of obstacles.

Next stop was an apartment complex about to undergo remodeling, but I couldn't find a reasonably easy enough way in.

Third stop was the abandoned mental hospital, which was locked up tight and had high walls. I think there's only one way left inside, and it's not pretty. Not sure I'd want to do it without someone else there in case something happened.


Baeksa Village

I was about to lead an RAS Korea tour of Baeksa Village on the weekend, so I decided one last preparatory visit was a good idea.

For various concerns I was telling people we wouldn't go inside any buildings, but I was entirely prepared to do this on my own.

On this visit, I found one door ajar, and the interior of the place still had a lot of belongings left behind. And some pretty weird porn. This gallery has some pornographic images, and while nothing you'll see is explicit, there are some odd things.


Hotels and Motels

I went by three abandoned motels and hotels. The first two I didn't bother entering, but the third was possible. It was right on the edge of a red-light district that's in the last days of activity. Not really the kind of place to fool around and get caught. Anyway, I've seen enough of motels for a while.


Boring

Last, I met up with two friends and we entered the giant vertical shaft leading all the way down to the underground bullet train. It ended up being pretty boring, by which I mean we encountered an entire tunnel boring machine sitting in the tunnel, having completed its task, waiting to be disassembled and taken aboveground.

You can read about the exact same kind of TBM we encountered, and see a picture of it (looking a lot cleaner), here. Also, this miniature model may give a better idea what it actually looks like.

20240430


Alcoholics

These are pictures from drinking after work.

20240428


Preparing for May Day

I was getting ready for May 1, which to many people is International Workers' Day, but to me it's International Day of Trespassing. The plan was to go down the massive hole into an underground bullet train tunnel being dug. There were changes happening at the topside rim of the thing, and I was starting to worry the opportunity would disappear before the holiday arrived.

20240428


Baekusaeng Concert

Seth Mountain had a concert at Baekusaeng Brewery, and he invited Hahn Vad to perform, which he did as Amature Amplifier.

20240427


Dead Mall

After seeing this video, I decided to head all the way to Airport Island to see it for myself. Korea doesn't get a lot of dead malls, although there are plenty of closed or incomplete department stores. I thinmk this had been at least partly open, but probably went out of business due to the news of Mohegan Inspire opening nearby.

I also found out the Yeongjong location of Cinder Bar was next door, so I stopped by there for some liquid courage prior to making entry.

20240425


Gyeongnidan

I'm working on an article about Gyeongnidan, slowly.

20240424


Tunnel

This is a GTX access tunnel in Itaewon. The others tend to be far more vertical, so I'm curious about this one. I doubt I'll ever get any closer though.

20240424


Centlas

Korean apartment names tend to be terrible. Centlas isn't the worst, especially following the discovery of Assheim, but I don't like Centlas because it reminds me of "Penniless" and "Senseless."

20240424


Mental Hospital

We gave the mental hospital another try two days after the previous attempt. The construction wall was closer to completion, but still not really good enough. This time we explored the main building which was offered more to see than the other. We were also less careful about lights and flashes, now that we were convinced the vehicles had been left there overnight unattended. The one main regret I have is that we never went into the basement of either building.

20240424


Lunch

I went out to find something for lunch, but every restaurant I went to that day seemed to be closed. It was a frustrating drive through downtown, and time was running out.

20240423


RAS Korea

JiHoon gave another lecture, and it was well-attended. Two of the people in the audience turned out to be Peace Corps volunteers who'd been in Korea in 1969 to 1975.

20240422


Mental Hospital

IGoBart's latest video was on Cheongnyangni, and includes a fair bit of information on the abandoned mental hospital there. He posted in the comments that he had just heard the hospital had already been demolished by the time the video came out, but a quick visit determined that this was not the case. No, all that had happened was they knocked down the surrounding wall, making entry to the site easy like it never had been before.

There were vehicles on site, so we were very careful and only saw one of the two main buildings. However, later observation has me convinced that the site was deserted and no one was around.

20240421


Queen of the Bed

Usually when I come home, I find that Millie has taken my place in the bed, reigning as Queen of the Bed until I'm back. She moves pretty quickly out of the way, but always with increasing hesitation. I suspect she thinks she could be a better head of the family than me. Maybe I shouldn't have published her book.

20240421


Chris Rae

I heard from this guy on Reddit who was planning to run across Korea, and it was enough to catch my attention. He was planning to make the run in five or six days, and while I can't really say how much of a challenge that is, I just saw a comment from someone who said they made the same trip in the same amount of time while on a bike.

Chris is an interesting guy with quite a life history spent all around the world. He seems like he doesn't fully understand the charity side of things, and that's all an afterthought, and he's primarily focused on making the run.

20240420


Eviction Party

When I went to my print shop earlier this month to print programmes for DoTam Film Festival, the regulars there showed interest in it. They didn't end up coming, but anyway, they mentioned their participation in the Hannam Art Archiving Project, and I heard mention that there would be an eviction party later in the month, with Heoso Band playing.

I showed up, and I was the one awkward foreigner, but it was still easy to bond with everyone over shared concerns for the neighbourhood.

20240419


Marriort

These three pictures are pretty disjointed but that was my April 19.

20240417


Peter's Hanok

In anticipation of JiHoon's RAS Korea lecture, I paid a visit to Peter's old house, or two houses technically. Not to say I was able to see anything particularly revealing, just that I got a look around the perimeter and could tell nothing was happening.

20240416


Verv

Verv had to go to the US Embassy, so his family decided to release him for the night and allow him to hang out with me. This led to much rooftopping, chess, and mixing up of jackets.

20240416


Subway Construction

Here's a look from above. The facilities on the surface over this deep pit have changed, and it appears now that entry is pretty easy.

20240416


Western Seoul

I drove west during lunch hour for a look at a few places. I was able to confirm that demolition at Yeonhui-dong has been pretty extensive.

20240414


Ken

Ken is visiting. It's been several years, but he's been working on some pretty secretive things lately.

20240413


Daejeon

Last time I tried to go to Daejeon, I tested positive for COVID-19 right before leaving. This time I went for two art exhibitions, one with DJAC and the other involving a bunch of similar people.

I also discovered that one of the exhibitions was hosted by a religious cult. The cult wasn't trying to convert anyone, at least from what I could figure, but their leader is one of the most hated Koreans to have ever lived.

20240412


Tunnel

They've been changing some of the access points to the bullet train tunnel, and I got a chance to look down this deep hole.

20240412


Shack

A friend expressed a lot of interest in this old shack behind a bunch of buildings near Gwanghwamun. When I showed up, it looked like lights were on inside.

20240410


Elevator

It looks like someone tagged this sign in the elevator.

20240409


Michael Hurt's Lecture

Michael Hurt gave an RAS Korea lecture, and one of his collaborators showed up.

20240409


Five Guys

A new Five Guys opened up at Seoul Station, so I decided to give it a try. It's very expensive.

20240407


Night Out in HBC

Just some pictures from around HBC, and a couple from Huam-dongs.

20240406


DoTam Film Festival

The event went surprisingly smoothly. We had just about the right size crowd for the venue that it was pretty full but not too full. Due to it being inside basically a movie theater, plus privacy concerns for some people there, I didn't take any photos during the screenings. Hagik_archive on Instagram had a pretty good writeup on it, including a few photos.

The venue was amazing and served the exact purpose we needed. I had prior concerns about the audio quality, but when we were in there, everything sounded fine, in large part probably due to Coetzer sitting at the sound board. The live music performances afterward, which I did get some images and videos of, also sounded great, despite my fears that they weren't ready, and that we would be missing some key piece of equipment that would prevent some of the acts from playing. But that didn't happen, and the show was a great way to unwind afterward. I wish more people stuck around for that part, but no offence to those who didn't.

I'm not planning to think right now about whether there will be another one next year, but when I start to do that, there are positive signs. It may depend on the continued venue availability.

20240405


Cliff

While coming back from the print shop with programme books for DoTam, I saw these cats near a fence. As I got closer, I realised the fence was itself pretty weird. I ended up having a closer look, as the whole site is pretty weird. I'm familiar with the area and had explored it during redevelopment years earlier.

20240404


No-Jon Day

A former coworker made this sign one day to stop page designers from dropping off pages on my desk on days I was away, thus leaving them unread. We recovered the sign recently, and it still serves the purpose when I'm not around.

Or on days like this, when I'm in the office but not on duty, as I was putting together the programme for DoTam Film Festival.

20240403


Street

I've been discovering that the best route to get to places in western downtown is often through the side alleys. That means lots of driving by this Joong-Ang building being remodeled.

20240402


Itaewon Pub

I went to Itaewon Pub, which seems pretty nice. The worst thing I've heard about it is their happy hour drink specials are too good. They apparently have the world's largest Pac-Man game, though I'm sure the world has seen larger.

20240331


Itaewon Children's Park

I had two friends complaining to me that this park was disappearing, but it turned out that a large bear statue they were fond of had been removed. Looks like it will still be a park, but no idea what it will be replaced with.

20240331


Cat Butts

A large part of my daily life involves navigating around cat butts. I determined recently that the butt of a cat is everything below basically the armpits, which is more than 50 percent of the cat. Obviously excluding the tail and the lower back paws.

20240330


Angry Man's Dong

Jericho was visiting, so we went for a walk around Hannam New Town.

20240328


Crying Uncle

I went to the very small first show for Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band on their Korea tour. It was in a very small venue, and not that many people came, which made for a pretty good atmosphere to see these guys.

20240327


Eulji Space

This is where we'll be having DoTam Film Festival on April 6.

20240325


Newspapers

Someone mentioned something about the Jungang Chosun Ilbo building, and I initially mistook it to be these buildings.

This also shows a few pictures of the elevator construction going on at my own office, which has been aggravating but given me a few looks inside elevator shafts.

20240324


Miari Texas

On the way home from Baeksa Village, I passed by the red-light district. Even the neighbourhood next door is mostly evicted now. No pictures within the red-light district, where a much older woman confronted me with an offer I did not accept.

20240324


Baeksa Village

I went back to Baeksa Village, where I found very few residents left, probably outnumbered by curious visitors like myself.

20240323


Ryan's Birthday at The Studio HBC

It was Ryan's birthday, so for the first time in a few months, he put on the show at The Studio HBC. It cost about 20,000 won and had several bands. Sort of the good old days.

20240323


More Graffiti

I noticed this tag seemed to have more content to it than last time I'd seen it. I can't fully be sure yet, but I think this dude has kept adding more graffiti even after being arrested. I could be wrong, and am trying to figure it out; possibly there is another picture somewhere on this site that verifies or disproves.

20240322


Laura's Exhibition at Eulji Space

Laura who I've met in a number of instances is having an art exhibition at Eulji Space, which happens to be the same place I'm having a film festival this Saturday. Her event ends before that, so it's worth stopping by and seeing the place before we take it over, because we're not going to be big on decorations.

20240320


Haebangchon Lightning

After my previous look through the area, I decided to focus on one building that had been set on fire, seemingly to destroy paperwork.

The term "Jewish lightning" had been fresh on my mind thanks to the TV show The Bear, but anyway I thought I could rename it "Haebangchon Lightning" and escape any ugly associations.

20240320


Dog Meat Restaurant

I pass by this dog meat restaurant almost every day. It's been closed for about five years now, but...also it's been an abandonment for a while.

On my previous stop here, I found the front door open and I was able to walk in, but this time it was locked.

20240320


Around

These pictures are from various times throughout the day, and one picture the next day showing an obstacle that had stymied me on the way home the night before.

20240317


St. Patrick's Day at Craic House

Earlier in the day, we had stopped by Craic House for lunch, only to find that they were way too busy due to the holiday. But I ended up coming back after the first edition deadline when it was way more crowded, when the Old-Time Jam Band was playing.

20240317


Angry Man's Dong

I met up with some of the Korean urban explorers to wander through Hannam New Town. As I had expected, it is a little early to do much real exploring in this area. Of course, it's still worthwhile going through the area and learning about it before it becomes evicted.

20240316


St. Patrick's Day

I went to D-Cube at Sindorim Station for the St. Patrick's Day party that was held there a day ahead of the actual holiday.

After attending last year, I wanted to make a bigger deal out of this year's celebration, which included writing an article that came out more than a week earlier.

This time, I saw Ancestrul Rust (a folkier version of Incestrul Lust), as well as the EUSA brass band, and the two bands Honey Jam Sam and Boss Hagwon. I also ran into a lot of interesting people.


More St. Patrick's Day

I had to split this up into two galleries.

For this one, you can mostly just see Boss Hagwon, as well as the results of the raffle.

I'd seen Boss Hagwon at least once before, at the final(?) HBC Fest in fall 2022, and they were a lot better and more serious than I expected from that name.


St. Patrick's Day Night

After the daytime events, I rushed over to work so I could put together this article, and then once I was done with that, I went over to HBC to see how the afterparty was going there.

It was the busiest I'd ever seen Phillies, even though the two bands I saw had played earlier in the day.


The Shark Bite

The toilet seat at the CU is still broken, after months.

I'm investigating how easy it would be to remove and replace, but for mischief rather than charity.

20240314


HBC

A friend was looking for people to walk through neighbourhodos and document it, so I decided to do that with HBC. I had a feeling it would lead to some pretty bizarre places, though I wasn't expecting anything to surprise me. But there were surprises.

20240313


Liminal Severance

I had some time to kill at the hospital, so I decided the most appropriate thing to do would be to look closer at some of the weirder liminal spaces ther. Of course there's the one at the bottom of the pit, but I found another that looks sort of like a board game. These places appear to be inaccessible to the general public. I'm tempted to accidentally drop something down there sometime and ask for help retrieving it, just so I can see if people can enter.

20240310


Ant Village

The first stop on today's journey was at the top of the Ant Village. This is one of Seoul's remaining moon villages (and the one I think will be the last one standing, unless you acknowledge HBC's eligibility in the race).

It seems to have reached an equilibrium, where several old shacks have been fixed up. It's much smaller than Baeksa Village, but not as in bad shape.


Pumpkin Village

A few weeks ago, Ryan and I had a brief exchange about this neighbourhood. I was thinking of a different one further northwest, but we both remembered the name "Pumpkin Village." Ryan thought it was probably gone, and my memory wasn't working as well. But when I drove by, it still had not completely disappeared.


Nokbeon

I drove around Nokbeon, specifically in an area where about eight years ago I was accosted by a security guard while driving through making a helmet cam video. I should put that online soon. The temple at the top of the hill is redeveloped into something nicer, and all the housing downhill is now highrises for the wealthy.

As I drove by, I noticed some guy walk up to this glass gate, put in a code or tap a card or whatever, and enter. It's the exact same security to get into a regular wealthy people's apartment. Except here, obviously, it's just a gate surrounded by a pretty flimsy fence that would take me at most five seconds to breach.

But anyway, if it makes rich people complacent...


Drive

For a large portion of this journey, I didn't take that many pictures.

I went by one abandoned neighbourhood and found it swimming with cops, so I played cautious and left quickly. Later I saw a building blanketed at a somewhat prominent intersection but couldn't find a way to get really deep into it.


Abandoned Apartment

Last stop was this new town area on the west side of the city. This one old apartment building was in very bad shape. On my last visit, I think there were still residents, but this time I doubt anyone was left.

While I was around the area, I ran into a few younger people. At one point, I noticed one of them had a controller in her hands, and I looked up in time to see her drone coming down. I asked what kind of drone it was, but they didn't understand me and instead told me they were location scouts.

20240309


Lecture Materials

While preparing for my upcoming RAS lecture, I took these two photos of materials related to my first photo exhibition, way back in 2009 before I cut off this site's archives.

20240309


Hair of the Dog

A late night at Hair of the Dog.

20240312


[RAS Korea] Lecture: Korea's developing urban exploration community

DATE: Tuesday. March 12, 2024. 7:30PM (Seoul)
VENUE: Fifth floor (Conference Room) of FAST FIVE Tower (Namdaemun-ro 9-gil 24, Jung-gu, Seoul)
ADMISSION (Online & In-person): Free for Members; W10,000 for Non-members; W5,000 for Non-member students (Student ID requested)

Secret places all across South Korea are being exposed at an increasing speed by urban explorers. These secretive adventurers visit forgotten and forbidden places, including abandoned buildings, urban renewal zones, underground spaces including buried streams and train tunnels, and high-up places such as rooftops and construction cranes. They use passive, nondestructive means to gain access, slipping in and out without being detected, and documenting what they find through various media.

Through the lens of one explorer who has been active for almost 20 years, we will review the history of urban exploration in Korea, including the development of the local community -- or communities -- as well as various issues encountered. Expect lots of wild stories and bizarre photos.

BIO: Jon Dunbar moved to Korea in December 2003 and began urban exploring in March 2005. He curates a database that contains over 700 past and present urban exploration locations across Korea. As well as working at The Korea Times, he also is general editor of Transactions, the journal of Royal Asiatic Society Korea. He founded the DoTam Film Festival which will screen short films related to Korean urban exploration on April 6 at Eulji Space.

VENUE: Online Zoom & In-person

In-Person: Fifth floor (Conference Room) of FAST FIVE Tower, Namdaemun-ro 9-gil 24, Jung-gu, Seoul (a short walk from Exit 1 of Euljiro-1-ga Station on Line 2) *No RSVP required.

20240303


Bunker

The Bunker, as I used to call it, a secondary newsroom where I worked for a few months (half a year?) has been torn down. And now signs on the hoarding that this will be my future worksite once again, at least if I make it that long.

20240229


Broke Tattoos

It's been a long time since anyone wanted a Broke tattoo (almost seven years ago, back when Trash was working out of SHARP Ink), but now all of a sudden I got two people interested in getting tattoos subsidised by me.

Ryan upon leaving Korea decided to get a whole bunch of highly spiritual neck tattoos, and then he figured he might as well get one of Broke in Korea to remember, I dunno, his time in Korea or whatever.

And Coetzer also wanted a Broke tattoo, which he revealed was his first in almost a decade. Unbeknownst to me, he and Trash collaborated to get him a second tattoo, which is so crude and disrespectful I won't even write out what it says.

Broke tattoos are advertised in issues of Broke in Korea. I currently offer 50,000 won subsidies to any tattoos of the logo (designed in 2005 by Paul), but I'm going to raise that offer soon just to spite Coetzer. The tattoos should be done by Trash at Rebellion Ink to be eligible for the subsidy.

By the way, speaking of Trash, she and I appeared in the latest iGoBart video about Hongdae.

20240228


Roof

I was visited by a new friend from the Singapore scene, so I invited him up to the work rooftop.

While up there, I paid attention to some dark patches in newly cleared land by the train tracks, which might show traces of water pathways underneath the surface.

20240227


RAS After Dark

We had a lecture by Cybele, who I had met at an RAS tour by Robert Fouser last year. Cybele is the owner of Ureuk World Music House way out in the countryside of Chungju. A few months after that first meeting, Bereket pitched an article on the house, and I eagerly agreed, to be honest glad that he would make the trip all the way out there to see it in person himself.

The article was completed last fall, but the house was closed until warmer weather, so we delayed it. When I heard she was doing the next lecture, I jumped to get it published.

20240226


Roof

Another look at that weird office that's open late at night across the alley from me. I'm going to turn off the light inside my apartment right now, because they could potentially see me inside from their roof.

20240226


Rear Beef, Rear Burgers

I noticed on Kakao Maps there was a new burger place I'd never heard of before not far from work. It turned out to be...OK, but there was one sign in front (not the back) that was itself worth the price of going there.

20240225


The Hechyeomoyeo

Before Lunar New Year, Bereket pitched me on an article about an art exhibition featuring over 190 artists. It was just one of those things where I thought "What the hell? Sure," and let him write whatever.

Near the end of its run, I noticed multiple friends talking about its closing party, so I decided to show up for that. The final day of the exhibition featured an outdoor market-type event, and I saw a surprisingly high number of various friends who I didn't know knew each other as well.

The basement exhibition space was filled floor to ceiling with all sorts of art, almost all of it notably good. I didn't take pictures inside though, only a few outdoors.

20240224


Club SHARP

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


Spiky Brats

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

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

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


18Fevers

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

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


Pogo Attack

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

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


Rux

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

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


Stoned

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


War Lovers

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

20240223


Skunk Sindang

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

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

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

20240209


Temples

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

20240222


Snow

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

20240220


Itaewon Memorial

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

20240217


New Monorail

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

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

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

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

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


Majang Market

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

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


Abandoned Electricity Site

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

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


Subway and Roof

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

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


Aqua Duck Pizza

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

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


Skunk Sindang

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

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

20240216


Office Next Door

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

20240216


Itaewon

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

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


    Teen Host

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

    20240211


    Son of the Host

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

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

    20240211


    Dog

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

    20240210


    Return to the Joseon Door

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

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

    20240209


    Tunnel Construction

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

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

    20240207


    Roof

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

    20240206


    Tom's Pizza

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

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

    20240205


    Rabbithole

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

    20240204


    The Vervs

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

    20240203


    Casa JiHoon

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

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

    20240202


    Thunderhorse

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

    20240202


    Tim Hortons III

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

    20240201


    Witch Gimbap

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

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

    20240131


    Itaewon Memorial

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

    20240128


    More Soap

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

    20240128


    Old-Time Jam

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

    20240128


    Bulgasari

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

    20240128


    Hanok

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

    20240128


    Hanokers

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

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

    20240128


    Hongdae

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

    20240126


    Buildings

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

    20240124


    Tax Office

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

    20240124


    KOTE

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

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

    20240123


    Tom's Pizza

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

    20240123


    Soap Soap

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

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

    20240120


    Old-Time Jam

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

    20240120


    Buster

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

    20240119


    Skippers

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

    20240119


    Suit Fitting

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

    20240118


    Buster

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

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

    20240117


    Abandoned Restaurant

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

    20240116


    RAS Korea Lecture

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

    20240115


    Music Collection

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

    20240113


    Club Victim Show

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

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

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

    20240113


    Hongdae

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

    20240113


    Crane

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

    20240112


    Hilton Tailor

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

    20240111


    Millie

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

    20240111


    Itaewon Memorial

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

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

    20240110


    Tim Hortons

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

    20240107


    Cold

    Riding around in the cold on the way to work.

    20240106


    Snow

    It was a snowy day.

    20240106


    Someone's Birthday

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

    20240106


    The Soiree and Liquid Arts Network's Liquid Screens

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

    20240106


    Gangnam Apartment Remodeling

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

    It was dark and I mostly stayed outside.

    20240105


    Morgan and Leah's Birthday

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

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

    20240105


    Chris

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

    20240104


    FastFive

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

    2023 Phone Photos


    Smartphone Pictures 1

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

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


    Smartphone Pictures 2

    Part 2 seems to be getting more serious.

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


    Smartphone Pictures 3

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

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


    Smartphone Pictures 4

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

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


    Smartphone Pictures 5

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

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

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    Copyright Daehanmindecline 2021