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

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

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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!

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.

19 December 2021

Christmas Underground

We went back to The Host Tunnel for Christmas, a week before the actual day this year. This time we had some new gadgets: Ryan and Sounion brought a projector that created stars on the ceiling, and I brought a video projector that played UE Kingz videos on the wall, while Coetzer brought the audio equipment.

18 December 2021

Studio HBC

Studio HBC was having a show with 18 Fevers, Beacon, and a new hardcore band called Get to the Point, so I decided to give that a try. I brought along copies of the latest issue of Broke, but not enough and ran out very quickly.

17 December 2021

The 1234-Dah!

The 1234-Dah! was having a Christmas show at Channel1969, and on consideration of the fact they have a history of releasing Christmas music, I made a point of going.

17 December 2021

Shopping in Yongsan

Coetzer and I went to Yongsan to shop for electronics. We ended up with a digital projector, a portable power supply, and a very long extension cord. What could we possibly be up to?

After, we went to The Boiler's BBQ, a restaurant specialising in ribs, burgers, and craft beer in a very large basement space, under where we'd been shopping. I'd previously spotted it back in September.

16 December 2021


There was a short film screening at KOTE, with several of the participating members screening their footage. Some was relevant to KOTE's struggle, and others were not, including firsthand footage of refugees in Turkey, a fictional story of a boy and an octopus, and some more experimental stuff. Joseph Juhn, who was absent, contributed this footage showing a pretty thorough tour of the whole KOTE complex led by Julie Ahn, one of the two owners.

15 December 2021


The new mayor likes redevelopment, which is good for urban exploration. He visited a charming old neighbourhood in Sillim recently and I decided to see it for myself. The area is sort of like a valley off the side of a road. The lowlands have old houses, many of which are now used by shamans, and there's a long market running on the other side of the street. Past that, the slope picks up, and the higher you go, the newer and wealthier the housing gets, sort of the opposite of what had originally occurred in Seoul's development. It's been a while since I've gone to an area and liked it as much as this.

15 December 2021

Bride of The Host

I stumbled across a newspaper clipping from 1996 about a man who fell down an open manhole and was trapped underground for nine days. Two key facts stood out to me: he fell six meters, and it was in Banpo. That meant it could only have been Banpocheon, or as I've named it, "Bride of The Host." I'd been spending time in the area for all the apartment remodeling, and had come up right next to the stream without paying it any attention.

Incidentally, this 1981 picture also shows a little bit of the stream, back when it had concrete banks, and you can see it going under an overpass. Apparently it used to be pretty unpleasant and the apartment residents hated it, complaining about the odours. It had also been known in Korean as Seoritgae, and there had been a plan to name a nearby Line 9 subway station Seoritgae Station, but Banpo residents hated the idea.

15 December 2021

Second Place Lava

I visited this area quite a while ago, and that may not have been my first time. Now all the good parts are fenced off, and there are still people living in all the buildings remaining. But now it seems like the area next door is undergoing redevelopment. I climbed onto a few roofs for a better look.

15 December 2021

Day Off

I had Wednesday off, so I decided to ride around the south side of the city. These first few pictures are in the area around Yeongdeungpo Tax Office.

11 December 2021


I went out for a quick ride to the apartment complex, curious to see the other section I hadn't visited yet. It seems like maybe it has been emptied out a little earlier than the others, but otherwise is unremarkable. There were security guards in shacks all over the place, but they didn't seem to mind anyone wandering around the streets.

Also, I will turn this anti-voice-phishing hoarding image into a meme. Here's a partial template.

7 December 2021

Moon Over HBC

I went over to Southside Parlor after work to meet a friend, and took a few pictures along the way. If your pet ever gets dirty at midnight, now you know where to go.

Also, are you a classical music fan? Then have I got the underpass for you! What better way to convert a space to highbrow than by piping in centuries-old European music?

Related literature on the topic suggests that playing classical music in public spaces reduces crime by having a calming effect. But then why not mix in jazz, or new age, or chill electronic, or city pop? This article is the first one I could find that says the quiet part loud: "it is for the old, white, wealthy, and 'uncool.'" So, play classical music, and you'll be chasing out the undesireables: younger, darker, poorer, and cool. It's actually pretty fucking lame, just a way of fostering a classy atmosphere and pushing unwanted elements elsewhere.

6 December 2021

Jesus Vampire

They took the fence down from around the redevelopment area in Yeongcheon, so I stopped at the edge and took a picture. Looks like they only took down the fence to put up a new one.

Also, I saw a Jesus vampire near my work, putting on his big crazy sign. Some other guy came over and looked like he was going to shake his hand, but they just stood in silence, heads bowed, hands held. It looked a little gay.

5 December 2021


Last stop was to find Noryangjin New Town, which is a very large area, and I didn't have enough time to see the parts that were worth seeing before the light faded. So I hopped up on a familiar roof for a view of the area.

Of note, I overlooked Noryangjin Station, where the old market has been removed and already replaced with sports fields. Meanwhile, the overpass is still occupied by evictees.

5 December 2021


I finally made it to the next stop, which was a pretty typical abandoned neighbourhood. Daylight was dying, so I didn't stick around long. It could be a pretty interesting area though.

5 December 2021


I had a list of three or four places to stop by on this day. First I went to that riverside apartment and climbed up just enough to see the lighting of the other side of the river still wouldn't be that flattering. Then on my way to stop 2, I drove through Banpo area and came across a massive apartment complex being cleared out to make way for "remodeling." That kept me occupied for the rest of the daylight period just about.

4 December 2021

World Domination

I went to the release show for World Domination 3, where we sat in place and watched bands. The experience was epitomised by Jeff's mask which kept riding up his face while he played and pissing him off.

Afterwards, we all went to a barbecue restaurant, where we took our masks off and had a very communal meal. But live music wasn't playing, so we were safe.

27 November 2021

Pink Hour

I went back to the abandoned apartment south of the river for another look at the Lotte Castle covered with dicks, as well as the river view. Unfortunately, the lighting wasn't quite right to photograph the north side of the river, but I otherwise spent a lot of time getting all the other pictures I'd planned on.

24 November 2021

Day Off

I'm burning off days off before they expire at the end of the year, and today the only real goal I had was to return to KOTE. But I went a fancy way, through the construction site.

The place looks different even from my last visit, as the interior is sealed up better for heat retention, and there are multiple hammocks hanging. Also they now have a foosball table somehow, and big indoor space heaters. Apparently a court has ruled that the demolition process must stay frozen until some further point, so that means this place has to stay in its current condition, more or less, for the time being, and it's probably somewhat likely that the demolishers will take any actions for the time being.

21 November 2021

Hippytokki Show

There was a show at Hippytokki with a bunch of bands I wanted to see. Actually, there were two shows at Hippytokki, one starting at 4 and another starting at 7. My initial band was only to stay for the first show, but then I found out it was a seated show so I decided to leave after the first band. But I went in search of takeout food and came back after one band, and ended up sticking around for the rest of the show. I hate sitting at shows, and this was an excellent collection of bands I really don't want to see while seated.

SBW Riders played their first show, and when I found that out, I did a last-minute interview with them for Broke 29, which I managed to release at the show. They were a very fun band, and Bongsu's perfect for a pogo punk band frontman.

20 November 2021

HBC and Itaewon

I went over to HBC for some day drinking, and ended up at a rally for the Transgender Day of Remembrance in Itaewon, before coming back to spend the rest of the night hanging out with an assortment of HBC characters.

19 November 2021

Return to KOTE

I went back to KOTE on Friday night, this time not for any special events, just to see what was going on. The sit-in protest was still going strong, and while the hired goons on the side of anti-demolition were present, the other camp had disappeared. Which was unsettling. Apparently the day before, one of the hired goons had put on an act like he was going to hang himself as a result of the foreigners aiding the protest, and he wrapped yellow tape around his neck but the police were called as a result of his performance.

I've learned a lot from seeing this conflict up close, and it seems within their reach that they could win in this conflict, although I wouldn't count the other side out just yet.

16 November 2021

"Happy Holidays"

We've entered that season where it's after Halloween and before Christmas, and so you can see decorations for both holidays at the same time.

16 November 2021

RAS Business and Culture Club

So far, the Business and Culture Club has been the canary in the RAS Korea coal mine. Our meetings are smaller due to the limitations of only being for the lunch hour, in central Seoul, and at typically outside locations.

As restrictions loosened, I decided to put together a quick tour, starting from Jongno 3ga Station and going through the jewelry market, down a "pimatgol" alley, underneath Sewoon Sangga into the watch market, and then up onto the megastructure's plaza where we got a good look (and whiff) of the extension of the plaza currently under construction, which will unify all four buildings on a kilometer-long third-floor walkway.

I previously led similar tours here in 2018 and 2016, each time the area has changed so much.

This time, we got about a dozen people, a very diverse group including some people whose expertise and experience towers over my own.

I advertised this event as examining the Dasi Sewoon regeneration project, which we did, while also walking through the watch market I've been focused on lately, but to me, it ended up being the area on the other side of the megastructure, toward Jongno 3ga Station where there was a "pimatgol" alley.

I've wondered before whether Pimatgol is the place name of the alley on the north side of Jongno, that once stretched from west to east gate, but according to a tourist sign I've seen (words to die by), "pimatgol" (which I will denote by lowercase in this usage) refers to all small alleys running parallel to major Joseon-era thoroughfares providing a shortcut for commoners. I'm not totally convinced this is real, although also haven't been able to dismiss the claim outright. What about other walled cities? Were there ever horse-avoiding alleys there? Ultimately, this other pimatgol does seem to have the same function today as the main Pimatgol had served in the modern age.

So when I led a tour down this alley, passing a grilled mackerel restaurant (just like used to be in "the" Pimatgol), I made a huge mental note to go back there. After the tour ended, which I'm proud to say happened early around 12:40, we headed back there and six of us had a pleasant lunch of grilled fish. It felt just the same as being in "the" Pimatgol based on my memories of a decade ago.

Unfortunately, all my pictures make it look like a miserable time, but I think everyone there for the fish would say they were just intellectually stimulated.

13 November 2021

I Got Corona at a Show

A friend offered to buy me a drink for my birthday, and when I looked at the menu, I made her buy me a Corona. So everyone must know, Sarah gave me Corona. When I had a sip, I was disappointed to find it had no flavour at all. But rather than the disease taking away my sense of taste, it just turned out it's a watery-flavoured beer in general.

I had never heard of any of the three bands playing, but all were amazing. And the venue was pretty cool too. The show overall cost a lot more than shows should cost, but these days we can't really be picky, and it was still worth it.

12 November 2021

KOTE Sit-in Protest

After hearing about the sit-in happening at KOTE in Insadong, I went to have a look. There was a jazz band playing this night, and I also had a chance to meet some of the participants involved, which included the Korean running the place, several foreign artist friends helping her out by staying at the place in shifts, and the hired goons opposing them. Four of the hired goons had a tent set up in the space, and were monitoring the activities in the room. At one point, they started filming us, and we started filming them, and both sides wanted the other to make a mistake. It was certainly active. I'll be back there soon enough.

12 November 2021

Ginkgo Tree

Right before I took this picture, the tree shook and it shed a lot of yellow leaves. I was at Adnan Kebab, the Iraqi kebab place in Namdaemun.

9 November 2021

Lotte Castle Dicks

One of my columnists needed help getting a real picture of giant dicks on the side of an apartment complex in Gangnam, so I decided to set out to find it. Then I went outside and it was raining, so I decided not to. But I started driving to work, and decided the rain wasn't that bad, so I risked it.

Unfortunately, the optimal location for photographing this was closed. Fortunately, that's because it was abandoned.

Anyway, here's the article. Looks like they didn't even credit me.

7 November 2021

Pumpkin Village

I went back to a site I visited in August. Not much has changed.

6 November 2021

RAS After Dark

After the book sale, we began a meeting of RAS After Dark, which is the RAS branch that lurks in the shadows after RAS Korea events. Matt and I wandered over to the Sewoon 4 area, and then we went drinking on Sewoon Sangga (to the same bar I spent my birthday last year, also with Matt), before heading over to Euljiro Nogari Alley where the party never stops (until about midnight these days).

6 November 2021

RAS Korea Book Sale

There was a book sale, hoping to clear out decades of old inventory, especially Transactions of which I'm the general editor. From what I'm aware, two individuals probably bought more books than everyone else combined, which is worth of praise (but not on a site called Daehanmindecline).

Peter and Diana Underwood, who have been taking care of Peter Bartholomew's estate following his death earlier this year, came by with a collection of maps found at his Hanok. The maps are neat to look at, all reproduced in 1990, and are mostly of Seoul and Tongyeong. The Seoul ones are probably all pretty commonplace, although they're interesting to see in person (less so through my poor man's scans if I were to share them here).

And there was a lot of attention given to Mr Shim's cart, which has been part of RAS Korea longer than I've been alive.

5 November 2021


My last outdoor stop of the day was Sungkyunkwan, a place I haven't visited in a while. I've always said this is Seoul's best tourist destination that nobody knows, but after this visit, I might have to rethink that. Per square meter, it was certainly much more crowded than any part of the palace museum and Gyeongbokgung I saw earlier in the day.

5 November 2021

Sewoon 4

After two previous visits at night, I wanted to see the old watch market in the daytime. It was actually a little creepier to me, and also a little harder to photograph. But still worth seeing.

5 November 2021


On my way to the palace museum, I noticed windows in the construction hoarding around the Uijeongbu site. So after the museum, I stopped by to see what was visible through those windows. Not that much.

5 November 2021

Eat Your Heart Out, Gutenberg

As soon as I read this article, I went to the National Palace Museum to see some of the oldest metal printing tools known to still exist. The oldest date to 1434; in comparison, Gutenberg came out with his printing press in 1440 or sometime later that decade. This exhibit also showed the oldest known printing blocks bearing Hangeul characters, dating to 1465.

And they were all pulled out of a pit earlier this year when a portion of Insadong was demolished. After the museum, I went to Insadong to see the site for myself. It looks like it's winding down, but still an active archaeological site.

4 November 2021

Dr Drain

For the last few months, I've been in the process of attempting to interview the UE Kingz.

Then this ad appeared in front of my office for Dr Drain's new music video, except they misspelled it as "Dr Brain" so I fixed it.

30 October 2021

Halloween at Sewoon Sangga

I went back to Sewoon Sangga to watch videos with friends, eat fried chicken, and wander through the labyrinth of the watch market set to face demolition. It was one of the more fun nights I've had in a while.

30 October 2021


Well I went to Hongdae briefly, during which time I visited another venue. There had been (probably exaggerated) reports of crackdowns in areas where foreigners gather, with threats that the maximum punishment for violating social distancing rules was deportation. Never mind that we were two days away from the government easing the rules as part of its "With Corona" plan. But when "With Corona" results in an explosion of infections, the government will be able to pass the blame to those foreigners who gathered for Halloween the weekend before.

30 October 2021

Sewoon Overpass

On the way across town, I stopped by Sewoon Sangga to have a look at the overpasses they're building. One is closer to completion than the other. Both of them are going to lead from building 2 to building 4, skipping the third building entirely. It seems like one great big wasted opportunity.

Also, behind me, the plaza was decorated with tons of lights and filled with young people having a good time. Forget Hongdae.

30 October 2021

Dimz's Jokbal Banquet

Coetzer reported seeing an abandoned neighbourhood in eastern Seoul recently, but it was surrounded by a tall fence and most of the buildings were knocked down. I had a look, and found that there was still enough left that it was worth seeing in person.

30 October 2021


My day started slow, and I went to Namdaemun to do some shopping. While there, I spotted this improvised concrete-and-plastic-crate step that someone had made in the street.

29 October 2021

Sewoon Sangga

I went to Sewoon Sangga, where a temporary stage has been set up as part of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, and soundless videos are playing 24 hours a day, including a few by a friend. When I pulled up on the sidewalk to park, I discovered I was in front of a large block of recently abandoned buildings. A cruel reminder that urban regeneration projects don't let economic losers stick around to enjoy the benefits once prices start rising.

Plans were made to come back here on the weekend for a Halloween party.

29 October 2021


A friend had posted about some old buildings in Jongno that were declared D-class and curtained off, with uncertainty whether they will be restored or torn down. I looked and didn't stay that long.

29 October 2021

Roh Tae-woo's Memorial

Everyone's busy commemorating Roh Tae-woo because he just died, although his victims were branded as communist insurgents for decades.

But he should be praised for restoring Korean democracy, people say. Why did he have to restore it? Who took it away in the first place? Oh yeah, him aiding Chun. So why bother celebrating that?

Is there room in a democracy to set aside the unforgivable acts of treason someone committed, in order to acknowledge their finer points? I mean, I guess you could say, if you overlook Woo Bum-kon's last day on the job, he was a pretty good cop, so why fixate on that one time he murdered 56 people?

I'm at peace with cremating him and then selling "Roh Tae-woo Sand" for cats to shit in.


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