BROKE PUBLISHNG


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!


5 May 2022


Home

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

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

1 May 2022


Seoul Station

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

1 May 2022


International Trespassers' Day

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

30 April 2022


Peter's Jesa

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

27 April 2022


Bird

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

25 April 2022


Demolition

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

24 April 2022


Yongsan Electronics Market

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

24 April 2022


Sadang Area

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

24 April 2022


Yongsan History Museum

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

24 April 2022


Banpo

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

23 April 2022


Watch Market

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

23 April 2022


Nogari Alley

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

23 April 2022


Junghakcheon

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

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

22 April 2022


Hardcore show at Studio HBC

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

22 April 2022


Scooters

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

21 April 2022


Rooftop View

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

19 April 2022


Rooftop View

Oh look, I still have a bowling ball!

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

12 April 2022


Construction Progress

Nothing like trucks on stilts.

12 April 2022


Demolition

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

10 April 2022


Homeward Bound

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

10 April 2022


Boksuni's Shelter

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

I wrote this article about the situation.

10 April 2022


Ugakro Cultural Village

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

Except for one building...

10 April 2022


Baedari

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

10 April 2022


Songhyeon Tunnel

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

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

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

10 April 2022


To Incheon

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

9 April 2022


Busy Weekend in HBC/Gyeongnidan

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

9 April 2022


Y-Valley

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

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

8 April 2022


Burger Place

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

8 April 2022


K-Cop Museum

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

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

8 April 2022


Demolition

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

4 April 2022


BDBD

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

3 April 2022


Demolition Progress

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

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

1 April 2022


Punk on Fire

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

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

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

1 April 2022



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

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

30 March 2022


Buster's Den

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

29 March 2022


Bill Cosby?

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

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

29 March 2022


Hanok Whale

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

28 March 2022


Abandoned Convenience Store

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

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

27 March 2022


Huam-dong Rooftop

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

26 March 2022


Roof

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

25 March 2022


Fill U

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

25 March 2022


Abandoned Neighbourhood

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

23 March 2022


Shuttle

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

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

22 March 2022


Yongsan Presidential Palace

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

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

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

20 March 2022


Visit

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

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

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

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

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

19 March 2022


Hongdae Streets

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

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

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

18 March 2022


Salvation Army Bridge Corps

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

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

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

15 March 2022


Turn Turn Turn

Welp, Turn is gone.

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

Demolition


Demolition

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

13 March 2022


Abandoned Hanok

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

13 March 2022


Haechi Hunting Day 3

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

12 March 2022


GIOK at Studio HBC

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

12 March 2022


Abandoned Hanok

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

12 March 2022


Donuimun Museum Village

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

12 March 2022


Northeastern Seoul

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

12 March 2022


Haechi Hunting Day 2

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

11 March 2022


Sowol-gil

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

11 March 2022


Donuimun Museum Village

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

11 March 2022


KOTE

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

11 March 2022


Haechi Hunting Day 1

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

9 March 2022


Election Day

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

7 March 2022


Demolition

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

5 March 2022


Namsan Sool Company

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

Unfortunately I got no pictures of the bar itself.

5 March 2022


Socially Distanced Seokjeon Daeje

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

4 March 2022


Lenses

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

3 March 2022


Where's Waldo Pizza Burger

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

2 March 2022


Black Hawk Village

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

1 March 2022


Election

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

28 February 2022


Ukraine Flag

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

26 February 2022


Itaewon

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

26 February 2022


Seongsu Punk Show

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

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

25 February 2022


HBC

At night I showed up in HBC.

25 February 2022


KOTE

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

25 February 2022


Euljiro

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

25 February 2022


Demolition Site

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

24 February 2022


KOTE

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

23 February 2022


Grand Central

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

22 February 2022


Turn

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

19 February 2022


Studio HBC Show

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

19 February 2022


Party at Turn

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

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

17 February 2022


Neo-Pimatgol

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

17 February 2022


Hongdae

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

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

16 February 2022


Turn Turn Turn

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

13 February 2022


Hooker Hill

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

12 February 2022


Watch Market

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

12 February 2022


Banpo Jugong 1

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

12 February 2022


Funny Gym

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

11 February 2022


Watch Market

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

8 February 2022


HBC

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

8 February 2022


Seoul Station

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

7 February 2022


Valentine's Day

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

7 February 2022


Danginri Line

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

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

6 February 2022


Frosted Flakes Pizza Gratin

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

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

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

31 January 2022


Koa Building

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

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

31 January 2022


Watch Market Maps

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

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

30 January 2022


Caped Explorers

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

30 January 2022


Yeongdeungpo Market

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

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

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

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

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

29 January 2022


Jeongneunggol

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

29 January 2022


The Best Little Whorehouse in Miari Texas

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

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

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

25 January 2022


Itaewon Tunnel

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

23 January 2022


Uhee Ska

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

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

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

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

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

22 January 2022


The Mandus

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

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

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

22 January 2022


Pogo Attack

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

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

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

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

21 January 2022


KOTE

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

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

21 January 2022


Untitled Void

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

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

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

21 January 2022


Jongno-gu Demolition

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

20 January 2022


Neo-Pimatgol

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

19 January 2022


Rooftopping in Snow

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

19 January 2022


Watch Market

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

19 January 2022


Buster

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

18 January 2022


Watch Market

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

16 January 2022


Seongnam and Back Again

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

15 January 2022


Namdaemun

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

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

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


Myeongdong

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

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


Gwangjang Market

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

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


Watch Market

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

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


Avenue of Youth

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

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

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

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


Insadong

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

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


Nagwon-dong Street Food Tents

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

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


HBC

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

14 January 2022


Jabroni and Vanmal at Studio HBC

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

13 January 2022


Romain

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

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

10 January 2022


More Jeong-dong

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

10 January 2022


Pink Garbage Wolf

I met a pink garbage wolf outside my building.

8 January 2022


KOTE

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


Seonwonjeonteo

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


Jeong-dong

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.

2021


Smartphone Pictures 1

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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