Jea Geabal Project
I visited a small gallery space in Mangwon-dong, where a group of artists, including videographers, musicians, and poets, have collaborated on the Jea Geabal Project.
One was the music duo Videorose, the singer of which used to sing for Paryumchiakdan about a decade earlier. Which is odd, because according to this K-pop site, "her age is around 22 years old as of 2021." For curiosity's sake, here's her in 2012 and in 2011.
9 October 2021
I'd been wondering for the last few years about LGBT representation in the Korean punk scene. Setting aside foreigners for the time being, I've never heard of a single sexual minority in any Korean punk band. Sure there are those who are openly allies, and a few where I'm not entirely sure, and we have no idea how many are living discreetly. The Korean punk scene doesn't really have much of a track record of dealing with sexual minority punks.
It turns out there's a new punk band, and two of its four members are "queer" (their word), while another is a robot and the fourth is a bear. They decided to be open about it, so I'm in the process of interviewing them. But considering the weight of this, I decided I needed to meet them all in person. So I showed up at Hippytokki where they were practicing, and then followed three of the members to a restaurant after (where we ran into Halajae), and then followed two members further to Tom's Pizza (where I was converted to lemon pepper chicken wings).
Visiting Hippytokki was something I'd been wanting to do as well. The place is one of the better run venues these days, and there are a lot of good things to say about it. One is that it has a pretty good fire exit, and another is that they take anti-virus measures very seriously. I was just there for a practice with only the four of them and the owner present, and even for that they took all the necessary precautions, making me sign in and setting up plastic screens in front of the (always-masked) singers' faces.
8 October 2021
It was raining lightly, but this was my Friday off and I had a lot of things to do. I'm working on the next Broke in Korea, and needed to stop by Kenektid X Bookstore in connection with that.
I also needed new shoes, and ended up with three new pairs for the high cost of 70,000 won in total.
And I finally fixed the motor in the aquarium fountain I have, which I believe I got from dumpster diving. The cats used to love it, but they haven't paid much attention to it this time.
4 October 2021
The area behind my office is being prepared, likely for demolition. I'm curious to see what will take its place, and whether we'll lose our view of Seosomun Park.
30 September 2021
On my way home after work, I noticed a lot of people sitting around out front of the Grand Central building, which I believe still isn't open except maybe one Starbucks. Was the intent to make it seem lively by encouraging people to sit around out front? Do people actually respond to that? Today it seemed so.
28 September 2021
On Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7:30pm Korea time, I gave an online RAS Korea lecture on live music venues, after doing an earlier one for Gwangju International Center's GIC Talk series. It was dramatic, disgusting, and harrowing, and I hope I do right by everyone concerned. I have also removed all pictures related to dead bodies and vomit.
Korea's live music community is nowhere near as large and healthy as it could be, leaving a surplus of talented bands unable to reach enough paying audiences. Many of the structural and systemic problems of the scene can be observed in the configuration and operations of the live music venues, which serve as the primary marketplace interface connecting performers with consumers. Especially as the COVID-19 pandemic insists on prolonging, threatening the safety and sustainability of live music, many in the scene have taken a good hard look at the problems it faces and possible solutions to fix it.
This talk will look at live music venues in Korea using historical data, human factor analysis, case studies, and alcohol-hazed memories. It will examine seemingly frivolous issues people don't want to think about when they're having a good time, such as fire safety, hygiene, integration troubles with the surrounding community and gentrification, zoning and legal issues, and music sustainability. It will explore why much of Korea's live music scene has been forced underground -- literally, into dingy basement venues.
26 September 2021
All Sunsets Matter
This wasn't a good sunset, but there were some interesting cloud formations anyway.
22 September 2021
The rest of Chuseok was rainy and miserable, at least after midnight, two days in a row. When there was more dryness, I went out to get another look at one of the tunnel entrances. Still wasn't ready to go down. This'll require longer-term surveillance.
21 September 2021
Seoul Jemul Portal
I retreated back to Yeouido where I had entered the portal before, and had a closer look at the entrance.
Ho Lee Chow was closed so I hit up Panda Express in IFC Mall.
21 September 2021
Ryan from Long Distance Runner posted about an abandoned neighbourhood not far from my tax office, so I initially headed out to visit this site. It was going to be the main stop of the day, but due to entering the portal, I hit it briefly on my way back. I know from his visits that there's a lot to see if one's willing to find some higher vantage points and slip behind the curtain, but I wasn't feeling it after a long run just to get food.
21 September 2021
Women's Safe Way Home
I decided to visit an abandoned neighbourhood down in Gwangmyeong. There's been more demolition since last time, but still a lot left standing. The most interesting thing I found was an abandoned "kids' school."
The UEie Awards 2020
I set out with a small list of sites to visit south of the river, with plans to hit them fast and then stop by the last remaining Ho Lee Chow on Yeouido for takeout.
But the king of the underworld had different plans for me, and when I attempted to exit Yeouido and saw a new underpass, I drove in. I expected it to take me under the Saetgang (the stream separating Yeouido from the mainland), but instead it curved to the right and went down deeper underground, apparently to a depth of 70 meters. All I could do was keep going straight, hoping it would surface before we made it all the way to Yeouido. Turns out it drops you off on the outskirts of town, 7.5 kilometers away from Yeouido. And scooters aren't permitted.
On the bright side, there was an abandoned building right next to the other end, so I took that as a good sign.
I had been preparing the UEie Awards, and was going to have an award ceremony in the tunnel, but ended up delaying it due to lack of some of the finalists. Also, I found the trophy for "LONGEST" which I guess means I'm the winner.
20 September 2021
Buildings by Work
The day after the Host Tunnel was a recovery day for me. Around 5 or 6, I ventured out, probably to get food, and stopped by those buildings behind my office building. I entered one, finding it gutted, and made my way up to the roof.
19 September 2021
The Host Goes to Hades
We decided to go to the Host Tunnel for the sake of doing something social, but due to social distancing rules, I only met up with two others. Meanwhile, there was also a group of four others walking in another part of the tunnel, and two more individuals in another part. We were able to yell at each other across a safe distance, but didn't get too close.
There were two historic firsts:
Someone brought sourdough bread, and this became the first time people actually ate down there. Not me though -- I don't mix draining and eating.
I hauled along some firewood, and extra copies of The Korea Times -- all the errors make it especially flammable -- and we had a campfire. There were initially concerns about smoke, that it would cloud the air, or possibly even rise up through the sewer grates and people on the road would call the fire department. But while the newspapers I used as kindling caused a lot of smoke -- the result of all the spelling errors -- once it was just wood burning, the smoke was at a minimum, and the smell of the fire gave the tunnel a much more pleasant aroma. Definitely worth doing again. For Christmas, will there be a weenie roast with the Host? Chestnuts roasting over an open sewer?
18 September 2021
The first thing I did for the Chuseok long weekend was scout out a bunch of subway construction sites. The results were promising.
On the way to the Gangnam Tunnel, I saw a large banner for the musical "Hades Town," which is about the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Anyway, the name happened to sum up my long weekend.
I went all the way down to the tracks level in the Gangnam Tunnel, confirming that the whole thing is electrified and there's nothing more to see there.
16 September 2021
This sunset was widely photographed and discussed on social media. People in other cities saw pretty well what I saw in central Seoul. It was one of the best of the year.
16 September 2021
Seoul Museum of Craft Art
I decided to see what the new Seoul Museum of Craft Art was like. I didn't get many pictures because I don't really see the point of taking pictures in a museum, and most of the exhibits were pretty dark anyway. It was interesting, and very extensive, but still seemed to have a lot of things missing I would have expected to see there. Maybe they're still putting together some exhibits.
10-11 September 2021
I went to Gwangju, and didn't go in any dingy basements, but I did go to one former nightclub that was more of a dank basement.
I was there to give a GIC Talk, which was good practice for my upcoming RAS Korea lecture (and presumably, someday, IASPM talk as originally planned).
Here's a mixed bag of sites around downtown that are facing major changes, piles of garbage, or just dogs.
4 September 2021
This was my last weekend before giving the first of my "Dingy Basements" talks, and I headed out hoping to look inside a venue or two in Hongdae. Didn't end up happening.
But first, I went down to Yangjae to visit ye olde Cargo Terminal, a site I'd written off years ago when they did something to the windows. Turns out they just boarded it up, waiting to turn it into something called Pie City. But the police searched City Hall, including Mayor 5mb's office.
2 September 2021
Burger King Fire
I was working at my desk when I heard sirens and saw black smoke billowing past my window. One night back in 2008, reporters in offices in this area would have looked out the window and seen Namdaemun on fire. This time, it turned out to be a small office building with a Burger King on the ground floor. The smoke seemed to be coming out a pipe on the roof, which is probably how it's supposed to work. As I watched, the smoke turned from black to white and the sirens all stopped at that moment. We had a deadline to meet, anyway, and it wasn't that newsworthy.
1 September 2021
Abandoned Office Buildings
I've been watching an empty lot behind my office for a couple years, but only recently I started to notice that the office buildings surrounding that site also seem to be unused suddenly. I had a look around, but didn't see a way inside any of the buildings. This is something that will be easy for me to keep an eye on, whatever happens. These pictures were taken on three dates, but I condensed everything into just this gallery.
1 September 2021
Every time I drive between Huam-dong and HBC taking this one route, I pass by one stretch of road with a few restaurants and catch the scent of very good burgers. I believe it's The 100, and so I finally decided to go there and try it for myself. And I really liked it, but I'm suspicious and don't trust my own judgement of food enough.
Also, the roof had a pretty good view. I've been to the Royal before, one or two doors down, but only at night.
30 August 2021
Across the Alley
Been a while since I made an upidate on this lot. A few days earlier than this picture was taken, a fence was put around it. Not looking forward to further developments, or to the status quo.
Daal Chef seems to be a restaurant that changes up its menu every once in a while, and I guess jerk chicken is just the latest thing. The chicken was actually pretty good, although I think it was missing a lot of other things you'd expect from Jamaican food, like sides. I think their chicken was better than Trenchtown's, but Trenchtown's menu offered so many more things. I wish I could compare it with Zion Boat from a few years ago, back when they used to serve just a jerk chicken leg which might be comparable. So it's probably a good idea to try it now before they switch the menus, and maybe hopefully keep them on Jamaican food a little longer.
Also, they had a friendly dog there. I got better pictures on my phone, so you'll have to wait until the end of the year when I post phone picture galleries on this site.
22 August 2021
New Bus Stop
For whatever reason, it was decided a bunch of bus stops would be updated. I thought they were working fine before, other than the fact there are about six bus stops in this street and it's hard to know which one has the buses you want. It turns out they tore out and replaced the central lane bus stop to upgrade it.
I more recently had a closer look, and the screens they used have poor resolution, making it pretty difficult to read any route information. This will also suck if the power goes out. Why are things being built to rely more on electricity?
21 August 2021
I went back to the Gangnam Tunnel, only to hear voices somewhere deeper inside. Chances are I've completely missed out on the opportunity of walking in a tunnel deep beneath Gangnam.
21 August 2021
Linus in HBC
I was going through HBC, and noticed that Linus' location there was opened and appearing to be under renovation. I was very curious, so I stuck my head in. It was mostly like I remembered.
While I was in the door (with no intention of entering), one of the owners of Phillies came by and explained that they were doing a test launch that night of a new collaboration between them and Linus, which would be focused more on fusion Korean barbecue. Looks like we have to keep waiting to find out more though.
21 August 2021
Just a couple quick pictures, showing the destroyed garden and a helpful cat reminding me to take medicine.
19 August 2021
I passed by these very old buildings while taking a new way to work. The alley around here always has elderly brigades, and any time I've driven by and slowed down I've been viewed with suspicion by elderly people. Not sure I'll ever have much of a chance to see these buildings any closer. Maybe I'll see what it's like during Chuseok.
17 August 2021
I tried to get to the roof of this building, but the best I could do was the rooftop garden where I could look out on the city through tinted glass.
Not that satisfying, but it's the best view I've had of Dongja-dong so far, and also I can see my home.
17 August 2021
I went back to Gangnam to crawl down a hole, two years after my last visit. Just like my recent visit to the Sillim Line, this stretch of train line is also well past my window of visiting.
16 August 2021
When I left the office, I drove to Itaewon for food, and because of the weird colours of the sky I had my camera out. On my way, I passed by a mildly uninteresting gutted building.
15 August 2021
Liberation from Protest Day
On Liberation Day this year, apparently a lot of protests were planned. It sounds like they were smaller than they could have been, and smaller than last year. Last year, Sarang Jeil Church famously held a big rally and a ton of people, including their very conservative leader, famously got COVID-19, leading to the "second wave" (and that title being taken away from the May 2020 Itaewon outbreak which rendered that outbreak a little speedbump).
The situation is worse this year, so there was more concern. I had to go in to work on my day off so one of my coworkers could get vaccinated, and all I saw was the fences.
14 August 2021
A couple years ago, I started scouting some subway tunnel excavations. At the time, it was all just dirt pits. But my health wasn't doing well, and subway construction infiltration became too much for me.
I'm doing better now, so I went back, but it appears I've missed out on a lot of fun. The tunnel is now formed, electrified, and covered with suicide doors. Maybe those doors are openable, but I'm not a fan of getting close to third rails, so I'm out. Time to look for younger tunnel excavations.
12 August 2021
I went to the bank, and outside there was a socially distanced protest: one live human flanked by two mannequins.
I've always had a soft spot for this restaurant. There's a Chinese buffet restaurant back in my hometown with the same name, and while I didn't like their food, I have fond memories of talking trash about it.
And in both cases, how do you say the name? How does the "oo" sound come out for both words? I think they have to be the same, like "Fooody Gooody" repeating the long "oo" of Foody, because the other way sounds like "Fuddy Guddy." And pronouncing it "Fooody Guddy" sounds terrible. A fun way to teach Chinese, and now Koreans, about how much English sucks.
Anyway, maybe I will explore this.
7 August 2021
While I fled, I passed by two sites that had raised minor curiosity in me previously. One was a mildly large plaza building, and another was a smaller area that seemed dedicated to guesthouses.
7 August 2021
I went back to this neighbourhood after an aborted attempt last week, in which I found the site totally closed off except for a front gate, with one worker sitting inside which convinced me to turn back. But the gate wasn't anything special, and that worker was gone after 5pm as I expected.
Oddly, I got a bit of a history lesson on this area when I was editing a Robert Neff article. When I asked where the streetcar stop near Empress Myeongseong's tomb was, he didn't have an answer. I had to look it up, and found that it was the land uphill of this site. Not that there was any crossover at all, but it made me look on the location in a new light.
7 August 2021
As I was driving down, I saw an apartment complex with a protest banner on it. I still can't fully understand what they're protesting, but I don't really care.
Anyway, I drove along the length of the line, revealing that some construction sites have barely broken ground while others are probably more extensive. And I learned a bit more about some of the useful roads in northeastern Seoul which will definitely help cut down my travel times in the future.
I made the latest update to the K-Iceberg, adding 15 new entries. When will it stop?
1 August 2021
I visited three sites of demolition on Sunday while the rain let up, including one on my roof. No Juges were harmed in the making of these pictures.
Also, someone must have typed "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmn" in the HTML code when I wasn't looking. Must've been because of the American Gentleman Chicken I was eating earlier.
31 July 2021
I set out to visit four sites, and I got around to them all, while also finding several places I want to look into a little more. It was not a cool day, to the point of not being enjoyable.
30 July 2021
Meet the Bowing Titan. No, not the Bowling Titan. I stopped off to take a couple pictures of this one while running errands downtown.
25 July 2021
The Sewol memorial site in Gwanghwamun is going to be removed as part of the ongoing renovation project of the area. While driving past, I noticed the structure was now completely fenced off, but there were several people in the alley to the immediate west, which seemed like a mini-protest about its removal.
I don't plan to do any trespassing here, due to the sensitivity of the site and the amount of scrutiny it'll probably be under for the next week.
25 July 2021
I was on the night shift and it was extra-long for the Olympics, so I went out to get food and ended up all the way over in Hongdae where I hit up Tom's Pizza. It was crowded inside, so while waiting for my order I went over to get a look at this abandoned house I'd heard about only recently that's been in this condition for several years now apparently, right next to a big department store.
24 July 2021
A Filipina I know in the area told me she went to a grocery store to buy cleaning supplies recently, and was apparently denied service there and kicked out for no reason. I'm not going to say which grocery store, due to obvious libel law reasons, but I've been to the same store and usually got bad vibes there too. It's the kind of place where it doesn't matter how much Korean I speak, they'll always wordlessly type out whatever price is owed on a calculator and show that to me.
24 July 2021
Jacco gave me a mission, to see if there really was a big sign bearing Karl Marx's face hanging at the Labor Party headquarters. Turns out, yes there is, and it's been there for over a year according to Naver Map.
I would have noticed it while driving on my way to the tax office, which I had visited most recently one week earlier. I know I've even seen it, on the way to the mainland from Yeouido, but assumed it couldn't be what it looked like and didn't stop to take a picture. Which is especially too bad since on previous visits it was probably lit better.
19 July 2021
On my way back to work, the sunset colours were intense so I decided to make a stop on the roof.
19 July 2021
On my way to work, it started to rain, and right after I got inside it became a heavy rain. Later I couldn't shake the feeling that I hadn't let Buster inside before I left, so I went home. He was safely inside, but we went out and saw a rainbow over Namsan.
19 July 2021
Apparently there's a leak in an apartment below the garden, so in order to deal with it they decided to cut down all the plants except for the one big tree, and cover the ground with plastic sheets. After they left, Buster went out to investigate.
18 July 2021
I observed this stormcloud to the south where there were frequent lightning flashes, although the result of taking a long exposure didn't show anything too dramatic.
18 July 2021
I went back to this abandoned neighbourhood where a fence has been put up around most of it, but there are still ways in and a lot more of the buildings are opened up.
18 July 2021
I didn't have anything to do so I checked in on a couple sites. The first was just a small collection of old shacks, and the second was the last remaining part of Yeomni-dong, which is apparently slated for demolition. There are signs but it doesn't seem to be that soon.
9 July 2021
North of Seoul
I decided the best overall way to get up to Dongducheon and back was by scooter, so off I went. I rushed straight up, and my trip probably took about 80 minutes, maybe a little less accounting for a few stops.
I saved the sightseeing for my voyage back, during which I traced my way through the mountain valleys of Yangju as I had done in May. I decided to take a slightly different turn at one point, skipping most of the abandonments I'd seen last time, and while this other way had no abandonments to speak of, it was still so much crazier an experience.
Originally Jenn was supposed to go and give a lecture related to Korean food and gender, but when the date was pushed back a week, she couldn't make it because she was leaving for Hawaii. I had been planning to tag along anyway, so I offered to lecture again, this time talking about North Korea and food, basically telling some of the sillier food stories from my travels in the North. And we had Matt with us to talk about Korean youth culture of the 1970s.
Earlier this day, it was announced that Seoul and surroundings including Dongducheon would move up to Level 4 social distancing the following Monday, so this was the last possible date this could have happened for even more reasons.
8 July 2021
A change finally happened at the demolition site across the alley! There's spraypaint on the curtain now.
I also took the opportunity to get a closer look at the second demolition site, and what's revealed in the wall behind where the buildings had been.
7 July 2021
These three pictures are from July 5, 6, and 7 but I don't feel like making three separate entries.
The two small houses in the alley are both gone already.
Buster was just outside enjoying the sunset, and as usual he meowed to come in but when I opened the door he didn't want to come in, and instead Millie came out. A minute later he was crying to come back in, this time also knocking on the door. It turned out it was starting to rain, and they were both drenched. Oh well, they were happy because it probably would mean extra cat food or something. It didn't.
4 July 2021
Across the Alley
I noticed more curtains have gone up in the alley. This site is further uphill from where I live, and doesn't seem to be visible from my roof. Hopefully when they demolish it, the noise won't be enough for the cats to notice.
3 July 2021
ADxHD's First Show
Back in November, I wrote about ADxHD for their first show, which ended up cancelled due to the obvious reason. Finally, over a half-year later, they tried booking a first show again, which would have been at FF, but a couple days before the show the news about the Hongdae outbreak got pretty big, and the news all started reporting on various places that had infection cases, including FF. FF claimed once again that the patient in question had visited early one morning in their 5am operating hours, but a few days later announced the cancellation of upcoming events.
The show was moved to Strange Fruit where it would be operated under stricter rules, including 30-ticket cap and no alcohol sales. I ended up going, mainly because it was raining and there wasn't anything else to do, and also to continue my research for an upcoming event that hasn't been advertised yet (but will be on Sept. 28 and held online most likely). It seems like the guy who wrote a book about a catastrophe at a Hongdae punk show should be around when one actually happens. Fortunately the coast still seems to be clear.
3 July 2021
RAS Korea Essay Contest
This year, Transactions once again had an essay contest to get high school students involved. Two years ago, we published the essays of four students and invited them to our garden party. Last year, we had our first essay contest which had only four entries. This year it was something like 16, and we went through a lot picking out the winners.
Each winner got a 100,000 won stipend for travel expenses to come to Seoul for a small award ceremony, and got a bunch of awards including cash prize.
30 June 2021
This time, I was back in Itaewon to deliver newspapers, and while I was in the area I hit another roof. This one gave me a good view of the mosque, as well as some possible abandonments at the upper end of Hooker Hill.
30 June 2021
I looked outside one morning and saw Buster's tent sitting out there in the weeds. We haven't gone anywhere near it since before spring this year. There are holes in it and the weeds are pretty intrusive. I hope Buster can go camping again soon.
The apartment complex I ended up at wasn't new, but was still upper-class. All parking was supposed to be underground, and the road up top was supposedly only for pedestrians, although I saw a truck of some kind parked in front of one of the apartments. This is probably one of those snobbish apartments that wants all delivery drivers to use the underground entrances, which are very dangerous to scooter drivers when they're slick with rain. Anyway, I parked outside and walked in.
The view I got this time was pretty good.
29 June 2021
I ordered food from Locos BBQ, and they told me it would take 40 minutes, so I went out to wander around. First thing I passed was the religious retreat, so I went up to check and yes, it's still there abandoned. My only time getting in, I tore up a glove on razorwire, so it's not recommended to the casual trespasser.
26 June 2021
I didn't go out and do much. Or at least I did, but everything ended in failure trespassing-wise. So I decided to stay close to home and visit some rooftops giving me a view over my neighbourhood. Some parts of this area are planned for demolition, and others will be changed in other ways.
24 June 2021
Balloon Titan Sighting
I went all the way to Yeouido for Ho Lee Chow, and on the way back I saw one of the two most odd-coloured moons I've seen this year. I also saw the balloon titan which sits on Dragon City.
23 June 2021
On my way back from the hospital, I passed Gwanghwamun just in time to get this video of the gutter ruins of the Three Armies Command excavation site being buried under what looked like sand.
I don't have strong feelings about the preservation of these ruins, and as seen at various other such sites across downtown, I don't think preserving them lives up to any particularly lofty goals, instead just creating an excuse for developers and regulators to barter over loosening zoning restrictions a little. The sites aren't particularly educational, and often get in the way of pedestrians. But Gwanghwamun will get significantly more traffic than Pimatgol, and after the strong response to the archaeological excavation photos, it seemed like a good idea to redesign the renovation plans to add an active water feature. And it appears that's just what they did. Please, city, don't screw this up.
In other Gwanghwamun news, the US embassy is finally moving out, which could open up room for some other new cultural space for the public good. Unfortunately, the embassy is moving to the current location of Camp Coyner (that's not the correct spelling but I don't want to make it easy for Google bots), next to my neighbourhood, which might not be a good thing.
19 June 2021
World Domination in Suwon
...Whatever That Means and Beacon were playing a show in Suwon at Alleyway Taphouse, so I decided to follow them down there. Apparently this was Trash's first time visiting Suwon ever, which surprised me.
15 June 2021
Across the Alley
I've been watching the recently demolished lot seen from my roof, but there haven't been any changes since demolition finished and the excavator left (no doubt off to kill Choi Soon-sil).
Two of my relatives back home, both of whom have been to Korea multiple times, both made comments on looking at my pictures and videos of the demolition, asking about the fire, since they saw the hoses spraying water on the demolition. I'm preparing for an article about how Koreans don't know enough about demolition happening around them, although presumably they're all familiar with the use of water hoses during demolition, so maybe I'm applying too strict standards considering Canadians know less.
15 June 2021
RAS Business and Culture Club
Here are a couple group pictures I took at the end of today's RAS Business and Culture Club meeting. When we went, most of the archaeological sites were freshly buried, except for the Three Armies Command at the northern corner. I encountered a number of other signs and maps during the walk that helped my understanding of the area. If you want to see more pictures you'll have to join the Facebook group and look for Jun Shin's photos.
14 June 2021
Here and there on my way to places, I stopped to photograph some more of the titan figures encountered all over downtown. These should be mega-sized statues to fit into this, but I've decided to also include 2D cutouts mainly because the Cop Titan is probably the first one I ever named.
14 June 2021
After Ryan made it look so easy to get in here, I went back and also got in easily. Not sure how I missed the way in before. Now that the entire area is enclosed behind construction fences, it's a lot safer as a place for urban exploration, and is quite a unique place with some good examples of Hanok architecture and just general porous market layout.
12 June 2021
I rode down to Yongsan to see if I could get into the railroad hospital during daylight, only to find they'd patched up the fence well enough to keep me out. And then while I went to get food, an SUV backed up into my scooter parked outside.
12 June 2021
After noticing curtains going up around this location a short while back, I decided to actually revisit the place. I circled around it but didn't see an obvious way in, and then later on when I went home Ryan posted pictures he took earlier that day showing he'd made it in.
12 June 2021
I decided to pull over next to the Yulgongno tunnel and see how landscaping is going over top, where Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo Shrine will soon be connected over land, bringing two UNESCO sites together. It's quite an interesting project, and it's one I've been interested in since at least 2014. It's been moving very slowly.
12 June 2021
I've been trying to keep track of all these titan statues throughout downtown. At some point I'll put a page together featuring them all. None of these are new discoveries to me, just public art I've noted and am trying to collect photos of now. The latest one I photographed was the Bifurcated Titan in front of Hongdae's Daehangno campus.
12 June 2021
I took a taxi to Peter Bartholomew's funeral, intending to try to outdrink a room full of sailors, and on the way there the taxi passed by a small abandoned market. I made it back to the area, which is small but distinct. There was some very interesting traditional architecture. Also, everywhere I turned there were a lot of flies, thanks to the garbage left by hired goons.
12 June 2021
I was up early, or late, not sure which, so I decided to see what Gwanghwamun looked like around dawn. It was not disappointing.
10 June 2021
Demolition Next Door
Buster missed his chance to go exploring. He really wanted to see that portable toilet too.
I woke up this morning, the morning after news broke about the Gwangju collapse, to the unmistakable sound of demolition. The building across the alley I've been documenting all week was already being torn down.
The public reaction to the disaster in Gwangju has been angered and confused, with people asking why they didn't take every precaution like block off the street next to the demolition site. Well, they don't because people wouldn't like it, at least in the cases where demolition proceeds smoothly (which is almost all). In my alley, they used very similar techniques, just on a smaller, more predictable building.
I took a video showing the demolition, where you can see how the excavator is tearing down the structure and building a mound under its wheels, what Isaiah has coined "rubble ramp demolition." This was a very precise operation, next to two inhabited buildings as well as by the alley that's very familiar to me.
And as I watched, people continued walking past, alarmingly close to the active demolition. So I took another video paying more attention to the movements of pedestrians and at least one scooter.
After that, I sent up my GoPro and left it recording for about half an hour, in which the top level of the house is completely removed and the workers climb up on top to do whatever while the excavator stops. But a piece of tape covered the microphone so you can't hear anything, so I'm not going to bother uploading it for now.
Seeing demolition is always a little heartbreaking, but when it enters the national conversation in circumstances like Gwangju it's especially stressful for urban explorers. But I think it also demonstrates why urban exploring is good for society and how we can help make sense of these disasters. This isn't just fun and games for us.
9 June 2021
The animation studio on Namsan, which I visited before demolition but never went inside buildings, now has construction walls around it. For the first time I noticed the design on them. That Ron Bandun guy really got under my skin.
9 June 2021
Here are pictures of the house across the street. There are at least three separate residences here, probably four. One still had quite a lot of personal items, although it seemed like someone had moved out most of the furniture, and it was actually pretty clean inside, all things considered.
The next day I saw a worker smashing out the windows, so it's good I went in when I did.
9 June 2021
I had planned to just drive past Gwanghwamun, but realised I could walk in and get a closer look at where they're filling in the excavations with dirt. It gave me some interesting views I hadn't been able to get in the daytime.
9 June 2021
I had wanted to just go out and see the house across the alley, but there was a garbage truck in the alley, so rather than wait it out I decided to hit another site, and then I went to another and another and another. This gallery shows three GTX sites I visited.
9 June 2021
Yongsan Railroad Hospital
Yongsan Railroad Hospital is undergoing heavy renovation, but it looks like it will be preserved. There used to be other more modern hospital buildings behind it, but they've all been demolished now.
Last time I was in here was almost 10 years ago, and I was caught and questioned by police, but they let me go with no further actions taken.
8 June 2021
Getting back to the present, when I got home after work, I found that the workers had completed putting up a curtain around the house across the alley. That was fast.
While I was taking these, I heard what sounded like someone yelling in anger, and I thought it might be directed at me, as I could see people in the building behind this site and thought one of them might have considered me intruding on their privacy. But there didn't seem to be any follow-up.
11 July 2018
Here's the least interesting of six galleries I've had embargoed since 2018. This one just has one rooftop shot overlooking Yongsan, and it's not even that good.
Back then, thanks to some contacts, I visited some USFK sites, nothing too extreme, and sat on the pictures for the sake of discretion on behalf of my friends who got me on post. Everyone concerned has since left the country, and the Yongsan Relocation Plan is proceeding, so I doubt these pictures will disadvantage anyone, even me the next time someone brings me on post.
6 July 2018
I joined my friend on post again, and we did some thorough wandering around. My main goal was to visit Manchocheon. We also wanted to find some old Korean relics preserved on base, but I believe what we were looking for was in the closed-off part we couldn't reach. We also saw some pretty deathly quiet buildings and went to the food court where I had American Taco Bell.
2 June 2018
Kindergarten-Grade 16 Music Festival
I was invited to a festival on an active USFK installation, where there was excellent barbecued food and elderly Korean country musicians whose careers go back to the 1950s. I didn't post this gallery on here at the time, but we did publish this article with a photo I took during the event.
You can see a video of their set on the Yongsan Legacy YouTube channel, and you can see me standing out there with my camera. You can even see the moment where I was juggling cameras and my DSLR slipped out of my hands and hit the pavement. It still worked fine after, but had problems a few years later. I was also a little concerned about dropping camera equipment right out in the open in front of a ton of soldiers and their families so I did my best to act like it was nothing. At the end you can hear me talking with whoever was filming (Daniel?).
After Jackie Park, we also saw the metal band Crux play, and a picture of them from this day made it into another article.
2 May 2018
Overlooking Camp Coyner
This gallery contains some pictures I took from a rooftop in Huam-dong that overlooks the northernmost part of the base, which by this point was already closed down. At the time I kept this embargoed, though looking back at it now I don't really know what I was thinking, especially after posting so many pictures in the area around The Korea Times Bunker overlooking the base at an active part.
16 February 2018
Return to Yongsan
During Lunar New Year, I visited Yongsan Garrison with a very good group. Kim from Stars and Stripes got me on post, along with Samia who was revisiting her childhood home (as well as the setting of her novel Frunk the Skunk), and JiHoon who knows everything about every stone in Seoul. Kim wrote this article and I stayed quiet, but now both her and Samia have moved on.
In the time Samia was living here, I had hoped to invite her over to my place so she could visit her grandchildren Millie and Buster. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.
1 February 2018
Yongsan at Night
I visited a friend on post and he gave me a brief tour. These pictures are from the Japanese prison. I think it's likely this will be preserved and become a tourist site in the finished park, maybe used to highlight the injustice of the occupation or something.
8 June 2021
After lunch, on the way back to work, I took a detour through Gwanghwamun. On a previous drive-by without pictures taken I saw them filling one of the pits with sand. This time, I drove by and saw the results of that, and another part being filled with dirt. I went to four spots to get views, and at three of them a worker very close by was observing me. Not sure how they feel about being photographed, but none of them objected strongly, and if workers don't want to be photographed, they generally let you know.
I came home for lunch and we discovered workers building monkey bars around a house across the alley from me. It's a two-storey house with a separate detached home unit, and also a rooftop house. There appears to be another building stuck to it which I didn't get into. This complex also includes the small corner store that used to exist here when I moved in.
Buster the Urban Exploring Cat came out and did some surveillance with me. His assessment was the workers make scary noises, and he's too lazy to go up and/or down five flights of stairs to get there. Guess I'll just have to do this one alone.
8 June 2021
Last Friday I took my camera in to get the lens repaired. The coupling with the camera body or the gears or something was in bad shape after several years of wear and tear. Back in 2018 I dropped it straight down from arm height onto concrete, and it still worked fine but over time started to show its age. You might notice lately I've put up one or two photos with poor focus, but for the most part I've compensated by just taking a lot of pictures. It's made it slightly harder to take pictures because I have to fight the focus controls; usually I could zoom in and focus, then switch to manual focus and zoom out to get the framing I wanted. I can't do manual focus the more natural way, and never have.
Four days later I picked it up and it was as good as new.
4 June 2021
The C2 0-8-0
I went north again to try to get a better look at the abandoned train I found. This time I used a different approach to the site and managed to see everything inside. As well as getting a closer look at the various buildings and landscaping inside, I also got right up to the train.
With help from friends viewing these pictures after, we were able to identify it as a C2 Model 0-8-0. More information about that type of train here. Knowing this doesn't help to answer what it was doing here or what this place was supposed to be.
4 June 2021
On my way up to visit the train, I somewhat randomly passed by a few locations of interest in central Seoul. I also stuffed in some pictures of Yeongcheon Market area which I passed on the way back into Seoul.
2 June 2021
I decided to go home for lunch, but on the way I found a dead cat lying in the middle of the road, the sort of thing that ruins my day.
The longer I thought about it, the more I felt the need to do something. I went to the nearest vet and tried explaining it to them, and they told me to call the district office without offering any other help, not even to help with making that call. Looking back, maybe they thought I was responsible for hitting the cat.
So I went back to the site, where there's a gas station I go to often. I told the guy there, thinking maybe he could help call the district office, since this is probably something any Korean can do. Instead, he ran out into the middle of the road and retrieved the cat.
After work, I gave the cats extra cat food, and included the pictures here for the sake of mental wellness. Right now Buster is tapping me on the shoulder trying to get my attention, so I should stop writing for now.
31 May 2021
I had an enlightening conversation with a friend who mentioned seeing some deep excavation in Itaewon area. A few days later I went to see for myself and found the site.
It's not something anyone can easily get inside, but thanks to a map printed on the site I was able to put together a few facts. It turns out I've been in the vicinity of three GTX-A tunnel sites very recently, the third being this one. Additionally that horrific cop image on the construction wall seems to be for a separate GTX line.
30 May 2021
During a night shift, I saw it was about to rain so I rushed out to get food. I headed for McDonald's, which has been all over the news, although I didn't get the K-nuggets (which doesn't actually exist on the K-Iceberg yet, although McDonald's has recently given us K-burger, K-beef, K-cravings and K-fave, as well as an additional citation for K-chicken).
Anyway, on the way, I was stopped at a red light in front of Namdaemun for a while so I took this picture of all the lanterns still out. By the way, I pulled over to a traffic island so I could take this picture safely.
29 May 2021
Peter Bartholomew's Funeral
Peter's funeral was finally scheduled, after his body was released earlier in the week. The funeral was only for a day, from Saturday morning to Sunday morning, which seemed a bit more reasonable than the usual three days. It may have been shorter due to his lack of next of kin, or just a rush to wrap things up on the weekend, which included an early morning trip way down to Gangneung to return his remains to where his journey in Korea started, which now is a tourist attraction.
A signup sheet was passed around so some of us could do shifts. I offered to do the night shift, when it would be the most socially acceptable to drink heavily, and Matt fortunately joined me. We drank as much as we could until they locked the fridges at midnight.
Sometime earlier in the day, a traditional dancer performed a shamanistic salpuri dance for Peter, which I would have shown up to see if I'd known about. Diane Underwood remarked to me later she was mortified when she saw someone had left a beer can on the altar, but I explained that was for Peter to drink.
I also was curious to see what a late night at a Korean funeral was like, since I have written a book taking place at one. I'd say I got it pretty right, although we had chairs while the fictional funeral had floor seating (which I'm certain I've seen at previous funerals), and the main characters slept on the floor at the tables, passing out where they drank, while we were told there were cots somewhere (but presumably a limited amount anyway).
27 May 2021
Gwanghwamun in the Rain
I saw a number of comments online accusing the archaeological excavations of being unprofessional for a number of reasons, some of which sounded reasonable but I don't have the expertise to evaluate them. One was that the ruins were uncovered leaving them vulnerable to rain, which had not been exactly true as they were covered by tarps around when the images were going viral and the comments were being made. But during the open period to the public, I wanted to see what they'd look like when they were rained on. There probably wasn't any significant damage, but it made the ground a different colour.
23 May 2021
Art Valley 7
This gallery details the segment of my trip from when I reached the farthest point to the entire journey back. It wasn't completely uneventful. And then this fucking cop rodent got to me.
23 May 2021
Art Valley 6
This gallery details the sixth part of my journey. They got crazier the farther away I got.
This particular section deals with Haitai Confectionary Art Valley which I encountered in one particular stretch of valley. There were sculptures sticking out everywhere, and when I saw a turnoff to a sculpture park, I took it. There was a toll barrier, but I drove around it easily on my scooter. I went up and found a 100-meter path lined with sculptures. Then I went up higher and found another, and another, and kept going up the mountain slope and it kept expanding.
I stopped to get a closer look at one area that turned out to be a water park, only to find a seemingly stray dog there, staring at me. When I got back to work the next day, the top story was on a dog mauling a woman to death. I didn't know that at the time, but I was still very cautious running into a dog that was not restrained in any way in the basically wilderness. When I drove away and got to a higher vantage point, I could see the dog had moved over to where it had seen me.
I believe this place isn't truly abandoned, as it seems to have hosted a snow festival months earlier and is advertising reopening in a few months. It is probably just off-season, which is valid for urban exploration, and even if it weren't, it was still very interesting.
23 May 2021
Art Valley 5
This gallery details the fifth part of my journey. They got crazier the farther away I got.
In this episode, I investigate a compound made of wood and materials made to resemble wood. It's pretty interesting architecture, although I didn't really get inside much of it.
23 May 2021
Art Valley 4
This gallery details the fourth part of my journey. They got crazier the farther away I got.
In this section, I stop by a few buildings in one grouping that had a high amount of abandonment. I looked through the broken window of an abandoned hotel and visited the tomb of an influential Catholic martyr.
23 May 2021
Art Valley 3
This gallery details the third part of my journey. They got crazier the farther away I got.
For this brief stop, I saw from the road a sizeable apartment building that was clearly abandoned. I looked around it, and then rounded a corner and discovered it was on or adjacent to Korean military property, at which point I quickly gave up.
Later on, I passed another similar apartment building in a similar state, also part of a military complex.
23 May 2021
Art Valley 2
This gallery details the second part of my journey. They got crazier the farther away I got.
In this segment, I investigate what's behind a seemingly traditional wall protected by a massive concrete gate made in a traditional-looking fashion. I was very curious about the make of this gate, until I saw what was behind it, at which point this became somewhat of an obsession.
23 May 2021
Art Valley 1
The photos start at Eunpyeong History and Hanok Museum, which I'd seen was having an exhibit dedicated to the Eunpyeong New Town area prior to its redevelopment. The museum itself was interesting and well-presented, and the "Memories of Eunpyeong New Town" exhibit was excellent.
After that, I stopped by a small abandoned house on the side of the road. Little did I know, the journey woul get crazier the farther I went north.
I'm going to give lectures for RAS Korea and Gwangju International Center on a topic related to live music in Korea, so I'm trying to go to shows when possible. Oh yeah, I also wrote a book about a disaster in the live music scene. So I'm watching closely how the scene deals with the pandemic.
And it did happen at this show. Not an outbreak; I went to the washroom and the guy in there before me broke off the knob on the inside of the door, effectively trapping me in the men's washroom, which is basically a urine-scented steam room.
Anyway, my plan is to hopefully help, not hurt, live music venues.
22 May 2021
As the Hannam New Town project seems to still be just beyond the horizon, I've been meaning to do more photography of the area. And of course that means rooftops.
22 May 2021
The city has uncovered the ruins unearthed in Gwanghwamun, so I went back for another look. It's actually a little underwhelming to see; at least with the tarps on, you had to use your imagination about what was down there. Anyway, they'll probably all be removed starting after May 30, so if you can, go look now.
21 May 2021
Buster's 15th Birthday
It was Buster's birthday, so I spent the day at home, ate too much food from Butterfinger Pancakes, and passed out. When I woke up, we had a catnip party.
18 May 2021
While driving home I saw a building with a big anti-redevelopment banner hanging on it, which has been up for a while. But now more red flags are appearing all over the area. I almost forgot to follow up on this, but it made the song "Red Flags" by ...Whatever That Means get stuck in my head. This is not far from my home, although for the time being I'm not in the same area.
I've seen this area referred to as a shanty town, which it seems it was in the past, but now it's not so much.
17 May 2021
It was a nice sunset so I hurried outside to see. Buster followed me, and Millie watched us.
15 May 2021
I only took one picture this day, partly because we were busy but also partly because of the heavy rain.
A bunch of us met at a Starbucks in Seochon to work on obituaries for Peter Bartholomew, and I looked out and saw this "Copi Tiam" place. It was kind of funny because "copi" spelled this way means "broken nose," and this was actually a running joke we had when I was dating Kim Jong-un.
Anyway, from there, some of us went to Copy Salon to print the latest issue of Transactions. I moved printing this year to Copy Salon because the previous shop had a few too many strange demands for changing the cover. Not sure what will happen next year, but printing here worked well.
Now that the new issue has been published, that means last year's issue is also available online for anyone to read. That includes my own article, "Three Waves of Korean Punk Explored Through Compilation Albums." The others are all downloadable through the Transactions link above, where there is also a list of the new articles for this year.
11 May 2021
After the city made this post, I went back wondering if they had lifted away the tarps. The pictures show green leaves, so they are more recent than when I saw the tarp being put in place. There are even Buddha's Birthday lanterns. But if they removed the tarp, they put it back.
RAS Korea Business and Culture Club
I decided to show up for a B&C Club meeting, which consisted of Jacco leading the way around Deoksu Palace. There ended up being something like 15 of us, which was quite a lot and I'm assuming complied with social distancing measures.
Anyway, I'm leading the next one, which will look at the Gwanghwamun renovations on June 15, something I've been checking in on quite a lot lately. Not sure what shape it'll be in by then, but whatever it is, we'll look at it.
9 May 2021
I chose a place to go by searching for "galmaegi," and ended up pretty happy with the place I found. It was an end to a very good day of exploring and meeting people, dampened a bit by the fact our group was divided up due to social distancing rules.
9 May 2021
After the museum, we all headed to yet another abandoned hotel, this one on the slope of a mountain. After not enough time, they got a call that their car was parked in a place where payment was needed and they'd have to return in 10 minutes to pay up. From there we decided we'd had enough, and we were all starting to get hungry.
9 May 2021
Moon Ik-hwan's House
Sounion said she was friends with a granddaughter of Moon Ik-hwan, a pastor who was a major figure in various social movements, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. It turned out they had recovered a schoolbook of hers dating back to the 1990s and wanted to return it to her, so she invited us along to visit their family home, now a museum. We met with Moon's daughter and grandson, who himself is an accomplished documentary filmmaker.
9 May 2021
While going from point A to point B, I saw some curtains, so I pulled over for a closer look, knowing the others who were travelling by car would be keeping me waiting. It was a small block, but maybe a more thorough search would turn up more interesting results.
I also passed by a few areas that had already been totally demolished, and a few smaller ones that were unclear. It was an eventful ride.
9 May 2021
This has got to be one of my best finds in quite a while. And as mentioned a few entries down, it was found simply by driving over to look into another similar building. So finding it was a coincidence squared.
I met up with a couple friends, who invited along a couple more friends. It was a good group, but would spell doom by the time we got to the restaurant at the end, where social distancing measures prohibited groups larger than four. One of them claimed to know someone whose parents had owned this building, making it a little more personal.
3 May 2021
Most of these pictures are from driving around and visiting Hongdae a couple times. Plus Millie sitting in the middle of the bed, devastated when I come home unexpectedly and she doesn't want to surrender territory to me.
1 May 2021
May Day Behemoths
I went out during a break in the rain to have a look at a large castle-like building sitting behind a construction fence. I didn't go inside due to signs of security, but right up the street I came across a hotel in a somewhat similar state. Hopefully I'll see more of that one.
29 April 2021
I found out Zeinab had gotten a new job very close to my office, so we met up for lunch. Where do you take an Iranian for lunch? An Iraqi kebab stand in Namdaemun, obviously. No, despite what you're thinking, she was into it. She praised the food, and said it was very close to Iranian food, including things like how the lamb meat was prepared.
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to pass on the big announcement she and her husband Verv made recently, so I won't.
28 April 2021
While killing time waiting for a print job to finish, or when I was delivering copies of this article to Eastern Standard Sounds' office, I drove through Hongdae and took a couple quick pictures.
26 April 2021
Days before we were set to publish an article about anarchaeology in Gwanghwamun, I saw a picture online of the archaeological survey in that large corner of Insadong that was just demolished, so I went over after work.
It was a good example of an anarchaeological site, since I got in early and saw quite a lot unearthed.
21 April 2021
I took a couple pictures while waiting at an intersection, while on my way rushing somewhere.
17 April 2021
After we were done exploring, we looked around for a restaurant, before gravitating toward Duriban in Hongdae. On the way there, I passed by a building containing a nightclub in the basement. I am half-certain I went there years ago, sometime in the first half of the 2010s, but I have no memory beyond going in and think we may not have stayed long.
17 April 2021
I met up with Ryan and Sounion to trade books, as well as look around an abandoned area. Proud to say I make an appearance in issue 2 of his photo zine, as an inebriated Santa.
16 April 2021
The Reggae Lawyer
I met up with Kyung-don, who's back in Korea, as well as Jeong-seok of Eastern Standard Sounds and Tehiun, who I hadn't seen in years since he moved to Jeju. We went to Lo.Ok, Smiley's bar, which is apparently closing at the end of the month. It's sort of sad, but also he's leaving because his wife is about to give birth, and also he wants to focus on music.
16 April 2021
It was the Sewol anniversary, as well as my first weekend off in a month. so I went to Gwanghwamun to look in on the renovation progress as well as the Sewol building. I had nothing to do for an hour, so I waited in line to see what was at the front. Despite all the frantic renovations, the Sewol building is still there. With Oh Se-hoon as mayor now, I doubt this will last once the square reaches its next finished form.
10 April 2021
Club FF figured out a way to comply with regulations so they could put on shows again. Simple: just put out chairs and tables and don't serve drinks, and then you can have people inside for live music.
It seems like a kind of bad idea, but there were no infections at least.
9 April 2021
Songdo has a lot of decent restaurants and bars, although the bars are usually pricier and the restaurants don't offer anything Korean that's not a franchise from what I've seen. Cinder Bar is one very nice place offered there. It's just in the ground floor of a highrise apartment in a not-great location, but the bar itself is very comfortable despite its location. I hadn't been there since probably 2016, when I did an RAS tour there and it turned out to be ANZAC Day, but the owner still recognised me.
One of my friends works for the architectural firm that designed Canal Walk. I gave him my honest opinion about it and it hasn't changed. It seems likely they wanted to build a big linear four-block outdoor shopping mall. But Songdo already has its roads, so they had to chop it into four sections separated by roads. This makes walking the whole length inconvenient and not fun. It seemed like a good idea but a missed opportunity, so maybe it's perfect for Songdo.
9 April 2021
Songdo Landmark City
I went to Songdo Landmark City, which didn't exist at all on my previous visit, way back in 2017. It is like the rest of Songdo, except even more residential with less of anything else so far. It seems like it would be a worse place to live. I spent a lot of time there out on the reclaimed land.
9 April 2021
Incheon Urban History Museum
This place used to be called Compact Smartcity, but they gave it a more sensible and less memorable name. One thing I wanted to check was on the ground level, where there used to be a video showing how it would have looked in the early 1900s, with slightly animated characters inserted. One of them looked very much like my friend Jacco, who drinks from a bottle. They have since changed the display so now it's set in the late 1950s or sometime. But the image of the Jacco doppelganger is still there. He doesn't remember recording anything that could be used for that, but he hasn't ruled it out as well.
9 April 2021
As more apartments are going in, I wanted to visit the shrinking part of Songdo where the only thing built are roads. I got a good look at Songdo from a distance, over fields of weeds and whatever else. I also got closer to some of the buildings on the edge, such as Tomorrow City and some of the new developments I don't remember from last visit.
9 April 2021
Incheon New Port
I drove out onto a weird skinny geometrically shaped peninsula of reclaimed land. They've built some shipping facilities there, but plans are to turn it into a big Songdo-like city. Personally if I were designing a utopian future city, I would not have it right next to a big port where trucks will be rolling through all the time.
9 April 2021
As I entered Songdo, I was on a 10-lane road. Considering how much has been said about Songdo being car-free, it sure is road-based. They basically made the land, then made the roads, and after that started putting up buildings in between. I think you'd end up with better cities if you had people involved right from the start, rather than having them designed by people who might never visit, or who just want to win design awards without caring about residents' actual needs.
9 April 2021
As I drove into Incheon, I followed the coast, interested to see if I could get to any mudflats. I did get to one area that seemed to be what I was looking for.
9 April 2021
I took a trip down to Incheon, aiming for Songdo, but when I saw the road I was on kept going into Wolgot, I decided to revisit. I was last there almost 10 years ago, when we saw the measly remains of an abandoned amusement park. Now there's no trace of the rides, only the castle building remaining, which I'm assuming was part of it. I remember there had been a lively looking fisheries market across the street, but going back there now it is fading away.
In our 2011 visit, the place seemed very depressing and we were there on a colourless rainy day. Looking at it now, it's probably the most charming part of the area, which still isn't saying much.
8 April 2021
These are the stairs leading up to Kenektid, where some Broke stuff is for sale.
7 April 2021
These are the books available through Broke Publishng now. Everything is 12,000 won or 10,000 won, with discounts available for multiple purchases. The Broke zines can be free with purchase of anything, but I won't be mailing them out for free on their own. More coming sometime in the foreseeable future.
4 April 2021
I drove past Gwanghwamun late at night. I forget why, but what ended up catching my attention was the new fence art, which actually seems to show more location-appropriate people and is quite nice. There are places where the weird cloned-in white people still exist, and there are still white people in this but they're depicted more as tourists. It looks better.
1 April 2021
Cats On Keyboards
I created Cats On Keyboards last year, placing all the random letters my cats press into my computers onto the print page. It was a fun experiment, and seeing the state of the zine market in Korea, I think something like this will actually be easy to sell. So I set an unreasonably high price and announced its existence on April Fool's Day.
This is a real publication, although I decided against registering it for an ISBN to avoid pissing off the National Library. It is probably only going to be available for direct purchase in person, maybe through mail domestically if people are nice.
I am also releasing a small photo book for Yangbantal, following the format of Ryan's The Bulldozed Future and Bill's Photon Wave Function (which I don't know how to instruct people to get a copy). More details coming soon.
1 April 2021
The print shop where I'd been doing all of my printing for Broke, closed up and moved to a different location. The old place was tiny and cramped but had its charms, and the new place is just a more suitable space in every way, with room for heavy print machines, places to sit, and lots of space all used.
31 March 2021
Now that the actual butt goats are out, I went back to this abandoned area to have another look at the flowers there. I had previously been wondering if some of the flowers I'd seen were cherry blossoms, but seeing what phase they're in now led me to conclude they're pear blossoms. Anyway, there were still magnolias out, which I'd missed last time.
When he ran for president in 2007, I joked that he made the most sense as a candidate. Nowadays, people are looking more seriously at his campaign pledge of a universal basic income, and I bet even Park Geun-hye is wishing she hadn't turned down his marriage proposal.
I'm fighting the temptation to vote for him, just to say I had. There are better fringe candidates, and I think my vote would be better used put toward the person most likely to beat Oh Se-hoon. Oh will probably win, which will probably be a very good thing for urban exploration in Korea.
Hahn Dae-soo posted a picture on Facebook of himself posing with a streetcar in 1969, not too long after Seoul scrapped its streetcars. I could see the number 363 on the vehicle, and that was enough for me to track down some information on it. Unfortunately all websites mentioning it seemed to be from a couple years ago, and since the museum it was parked at had just undergone reconstruction, I was worried it might no longer be there. So I stopped by after work, confirming that the streetcar still exists.
As I was leaving, I took a couple pictures of the owner leaning on his own bike. If I'd taken the time, it would have looked pretty good. But not as good as the photographer we sent to photograph him. Matt is himself a photojournalist, so I didn't want to risk letting him down.
23 March 2021
People got excited by this article about a stream uncovered during the renovation of Gwanghwamun Plaza (more pictures here). I find it kind of funny when one of these takes off, because it's mandatory to do this kind of archaeological excavation for any development in Jongno.
Anyway, after a few attempts seen below, I managed to find the site photographed in the pictures. It's in the corner sort of between the government building and Gwanghwamun itself. By the time I got there, a tarp had already been laid down to cover it.
22 March 2021
There actually had been a stream recreated through Gwanghwamun, two of them that ran on both sides of the plaza, but they weren't particularly well promoted and people didn't really pay attention, except probably when they stepped in one and got a shoe wet.
In this preview image to the right you can see one of these stream recreations chopped up for removal. While people were excited about the recovery of one stream, another one over top was being removed unceremoniously.
20 March 2021
I wandered around behind the fences at Gwanghwamun Plaza, but on the way out I noticed something as weird. The fences in the area have art showing illustrations of how the project will look after completion, and as I've seen before they put in a lot of weird figures to populate the conceptual landscapes. It's worth a closer look.
19 March 2021
Coetzer stopped by my work so he could test out his film cameras on the roof.
17 March 2021
This was my first view of the development happening in Gwanghwamun. It made me want to go get my bullwhip and start doing some anarchaeology.
13 March 2021
I made it down to southwestern Seoul, where there was a pretty large abandoned neighbourhood, built in a crescent around a recently demolished neighbourhood. It was a pretty large area, although the homes had been left pretty clean which suggests a fairly amicable process.
13 March 2021
There's an old market building over by the airport. It's mostly closed but there are still enough people around that it isn't quite abandoned.
13 March 2021
Eco Gas Station
I passed by an abandoned gas station, which I believe was built next to a wastewater treatment plant to rely on natural gases generated by waste. Looks like it's already closed down.
13 March 2021
I believe I saw cherry blossoms, but am not totally sure. I saw three types of spring flowers, all of them right here at the edge of this abandoned neighbourhood, nowhere else. It is still about two weeks too early compared to last year, which itself was oddly early.
13 March 2021
I saw some information about an abandoned neighbourhood not far from home, so I added it to my to-do list for the day. In all I visited three abandoned areas I'd never been to before in one day.
12 March 2021
Millie was hiding under a chair. She's been acting different lately, not jumping up and rushing for the food dish when she thinks I owe her, and sitting around in different places.
11 March 2021
After the moon villages article came out, I was thinking about the area where Bamgol Village used to be. I remembered there having been sort of a moon village on another hillside nearby, underneath the Slumping School I visited back in 2018. That school building was demolished, and the rest of the old buildings have been wiped out and moonscaped. I jumped the fence and got a closer look at the abstract landscape.
27 February 2021
Kenektid X Book Fair
I stopped by this place in Hapjeong where Kenektid was having its book fair. It was pretty big, two floors of tables filled with independent publishers. Among them was J.S. Han of Rebel Society who chose to avoid having his face shown.
26 February 2021
Looks like one of the Korean knockoff brands of Spam decided to get in on the Hallyu of processed meat. Technically the taegeuk after the K serves as the hyphen, so it qualifies for the K-Iceberg. I just wish I had a better understanding of what Lospam is supposed to mean.
After photographing this neighbourhood on Lunar New Year, I went back on a Sunday for another look around. Ryan had been by recently and uncovered the smashed wreckage of a shamanic shrine, so I went back to have a look myself and also get into an abandoned church nearby.
21 February 2021
I also walked over to Namyeong Station, where I recalled seeing a building with its windows knocked out next to the tracks. I found it, and it turns out the ground floor was still in use.
Something else useful I found, over by the scooter shop: two pharmacies open on Sunday. Not that I needed them. They are right by the bottom of the funicular on those old Japanese stairs located sort of between Huam-dong and HBC.
Around the Neighbourhood
I had to drop my scooter off at the shop for 90 minutes, so I decided to do some walking in the neighbourhood. I headed straight for an abandoned old building said to be a hospital. Previously I was a little cautious not knowing if the thing might be watched as the signs say, and I didn't want to drive around there on my scooter. So being on foot worked out. It's old inside, and stripped likely for renovation.
14 February 2021
Under Seoul Station
I had noticed some excavation work going on where the bus stops are in front of Seoul Station. Fearing some cyberpunk photographers may have fallen in and were taking shelter until the next rainstorm, I hopped a fence and had a quick look inside. Not much to see, and no idea what it's for.
14 February 2021
I previously went here in September and from a pretty good roof I couldn't see any sign of abandonment. Now less than half a year later, the area is half demolished. I took pictures from the exact same roof as last time which should make for some suitable comparisons. Otherwise, a quick drive around seemed to indicate no easy ways in.
12 February 2021
For Lunar New Year, I drove out to see a couple of friends living in a corner of Seongnam. The route I took brought me through Uiwang, to a small corner where I used to work back in 2009. It's a weird area, characterised mostly by a big overpass running through the area, with a lot of the buildings oriented around that. It was convenient when it was raining.
Not far from there was some affordable housing, probably largely for university students going to the art school nearby, and of course it was sitting abandoned. The whole street grid is pretty basic, making it seem a little less interesting than other abandoned neighbourhoods. I mostly stayed on my scooter and took a helmet cam video, in which at the end I ran into a couple of stray cats.
11 February 2021
At my third abandoned neighbourhood of the day, I returned to visit my university professor friend plus the other one who actually lived right outside the demolition zone who didn't make it last time. This time, my goal was to meet up with this Japanese resident and follow her around to take pictures. It was sufficiently amusing.
11 February 2021
I hurried over to another neighbourhood in northeastern Seoul that was a little far from the nearest subway station and kind of uphill. It was a quick visit and I mostly got photos from one tall roof in the middle that gave a good view. This place could be photogenic. I wish I had a drone to fly over it.
11 February 2021
Abandoned Cat Cafe
After previously stumbling across an abandoned cat cafe but not being able to go inside (see this page far down), I returned and made it inside. It was torn up pretty bad, but at least it wasn't cat-messy if you know what I mean. They also left food out for any stray cats, hopefully not any cats that went missing when this place closed.
This place was simple, but worth seeing. Fortunately I didn't see anything that stood out as unethical regarding animal management.
7 February 2021
The park they've been building at the former site of TBS eFM, as well as a KCIA facility where suspects were tortured in the 1970s, is nearly complete and may be having limited openings, so naturally I visited late at night to get a close look. I've yet to see the torture room and figure out how authentic it is, but I was able to see it during demolition so I should have a good idea. It already looks like some of the materials up on the surface may be actual authentic relics from before demolition. Torture room, good motif for a city park.
7 February 2021
A couple of my friends are professors at Hansung University, which is immediately uphill of Samseon-dong, a major redevelopment zone (where we'd been visiting the Great Japan Hanok). Sometimes either of my friends posts a picture showing the construction fences. So I suggested we meet up and walk through the area so they could see it up close, and I could learn more about how life was in the area. Only one of them ended up making it, but she shared some interesting stories.
I was on the way to meet a friend, but I had to stop and have a look as I passed Seun Sangga.
It seems they're trying to extend the third-floor walkway of Seun Sangga so you'll be able to walk a kilometer along the whole length of the complex. That will be difficult because the ugly redecorated second-southernmost building had its removed. We'll see how it goes.
6 February 2021
I went to Hongdae and drove around visiting a few spots. There had been a show at FF that night but I stayed away from it. Most notably I stopped by the playground and the former DGBD, then got food at Bob's Barbie.
I searched online for new pizza places I haven't tried, and found this place in a quiet corner of Shinheung Market. This isn't a food blog but the pizza I've tried from here has been pretty good. They have a very good view and when it's warmer their roof should be popular.
28 January 2021
I woke up to snow again. It was coming down pretty hard and the garden was covered in snow. Then I opened the door to see how deep it was, and got a bit disappointed.
27 January 2021
Hahn Vad posted a new music video where he humps an excavator in a neighbourhood being cleared for redevelopment. I guessed it was Imun-dong which I've been visiting a fair amount over the last couple years, but it turns out to be another one right next door.
27 January 2021
Cul De Sac Ville
I went up to see Lee Jooyoung's latest art exhibit, this time on a neighbourhood I've gotten to know over the last year. She is set up inside a house that has been abandoned for 10 years before being bought up by a government agency for artists to use. It's worth seeing if you can find it.
20 January 2021
Yongsan Disasater Anniversary
I went past the Yongsan Disaster site on the off chance something might be happening there. It seems all memorial services have been moved to the countryside. One thing that seemed worth noting though, the fire hose attachments located prominently along the front of the new building, pointing right where the Yongsan Disaster site was. The actual building where everybody died was on that patch of lawn between the sidewalk in the bottom of the frame and the motorcycle.
17 January 2021
I've been driving past this K-Iceberg entry for a couple months. Not sure when K-Mas season ends.
Someone posted about the Yulgok Tunnel project online, asking if it was completed yet. There seemed to be a lot of misconceptions about the thing, and people didn't seem to understand the amount of time it's taken. I started visiting in 2014 when the landscape was being churned up and traffic was being disrupted. The tunnel seems to have been completed early last year, with traffic restored which really cleared up congestion well. But there is still a lot of landscaping to do up top so Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo Shrine can be connected to each other.
13 January 2021
Yongsan's Fire Flower
In preparation for an article for the 12th anniversary of the Yongsan Disaster, I revisited the flower statue at site of the fire. It looks sort of like a tulip, but also a flame, which is kind of a problem. I was able to get to a plaque which identified it as the "Fire Flower."
12 January 2021
It snowed heavily, starting just a couple minutes after I arrived at work. Social media was overwhelmed with snow pictures, and then a few days later it all melted. I changed mentions of "heavy snow" in the paper to "heavy snowfall." It's not heavy snow if you can see the ground.
10 January 2021
Disappearing Live Music Venues
After this article was published, I gave it a heavy revision and then went to visit the three venues I knew best: V-Hall, MUV Hall, and DGBD. V-Hall is gutted, MUV Hall is just not accessible at all anymore, and DGBD is a completely different place.
I don't mind the loss of the former two, as they were corporate venues run by companies (Hanatour and Yes24, I think). Maybe it's good that these corporations are providing infrastructure for live music, but they are entirely replaceable, and no owner lost their livelihood over this, since the corporations are probably just restructuring (although Hanatour can't be doing well these days). There isn't that much demand for medium-sized venues anyway, so it's a good thing if there's less competition for Rolling Hall, the only venue of a comparable size that's owned by an individual.
9 January 2021
On a very cold day, I drove past Gwanghwamun. There were a few things I wanted to photograph, but even taking my glove off for a few seconds froze my hands surprisingly bad. I went back another day when it was around -2, and even that was hard somehow.
There were two main things that caught my eye: renovations to the square as part of the latest Gwanghwamun renovation plan, and a number of mannequin construction workers around. I met one of them recently and it only increased my interest in these things.
2 January 2021
While driving over Haebangchon, I noticed the Harim Chicken truck at the five-way intersection. Curious to know more about this industry, including how the trucks are run and how locations are scheduled, since they don't seem to bump into each other.
2 January 2021
After seeing pictures of some very run-down homes in Jungnim-dong, I went out to have a look. It's easy to walk around but not easy to see inside anywhere due to the cramped quarters and likelihood of remaining residents.
For this year I've once again gone through the photos on my smartphone. I've started relying on it much more, and there are way more photos than previous years.
In the first gallery, we can see 2020 before the pandemic took hold, plus my own unrelated hospitalisation and the recovery after, with lots of cat photos.
I'm surprised there aren't a lot of food photos, because I remember enjoying food more than usual after I got out of the hospital. But I guess most of it was delivery, and that doesn't make for very good pictures.
You can see signs of the pandemic, although I had my own problems to deal with so it didn't affect my life very much yet.
The last gallery focuses especially on the cats, especially Buster who suffered a hematoma in his ear and needed two surgeries. He really suffered, especially with wearing bandages and a lampshade, but as he healed quickly I started to get a little jealous.
The cats also spent a lot more time at the computer, and we made a zine together called "Cats on Keyboards" so they're expecting to become famous writers. This was also while I was getting Broke Publishng up and running, and I figure my chances are about as good as the cats'.