New Year's Eve 2012

New Year's Eve

Last week I was contacted by an urban explorer from Hong Kong named Airin. She was interested in visiting Yongma Land, and I gave her a few other suggestions of places to go too. We met up a few times, including on New Year's Eve to see the train tunnel. She brought along her friend Isa, who's studying at Yonsei KLI.

30 December 2012


Just a few pictures of the cats celebrating this time of the year through sloth and gluttony.

29 December 2012

Jani's Birthday

Like Christmas, it seemed like the preceding Saturday was the best day for celebrating New Year's Eve. Not that there was a countdown or anything. It was Jani's birthday and everyone showed up seemingly for that. I've never seen so few hipsters in Roots Time on a Saturday night. Later on, we went to the noraebang, then I returned to Roots Time to say hi to Grant and Jesse.

Christmas 2012


Christmas was kind of celebrated on December 22, when Roots Time had a DJ party. Then on December 24, I went to Itaewon to see Heimlich County Gun Club's second show. It started two hours later than it was supposed to so I didn't stick around long, coming down with a cold and not wanting to be stranded after the subways ended. Anyway, I got to help Zeinab celebrate her first Christmas.

19 December 2012


We went to Itaewon, which was oozing with pure sleaze from every crack. I also added a couple other pictures in from outside of Itaewon which also had high sleaze levels.

19 December 2012

Abandoned Neighbourhood

It was election day, so we had the day off work. I revisited the same abandoned neighbourhood, which still has a huge amount of ground left to cover.

18 December 2012

Gyeongui Line

I brought Jen to see the subway tunnel, only to discover that it's already opened. Rather than risk getting flattened by the train we decided to go the legal way and take the train from Hongdae to newly opened Seogang Station.

8 December 2012 2012

Punk Rock Toy Drive

Paul put on his first show back in Korea, which was also the debut of his new band Heimlich County Gun Club. The show started with them, and it was like a trip back five years into the past, to the point where somehow our Australian friend Grant was summoned from across time.

It was a good show, but something needs to be done to bring Mullae to the attention of more people. Also, since it's the middle of nowhere, shows really need to end before the subway closes. I can't believe a five-band show lasted from around 8 to after 1am.

Of less importance, this was also the release of Broke in Korea 15, which was packed full of news and interviews about the scene, as well as a few stories about cults in Korea.

6 December 2012 2012

Snow on Inwangsan

No, I didn't climb the mountain in this weather. Just a few more snow pictures from the day after the snow.

5 December 2012


The first snowfall of the year got a big response on Facebook, but I was busy working on the latest Broke, as well as an actual article for work. I certainly did go out and photograph Seochon as the snow was falling.

This trip somewhat followed the course of a RASKB tour I went on a few months ago. I recall now showing up with my camera, only to discover my battery was completely dead. At least it was helpful in helping me find my way around months later.

1 December 2012


Somehow I recently discovered that there's this other stream a bit west of where I live that comes out of nowhere. Like all the others this one comes from under a road, and probably can be traced to inlets up in the mountains. This stream is also the one that runs by World Cup Stadium. It smells much better down there though.

28 November 2012

UUL National Art Museum Seoul

This museum has been running a fairly silly promotional campaign while under construction. It's not hard to spot the giant figures of famous art posing in the nude, tactically covered by fake trees or just a tall white construction fence. I wonder what the original Mona Lisa would've thought if she heard her naked body had been painted on a wall in Korea centuries after her death. Anyway, I went in for a closer look at the campaign.

26 November 2012


More pictures of cats getting high on catnip and Millie crying. It's not related to the lights or camera and it doesn't seem to bother her.

25 November 2012

Abandoned Neighbourhood

I went back with Sandra one time to the abandoned neighbourhood. This shows how lazy I am at updating pictures, since there's no snow on the ground. My computer doesn't allow certain privileges, such as FTP access, so I need to run a relay to my phone and do multiple uploads for one update. Very annoying, so it's more time-effective to make a bunch of updates at once.

24 November 2012

Townhall Benefit at Powwow

There was a benefit going on for Hwang Kyusuck, the lead vocalist of No Excuse and also founder of Townhall Records, at Powwow. Apparently he was in a car accident and must have been uninsured because they charged him a lot. It sounds like he injured his back and requires intensive rehabilitation.

I did my best to limit the amount of time I spent taking pictures, mainly because I knew this would be way too many photos. This is probably the longest photo gallery I've put up this year, something I don't like to do often anymore.

24 November 2012

Abandoned Seongdong

I went back to Seongdong-gu for another look around. Since the last time there's a notable increase in vacancy. I guess it'll have to empty out really quickly now, or wait until the spring, because I recall hearing that the government can no longer evict people in the winter.

17 November 2012

Thee Oops in Spot

Sorry it took so long, but I've been extremely busy at work. The previous post one down is part of that.

Anyway, here are the pictures from the second Thee Oops show I went to. I got fewer pictures of them than I would've liked because of people who needed help, but I got tons of shots of Victor from Things We Say strutting his stuff in his special way.

Brian sacrificed a lot of money to bring these guys here, and the timing didn't work out well in so many ways. Fortunately at least those who came had a very good time.

The band members were nice, but there was also a more stereotypically sleazy Italian guy there who was hitting on girls and getting in the way. At one point he apparently convinced Verv he was a member of the band, but I'm not sure if that was a misunderstanding on Verv's part.

Hopefully before too long I'll have several more updates.

16 November 2012

Korea's Hardcore Scene

After a few months of getting the idea bumped, I finally got my pitch for something about Korea's hardcore bands accepted. I think everyone was a bit cautious because it's not really on message, especially in this post-Psy world, but nobody could deny it was something worth looking at. There's often a tendency to think "Oh, this topic doesn't really fit in perfectly with what the government normally produces," something that I have ignored from day one.

I took the chance to give a voice to the hardcore bands of Korea, asking them very broad or very specific questions about their music. The responses were thoughtful and thought-provoking, and painted a picture of a side of Korea's modern music that doesn't rely on top-down micromanagement and exist for the sole purpose of national branding, yet still accomplishes something in its own way.

This article has already become one of my most-read government blog articles (as far as I can tell it's a distant second to my superstitions article), which I'm convinced is the result of the thought-provoking content as well as the SNS activities of friends and strangers in the hardcore scene. I encourage you to add to it -- go hit like, leave a comment, add a link, or link it on your own site -- because I know for sure the government does pay attention to these things, and I'm very curious what will happen if they see this one blow up.

16 November 2012

Thee Oops at Powwow

I showed up late for the show at Powwow, which was my first time there since it changed to this new place. There really were not enough people there which was a huge disappointment, but the bands were good as always. It was nice getting a preview of Thee Oops before the Spot show too. More on that soon.

15 November 2012

Millie's Birthday

For Millie's seventh birthday, I managed to track down her favourite cat food (tuna and hairball from Good Friend, which seems to have been discontinued), got some primo catnip, and picked up some sausage treats. We had a nice little party with Buster and I made a party hat. I fed them, got them high, and gave them a snack. A nice party but Millie still cried.

13 November 2012

Hallyu Star Street

It probably seemed a bit out of character that I wrote this article about a project in Gangnam to create a "Hallyu Star Street", but I really just wanted to go to the area and poke around. Sure enough, right on the street itself I discovered an abandoned plastic surgeon's office which seems to have been sitting unused since at least 2007.

11 November 2012

Shinji and Ogin's Wedding

I showed up a bit late for the wedding, just in time for the pictures at the end. Taking pictures at weddings can be kind of annoying because of the professional photographers who need to stand in the best places. I understand because it's their job, but it makes it less fun to take pictures at weddings.

10 November 2012

Gyeongui Tunnel

After Yongma Land, we headed to Hongdae. But Roots Time being closed for the night due to Shinji and Ogin's wedding the next day, we found another place to drink: the subway tunnel. It's looking even closer to completion now, with signal lights on and active.

10 November 2012

Yongma Land, the Amusement Park Junkyard

I went back to Yongma Land with Jen to have another look at the grounds. Last time I'd noticed a parking lot at the top of some stairs, but didn't give it much thought. This time we went up and discovered that it's a junkyard for amusement park rides that have been brought in from seemingly all across the country and left to rot.

9 November 2012

Spam Singles

I stopped by the 7-11 the other day, and found something disturbing: individually packaged slices of Spam. Just like Kraft Singles, but even less healthy. Of course I had to buy one, just so I could look closer at it and learn its secrets.

4 November 2012


It's that time of year where the ondol goes on, and the cats take an interest in lying on the floor so they can cook themselves like two hairy strips of bacon.

4 November 2012


I went back to Hongeun-dong on a Sunday for a rematch with this church. Last week I only made it into the lower level and left due to low light and someone possibly coming in, but this week I came back and got all the way up to the roof. I expect it won't be there much longer; one week is already pretty long for an abandoned church in Korea.

3 November 2012


There was a show in Mullae for someone's birthday. There seem to be a lot more shows here these days.

3 November 2012

Yongma Land

This place seems to have been spread around the Korean photography websites, and now it's being frequented by a high volume of photographers. I met the only other foreigners there, two Vietnamese students (one studying hotel management at Kyung Hee, and the other enrolled in an international high school). When we were finished looking around, I invited them for a bowl of dongdongju at one of the tent places catering to hikers at the bottom of the mountain.

2 November 2012

431km to Dokdo

"It's 431 kilometers to Dokdo, we have a full tank of gas, half a packet of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses."

As much as I do take Korea's side on the whole Dokdo/Takeshima debate (if we let Japan keep all their conquered territory I'd be eating sushi right now), the more often I see things like this the more it irritates me.

As I pointed out to Babylove and the van Dangos when they visited last month, "Hey, I just remembered we're supposed to be arch enemies!" I don't really know much about how Japan does it, but Korea is always going all out on this issue.

1 November 2012

Changdeokgung Full Moon Tour

After Ansan, we went to Changdeokgung for the moonlight tour. This time they didn't let us bring tripods in, and unlike last time the sky was actually clear, so it makes a major difference on my photos. I still managed to pull off a few good ones.

If you get a chance to take the tour, don't miss out because it's the best way to see Seoul's best palace.

1 November 2012


Not the city, the mountain. We took the afternoon off at work to go mountain-climbing.

Ansan is a pretty nice mountain between Inwangsan and my home. It was useful to go there at the time because I had an article about mountains in Korea due the next day. The article puts forth a challenge to climb certain sets of mountains in Korea, divided using traditional methods applied to mountains all over the world. Largest in each region, all above a certain height, second-largest, inner circle of Seoul, outer circle. No, I haven't completed any of these.

Halloween 2012

Some Kind of Youth

On actual Halloween, the new promoter group Some Kind of Youth put on a show in the park. The final lineup was Veggers, Dead Buttons, Love X Stereo, Rudy Guns, and Swindlers. I didn't do a very good job of identifying who was who.

29 October 2012


Not wanting to stay indoors all Sunday, I headed out on my scooter to visit the abandoned neighbourhood in Hongeun-dong, only to find it mostly demolished.

Some of the parts that were previously less abandoned are now in a worse state, including a sizeable church. I spent most of my time up on a rooftop watching the workers in twilight.

28 October 2012


I honestly did not take many pictures for Halloween this year. Mostly just of Peter passed out.

26 October 2012

Verv's Birthday

Verv had another birthday party, which means drinking with people from all over the world, but especially Poles.

25 October 2012

City Hall

Recently the new Seoul City Hall opened, and more recently the old building was reopened as a public library. I went there the day before to look around and get pictures for an article.

Still not a fan of the exterior design of the new building. One of my Korean friends said she couldn't put in words how much she hated it, then did her best to rant about it anyway. Another described it as the eye of a housefly.

I agreed, but the interior of the building is fantastic.

23 October 2012

Royal Asiatic Society

I went to an RASKB lecture on Korea's two-faced policy on multiculturalism. There's not much visual to share, other than a couple drinking pictures at the afterparty.

I met with Stephen Epstein before the lecture at Oktoberfest. For future reference: RASKB lectures are no better if you're buzzed. Save the drinking for after.

20 October 2012

Searching for the Secret Platform

For a city with a history like Seoul's, you'd expect there'd be a lot of crazy secrets hidden underground. I recently discovered by accident that there's an abandoned train platform on an offshoot of Line 2. I've been to the area four times now, and I think I'm getting closer to finding it. In the meantime, I've found a lot more down there.

The platform opened in 1980 and was closed in 1990 due to too much flooding, and a replacement platform was built less deep.

20 October 2012

Buster and Millie

It's been a while since I posted anything about the fake Buster and Millie. In all honesty, it's simply because they haven't been playing with their doppelgangers lately, mostly because they've been on a chair the cats don't sit on. I took to placing them in strategic locations so they'll move them, and it's been succeeding. Still haven't seen them brought back to the food bowls and water though.

17 October 2012

Gyeongui Line with Sherman

This is what happens when a former UER moderator flies halfway around the world and meets up with a current moderator. We basically drank a lot and then walked a kilometer through a subway tunnel under Hongdae. Good times.

This tunnel is projected to open in December of this year. Not a lot of time left to go down there.

16 October 2012

Rooftop in Gangnam

I braved the invisible horses of Gangnam to go to Indieplus for the English-subtitled premier of Two Doors, about the disastrous rooftop raid on January 20, 2009 at Namildang in Yongsan.

It was an impressive movie that clearly had its own bias, but did a good job of portraying how things went down. It made more use of police accounts rather than letting the protesters have their soapbox, and analysed how the police were used to suppress them (putting the police in extreme danger themselves too).

Having been familiar with the intimate details of the incident and the urban renewal war, I felt well-prepared to understand what it was talking about, although others in the audience saw it a little differently.

The movie is playing every Tuesday at 8pm this month. Definitely worth seeing.

11 October 2012

Babylove and the van Dangos in Club Ta

The show ended up going very well. Club Ta got enough people that it didn't feel empty, but didn't feel too crowded either. As I predicted, people didn't really start arriving until a little before 9, but I'm not sure if they were just showing up for Kingston Rudieska or that's the usual habit for that place.

The show ran smoothly without any problems, and I think everyone who went was satisfied. Babylove certainly didn't disappoint, putting on a very fun show. They got along very well with the Kingston Rudieska guys and arranged an encore collaboration of "Freedom Sound" by the Skatalites. I'm only remembering now that I saw them do the exact same song with Ska Rockets in 2009, although this time around it was Babylove's choice.

7 October 2012

Babylove and the van Dangos in Hongdae

I met up with Babylove and the van Dangos to give them a tour around Hongdae and prepare them for the show on Thursday. We went out for meat, then I showed them around, stopping by Sangsang Madang, the playground, and finally to This is Chicken. We were also ambushed on the way by Korean band Romantic Punch, who filmed them for I'm not sure why.

7 October 2012

Andong International Maskdance Festival

After a quick trip to the Andong Soju Museum, we headed to the main grounds of the festival. It was very busy, even bigger than I remembered last year. We wandered around and did a lot of shopping, and watched a performance of the Yangju maskdance and a smaller performance of Ungbu Hahoe Maskdance, which presented only a few of the madangs.

7 October 2012

Abandoned Andong

On our second day at the Maskdance Festival, we stopped by a couple of old abandoned buildings in town. It's probably praise of the kids of Andong that I didn't see any particular amount of graffiti around these beautiful old buildings.

6 October 2012

Maskdance Festival in Hahoe Village

We made it to Hahoe Village to see the traditional fireworks show. Not really fireworks in the conventional sense, but very inventive and very unique. We saw lots of things on fire.

3 October 2012

Ferrets in Yeouido

Sandra invited me to a picnic in Yeouido with herself and her family: Mia and Clara. I'm only sorry I didn't bring my cats, but I know they wouldn't be happy with a day in the park.

26 September 2012


Most of these pictures took place over Chuseok. I didn't leave the city, and stayed in town to enjoy the peace and quiet. I went out and did some night photography on the streets, and went beard-hunting in Danginri. Nevin was in town with the band Alpine Decline, and Phil's dad was visiting.

23 September 2012

Alternative Space Moon

I went to Mullae for another show, this one in Alternative Space Moon. It was Jesse's birthday and it was a Sunday, so the mood was much more relaxed outside of the intense music. I saw some great new bands -- the Kitsches and Veggers -- and got another chance to see great shows by Mixed Blood and Something Fierce. I missed Find the Spot unfortunately; did anyone else find any spots there?

22 September 2012

Changdeokgung with the RASKB

The Royal Asiatic Society is a shady group. They actively recruit foreigners who are fresh off the boat (plus a decade or three) for social activities in which you have to pay to take part and support the group. Koreans are only allowed to join if they pay the exact same fees as foreigners. They are never up front about their connections, and after doing some research I've discovered they have ties to the British monarchy. In fact, Prince Charles himself is their official patron. Along with regular lectures on a wide range of fascinating topics, all intended to indoctrinate guests into supporting monarchy, they host special interest groups for photography and Korean literature. Their outings are little more than photo ops where you aren't given any special clothes to wear and you're free to photograph whatever you want.

Okay, not quite as seedy as Mannam--not even in the same book. RASKB is a great group to be part of and it helps anyone to open their eyes and discover the cultural treasures of our host country.

On a Saturday morning we met up at Changdeokgung for a special tour by architect Cho Insouk. It was interesting to take the time to look over the palace with the perspective of an expert of Korean architecture drawing our attention to the lesser-known details.

Slouching Towards Shinchonji -- 16 September 2012

Shinchonji National Olympiad/
Mannam World Peace Festival

So, how was your weekend? I went to a breathtakingly grand event at Olympic Stadium which, depending on which side you entered or how you were invited, was either the Shinchonji National Olympiad or the World Peace Festival.

For the last several months, Mannam recruiters have been out wherever foreigners congregate, handing out pamphlets about Mannam's many activities and teasers of an upcoming World Peace event on September 16 that would break a world record. I was approached at the World Cup Stadium GS25 while my parents were visiting, and while I wasn't interested in expanding my social commitments, I saw the opportunity for a good news article for work. My first article about Mannam talked about affordable Korean-language classes, placing Mannam side-by-side with the Korean Cultural Centers and numerous migrant workers' centers. I had no problem giving the Mannam recruiter my contact info and receiving occasional event invitations; in the quest for fresh article ideas that belong on a government news website, I need to cast a wide net.

Anyway, months later I started hearing that Mannam had ties with a Korean church outside the mainstream, Shinchonji. Evidence has been offered here and there, from first-hand accounts to analysis of their symbolism and practices, not to mention the presence of Shinchonji higher-ups in the upper echelons of Mannam, not the least of which is Lee Man-hee, leader of Shinchonji and honorary chairman of Mannam. This was not a hidden fact, but recruiters weren't up-front about it, and it wasn't long before a lot of the original pages supporting the link were made to disappear.

I looked into it a bit, and was surprised to find how many of my friends had also been contacted by them. This group had reached a surprisingly large portion of the expat population, which is actually quite an achievement I can't imagine has been duplicated by anyone other than...immigration?

Anyway, fast-forward to the record-breaking event on the 16th. Some online sources originally had it billed as the International Day of Mannam and/or 1st Mannam World Peace Race, or increasingly as the World Peace Initiative, but some sources advertised the sixth quadrennial Shinchonji National Olympiad. To be honest, I wasn't taking much interest until I saw what that last one was. Mass games! Large-scale card stunts, like the Arirang Festival in North Korea, only this one was in South Korea! Oh yes, now I totally wanted to go.

I'm not really moved by the religious content (no more than I would be from its North Korean counterpart), but I find the logistics of planning and executing such events infinitely fascinating, not to mention aesthetically stimulating.

My Korean coworkers and friends are terrified of Shinchonji, but I thought it would be a positive service to them to show what really goes on at an event like this.

But would I be allowed in, despite not being a member or a believer? Sure, why not? The recruiters were handing out free tickets to foreigners by the spool. I decided that the best way to go would be to attend with my friends from the blogging and publishing community so we could maintain our own subgroup cohesion, rather than doing something stupid like attempting to infiltrate a Mannam group.

Mannam released a statement and apology a couple weeks before the event acknowledging its collusion with Shinchonji but maintaining that they are still two independent organisations. Still, Mannam continued to recruit more and more foreigners into coming without adding on this bit of information. They even deceived the Ministry of Unification, which I'm told pulled out two days before the event, once they discovered that the World Peace Festival they'd agreed to sponsor was connected with Shinchonji.

Sunday came, and over the next day videos started appearing on YouTube of the Shinchonji performances, mislabeling them as Mannam or World Peace Festival despite their clear religious messages. I think it's best to point out on Mannam's behalf that these performances were part of the religious Shinchonji portion of the show, and I hope Mannam comes forward and clarifies to its members which parts of the program were Mannam and which parts were Shinchonji. By Tuesday, blog posts started going up, presumably as soon as the writers had recovered their thoughts and were able to think clearly again.

The response to the Olympiad has broken into two camps:
1) foreigners who attended expecting to be part of a World Peace Festival, and feel shocked, betrayed, and disgusted at being deceived into taking part in a religious event
2) Mannam/Shinchonji members who insist that Mannam and Shinchonji have maintained an acceptable distance throughout the event

I occupy a rare third position, having done my research before joining the festivities. So we went, and you can see my pictures here. I was made to feel uncomfortable while there, and I even thought about not posting these pictures for fear of ruffling Shinchonji's feathers. However, having seen the widespread foreign response to being invited under false pretenses, I don't think I'm saying anything unprecedented or risque.

This is in no way intended to disparage their religious beliefs; everyone has the right to worship (or not worship) however they see fit, and if they want to put on a great mass performance like this every so often, I say go for it, because it was spectacular.

On the other hand, it's disingenuous how Mannam lured foreigners there, so it needs to be shown that the two groups are closely linked. Not because I want to prevent people from participating in either or both groups, but because everyone should make a practice of knowing what they're getting involved with. Plus, don't we owe Shinchonji a bit of recognition for this massive undertaking they've accomplished?

As I told Mannam when I was interviewed on camera, we don't get many opportunities to see an event like this, at least without having to go to North Korea or some other place. But the chance to witness such a performance in South Korea, where we have the right to mobility freedom of speech without fear of safety, that was impossible to turn down.

Well, I'm glad I went. Whether or not you agree with the message, it was a spectacular performance told in an overpowering medium (tens of thousands of colour-coded human-sized pixels). If you're looking for a genuinely unique spectacle, you couldn't do better than Mannam and Shinchonji. Granted, they have a lot to learn about PR. If you are considering getting involved with Mannam (or for that matter, any charity group), I encourage you to do some research first so you can make an informed decision.

9 September 2012

The More I See

Juyoung decided to bring not one, not two, but three Japanese bands over for a weekend of shows. I went to the second show, and while I didn't take many pictures, I was helping Verv (and later Tel) look for a stolen bag. It seems that a thief came and took whatever he could. At one point I placed an empty bag in front of the washroom as a trap, watching it for about an hour. When the show ended I gave up to search around again, and about 20 minutes later it was gone too.

We have more information about the stolen bags on the Facebook page.

9 September 2012

Lazy Cats

Just a couple pictures of cats doing what they do best. By the way, I wrote a big post about cat ownership in Korea for work.

8 September 2012

Gangnam Style

Yes, I'm trading on a fad. I crossed the river to drive through Yeongdeungpo, Seocho, and Gangnam. I'm familiar with a lot of these areas, but they've mostly changed for the worst over the past several years. I still remember the first time visiting that moon village, when I was so impressed by the atmosphere and scenery of the area.

5 September 2012

Royal Asiatic Society photo meeting

Every month, I go to a photo meeting organised by the Royal Asiatic Society. Anyway, before I went in I decided to see if the roof was any good.

2 September 2012

Aaron and Doqsuun's Farewell BBQ

I showed up on Sunday to say bye to Aaron and Doqsuun, though I'll almost certainly see them next weekend. They have a nice apartment on the top floor of a building, with exclusive rooftop access. Paul did most of the cooking, and it only rained heavily for a short while. I didn't take that many pictures, and I didn't even get any of Doqsuun who was running around the neighbourhood the whole time.

27 August 2012


Tyler's friend Dan is visiting from Seattle, just in time for Tyler to realise he's behind in his Korean classes and go into Korean student mode. I showed Dan around on Monday night, hitting up three abandoned neighbourhoods each in very different states of renewal.

26 August 2012


I've been checking up on a few locations regularly. The gym as been all but dismantled; I think anymore and it'll go beyond renovation to full-on demolition. The neighbourhood still has a high occupancy rate, with more people moving out each day, and there's been a definite shift in the mood of the area.

25 August 2012

Roots Time

More pictures from Roots Time on Saturday night.

23 August 2012


We've been having a lot of really good sunsets lately, which is impressive when you consider most of the year it's too smoggy to see the sun setting properly.

There are also pictures showing the eve of the typhoon and during the typhoon.

19 August 2012

Abandoned Factories

Tyler's fetish is Daum Maps, and he spends a lot of time doing things I don't want to imagine on that site. He identified a factory area just outside of Seoul that seemed to be in rough shape, and he's paid it a couple visits so far. We went back, but I was more concerned than he was about asbestos warnings. In such a large, open-air structure I don't think it would be a serious problem, but it brings out the hypochondriac in me.

19 August 2012

Doha Reverse Auction

I went to Doha with Kyungha of No Control, Tyler, and a now former coworker to look more deeply into having a concert there. My original plan was for an outdoor show in the soccer field, but now I'm not feeling ambitious enough.

We're going to start with a small show in the sauna room, and see where things go from there. I've already talked to a lot of musicians and gotten them interested, and we will slowly get around to everyone hopefully.

They were having an auction this day, with Hareem as probably the worst auctioneer in the world. It was a reverse auction, in which they start at a high price and barter down until they come to a reasonable price, then they keep going down further until presumably everyone's feeling a bit too embarrassed for the artist. It was a lot of fun, and there were other prizes too, including a coupon for 100 coffees, with the caveat that they must all be ordered at once.

19 August 2012

Hindu Cats

In bed, I found this little dot of paper so I decided to see if Millie liked it. She wore it around the apartment as her third eye for the rest of the morning.

12 August 2012

Abandoned ski resort

Several times I've been around this location, and I remember other people pointing out this complex further up the mountain, but I never really paid much attention (in all fairness, we were there for something far more interesting). Anyway, it turned out we'd been looking at an abandoned ski resort. It looks like it's been closed for years, and demolition may have halted at some point judging by how old a lot of the construction equipment appears. There's also a small fortune in ski equipment sitting inside collecting dust and becoming unusable.

11 August 2012

Real DMZ Project

I was sent to Cheorwon to work on an article about an art project in the DMZ. Some of the pictures appeared in the article but there were a lot more that I found interesting. In a lot of the locations I took photos more of the actual locations rather than the art, and I was especially interested by the Labor Party Headquarters.

4 August 2012

Industrial Accident Show in Lowrise

The show in Mullae mostly went off without any problems, despite all the government meddling a few days in advance. I'd been told that the government would be sending people to make sure the show isn't violating any rules, and unless they meant me, nobody ever showed up, or at least announced themselves. The show ended up having to be free with donation, and I had to scrap a plan to book a keg from Magpie Brewing Co. Other than some ugliness with a drunk foreigner whipping out his junk in front of the venue and the usual Verv political shenanigans, everything went very smoothly.

1 August 2012

Dream Cinema

Dream Cinema has been on death row for years now, at least since 2007. When its fate was first announced, the owner began screening Dirty Dancing and nothing else. It got so much attention, it stayed open longer to change the program. Then it became an art gallery. I've actually never set foot inside, and it might be too late to do so now. Still, I can get most of the way in easy enough.

1 August 2012

Nail Houses

Nail house is a Chinese word for a structure occupied by evictees. I'm sure the name applies to all such places, but it is most prominently linked with the buildings that have outlasted their neighbours, and may now find themselves surrounded by a construction site, even sitting up on a hill while everything else has been excavated.

Driving through Ahyeon, I spotted a good example of this sort of area, with houses almost totally enclaved within a construction site, connected only by a single road.

28 July 2012

Attacking Forces CD Release

Okay, despite taking this picture, the Attacking Forces CD is probably the best actual punk album to come out in Korea in a long, long time. It's grown a bit older I think, and some of the songs have that sentimental mood that comes out in Burning Hepburn songs. But at the same time it maintains a very strong link with their older albums. It definitely proves that this band has been consistently the best at being entertaining year on year.

Anyway, the show was great and had an atmosphere like shows from back in the old days.

4 August 2012

Industrial Accident in Mullae

I'm putting on a show on August 4 in Lowrise, featuring what's sure to be one or two firsts and a few lasts as well. Mixed Blood will make their debut, and Chadburger will return from obscurity before Aaron goes back to Australia later in the month. As well, Brothers of the Hole will play a show with Phil as their new guitarist before Craig goes back to Canada. Something Fierce is just one or two shows past their official return to Korea. I'm also looking forward to seeing Scumraid, No Control, and Sato Yukie again (not so much Tyler, as I see him enough already as this page attests).

Cliff has been sending all sorts of trash talk videos to Chadburger, challenging to win the hardcore belt, which means I'll probably have to get a special belt made.

I'm working on getting a keg from Magpie Brewing Co, so we might even have good beer at the show. Anyone want to volunteer to be the bartender? You will get money/free beer, and Dori will have to train you in the ancient Oriental art of working a keg.

25 July 2012


I guess Tyler missed me, so he called me up on Wednesday night. I suggested we go back to the subway tunnel, just because I'm curious about how it's been developing in one section. It looks like they're suffering flooding down there, as the part I wanted to get with was just wet everywhere, and there was a bit collection of rubber boots for workers who wanted to go farther. The tunnel runs under Hongje Stream, which I recall being already extremely damp when I went through before the rainy season.

23 July 2012


Sato Yukie was visited by his old Japanese bandmates, and they got together for a few poorly advertised shows. I managed to make it to one of them.

This was the third day in a row that I'd meet up with Tyler; I figured we'd need a break from each other, but then he went and called me up after just one day off.

You can see Tyler's videos of the show on YouTube (I'll just link one for now. You can also see me on the left hand side photographing them.

22 July 2012

Gym at Night

Tyler gave me a call, wanting to visit the gym. I explained I'd already been there, but then I decided it was worth a revisit. No clue how long it'll still be there, or if the rainy season will interfere with our exploits, so might as well go while we can.

22 July 2012

Two Houses in Jung-gu

On the way home from the gym, I investigated this small grouping of houses. I can't quite tell if they're fully abandoned, or just really, really poorly maintained. There are signs that someone is making half-assed repairs, and there are new objects like umbrellas sitting around. I'd really like to know more about them.

22 July 2012

Abandoned Gym

A couple weeks ago I was on my way to check in on an abandoned neighbourhood (see the two galleries below) when I noticed Jangcheung Gymnasium* was fenced off. This building is a couple stops north of where I used to live, and I was always fascinated by what an eyesore it was. It was actually used in the 1988 Summer Olympics for judo and taekwondo. Fortunately it's just going to be renovated, one rare case where I think that's a good idea.

*These days I try not to give place names as directly as before, but this one is so heavily protected by fencing and security, the more power to you if you can successfully get in.

21 July 2012

Alternative Space Moon

After visiting one abandoned area to investigate the possibility of having a show, I went to another decaying area for an actual show. This monthly concert series is put on by Katrin, a German artist. Each show features a mix of bands as well as performance artists.

Moon actually feels like a Hongdae club on the inside, unlike Lowrise which is a concrete cavern.

21 July 2012

Abandoned Gas Station

Right by Doha, we found something you don't see in Korea often enough: abandoned equipment. What looked like a boring site from the outside turned out to be a jungle of dials, valves, pipes, and vegetation. Also, a very outdated computer console that's probably 1/100 as sophisticated as my phone.

21 July 2012

Doha Project

My latest article is about the Doha Project, an art collective that set up shop in a closed army base. I stopped by on Saturday to meet the organiser, and ask him if they'd be interested in letting me plan a music festival there. The answer: yes.

14 July 2012


I hung out with Sandra in Hongdae. She wanted to see Rux play, and I went along even though it was in FF. I was surprised to see the audience there is mostly Koreans now, although I expect that's just for their earlier shows. Rux played a quick set and left without playing an encore.

13 July 2012


There were two surprising farewells at work: one from a coworker who always threatened to leave but I never expected her to, and another from my team leader who got an impressive promotion that will move him to Vietnam.

11 July 2012

Record shopping

I had pitched a blog article about shopping for records in Seoul, but my supervisor seemed to think it would make a better news story. I couldn't turn down the opportunity to write about it, so I set out to visit the two main record markets I know of. I ended up buying two records myself even.

10 July 2012


The weather was mostly better, so I headed back to this condemned neighbourhood to reshoot a few photos. I've been here before many times, but never when it was overcast, making it a bit easier to shoot.

9 July 2012


Just a few pictures from an afternoon in Hongdae.

5 July 2012

Deoksugung Pungnyu

We went to Deoksugung for my parents' last night. The rain was heavy, but it didn't bother us inside the palace, where we saw an indoor concert. There were four performances, ending with pansori in which there was a large helping of chuimsae.

4 July 2012

Roots Time

It was July 4 so Jesse was out celebrating. I stopped by Roots Time for a break from my parents.

2 July 2012

Seoul Markets

I took my parents to two markets they'd never visited before:
  • Gwangjang Market, where we had bindaetteok and bibimbap
  • Tongin Market, which has an interesting program that lets you try a lot of different foods.
  • 30 June 2012

    Millie's Haircut

    Every spring, Millie's backhair forms these clumps that slowly grow and grow. Finally I decided the only thing left to do was take action with my razor. Have you ever tried to shave a cat before? I was not expecting her to be so cooperative. She must have wanted them out too.

    30 June 2012

    Not Jeju

    The next morning, there was a light rain, but nothing serious. We showed up for the ferry to Jeju at 8am, and after some confusion about which terminal to go to, we made it with time to spare. Then they cancelled the ship on us.

    Earlier, the trip was scheduled to start at 6pm and take only about three hours, but when they moved it to 8am and swapped in a slower ship, it obviously was a bad choice on their part, and the whole thing was cancelled.

    So, we went back to Seoul and I got a chance to see Vega.

    29 June 2012

    Yeosu Expo

    I don't know if the Expo was the main reason we went to Yeosu, but it was still interesting to see. I have my worries about the future of the site; while the '93 Daejeon Expo has become a notably interesting abandonment, this one is built on the water. Also, what exactly can they stuff into the Expo after it closes? They'll just be left with a small fishing town in the area that's been pushed aside for the Expo.

    28 June 2012

    Galmaegi restaurant

    We went to a very good restaurant in Yeosu that I've visited before, in 2009. Of course the first time I visited this area was 1996, but none of the meals were this good.

    27 June 2012

    Train to Seoul

    On the way back to Seoul we spent some time in the dining car, which is usually more pleasant than the passenger cars.

    27 June 2012


    Last, we saw a maskdance performance before leaving for Seoul.

    27 June 2012

    Mask Museum

    We stopped by the Mask Museum, which was pretty interesting. The stories behind the masks read like a modern celebrity tabloid.

    27 June 2012

    More Hahoe

    These are just some pictures after we got back from the cliff, when the tourist traffic was picking up.

    My mom enjoyed having people stop by to visit her in her new home.

    27 June 2012


    After my parents were up, we went to Buyongdae to get a birds-eye view of the village. The ferry was cheap for a round trip, and the climb was intense but short.

    27 June 2012

    Morning in Hahoe Village

    I woke up shortly before 5am on Wednesday morning to go out and take pictures of the village before anyone woke up. Some of this made it into an article about Hahoe Village, but I moved a lot of things around to make a smoother narrative.

    26 June 2012


    We stayed in Bukchondaek, one of the nicest buildings in Hahoe Village. I was worried my mom wouldn't be able to handle sleeping on the floor but she did fine.

    26 June 2012


    You know you're in Andong when everything starts getting a little creepy.

    26 June 2012

    Train to Andong

    It was three and a half hours to Andong, and we spent most of it in the dining car watching the scenery.

    25 June 2012

    Two Pictures

    On Monday we had lunch in Samcheong-gak, a traditional building I'd previously never known about up in the mountains north of downtown. There was an hour of traditional music and some fusion.

    24 June 2012

    FC Seoul vs Ulsan

    We went to a soccer game. Unfortunately my friends ended up sitting in a different section due to getting free promotional tickets. The game ended a 1-1 tie.

    24 June 2012

    Cat Cafe

    Gwanghee and I took my parents to a cat cafe.

    23 June 2012


    Paul and my dad played acoustic sets in Danginri Theatre. Videos embedded in the gallery.

    22 June 2012

    Bull Terrier

    Stopping by Danginri the night before the show, we met this uppity bull terrier.

    16 June 2012

    Suck Stuff Reunion

    Paul's back from the army, and it wasn't hard for him to convince Chulhwan to do one reunion show with the old Suck Stuff lineup. It was a pretty amazing show, though in retrospect it would've been more like an old show if it had been held earlier in the evening. Skasucks and Captain Bootbois opened, and I love the lighting in DGBD. A real change from Spot where it's like they're set up to ruin photographs.

    10 June 2012

    Rux/Hollow Jan Comeback Show

    Rux is back, and Hollow Jan is back. Of course I have stories about them both in the upcoming issue of Broke in Korea.

    9 June 2012

    RASKB Garden Party

    Every year the RASKB holds a garden party which alternates each year between the residence of the American ambassador or the British ambassador. This year we visited the American ambassador, and had a lot of good food, looked through books, and met a lot of very fascinating people.

    6 June 2012

    Memorial Day

    What do I do whenever I have too much free time? Well, it had been a while since I went out on my scooter.

    2 June 2012

    Spot Show

    There were lots of Busan bands playing in Spot, so I showed up to see them.

    Right after I arrived, the cops came to move everybody away from Smoothie King. In all honesty, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often, because we basically blockade the place every week.

    I'd just taken a picture a minute earlier in the same direction and was satisfied with the colour and composition, so I took another. The cops saw me and got really surprisingly angry for Korean cops. They demanded I show them the pictures, and confirmed that two were taken. They made me delete the first one, and since we had gone over to a different photo, once the first one was deleted the viewer advanced to the previous view, so the cops forgot to get me to delete the second one. Here it is.

    21 May 2012

    Buster's Birthday Catnip Orgy

    Buster was born on May 21, 2006, at least as best as I can tell. That makes this his sixth birthday, right?

    18 May 2012

    Buddha's Birthday Lantern Festival

    I don't have much to add, as I took a ton of pictures for an article, but I thought this one picture was sufficiently amusing to share.

    12 May 2012

    Insane Youth

    It's been a couple years since the last time I made it to a show in Hongdae Playground, and this one was a lot of fun, starting when the sun was still up. It was fun seeing parents bring their kids by to watch some of the bands. A few chased them off faster than others.

    11 May 2012

    Jaeeun and Tteokbokki

    We met up in order to go to Sindang-dong Tteokbokki Town, and one thing let to another and we ended up deep under Hongdae.

    9 May 2012


    Well, Paul's back in Korea. He managed to luck out and get a job in Yongsan, right before they sent him off to TDC to patrol the fence.

    There are also a few other pictures from all over in here.

    5 May 2012

    FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers

    It turned out it was Children's Day, so the stadium was packed. FC Seoul won 2-1.

    5 May 2012

    Bbeongtwigi-ing the Cat

    I tried getting the cats again, and for some reason it's very easy to get a rice cake over Millie's head, but not Buster's. They both love eating it though, far more than they hate my attempts to torment them.

    1 May 2012

    Roots Time

    In Roots Time, I pulled out my prime lens and took pictures in the dark.

    1 May 2012

    May Day

    For the day off, we drove around Seoul visiting a few sites we wanted to learn more about.

    28 April 2012

    Find the Hardcore Spot

    Another practice room show in another practice room hall.

    28 April 2012

    Bbeongtwigi-ing the Cat

    In the same day I went to an animal rescue event, I attempted to fit a rice cake over Buster's head.

    28 April 2012

    Vegan Bake Sale

    To do an article on the Seoul Veggie Club, we went to this vegan bake sale, only to discover it's completely unaffiliated with the club. We might do an article on the actual group instead, an animal rescue group.

    27 April 2012

    Ipobo Weir

    For work, we went on an afternoon outing to the Ipobo Weir in Yeoju. It's part of the newly opened cycling route spanning the country, alongside the Four Rivers Restoration Project.

    26 April 2012

    Sunny Day

    We had a bit of un-un-seasonabll good weather, so I went out to take photographs of the scenery.

    Later in the afternoon, we had an emergency drill. I assumed it was the Civil Defence Drill, even though it wasn't on the 15th, but it turned out to be an earthquake drill. That would make sense, then, why we didn't hide in the basement but instead wandered into the grounds of Gyeongbokgung.

    21 April 2012

    Sandra's Ferrets

    After the Spring Beer Fest, I visited Sandra's ferrets. They're long and skinny and they shiver when they wake up, but I have a feeling they could probably beat my cats in a fight.

    21 April 2012

    Spring Beer Fest

    This is the sort of thing I do at work.

    17 April 2012

    Royal Asiatic Society

    To do an article on the Royal Asiatic Society, I interviewed Brother Anthony at his Sinchon office. We talked for half an hour about the history of the RASKB in Korea, and afterwards he served me tea and gave me a copy of his book about Korean tea. I took a few pictures of him, and the three most acceptable ones are here for me to decide between.

    The RAS is a fascinating organisation, one of the best ways to learn about Korea and meet amazing people. I go to their lectures from time to time, and attend their monthy photography workshop. I didn't know half this stuff when I first started working on the article.

    A lot of stuff didn't make it into the article. We talked at great length about the 1910s when the RASKB members went from welcoming Japanese annexation to vehemently opposing it. He also discussed the RASKB under the Park Chung-hee regime, when the military government opposed restrictions on the activities of foreigners. One of the members at the time bought a book on the Joseon Dynasty, and nearly had it confiscated by the police who thought it was about North Korea.

    Also, of course I got on the roof of his building. Excellent view up there.

    15 April 2012


    My quest for butt goats brought me to yet another abandoned neighbourhood. This one was interesting: what started as a fairly conventional look around an abandoned neighbourhood turned into a hike up a mountain, where I discovered a few pretty amazing sights.

    15 April 2012

    Butt Goats in Abandonments

    I had the idea to go out taking pictures of spring blossoms, and what better place to find untouched nature than an abandoned neighbourhood? It turned out to be too good an idea, eating up one whole afternoon.

    15 April 2012

    Wedding Hall

    Oh look, an abandonment right across the street from one of the country's best tourist attractions. Kind of a two-for-one for me. Not much to see here though, just a gutted old building.

    14 April 2012


    We're reaching that time of year where it's best to turn off the ondol. Probably the saddest time of year for the cats, who won't be able to lie sizzling on the heated floor again until fall.

    13 April 2012

    Rhee Sung-woong

    Of course this sounds like something I'd go to. I only wish I'd gone to more of it.

    Basically, a bunch of Korean punks made up a fictional North Korean punk and gave him a backstory. They held a series of events at Artsonje Gallery to commemorate his life.

    During the performance, it became somewhat clear that Rhee Sung-woong was a stand-in for a certain South Korean political victim who I won't name, because he's currently awaiting trial.

    It was an impressive performance, with all four bands playing on different stages. The climax of the night was Bamseom Pirates playing inside a prison cell. At one point, they pointed to the corner where I was standing with a couple other photographers and accused us of being part of the "system." I thought for a second, nodded, and said "Yup."

    13 April 2012

    Bukchon Hanok Village

    I've been doing an article series on unique accommodations across Korea, which initially was intended to only be about a book published by the KTO. However, my boss decided there was more potential to it, and we drew it out into a series. With permission to reprint photos from the book, I set to work summarising each chapter in my own words and doing my own research. The KTO unsurprisingly had a bit of a problem with this, and withdrew photo permissions. For the next of the series, I decided enough of the places were close enough to work I could visit them all in one afternoon.

    9 April 2012


    Everything in Dapsimni has been destroyed. Except for that one Buddhist temple. Still no idea what's going to happen here, but it looks like it might take a long while longer.

    8 April 2012

    Kim Swoo-Geun

    I had an assignment to do a story about the architect Kim Swoo-geun, who had designed a lot of my favourite buildings around Seoul. I learned that there are still many left, as well as some that hide some disturbing secrets.

    7 April 2012


    Nearby was a temple. We barely had time to whip through it before it was time to go. It was fun walking through with Chinese people who've never really had a chance to learn about religion for most of their lives.

    7 April 2012

    Hadong Butt Goat Festival

    We went to Hadong County, where they were having a Butt Goat Festival for the cherry blossoms that hadn't yet blossomed. Well, a few were out, but considering the festival was supposed to be well underway it certainly demonstrated how late spring was this year.

    6 April 2012


    For the night, we stayed in Yeocheon in a section clotted with hotels I don't remember being there in 1996. At night after the festivities were over I walked around a bit to see if I could recognise anything.

    6 April 2012


    I'm not sure if all of it is entirely part of the Expo, but Odongdo is a small island off the coast that's connected by a breakwater. I made this trip back in 1996 and again in 2009. Lots of familiar sights.

    6 April 2012

    Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea

    I got to go on an expenses-paid tour of the Expo grounds. The trip was intended for foreign students who speak Korean, and they ended up being mostly Chinese. I made a few friends among them, who you can see in some of the pictures.

    The Expo grounds aren't quite complete yet, although nobody seems worried about that. I wish we could've seen more.

    4 April 2012

    The Moon

    The Moon was out on Thursday evening.

    2 April 2012

    Culture Station 284

    I was sent with a coworker to get pictures for an article about the opening of Culture Station 284.

    They had an exhibit on architect Kim Swoo-geun, which excited me because I had an upcoming article due on him. I decided not to post my pictures of that area, because you should just go there.

    4 April 2012

    Gyeongui Line

    Paul left Korea last month. He'd spent his final couple weeks in a hostel in Hongdae. On the way to the AREX station, he was loaded with luggage, so he took the elevator normally reserved for old people with a handicap or a sense of entitlement. On the way down, he got a quick glimpse of what appeared to be an entirely unused level of the station.

    Back in 2010, before the extension of the AREX line through Hongdae to Seoul Station, I'd gotten into the station. I found an open door and went down a few levels, squeezed through a door, and found myself in a very unfinished subway station. Next time I came back the station was more finished, and I went a different way, eventually finding my way down to the AREX tracks, now covered by suicide doors and electrified.

    It turns out, I'd visited two different lines. Both Gyeongui and AREX connect to Hongdae, and while AREX was completed, Gyeongui has been sitting there in the same condition for about two years. Presumably they've been finishing the rest of the tunnel before laying down tracks.

    Anyway, I managed to get a replacement Australian and headed down. I've made a few trips so far, each time going farther than the last and searching for new exit points.

    31 March 2012

    Billy Carter's Final Show

    Billy Carter are moving to the UK for a while, so they advertised this show at Danginri as their final Korean show of 2012. Opening for them were Skasucks doing an acoustic set and Forget-me-nots, a new Attacking Forces acoustic side project.

    It was a great show with an intimate atmosphere, with the bands taking risks they wouldn't normally in regular shows. Yeongsoon singing "Folsom Prison Blues?" Sure, why not?

    31 March 2012

    Hanok Village

    There's been a lot of positive attention on the cultural value of the Hanok, a traditional style of Korean house that has a lot of interesting features. Now that Bukchon Hanok Village has been saved from the bulldozer, it's a popular destination for photographers. Places like this are slowly getting recognised for their cultural value.

    Then a bunch more slip through the cracks.

    30 March 2012

    Chanter's Alley EP Release

    I showed up at Spot for the release of Chanter's Alley's new EP. I'd heard a pre-mastered version of "Olde Jamestowne Halle" and knew it was going to be worth it.

    30 March 2012

    Institute of Traditional Korean Food

    The Institute of Traditional Korean Food ran an exhibition of some of the traditional Korean liquors its members had made. You can be sure I went there to cover it for an article.

    Pictured here is Ehwaju, a yogurt-based liquor that's eaten with a spoon, dating back to the Goguryeo Kingdom (918-1392). Many of the liquors here have been out of production for decades if not centuries, and have been revived through Joseon cookbooks.

    29 March 2012

    Miru Kim - The Pig that Therefore I am

    Miru is back in Korea again for her latest exhibition. I haven't seen her in almost three years, and in that time she's been getting to know pigs a lot more. She's been visiting factory farms where she...well, you really have to watch the video to really understand the whole undertaking.

    We went on the opening night to find the place filled with video cameras, putting her on the air live at 6:40. Presumably it's usually much more empty.

    You can find out more about the exhibit here and here.

    28 March 2012

    Daju Shopping

    If you're familiar with Sinchon, you've probably been aware of Daju. It's a long arcade-style building behind the Grand Mart that has a fantastic market on the main floor selling a good deal of grey-market goods, including foreign products that are hard to find in Korea. Wait, did I say has a fantastic market? I mean had.

    Though in all fairness, judging by the banners and the state of the building itself upon eviction, it seems to be an amicable move. I think they're going to renovate and reopen the place.

    28 March 2012


    I went to Gyeongbokgung to see a performance of Yeonhyang, a reenactment of a royal banquet.

    It was in all honesty a little less exciting than the Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour, mainly because it was less personal and intimate. It was simply a big performance at Gyeonghoeru, watching the performers from across the water. The performances were definitely bigger in scale and this night's pansori was more elegant, sung by An Sook-seon from a moving boat.

    You can read the original article here.

    27 March 2012

    Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour

    Work sent me on a series of night tours to Korean palaces offering special night programs in the wake of the Nuclear Security Summit.

    The first one was Changdeokgung, where we went on a tour of the grounds followed by a small performance. It was my first time seeing actual live pansori, and I was pretty surprised by the sounds the audience was making. I'm going to start encouraging this at punk shows.

    24 March 2012

    Jeonja Salon

    After we emerged from the underworld, we were fairly close to Jeonja Salon, which just happened to have a show with a bunch of bands I like. It ended up just being Chris and I, and we nerded out with our cameras all night.

    24 March 2012

    Return to the Host

    Nik has returned to Korea, and the exact day that he came back we went on a 1.5-kilometer underground walk.

    The purpose of the trip was to show around Curtis, who's writing an article about Korean urban renewal informed by our experiences.

    We also went with Chris and Laura.

    23 March 2012

    National Museum of Korea

    I keep this site mostly separate from my work activities, other than the occasional link from here to there. But otherwise if someone at work asks me what my website is, I'll tell them Obviously I don't want anyone in the government reading too much into the name of this site (which just started as an homage to Indecline where it was originally hosted [holy crap, it's still online?]).

    Anyway, because I'm the editor for the site, I also got automatically grouped in with this team of bloggers who competed to get chosen. I had the chance to go with the newly selected bloggers on a trip to the National Museum, which I'd never been to before.

    You can see the stuff I'm writing over there all on one page. The format is quite a lot different to what I do here.

    18 March 2012

    Gwangjang Market

    I headed to Gwangjang Market alone to take pictures for an article. I went in mostly blind, other than a few food recommendations, and learned quite a lot.

    You can see the original article here.

    17 March 2012

    Farewell Mike

    Mike left Korea for sunnier pastures (the middle of nowhere, Utah). Here are some pictures from his last weekend in Korea. He'll be back, I'm sure.

    17 March 2012


    My first time going to an actual show in Mullae. Lowrise is basically an unfinished concrete room. I only got pictures of Find the Spot, Dokkaebi Assault, Christfuck, and Scumraid.

    17 March 2012


    Right across the street from me, there was a church that shut down, along with a motel. I only had a small window to go in and have a look. It's already all been demolished.

    14 March 2012

    Korea vs Qatar

    We were a bit relieved this game wasn't a national World Cup qualifier. Turns out it was a U23 qualifier for the Olympics, which Korea is already in.

    11 March 2012

    Dong Cult Park

    We went out to the Uzbek restaurant on Sunday.

    11 March 2012


    More pictures of cats, in which they climb a tower I made for them.

    11 March 2012

    Around Hongdae

    I decided to play with my prime lens in the bars. The difference in the resulting image is very striking. The first shot is with a regular lens, and then the following images are all on the prime lens. I cropped the first one to make it less wide, but otherwise all are as they came out of the camera.

    10 March 2012

    Abandoned Amusement Park

    We went back to the abandoned amusement park. This was my first trip, and on the previous two trips there was no real threat of being caught. We had climbed over a back fence near a junkyard. The owner of the junkyard ran after us and kicked us out. Apparently she'd gotten in trouble recently because of other people who snuck in. We actually didn't go through her property at all, but we easily could have due to a "dog hole" in the fence.

    So, we waited around until dark and jumped the front gate.

    8 March 2012

    Soup Cats

    I was sick, so I skipped one day of work and stocked up on Campbell's soup. This just happens to be one of the greatest things in the world if you're a cat. Millie and Buster did their best to take turns licking the inside of the can.

    4 March 2012

    Abandoned Mental Hospital

    Paul, Jim, and Ana were all counting away their final days in Korea, so I offered to take them to the abandoned mental hospital.

    Unfortunately, the property owner decided he'd had enough of Korean teenage ghost-hunters, so he sealed up every door and window with metal mesh, both outside and in. There's pretty well no point in trying to get inside now.

    3 March 2012


    I was woken up in the middle of the night by the noise of plastic bags. Buster had been licking a bag to make noise to wake me up, and he somehow got trapped inside of it. Usually they just get one of the handles around their necks, but this time he somehow got his whole body inside the bag. Even weirder, as he walked around, I discovered he was purring. I've heard cats sometimes purr when they're in distress, which could've been what was happening here.

    1 March 2012

    Iranian Restaurant

    We met up with Verv and his girlfriend Zeinab, who just returned from Iran last weekend. We took her and some of her Iranian friends to the Iranian restaurant, which is run by an Iranian but specialises more in Indian food.

    1 March 2012


    I discovered photos that a couple soldiers had taken of an abandoned temple in Korea. I got in contact with them and they were happy to privide me with the coordinates. Paul and I headed off on March 1 to pay it a visit. It was pretty amazing, and I'm seriously considering contacting a Buddhist organisation about the state of this temple; it seems wrong to just leave it here like this.

    29 February 2012

    Korea vs Kuwait

    Ryan invited us all to see the Korea vs Kuwait World Cup qualifier game. It was possible that Korea wouldn't make it to the next round of qualifications, provided that Korea lost and Saudi Arabia won, neither of which happened.

    I provided a couple pictures for a quick article on the game, and bought one action shot from Yonhap I don't have the capability to take.

    28 February 2012


    Paul and Greg are both leaving Korea very soon (Greg's already gone). I met up with Paul on a rooftop, and I was surprised by Greg above me.

    26 February 2012

    Amusement Park Reshoots

    I went back to the amusement park for reshoots, along with Paul and Laura. Not too long after we got there, Laura realised she'd been there in 2006.

    25 February 2012

    Galaxy Express

    I interviewed members of Galaxy Express and Crying Nut for an article about their upcoming trips to North America. Also available in the following languages:

  • Spanish
  • Chinese
  • Vietnamese
  • Japanese
  • German
  • Russian

    At this moment the French and Arabic translations aren't finished.

  • 24 February 2012

    Roadrunner CD Release

    I was getting ready for the Galaxy Express show, and I decided to bring my camera to Spot to try it out in live photography before the big event.

    24 February 2012


    As soon as I got my new D7000, I brought it hope to try out on the cats. They seem to approve.

    19 February 2012

    Abandoned Amusement Park

    Thanks to Paul, we've finally found another abandoned amusement park. This one is close to Seoul but awkward to get to. I actually drove by it last year while en route to the Bible Expo, but only stopped briefly to try to get a shot of the ferris wheel in the distance. Pretty sure it was still active then, and I didn't care for any of my pictures because there were trees in the way.

    This trip went fairly well. Unlike Okpo Land where you had to climb to the top of a hill, and Woncheon Lakeland where you had to trek through Mordor, this park was just on the other side of a construction fence. A mildly daunting climb, but on the other side I ran into other photographers who must have gotten in by some other means.

    The park itself is a loose collection of rides, probably bigger than Okpo Land, and less clustered together like Woncheon. The rides themselves are also in better shape, and probably any of them would be in perfect working order after a good hosing-down.

    I'm not too happy with these pictures mainly due to the condition of my camera. I'm planning to upgrade to a newer camera and head back again very soon.

    13 February 2012

    Breaded Cats

    So apparently this is the latest thing. I gave it a light try and managed to meet with some success. It doesn't hurt that my cats enjoy eating bread--not sure about other cats.

    11 February 2012


    Saturday night there was nothing else to do, so we drank in Whoops and ended up making friends with an unconscious Korean guy. Well, after he woke up.

    11 February 2012


    Another trip back to Gajwa-dong, this time in daylight and with Paul.

    4 February 2012

    Morene Market

    I was bored so I rode my scooter around Morene Market and found a few longstanding buildings now gutted and on the eve of demolition, one a motel and the other a church.

    3 February 2012

    Breaking the Law

    Judas Priest was playing in Seoul this night, but I wasn't in the mood for a show. Not counting Attacking Forces, Seoul City Suicides, and Midnight Smoking Drive of course.

    To sweeten the deal, Attacking Forces did an awesome cover of "Breaking the Law."

    4 February 2012

    Rooftopping in Sinchon

    I'd been meaning to meet up with Joseph for a while, but he lives down in Taean. He came up north for a job interview in Yangju, which is considerably closer but still kind of out there. Anyway, we met up in Sinchon and tried a couple roofs, then headed to Sangsu.

    3 February 2012

    Sammy's visit

    I got in touch with a skinhead girl from Singapore who was coming to Korea for a half-week vacation. Apparently her coworkers are all victims of Hallyu and wanted to come to Korea in the winter. She had no interest in K-pop and the usual stuff so I took her around Hongdae for a quick tour of whatever was worth seeing on a Friday night in the coldest week of the year.

    28 January 2012

    Spot Show

    I was showing around a guy from my hometown, and I was only here for part of the show. A lot of the bands I did see impressed me more than I was expecting; I remember thinking Coin Rocker Boys was better than I'd anticipated.

    23 January 2012

    Army Base

    I heard recently that an old army base in Geumcheon-gu has been converted into some kind of art center. It's going to be demolished next year, but for this year it's been given to a few groups of artists to do whatever they want. One group has already started an interesting program.

    I stopped by with Phil on New Year's Day to have a look around. There were still guards in the front gate, but the back gate was unlocked and blowing in the wind. We just walked in and had a quick look around.

    22 January 2012

    Lunar New Year

    In the Korean War, Seoul had to be evacuated twice. At the time, it was a much smaller city of course, so that was probably not even a million people. These days, over 30 million Koreans (out of a total 50 million) hit the road every Lunar New Year to visit their families in their hometowns. This causes traffic problems. Although Lunar New Year is only one day, we get a traffic jam day before and after the holiday to allow everyone the time to get back to their regular lives.

    Anyway, Seoul is always a ghost town around this time. And I take advantage of it. I didn't do anything that special on New Year's Eve, just wandered around my area aimlessly.


    Tsoi Lives!

    Here's an article I'm fairly proud of about Viktor Tsoi, the half-Korean who became one of the USSR's most influential rock musicians. The article presents a pretty decent timeline of his career, although some of the live recordings are obviously newer than the albums they were on, and I placed his "Boiler Room Commander" song out of order for narrative purposes.

    16 January 2012


    Just cats.

    15 January 2012

    The Death Door

    I happened to pick up a random magazine that had an article about Sangsu, and it mentioned an abandoned neighbourhood I hadn't known about in the area. Coincidentally, I was in touch with the photographer Rhee Kanghee earlier that day, and it turned out he used to live there. I managed to find where his home used to be, only to discover it had been knocked down only days earlier.

    14 January 2012


    After a long day of exploring, we went to Hongdae where we visited a few places and spent quite a lot more money than we should.

    14 January 2012

    North Ahyeon

    I went back to North Ahyeon, this time with my tripod and with Jaeeun. We ended up finding a ton of new stuff, despite the fact the whole area was crawling with workers.

    8 January 2012

    North Ahyeon

    It was a surprisingly quick (and downhill) walk to North Ahyeon, which I'd previously given up on, thinking it was too far gone. But actually there's still a lot to see in the area, and we had considerably less trouble than we'd received the previous day.

    8 January 2012

    Class E Apartment

    We went up the hill by Seodaemoon to visit the jolly green apartment. We also wanted to hit up the nearby abandoned daycare, which has been totally sealed up now, and the ancient house that's been long abandoned and turned into a garden, but there was a woman doing her laundry on a nearby rooftop.

    8 January 2012

    Red-Light District

    We went back to the red-light district, where all the buildings I knew were gone. On the bright side, we found several new ones instead.

    7 January 2012


    After a long day of exploring, we went to Hongdae. The first stop was an old factory that had been turned into a quite good coffee house. The counter was made out of an old conveyor belt machine, and the walls were bare concrete. Something I hope to see a lot more of in Korea in the future. It reminded me kind of of Space Beam but run as a business, and quite successful.

    Following that we stopped by Sangsang Madang where I gave a tour from top to bottom. Number 1 Korean were putting on a show on the third floor where there was an indie label market, and I found a ton of CDs I wanted.

    Then we met Jesse at Danginri Theatre, where we played with a dog whose name I'm always forgetting.

    7 January 2012

    Illiteracy Hill

    After we were finished in the first abandoned neighbourhood, we took a short walk to the next one. This is what I miss not living in Seongdong-gu anymore. The second one is just a ridge between an elevated road and a couple apartment complexes. It's quite attractive when viewed from above. Down into it, most of the homes had doors ripped off and then hammered back in place as makeshift barriers.

    We had a brief tour of some of Korea's dumbest apartment names, passing a We've complex, and in the picture linked here you can see an iwant complex in the background.

    7 January 2012

    I want to plat with you

    Two friends were visiting from abroad, so I invited them both on a trip around an abandoned neighbourhood. Vega was visiting from Japan, and Stephanie is most of the way through a trip around the world. Also, Chris was somewhere in the vicinity, trying to find us and hopefully having a good time in the process.

    We had a few run-ins throughout the visit. The first was an elderly woman who seemed cool with us being there. Next were two guys who may have been hired goons who were displeased with our presence, and the third was a dude carrying a golf club who seemed particularly bothered by our presence. We left quickly and circled around to see a bit more.

    31 December 2011

    New Year's Eve

    Well it was quite a challenge managing 14 bands in one night, especially when the show didn't start until after 9:30. My original hope was that most of the bands would be playing short sets, but many of the bands with shorter sets took extra long setting up.

    The original plan was to have Chanter's Alley on stage at midnight, and they had their bagpipes ready for Auld Lang Syne, but we were a little over half an hour behind schedule. Scumraid came on stage at 11:30 and managed to stretch it out until midnight, and it looked like they intended to keep playing through without doing a countdown. I had to jump on stage and do the countdown despite the fact that no one in the room had any kind of clock that counted seconds. We celebrated 2012 about seven seconds too early.

    Anyway, we had 98 paying guests, which is definitely a record for me. Oh yeah, also I released the Best of Broke in Korea. I still have several copies left, as I really wasn't thinking about handing them out for most of the night.


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    Copyright Daehanmindecline 2004

    Photos taken by
    Nikon CoolPix 950
    digital camera.