31 December 2016

New Year

I wasn't recovered from my cold yet, but I set off around 11 to meet up with friends and set off fireworks on Naksan. The protest downtown was huge and the police presence seemed larger than usual.

31 December 2016

Hongdae Redevelopment

This fence went up and they started excavating in the middle of the street in Hongdae. Years ago Roots Time said there were plans to excavate the street out front and build an underground shopping plaza, but at this point I'm not convinced this is what this is. We'll see.

31 December 2016


While I was at work on Saturday, I heard a racket outside. Turned out it was the counter-protest, defending the president. They were older than the normal protesters and they had a lot of flags. I drove down to confirm, and they had signs about "JTBC-gate" and the tablet they say isn't Choi's, plus they called out the lugenpresse in other languages.

29 December 2016

Cats and Snow

It snowed and the cats had to go out and spoil it with their tracks.

24 December 2016

Santa Claus Conquers the Host

The night before, I knew if I came out I'd get very sick. But the kids were counting on Santa to deliver them gifts, in this case meaning gifts of alcohol and explosives to fight off The Host. What, how do you celebrate Christmas?

I think there were 13 of us, though not all at one time, and we only lost one to the murky waters of the deep.

19 December 2016

Santa Strikes Back

December means it's time to whip out the Santa suit again.

17 December 2016


I stopped by the protest, this time hoping to see more of something I'm working on an article on. And they didn't even use any of these pictures.

17 December 2016


One of my friends convinced her anthropology student to write about urban exploration, so I ended up showing her around some abandoned places. We got kicked out of Sky Apartments, where demolition had at this point knocked down the smallest of the three buildings, then we went over to another more standard abandoned neighbourhood I hadn't seen since spring, which hasn't changed much at all.

12 December 2016

Jogyesa's Christmas Tree

A couple pictures taken while driving around preparing for Christmas. Yes, the country's top Buddhist temple has a Christmas tree.

10 December 2016

SHARP Second Saturdays: Double-Jiwon Birthday

I had no idea Angie was also a Jiwon. Anyway, after a day of exploring we ended up at Club SHARP for Second Saturdays.

10 December 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhood

Guess who found God? You'll never believe where he was hiding.

10 December 2016


On the way to meet people, we stopped by Gwanghwamun for a quick roof visit, and Kat recorded this video of a chorus singing something that could certainly be heard back there in Cheong Wa Dae.

9 December 2016


I missed the impeachment vote which happened around 3, but by then the protest on Yeouido had turned into a celebration. First I stumbled across the counter-protest, which didn't seem happy and was full of older people.

Then by the time I got to the real event, I got to meet Mayor Park Won-soon and I saw one of the tractors brought in by the farmer activist group, which one of them then fired up and they all posed for group pictures.

9 December 2016


I stopped by Gwanghwamun, which was particularly quiet this day. When I arrived there was a nongak group performing in front of the Admiral Yi statue, which now has a bust of the president in front of it, showing her tied up to the various corporations that have been extorted. It was an interesting piece of art that only half a year ago would have gotten the artist blacklisted and banned from various types of support.

9 December 2016

Sky Apartment

I missed a farewell event to Sky Apartments, in which people were invited to see this old apartment building and interview former residents.

Unfortunate, but I came back on my own later. The buildings are quite beautiful in the way that aged buildings are, with 1969 being ancient by Seoul's standards. The rooms had thick but flimsy floors and seemed especially cramped. Quite a few of them had a lot of objects left behind, with one or two looking like almost nothing had been taken. Demolition is supposed to start this week.

9 December 2016


I've driven by this bunker a few times on the side of the road, but figured I'd stop and have a closer look, just for the sake of completion.

8 December 2016


It's been a while since my last visit to the overpass. They've since completed the new deck and are starting to work on landscaping, putting in giant planters for the trees or whatever will be here. The opening date is spring and it very well could be on time.

4 December 2016


I've been helping tvN film a TV show about urban exploration in Korea. Fingers crossed they do a good job. You probably won't see my face in it though, unless I step around the wrong corner at some moment.

3 December 2016

Pegurians and Friends

It was the Pegurians' last show and they had an interesting lineup. We all drank way too much and had a good night, from what I can remember.

3 December 2016


For this protest, I decided to see how close I could get to Cheong Wa Dae, seeing how the courts ruled protesters could get within 100 meters. The answer was pretty damn close. Then after I got out here, the main paraders started moving, and people packed in behind me, turning my escape into quite a struggle.

27 November 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhood

Another abandoned neighbourhood, this one near Kat's home. It's pretty large, though mostly demolished. This is the most hired goon graffiti I've seen in ages, though not too much. Other than the usual markers, they also spraypainted lines across the exterior walls of places, an odd flourish I've never seen before though still not remotely as violent as it used to be. Many of the homes also have lots of personal objects left behind, making me further suspect the evictions did not go so smoothly here.

I arrived shortly before dark and didn't take that many pictures or cover that much area.

26 November 2016


I'd been to enough protests that I wasn't too excited about going to another. I stopped by during the day which quickly turned into night. Then, rather than meet up with friends, I went home for a few hours. Those friends ended up getting on top of the Sejong Center. I came back just before midnight, because the Hayaharock concert series was having NST and the Soul Sauce play. It was cold but they played an hour, and I made sure to get explicit permission to be on stage with them.

26 November 2016

First Snow

We had the first snowfall of the year, though it melted pretty fast. Kat, who is experiencing her first winter this year, slept through it. Millie, a real cat, has experienced snow before, but she still wanted to go out and frolic in it.

25 November 2016

Kelly and Matt's Wedding

2014 must have been a good year, because now four of the people who came with us on our Host Christmas event are married. Now Kelly and Matt have gotten married, and Matt's very large family visited Korea for the first time for the wedding. The reception was at a megachurch -- but not the crazy one with all the corruption (that I know of at least) -- and afterwards Matt's parents booked Some Sevit for a private event, with an open bar which the church didn't provide. It was the most American wedding I've seen in Korea, and was a lot of fun.

17 November 2016

Protest Concert

There's been a series of concerts organised downtown on the edges of larger protests, inviting bands to perform there. I showed up one night to see Kingston Rudieska and Galaxy Express, then I got too cold and left.

16 November 2016


In anticipation of an upcoming screening of Party 51, I went back to get pictures showing what Duriban's former location looks like now. Also, I visited the new Duriban location, which serves very good food.

15 November 2016

Millie's Birthday

I was reminded of Millie's birthday thanks to Facebook's memories function. The plan was to get her high on catnip, but Buster was the one who ended up enjoying it the most as usual.

14 November 2016

RASKB Business and Culture Club

We met up at lunch and went to the observatory level on the City Hall Seosomun Annex, which is more of a cafe with customers competing for room.

13 November 2016


Javin wanted to meet up with Aseul, who was recently spotlighted in an interesting article throwing some nuance on Korean music, and he convinced me to bother coming out too.

12 November 2016


We rushed back to Seoul to see the protest, which was said to have over 1 million people. It was intensely difficult moving through the crowds, but we covered a lot of ground before getting tired and giving up.

12 November 2016

Back on the Road

Our last stop was an abandoned jjimjilbang on the edge of a town.

12 November 2016

Abandoned Construction

Usually I'm not too interested in abandoned construction sites, but this one was pretty spectacular. We spent a couple hours here and I only saw our driver once near the beginning and end.

12 November 2016

Wandering Through the Countryside

There were five of us and five seats in Michael's car, so we rode through the countryside visiting a high number of places along the way.

11 November 2016

A Meal for Ghosts

We took a bus out to the middle of nowhere, which turned out to be more urban than the previous area. First we visited a house that had just been left abandoned, which deeply disturbed many of the people in our group and caused us to leave quickly. Then we visited a temple further uphill.

11 November 2016

Asbestos Alley

Our first stop was to an abandoned silk factory. There were asbestos warnings everywhere which turned out to come mainly from the roof tiles. It seems like everywhere out here had asbestos built in.

10 November 2016

Charcoal Dakgalbi

I finally tried out this dakgalbi restaurant in my neighbourhood, only to discover it's charcoal dakgalbi, the original dakgalbi before they threw a bunch of pepper paste in and made it a stew.

9 November 2016

Jewel Heist

I got together with a few people to visit the abandoned buildings across from my work, plus the strange underpass. The buildings are now demolished and more are netted off, and we had a near escape in the overpass.

While we were underground, we heard someone on the other side of one of the entrances punching in an electronic code. He must've put it in wrong because the door didn't open, giving us all enough time to escape.

Also, I forgot today was my birthday until Kat showed up with a birthday cake.

7 November 2016


I wanted to get this done ahead of the election, before Trump was expected to drop from public sight. Oh, what an innocent time that was.

Anyway, turns out getting to the roof of Trump the building was about as easy as it appears to be to get under Trump the president's skin.

6 November 2016


It was a nice fall day, and I decided to take pictures of the garden before I was interrupted by a circus performance.

5 November 2016


We showed up after the magazine party to catch the tail end of the protest, which was pretty pitiful compared to what the public would bring to the streets of Seoul the following week.

If you missed this one, don't worry: there will be more for the foreseeable future.

5 November 2016

Magazine 02 Party

We stopped by a release party for Magazine 02, a city-funded magazine project concerned with urbanism and urban development that I played some small role in.

5 November 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhood

A return trip to the abandoned neighbourhood where on our previous visit, we were photographed by some dude for no particular reason. This time around, no such troubles, even though we had a Russian Vulcan with us.

5 November 2016

Diving Board

This roof is getting too much attention these days. A couple weeks ago one visiting rooftopper claims to have spotted a fire up there, though the fire department seems to deny having dispatched firefighters there (despite my friend having ridden in an elevator with them).

5 November 2016

Amok Time

On my way to meet people at the flying saucer, I had some quick thoughts about costumes and brought a motorcycle helmet up with me.

4 November 2016


Another trip into the underpass, during which we tried to get a few more answers. We were braver opening doors and I discovered the urinals in the washroom had a motion sensor that still worked. But we hadn't found any connecting passages leading anywhere else, and I wasn't brave enough this visit to look in the fridge.

4 November 2016

Under the Cop Titan

I last visited this area early this year, and a few times to visit a vinyl bar there before it closed, but the protest seems to have ended and a high wall has been installed around. It probably will be torn down entirely soon.

2 November 2016


One day at work, there was a lot of noise outside. I spotted a protest in front of City Hall, and just before 5 it headed north past the city gate. I hurried up to the roof to get pictures, just as it wound its way around the corner and passed out of sight.

1 November 2016

Across the Street

Another check on this area, where they seem to be putting up blankets now.

31 October 2016

Digital Media City

I went to Digital Media City to visit TBS eFM, and also stopped by a McDonald's there that apparently has gourmet burgers. They were better than usual but not as good as the one in Sinchon. This picture was taken right outside the restaurant.

Writers I work with are vehement to describe this area as "Sangam-dong, western Seoul" rather than Digital Media City. Articles using the former outnumber the latter by about 3 to 1. The idea seems to be that "Everyone knows where Sangam-dong is, and if we use the name Digital Media City, we have to use more words to explain what it is."

Such as "It's in Digital Media City, a digital media city in western Seoul."

I guess that's evidence that the whole Digital Media City experiment has failed. Next: Songdo becomes "Yeonsu-gu, southern Incheon."

29 October 2016


Just pictures of the cats.

28 October 2016


After noticing entrances to a closed-off underpass, and yet no equivalent exits on the other side of the street, I snuck down late one night. Initial theories are that it was built in Japanese times, and the current structure is facilities for homeless at Seoul Station. This is supported by the fact there are showers and lockers, plus one single laundry machine, but I'm still not totally convinced. More on this soon.

28 October 2016

Across the Street

After I went to this area for lunch, I discovered that a large amount of it was being closed down. I suspect most of the area will be evicted, though a few buildings on one side will remain. Anyway, it'll give me an interesting view from work.

27 October 2016


Tried a new roof while seeing how the progress on the overpass is coming. They've completed laying a new deck which is where the park is likely to be built. Progress is going pretty fast.

27 October 2016

Meat Restaurant

We went out for food and toilet paper.

23 October 2016

Earthquake Drill Zone

I returned to the site of the earthquake drill with Cat on a rainy day, and we got the scare of our lives inside.

22 October 2016


I brought Cat -- the human one -- out to see a couple abandoned neighbourhoods.

22 October 2016


Just a few pictures of my cats lazing around. Also, pictures of my evergreen tree which is turning yellow, possibly because of some parasitic vines. Not sure if something is supposed to be done in this case.

21 October 2016

Earthquake Drill Site

After the recent earthquake down south, a large-scale earthquake drill was held in Seoul in an abandoned apartment complex. Watch a video news report in English or get a load of some of the action in Korean here.

I met up with Paul and we headed over, finding the complex we expected this was staged at to be totally demolished. But right across the street was an entirely different apartment complex behind a tall fence. That was the one. We wandered through but since it was dark we didn't go inside any buildings. All pictures were taken without a tripod.

21 October 2016

More Apartments

Now these apartments, already abandoned several months, are much safer to be around than the Gangnam ones. This is part of the complex where I fed the sickly stray cat. All the cats are gone now, and the land clearing process probably chased them away.

This time I entered a different part of the complex, separated by a still active road, and found some interesting infrastructure. It looks like there's an abandoned bunker locked up in there, plus that mushroom-shaped tower I don't understand.

This was one of my two guesses where the earthquake drill had taken place, and while I thought it was less likely, it was easier to reach.

21 October 2016

Meat Restaurant

Driving around outside Seoul, I randomly came across this sizeable abandoned restaurant. It had two levels of dining, plus a top level with a fairly sleazy-looking noraebang plus small sauna area. This was a consolation prize for me not finding an abandoned factory I'd been looking for, and it was alright.

21 October 2016

Gangnam Apartments

If people know you urban explore in Seoul, you can expect to get a tip about this aging apartment complex in southwestern Seoul at least once a year.

Despite my appreciation for architecture of this age, this place is a hellhole. Many people still live here in these dangerous crumbling buildings, which are two reasons not to visit.

21 October 2016

Cop day

Has it been a year already? Cop Day is here again, and I returned to Gwanghwamun for this year's festival, which seems to have ended by the time the weekend arrived. Luckily this was my week with Friday off, so I got the most out of it. The only merch I got this year though was a paper police car.

17 October 2016


Here are pictures from a couple days with Andrej during his short visit. One night during his visit he saw a fire on one of our favourite roofs in Dongdaemun. He investigated and went live on Facebook, seeing vendors evacuating the building and even sharing an elevator with firefighters. There was no record of it the next day, but at least the roof wasn't locked.

15 October 2016

Hongdae Streets

I led a fairly diverse group of people on a walk through Hongdae, during which time I was talking about how the place has changed over the years and was too busy to take pictures. But I did get a picture showing the plaque naming the Hongdae Playground washroom the "Best Toilet" of 2002 still exists, just under a thick coat of paint.

We also discovered the entrance open to the recently closed Club Ta, and two of us braved the dark to investigate, finding the place almost totally stripped down to the bones, minus some decoration still on the walls. It was depressing to see and reminds me that Hongdae should no longer be considered home for independent music.

Then, outside, appropriately, we ran into zombies coming from a zombie walk held between Sinchon and Hongdae the same afternoon.

Anyway, visit before the casinos move in.

14 October 2016

Nazi Secrets

Robert Joe, the host of I Wouldn't Go in There, announced that his latest TV show was premiering that night on National Geographic, named "Nazi Secrets" or "Nazi World War Weird" in English. He threw together an informal screening party and it was starting right after my work, so I headed out, thinking I'd get an article out of it for this week.

14 October 2016

Rooftopping at Work

A rooftopper was visiting from Germany, but this was my busy weekend so all I could manage to do was meet up with him while I was at work. But remember where I work and the view it offers.

13 October 2016

Rico Rodriguez Wonderful World Tribute

I did an interview with Koichi Hanafusa, a music journalist with a decades-long friendship with Cuban-Jamaican ska/reggae trombonist Rico Rodriguez. He came to Korea to exhibit his photos of Rico and host a weekday concert with Korea's main ska band and (nowadays it seems) main reggae band.

11 October 2016


Just a few pictures from another night out with the RAS, mainly afterwards when we went to a makgeolli bar late at night.

Verv's birthday was coming up and I had to keep it a secret that Zeinab was planning a surprise party for him that weekend, which I unfortunately couldn't attend due to other obligations.

9 October 2016


Here are some pictures of my cats at different times of day exposed to different light sources.

8 October 2016

Seoul Fireworks Festival 2016

It's been a couple years since the last time I hit a roof for the fireworks festival, but thanks to some tips from Kanghee and Paul, we found a pretty good roof for it.

7 October 2016


Ahoy matey, we visited the Phoenix, an abandoned restaurant shaped like a ship. Ironically it was hit by a serious fire which probably closed the business. It is one of Korea's most interesing abandonments, though since my last visit five years ago its condition has worsened.

6 October 2016

THAAD Protest

We stopped in Gimcheon where there was a wait for the next train. Meanwhile, a candlelight vigil against THAAD was getting started.

The THAAD system is set to be deployed in Seongju County, but protesters there convinced the government to consider a second location within the same county. So it was moved to a Lotte golf course right on the border with Gimcheon, where residents there are now protesting.

Although any fears of radiation have been basically disproven, the Gimcheon protesters have a good point: if it is safe, why did the government move it?

6 October 2016

Overnight in Daejeon

This cross-country trip was organised in Paul's honour, so it made sense that we stop by Daejeon, the city where he first lived in Korea. We found a place that sold Magpie beer and an approximation of their pizza, and stayed in the nearest love motel.

5 October 2016

Communist Party Headquarters

Amid the marshmallow farms of Kimchaek, one can find the former Communist Party Headquarters, an old building whose construction was halted late last century. It turns out this beast was partly in use at one point, as one floor of two of three buildings shows signs of use. I'd seen pictures of this thing online, but visiting it in person exceeded my expectations.

3 October 2016

Captain Q

Apparently they've stopped making Captain Q, but I found a store that still has it! But you have to pay something crazy like 6000 won for a small bottle, which used to be about a third that.

29 September 2016

Djang San at Thunderhorse

I didn't attend Zandari Festa this year (curse you, Kim Young-ran), but I did go to Thunderhorse to see Djang San perform. There were only three of us there not counting staff, but it was a good chance to finally hear his music.

27 September 2016

Olympics 500-Day Countdown

Korea has entrusted me to carry around fire, obviously aware of my previous pyromaniac tendencies and torchbearing experience and approving.

Or, I entered a contest seeking proposals for the Olympic torch relay. See if you can guess which of these is mine (hint: I won 500,000 won). Winning money is fine, but I'm less sure about this whole carrying the Olympic torch thing.

There was a big event to award the winners, or at least get that part out of the way before breaking out the fireworks, K-pop, and Kim Yuna.

24 September 2016

World Captain

What in the world?

23 September 2016

Seun Sangga Festival

There was a festival put on by visual artists and musicians at Seun Sangga on many locations including the roof. The last time I was up there was when the northernmost tower was being prepared for demolition, back in 2008.

I showed up on Friday evening when Kuang Program was assembling a music performance video where they filmed each other's roles separately and then seem to have stitched them together on two large screens.

20 September 2016

RASKB Events

Here are pictures from the RASKB Business & Culture Club visit to Seun Sangga. We stopped by Slow Slow Quick Quick and Daelim Arcade, where we met with local artists who told us more about what happens here.

Also, there are a couple pictures from the Peace Corps museum exhibit we visited the next night.

19 September 2016

Seun Arcade

Just some last-minute scouting for the next day's event.

17 September 2016

Climbing Godeungsan

We returned to this part of the country where two of us used to live, half expecting to find this neighbourhood still fully intact and poorly fenced off as it was on our last visit in January. Instead, the entire thing has been razed to the ground.

Since walking around here was less strenuous than expected, we visited the next area over, which had been knocked down on a slightly faster schedule and now sits empty and overgrown in the middle of the city. There's a fairly substantial hill in the middle that would eventually be removed once construction begins, but I see no sign of that happening anytime soon, in either area.

16 September 2016

The Diving Board

There were too much of us on Friday for some reason. The original plan to walk around an old neighbourhood turned out to be a little unfeasible, but there was no problem with taking almost a dozen people up to some of the area's roofs. Well, except for the significant portion of the roof too afraid to climb a pretty basic ladder.

Also, I'm conflicted to report that the roofdogs of the YesAPM building that I visited in 2014 and 2015 are gone. Whether that's good or bad for the dogs, I don't know, but now I have an opened bag of stale dog treats.

15 September 2016

Up High

This was my first time ever entering the overpass on foot from one side and exiting on the other side. Not that it was impossible before, just that usually I backtrack to get back to my scooter. Anyway, it sure was creative up there.

15 September 2016

Oil Tanks

We decided to use the holiday to get a little closer to the oil tanks, where a redevelopment project is definitely underway. Some of the tanks have been removed but others still retain some of their original materials. Whatever the plan is, I'm not too sure, but if it's anything like the original plan I saw, which included a diving tank, climbing wall, and opera hall, it'll be pretty neat.

15 September 2016

Chuseok Brunch

After the doomed Hanok neighbourhood, it was a pleasant break to visit the home of Peter Bartholomew, where I was invited for a Chuseok brunch. He actually has two Hanoks, which he's stitched together by creating a passage between them that I'm guessing wasn't there before. Both are preserved very nicely.

14 September 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhoods

On the first day, three of us met up to walk through a couple abandoned neighbourhoods. We had a bad encounter with a resident in one, as he saw us somewhere not too compromising but insisted on trying to detain us and take our picture. We just walked swiftly away and he yelled after us but didn't follow. I'm not sure if attention has increased in abandoned areas lately or I'm just having an unlucky streak, but I'll have to be careful over the next few months.

13 September 2016


Me: What are you doing in Korea?
Guy: I served in the peace corps here in the early 70s.
Friend: Did you know X?
Guy: No there were thousands of us.
Me: Did you know Peter?
Guy: Yes! He trained me!

*phone rings*

Me: Hold on someone is calling me. Hello?
Peter: Jon I have a question about cats.

11 September 2016


For day 2, I headed north, where I was lucky not to encounter any cops. One of my purposes was to scout the Ui Line, looking for sections that don't have tracks and aren't electrified. Since I'm giving the name away, that means the tunnels are no longer worth visiting. Anyone doing so is liable to get fried or run over by a train test. The next time I visit will be to catch the train.

10 September 2016

West Seoul

On the first day of the weekend I headed west. I revisited the area around Seodamun near where I used to live. I got questioned by police for driving through a neighbourhood being evicted, and I drove around Gajaeul New Town, which is right next door to the still-thriving Morene Market. And other stuff.

9 September 2016


Gifts I received around Chuseok: a little fruit/sandwich platter from Hyundai Steel, and a Spam gift box. Plus today I received a ginseng drink from KT&G which I passed on to someone else.

5 September 2016


I caught a mostly good blue hour, at least looking one direction. If you want to find where I work now, just look behind Sungnyemun.

5 September 2016


It's been a while since I was up here last. They've removed a lot of the deck so only the support columns and metal beams remain. Or are those beams original? They might be new.

4 September 2016

68-22 Pennsylvania

I was surprised to see how much abandonment has advanced in Jeff and Trash's old neighbourhood. I also discovered that their old building, which they used as the filming location for at least one music video, is now abandoned. And they left a Broke in Korea behind, probably as a final middle finger they guessed I'd someday discover.

4 September 2016

Gyeongui Line Forest Park

It's pretty interesting how this area has been converted from train tracks into a long, skinny park that will eventually stretch from Digital Media City to Gongdeok and possibly farther. I guess there isn't much else they can build now that two lines have been submerged here. Anyway, this stretch between Hongdae and Sogang Stations has yet to open but is starting to look close.

4 September 2016


My first stop on a weekend voyage was work, where I saw how the new office was set up and hit the roof for the first time. Plans were to come back on a clear evening for blue hour.

3 September 2016

Peter's Cult Talk

Peter gave a talk on cults in Korea, and afterwards did an interview with me for practical advice on how to avoid religious cults. I also got roped into being interviewed on CBS (not that CBS).

2 September 2016

Stompin' Riffraffs

I showed up after work in time to see some of Nice Legs and some of Stompin' Riffraffs.

2 September 2016

Moving to a New Office

The Times moved out of its old building next to Burger B's, into the building used by the Hankook Ilbo. It's a much nicer, newer building with a much better view. These pictures are from moving day and a bit of my looking around the new office. On first moving in I noticed that the men's room is pretty impressive, but the women's room is next to a kitchenette and has one fewer toilet stalls, let alone no urinals.

27 August 2016

New Generation of Ska Fest 2016

I showed up late for the New Generation of Ska Fest, partly because I'd been working on the latest issue of Broke in Korea. It was enough to see a ton of friends and catch Oi Skall Mates.

22 August 2016


Most of these pictures are from around my roof or where you can look out on it. Buster enjoys art and Millie sulks, plus bugs in my garden.

20 August 2016

Airin Returns

I've kept in contact with Airin since her visit in 2012-2013, which meant I got to see her develop into one of the world's gutsiest urban explorers. If you don't believe me, watch this Al Jazeera documentary that's basically on her and includes footage from the infamous banana video as well as her more political stuff, including waving a colonial British Hong Kong flag on a roof ledge over a major July 1 protest while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.

Anyway, she finally came back to Korea to write a travel book on the country, and I made sure to give her a couple more interesting nights here.

20 August 2016

Abandoned Radio Station

I was mildly surprised to hear that TBS eFM moved from its Namsan location to Digital Media City, which probably would've made me consider quitting if I still worked there. But anyway, they left the building behind for a few days before it was torn down. There was also a police building of some kind next door I never bothered to go in.

13 August 2016

Seun Arcade

My article on Seun Arcade has been published, though I call it Seun Sangga so I don't have to explain what an arcade is and why most parts of the building aren't very good examples of an arcade.

I've also been roped into leading a tour of the area for the RASKB Business & Culture Club on 20 September.

5 August 2016

Cheongnyangni 588

The best-known red-light district in Seoul is now in the process of urban redevelopment, with many whorehouses cleared out and shuttered. I went there for a quick look around and took a few pictures of the hired goon graffiti, but not much otherwise.

3 August 2016

Huam-dong's Mightiest Heroes

I came home after work to discover that the people on the roof of a nearby building had a new dog that was very loud. I went upstairs to discover my own cats had been engaged in some superheroics to combat this new threat. I lured them in with cat food, and managed to get the cape off of Supercat to reveal his secret identity is Buster. I also learned that fighting crime isn't as exciting as the comics make it seem, as there's a whole lot more grooming they don't show you.

28 July 2016

Dong Cult Park

Matt of Popular Gusts wanted to go for Russian food before he left, so he gave me a call. I asked a few other people and we ended up with Colin and Jae and 2/3 of Acid Party, plus an ill-fated cake for no particular reason.

28 July 2016

Seun Arcade

I'm working on a project related to Seun Arcade, and here are some pictures from a couple visits.

28 July 2016

Seosomun Park

Just a couple pictures tracking the deep excavation of Seosomun Park. In conceptual images it looks like they're planning to create a bottomless pit here, so they're well on track.

23 July 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhood

I followed up on a tip on Instagram and found yet another abandoned neighbourhood, this one a New Town project I'd been watching for years that seemed to be going nowhere. But nope, it's still happening, and they cleared out a big hole in the middle with the likelihood that the area will be expanded further soon.

21 July 2016

Subway Tunnel

Construction on this subway tunnel has proceeded, with old access points being sealed and new ones opening up. Last time I was in this part of the tunnel, I think they were still digging through a mountain. Now it seems almost totally finished. Plus, possibly electrified, which happened between visits.

19 July 2016

Sunset and Cats

A colourful sunset plus pictures of mainly Buster enjoying the outdoors (and under the bed).

18 July 2016


A quick stop at Dongdaemun to check on the night market led to the discover that a lot of food trucks were based there now. Apparently there's also a more temporary one over by the DDP that may only be around on Fridays.

Also, the Dongdaemun Diving Board is back! If anyone abuses this one and we lose it again, I'll push you off it myself.

15 July 2016

Rulerz' First Show

Rulerz are a new ska band that is probably best attributed to Jude of Pegurians and Jinsuk of Skasucks, but also has members from various other bands including The Brigade, Wasted Johnny's, Veggers, and Lazybone. I went to their first show and was impressed by their high-energy commitment to reviving 2tone ska.

14 July 2016


I went to Sinchon to meet some people, and had a bit of time to kill.

12 July 2016


Just a few pictures from throughout the week, including this one that looks like Galactus peering over the horizon at us. No, kids, he's not a space cloud.

10 July 2016

Gardening on Daelim Sangga

I was invited to 300/20, an art place on the terrace of Daelim Sangga, part of the Seun Sangga complex, for the opening of a Delivery Garden service. I don't really understand how it works and it doesn't seem that affordable, but it was interesting to see them moving into this area. I also got a tour of Slow Slow Quick Quick, another art space in the neighbourhood nearby. It's likely that over the next few years this area will follow Mullae's example toward artists moving into former industrial spaces.

9 July 2016

Not Abandoned

I'd seen one picture online that might've indicated a section of this area was being blanketed off for demolition. But the area itself is healthy, with signs of small-scale renewal everywhere rather than wiping out several blocks at once. And there's a pretty nice market running through the middle too.

9 July 2016


I was on my way to verify whether a particular area was being targeted for urban renewal, when I stumbled upon a completely different area that's in the process of being abandoned. Not that easy to wander around in presently, though.

8 July 2016


I went hunting for tunnels south of the river. I'd been tracing maps of planned commuter tunnels, to find ground hasn't been broken yet. I also found where a stream runs underground.

And I stumbled into Gosichon, a former area where SNU students would stay when preparing for law exams apparently.

2 July 2016

Yangkkochi Alley

I had to go to Yangkkochi Alley to get some pictures. We had yangkkochi of course, but then while trying to find a shabu-shabu restaurant that smelled amazing, we stumbled into one little restaurant where they gave us a stirfry of ingredients we picked out, and it was probably the most amazing thing I've ever tasted.

1 July 2016

Them and Us 2 Release

It was raining heavily, so I walked over the hill to Thunderhorse for the release of the latest Korean punk compilation. I should definitely not have brought my camera this night.

1 July 2016

Museum of Shamanism

The Museum of Shamanism is a great place in its new location, surrounded by ugly highrises on all sides.

28 June 2016

Random Pictures

Just a few pictures from a Tuesday and after an RASKB lecture.

Plus, has anyone else noticed all those "Juicy" places all over Seoul? They're bright orange and seem to be made out of cargo containers, and all of a sudden a few months ago they appeared everywhere. Plus, they're pretty good and decently affordable.

27 June 2016

Redevelopment Area

I saw someone post about some redevelopment starting in a central area and stopped by for a visit. It was a very poor area with lots of storage spaces, not quite as interesting as the places I usually go. But, five minutes from home.

26 June 2016

Bongcheon Tunnel

A nice new 3km tunnel under a mountain, with not a single other person in sight. Hard to resist.

If you want to go here now, bring a car because it just opened July 3.

26 June 2016

Ewha Womans University Fashion Street

I stopped by Ewha Womans University again for a closer look. Nope, that Yes aPM is now a tax refund cosmetic shop for Chinese tourists. Don't Chinese people have anything better to do than come here to buy expensive luxury items they don't actually need because they get a discount?

26 June 2016

Newly Abandoned

A couple friends moved out of their home recently due to urban renewal. I asked for their address to see what the area is like. Seems to still be abandoning, and it was surprisingly clean and orderly. I mean there was junk everywhere, and my friend said they left a lot of stuff behind too, but it was clean junk.

25 June 2016

See How the Other Half Lives

About the best thing I could do after seeing that abandoned cat in agony was come home and spend some quality time with my own cats. Big fat American cats with a sense of entitlement, as all cats should have.

25 June 2016

Shopping for Bbeongtwigi

Nothing like buying bbeongtwigi fresh from the road. I saw a couple people selling the things in between lanes on a busy but mostly slow-moving road into Seoul, so I stopped for pictures and to buy some. This used to be common on major roads across the country and I was surprised to see it happening here.

25 June 2016

Golden Doghouse

Just a quick look at the Golden Doghouse, a building I first found back in 2008. It was abandoned under construction, leaving a complete but I think hollowed out shell of a building. And yet they still keep a close eye on it, with a dog chained up at the base of the thing to bark at anyone who gets too close.

25 June 2016

Cargo Terminal

I had a much closer look at this place back in 2011 when I was doing business English classes at various places all over the country. The last time I'd been back here was in a dream about trying to get from one class to the next. The place has been abandoned since 2010 and doesn't seem to have changed much since my last real visit, other than getting dustier.

25 June 2016

Abandoned Apartments

I went all the way to Gangnam to visit some old apartments being abandoned, and they weren't that exciting but the area was crawling with cats, many displaying signs of being abandoned pets. One in particular was in really bad shape, so I went and got food and water. The sick one was the only one who showed any interest in my food, and had a healthy appetite. I decided at least I could give him a great meal, and not much else.

19 June 2016


It turns out, this isn't actually Yeomni-dong, but is nearby and has a church named after it. I saw this neighbourhood from the road and went for a closer look. At first I figured it would just be a small area at the base of the hill, but the abandoned section just kept going up and up, wrapping around to the other side of the hill. This place is also the reason I couldn't go to visit Pato Banton and Antoinette, especially considering how sweaty I was after stopping by here.

19 June 2016

Around Seoul

I'm working on a project that will require me to have a lot of pictures of parts of the city that are more touristy than this site is known for. So I made a list of about eight I had to hit and went out to visit as many as I could. While I was at it, I also visited many other places that you'd expect from me.

18 June 2016

Pato Banton and JoshRoy at Sejong Center

Considering Antoinette's love of Korean history gleaned through Korean historical dramas, here's a picture of them playing with King Sejong watching in the background.

This show was apparently suggested by the Urantia members, though they had to convince the Sejong Center that this wasn't going to be a religious event. It wasn't, though there was a banner in the crowd. At one point, one of those old cranks with the elaborate Jesus signs marched by, and as he was marching back Pato had a few words for his brand of proselytising.

I got most of Pato's set on GoPro but haven't had the chance to review the footage yet.

17 June 2016

Kingston Rudieska and Antoinette Rootsdawtah

Kingston Rudieska was playing on Friday, so I invited Pato and his wife Antoinette Rootsdawtah to see them. Pato wasn't up for it, but I managed to get Antoinette there just in time to catch their whole set. They were only playing a short set with six songs, but it was one of the most energetic sets I'd seen out of them and the crowded audience in Club Ta was really into them.

In the second-last song, Sukyuel pulled her out of the audience and got her to do a bit of singing for them. She didn't know the song ("Gimme Some Love") so they improvised. Hey, Antoinette, for next time...

16 June 2016

Pato Banton

Pato Banton came to Asia for a three-country tour, making Korea one of his stops. Naturally I interviewed him and met up with him after he arrived. He's quite a good person to talk to, probably the best interview I've done with a former member of the English Beat. The main purpose of his tour was to meet communities associated with the Book of Urantia.

The first show was at stay.round.GEE, a weirdly named venue I'd never heard of before, and the openers included JoshRoy and Rude Paper and a dance group I missed. Pato's set was backed by NST and the Soul Sauce, and they fit together very well, putting on one hell of a concert.

14 June 2016

Random Stuff

Here are a bunch of pictures from here and there that I decided to lump all together into one gallery rather than give each their own entries.

I got an overhead shot of Seosomun Park where they've dug fairly deep underground, as well as a six-word review of OK Burger, a poorly chosen hagwon name, an extra-demonic licence plate, and pottery.

12 June 2016


Last October I slipped over the construction fence at Jongmyo Square, a long-delayed project to beautify the area in front of Jongmyo that's been going on for years. It finally finished and opened, and now they've closed down the other side for renovations. This basically means that all the elderly people who used to hang out there have no place to go. The new square is gravel which doesn't offer many places to sit and play board games. I guess the city doesn't want them around here anymore.

11 June 2016

RASKB Garden Party

This year's Garden Party was unfortunately scheduled on the same day as the opening of the Queer Culture Festival, which meant across the street in Seoul Square there was a big loud party playing dance music. Even worse, the sidewalk in front of Deoksugung was taken over by a similarly loud Christian protest, which RASKB members had to fight their way through to get to the British Ambassador's residence. Fortunately we had our own music which was too loud to drown them out.

While I was out trying to pull people from the crowd and behind police lines, the ambassador announced that another RAS member is getting an MBE.

5 June 2016

Seosomun Park

I went back to the park to find that they've cleared all the topsoil of the original park and are now gutting the massive complex that lay underneath it. So Seosomun Park wasn't so much a city park as a giant building with trees on its roof.

5 June 2016

Yongsan 4

Around January when I wrote this, they were just starting to send in machines to handle the dirt and put up a massive fence around the property. Turns out, half a year later, they just wanted to cut the space off from public view and access. The ground has been flattened and all the heavy machinery has left.

But hey, at least they put some of the evictee protesters in jail who tried to resist!

5 June 2016

Abandoned Places

Previously I found a semi-abandoned Hanok village, but came back this day for a closer look. It's a pretty humble area and people are still living here.

I also went to Soulkee's old apartment, which I'd last visited during Lunar New Year. The area is virtually unchanged, other than they removed the lock to his door.

4 June 2016


The lineup for this show at Club SHARP looked promising, headlined by the new ska-punk band Talkbats. I guess it's basically Rudy Guns. There was also The Brigade who I hadn't seen in a long time and who have just released a new music video. Plus there was Full Garage who are touring the US soon, as well as Green Flame Boys and yet another of their side projects.

4 June 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhoods

On my way to a concert, I made three quick stops at three abandoned neighbourhoods.

29 May 2016

Punk Training with Murakami-san

After the show, we went out for seafood of some kind. I can't really tell what we had, and I didn't have all that much. And then everyone got a little goofy and I learned too much about people's sex lives.

28 May 2016

...Whatever That Means at Thunderhorse

Jeff is getting ready for a tour of the US and a bunch of album releases, so he wanted pictures of the band with its current lineup. Thunderhorse isn't the greatest place for taking pictures, but it's otherwise a fine place, and he promised me a couple beers for my trouble.

This was during HBC Fest and the whole place was a zoo, with police all around to direct traffic. Glad I don't live so close to it.

25 May 2016

Millie and Buster Join the Circus

Finally something interesting that I don't need left in the trash outside my apartment. Someone dropped off a little tent, not large enough for a person -- even a kid -- to sleep in, maybe a play area. I set it up on the roof and the cats took a gradual interest to it. Buster seems to like being inside, which is a reversal from how they usually behave.

Also, I have pictures of some bugs I've found on the coniferous tree on my roof. The tree seems to be in good shape so I don't think they're threatening, but there are a lot of them.

25 May 2016

Bong Juice

Just the thought of sweet cloudy bong juice makes me thirsty.

22 May 2016

Punk Wedding

I showed up for a wedding between Byeongjin and Jiyeon, two members of the punk scene. The invitation suggested dressing up in punk clothes, but not many did, instead opting for nice suits.

I ducked out during the ceremony to see what the roof was like, which was impressive, and I came back to discover I'd missed a short set by Billy Carter. Too bad, but at least the roof was pretty cool.

20 May 2016


I went with my parents to Jeonju for a day trip. First we visited the Jeonju Hanji Museum where they got to make their own free samples of Hanji, then we went to the Hanok Village to wander around for the better part of the day.

It seems very difficult to find regular alcohol there, other than moju, so I'm wondering if there are any kind of zoning laws in the village making it harder to sell beer or makgeolli there. Anyway, it's harder to find than the rest of Korea, which still isn't that hard.

14 May 2016


We went on an RASKB tour of Buddhist temples on the actual day of Buddha's Birthday.

Our last stop was Bongwonsa, the temple behind Yonsei University. After a pretty long climb up the road to the temple, we arrived to run into Brother Anthony, leading his own temple tour.

We missed a lot of performances but managed to see a few. I had to get back on the bus at 8, so I left during a choral performance that I thought sounded more Christian than Buddhist despite the drumming. It turned out going back down took less than five minutes.

After a drive up north through Buam-dong, we stopped at Okcheonam, a hermitage between Buam and Hongje that I'd probably driven by about a dozen times before but never noticed.

It has a Buddha figure carved out of rock, sort of similar to Chilsongam but more visible from farther away due to its location. It's easier to appreciate from across the stream rather than up close, I'd say.

Gaeunsa is at the top of a fairly steep path that punished everyone walking up there, especially those of us who'd already visited three other temples this day.

They had karaoke going with people taking turns singing very loud songs, mostly trot. Snacks including fruits and cake were being handed out the whole time.

In the parking lot in front of the place were two buildings that were clearly in some stage of construction. As best as I can tell, both were formerly active and may have been going through renovations. The interior of the one I went in was basically gutted, and the other one still had storefronts on the main floor including a hot dog restaurant.

Leaving the temple, we saw a big billboard for a Christian church shoving a Bible quote in everyone's face.

Chilsongam was a quick stop, mainly to see a rock carving of Buddha behind the main building. They also gave us watermelon here.

There also seemed to be a photo gallery in a Hanok there, but we didn't stop to look at that.

The tranquility was a bit ruined by some fairly loud noises coming from what sounded like a concert nearby.

Of course, it turned out that was our next stop.

Bomunsa was the largest temple we visited, and we had a lot of time to wander around.

Unfortunately not much was happening during our visit, which seemed to have disappointed our guide.

But there were plenty of sights to see, including the recreation of Seokguram, some stray kittens, and of course lots of lanterns.

The most interesting room was on the top floor of the building right outside the front gate, which had thousands of smaller Buddha statues on display.

Our first stop was Mitasa, a small but nice temple tucked around behind Bomunsa. There's a stairway behind the temple building leading up the slope to an ancient pagoda.

They also had a bunch of food set up that reminded me more of a Jesa ceremony than something more Buddhist.

8 May 2016


Here are some random pictures from here and there over a few days, some with my parents and some with my cats.

7 May 2016


This year's Yeondeunghoe was on a long weekend, the same day as Seoul Friendship Fair and a few other events. Still, a fair number of people were anticipating it, despite the fact most people forgot it was happening so early. We did our usual annual ritual of going to a hookah bar to watch the parade from above.

7 May 2016

Seoul Friendship Fair

We went to Seoul Friendship Fair for food and performances. It's usually run pretty well, though it took me a little extra time this year to find the Middle Eastern food tents.

6 May 2016

Huam Market

On my way to do some computer stuff, I took a detour through Huam Market to finally see what's in there.

6 May 2016


I went with my parents for dakgalbi, which wasn't too hot for them to eat.

5 May 2016

Children's Day

I met up with some people putting together a magazine on urban issues and we went to an abandoned neighbourhood.

1 May 2016


I had another barbecue, and this time there was slightly more furniture. We also had more trouble with the charcoal. Buster had a good time, anyway.

30 April 2016


We went to Dongdaemun and walked around a few of the markets there, starting from the gate and moving through the flea market in Hwanghak-dong.

24 April 2016

Training with Kanghee

I met up with Kanghee again for another look at the overpass. It's been a while since I've been back, which is especially odd now that I live walking distance from it. They've covered it from below well, hiding how much of the surface itself they're removing. Walking around up there is starting to get pretty sketchy.

23 April 2016

Shugeibu in Korea

JP went to Japan and met Shugeibu, an all-girl band playing noise rock. Unfortunately he apparently left his equipment in a taxi the night before and wasn't able to play himself, but otherwise this was quite a show.

It was also my first time to Club Steel Face, which is a well-made, nice place... almost too nice. Give it time, I'm sure. Also, the roof is still pretty cool, which Sumin is fashioning to look like a ferry.

22 April 2016

Ninja Training

Kanghee started inviting people out for ninja training on Friday night, which turned out to mean a photo shoot for Red Bull done by the drummer of Cherry Filter.

18 April 2016

Millie's Expressions

The couch is where I spend most of my time, so it must be the best place in the apartment for the dominant one. At least that's what my cats probably think, as they really value their couch time. Millie was on the couch with me and I took a few pictures of her with some entertaining poses and facial expressions.

17 April 2016

Another Abandoned Neighbourhood

Shortly after last week's abandoned neighbourhood, I was alerted to another by Robert Fouser. This one is very close to Sinchon and is also almost entirely gone, so it's baffling that it went so long without me finding out about it, either by going past it and seeing it myself or someone giving a helpful tip, which is always welcomed and usually reciprocated.

10 April 2016

Host Legs

Nice Legs wanted to film a short video and they wanted there to be lots of fire, so we went to the Host tunnel.

9 April 2016

Rooftop BBQ

We had a barbecue, and Millie wanted to cook Buster. Well, she especially wanted out of the hammock. No pictures were actually taken at the barbecue itself.

8 April 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhood

Not too far from home, I randomly passed an abandoned neighbourhood I wasn't expecting to see. Unfortunately it's already mostly gone, with a whole hillside covered in debris already. I only got a quick look at the rest, as I was on my way somewhere and was in a suit I didn't want to get dirty.

4 April 2016

Seosomun Park

The park that my older coworkers used to walk through during lunch has closed and machines are digging up all the land, so I guess now it's the sort of park I'd go.

Apparently it's a historic site where a lot of people were executed, but following the pope's visit, they've decided to remodel it to reflect only the Catholic martyrs here, in an attempt to create a Catholic martyrs tourism belt. The whole thing is built on top of an underground complex that was a parking lot before, and I think will be some kind of church when it reopens.

2 April 2016

GBN Live House

GBN Live House was having a ludicrous show this night, with 18 bands playing over the course of three hours. The idea was each band only gets ten minutes, with two to set up, before the counter projected on the wall reaches zero, the power is cut and a buzzer sounds. And yes, one act was just a guy in a gimp suit.

2 April 2016


I'm writing an article about Mullae, so I showed up on a Saturday to do some research on the ground. We went to a rooftop DJ party, a hostel, and wandered the alleys, and we just missed a mime show.

2 April 2016

My Roof

I went out with my tripod and my cats onto the roof for some pictures of the night view. This led to me creating one of the best accidental puns ever.

April Fool's Day 2016


Unfortunately my new apartment in Huam-dong isn't working out, as my landlord came by and discovered I have cats which he doesn't allow. Rather than just kick me out on the street, he helped me find a new place, giving me an interesting new opportunity.

I bet you didn't know Namsan Tower has its own residential section, with its own elevator and everything. This is the uppermost level of the observation area, which has four circular apartment units, not to mention space to move around outside. No furniture but I'm moving in now.

Also, if you're looking for something to do tonight, how about this RASKB tour of Korea's convenience stores?

30 March 2016

Cats Inaction

25 March 2016


My landlord decided he wanted my room back, for his son moving back in, so he had to evict me. I was depressed about it because there aren't many better places to live, but ended up finding the perfect place in Huam-dong which is a little closer to the office and the overpass. These pictures mainly come from moving day, in which I moved the cats in ahead of all my stuff.

19 March 2016

Deep Seoul with Robert Fouser

Robert Fouser returned to Korea and has had time to lead three RASKB tours, the first being of the odd combination of Jongmyo, Seun Arcade, and Ikseon-dong.

16 March 2016

Seokjeon Daeje

It's been a while since I've been back here. I wrote an article for the Times about this year's first of two Confucian ceremonies, and I took a couple hours off in the morning to attend myself. This was my second time being there for the full performance, and its structure is starting to make a lot more sense now.

12 March 2016


I don't leave Seoul that often, but I headed down to Gangnam on Saturday to visit a few sites. I found out an old abandoned hotel district in Seocho might be completely demolished soon, though there's still one building I have a lot of memories in that's standing untouched. I made it across the city to a fairly large apartment complex being prepped for demolition. It's not as big as the Galaxy complex, with about half the number of buildings (60-70) and also quite a lot more natural, as it contours to the land more and includes some actual nature. This was the same day as David Gangnamhardt led his tour of Gangnam, and I planned to meet up with them after but apparently he went on his own way.

10 March 2016


Millie and Buster had a boxing match, which in their case means they got high on catnip, went into boxes, and squared off in a slapfight.

5 March 2016

[RASKB] Seoul: Antiquity Meets Modernity

I'll be leading another RASKB tour in a couple months, this one simply retracing some familiar sights around downtown with a few personal stories about the urban renewal process there. We'll basically be walking Pimatgol, Cheonggyecheon, and Sejongno and analysing up close how the city tries to modernise while also holding onto some of its storied past as well. This tour will be a lot more interesting if you like urban planning and infrastructure more than history. There will also be zero overlap with Peter Bartholomew's Joseon Seoul tour or Robert Fouser's upcoming Jongmyo, Seun Sangga, Ikseon-dong tour.

And there's a charge for participating, with the money going to support the world's oldest Korean Studies organisation, which is in increasingly desperate need of funds.

Here's an article that should set the tone of the tour and discusses one of the places we'll be visiting (albeit all we'll see will be a tall fence and possibly some machinery).

4 March 2016

RASKB tour

A day early, I traced the route for the March 5 RASKB tour. All I got, picture-wise, was one interesting sign and a candid street photo.

The tour itself was basically rained out, as we were hit by a heavy rain right at the onset. The rain eased up a little but those of us who stayed with it were basically soggy all the way to the end. Or, halfway, which is as far as we got. The whole thing will be rescheduled for a new date soon.

3 March 2016

Food Tent Village

I got a message from Tyler that our favourite food tent village in front of Yongsan Station, at the former location of a red-light district, was being closed down and trashed out. I went for a look at lunch and crept around while workers removed stuff. Probably many of the workers were the business owners, as a significant number of the businesses are relocating to a nearby basement. Not actually a nice-looking new venue, but we'll see if they make something of it.

2 March 2016

New Apartment

My apartment hunt ended after seeing about five places. I found a new place in Huam-dong that has proper rooftop access, and I'll be moving in later this month, after some renovations are completed.

1 March 2016

March 1 Independence Movement Day

I got the day off, so I decided to scout underneath the Naebu Expressway, investigating an underground river and evaluating Cheonggyecheon Museum for a recommendation for tourists. Anyway, you'll like the museum, maybe not the tunnel or streambed.

29 February 2016

Korean Music Awards

I attended the KMAs this year to write an article for the Korea Times. Unlike previous years, there were no big winners, as nobody won more than two awards except Big Bang, and the methodology for their Netizens' choice award has been heavily called into question. And there were a lot of other little moments that made it into the article as well, despite the unpromising title.

Anyway, I brought my camera but it wasn't enough for an event like this. We ended up using a Yonhap picture. Here, you can see what I got that I decided wasn't Korea Times-worthy.

28 February 2016


I was sitting at home when I heard what sounded like rain on the roof. Turned out it was a raging snowstorm. I tried out my new GoPro camera, only to mess up and get no good footage as the thing was pointing down too far the whole time, so all you see is the road under me. After that, I went out with my regular camera and shot a few pictures, though the snow had already stopped falling and was quickly melting.

27 February 2016

Arirang Institute

I showed up in Itaewon after looking at a few apartments nearby, hoping to crash a going-away party. Instead, I got roped into going to a random bar by Stephen Revere of 10 Magazine and Kurt Achin (who taught me the correct pronunciation of his last name), where it turned out they were giving out plenty of free drink tickets and there was an event by the Arirang Institute, an NPO dealing with North Korea issues that probably wouldn't approve of what I was working on at the time.

26 February 2016


The same day I attended Nikola's speech about real estate in Seoul, I got the message from my landlord that I had a couple months to move out of my current apartment. I basically live in his attic and he's decided he wants it back as part of his household again. So on day 1, I went out to track down a few target areas I'd like to live.

And on the way of course, I stopped by an abandoned neighbourhood. I'd planned for two, but the second seems to have vanished -- and not just by being destroyed. The first is heavily disputed, with lots of people around I didn't want to do anything too crazy in front of. The second, I found several months ago, and now I can't even find the corner it was on before.

24 February 2016

Holographic Protest

So in response to the government cracking down on the right to assemble, Amnesty International Korea held a holographic protest, playing back a prerecorded projection on a screen in front of Gwanghwamun. Probably a good answer to what they're protesting, the way masks were so effective at that December protest, but partly due to the time of day and the temperature, the only people there were either organisers or journalists.

22 February 2016

Another Overpass

Just when I thought I was done with overpasses for a while, another one gets unexpectedly closed after structural flaws are found that seem to remind people of the Seongsu Bridge that collapsed in the '90s. Not really expecting an imminent collapse, I went up a couple times myself. The first day of closing, all the traffic lights were still on, but as of Thursday night they seem to be saving the electricity.

20 February 2016

Real Estate Investment in Seoul

Nikola from Kojects gave a lecture to the Real Estate Investing Meetup group for Seoul, and I went along to do an article on it.

25 December 2015


On a very cold Christmas Day, they had one final open overpass event, mainly where people could paint on the road surface. There were balloons and Santa hat giveaways, and some live music, but it was too cold for much more. There were a lot of kids here and they seemed to be having fun.

20 December 2015


A quick visit with a friend one night, when we witnessed an impressive multimedia display in the Seoul Square building.

15 December 2015


I decided to try my luck and go up on the overpass during lunch break. I made it pretty far, but as I turned back, a worker saw me from one of the other off-ramps. He just told me "no" and pointed toward the exit. Not a big deal presently. But would it make it harder to get up here? A little, but not really.

14 December 2015


The next day, I headed back to the overpass, taking pictures around the base and observing how the city has set up detour routes, making use of more lines in the road as well as traffic cops.

13 December 2015


Seoul Station Overpass closed on Sunday, December 13. I had to work that day on the second edition, which meant right at 10:30 I was very close to the overpass. Seemed like a good time for a visit.

This early on, it was easy to get on by any ramp, which would change soon. I managed to crawl underneath the overpass at one point, where I discovered it had bridge rooms. Bridge rooms with pigeons watching me.

18 February 2016

Jericho and Cat visit

Javin and friends have sent a number of visitors my way, either coming from Hong Kong or Toronto or New York, but this time he connected me with a Chinese friend coming to Seoul for half a week, and an American friend living in China also coming to Seoul the exact same time. We met up for a few meals and a rooftop, nothing too crazy.

16 February 2016

RASKB Business and Culture Club

This was my first time making it to an RASKB Business and Culture Club meeting, held on Tuesdays once a month during the lunch hour. For this month, they were meeting up at City Hall for a tour of the historic relevance of the two city hall buildings.

I'd been expecting to breeze by it on my upcoming RASKB tour (still probably linked above), but discovered there's a lot more to the two buildings that fits directly into the main thesis of my tour (which will be better explained sometime in the next couple weeks).

14 February 2016

Amsterdam Faya Allstars at Gopchangjeongol

I didn't make it to the Saturday show at Steel Face, mainly because I couldn't stomach the idea of spending five days in a row in Hongdae. So I took that night off and went on Sunday to the smaller show at Gopchangjeongol. My liver thanked me. I wasn't able to stay late, mainly because I couldn't get home too late to stab Buster in the pancreas. Anyway, it was a pretty good show despite shortcomings in the sound system, which as a non-musician rarely ever bothers me, especially when the stage is so interesting looking.

12 February 2016

Amsterdam Faya Allstars at Prism

This was the second Amsterdam Faya Allstars performance, after the previous day's massive Crying Nut birthday party. Oriental Showcus was impressive, going for something between ska and Harlem-style jazz, and fronted by three very talented women. Kingston Rudieska put on a slightly calmer show playing their slower songs, and Amsterdam Faya Allstars conquered the stage. Their act has a certain physicality that's rare in Korea, let alone in ska bands, with the dueling sax players moving around the stage quite a lot. They also really like to solo, probably having more minutes dedicated to members soloing than there were vocals.

And of course the show concluded with a big jam featuring all horn players on stage, giving everyone a turn to individually shine and ensuring that all three bands got to actually make music side by side.

11 February 2016

Captain Rock Birthday Party

My first response to seeing how this place was done up was "I'm having my next birthday party here!"

Banners with his face on the walls, liberal amounts of free food and quality booze for supporters and wellwishers, and lots of music. Han Gyeong-rok, bassist of Crying Nut, knows how to celebrate birthdays. More than anything, it felt like what North Korea would be like if they had a really cool guy in power.

10 February 2016

Amsterdam Faya Allstars

The big show of the month is a four-date tour of Seoul by Amsterdam Faya Allstars, a ska band from Amsterdam. Well, the leader is Dutch, but the other members are from all over the world.

I met up with them on their second night at Zion Boat, where they didn't actually end up having a show due to equipment limitations. They're nice guys from a variety of not just national but also musical backgrounds, and all of them have extensive music careers. This is going to be a busy weekend.

10 February 2016


I figured that this might be the last opportunity to get up onto the overpass before it opens again. It was the last day of the long weekend, and I was at work (we have to put out a newspaper on the first day back after the holiday), so I stopped by during lunch and again after the first edition deadline. I'll be revealing my earlier pictures of this place in the next while, when I have fewer pictures to dump on here.

8 February 2016

Bone Tunnel

We went back to the Bone Tunnel, and for some reason I was the only one who thought we might need flashlights. We went as deep as we could before it became a lot trickier and a lot deeper, and then we turned back and did the usual tunnel. I'd never walked down that one downstream before, which was quit different from starting at the main entrance.

7 February 2016

Yongma Land

We went to Yongma Land because it's always more fun on big holidays. I also wanted to ask the owner if it would ever be possible to have a concert there -- it wouldn't be.

6 February 2016


I'm going to have a lot more to say about this place in the next few days. I've been visiting it a lot but keeping it quiet because of how prominent it is. Now that construction is speeding up, it's becoming harder to visit.

6 February 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhoods

It turns out that Soulkee found his cat -- the trap worked as intended -- but he didn't tell me this, so when I showed up at his old place with a search party, we were surprised the trap was gone. So instead, we went to another abandoned neighbourhood and ran into a bunch of friendly stray cats who gratefully accepted our cat food donation.

31 January 2016


Buster seemed like he wanted to get in trouble this day. He'd been playing with plastic bands as I was leaving, but at some point over the next few hours he got his head caught in the handle. Which means the return of Supercat, even if it wasn't as cape-like this time (despite me trying to adjust it so).

30 January 2016

New Town

My final stop was an abandoned neighbourhood right in the center of Gangnam (not the -gu, but the side of the river). It was also a hillside of razed land, but this one was better than the previous one simply because it had a better view. I've admired this little part of southern Seoul for several years, as it's cut off from the rest of Gangnam by a curved ridge pushing it up against the riverfront. It's a cozy little low-key area with a big university hospital and now a lot of demolition.

30 January 2016

Second Place Lava

On my way to my last destination of the day, I passed by yet another abandoned neighbourhood. This one was far gone, basically a fenced-off razed hillside.

30 January 2016

Find the Cat

A couple weeks ago, my friend Soulkee announced that his neighbourhood was being evicted and he was clearing out as of 15 January, with pictures of the area in a state of abandonment.

I asked him his old address, and he told me "If go up the rooftop, pls do not touch a trap I installed."

Trap?! That doesn't sound very safe, or even legal. What is this, Yongsan 4?

He clarified, "I lost my cat at the day I moved, but I'm sure that my cat still stay at the rooftop, so I just install the trap."

I replied: Let's Go Find the Cat*.

I spent a few hours looking all over the neighbourhood, but finding a lost cat in a Korean neighbourhood, let alone one that's mostly abandoned, is nearly impossible. The trap was of course nothing too dangerous, just a cage with cat food inside that closes if paws press a certain panel.

Soulkee should have realised he's part of a network of people who like visiting abandoned places, and many of them love cats. There have been cases where urban explorers have rescued lost animals from abandoned buildings, and in cases like that, the usual UE ethics go out the window. Smash through drywall to rescue a trapped kitten? No problem. Hell, even the whole "Take only photos, leave only footprints" rule is negated, unless you're cruel enough to re-abandon a stranded animal inside an abandoned building.

It's rare that I encourage anyone to go to any of the places I visit. There are exceptions such as Yongma Land and the entire punk scene, but I'm making this one an exception as well. Obviously nobody should be going there to smash, steal, or spraypaint anything, but the more eyes in the neighbourhood, the higher the chances we have of recovering Soulkee's cat.

So I'm putting a bounty on this cat. Not a big one because nobody should be looking for this cat for financial gain, but you can expect a large number of urban explorers to want to buy you a beer, or if you don't drink, I guess food or air or whatever else non-drinkers like. You will also become a legendary figure, and I could probably twist that into an article for my corporate overlords, along the lines of "Urban explorer rescues cat," right next to the article about UFOs causing volcanic eruptions and Kim Jong-un's sex appeal.

*I saw Grand Buffet sometime in the early 2000s when they came to Edmonton as openers for Wesley Willis and this song was one of the unforgettable moments of the night, aside from meeting Wesley Willis when I was auditioning as a house DJ -- they didn't hire me, despite his endorsement.

30 January 2016


All of this running around gave me several pictures unrelated to the subjects, so I crammed them all into this gallery of pictures taken going from one place to the next, some in Seoul and some in Gangnam. I especially looked at public art on my way around, plus a couple nice vistas of the area just south of the river.

30 January 2016

Secret Playground

I returned to the Secret Playground, which I previously visited at night with people. This time I was on my own in the daylight and more free to run around on my own. It's a medium-sized abandoned neighbourhood, but there are plenty of interesting buildings still standing that are worth a visit or two.

30 January 2016


My journey started off by visiting Yeomni-dong, near where friends (Jeff and Trash, and Jae) live and make tattoos (Badass Bomi), to find a huge crater where a neighbourhood must have been removed over the past couple years, and none of them thought to tip me off.

This is a good chance to remind everyone that I'm offering 10 000 won subsidies for "Jeff Sucks" tattoos from Badass Bomi. Just e-mail her at badasstattookorea@gmail.com and tell her Jon sent you.

29 January 2016

Abandoned Military Property

But whose military? Some of these buildings look like they date back to Japanese occupation. Jacco wanted me to have a look and tell him what I found prior to his RASKB lecture on Korea under American military occupation (1945-48) on Tuesday, February 2. Leading up to his lecture he's been doing a lot of research and uncovering a lot of very interesting things about the city. We're still unsure what to think of this area though.

29 January 2016

Under the Cop Titan

Along Sinmun-no, this gigantic cop fastened to the side of a building has been a local eyesore for years. It's probably made the situation more tense in the small commercial neighbourhood next door, as they face eviction under the steely eyes of some random anonymous cop titan.

This area is in a pretty prominent location visible to traffic, but doesn't get quite the pedestrians that a place like Yongsan 4 did.

25 January 2016

Gwangjang Market

It's about time for Javin to leave again for another year (though he once again pledges to come back sometime in a warmer month than January) and I wanted to show him a few of the more rustic markets. We went to one near Insadong that is literally a hole in the wall, and then walked over to Gwangjang which has a lot of character and is well loved enough that it's now full of Chinese tourists.

23 January 2016

WestGold Train

To get home, we got to a train station on a big enough line. The next train coming along was listed as "WestGold," and not knowing what that was, we decided it was worth the adventure to stow away on the route back to Seoul. The thing was painted bright yellow and hauled by a yellow locomotive that was far from aerodynamic. We slipped aboard and not too long after my two ethnically Asian friends were caught by a conductor somehow. But nobody really cared, as the train was on its return leg, about five stations away from Seoul, and it was shedding paying passengers at every stop.

Korail offers an increasing number of specialised train routes I'd liken to an inland cruise experience, and I'm interested to check more of them out -- either as a paying passenger or a stowaway.

23 January 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhood

Our cross-country trip took us to an old familiar abandoned neighbourhood out in the country that still hasn't changed over the years. Well, except this time a big fence has been erected around it. But as I frequently remind my Korean urban exploring conspirators, Korea isn't exactly known for its fence-making.

23 January 2016

Utopia Building

After Verv's Natural History Museum tour and its "oughtopia" murals, it was good timing to visit this abandoned research or education building covered in miniature models of proposed utopias, some clearly realised for particular regions and others maybe flights of fancy. This building is behind a fence and protected with an absurd amount of alarm systems, one of which we may or may not have tripped (if we had, it was silent and no one seemed to respond, which contradicts previous experiences with alarms here).

23 January 2016

Yongsan Disaster 7th Anniversary

Seven years have passed since the Yongsan Disaster on 20 January, 2009, when six people died so a bunch of buildings could be torn down. So they did that, and then just left the lot empty.

I wrote an opinion piece for the Korea Times titled "Yongsan's ongoing disaster," in which I underline that the greatest evil of that event was that nothing came of it.

Shortly after writing the article, right before my 13 January visit, some activity started happening on the site. An excavator's moved in and chewed up the ground, and there are some changes to the fences running the perimeter. Visiting again on the 23rd, in time for a rally planned there (thanks, noisemyulchi), it seems something might finally be done with the land.

A couple additional notes on my own personal feelings for the place. Obviously my close proximity to this whole thing unfolding gave me an intense look at how important the issue is and brought my urban exploration hobby up to the lifelong obsession level. First of all, this is good timing to revive anger at Kim Seok-ki, who is running for election in a Gyeongju riding, removed enough from the horror of Yongsan that his constituents might not understand what he's responsible for. On the other hand, I personally sympathise with the evictees, but on a more rational level I wish some things could be done differently. They were victims of circumstance as I outlined in the opinion piece, but what they could do in the here and now is to express their sympathy toward the one police officer who died. Not sure how it works to hold a shrine to someone, but a death is a death and his should be considered equally regrettable to any one of the evictees who died, without surrendering any legal inculpability.

22 January 2016


Buster remains in high spirits and doesn't mind getting stabbed by me twice a day. He's regained the ability to get onto the food table and I caught him in his rocking chair once, though he hasn't been able to get into bed which is about the same height as the chair but doesn't rock. After a half-day stay at the veterinary hospital, I've been told to double his insulin dose.

17 January 2016

Buster Goes to (Pizza) Heaven

For the past few months, Buster hasn't been doing well. After the first vet told me he was probably too fat and suffers back pain, his condition continued to worse and I was referred to a bigger animal hospital, where they diagnosed him with diabetes mellitus. They kept him for two days to run tests to find the right treatment, which gave me two awkward days alone with Millie. She loves being around me alone without Buster in view, but she hates being left home alone without her brother/uncle there.

When Buster came home, they gave me a week's worth of insulin plus needles for giving him injections. I've struggled greatly in the past to get him to take any kind of medicine, so I figured needles would be even worse. It turns out, he really doesn't mind and doesn't know to dread my ritual of getting the drugs out of the fridge and filling up a needle.

He's in high spirits despite the decreased mobility, and is extremely happy for all the time he has left. Which could be many years still. Many expensive years of expensive medicated cat food.

16 January 2016

Secret Playground

On the weekend, we hit a couple abandoned neighbourhoods, a former military installation, and an active subway tunnel. So, a typical January when Javin visits.

At one such location, we noticed a police car out by the road making noises, but it clearly wasn't there for us. During our walk, a mannequin torso was discovered, as was an abandoned suitcase. So anyway, it turned out that same night, a murderer dumped his ex-girlfriend's body in a suitcase in the area. I don't know exactly where or at what time, but he certainly wouldn't have come over to where we were skulking around -- at the very least, if he had, the body would not have been found quite so quickly. Though, reading the article, I can't help but wonder why he would have, upon being questioned by the police in Pyeongtaek, driven up to Seoul and dumped the body here.

14 January 2016

Times Roof

Javin stopped by to visit me at work one night when I was doing the second edition shift. It was a good chance to go up to the roof and take some night pictures from there, before the weather got cold.

13 January 2016


January 20 this year marks the seventh anniversary of the Yongsan Disaster. Long story short, evictees were pushed to the precipice by hired goons and the police were there to drag them off. Six people -- five evictees and one police officer -- died so that the area could be redeveloped. Seven years later, we have a wonderful new brownfield zone, with a parking lot directly where the rooftop clash took place.

I'll have more to share next week; pick up a weekend edition of the Korea Times if you can't wait.

9 January 2016

RASKB tour of Kyung Hee University Natural History Museum

For the second year in a row, Verv was our guide through KHU's Natural History Museum, where he shared all sorts of interesting facts and trivia about plants and animals throughout history. Then we ended up at Chicken Toilet.

Yes, this is a natural history museum which has exhibits including angels and apocalyptic robots. The university founder seems like a bit of a nutbag who didn't ascribe to any one religion, but took them all as a sort of pantheist truth. He thought the way to combat utopian ideologies bent on world domination was through respelling it as "oughtopian" and hoping things worked out better this time.

I also decided after two years it was time to retire the old banner for the page, which after two years had a good run. That image came from stained glass in the then-abandoned Dongdaemun Church, now gone. It was located across the road north of Heunginjimun, where there is now a park for the city wall. It suited the site well, but I think I now have the world's record for number of humans pictured being killed by a genocidal robot in a blog banner.

Also, as of the retirement of Marmot's Hole, this may now be Korea's oldest foreign-language blog. I hate the word blog but that's what it is. Although I don't offer much in the way of archives prior to 2011, this site was first started in December 2003. The pictures all still exist, though I've taken down the pages used to display them.

7 January 2016

Ukrainian Christmas

When I was young, we celebrated Christmas and then after New Year's, when you were finally done with the holidays, we went to my Ukrainian grandmother's house for Ukrainian Christmas. That's when Orthodox Christians celebrate, so it stands to reason the Russian district in Dongdaemun would be a fun place. We went on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve, so it wasn't so busy but was open.

Also note that the 2015 archives are up so you can more freely view all of that now.

3 January 2016

Abandoned Neighbourhood

So the guy I explore with doesn't like his face being posted online. Fortunately, the latest issue of Broke in Korea offered a convenient solution, as we printed a big yangban mask on the back for anyone to make their own DiY mask for protests, acts of terrorism, etc.

We revisited an abandoned neighbourhood and took the time to do our own tribute to Yangbantal.


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