Monthly Archives: July 2012

Seoul time lapse


maple story

headbanging til my neck hurts


I have been frequenting a bar in my neighborhood called Rhythm & Blues since it opened last week. It is a western style bar with amazing food, rock music and craft beer that makes me feel right at home. To my surprise, when I went there last night I saw a band setting up. I thought, “Hmm…this should be interesting.” I had no idea what I was in for. They opened their set with Led Zeppelin’s “Rock n Roll”. The lead singer starts wailing and my jaw drops. I had heard hundreds of bands cover Zeppelin before and every single time they completely butcher the vocals. Not this guy. Now I’m thinking “Ok here we go, this is gonna be awesome.” 3 songs into their set I told my friend I had to bail on the game of pool we were in the middle of, I couldn’t miss these guys. Being the white guy in the bar at that moment, as I walked out, the singer points to me and says “Hey where you from?” “U.S.A.” I said. Then I thought I’d put them to the test. “Play some Maiden!” I yelled. ImageHe talks to his bandmates for a few seconds, then suddenly broke out into an Iron Maiden classic. They nailed it. Not only that, but they played 2 Maiden songs. Now I’m a fan. These guys impressed the hell out of me. They loved that I told some friends to come and check them out and they saw how excited I was getting about all they songs they played. I quickly made friends with all of them after the show. I will be seeing them again next time.

CRUX playing “Cemetary Gates” by Pantera

These guys proved to me that Korea isn’t completely in the dark when it comes to western rock music. I talked with them mostly about music, they know their stuff. Other bands they covered were Dream Theater, Metallica, Slayer, Deep Purple, AC/DC and Rush. They nailed it.

The band with my friend Sam after the show.Image

the sounds of everywhere

If you live in Korea, you cannot escape the sound of K-pop blasting everywhere you go. In the streets, in the stores, in the subways. It’s everywhere. Basically, if you hate American manufactured corporate slave pop groups such as LMFAO, Black Eyed Peas and Kesha, you will hate K-pop just as much. Its exactly those artists with a Korean twist. They are all manufactured boy bands or girl bands usually with plastic surgery (also very popular in Korea). Although I am generalizing because apparently K-pop has been around since the 90s and has a more diverse spectrum than people think.

K-Pop has such a huge impact on the culture here that it is not uncommon to see a group of young people practicing their shuffling skills in the streets of Seoul at any given time of the day or night (shuffling is a ridiculous dance craze here in Korea).

This is the current chart topper in Korea right now

These ridiculous looking men are called “Bigbang”. This song is like a virus that has infected Korea. It’s everywhere and that is not an exaggeration. No song in America really compares to how popular this is here.

Even one of my students made a drawing for me in reference to this song.

One more. I don’t expect anyone to actually watch these entire videos by the way, they are nearly unwatchable. But this is what I hear everywhere I go. Here is another chart topper right now

Anyway, that’s enough. It was hard making this post because I had to actually browse through K-pop songs that I hear constantly and it was very irritating. However, K-pop has recently gained international fame, it has taken Asia by storm and is even making its way to Western radio stations.

a very dirty weekend

3 weeks in and I have already went on my first trip in Korea. It was my earliest morning since I’ve been here, waking up at 7am to get on the party bus headed to Boryeong beach. It was packed with foreigners, most of whom had been drinking through the night and were continuing their partying for the entire weekend with no sleep. Once we arrived at the beach, I was so excited to just be walking barefoot in sand and going in the ocean. It was cloudy and looked like it would start raining any second, but we didn’t care. We were about to get real dirty, so the rain would not even be a factor.

We spent some time on the beach then headed over to Mudfest aka the biggest party in South Korea. It felt like every foreigner in the country was there at the same time, plus thousands of Koreans. I was too clean when I got there and people were almost mocking us for how clean we were. Some people just came up to us and hugged us or spread mud on us just to make us feel welcome. By the time we finally got muddy, it was like a christening. We walked around proud, like members of a tribe. The booze was flowing endlessly and was fueling the entire mood and atmosphere of the festival, everyone without the slightest care about the less than ideal weather. People were walking around like muddy soldiers, they didn’t want to be clean. They came here to get dirty. So did we. There was something so punk rock about it. I loved the whole atmosphere. Even after mudfest was over, the after party continued through the whole night. We slept on a matted floor and we slept well. We had a late night feast of spine soup. By the time the trip was over and I was back at my apartment, I experienced for the first time the relief of being “home” in my Korean apartment. I slept hard until work the next day. That was my journey to Boryeong Mudfest and as long as I’m still in Korea this time next year, I will be revisiting for Mudfest 2013.

the beginning

June 23rd, I packed my entire life into 2 suitcases and got on a plane to Korea. This is some footage of my trip from Bethlehem to Suwon. I just got around to posting the footage now.

Korean 4th of July

July 4th outside of America is just a normal day. Unless you are with other Americans. Thankfully, my coworker Stephan held a 4th of July rooftop cookout and invited all the other foreign teachers at my school, plus some others. There were no proper fireworks but we managed to have a pretty great time until the cops came because of the noise. So we split and took the party back to my neighborhood where we hit up one of our favorite bars then called it a night/morning.

Yes, that is a big bottle of beer. It costs about $2. Don’t judge. I’m glad I even got to celebrate the 4th being 6000 miles away. I would have rather been on the beach in Jersey but I think we made the best of it!


14 days later

2 weeks ago today, I arrived in Korea. These are some photos of my first night here. I was fresh off the plane! With me are  some of my co-teachers who immediately showed me a good time.

Suwon nightlife

its normal in Korea to be out partying until sunrise. please excuse the language, its a bar video.

Solo journey to Hongdae

So I had plans to go to Hongdae with some of my co-teachers this weekend. However, being out until 6am Friday night caused me to sleep in pretty late on Saturday, so apparently I missed the knock on my door. Just as I had decided to cancel my trip due to not having a cell phone or a means to navigate my way to Seoul, my friend contacted me through facebook and asked if I wanted to meet up in Hongdae since his friend was DJing at a club there. I agreed to meet up and thought, I might as well figure out the way there on my own, how else would I learn?

I hailed a cab right outside my apartment and told him “Suwon Station”. He dropped me off there, total cost of about $3.50. Now this was my first time at Suwon Station, so I had to figure out where to go. All I knew was I want the 1 line straight to Seoul station where my friend was meeting me. After about 15 minutes of wandering around, I finally found where I had to be. The subway runs from Suwon to Seoul about every 10 minutes, so the wait wasn’t long. I hopped on the subway and sat there with my ipod and a book for the hour long trip. I took the opportunity to write in my travel journal and noticed my last entry was exactly a week ago, sitting in Detroit airport during layover. One week later and here I am traveling to Seoul all by myself.

When I got there, I had no clue where my friend was. So I had to find a wifi hotspot and message him on facebook (no cell phone, remember?). This was a bit tricky. But after about 10-15 minutes we were able to track each other down. The first thing we did was grab a couple of beers at the nearest convenience store and head up to Seoul Station where we sat on the steps and talked. After we finished our beers, we started heading towards Hongdae, the party center of Seoul.

Seoul Station at night

When we got to Hongdae, I was completely blown away by how crowded it was. I thought NYC was crowded but Manhattan doesn’t even compare to Hongdae, plus it’s mostly young people and they are all drunk. There are clubs left and right, music blasting in the streets, vendors filling in all the gaps and incredible street food as far as the eye can see. I was also surprised to see so many foreigners. The experience was overwhelming but extremely exciting. I was in the heart of perhaps the biggest party spot in all of Asia. We walked through all the commotion to get to our spot for the night, Hongdae park, which is like the central hangout in Hongdae. There were tons of foreigners there and it was a huge party, everyone was so friendly and I met quite a few really cool people. There was lots of music and dancing and boozing. I met people from London, Copenhagen, Vancouver, and various parts of the US…even a guy decked out in NY Yankees gear who happened to be from Jersey!

I also ate some amazing street food. Here is my friend Benji at a Kebab stand, he is friends with the owner so he was serving us up some delicious Korean style kebab.

So the rest of the night was history. The typical night out here ends at sunrise. So at about 5am we wrapped things up and got a cab headed to north Seoul where my friend Collin lives. I crashed there for the night and we grabbed Korean food the next day, then I headed back home. Here is the view from his apartment.

Anyway, thats about it for now. Again, I am limited in my internet access right now until I get my alien registration card, then I will finally have my own wifi. As for now, I have been getting access at work and at the PC Bang (I will tell you about PC Bangs in another post, they are amazing!)

Love you all. Jaigayo!