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Preview: Paul Ajosshi

Paul Ajosshi

폴 아저씨

Updated: 2018-04-21T15:26:20.590+09:00


An Ode To Gimbap


Here's your moment of zen for the day - a beautiful 10 minute film about Gimbap:

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Munchies have put together an excellent little documentary titled "Self Expression Through Gimbap" about chef/artist Toyoung and her delightful Gimbap restaurant in Seoul. Short, sweet and bound to make your mouth water. An ode to good food, good pottery, good friendship and the marriage of art, cuisine and different cultures.

Happy Easter!



Yes, just like that bloke 2000 years ago, my blog has risen again on Easter Sunday. Now that blogging is completely unfashionable, antiquated and of no interest to anyone, I feel like it might be the right time to start again. 

So, Happy Easter to you all! I spent my weekend on a cross-cultural inter-family exchange at a themed pension city on an island off the coast of Incheon. After a night of heavy drinking, meat grilling and story swapping we got up early and prepared a rather special Easter breakfast - chapjae and chocolate eggs (as well as some other bits and pieces). 

A strange combination, but it was a chance to celebrate the best of both worlds and who doesn't like chocolate for breakfast?

The Joys Of Summer (Plus A Little Bit Of Shakespeare)


Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.

My vibrating bottom will haunt your ears

Summer is well and truly here on the peninsula, we've survived the muggy monsoon season and now we're onto the even muggier month of August. A time to appreciate the constant whine of the cicadas whilst you slowly melt onto the pavement in a dehydrated sweaty mess.

Still, life isn't all bad when the air conditioning is on full blast, your feet are in a bucket of cold water and you're halfway through eating your own weight in ice cream.

Plus, I have news of an event that doesn't seem to be getting any English language press in Korea (at least not that I could find). On August 15th and 16th, the Marronnier Outdoor Stage in Daehangno is playing host to an English language production of Hamlet.

This isn't just any old performance, it's part of the "Globe to Globe" world tour by the Shakespeare's Globe theatre troupe. Started back on April 23rd 2014, the plan is to take Hamlet to every single country on Earth (on a whopping two year tour) and this month Korea gets a flying visit from the company.

Tickets are free, but you will need to be able to understand Korean or at least have someone understand it for you if you want to get your sweaty little hands on them. Head here to book tickets! The shows start at 7.30 on Saturday the 15th and Sunday the 16th of August and you'll get to see the Danish prince in all his glory.

Here's a sneak preview of sorts:

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So get off your bottom, get booking and enjoy a summery Shakespeare evening... 

Happy New Year!


Well, 2014 is dead and gone and I’m still here sitting in my underpants and considering what 2015 may hold. New experiences? New friends? New work? Rainbows? Unicorns? Kittens with lasers for eyes? Possibly… What I do know, is that the past twelve months have been a whirlwind of change, sometimes filled with excitement and sometimes filled with pain.

In February the performing company of Latt Children’s Theatre was almost fully shut down after 11 years of operation, with only a skeleton staff remaining for the summer. The theatre still continues as a venue that also will occasionally put on its own productions, but it has ceased to function as the only English language children’s repertory theatre company in Korea. After spending over a decade making shows together, it was a very strange feeling to have everything shut down and for an important chapter in our lives to close. I remained with the company for the summer festival, putting on two smaller scale shows and doing some storytelling and we were lucky enough to have two great Korean language children’s theatre companies come in to perform alongside us.

With the ending of one endeavour came the start of two others. First with the founding of a new company - Jam Box Theatre - hopefully persevering with the work we have done at Latt and continuing to entertain and inspire families in the future. Our first show was done in partnership with Latt Children’s Theatre, allowing us to perform at the venue and giving us a chance to present a brand new work: Fairy Tale Box. Fifteen fairy tales told in one hour in all sorts of ways - some long, some short, some scary and some silly, we mixed European and Korean traditional tales together to give our audiences something a little different. Pigs, princess, wolves, tigers, turtles, rabbits and a Snow Queen shared the stage and we had a joyous month long run with over 4,000 people coming to see us perform.

The other new beginning was much more of a surprise. For the past four years I’ve been guesting on various radio programmes on TBSeFM and Arirang Radio, talking about Korean culture, festivals and events, but this summer I was given the opportunity to audition as a full time dj and you can now hear me daily as part of the Wake Up Crew. I sit in a studio with Punita Bajaj and get to waffle on about all sorts of interesting things and you can hear us every morning from 5.00 till 7.00. A little early for most people, but do take a listen if you have the chance. Thanks to the format of the show I get to share a story I’m interested in every day as well as music of my choice which has led to me being able to start playing old Tom Waits tracks pretty much every week, much to the annoyance of my cohost who would prefer more Michael Buble... 

As for 2015? I’m in rehearsals for a Singalong Concert which opens next week - a chance for young kids and the parents to singalong to some nursery favourites including Old MacDonald Had A Farm and The Wheels On The Bus, as well as planning new shows with Jam Box Theatre for the coming year. If you’re studying at certain academies you may also get to hear me as the disembodied British male voice in some of your upcoming listening tests and if you haven’t seen the Korean film Cart yet, then you should, because my wife is in it and she is fabulous.

I’m not sure what else the new year will bring, but I’m hoping there will be more joy than sorrow, more delight than pain and more interesting times ahead. Happy New Year!

A Musical Whale Of A Time!


A week and a half ago I had the good fortune to be given a free ticket to the Yeowoorak Festival by the K-Performance Supporters programme. There have been numerous performances throughout the festival, but I was offered the chance to attend one in particular - The Whale In The Moon - a collaborative concert between two particularly interesting bands, Second Moon and Coreyah. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Second Moon performing "Ice Pond" live on MBCSecond Moon are a funky, spunky "ethnic fusion" group made up of six instrumentalists and are perhaps best known for the contributions to the soundtracks of tv dramas like Princess Hours and Island. A mix of drums, keyboards, melodion, mandolin, guitar, double bass, uilleann pipes, accordion and violin. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Coreyah's music video "Whale Of A Time"Coreyah are a little more Korea focused in terms of their musical sensibilities, five musicians using a mix of traditional instruments including daegeum, sogeum, geomungo and janggu alongside guitar, drums and other more eclectic musical tools to create a wide selection of worldly tunes that are complemented by singer Kwon Ah-shin's vocals.A grand total of a dozen performers on stage that night, all attempting to play a mixed bag of the two teams' repertoires. Some tunes were more successful than others, with Second Moon's own compositions often outshining those of Coreyah. However, both teams played with aplomb and every musician seemed to be giving their all to every number, no matter the origin.The audience (seemingly mostly composed of fans of both Second Moon and Coreyah) lapped every song up, but to be honest by the halfway mark I found my interest flagging, especially when two male members of Coreyah decided to perform an ear-splittingly bad rap number.Still, it was well worth going and it makes me happy to know that the National Theatre of Korea is willing to invest time and money in an experimental music festival that attempts to break new ground and bring innovative artists together. I also hope I get to see Second Moon again at some point, but to be honest I think one performance from Coreyah was enough for me.The Yeowoorak Festival comes to a close this weekend, but do not fear the National Theatre has already released its line up for the 2014/2015 season and then are plenty of productions that demand attention, including more screenings of performances from the National Theatre Live programme in the UK.[...]

A Cool Fusion Music Festival For These Hot Summer Nights


It's too bloody hot these days and I'm in need of some sort of distraction. Fortunately the National Theatre are offering their own musical remedy in the form of the 여우락 (Yeowoorak) Festival. Celebrating it's fifth anniversary this year, it's a month long celebration of new music and all of it is somehow linked into the traditions of Korea.

Thanks to the lovely people at the K-performance supporters program I've blagged myself a ticket for this Friday's performance of The Whale In The Moon, which promises to be an innovative collaboration between Second Moon (a Korean band that plays Irish music) and Coreyah (a traditional Korean folk music group). I'm not quite sure what to expect, but if anything it will be something I've never heard before and that's pretty much the idea of this festival.

Yeowoorak translates to "here is our music" (according to the festival organizers) and it promises completely new concerts by some of the best artists from Korea and across the world. Over 23 days, you get a chance to see 10 different concerts put together by a total of 101 musicians. Each performance links back to Korean traditional music in some way, whether it's master saxophonist Kang Tae-hwan playing with a traditional singer and a geomungo player, or Han Seung-seok and Jung Jae-il combining pansori and piano to bring new life to the old fairytale of Princess Bari. An astonishing range of concerts.

The other good news is that if you're not Korean and you can produce a passport or student id, they'll give you 50% off the ticket price - 15,000 won instead of 30,000 won. Well, worth a look see if you're a fan of traditional music.

Gettin' Down In Dongdaemun With The Klive Crew...


Look! It's a big shiny building designed by a prestigious architect! I don't know what it's meant to be, but heavens to Betsy it's shiny and big and filled with sparkly things! Is it an "urban pimple"? Who am I to judge? For I have more important things to talk about! I have seen Klive!What is Klive? A Korean Clive? A misspelled chive? Some new hand jive? No, it's an all singing, all dancing, brand spanking new K-pop themed hologram theatre where you can pay a wad of cash to see cool, young, spunky, funky kids doing their sexy thing to the latest ditties from the hit parade. But what am I doing here? Aren't I a shabby, bearded, considerably unfashionable ajosshi on the wrong side of thirty five? That may well be true, but I was invited here as part of the K-performance supporter program. They kindly give me a free ticket to see an all dancing digitised K-pop extravaganza and in return I write a little something on my blog to let the world know how I feel about it. Prepare yourselves, dear readers, for here is my review!Klive takes place just across the road from the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) at Lotte Fitin (head to exit 12 of the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station and hope for the best). It's up on the ninth floor above a host of K-themed shops and stores all trying to part you from the cash in your wallet. Plenty of fashion, plenty of K-pop commodities and a scandalously expensive liquor shop where they try to overcharge for good quality soju. Ignore all these fancies, dear reader, and head straight to the eighth floor, then wander around for a bit looking a little lost until you discover the staircase that leads to Klive.Once there you'll be confronted by a rather large amount of merchandise with the faces of all sorts of young and pretty people who I assume are in some sort of band, group or barbershop quartet. You can linger amongst the cds, dvds, posters, pamphlets, postcards and novelty pencils or make your way towards the "Giant Tower" - some very large digital screens where you'll have the chance to peruse, select and enlarge the K-pop star of your choice.After touching your favourite stars you can wend your way to the box office, pick up a ticket (33,000 won for adults, 16,000 won for kids) and then discover even more delights around and about the hologram theatre.There are "secret windows" to be discovered. Seemingly blank screens that magically reveal their secrets when you look at them through a special filter. What might you see? What wonders may you discover?I looked through one of the paparazzi's lenses and to my delight, who did I see?Felicia Day! And someone else who I don't know! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!Once you tire of the magical delights found within the "secret windows" then you can mosey towards the Klive cafe where they provide a range of hot and cold beverages along with a view of the DDP. If you head a little further though, you'll discover the "Star Lounge" - a slightly secretive looking space where with the press of a button you can summon up a star for a photo...I managed to get a glimpse of Psy poking a random lady in the cheek whilst holding an invisible bottle of soju.G-Dragon attempting a complex mime about the love between two swans.And CL from 2NE1 showing off the dangers of bad posture.After all that rigmarole it was time for the main event - Klive. Shows are on at 2.00, 4.00, 6.00 and 8.00 every day except Monday and be sure to arrive on time so you can catch all the action. I saw the 6.00 show on a Thursday night, because that's the way I roll.Things kicked off with some smartly dressed young men who did a little dancing in the lobby, before inviting us into the main hall. As you entered you had the option to take your photo for use in the performance. I pulled my best Gumby impression (though I lacked the requisite hanky on head) and moved into the hall itself.The photos found their way onto the screens of the[...]

More Manshin Screenings


If you haven't caught a screening of the fabulous Manshin yet then do not fear, for Indieplus have extended their English subtitled showings for a few more days:

Monday 31st March - 12:30 and 20:10
Tuesday 1st April - 14:20 and 18:10
Wednesday 2nd April - 16:10
Thursday 3rd April - 14:10
Friday 4th April - 12:30
Saturday 5th April - 10:30 and 18:50
Sunday 6th April - 10:30 and 18:00

More info on the screenings can be found here.

For those not interested in fascinating documentaries about shamans, here are some cherry blossoms:

Seven Reasons Why You Need To Go See Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560"> Yesterday I popped down to the Indieplus Cinema near Sinsa Station to see the morning screening of Park Chan-kyong's "Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits" (만신) and I was blown away. It's a beautiful, tragic, uplifting, mysterious cross between a documentary and a biopic.You need to see this film.Here are the seven reasons why:7. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" isn't out till next Wednesday. What better way to prepare yourself for the next story in Marvel's odyssey than by diving into the mystical world of superstition and shamanism. You won't need your brain when you see good old Cap' next week, so you might as well use it now.6. Every year we're lucky to get a small number of Korean films shown on the big screen in Seoul with English subtitles, but those screenings are few and far between. Movies are meant to be watched in the cinema, not on your tv or smart phone, so make the effort. Plus you can't find Park's previous award winning film on DVD anywhere (or at least I can't seem to get a hold of the fabulous Anyang, Paradise City). Documentaries are not usually great money makers and there's a chance that once this subtitled run ends it may be hard to catch a glimpse of this flick again. Also, Indieplus is a fantastic tiny venue that needs your support. The tickets are cheap, the screening room is cosy and the projection quality is fabulous.5. Ever worry that documentaries might be a little dry? A little too intellectual? Fear not, Park's style takes the viewer on a narrative journey that feels close to watching a drama. Talking heads do appear, but much of the time is spent in the world of the shaman, with plenty of well acted reconstructions.4. Which brings us to the performers. Moon So-ri (A Good Lawyer's Wife, Forever The Moment, Oasis, Peppermint Candy) is on top form, Kim Sae-ron (the kid from The Man From Nowhere) proves her serious drama skills and Ryu Hyeon-kyoung (Petty Romance, Cyrano Agency) shows that she can do more than just light comedy. All three performers are outstandingly good at recreating one woman's journey through the twentieth century to become one of Korea's greatest shamans.3. Park Chan-kyong is one of the best documentary makers and visual artists in Korea. Did you see "Bitter, Sweet, Seoul"? That incredible hourlong tribute to the capital of Korea made up of videos sent in by residents and visitors. That was all down to Park Chan-kyong and his brother Park Chan-wook. It's a beautiful tribute to this bustling metropolis and it doesn't shy away from the more uncomfortable elements of our city. If you haven't seen it then go watch it now and then go watch "Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits".2. Haven't you seen it already? No? If you have any interest in Korean history or culture, then "Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits" offers you a window into a part of Korea that doesn't get talked about enough. Until the 1970's shamanism was a big part of everyday life, there were gods and spirits everywhere, and the role of the shaman was one of the most important in the village. This film gives you a condensed history of shamanism in the twentieth century, its almost complete disappearance thanks to the sweeping modernisations of Korea forty years ago, and its rebirth. There's plenty of archival and new footage giving you a glimpse of ceremonies from the recent past, and the reconstructed dramatic scenes also offer insight into what shamanism in Korea used to be.1. Kim Geum-hwa - Important Intangible Cultural Property #82, she is the "National Shaman" and this is her film. Based on her autobiography "Silk Flower Nomsae", it tells her story from her perspective and allows us to understand what made her become a shaman, and what impact it has had on her life. She opens the film with a prayer to[...]

Kolleen Park's Kaboom And Becoming a K-Performance Supporter


My return to regular blogging has also meant a foray into a group run by the Korean Tourism Organization known as the K-Performance Supporters - a large number of people from all over the world who in return for free tickets to performances in Korea agree to write about them, share their experiences and support Korean performances. Last night was the opening event of their "third season" and I, along with a horde of other theatre fans, was invited to down to Jongno for food and theatrical fun.The evening started out near Jongno-3-ga at the Jongno Cinecore building. This has been the home of Korean non-verbal performances for many years and is conveniently located next to a branch of Peggy Pie, so one can fulfil one's thirst for entertainment and hunger for puff pastry. It's a quick walk from Jongno-3-ga station and just across the road from Insa-dong and Tapgol Park, so even though I arrived a little too early there was plenty to do...The first event of the evening was a slap-up feast at VIPS. We were allowed to buffet to our heart's content (with an hour time limit) and had free reign to sit wherever we chose. I ended up on a lovely table filled with bloggers from the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, France and Indonesia and it was great to sit, chat and make new acquaintances. Once dinner was done, we made our way up to the fourth floor where we were given a ticket each and had the chance to get our photos taken using the special Kaboom machines. Using pictures of the performers as a background you were able to take snaps of yourself and your new friends that would later be used in the show and have them emailed to you (though as of now, almost twenty four hours later my email has yet to arrive...). Once our images had been recorded it was off into the theatre for the welcoming ceremony and a very welcome goodie bag (filled with a K-Performance pamphlet, a smartphone holder thingy, a snazzy three colour pen and a usb drive. Thanks KTO!).Speeches were made, prizes were given to the best bloggers of last season and the person who cheered the loudest got two free tickets to see Fanta-stick (a "Fusion Gukak Music Show"). Thanks to my years of training as a professional loudmouth I succeeded in nabbing the tickets for myself and I look forward to seeing what "fusion gukak music" mixed with fizzy drinks and sticks looks like.Finally it was show time and we all sat down and waited for "Kaboom! 케쎄라쎄라" to start. Directed by Kolleen Park, the show brings together four different groups for your performing pleasure (all quotes taken from the Kaboom pamphlet):Morning of Owl - "World's number 1 B-boy team"Va Va Voom - "Female trio that touches the soul, fusion Korean classical music"Magic Trunk - "Storytelling magic show"PID (Performance in the Darkness) - "You can't take your eyes off it, black light laser performance!"The seventy minute show is comprised of five minute sets where each group get to show off their own skills, sometimes working together, sometimes on their own. It's a little like Kolleen's own Korea's Got Talent, except there are no sob stories or red buttons to press if you don't enjoy the acts. Thanks to each sequence being relatively short, you don't have to worry if one particular performance doesn't float your boat, but at the same time there are no extended sequences meaning you never quite have time to settle into any of the four groups.Morning of Owl offered some impressive b-boy skills that were sometimes combined with more traditional music and occasionally veered towards contemporary dance. They are a talented bunch of boys and I think there's a lot of potential in mixing traditional Korean movements and music with the frenzied spins, kicks and body pops of breakdancing. Hopefully they'll get their own full show at some point so we can see how far the[...]

English Subtitled Shamans Ahoy!


Photo credit: Indieplus

Really exciting news for fans of documentary cinema living in Seoul. Park Chan-kyong's "Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits" is being shown with English subtitles this week at Indieplus near Sinsa station in Gangnam.

Park is the younger brother of Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker and JSA to name a few) and his last solo feature length film "Anyang, Paradise City" (released in 2010) was a stunning mix of documentary footage and fiction detailing life in Anyang and some troubling stories from its past.

"Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits" focuses on Kim Geum-hwa, a "national shaman". For anyone interested in Korean shamanism or the traditions of this peninsula, this promises to be a worthwhile watch.

The film will be screened with English subtitles at the following times this week:

Tuesday 18th March - 12:20 and 20:10
Wednesday 19th March - 12:20 and 16:00
Thursday 20th March - 16:20
Friday 21st March - 10:20
Saturday 22nd March - 14:20 and 20:20
Sunday 23rd March - 13:00

Indieplus have said that screenings will continue beyond the 23rd March, no detailed schedule as yet. More info can be found at the Indieplus website.

One Man's Song Silenced After Eighty Years


Photo credit: Naver NewsDo you know this man? If you're not familiar with Korean traditional music then you most likely haven't seen him before. If you read The Korea Times you might have seen his picture in the paper this week or caught something about him on the tv news.His name was 이은관 (Lee Eun-gwan) and he passed away on Wednesday 12th March 2014 at the age of 97. Apart from a couple of brief mentions in the aforementioned newspaper, hardly anyone in the English speaking world seems to be talking about his death and it feels like something needs to be said, a moment needs to be taken to recognise his contributions to Korea and to Korean music.So, here we go...Lee Eun-gwan was born on the 27th November 1917 in Icheon-gun in Gangwon Province. He spent most of his youth in Cheolwon-gun, Gangwon Province. His training in traditional music began by focusing on 서도소리 (Seodosori), folk songs from the Seodo region (the Pyeongan and Hwanghae provinces now located in North Korea), before specialising in 배뱅이굿 (Baebengigut) an hour long story song performance. He started performing Baebaengigut at the age of 17 and spent the next eighty years of his life dedicated to that song. He sang other ditties during that time, but he was known for and celebrated for his interpretation of this traditional work.Dr. Roald Maliangkay describes the story of the song in his article "Baebaengi Debuts In Australia":The story told is that of a minister Choe, a former shaman, and his wife, who after a long time of prayer finally becomes pregnant. The child, a girl, grows up quickly but when she is in her teens she falls in love with a monk who comes to her house to beg for food. After hiding him (and making love to him) in her bedroom for days, the monk leaves her to return to his temple. Because he doesn¡¯t come back like he promises, the girl falls ill and dies. Devastated, her parents decide to organize a contest and award all their possessions to the shaman who can help them speak to the spirit of their girl in the afterworld. A poor vagabond hears of the contest and decides to pretend he is a shaman. Shamans from all provinces of Korea come to perform for the parents, but they all fail to convince. Using his great wit, the libertine manages to pass the tests and deceive both the parents and the crowd to win the award.You can listen to the whole thing here if you so wish: allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' />This is a recording of Lee Eun-gwan (at the age of 77) singing Baebaengigut back in 1994. It's almost an hour long and probably only the most dedicated fans of Korean traditional music would take the time to listen to the whole thing, but I urge you to take a couple of minutes, listen to a few sections, try and get the feel for the piece.It's an astonishing feat - one man accompanied by a gong and a drum, telling the same story he has told year after year, decade after decade. A life dedicated to Baebaengigut, a commitment to one particular performance. He may have had dalliances with other songs, but throughout his whole life he always remained faithful to this work, coming back again and again to this tragic tale of ill-fated love and deception. Eighty years dedicated to one song.Here he is, last year, at the age of 96 giving it his all on the Korean traditional music channel: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560"> Not bad going for a nonagenarian...Back in his younger days he was a movie star and could draw in the crowds. If you watch this video clip from the 55 second mark (though if you watch form the [...]

Celebrating 9 Years of Adverts in the New York Times


Photo credit:'s an advert in the latest New York Times for Bulgogi (Thanks to Roboseyo and Zenkimchi for bringing it to my attention). A celebration of sportsmanship, good food and chopstick skills, it's from the same people who have brought us so much pleasure over the past nine years with printed adverts in diverse publications ranging from the New York Times to the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times.It feels like the right time to celebrate some of those adverts from the past nine years. The following are all taken from back in 2005, we were all young and foolish, and curious to find out more about Dokdo and the East Sea...Published 27th July 2005 in the New York TimesPublished 21st November 2005 in the New York TimesIn 2007 the focus changed to Comfort Women:Published 17th April 2007 in the Washington PostBut in 2008 it was back to Dokdo and the East Sea, with the addition of Goguryeo:Published 9th July 2008 in the New York TimesPublished 11th August 2008 in the New York TimesPublished 25th August 2008 in the Washington Post2009 was all about journalistic mistakes and delicious rice dishes:Published 6th May 2009 in the Wall Street JournalPublished 11th May 2009 in the New York TimesPublished 12th May in the Washington PostPublished 21st December 2009 in the New York TimesThe start of a new decade brought a new focus on language learning:Published 28th April 2010 in the Wall Street JournalPublished 26th May 2010 in the Wall Street JournalHowever, 2011 saw some old favourites return and the exciting promise of a yacht race:Published 22nd February 2011 in the New York TimesPublished 26th April 2011 in the Wall Street JournalPublished 5th November 2011 in the Wall Street JournalPublished 29th December 2011 in the Wall Street Journal2012 gave us puzzles to solve and new words to learn, and asked for apologies:Published 1st March 2012 in the New York TimesPublished 14th March 2012 in the Wall Street JournalPublished 29th May 2012 in the New York TimesFinally, 2013 was the year to eat, drink and be merry:Published 13th February 2013 in the New York TimesPublished 28th March 2013 in the New York TimesPublished 21st May 2013 in the New York TimesSeo Kyoung-deok posted the following on his me2day account today:추신수 선수와 뉴욕타임스에 불고기 광고를 올렸습니다. 올해부터는 고기류에 더 집중하려구요. 특히 이제부턴 대한민국을 대표하는 세계적인 스포츠스타와 함께 한식을 널리 알려볼 생각입니다. 또한 이영애와 무한도전의 비빔밥광고,김윤진의 김치광고, 송일국의 막걸리광고 등을 묶어 '한식아트북'을 제작해 조만간 전세계 주요도서관에 다 기증할 예정입니다. 우리의 한식이 세계인들의 입맛을 사로잡는 그날까지 쭉~^^If my tenuous grasp of Korean serves me well then it looks like we can expect a greater focus on meat, with world famous Korean sport stars joined together with Korean food. Lee Young-ae will continue her promotion of Bibimbap (alongside the cast of Infinite Challenge) and one of the stars of the tv series Lost, Kim Yoon-jin, will be celebrating Kimchi. Plus there will be a "Hanshik Artbook" to tantalise our eyes.You can download these images and many more here (including some spiffy videos and posters and other things).[...]

Bossam Tacos


One of my regular guilty pleasures is a trip to Vatos in Itaewon, it's only a five minute walk from home and there's a guarantee of good beer and a good bellyful of food. I've never been to Mexico, so I make no claims about the authenticity of the food, all I know is that it tastes pretty damn good. Plus they have Magpie's Pale Ale on tap...

Their latest invention is the braised belly pork taco with vinegared red pepper paste, a divine combination of Mexican and Korean flavours that are well worth trying.

My expanding waistline is a testament to the quality of the food.

Hello Again...


This blog has been quiet... too quiet.

I've been busy and with only fourteen posts in the last twenty months, I've been lax! Perhaps this will be the start of a renewed and revitalised blog, with much more to come! Though it may be best not to hold your breath.

Life has been rather hectic and immensely rewarding over the last year and a half. I've transitioned from full time performer to full time director and occasional show off at Latt Children's Theatre and we're just about to start work on our latest production - Twelve Singing Animals. We start rehearsals in twelve days time and if you fancy coming along and boogieing down to the hottest English language children's musical about the Asian zodiac in town then we'll be open on October 12th.

Alternatively, if you fancy listening to my dulcet tones on a regular basis then you can find me polluting the airwaves five minutes at a time, five days a week on Travel Bug, Arirang radio's morning show. I've been doing a corner for the past year and a half called Culture Note, where they kindly let me witter on about all sorts of topics.

And now back to some semi-regular blogging!

Yellow Dust


Jaundiced smoggy skies greeted me on the way home tonight. It looks as if the yellow dust is making an unwelcome return. Nowhere near danger levels yet, but still eye-stingingly frustrating.

Psy's Gentleman Gets A Much More Genteel Makeover


I'm not keen on Psy's latest pop creation, but at least this cover version I spotted on Reddit has some charm about it...

Psy's "Gentleman" done 1920's style:

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The Korean may be almost unintelligible, but it's a great deal better than the original.

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May 18th


Today marks the thirty third anniversary of the start of the Gwangju massacre. Hundreds killed, thousands of lives ruined.

It's worth taking the time to discover more about what happened. If you can get your hands on "Kwangju in the Eyes of the World", it's a fascinating read. Though you may find it easier to get a hold of "Korea Witness" (a wonderful collection of essays covering the past century or so), which devotes a fair amount of space to the incidents of 1980.

If neither of those tickle your fancy then I'll leave you with one of the first Korean films I ever saw - Peppermint Candy (박하 사탕 - released in 1999) - Lee Chang-dong's heartbreaking tale of one man's destruction and what brought him there in the first place. The film has strong ties to Gwangju and the democratisation movement, and charts Korea's turbulent journey from the 1980's onwards to the new millenium.

It's worth a watch if you have a couple of hours free, but be warned, it is an intense and emotionally painful journey into Korea's past. 

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The Whole Story


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If you're a fan of Korea and comics there's something you should know about...

There's a Kickstarter project that deserves your cash, I discovered it this morning after splurging out a little too much money on the fabulous Bill Plympton's new film Cheatin...

The Whole Story is a digital comic book project by Busan resident Ryan Estrada (the man who did a nifty little comic guide to understanding hangul a while back) and for as little as $1 you can get your mucky hands on a collection of digital comics that includes English language works by a number of Korean and international artists. If you pay a little more you can get access to even more comics including some more translated Korean manhwa. Not a bad deal...

Happy New Year


We're still in 2012 back in Blighty, but over in Korea you're all happily snuggled into 2013. I hope the future is treating you kindly and that it'll be a fabulous year for one and all. May your side dishes be plentiful, may your ondol be warm and may your resolutions be kept for longer than three days.

Happy New Year!

K-pop Takes Over The World One Owl At A Time



With 2012 coming to a close, various organizations and entities are putting up their "best of the year" lists and this morning's Guardian Guide managed to pay homage to a Korean song other than Gangnam Style.


Bigbang's Fantastic Baby may be a bombastic boneheaded beast of a ditty, but the video is quite impressive and does indeed benefit from the inclusion of an owl.

I, for one, congratulate Mr. Dragon and Mr. Top on their efforts to include these feathered friends within the realms of Korean popular music and I hope that in future all Bigbang videos may feature winged specimens alongside their semi-naked muscular selves.

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Korea Foundation Free Gallery Concert


Exciting things are happening at the Korea Foundation next month...To celebrate the seventh anniversary of the Korea Foundation Cultural Center they are putting on two fantastic gallery concerts for free. On September 3rd you get the chance to see pianist Jonghwa Park and jazz vocalist Sunny Kim, whilst on September 4th you can see Geomungo Factory and Pansori diva Jaram Lee.Tickets are free to both events, but you can only apply for one or the other, not both. Applications open today and run till August 27th, but get your skates on as places are limited and this is a rare chance to see some of the best musicians Korea has to offer for free. Head to the website, fill out an application and hope for the best.Here's a taste of Jaram Lee:(The Pansori kicks in just before the three minute mark.)A soupçon of Geomungo Factory:A touch of Jonghwa Park: allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' />And a dollop of Sunny Kim: allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' />[...]

Saturday Afternoon In Itaewon



I'm back in Seoul after a glorious week of building cardboard box cities in the wilds of Busan and I'm pleased to see that Itaewon is putting on a show at the weekend. These B-boys prove they've got what it takes to entertain the jaded crowds that hang around on the street corners of my neighbourhood.

Busan Bound


Hello one and all, it has been a fair wee while since last I put anything up here. The last couple of months has been a whirlwind of work, with most of my attention firmly focused on The Little Dragon at Latt Children's Theatre.

Now that show has opened, I'm working on projects new - this week I'm heading down to Busan to perform with Polyglot Theatre at the Busan Cinema Centre. We're doing a show called We Built This City from Saturday through till Thursday, come down and join us as we transform heaps of cardboard boxes into incredible cityscapes... It's fun for all the family and a treat for anyone who loves lego and fancies building things on a much larger scale.

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I'm looking forward to a week of sun, sand and seafood, though I fear sunburn may be thrown into the mix as well...

The Start Of Something New



It may only be March, but 2012 has already been a busy year for me...

Tomorrow starts a brand new adventure as I begin my work as director for Latt Children's Theatre's latest show. This year to celebrate our tenth anniversary we're going back to where we began and remounting our first and most popular show, The Little Dragon.


Latt is the only English language repertory musical theatre for children in Korea and I've been fortunate enough to spend most of the last decade dressing up in rather silly costumes and strutting around the its stage. This time I get to work behind the scenes and bring the whole thing together - A challenge, but one I am looking forward to. The next six weeks are going to be very interesting.