Friday, November 30, 2012

Korea in the News #4

South Korea and more importantly Suwon is mentioned in two articles that are on the New Zealand News website 'Stuff' today.

The first one is about Internet/technology addiction in children - as a teacher I see this all the time.  If the kids have any kind of break most of them pull out their phones, you try and talk to them but they are too busy playing games. The article mentions a Suwon elementary school that has a policy where they take the phones at the beginning of the day and return them when the kids are ready to leave.

Article: South Korea to stem digital addiction from age 3

The second article is about the toilet museum in Suwon, one of the many fabulous attractions of our fair city. I have not been yet but it's on my 'To-do' list.

Article: Toilet park flush with success

Monday, November 26, 2012

Music Monday #24

This week I thought that I would introduce some New Zealand Punk, I've talked about a few New Zealand bands but not really the punk scene.

Punk was and still is pretty popular in New Zealand, there have been many bands over the years mostly on the underground scene but a few have been a bit more widely received.  It's pretty hard to make it mainstream at the best of times and if you add to that a very small country with a limited fan base and you can see the obstacles that face many alternative bands from New Zealand.

One band that did pretty well is Kitsch - (note there are a few bands in the world with this name), they are a Punk band from New Zealand and have been around for over fifteen years - on and off. They play the more melodic punk and have released a couple of albums over the years, they have also supported many international bands like NOFX and Bad Religion to name just a few.

Kitsch - Stay Right Here

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interview from Expat Arrivals

I was recently interviewed by the website Expat Arrivals for their South Korean information page. Expat Arrivals is a website that aims to give lots of local knowledge and information for living in areas all over the world.

You can check out my interview and others from expats living in South Korea here.

Seoul Lantern Festival - November 2012

Last weekend a friend and I braved the winter chill and went out to see the last night of the 2012 Seoul Lantern Festival.

The festival ran from the 2nd of November to through to the 18th of November. It takes place on the Cheonggyecheon Stream stretching 1.5km from Cheonggye Plaza all the way down to Seungyo Bridge. There were over three thousand lanterns and the theme for this year's festival was “Roots of Seoul, A Day in the Life of Our Ancestors”.

The lanterns were amazing, there were so many to see and they were all constructed with such care, it was truly beautiful. The lanterns were lined down the river, to view them you walked along the side of the stream, there are walkways on both sides. Sometimes the trees obstructed the views a bit but overall it was very well executed. A lot of the lanterns showed the history of Korea from the Joseon dynasty but it also moved into the future and they had lanterns depicting popular cartoon characters like Pororo. Something for everyone!

We went on the last day, it was also a Sunday and of course the weekend is always busy at these kind of events, add to that being the last day and you can imagine how crowded it was.  It took ages just to get to the start of the lanterns but it was well worth it and I'm glad I got the chance to go.

For more information and photos you can check out the website Visit Seoul.

Photos courtesy of worldsafari.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Music Monday #23

Last week I totally forgot about Music Monday, I remembered on Wednesday so by then it was a bit late and I decided to just skip it for that week. We are back this week however with some more Korean music.  I just did a post about a gig that I went to in Seoul on the weekend and unfortunately I had to leave early so I did not get to see 'The Rock Tigers'.

This week I thought I would introduce them for Music Monday instead, I still still hope to be able to check them out live sometime. The Rock Tigers (더 락타이거즈) are a rock and roll band with an old school Rockabilly sound, the band includes a double bass which adds to that swinging kind of rhythm. They have had a few line up changes over the years but the lead singer has stayed the same. They have released some albums and EP's and have garnered a considerable following although they are still far from what we would consider mainstream. They regularly play live shows in Seoul so if you are living in or around Seoul keep an eye out and you might get to see them.

The Rock Tigers - Cry Baby

You can also check out an interview with the band and find out more information over at The Silk They have a great video all about the band in their 'Koreans in the Spotlight' series so be sure to check it out.

Live Music in Seoul - Hongdae, Club FF (11/17/2012)

On Saturday this weekend I went to my first gig in Korea, it was at Club FF in Hongdae and there were five bands for 15,000 won.

Unfortunately I live in Suwon which is a couple of hours travel from Hongdae in Seoul, I had to use public transport to get back and there are limitations on the services which run that late at night.  I found out that there is the 3007 red bus that leaves from Gangnam at about 1am and that seemed to be the last one. The other option is to stay until morning when the services start up again but I didn't really want to do that.  In order to get over to Gangnam from Hongdae I had to leave the club about 12am  - this meant that I missed the last two acts. I got a taxi from Hongdae to Gangnam, this is much more expensive at night as they charge a 10% surcharge so I think it ended up costing about 16,000 won.

So I ended up seeing 'The Lads', 'Bye Bye Badman', '18Gram' and 'Magna Fall', I did get to see one song from 'Copy Machine' before I had to leave but I missed the rest of their set and that of the 'Rock Tigers'.  It was just starting to get good too, so was a bit of a drag but I will know for next time and maybe arrange to stay the night in Seoul to make it a easier.

All in all it was a good night, I'm glad I finally made it to a show, hopefully it will be the first of many.  The bands I saw were pretty good, mainly with rock type sounds. 'Copy Machine' is more Ska so I was looking forward to seeing them, they had a really good energy from the little bit that I saw. I think my favourite was '18Gram' which played some good sounding rock music, they had a really cool, lively sound. 'Bye Bye Badman' and 'The Lads' were OK but I thought that for the former the music was a bit loud over the vocals, they are a big band with five members so it's a big sound. The one I liked least was the only English band and that was 'Magna Fall', they are Irish and American, I think, although they did have a Korean friend playing with them as an extra guitar, not sure if that's a permanent change to the line up or not.  They were not bad or anything, I just thought they were an average pub type rock band.

I would have liked to see the 'Rock Tigers', it was the one that I missed entirely, they play a rockabilly type music and I have heard that their live shows are really good.  While it's not my usual kind of music I have seen a few of their videos on YouTube and thought they had a good sound and looked like a fun group. I hope I can see them in the future sometime.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Website Highlight #5 - Chincha

I wanted to share another website that I have been reading recently - this one is a magazine/lifestyle type site.  It's called Chincha and has lots of great articles, information and reviews plus a lot of other bits and pieces.

There are different contributors so there is a good range of topics, they are all written by English speakers and they also offer an Events page where they list things that are upcoming in Korea.

This is the website so check it out if you have not already found them.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Music Monday #22

This week I thought it would be nice to visit another country to look at some music, for the most part I have stuck to America, New Zealand or Korea.

This weeks band is from Japan, but they sing in English as the lead singer is Japanese/American. It is a band that I checked out from the listings of one of the recent festivals. I did not end up going as there was not really enough bands that interested me but it's a good way to find out about new bands and give them a listen.

The genre is the so called 'post-hardcore' - (think Linkin Park or My Chemical Romance) where screaming meets melodic singing hopefully in a harmoinic fusion.  I'm not a huge fan of these bands but for some reason I really like Linkin Park, its one of those guilty pleasures that you don't let on to your die-hard punk friends about.

So the band is Coldrain and they have been around since about 2007, they have been doing pretty well in the past few years over in Japan even though their lyrics are all in English. They have couple of albums and mini albums out; they seem to have a lot more international appeal than other bands because of the English element.

Coldrain - Die Tomorrow

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Little Bit of New Zealand - JGeeks

I was just checking out some New Zealand stuff on YouTube to see what was popular over there at them moment and I stumbled upon this group.

They are currently competing in 'New Zealand's Got Talent' as a dance group, well maybe dance/comedy group.  I thought they were really funny, totally fresh and with such a passion for their New Zealand culture but with a healthy dose of not taking themselves to seriously. 

I was thinking about putting it up for Music Monday but it's not really a song and I thought this bit from the show was pretty good.  They do have some songs so I might put one up in the future but if you are interested check them out on YouTube.

The group is called JGeeks and this video is from the Semi Finals of  the New Zealand's Got Talent competition.

Korea in the News #3

Not really sure if this counts as news per se but . . . .