Thursday, October 30, 2014

Live Music in Seoul - Hongdae, Club Spot (25/10/2014)

Last Saturday I finally made it out to another gig. I have not been in a very long time. It was the last event at one of the punk venue staples in Seoul - Club Spot. I've been there a couple of time before so I really wanted to go to this last show before they closed the doors for good.

The event was 'Still Alive VI: The Death of Club Spot' and was a Halloween inspired show. They had a huge line up starting from 6pm. I got there a bit late about 8.45pm I think so I missed the first few. I arrived about halfway through Burning Hepburn's set. They weren't bad, very peppy sounding. Whatever That Means... were pretty good. There were a lot of bands on, some of them I was not sure who they were.  The last two were the best of course, they are the headliners - Rux who I have seen before. They have a great sound. The last band was Crying Nut. They are one of the oldest and most successful alternative bands in the Korean music scene. 

I had a really great time, everyone is very friendly at these events. I didn't know that many people but ended up meeting lots. Sad that a venue that has supported the underground punk scene for many years has to close but nothing is forever and it had a good run. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Groove Article - Korean Punk Struggles Forward

I just read an interesting article in Groove Korea Magazine about the Punk scene in Korea.

I thought I would share the link with you here

The article is called Korean Punk Struggles Forward and is written by Dave Hazzan. 

Happy Reading!

Also it mentions this in the article so I thought I would reiterate here. The last show at the punk venue Club Spot will be on this Saturday 25th October. The club is closing down so if you have never been to a show in Korea this would be one to come to. Don't miss out.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Korea in the News #9

A fire at the Goyang Bus Terminal has killed 5 and injured around 20 others today. This is very close to home as Goyang is the city where I live. Initial reports had the death toll at 7 but this has been changed to 5 as two were apparently revived with CPR. Links to some of the reports are below if you want more information.

Fire at South Korean bus terminal kills 7

Disaster agency corrects death toll from 7 to 5

Goyang Immigration Office

It is that time of year again when I had to go and renew my visa. 

It's the first time I have had to do it here in Ilsan however I had been to the immigration office when I first moved here. Whenever you move you have to register your new address within about two weeks of moving. The immigration office has moved since then so I though I would do this post and show the new location and how to get there. I did notice online that there is not a lot of information about the Goyang Immigration Office, I am not sure if I was searching the wrong name or what but luckily the Facebook community had some information on the change of address. It was a bit confusing as the office has not moved far, it is basically just opposite a few blocks of where it used to be.

The Goyang Immigration Office is nowhere near as busy as the Suwon one, I find that you don't really need to make an appointment and the waiting time was about 5 to 10 minutes (not hours like in Suwon), so that was nice.

When you get to the office you can take a form and fill it out (you can also download these from the Immigration website to make things quicker if you like), make sure you get your revenue stamps* and then get a ticket number (for the queue) from the machine just inside the main doors. It's a big touch screen computer (you can't miss it) and you want the middle option (residence) if you are renewing your visa or for basically any such visa processes.

Getting There:
The Goyang Immigration office is located on the orange line (number 6) at Hwajeong Station.

At Hwajeong Station come out of Exit 4, cross the road opposite you (so you are outside Yankee Candle and then turn left and walk up the street a little bit until you come to an alley on your right.
View as you come out of Exit 4 (Hwajeong Station)
Go through this little side street
Go through this side street and turn towards your left when you come out - you will now be able to see the building you need. It's the big grey new building on the corner.
When you come out of the side street (the grey building is your destination)

Cross the road - there is a crossing right as you come out of the alley. Walk to your left up and to the grey building, you will go past the parking entrance (pictured above) but the foot entrance is up further round the corner.

So keep walking to the corner and then round it to your right. Walk on a bit until you come to the entrance.
Main Entrance of Goyang Immigration Office (Level 5)
The Immigration office is on the 5th floor, go in the main doors and cross the lobby toward the reception desk and the elevators are off to the left of the reception desk.
Come out of the elevator and this will be on your left.
On the fifth floor when you come out of the elevators turn to your left and you will see the sign on the wall in the picture above, walk to that and you will be in another corridor and you need to go to your left again. From there you can see the office, it is on the right and has a big blue sign above the doors so you can't miss it.

What to Take:
There is also a few changes to what you need to take with you. It's quite a rigmarole if you don't know what you need. Lucky for me my school is a rather large company and has been through it all before so they gave me all the documents when I re-signed my contract. If you have all your documents then the process is really quite easy and only takes a few minutes.

Once they have confirmed all your documents they stamp the back of your ARC (Alien Residence Card) with the new date of your visa. They do it right there while you wait, it only takes a very short time and you can be on your way.

This is a list of all the things I needed, I know that some branches take more and some take less but this is what my school advised me of:

-Copy of contract (don't give them your original as you don't get this stuff back)
-Copy of passport
-Copy of ARC (Alien Residence Card)
-Copy of the school's Business Certificate
-Copy of the school's registration
-Copy of your housing contract (should have the same address as on your ARC card)
-a list of the teacher's at your school - the number of Korean Teachers, Native Teachers, classrooms and students at the school
-a timetable of the teachers at your school
-revenue stamp*

*Revenue Stamps - these are the payment for your visa and need to be obtained before you get to the desk to hand in your documents. They look like a postage stamp and usually you will be reimbursed the amount for these by your school so make sure you get a receipt). 

There will be a desk somewhere nearby the main area that sell these stamps. At the Goyang Immigration Office it is a door off to the right (of the main office and waiting area) that you go through that leads into a another room, the desk you need is the first one as you head into to the room almost directly in front of you a little off to the left. 

These desks only take cash so make sure you take some money with you, some branches might have ATM machines but I would not bet on it. Also note that the price has gone up, for me it was 30,000 won the last two times I have renewed my visa but this time it was 60,000 won. I have heard that the price depends on your country so it is something you should check before you go so that you have enough cash to cover it.

Further Information:
If you are not sure about what you need (or where to go if you live in a different area) then you can call the hotline - 1345 and follow the directions for English (or they do have options in other languages too) and you can ask any questions. They are very helpful.

Also the website for Korean Immigration can be found here. You can download application forms from here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Korea in the News #8

Korea is in the news again for another subway incident, a few weeks ago a subway crashed into the back of another subway that had broken down.

Today there was an explosion that has 'lightly injured' 11 people. See the link below for the full article.

This of course also comes after the ferry disaster that has gripped the nation since its sinking in April. Lets hope that bad things really do come in threes and this is the last of it.

Subway Explosion Lightly Injures 11 in South Korea

Ponsonby Pies at Emart

Good news Kiwis (and Australians), Emart has a nice new addition to their shelves. You can now buy Ponsonby Meat Pies here in South Korea. Reports have that they are in most Emarts across the country and I know that you can get them at two of the large Emarts in the Ilsan area - the Madu one and the one over in Daewha.

These are frozen pies so you will find them in the freezer section, usually around the frozen meat patties. There are three different flavors - Beef Mince and Cheese Meat Pie, Steak and Cheese Meat Pie and Chilli Beef Mince and Cheese Pie.

They come in packs of two for just under 5000 won. I only tried the Beef Mince and Cheese because it is the only flavor that I like. They were quite tasty for a frozen pie, definitely better than the Jesters ones at any rate.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Food and Drink Korea #3 - Sweet Snacks

These are a few of my favorite sweet snacks that can be found in most local convenience stores and supermarkets in Korea.

Home-Run Ball (홈런볼)
The original version of this snack is a cream filling surrounded by a ball of fluffy pastry. The version here is the one I like as it has chocolate in it instead, I also believe you can get caramel too. They are creamy and light and very addictive, they cost about 1500 won or so at the supermarket, a bit more expensive if bought from the convenience store but not much more. You get a little plastic tray filled with about 25 of them.

Dweji-Ba (돼지바)
Dweji-Ba translates into Pig Bar - not sure what that is all about except that there is a cartoon pig (who looks suspiciously like Piglet) on the wrapper. It's a classic Korean ice-block and has been around for a while and is considered a classic. I have to say it is tasty so that is probably why it's so popular. It is made up of vanilla ice cream coated in crunchy nutty chocolate with a sweet strawberry syrup filling in the center.

Choco Boy (초코송이)
These are a delicious little chocolate and biscuit snack made by Orion (오리은). They are shaped like mushrooms where the top is the chocolate and the stem is a plain biscuit stick. These are one of my most favorite sweet snacks. You can get them from the supermarket for around 1000 won and again like most things they are a little bit more expensive if you buy them from the convenience store. They come in a yellow box, often at the supermarket they come in packs of two. Inside the box the candy is sealed in a little bag and you get about 20 or so in one packet.

Sweet Cake (소프트 메론홀릭)
This one is probably my favorite non-chocolate sweet snack and is a sweet melon cake. At first glance it is one of those things you think will not be good but I am glad I gave it a chance and whenever I can find it I always buy one or two of them. It is one that I have only seen in convenience stores not in the supermarkets and also it's not in every store, it seems to come and go randomly. The snack itself is like a sponge cake flavored slightly with melon (think the green melon flavor like Midori). It comes in slim rectangle slices and there are four in each packet. The slices are joined in two pairs with a cream holding the slices together like a sandwich. The cream is light and sweet and also has that melon flavoring.

Choco Fudge (초코퍼지)
Another chocolate ice block for the summer. This one is delicious with a creamy fudge goodness. Not really much more to say about it as it's pretty self explanatory but definitely one of my favorites.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Korea in the News #7

This is terrible news in Korea today. A ferry sank on the way to Jeju Island, it was carrying around 350 passengers many of them high school students on a school trip.  We can only hope that they find more of the passengers alive and are able to get them to safety.

Hundreds missing after ferry sinks

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Monteith's Beer and Cider in Korea

A few years ago when I first arrived in South Korea you could not find cider (the alcoholic beverage) anywhere and for someone who does not drink beer this was very disappointing. About six or seven years ago in New Zealand cider underwent something of a renaissance and I for one was very grateful. I have mentioned before what a picky eater I am and this is seen through in my drinks as well. It is nice to have something that you can drink when others are drinking beer e.g. at BBQs or for an after work drink. I like spirits and cocktails but for the casual drink they don't really work as well. Cider is a great alternative in this instance.

While I like cider I don't like all cider, I find many of them too dry. However through trial and error and many a tasting of my friends beverages I finally found one that I liked and could drink more than a few sips of. This delicious drink is of course Monteith's Crushed Apple Cider, it is quite a sweet tasting one and has a fresh crisp taste which I really enjoy. The other one that is OK if I can't get Monteith's is from Mac's Brewery and is 'Isaac's Cider' but I don't like that one as much and I prefer the Berry one in their range which I discovered when I was home this time last year. Monteith's also has a 'Crushed Pear' flavor which I did not like as much being that I am not a fan of pears but my friends really liked it and since I have been in Korea they have also come out with a berry 'Crushed Summer Berries Cider' one as well but I have yet to try this.

Monteith's Brewing Company is a New Zealand company that originally started with beer and has gradually expanded it's product line over the years to include many different types of beers and ciders. The brewing company in some form or another has been around for about 150 years on the West Coast of New Zealand. The brewery today is located in Greymouth and the label is currently owned by DB Breweries - the name Monteith's came about in 1990 named for one of the original founders.

Now, I have seen Monteith's beer in Home Plus (owned by UK Supermarket chain Tesco's) here in Korea and at the end of last year I found the Apple Cider and the Berry Cider in the Itaewon foreign store 'High Street Market' but it was a bit pricey. Recently I have been making a point to go down the beer isle in the supermarket just to check what is there and a few months ago I noticed that there were a lot of ciders on offer and also the range of beer has increased; I noticed the 'NZ Pure' beer is there. So I've been checking regularly to see what is available and tonight to my surprise and delight I found Monteith's Cider is now in stock here too. All three options, Apple, Pear and Berries are available and I also noticed Bulmers which was new too, I know lots of people love that brand but it was one I found to dry for my tastes.

Of course my Homeplus is in Ilsan but I am sure that a lot of them will stock it as it is a chain, so if you enjoy cider go and check it out. It's not a bad price at 4,100 won. Now just to get my local pubs to stock it and I will be right.

Note: In Korea 'cider' is the word for a 'Sprite' like soda drink, it's clear and carbonated and has a lemon/lime flavor. In Korean it is 사이다 (pronounced si-ee-da) so if you see this on a menu it will mean the soda. I actually really like it, I think it's better than Sprite. The main brand is Chilsung Cider and is of course made by Lotte (what don't they make). Also another tidbit - in New Zealand we call this kind of lemon soda 'Lemonade' which is really confusing for others.

If you are looking for further information on cider and a review of some of the brands available in Korea go to this blog - A Fat Girl's Guide to Eating in Korea. She has a great article here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Website Highlight #7

I just came across this great website and wanted to share it with you all. Another one that is set up for the expat community living in South Korea. It has informational videos, articles about culture and life in South Korea and lots of other intersting and informative stuff. 

The website is called ROKpaperscissors and you can find it here at

There is also a link added to my sidebar as I think this is another great resource for those who are in Korea or thinking about joining us here.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Veronica Mars - The Movie (Cue excited little happy dance)

So those of you who know what I am talking about will instantly realize the momentous occasion that is 'The Veronica Mars Movie'  - of which I am excited to report will be out this year in 2014. The official release date for the US is March 14th, 2014. I have no idea when it will be out in Korea; I can only hope that it comes to theaters as it would be awesome to see on the big screen.

So for those of you who don't know what I am talking about (it's hard to imagine but there are probably a few people that missed the whole phenomenon, I know that my sister is only watching it now because I made her and of course she is loving it), Veronica Mars was a television series about a girl in high school who was also a private eye. It ran for three seasons from 2004 to 2007 and stared Kristen Bell as the title character. It was witty and smart and like many good programs got canned for no good reason. Since then there has been talk about a movie, all the actors and the creator Rob Thomas were enthusiastic about the possibility but it never got the backing - that was until the invention of a little thing called Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is a website resource for financing creative endeavors, it's called crowd funding and basically you submit your proposal just like you would if you were trying to get funding from investors anywhere but you are submitting it to the world. If people like your project they can donate. There are rewards offered for investors on some projects depending on the amount donated - for example if the fund was for a book the author might offer to name a character after someone if they donate $500, for other projects you might get the finished product. It's a great idea and has helped some really worthwhile projects that may not have been able to get funded get up and going.

Rob Thomas basically went to the studio and asked if he could get the money would they back the making of the Veronica Mars movie, being a situation where they couldn't really lose, of course they said yes. Surpassing every ones expectations the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign became one of the most successful in the sites history, it raised the needed 2 million dollars in pretty much the first day and then every thing after that was what could make the movie even better. The final amount was about 5.7 million dollars raised from over 90,000 backers. True to their word the filming began over the summer and now almost a year later the movie is slated for release in March.

The first looks at the new movie are out now, so here it is 'the trailer for the Veronica Mars (2014) movie, I hope you are as excited as me to see it. It looks like it is going to be good, and if it does do well perhaps the studio will pick up the tab on the next one.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 - Happy New Year!

Well another year is over and now we are well and truly into 2014. I just wanted to say Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you all had a safe and happy festive season.

I am not sure how the blog will go this year, I will continue to update when I can and I can only hope to be a bit more vigilant than 2013. I am still in Ilsan and I am coming up to the end of my third year in Korea. My current contact will be up in March/April. I will probably be staying on for another year if my school continues my contract. Hopefully that will mean lots more things to blog about over the coming year so please keep coming back or follow the blog using one or more of the options off to the side.

Happy New Year