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.
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.
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.
"BEST KPOP VIDEO TO FEATURE AN OWL - BIGBANG: FANTASTIC BABY"
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.
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.)
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.
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.
I'm looking forward to a week of sun, sand and seafood, though I fear sunburn may be thrown into the mix as well...
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.