Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chuncheon Puppet Ajosshi

Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum

While in Chuncheon (춘천) we popped into the Chuncheon Puppet Theatre (춘천인형국장) to see the wonderful Men of Steel perform their show "Cookie Cutter and Friends". While there we got a chance to visit the Chuncheon Puppet Museum (right next door to the theatre) and see some of the amazing puppets exhibited there...

Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum

Small Hanbok clad hand puppet.

Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum

Cute little German fellow.

Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum

Sadari Theatre Company puppet based on drawings by famous artist 이중섭 (Lee Jung-sop).

Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum

Standing up for the puppets of Britain a rather dapper Mr. Punch made by Professor Bryan Clarke.

Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum

Beautiful three panel rendition of the story of Shim-cheong.

Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum

And a giant puppet guarding the entrance to the theatre toilets.

Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum

You can find directions to the Chuncheon Puppet Theatre and Museum here or you can call them on 033 242 8450. If you happen to be visiting Chuncheon, then it's worth a look, especially if you have any interest in the wonderful world of puppetry. For more puppet photos click here...

Competition Time at the Seoul Podcast and Korea4Expats

Twelve Singing Animals

Just a heads up to let you know that if you want to win tickets to see the fabulous English language children's musical "Twelve Singing Animals" then you've got two chances in the next couple of days. 

Korea4Expats have two sets of two tickets on offer. To enter the draw just email with your name and phone number. The deadline to enter is Thursday 28th May and the winners will be chosen the next day.

The Seoul Podcast also have four tickets on offer, just email with your name and tell them you're entering the competition. Their deadline is Friday 29th May.

If you've got kids or know someone who has, it's a great way to entertain them, plus you get to see Paul Ajosshi in a top hat playing the harmonica...

Dwenjang or Dabang?

Dwenjang or Dabang?

Staying at the Dream Palace Motel (꿈의 궁전 모텔) in Chuncheon was a delightful experience, but the fridge magnets did give us pause for thought. Somebody there obviously thinks that the "Coffee Girl" service and buying good quality dwenjang paste go hand in hand...

Spicy Chicken Chuncheon Style

Spicy Chicken

Ever since I first came to Korea nine years ago, there has been one dish that has held a special place in my heart - 닭갈비. A gorgeous mix of chicken, rice cakes, spring onions, sweet potato, cabbage and red pepper paste cooked together in a big iron pan at your table. Chuncheon is known as the place to go for authentic 닭갈비, but I never had a chance to visit there until now. Finally, my dreams of the real thing were fulfilled and I have the photos to prove it.

Stage One:  

Spicy Chicken

Everything gets shoved in the pan...

Stage Two: 

Spicy Chicken

Everything gets stirred around...

Stage Three:

Spicy Chicken

The ajumma looks at you scornfully as you try to stir things round yourself, snatches the scraper off you and informs you that the rice cakes are ready to eat.

Stage Four:

Spicy Chicken

You snaffle all the rice cakes and wait impatiently for the chicken to finish cooking. Drinking beer helps calm your frazzled nerves...

Stage Five:

Spicy Chicken

The chicken has been deemed ready by the ajumma and you may tuck in. One of my dining companions pointed out that when the sweet potato is soft, then the chicken is ready to eat.

Stage Six:

Spicy Chicken

After stuffing yourself, the ajumma sends in one of her young men to forcefully clean your pan with what looks disturbingly like a windscreen scraper. He proves to be very effective.

Stage Seven: 

Spicy Chicken

Now comes the decision that separates the men from the boys... Rice or noodles? For me there can only be one answer - BOTH!

Stage Eight:

Spicy Chicken

The ajumma tosses and turns rice and noodles as you drain another glass of beer and pat your distended stomach, then it's time to get down to business and clean your plate...

Stage Nine:

Enjoy the blissful state of spicy chicken nirvana, then leave the restaurant stinking of slightly charred fowl and feeling slightly guilty for consuming a day's worth of food in one sitting.

Spicy Chicken

We went to 명동 1 번지, located about midway down the 명동 닭갈비 골목 (Myeong-dong Spicy Chicken Street) in the centre of Chuncheon. Our friends recommended this place to us, but there are many others on the street and I'd love to hear your recommendations. You can call 명동 1 번지 on 033 256 6448.



I've just got back from the Chuncheon Mime Festival, but before I bring you pictures of spicy chicken and waterfalls, I thought I'd just let you know that my latest post for FatManSeoul has just gone up...

Roast duck in Hannam-dong. Delicious!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jesus Power!

Jesus Power

Walking round the streets of Yongsan today I found this wonderfully inspiring job offer. I thought I'd bring it to your attention, just in case you might want to join up.

Jesus Power

Here's the text for your perusal:








I check my email on mon,wednesday ,friday (be cautious)

Jesus Power


Unfortunately, I'm not American and so do not qualify for any position available (Though I would like to point out that I do love democracy). But I hope that those of you who hail from the United States of America have a chance to experience Jesus Power.

More Baked Deliciousness at the Market

Macaroni Market seems to be turning into the hottest venue in Itaewon. Night after night as I walk past on my way home, the place seems to be packed with young, hip, trendy people and as I sat down for lunch the other day, the restaurant quickly filled up with patrons eager to sample their food.

A new chef has just signed a two year contract at the Market and the menu has changed to suit his tastes. There's now a 20,000 won "Pure Beef Burger with Foie Gras" and the pasta menu has been filled out with a few new dishes. After my wonderful experiences with their titular dish, I thought I best try out their other baked pasta and so ordered the 15,000 won "Lasagna alla Bolonese".

Macaroni Market

While the portion size is not as huge as the macaroni and cheese, this beautifully presented square of lasagna holds its own. The richness of the beef, mushrooms and tomato is complemented by just a single layer of bechamel sauce on top; the flavours are not overwhelmed by the cheese and I felt like I was being transported back to my parent's kitchen, eating my mother's own baked pasta. A small salad dressed with only oil and lemon compliments the main dish and the rosemary focaccia is a welcome addition for wiping up any leftover sauce.

Downstairs at La Bocca a similar portion of delicious lasagna will set you back 25,000 won, but Macaroni Market have the edge with a much cheaper dish and a lighter, more enjoyable atmosphere.

Macaroni Market

Saturday, May 16, 2009

For those who wanted to see "Old Partner"....

For all you gentle folks who missed out on seeing the fabulous documentary 워낭소리 (Old Partner) in the cinemas, I have some good news and some bad news.

The DVD has come out...

but it has no English subtitles!

What's going on? You show the film with English subtitles in the cinema and then you don't bother to put them on the DVD? What kind of idiot did they employ to process this film? Old Partner won the best documentary prize at the 13th Pusan International Film Festival; it was part of the official selection for the Sundance Film Festival this year; it was already shown with English subtitles... Oh the humanity!

Perhaps there is some fancy special edition DVD on the way, perhaps we'll be treated to narration by Morgan Freeman and the occasional addition of CGI penguins, but I very much doubt it. Thanks EIN*S M&M Multimedia and Marketing for producing a DVD which excludes non-Korean speakers. 

Back in March the producer of Old Partner was getting rather angry about the illegal online distribution of Old Partner, do you think this release is going to help? There is no legal way to obtain an english subtitled copy of Old Partner... so what are the pirating youths of the world going to do when they can't get their official old man and cow love story fix? I despair, I truly do... I've seen the film and I loved it, I'm just sorry that non-Korean speakers won't be able to enjoy the same experience on DVD.

For those who can speak Korean, please rush out and buy this wonderful DVD for only 7,700 won. For those who don't... I'm sorry you may have to wait a little longer to see this beautiful film.

Korean Movies Subtitled in English 2009/05/18-2009/05/20

The Hub of Sparkle seems to have blinked out of existence for a little while, so I'll post listings here and then on the Hub once it is back up...

The subtitle excitement continues this week as 박쥐 (Thirst), 잘 알지도 못하면서 (Like You Know It All), 김씨표류기 (Castaway on the Moon) and 7급 공무원 (Secret Couple or My Girlfriend is an Agent) fight for the hearts and minds of English subtitled filmgoers.

Thirst is on at CGV Yongsan:

Monday (18th) - 1455, 1740, 2025 and 2315
Tuesday (19th) - 1455, 1740, 2025 and 2315
Wednesday (20th) - 1345, 2030 and 2315

Like You Know It All is also on at CGV Yongsan:

Monday (18th) - 0850, 1345, 1845 and 2340
Tuesday (19th) - 0850, 1345, 1845 and 2340
Wednesday (20th) - 0840, 1335, 1900 and 2355

Castaway on the Moon is on at the Gangnam Cinus Theater:

Monday (18th) - 0815, 1035, 1250, 1505, 1720, 1935, 2150 and 2405
Tuesday (19th) - 0820, 1035, 1250, 1505, 1720, 1935, 2150 and 2405

Secret Couple is on at the Myeong-dong Cinus Theater:

Monday (18th) - 1120, 1540, 2210 and 2420
Tuesday (19th) - 1120, 1540, 2210 and 2420

At the Gangnam Cinus Theater:

Monday (18th) - 0810, 1025, 1240, 1455, 1710, 2140 and 2400

At the Myeong-dong Lotte Cinema:

Monday (18th) - 0930, 1140, 1350 and 2250
Tuesday (19th) - 0930, 1140, 1350 and 2230
Wednesday (20th) - 0930, 1140, 1350 and 2230

At the Ansan Lotte Cinema:

Monday (18th) - 0950, 1205 and 1420
Tuesday (19th) - 0950, 1205 and 1420
Wednesday (20th) - 0950, 1205 and 1420

At the Busan Lotte Cinema:

Monday (18th) - 1100, 1320, 1540, 1800, 2240 and 2500
Tuesday (19th) - 1100, 1320, 1540, 1800, 2240 and 2500
Wednesday (20th) - 1100, 1320, 1540, 1800, 2240 and 2500

I'll update as and when the Cinus listings appear. All listings are correct at time of posting, but may disappear at the click of a button. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Subtitled Vampires A Go Go!

Just finished writing my latest listings for The Hub of Sparkle and was amazed to find that CGV Yongsan will start showing 박쥐 (Thirst) with English subtitles from tomorrow!

I urge you to take time out of your busy weekend schedules and head down to Yongsan to see some dark and moody vampire action. I'll be heading back next week (as long as they keep showing it) for my second viewing, but this time I'll actually be able to understand what's going on!

Plus Hong Sang-soo's latest film is also being screened with English subtitles. Summer has arrived and the subtitled movies are crawling out of the woodwork!

Thanks CGV Yongsan.... You're the best!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Full Frontal Unsubtitled Vampire Antics


I put off going to see Park Chan-wook's 박쥐 (Thirst) for a couple of weeks in the vain hope of subtitled screenings magically appearing, but today I gave in to temptation and went to see it without translation, hoping that I'd at least be able to enjoy the pretty pictures and horrendous violence...

I was not disappointed. Korea Pop Wars may not have been a huge fan, but I'm siding with Kyu Hyun Kim of (Warning - spoilers in both reviews). Fans of previous films expecting the same visual flair or camera tricks of the Vengeance trilogy or I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok, may be surprised to find that Park has settled into a far more sombre tone that reminded me more of 1970's German and Italian horror than anything else. There are still moments of violence and horror on a par with Oldboy, but the story focuses more on the characters' relationships with each other. The plot is inspired by Emile Zola's "Therese Raquin" (Warning - plot spoilers at wikipedia) and manages to mix Zola's narrative with Park's own meditations on Catholic guilt and a unique reinterpretation of vampirism.

송강호 (Song Gang Ho) deserves kudos for his understated performance and also for being one of the first big Korean actors to let it all hang out onscreen. It's a brave thing for any actor to do and it serves the plot well. 김옥빈 (Kim Ok Vin) is sensational in her role and could well become the next big thing in Korea. The cast as a whole are fantastic and it's wonderful to see 오달수 (Oh Dal Soo) onscreen again. As with all of Park's films, the art design and attention to detail is astounding, but certainly more muted than previous movies. The only complaint I have is the occasional bit of dodgy CGI, but those moments are brief and forgivable.

I received an email from the Itaewon-Hannam Global Village Center today, stating that Cinus are still trying to get permission from the distributor to show the film with English subtitles, so we may all get to see it subtitled on the big screen in the near future. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but my hopes aren't up. I'd urge you to go and see this on the big screen, but you'll need to speak good Korean or take a Korean speaker with you to explain the difficult parts... If you like Park Chan-wook's other films then it's worth the trip.

Guaranteed A Good Fiddle


I'Park Mall in Yongsan brings us a very special launch of a very special range of instruments.

Ladies and Gentlemen.... the Climax Violin and Cello - for the most orgasmic music experience ever...

Climax Violin & Cello

Another Letter To Seoul Metropolitan Government

Dear Seoul Metropolitan Government,

I feel I need to write to you one more time and express my regret for my hasty judgement upon you at the start of May. I received a missive today from the lovely people at the Itaewon-Hannam Global Village Center explaining the situation to me. Turns out it was not you, but the distributor of Thirst who did not give permission for subtitled screenings and that Cinus are at this very moment doing their best to get permission to show subtitled screenings.

Oh glory be! My Seoul Metropolitan Government, I was wrong to speak so harshly of you and I feel foolish for listening to nice men behind ticket counters. I love you more and more each day and hope that you won't snub my affections.

Much love (though still unsubtitled),

Paul Ajosshi

Friday, May 8, 2009

New Gallery Cafe in Hyehwa


Stumbling round the streets of Daehangno in desperate need of something caffeinated I found myself falling downstairs into a brand new lovely little Gallery Cafe. Phototelling just opened yesterday and I was lucky enough to be their very first customer. 


This cute little cafe serves a reasonably priced ice coffee, but the real draw is the photo exhibition they have on. From now until the 15th of June they are presenting "The Story of India" with photos by Kim Hyo Jin and Lee Hyun Suk. 


Phototelling is worth checking out if you're in need of a coffee and can't face going to some dreadful international chain. Come out of exit 1 of Hyehwa station, cross over the road and take the side street by Coffine Gurunaru. Phototelling is just past the methodist church, on the right hand side underneath Terra. You can visit their website here or call them on 02 747 7400.

A Little Inaccuracy In The Korea Times

All I seem to talk about these days is Park Chan-wook and Thirst....

The Korea Times in all its magnificent wisdom printed this article on Children's Day this week claiming that Thirst is currently being screened with English subtitles.

That information is incorrect.

I spoke with two different representatives of Cinus Theaters yesterday who both confirmed that we will not see hide nor hair of a subtitled vampire on our screens this summer. I mentioned the article to one of the representatives and she was quite surprised that the Korea Times had printed that information. I've also written to the Korea Times, but so far there have been no changes to the article and I have received no response.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. No subtitled screenings for Thirst, no matter what the newspapers might say.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How I Learnt To Stop Worrying and Love the Rain


I've been feeling cinematically blue since I found out Park Chan-wook's latest film is not being shown with subtitles, but it reminded me that I never got round to seeing his last film 싸이보그지만 괜찬아 (I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok). I'm a huge fan of JSA, Monster, the Vengance trilogy and even Park's short film 심판 (Judgement) which is well worth a look if you ever get your hands on the metal box limited edition Oldboy dvd set.... 

However, when I'm a Cyborg came out I got a little worried by the audience's negative reaction and the lack of box office success, I bought the dvd, but somehow couldn't bring myself to watch it. Occasionally I'd pick the box up, pluck up a little courage, yet I never quite got the dvd into the player. I didn't want to be disappointed by the film - what if it was terrible? The cover art did nothing to boost my confidence and bad reviews on the web (like this one) dispirited me even more. It has languished on my shelf until today.

The rest of the Korean blogosphere may have been partying it up today at Tomatillos, but I decided to sit down and face my fears. I stuck I'm a Cyborg into my player and waited; nervous, anxious, worried I would be watching the slow death of one of my cinematic heroes...

As the film began and I was bombarded with a ridiculously complex credit sequence intermingled with disturbing scenes of a young woman plugging herself into a radio, I found myself back in the hands of a master director and I fell in love with everything this movie has to offer.


It is a ridiculously dark love story set within the confines of a mental hospital and manages to speak volumes about bereavement, loss of innocence, mental illness, anorexia and compassion.
The plot itself is relatively simple, but Park manages to fully develop the denizens of the asylum into rounded human beings that we come to empathize with and adore. 

The main actress 임수정 (Lim Soo-jung) is magnificent as the disturbed titular cyborg coming to terms with her separation from her radish munching grandmother. She gives such a wonderful performance that is half Amelie and half Girl Interrupted. The supporting cast are all excellent and quite a few of Park Chan-wook's regulars turn up in roles of various sizes. 

The real surprise for me was 정지훈 (Jung Ji-hoon) or as the kids know him 비 (Rain). I don't care much for his music and his acting turn in Speed Racer was nothing to write home about, but his performance in I'm a Cyborg is astounding. Park gets the best out of the little fellow, helping him turn in a beautifully nuanced performance that makes me want to see more of his acting work. If he chooses to stay in film and works with the right people, he could become one of the best actors of his generation. 

I'm not afraid to say it.... as of today I love Rain, I don't care what Stephen Colbert may think of this turn of events. I'll bear the scorn and sneers of my peers, but I will stand up and say that Rain is a damn fine actor and is much more than just a pretty face.

So as Thirst holds its spot at the top of the box office, why not pop down to your local dvd store and pick up a copy of I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok. Subtitled vampires may be absent from our screens, but at least we can content ourselves with Rain and a Cyborg who likes to lick batteries and refuses to eat...


Monday, May 4, 2009

FatManSeoul and February Food at the OKitchen2

O Kitchen 2

Lucky boy that I am, I have been blessed by the powers that be at FatManSeoul and have been allowed to post some of my musings over on that fabulous website. Click here for my first post all about the wonderful OKitchen2 in Itaewon. 

OKitchen2 February Visit

To celebrate I've dug out some photos from my visit there back in February...

OKitchen2 February Visit

First off the "brandade de morue - a house cured salt cod gratin". A tiny portion packed with strong fish flavours, designed to be piled onto toast and topped with greens.

OKitchen2 February Visit

Next the "roasted vegetable terrine with ricotta cheese & roasted tomato vinagrette". An absolutely stunning presentation with a delicious array of sauces.

OKitchen2 February Visit

Moving onto the "casareccia with mushroom & cream". A silky smooth luxurious sauce.

OKitchen2 February Visit

And to finish... a beautifully presented slice of cheesecake... unfortunately I have forgotten the taste of the sauce that accompanied it...

O Kitchen 2

OKitchen2 is just down the road from Itaewon station, head towards Noksapyeong and turn right at the first set of traffic lights. The restaurant is just a few metres down the alley on the left hand side. Call them on 02 797 6420 or visit their website here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Korean Movies Subtitled in English 2009/05/04-2009/05/06

Well The Hub Of Sparkle seems to be down at the moment, so I'll post listings here and then put them up when whatever technical issue is resolved. As you can probably tell from my previous post, I'm more than a little disappointed that 박쥐 (Thirst) is not screening with English subtitles and that we are stuck with 7급 공무원 (Secret Couple or My Girlfriend is an Agent) for the foreseeable future. At least along with Myeong-dong, Gangnam, Ansan and Busan, Milyang is getting some subtitled love...

Secret Couple is on at the Myeong-dong Lotte Cinema:

Monday (4th) - 1225, 1655, 2125 and 2340
Tuesday (5th) - 1000, 1215, 2125 and 2340
Wednesday (6th) - 1010, 1225, 1655, 2125 and 2340

Also at the Gangnam Cinus Theater:

Monday (4th) - 0820, 1035, 1250, 1505, 1720, 1935, 2150 and 2410
Tuesday (5th) - 0820, 1035, 1250, 1505, 1720, 1935, 2150 and 2410

At the Ansan Lotte Cinema:

Monday (4th) - 1730, 1945, 2200 and 2415
Tuesday (5th) - 1225, 1440, 1745 and 2000
Wednesday (6th) - 1730, 1945, 2200 and 2415

At the Busan Lotte Cinema:

Monday (4th) - 1100, 1320, 1540, 1800, 2240 and 2500
Tuesday (5th) - 1100, 1320, 1540, 1800, 2240 and 2500
Wednesday (6th) - 1100, 1320, 1540, 1800, 2240 and 2500

And at the Milyang Cinema:

Monday (4th) - 1050, 1300, 1510, 1720, 1930 and 2140
Tuesday (5th) - 1050, 1300, 1510, 1720, 1930 and 2140
Wednesday (6th) - 1050, 1300, 1510, 1720, 1930 and 2140

That's it for this week, I'll update for Gangnam as and when the times are published. All listings are correct at the time of posting, but may change on the whims of Lotte, Cinus and Milyang Cinema...

Friday, May 1, 2009

An Open Letter to Seoul Metropolitan Government... UPDATED

UPDATE: See this post for my second letter to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Dear Seoul Metropolitan Government,

I love you more than the Yokohama Municipal Office, more than the District Council of Paris and a hell of a lot more than the Mayor of London. Ever since I entered your realm eight years ago, I've felt safe and happy by your side. We've been through a lot you and I: The World Cup in 2002, the mad cow protests of 2008, countless foreigner friendship fairs, numerous Hi Seoul festivals and the reconstruction of a stream through the centre of the city. Through good times and bad we've stayed together like the twin islets of Dokdo, weathering every storm and basking under every rainbow. I love you so much Seoul Metropolitan Government, but sometimes you really disappoint me.

I was so excited this year with the release of Old Partner and Handphone with English subtitles. I cried at the bovine love triangle and gasped at the twisted plans of a Emart customer service manager. Against my better judgement I even went to see More Than Blue (I don't like melodramas) and I left the cinema weeping like a little baby. The announcement that the Cinus Theaters in Myeong-dong and Gangnam were to serve as the bastions of subtitled cinema warmed the cockles of my heart and I was excited as a little boy in short trousers seeing his first James Bond film, when I was able to experience the thrills of Private Eye. 

Such happy times, it's hard to imagine that our relationship was going so well in April and now in May we're on the rocks again. There were newspaper articles heralding the news that both Thirst and Insadong Scandal would get the subtitle treatment and I believed them. I knew you would come through for me and let me see the glorious work of Park Chan-wook with little roman letters down the bottom of the screen.

But I went into the Gangnam Cinus Theater today and spoke to the nice man behind the counter and he said that neither Thirst or Insadong Scandal would get any subtitle love and that even though screenings had been plannned, you decided not to do them. He told me I was stuck with the dodgy looking romantic spy comedy 7급 공무원 (Secret Couple) and that was it. Someone from The Hub of Sparkle comments page spoke to Lotte Cinema and they said no subtitled vampires for him either! What's going on Seoul Metropolitan Government? 

This is like you promising me Jo Su-mi live at the Olympic Stadium and then on the day of the concert throwing a Wondergirls album into my kimchi chigae and laughing at me. It's like promising a romantic weekend in Jeju and then taking me to Suwon instead (Incidentally I like Suwon, but you can't get decent poo pig and there's no teddy bear museum...). It's like offering me a romantic meal at Pierre Gagnaire's restaurant at the Lotte Hotel and then deciding that Kimbab Nara is the better option.

Don't get me wrong Seoul Metropolitan Government; I'm not angry, just very disappointed.

So no subtitles for one of the films that has been invited to the Cannes Film Festival 2009, no subtitles for possibly one of the big blockbuster hits of this year, no subtitles for one of the finest directors working in Korea.

If you don't release Bong Joon-ho's "Mother" with subtitles then I may have to seriously rethink our relationship. As for this weekend - you can guarantee there'll be no snuggling at all! I'll be watching X-Men Origins by myself... weeping into my popcorn...

I love you Seoul Metropolitan Government, but I'm not ready to forgive you just yet.

Yours in unsubtitled agony,

Paul Ajosshi