A Personal History of Haebangchon


I like Haebangchon. I have only lived there briefly, but I lived nearby for a while and spent many formative years in Korea there. I made a lot of friends there, and I still have plenty who float in and out of bars and cafés and shout and wave at me when I turn up on random sorties. A bit like me, Haebangchon has changed a lot, and I’d even say it has become more sophisticated, but still with its old town grit that people come back for so much.

Haebangchon is, in essence, a slum. At least it started out that way. Officially named Yongsan-2 dong, the place gets its name after it became a place where North Korean refugees settled after the war, which is why it’s called Haebangchon, meaning Freedom or Liberation Village depending on who you’re talking too. I know that when residents ask a taxi to take them there, regardless of where in the city they’re coming from, they’ll ask the taxi driver to take them to Yongsan-2 dong. It has a dubious nature, and you’ll do well to get a taxi from Itaewon to there late at night, but that has nothing to do with it being a dodgy neighbourhood. As far as I know, there are a few more former North Korean refugee enclaves around the city, but this is the only one I’ve heard off, and it’s also probably the most famous.

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This Saturday…


If you’re not doing anything this weekend, allow me to suggest this event I covered which is featured in this month’s Groove Magazine:

HBC Fest Just Wants To Rock!

The HBC Fest has seen it all: rock, punk, hip-hop, folk music, poetry, Shakespearean drama, comedy, even a large balding man painted head to toe in green and smashing watermelons over his head.

The festival now regularly attracts musical acts from cities all over Korea. More and more local businesses are vying to join as venues, and organizer Lance Reegan-Diehl has had to turn musical acts away, as he can’t accommodate the large number of willing participants.

Never before has the festival received this much publicity. Not only did this magazine give it a three-page feature last October, but all the other major monthly expat magazines, newspapers and websites also featured the festival. On top of this, the festival’s reputation grew as a place for people to get together and listen to good music, all under the banner of a music festival designed with expats in mind.

Continue reading on Groove Korea’s website »−›

HBC Fest – Rock n’ Roll (and some folk) Photos


Here are some more pics from May’s HBC Fest, this time I’m keeping all things musical this time and focusing purely on the live acts. I have a few more pictures of the crowd’s antics to post but I’m going to give the people who make the Fest worth going to some credit – in fairness it wouldn’t be much of a music festival without much music, right?

These photos are going to start from the beginning, around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. I didn’t get to see everyone, but everyone I did see did get a photo included. I decided to go with a slideshow this time.

Enjoy!

 

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By-the-by, let me know what you think of how this was presented – did the slideshow work? I have other options for displaying photos that I’m currently exploring. I want to avoid the big long post of photos I’ve been doing in the past.

If you’d like me to send you some photos, please contact me.

 

 

The Beautiful People – HBC Fest, May 2011


This is the another of many photo-diaries to come from the recent May edition of the HBC Fest. I thought I’d do something different and show as many crowd pictures From the Fest as possible. Plenty of music to follow, don’t worry.

I like to use the three-fingered-claw method for holding my phone. You?

Early days

I thought this was a music festival...

It's a ...em... candle. I was impressed.

Mike after three hours sleep...or was it two?

Is this the judging panel?

They're not queing for pitas.

Maybe they don't taste as good as they look...

A fish...a real one, not someone who drinks like one. Afuckingmazing.

Another judgin panel. At least try to smile Trevor...

Perfect festival weather - makes me fell kind of homesick.

To keep dry one must drink more - Phillies

To keep dry one must drink more - Orange Tree

To keep dry one must drink more - VFW

To keep dry one must drink more - Family Mart

Helping you stay dry since...

Yours truly doing his best to stay dry!

Dry?

More Orange Tree frolics!

 

Outside The Local circa 8pm

Please feel free to share this around. Don’t forget where you got the photos from 🙂

More photos to follow soon!

 

 

HBC Fest – A grainy and blurred photographic reflection on the musical event of the summer!


Yesterday was, of course, the HBC Fest. It was very colourful, especially if you consider the busfuls of cops that turned up to help us out with crowd control. It’s good to see that our taxes are eventually getting their money’s worth, especially when it comes to the 5-O. Anyway, I’m sure that the prominence of the cops has well advertised on the Korean blogosphere. This suits this post perfectly as I don’t intend on sharing any pictures of the cops – although I did see one great picture of some guy standing in and helping out the cops as crowd control which was hilarious… Anyway more about the cops later…

In my Groove article about the HBC Fest I advocated for people to go into the venues and enjoy the music, and for some reason everyone – or at least a lot of ones – did so. All the venues were packed and the music benefited and rose to the occasion! At the start of the day it pissed rain and I think this encouraged a lot of people inside where they found that it was a lot cooler than the previous May Fest and also that the standard of music, entertainment and good vibes was of a high standard. Kudos to everyone who took part in the festival; musicians, bar owners, bar staff, restaurant workers, Kobawoo supermarket, Lance, and of course all the wonderful people who turned up on the day to drink and be merry, and of course spend enough money to make all the hassle from the cops – if there was any – worth it in the end for the organisers.

Here are some of the photos that I took yesterday with my iPhone and shared on twitter throughout the day.

Phillies at the onset

My good friend - Mississippi Dave ... who's actually from Winnipeg but that's beside the point, he's a wonderful performer and I'll miss him when he returns to Canada after fifteen years in Korea this September.

Yes they are jello shots and yes they were all gone the next time I looked at the tray!

These guys were called Language of Shapes (I think), very cool sounding group.

Unfortunately I can't remember the name of this guy 😦 But it's nice photo, right???

Mikey from the VFW mopping the floor before the Fest started. Why did he bother???

Great festival weather - actually made me a little homesick. That crowd is gathered around the Frills and Thrills Burlesque Show which nearly caused more car accidents than the entire festival!

Magna Fall! Good band and worth checking out in the future!

The always spell-bindingly wonderful Mia Zepeda!

Mikey in the VFW still shouting for everyone to get fucked up - as if they needed any encouragment!

Two guys playing The Local - I think they were called Backus. Good stuff!

The Drunk Democracy - I'm not sure if this was before or after the 30 other Irish people had to be pulled down from the lights (myself included) when they started playing Horse Outside - if you haven't heard of this song just look for it on YouTube.

Johnny Red in Le Vert

LRD and a strange bald ex-editor or Groove trying to steal his guitar...I think

Angelic me

The Two Guitars in The Orange Tree well past my bedtime...

...and also this fella's!

Photos are, admittedly, a bit grainy. Oh well.

When I was coming back through Haebangchon the next morning in a taxi there was someone passed out in front of the Family Mart – unfortunately it was only hindsight that had the good idea to stop the cab and take a picture. Maybe next time!

I didn’t take many pictures of the police presence at the festival. For me, this was probably the most significant thing that you can interpret as you will. It was certainly unique. However, as far as I could work out everything went well. There didn’t seem to be any problems and all the interactions seemed to be good natured and respectful. Most people realised they weren’t there to break up the party and people just go on with having a good time. The guys forming the line along the street were all young military service aged kids who didn’t want to be there any more than any of us would have liked to be there, but I could see that they were taking it in their stride and enjoying the madness of the situation, while a few were even taking the opportunity to practice their English. I’m pretty sure no hagwon or text book in the world will have a lesson on ‘drunk at a music festival’, so they can be happy about that. While their may have been some bad things that happened, all in all, I think it passed off – for want of a better word – trouble free.

Thanks to everyone who came out, performed, drank, smiled, danced, ate, kissed, and/or held hands. This was certainly a HBC Fest worth remembering!

I should have more less grainy photos up somewhere soon!