Monthly Archives: May 2011

More Summer Festival News

By Mark

Just a quick note to point out that Jisan Valley has announced their third (and I assume final) list of bands. Joining this year’s bill are: Atari Teenage Riot, Quruli (Japan), Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Chang Kiha & Faces, Kingston Rudieska, and Pia.

Pentaport should be making their first announcement pretty soon, too.

At long last, Pentaport’s first lineup has been announced: Korn, Plain White T’s, !!!, Neon Trees, Mamas Gun, Joe Brooks, No Brain, Garion, Schizo, Vassline, Wiretap in My Ear, Idiotape, Galaxy Express, The Geeks, Vidulgi Ooyoo, Hwang Boryung=Smacksoft, 13 Steps

Ssamzie Ssend-off — 11 Yearss of Great Music

By Mark

It looks like this weekend is going to be your last chance ever to catch a show at Ssamzie Space, one of the best and most important live venues in Hongdae. Apparently they are shutting down.

For me personally, the closing is a bit of a strange feeling. I wrote a profile for the Korea Herald of Ssamzie Space back when it first opened, which was one of my first paid writing gigs ever. I wish I could link to it, but apparently the Herald archives do not go back far, and my file is stuck on an old floppy disk (remember those?) that I can no longer access. Probably for the best, as the story was most likely crap.

Back then, Ssamzie Space was run by Kim Hong-hee, an interesting woman who went on to run the Gwangju Biennale and then the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art. Ssamzie Space was founded by the Ssamzie clothing company, which was owned by Jeon Hyo-gyun, a businessman who really liked rock music. The original Ssamzie had three floors of artist studios, several galleries, a really mellow bar on the lowest level (where I watched a few 2002 World Cup games), and in the middle the concert hall (then called Baram). The arts program ended in 2008, but the concert space kept on going, at least until now.

These days, there are plenty of art and concert spaces around Hongdae, many of them quite nice, but back around 2000, the options were much more limited — a lot of great stuff and interesting people, but the clubs usually were even uglier than they are now, with the most basic of sound systems. Mostly they were overglorified basements with amps. Ssamzie was the first place in Hongdae I can remember that had a good sound system, that really was designed for concerts (despite those two ugly concrete pillars in the middle of the live hall).

(UPDATE: Kim Hong-hee just emailed me, with a couple of thoughts about Ssamzie. It is a bit academic, but I thought people might be interested:

The artistic and cultural topography of the past decade was transformed a lot, which was due to the presence of alternative spaces like SSamzie Space. SSamzie is disappearing into an historical chapter with a certain achievement in the fields of progressive art and underground music. I also feel sorry about the closing down of the project. However it is a time when a new paradigm is required for another phase of cultural transformation.

It was very nice of her to write and comment like that. Oh, she says that she just left the Gyeonggi Museum, too. But I am sure will always be active in Korea’s art scene).

Ssamzie is a piece of modern music history, and it is going out with four night of great concerts this weekend. With some of the best bands in Korea playing for just 10,000 won/night, it is totally worth your time. Here is the schedule:

Thursday, May 26 – 7:30pm – 10,000 won
Manggakhwa, Beautiful Days, Sorri, Siwa, Lee Jang Hyuk, Jo Taejun

Friday, May 27 – 7:30pm – 10,000 won
3rd Line Butterfly, 9 and the Numbers, Goonamguayeoridingstella, Moonshiners, Mongoose, Bye Bye Sea, Yellow Monsters, Oh! Brothers, Telepathy

Saturday, May 28 – 3pm – 10,000 won
Galaxy Express, Gogo Star, Goodbye Morning, Gloomy Monkeys, Noeazy, Linus Blanket, Vassline, Soran, Schizo, The Strikers, Every Single Day, Hwang Boryung=Smacksoft

Sunday, May 29 – 2pm – 10,000 won
Baik Hyun-Jhin (the Uh Uh Boo guy), Vidulgi Ooyoo, Serengeti, Sugardonut, Amateur Amplifier, Lee Sang Eun, Lee Han Choul, Cosmos, Frenzy, Hollow Jan, Huckleberry Finn

Pentaport Coming… Slowly…

By Mark

The organizers of the Pentaport Rock Festival are saying that their first lineup will finally be announced on May 26. I have heard some promising rumors about this year’s festival, and hopefully they will turn out to be true. Not long until we find out, I guess.

Tickets will go on sale May 26, too (and I’m sure there will be English-friendly websites):

  • The first 2,000 tickets will be available May 26-31, and will cost 115,000 won for three days.
  • Then on June 1, the next batch of tickets will go on sale for 132,000 won.
  • And on June 20, the regular tickets will be available, in 1-, 2-, and 3-day packs.

Eshe Gets Her Groove On

By Mark

Very happy to see bellydancer Eshe Yildiz gracing the cover of the latest issue of Groove magazine. Eshe has been dancing with a variety of cool bands and music-related events since she came to Korea three-and-a-half years ago. And more recently, she opened a studio in Hongdae.

The article is well worth a read. Here is a good quote of Eshe’s from the Groove article:

“I love everything about belly dancing. It’s a celebration of the body. It’s a cultural and musical experience. It’s mind and soul nurturing. It’s a release.”

There have been a few dance waves come through Korea over the years. In the mid-late 90s, it was salsa. Then came swing and tango. Bellydancing is a little newer, but it seems to be doing well. It’s great to see anyone making the effort to improve the scene and really add to things, as opposed to just complaining. Congratulations to Eshe for all her successes so far, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come.

Here are videos of Orgeltanz & Eshe at the Grand Mint Festival and Eshe with Cocore at the Music Trip festival.

Sagitta Offer Some “Adults Only” Fun

By Shawn Despres

Husband-and-wife alt-folk duo Sagitta are throwing a special “adult’s only” shindig at their Sunshine bar on Friday night (May 6).  The party is being billed as “a decadent night for child-like adults” and will include “adult videos, DJs, and a small BBQ party.”  The bash’s DJs are Byul (from, Lee Woo-sung (from Cocore and Sagitta), mhp & Kim Song-ho, and BolBBalgan.

“I wanted to make this party because there are days in May to celebrate workers, children, and parents, but there is no day for grown-up singles and couples,” offers Sagitta’s Lee Jung-eun.

Jung-eun and Woo-sung are now planning other DJ nights and live performances at the intimate Sunshine.  They hope to hold at least one event each month.  They’ve been working on new material for the next Sagitta album and penned a pair of new tunes during their recent vacation in New Caledonia.  The two will begin work on Sagitta’s third full-length at the end of the month and plan to release the disc before the end of the year.

Friday’s party at Sunshine begins at 7 p.m.  Cover is 15,000 won and includes a glass of wine.  Sunshine is above Reggae Chicken and is located between Sangsu Station exit 1 and the Hongdae parking street.  There’s a Korean map here.

(Mark here: Bolbbalgan will be performing? Wow. I have not heard of him in years, but back in the late 1990s he was my favorite performer in Korea. He does this twisted, hilarious kind of trot/ppongjjak music. Back then, he used to sing in front of a big screen playing Korean ero movies (soft-core porn). There really is nothing like it. High recommend).