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