A Korean Aussie adoptee goes back home for the first time. Hilarity ensues?
I love a good costume party.
The Zombie Walk started in the US and came to Brisbane a few years ago. The one I went to in 2011 was insane – the main street was blocked off as about 20,000 people covered in fake blood lumbered through the city, moaning “braaaains, brraaaains!” at confused and amused onlookers.
So when I learned that there was a Seoul Zombie Walk, I made a special trip up to Hongdae for the weekend with a few fellow English teachers and bought a chef hat.
Seoul Zombie Walk was much, much smaller than Brisbane Zombie Walk. And through the already-crowded streets of Hongdae, the zombies often lost each other.
But the group of expats and Koreans still put in a stellar effort. Zombie schoolgirls, zombie office workers, zombie parents and their adorable zombie kids, zombie couples and zombie hunters roared and growled at genuinely terrified Koreans going about their day in Hongdae.
We crashed many of Hongdae’s busking performances, a PR stunt with girls in matching outfits dancing to Kpop and photobombed selfies.
We ended up in Hongdae’s infamous playground, where we were mobbed by Koreans wanting to take selfies with us. I also met another Korean chef zombie.
I think I enjoy acting like an idiot in a foreign country and being photographed way too much. I feel like a rock star as giggling Korean students shyly asked “sajin?” Picture? If any of your friends in Seoul posted selfies with a zombie chef girl, then it’s me!
After most of the zombies had cleared out, Hongdae’s weekend fun took over. A DJ set up decks and cool dudes stood up to spit some fast Korean raps at the audience, which somehow sounds much faster than rap in English.
After we washed off the zombie paint, my mate Tyrone invited me to a club called Freebird to see some bands. Seeing live music is one of my favourite things to do and seeing live music in Korea was somewhere at the top of my to-do list.
From the outside, Freebird looks like a nondescript staircase in a doorway. Downstairs is a two-storey club decked out like a cave and a DJ spinning old school soul and disco tunes.
The first band I saw was Nice Legs, who were made up of English teachers. It reminded me of the bands I see back in Brisbane: reverb-heavy, grungy, noisy and messy.
Baekma were on next, a bunch of expats covered in blood. I later found out that they hadn’t done the zombie walk, but rather had befriended some of the zombies out on the day who generously threw fake blood on them. Baekma were campy rock fun with songs about sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, blood and getting drunk.
The last band were Morgin, a group of too-cool Korean dudes in sunglasses and played guitar solos.
Whoever did their sound was doing an incredible job. The vocal harmonies were clear through chunky distorted guitar and the kick drum thumped me pleasantly in the gut. Man.
… Sorry. Just having a sound engineer nerd moment there.
You Are Here
I started listening to Talk to Me In Korean’s podcasts before I went to Korea last year. Their simple format of introducing a new word and having a casual conversation using the word helped me learn a lot of essential Korean phrases.
I started watching Eat Your Kimchi after I returned from Korea last year – they film some of their videos in Hongdae and I was weirdly homesick for the place. And then I was sucked into a YouTube hole and ended up watching all of their silly videos that review Kpop, talk to Kpop stars, eat weird and wonderful Korean food and talk about Korean life. I also like their dog Spudgy and their cat Meemrs.
So I had a squealy fangirl moment when I saw familiar props from the videos. They’re real! I also bought a swag of cute Talk to Me in Korean books.
The actual cafe part wasn’t bad either – the salted macaron and vanilla latte gave me the sugar rush I needed on Sunday morning.
And unfortunately that was the end of my short visit to fun, crazy, arty ol’ Hongdae, and it was time to go back to sleepy old Jeonju.