SEOUL Weekly — April 4, 2012 12:28 am

April 3, 2011 Issue No. 522

Happy Birthday, Lab XXIV!

Written by Robert Koehler

April 3, 2012 / Issue No. 522
Happy Birthday, Lab XXIV!
Celebrate Edward Kwon’s culinary genius with a free bottle of Moët & Chandon

Celebrity chef Edward Kwon’s Lab XXIV celebrates its first-year anniversary! To celebrate, the chic contemporary European eatery in Cheongdam-dong is providing a free bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne to diners who reserve a dinner for two.

This event is good through the end of April.

Known as Korea’s answer to Gordon Ramsay, Edward Kwon has raised the standard of Korea’s culinary scene since returning to Korea in 2009 after a stint as the head chef at the legendary Burj Al Arab, one of the world’s only “seven-star” hotels. He is the proprietor of two restaurants in Seoul, Cheongdam-dong’s Lab XXIV and Yongsan’s The Mixed One.

See the links for more information.
Free ZUMBA class (Apr 5 or 6)
In April 2012, New York Wholistic Care is launching its dynamic ZUMBA fitness class. Get groovin’ at your own pace with rhythmic Latin music. To mark the occassion, you can take a free ZUMBA class on April 5 or 6.
Buy my guidebook!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to remind readers that Seoul Selection’s “Korea” guidebook is at Seoul Selection. Pick up a copy while it’s got that new book smell!
Around the Web
RIP The Red Door Store
In November of last year, I noticed that an icon to many long-term expatriates in South Korea had finally disappeared. The Red Door Store of Itaewon had been replaced with another shop.
When I first arrived in South Korea in 1996, it was very different from today. It was nowhere near as globalized as it is today. Back then, South Korea dreamed of being recognized as an advanced, developed country. Incheon International Airport would not exist for years, and passengers had to make do in the chaotic Gimpo Airport. Samsung, LG, and Hyundai products were not respected abroad as they are today. There were fewer foreigners. You didn’t dare hold your Korean girlfriend’s hand in public. Lastly, the range of food available were far more narrow.
There were far fewer foreign restaurants, and the ones that did exist were not as authentic or as good as ones that you can find today. (One of the worst pasta meals that I’ve ever had was at a restaurant which has inexplicably become a successful franchise.) Brunches would not exist for years, until Suji’s restaurants would popularize them. Sandwiches were inedible. The only easily available bread was of the unhealthy, white kind. If you wanted to buy beer, you would probably be only able to find a Korean brand, and these brands had not yet begun to experiment with stouts or 100% malted barley beers. Needless to say, microbreweries (such as Craftworks Taphouse) were far in the future. I found it very difficult to find the black tea that I like, and finding loose-leaf tea (as opposed to tea bags) was simply impossible.
It was in this atmosphere that the Red Door Store became a sanctuary for foreigners seeking comfort food from home. When I first heard about this shop, I was told that it sold black market goods. This conjured up a sinister image of things like contraband cigarettes, illegal pornography, smuggled concealable weapons, or perhaps illegal drugs. However, this tiny shop (only about half the size of most convenience stores) carried nothing like that. The products were bought at the American army’s PX and resold here at a premium. Not surprisingly, it looked as if a small whirlwind had swept up a random assortment of things from a western supermarket and deposited them onto the Red Door Store’s shelves. Macaroni and cheese, western breakfast cereals, herbs and spices, multivitamins, canned goods, western honey*, Hamburger Helper, condoms, sexual lubricant, toothpaste, cosmetics, and deoderant were some of the things that were difficult to find anywhere else.
The place was usually busy with customers. However, the customers became fewer and fewer in recent years, and so it was not surprising when it finally closed for good. What happened?
The Red Door Store was probably a victim of Korea’s globalization. Nowadays, there are very few things from North America that cannot be bought somewhere in South Korea. You can buy root beer at E-Mart, Newcastle Brown Ale at Home Plus, and deoderant at the Body Shop. In Incheon’s Shinsegae department store, you can buy Lady Grey loose leaf black tea and eat a good brunch at a branch of Suji’s. For the most part, there isn’t the need to go to Itaewon and pay the extra cost.
Even though I no longer needed the Red Door Store, I was sorry to see it go. Living as an expatriate abroad can be difficult at times, and for many years, the store was a reassuring anchor. I believe that other long-term expatriates feel the same way, so RIP Red Door Store.
* Korean honey is noticeably more watery, not to mention very expensive.
Related Topics:
Written by Richard Stansfield (

The writer has been living and teaching English in Korea since 1996. The views of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of Seoul Selection.

Around the Web
A miscellany of high-quality hyperlinks from the week, courtesy of SEOUL editor-in-chief Robert Koehler.
The Ministry of Culture has revamped its Korean learning website.
If you haven’t been to Gyeongju National Museum, make sure you do.
If you have a camera and can read Korean, this post gives you the low-down on air quality and landscapes, something you’ll need to know this spring.
Maestro Lorin Maazel & Philharmonia Orchestra
Under the baton of Lorin Maazel, the Philharmonia returns to Korea after an 18-year absence to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, an unspecified “Overture” about 15 minutes long, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. On the lead violin will be 16-year-old fiddle prodigy Esther Yoo, an outrageously talented musician who first began making a name for herself while performing with orchestras at the tender age of eight.

VENUE: Concert Hall, Seoul Arts Center
DATES: Apr 7, 7pm / Apr 8, 5pm
ADMISSION: R: 250,000 won, S: 200,000 won, A: 150,000 won, B: 100,000 won, C: 70,000won
MORE INFO: (02) 541-3183,
GETTING THERE: Nambu Bus Terminal Station, Line 3, Exit 5. Transfer to shuttle bus, or green bus No. 4429.

LMFAO—Live in Seoul

LMFAO might be the only band ever to have produced a music video featuring a man skateboarding along a bar while wiggling the contents of his red, metal-studded Speedos. They also make great dance music. The name, in case you were wondering, is an abbreviation of an internet term that means more or less the same thing as LOL, but is far too rude to print here. Ask LMFAO members RedFoo and SkyBlu what it means if you want, as they’ll be in Korea for the first time ever this week.

VENUE: Olympic Hall, Olympic Park
DATE: Apr 7, 8pm
ADMISSION: Standing R: 99,000 won, Standing S: 88,000 won, R seats: 121,000 won, S seats: 99,000 won, A seats: 88,000 won
MORE INFO: (02) 323-2838
GETTING THERE: Olympic Park Station, Line 5, Exit 3.

Acidman 15th & 10th Anniversary Tour

Japanese rock group Acidman came to Korea for the first time for the 2009 Pentaport Rock Festival and got rave reviews. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the formation of the band, and the 10th since its debut album.

DATE: Apr 7, 7pm
ADMISSION: 50,000 won (45,000 won in advance)
MORE INFO: (02) 782-6722
GETTING THERE: Hongik Univ. Station, Line 2 & A’REX Line, Exit 9. Go straight and turn left at the intersection. Cross the road in front of Richemont Bakery. Walk along the GS25 alley. The club is on your left.

Universal Ballet—The Sleeping Beauty

Everyone knows the story of Sleeping Beauty. The birth of Princess Aurora occasions great celebration and the fairies are invited to bestow their blessings at the christening. The evil fairy Carabosse takes great offense at not being invited, and storms into the palace to announce her revenge: before her 16th birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle and die. Fortunately, the fairy of kindness, the Lilac Fairy, has not yet bestowed her gift and announces that Aurora will not die, but will fall into a deep sleep, to be broken only by the successful guest of a handsome prince whose kiss will awaken her.
Universal Ballet’s production features magnificent scenery with ornate metal gates, topped with myriads of candles, and beautifully figured backdrops like silvery magical spider webs.

VENUE: Sejong Grand Theater, Sejong Center for the Performing Arts
DATES: Apr 5—6, 7:30pm / Apr 7, 3pm, 7:30pm / Apr 8, 3pm
ADMISSION: VIP: 100,000 won, R: 80,000 won, S: 60,000 won, A: 30,000 won, B: 10,000 won
MORE INFO: 070-7124-1788,
GETTING THERE: Gwanghwamun Station, Line 5, Exits 1 & 8.

DV8 Physical Theater—Can We Talk About This?

From the 1989 book burnings of Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses, to the murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh and the controversy of the Muhammad cartoons in 2005, DV8s production will examine how these events have reflected and influenced multicultural policies, press freedom and artistic censorship. Eagerly awaited after Just for show in 2005, this documentary-style dance-theatre production will use real-life interviews and archive footage. Contributors include a number of high profile writers, campaigners and politicians.

VENUE: LG Arts Center
DATES: Apr 6, 8pm / Apr 7—8, 4pm
ADMISSION: R: 70,000 won, S 50,000 won, A: 30,000 won
MORE INFO: (02) 2005-0114,
GETTING THERE: GS Tower B1 floor is directly connected to Yeoksam Station, Line 2, Exit 7. Take the LG Arts Center elevator from there.

‘Talking Architect’ (with English subtitles)

“Talking Architect” is the first theatrical documenatry about Korea’s contemporary architecture and architect. The protagonist, architect Chung Guyon (1943—2011) is a representative architect belonging to the 2nd generation of Korea’s contemporary architects. Unlike most 2nd generation architects who think of architecture as a fetish, he knows the limitations of architecture and doesn’t worship it. He showed by example for whom an architect should work, and what kind of tool architecture should be in society. He also had a great influence to many people by his philosophy of architecture and urban planning through his books and public speeches. He always emphasized public values and ethics of architecture, in his projects such as Muju Public Building Project and Miracle Library Project. He is also critical of the current Korean government’s blind policy on urban planning, which ignores the tradition and history of the country and rushes into luring world-famous architects such as Zaha Hadid. His motto was “Both the problems and solutions are inherent in the land”. He has been suffering from colorectal cancer for five years, however. But Chung never stops working and talking to people. Proposed an architecture exhibit by Ilmin Museum of Art, he organizes a team and prepares it with his students, in order to show what he achieved in his life. It is not common that a private museum opens a local architect’s solo exhibition in Korea. Following the preparation of the exhibit, “Talking Architect” grasps the traces of his life and his architectural philosophy and oeuvre, as well as a keen sensibility of a human-being facing with death.

VENUE: Indieplus
DATES: April 3 (8pm), 4 (6pm) and 7 (2:10)
ADMISSION: 3,000 won
GETTING THERE: Near Exit 1, Sinsa Station, Line 3

RASKB Tour: Visit to Suwon
The walled city of Suwon (meaning “water source”) is the capital of Gyeonggi-do, and its history has been inextricably linked with nearby Seoul since the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty. Like Seoul, the city is a fascinating repository of architectural remains from the Joseon period, and our guide today, Mr. Peter Bartholomew, has made intensive study of the Joseon Dynasty from an architectural perspective.

VENUE: Suwon, Gyeonggi-do
DATE: Apr 15
COST: 38,000 for members and 45,000 for nonmembers
MORE INFO: See here.
GETTING THERE: See link above.

Everyday Koreans
Morning walk in Pangyo
Morning walk in Pangyo, Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do. Photo by Caio Haddad Franco.
*Click the photo to see a full-size version at our website.
NOTE: If you have a photo you would like to see in our Everyday Koreans section, please sent it to Photos should be AT LEAST 950px wide. Send a one-line bio, too.
Looking for Overseas Partners – Seoul Selection is looking for overseas publishing/ advertisement partners for its travel and culture monthly SEOUL. See this link for more information. Those interested are advised to contact Hank at
Brenda Paik Sunoo’s New Website – Writer and photographer Brenda Paik Sunoo, author of “Seaweed and Shamans,” “Vietnam Moment” and “Moon Tides: Jeju Island Grannies of the Sea,” has opened a new multimedia website, Go over and check it out now.
Shinhan Bank’s Seoul Global Center – Shinhan Bank has launched its own Seoul Global Center on the first floor of Gwanghwamun’s Seoul Finance Center. This is a branch specially made for foreigners, with financial consulting services for foreigners (individual/group), financial counsellings at your place of work (even for one person) and commemorative events such as special rates on currency exchange and interest rates. For more information, contact Deputy General Manager Jeon at (02) 773-3149 or 010-7275-9006.
Learn Korean Traditional Dance – Chumsae Dance School is offering lessons on Korean traditional dance. Morning (10:00—11:30, Tue Thu), afternoon (4:00—5:30, Mon Wed) and evening classes (7:30—9:00 Tue Thu) available. Classes are limited to 10 persons each. Tuition is 200,000 won a month. For more information, call (02- 762-7731).

Send Your Event Info – If you would like to advertise any upcoming events you are organizing, please send us the press release material to by the preceding Friday in order to appear in the following Tuesday’s issue.

Freelance Contributors Wanted – SEOUL magazine needs writers who are fluent in both Korean and English. Writers should be able to interview Koreans and also have a strong interest in Korean culture. Send your resume and writing samples to

We Buy & Sell Used Books – Seoul Selection buys and sells used books in English. Unlike our regular selection of publications that specialize in Korea-related topics, our Used Book Section carries books on all subjects. It’s all part of our effort to make life easier for the English-speaking community.

(April 2012)
Forests and Korean Culture
Madam Freedom
New Books
Seoul Selection Guides: Korea
Korea and the World
Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea
The Origins of the Korean War Volume 2
The Origins of the Korean War Volume 1
New DVDs
Robot Taekwon V Vs Golden Wings
No Name Stars
Silenced (Blu-ray)
DETECTIVE K (Rereleased)
Publisher: Hank Kim / Editor: Robert Koehler /
Website Manager: Ray Hong
Seoul Selection reserves all intellectual property rights on information provided in this newsletter. Some event information has been provided by the Korea Foundation. The IPRs are protected by pertinent laws
Seoul Selection Web Site:
e-mail: tel: 734-9567 fax: 734-9563

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