NOTES ON ENTERTAINMENT, CULTURE AND MORE FROM KOREA (OR WHEREVER)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Buena Hongdae Social Club

You know that experience where you walk past some place (a sign or an entranceway or wherever) hundreds of times without giving the location a second thought, then one day, for no particular reason, you decide to go inside and discover an amazing place? Something really special was right under your nose the whole time, but you had no idea. Well, that happened to me on Thursday night.

The location in question was MOONGLOW, a jazz club kind of in Hongdae, kind of outside the usual Hongdae limits (somewhere between Hongdae proper and Hapjeong Subway Station).

Moonglow is owned and operated by Shin Kwan-Woong, one of Korea's early jazz musicians. He's apparently been playing professionally since 1966, and is an interesting character. He plays piano pretty much every night at the club, with the band accompanying him changing each night.


I have not been there every night of the week, but Thursday nights are pretty cool, as the band consists of all his old friends and bandmates from the 1960s. Some pretty solid names playing him, and they still can groove. Somewhat like the guys in BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB (to use a rather uncreative comparison).

According to the Moonglow website, on drums is the amazing 76-year-old Choi Se-jin, who has been playing since 1947 (but last Thursday, I think someone else was playing... looked different from the photos of Choi).

Anyhow, I'll try to write more about these guys some time soon.

If I have a complaint (and me being me, of course I do), it is how typical their repertoire was. If I could get through the rest of my life without hearing Chuck Mangione, I would not be unhappy (Feels So Bad). But I imagine they playlist reflects what people are always asking them to play. And at least the band played the hell out of those tunes, turning them into something special. That club is definitely a great find. Highly recommended.

(Sorry, could not find an English map).

  • This is kind of random. STARDUST had a pretty understated opening on Aug. 14 across Korea. I saw it at the local Art Reon theater, where it was playing on the smallest screen they had. Well today I checked out the Art Reon movie listings, and lo and behold, STARDUST is now playing on the second-biggest screen in the multiplex. Is this a sign the movie is getting really good word of mouth? Or is it just one of those inexplicable things?

  • I finally checked out SHIM"S TAPAS in Hongdae. Wow, their food is really first-rate. Coffee, too. Homemade bread, plenty of choices... The group I was with ordered about eight things (not including dessert), and seven of them were excellent (their pizza was okay, but not great). Another big recommendation -- if you can get a seat. I will post a map if I can ever find one. It is located in Seogyo-dong, if that helps, not far from Sanulim Theater (even closer to the bar Stereo, if you know where that is).
  • 1 comment:

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