[Weekender] Neighborhood revamped with 'Someday Festa'
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Just across a road from the bustling area of Hongik University, or Hongdae, is Sangsu-dong. The two neighborhoods share a close vicinity but the atmosphere of each is quite different. Sangsu is much quieter and more intimate than the jammed pack roads of Hongdae.
A festival organized by a local resident will call attention to the small but artistic cafes and old-fashioned local fixtures of calmer, next-door Sangsu. “Someday Festa in May” will be held at some 40 venues scattered around the Sangsu-dong area — from exit No. 4 of Sangsu Station on subway line No. 6 to Dangin-li Power Plant starting Saturday until Monday.
Kim Nam-gyun, the organizer of the event, said Someday Festa in May is a festival that focuses on individuals and daily life. Having grown up in Seoul’s small theater neighborhood of Daehangno, Kim studied Western painting and later worked as an experimental artist and cultural planner. He currently runs Space of Art Etc, a gallery and cafe in Sangsu-dong.
“Everyone on this street has a story of their own, so I have to have at least 10 cups of coffee to listen to their stories. But I also want to share the story with neighbors,” he said.
The program is not far reaching and limited, but provides good opportunities to know more about the owners of the shops. Indie bands will play music and cafe owners will prepare food from their favorite movies.
Such ideas were spawned from the characteristics of the neighborhood. A trendy beauty salon exists next to a traditional barber shop and hip coffee shops border an old-fashioned sesame oil processing shop.
“Every day is art. We think daily life is insignificant, but it is a unit of our life. It might seem insignificant compared to grand concepts such as globalization, which has nothing much to do with everyday life,” he said.
Unlike in modern-day apartment complexes, the neighbors living in the Sangsu area seem to be friendlier with each other. A girl returning from school holding her grandparents’ hand said hello to an elderly lady holding a dog while passing each other.
On Saturday, participants can tour the village, listen to the music of La Percussion and learn how to make hand drip coffee.
Cafe Stockholm will offer a cooking class based on the movie “Julie and Julia” and Mermaid Tavern will present an improvisation titled “Coffee Play.” A variety of musicians from Party Street to jazz band Marine Dixie Burger will perform at various cafes.
Meanwhile, Sangsu-dong women’s society will sell “makgeolli,” or Korean rice wine, and “pajeon,” spring onion pancake, at a nearby vacant lot.
Sunday’s program begins with a tax lecture for owner-operators at 11 a.m. “Most self-employed people have to open their cafes and shops at 12 p.m., so we scheduled the lecture in the morning,” Kim said.
A restaurant that specializes in salmon dishes, SOVS with Salmon, will screen the Japanese movie “Kamome Diner” and Kate’s Cafe will offer a yoga class at 3 p.m. Cafe Neurim presents a unique liquor making from coffee beans lesson at 4 p.m. Cabaret Sound Day will be held at Space of Art Etc from 4 p.m., featuring famed indie bands such as Oh! Brothers and Goonamguayeoridingstella.
Famous fresh pasta restaurant Dalgona will offer a woodworking class, while a nail art course will be held at Cafe Koala on Monday.
“We do not expect expertise in carpentry, but rather look forward to meeting the chef of Dalgona, who is mostly in the kitchen and not seen by the customers,” Kim said.
The highlight of the small festival is the “Healing Salon” at Space of Art Etc at 6 p.m., Monday. The festival invited Han Dae-soo, a pioneer of Korean folk and rock music, for a lecture and younger musicians will have the opportunity to pay tribute to him.
“We invited Han because we all wanted to meet him so much. Indie musicians will fill up the space and we will talk with him in this small cafe for hours,” Kim said.
Older generation natives of the village showed mixed reactions to the changes.
Cho Gyu-sik, the owner of Euiseong Sesame Oil who has lived in Sangsu-dong for more than 30 years, said he misses the old days.
“The atmosphere is totally changed. There are few local fixtures left, including the barber and I,” Cho said.
However, he also liked the energy and vitality that youngsters brought to the stagnating neighborhood. “Sometimes the street is noisy at night but there are more people wandering about and I hope more people come to the area,” he said.
Cho is also participating in the festivities. Last year, he held a lecture on making sesame oil and will host a talk with other long-time residents such as the owners of Myeongseong Barber Shop, Gwangyangsa Laundry and Seongwon Inn on Saturday.
Kim while planning the event didn’t want too many people to come to Someday Festa in May. “I want to be free of the number of visitors. Instead, I want the festival to be a chance to find small happiness in everyday life and to get to know neighbors better,” he said.
For more information, follow the festival’s Twitter @somedayfesta.