Saturday, February 22, 2014

SPACE

Earphones in.
Music on.
World off.

That’s usually the process when I’m (trying to be) productive.



My dad always tells me the state of my room reflects the state of my mind (or heart? —it was one of those vital parts…); I feel this sentiment holds merit. My room reflects me quite accurately — all over the place and lazy. Needless to say, my room is always a bit on the messy side, clothes strewn on the bed frame like it was a hanger of some sort, days worth of socks on the floor cause I’m too lazy to put them in the laundry basket, and piles of papers, notebooks, and photos.


I will admit I work better in a tidier setting; an organized room = an organized mind. So I don’t know why I can’t keep my room clean for more than a few days. Thanks to writing this entry though, I did decide to clean my room so I didn’t offend anyone with photos of my messiness. But as you can see my room is pretty straight forward, with no real decorations or anything. There’s a bed (yes, I sleep on a California King bed alone..! I used to roll around a lot as a kid), an exercise bicycle (for my physical rehab due to leg surgery from last year), drawers for my questionable clothes and quirky socks, and my desk filled with junk ranging from polaroids to snacks, hidden in various drawers.


This is the simple room that also doubles as my creative space; where I’m always thinking of new ideas or doing/learning/teaching myself something for OPPA BLOG. I guess you can say the idea for OPPA BLOG was conceived within these walls. But there are those days where my room becomes more of an obstacle and distraction than a vessel of creativity.


When I need to refresh my mind, a change of setting from my room is always the best solution. That’s when I go to Future Mine (미래광산), a small cafe tucked away in the side streets a short walk from Sangsu station (shout out Yeon Won oppa for introducing me to this place!). I'd easily say Future Mine is my favorite cafe in Seoul, both to be productive and to relax. The overall aesthetic and atmosphere makes it a great place to get work done (one of the owners once told me people will sit there for 5~6 hours doing work) but also the menu, service, and music (they play things from Korean indie to underground hip-hop, and then artists like Rhett Miller and Tom Waits, which I feel is rare in Korea) just adds the greatness that is Future Mine.


I’ll sit there with my milk tea (I don’t drink coffee at all, but I do like coffee flavored things!) and a slice of cake while working on whatever I need to.



It’s pretty minimalist at Future Mine -- mixed material furniture (wooden table with ironing board as table leg support) and walls (exposed brick and white concrete walls), artwork from local artists showcased (I’ve noticed they’re a big supporter of the local arts/music scene in Korea), and the people that usually come here seem to be café/coffee enthusiasts, artists, designers, musicians, just creative people overall.

... and then there’s people like me, who wish they were as cool as the typical clientele.

But also, Sangsu, where Future Mine is located is a nice quiet neighborhood. It’s fun to roam around, there are lots of cafes, good pubs/izakayas, and it’s close to the infamous Hongdae. Maybe I can find a way to include more posts about my favorite neighborhoods on the blog in the future! There's so much to discover in these small backstreets.




I actually thought of the idea of introducing various people whether it’d be café owners, students, or anyone else as a part of OPPA BLOG while I was at Future Mine. Doing a mini Q&A mixed in with a mini instax photo shoot filled with mustaches, and showing glimpses of their workplace, living space, creative space, and maybe even closet? I would like to be like Future Mine in a sense. Just as they promote and support local talent in their cafe space, I would like to do the same on more of an international scale; using my blog as a space where others are introduced to wonderful, creative people in Korea.

All in all, I hope Future Mine rubs off on me in all the right ways… here’s to hoping (and striving for awesomeness).


If you haven't and would like to please check out OPPA BLOG on these SNS related sites via the contact page (I will probably post some exclusive stuff on certain outlets!).

All photos are my own.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

HELLO


Hi, I’m Genie Joo, the creator of OPPA BLOG. It’s nice to meet you.

You might be wondering, what is OPPA BLOG? I guess the run-of-the-mill answer I give people when I can't get my thoughts together is that "OPPA BLOG is a visual lifestyle and culture site about Korea".

I'm sure there are a million blogs just like this -- in fact there are, though they're mostly by expats, writing about their experiences in Korea. And while a lot of the sites do a great job with what they do, the one thing I am doing differently with OPPA BLOG is offering the perspective of actuals Koreans. Specifically "oppas", that is to say guys of a certain age – though not necessarily older than me.

The reason why I’m focusing on dynamics with oppas is really just a personal decision, because I just have an easier time interacting with guys than girls. For most of my adolescent years I was mainly surrounded by guys, which I think in turn just always made it easier for me to make friends with them (who knows, I’m pretty sure there will be an occasional appearance by a girl friend or two on the blog).

I’ll be honest, I worry quite often about how OPPA BLOG will be received, when there is an increasing amount of blogs dedicated to fighting the fetishizing and stereotyping of Korean men, and Korea as a whole. I see how a blog dedicated entirely to oppas, a term that is loosely thrown around by enthusiastic k-pop fans, can be problematic. However, the intentions of OPPA BLOG is the complete opposite of fetishizing the Korean male - rather I hope that it will be a platform for real Korean guys to share their opinions and feelings, as opposed to what is idealized in dramas.

But of course, by no means is this blog going to be 100% serious; it’s meant to be whimsical, fun, with copious amounts of mustaches (and because this is Korea most of the facial hair will not be real), at the same time as it aims to be insightful. Hopefully this blog will add another layer to people's perception of Korea and Korean people — debunking some of the stereotypes from pop culture and media. Also, I hope it will be a way for me to better understand the culture of the country that, while I didn’t grow up in it, I consider home.

So much has happened since the day when the idea of OPPA BLOG was first thought of, and up till now. There has been so much trial and error -- though with more errors than anything else haha. When the blog first came about, I had a team to help me bring all the ideas for OPPA BLOG to life. We worked long and hard hours meeting people, making connections, thinking of ways to make OPPA BLOG better, and everything in between. But in the end it didn’t work out creatively or otherwise. The second time, I had to endure another roadblock and put this on hold because of my health.

For the longest time I was wallowing and wondering about what I was going to do, or even how I could manage to continue with OPPA BLOG alone. I was really, honestly thinking about quitting this idea all together... but due to the wonderful support of a few friends I decided I wanted to keep on going with this idea — I love it too much to not go on with it.



This is how OPPA BLOG started: kind of like a joke, but at the same time, the more I thought about it -- it had potential. Throughout the months I've spent working on OPPA BLOG there were a lot of concepts thrown around. Obviously, nothing is set in stone but there's a general aesthetic and whimsicalness I am aiming for, and here are a few things that I hope will be regularly featured on OPPA BLOG. 



Hyundai Card Music Pop-up Store at Hongdae

For example, Q&A's about Korea/Korean culture, and to have the guys featured on the blog create playlists with music recs for readers. In fact, I hope to write a lot about music, specially the independent music scene in Seoul, which has so much to offer! I hope to share nice cafes and good restaurants in the city, as recommended by oppas, to give you a impression what Seoul has to offer beyond Myeongdong and Hongdae. In between all this, there might also be videos of oppas acting out your favorite drama stereotypes, and copious amounts of polaroids featuring fake moustaches haha.

I hope you guys will join me on this journey through making OPPA BLOG — the good, the bad, and everything in between -- while learning a bit about me, while I learn about myself and the place I call home. Maybe with your help I can make OPPA BLOG into something even greater than I had imagined it to be.

They say 3rd time is always a charm, right? Well, let’s see where this goes…


All photos courtesy of the lovely nana of oh my tokyo! (aka the platonic life partner)