Expats come to play in spooky way

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Expats come to play in spooky way

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The Kimchi Cowboys with Kim Dae-wang, left, performed in Halloween costumes at the Haebangchon Music Festival in Haebangchon, Seoul, Saturday.

It was a party version of “Night of the Living Dead.”
Last Saturday the foreigners’ residential area of Haebangchon, near Itaewon, Seoul, was occupied by all kinds of “creatures” enjoying loud music from bars.
The costumed revelers included mummies, drag queens, witches, pirates, Spider-Men and other superheroes and monsters.
The quarterly Haebangchon Music Festival celebrated this year’s finale with a Halloween party (Halloween falls tonight).
Festival organizer Conor O’Reilly said Halloween is less known in Korea, but it is feted widely in the United States and other Western countries, including his home country Ireland.
O’Reilly even claimed that Halloween originated in Ireland.
“Halloween is called “All Hallow’s Eve,” meaning the night of the dead,” said O’Reilly, who was dressed as a Spider-Man.
Dating back more than 2,000 years, Halloween was originally a pagan holiday honoring the dead.
“It was the Chuseok of the Celtic world, which is basically Ireland, Scotland and Wales,” O’Reilly said. “It’s an Irish festival.”
During Saturday’s event, about 30 groups performed in four bars ― VFW, Ssen Bar, Orange Tree and Phillies.
Like previous Haebangchon festivals, the event featured an entire day of musical acts, ranging from folk and rock to jazz and blues, and also included poetry.
One of the groups, called the “Kimchi Cowboys,” sampled all the genres. The band, comprised of four Americans and a Korean drummer, excited the crowd at Ssen Bar with a mixture of jazz, blues, rock and poetry, a blend that its members refuse to categorize.

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John Sagnella, right, and Lance Regan-Diehl playing at the Orange Tree. They were two of the organizers of the quarterly musical event. By Moon Gwang-lip

“It’s very free-form,” said one of the members, Daemeon Henry. “We don’t try to fit any style, we just have our own style,” said Henry, a 35-year-old trombone player from Pennsylvania.
Designed to provide a platform for musical expats and Koreans, the Haebangchon Music Festival has been held four times a year since 2006.
For the latest edition, American John Sagnella joined O’Reilly and Lance Regan-Diehl as an organizer.
“It’s great to have people doing something musically for the community,” said Sagnella, an English language teacher.
Sagnella studied jazz guitar at the music school of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He teamed with Regan-Diehl for a performance at Orange Tree.
Sagnella said the festival is improving over time and he hopes to see more Koreans come out and play in future festivals.
Among the audience members was Jeong Mi-ra, a Korean in her late 20s dressed as a pirate wench to match her boyfriend, an expat costumed as a pirate.
An employee of an art company, Jeong said the Haebangchon festival is always fun.
“They seem to not care what others say and just enjoy themselves,” Jeong said. “The shows were not necessarily well-prepared, but the atmosphere is quite relaxed and good.”
Jacob Renshaw, 24-year-old English teacher from Washington State, enjoyed his time at the music festival.
“The only problem is that there are not many bars,” he said. “Only a few. But still, it’s pretty good.”

By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Writer [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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