Story by: Dave Hazzan, Photos by: Andrew Faulk
Influence Music writer and urban explorer
Featured in Groove Korea October 2014
Jon Dunbar is the most important person associated with Korea’s punk scene who does not thrash a guitar or drum set to death. By his own admission he has “zero musical talent,” but he sure can write. This year he’ll be putting out the 20th issue of Broke in Korea, Seoul’s iconic punk rock zine.
Broke in Korea “is basically about what’s happening in the (punk) scene, as well as other news and stuff,” the Edmonton-raised Dunbar, 35, says.
Dunbar formed the zine in 2005 with American Paul Brickey, who played with bands Rux, Suck Stuff and Heimlich County Gun Club. “It was called Broke in Korea because we were both broke at the time and living off women,” Dunbar says.
Originally they wanted each issue to be bilingual, but this proved impossible. However, he still tries to get as much Korean content into the magazine as possible and strives to create a bridge between foreigners and Koreans in the scene.
After the Broke in Korea online message board for local punks petered out, Dunbar began the Korean Punk and Hardcore page on Facebook. He also contributes to Korea Gig Guide and Do Indie. Brickey left Korea last year.
Otherwise, Dunbar is one of Korea’s busiest urban explorers. “I’ve got an extremely large collection of pictures of places in Korea that have been abandoned or are awaiting demolition,” he says. Daehanmindecline, Dunbar’s photo blog, hosts pictures from both his urban explorations and the punk scene.
Broke in Korea, Daehanmindecline and the urban exploration prepared Dunbar for his transition to writing for Korea.net, the official website of the Korea Culture and Information Service. In 2013, he moved on to work as an administrator at Sungkyunkwan University.
Dunbar feels it’s impossible to get bored in Korea — a far cry from Canada — and he doesn’t foresee ever leaving the country permanently. If he has any regrets, it’s that he didn’t come here sooner.
“There are always developments happening in the Korean music scene, and urban exploration never gets boring,” he says. “There’s always something very strange to see, and I’m usually one of the first people to see it.”