Story by: Ian Henderson, Photos by: Ken Robinson (courtesy of Caroline Pardue)
For expats in Seoul, the occasional gripe about adapting to life in Korea is almost second nature, and in some ways it’s part of the job description. Yes, bemoaning the hurdles serves as a sort of catharsis and usually helps take the edge off daily frustrations, but most will admit that things are actually pretty cushy here, especially when speaking with members of the ESL ranks who have moved on to teach or volunteer in less economically developed locales. This revelation was the genesis of the idea for a punk rock benefit on Nov. 9 in Hongdae.
The show will benefit children in an impoverished area of Peru where parents have to splurge to buy textbooks while struggling with the cost of keeping the lights on.
The idea started with Caroline Pardue, who is now the education coordinator for the Huanchaco Education and Learning Program, also known as HELP English. HELP is part of an NGO called Otra Cosa Network, a U.K.- and Peruvian-registered charity that provides free English classes to underprivileged students in low-income areas of Huanchaco, Peru.
Pardue is originally from Texas, but spent most of her life growing up in the Philippines before a period of teaching in Korea. She currently teaches at Las Lomas Primary School, the only government-funded school in the shantytown of Las Lomas. She has been volunteering in Peru for several months and recently reached out to friends and contacts in Korea for assistance.
This is where Jeff Moses entered the picture. Moses, a long-term Seoul resident and teacher, is a member of the punk band “… Whatever That Means” and also does booking at Club Spot near the park in Hongdae. He and his wife have been booking shows and releasing CDs under the name World Domination, Inc. for almost five years.
The pair is responsible for securing acts for Club Spot’s Second Saturdays shows, which are monthly late-night parties that typically feature six to seven bands. This month’s Second Saturdays show will be a fundraiser for the Las Lomas school.
Moses says he was compelled to help when he heard about the conditions at Pardue’s school.
“I knew that (Caroline) was working in Peru, but had no idea how poor the area she was working in was,” Moses says. “Trash (Moses’ wife) and I agreed to use the November Second Saturdays event to help out her students on the spot.”
The lineup is quite a good potpourri of Korea’s punk scene. Currently booked are No. 1 Korean — one of Seoul’s longest-running and most upbeat ska bands — and Heimlich County Gun Club, which is fronted by Suck Stuff’s former guitarist and has a very country-infused, punk rock sound comparable to Social Distortion.
Seoul City Suicides, a known purveyor of stoner rock meets punk rock, is also part of the lineup. They haven’t played in well over a year since their drummer moved back to New Zealand, but he and his wife are coming back to Seoul for a short holiday to show off their new baby boy and play a few shows, starting with this gig.
Also on the bill is Seoul’s newest thrash-punk band, My Man Mike. They just got back from a very successful two-month tour through Europe and will be playing tracks off their new album.
And finally, Moses’ own band will also be taking the stage. Their sound hearkens back to very American, ’90s punk rock, with major influences from Bad Religion, The Descendents and Face to Face.
As of this writing, there are more bands being contacted about joining the bill.
Moses is happy to report that all proceeds from the benefit will go to Pardue’s school. The goal is to raise enough money to buy single copies of several different textbooks for the teachers to use in class. Any leftover money after that will be used for other needed classroom supplies.
With amazing music and free drinks, Second Saturdays is a party worth checking out. You’d also be helping to fulfill the educational dreams of some very thankful children – which is very punk rock.
Second Saturdays benefit for Las Lomas Primary School in Peru (www.otracosa.org)
Location: Club Spot
Date and time: Nov. 9 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Admission: 15,000 won, with a one-hour open bar
Directions: Hongik University Station, line 2, exit 9. Club Spot is on the street facing the playground next to Smoothie King.