Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods in Vancouver! Seoul Goth guide: Korea Gothic clubs, bars, fashion.

Andrew Zimmern Bizarre Foods Vancouver, Canada, tv host

I’m still in shock about the response to my Belgrade post — over 5000 shares! A special thank you to the Serbians who left comments, telling me I captured “the heart and soul” of their beautiful city.

My current focus — telling personal stories of alternative culture around the world — was majorly influenced by my friend Andrew Zimmern (host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods TV show). A few days ago, we got to catch up in my hometown of Vancouver, BC.

Read on for the story, and the resurrection of my Korean Gothic clubbing and shopping guide.

Andrew Zimmern, Travel Channel Bizarre Foods, restaurants, eating

If you’ve been following my adventures over the years, you’ll know that AZ and LC (as we call each other) have a long history. He was one of my earliest supporters, and invited me to be his on-camera guide on the Tokyo episode of Bizarre Foods. I took him to some of the wild, crazy theme restaurants featured in my book, including the monster-jail Alcatraz ER. (Watch our Japan clip and see photos here.)

We’ve kept in close touch over the years, and this week, Andrew Zimmern came to Vancouver with his film crew to shoot an episode of Bizarre Foods. What a joy to catch up with him at Hawksworth Restaurant — I loved their historical cocktails, especially the one with yuzu, and the hamachi sashimi with sorbet melted in my mouth.

Bizarre Foods Vancouver BC, La Carmina, travel food tv hosting

Andrew is one of the most empathetic people I know, always keen to learn about people and cultures, and portray them with positivity (my Japanese Goth friends love him for it!). I’m grateful to know he is rooting for me, as I am for him.

Season 5 of Bizarre Foods premieres Monday, November 4 @ 9pm ET/PT on Travel Channel — hope you’ll tune in, and can’t wait to see the Vancouver, BC episode.

Speaking of spooky culture… A while back, I interviewed Goth insiders about their local scenes for a site that no longer exists. So here are the features, back from the dead. First is my guide to Goth Seoul, Korea through the eyes of Kit Ten Ita. Next is Australia!

korean goth fashion, gothic lolita korea

All Korean photos by Noopy except the third to last composite, by Kit Ten Ita.

La Carmina: First, can you tell me a bit about who you are, and what you do?

Kit Ten Ita: I’m an amateur bellydancer, has-been blogger and passionate about improving my photography, consuming more music, a polyglot, and general oddball misanthrope. I define myself by my context, having lived in 6 different countries, moved more than 21 times before the age of 21. I lived in Korea for 6 years, participated in nearly all the BRHF goth parties (except for 2 summer parties when I was revisiting Switzerland) My involvement has ranged from dancefloor participant, dark fusion performer, drunk bartender, helpful decorator and supportive volunteer. I am currently pursuing a degree in Interactive Art at LASALLE.

La Carmina: How did you first become interested and involved in Goth / underground subcultures in Korea? Which cities and areas are hotspots?

Kit Ten Ita: My first interactions with the culture were with music when I was in my early teens – starting with Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Aphex Twin, and of course NIN. Many years later when I first arrived in Korea, my first contact was a metalhead named Sungwon who introduced me to both the Death Metal and Korean Goth scene. I had a Goth MeetUp Group and Counter Culture Forum and brought in the expats to the local scene.

Seoul and Busan both have a scene to my knowledge Seoul has a large population, but I hear the one in Busan has better attendance. But I could be incorrect about that since I’ve never been to the parties down South.

seoul goth clubbing, goth clubs

La Carmina: Can you tell me how the Gothic scene in Korea originated and evolved? Are there aspects that are distinct to the country?

Kit Ten Ita: To my knowledge the BRHF started with Hye In and Dosu, who are an indomitable pair in charge of organizing the Goth and Metal festivals. They had quite a challenge in trying to please all the participants from the ones who wanted somewhere to be entertained, have somewhere to sit and chat, to the ones who wanted to dance. But with an influx of people who wanted to dance, that soon changed. And it has transformed once again the past year…

The musical choices have usually been more thrash and metal, though now through cultural intermingling we are seeing more and hearing more EBM. But the musical choices are still generally more thrash and metal, and the culture is laced with death metal philosophies and antichristian rhetoric. It makes sense, considering Korea has the the highest number of Church attendees and Christian devotees.

What makes Korea special and particular is the prolific smoking and drinking culture, and after most concerts there are after parties that are open to people to mingle with the band members. An interesting fact to note are the laws against skirts above the knee and men with long hair (both of which are prevalent in the scene). Only recently has the former been amended. The tattoo culture was never really big until 2 years ago and since then it has really exploded. Stars and words are common. The piercing culture is very normalized with university students and it’s common to see very drastic piercings on very unassuming people. Androgynous men are viewed with a great degree of appeal.

seoul, korea goth punk fashion, runway show

La Carmina: How would you describe Gothic fashion in Korea? Which styles, brands, looks are popular? Has it changed over the years?

Kit Ten Ita: Gothic fashion in Korea is similar and influenced by Japan – whether aware of it or not, the Lolita look was extremely well adopted and popular in early 2000. But often with minimal makeup. These days the people in the scene are becoming more and more adventurous with their clothing choices, makeup choices and are more prone to putting on more makeup, predominantly thanks to a doom and Alex. Alternative fashion always goes into the mainstream so zippers, black and have become trendy post 80s fashion revival the past few years. But with the younger local goth crowd they tend to dress really pretty and sharp, new and clean clothing.

seoul korea street fashion, gothic lolitas

La Carmina: Can you recommend some Korean Gothic clothing brands, designers and shops?

Kit Ten Ita: Beetlejuice is perhaps the most well-known in both local and expat circles. They’ve held quite a few fashion shows. It is also the most-easily found and most well-priced, unless considering a Japanese import. The owner is a woman in her thirties who decided to bring back some of her designs influenced by being in London. Unfortunately for anyone above a UK size 14 or US size 12, which includes me, will have difficulty finding clothing that fits. Unless you have close connections with the tailor. The shopping areas of Ewha, Sinchon, Dongdaemun, Apgujeong all have affordable punk and Goth influenced wear, especially accessories. And imported clothing from Japan. So you really gotta explore the little nooks and crannies.

But if you’re interested in having tailor made boots, they start from 60 to as much as 250 dollars. Just make sure to have them redo anything you’re not happy with. There are several leather shops, and Dongdaemun for fabric if you make your own clothing or need new drapes. There was a place in Dongdaemun that had a variety of platform shoes but I’m not sure if its still there. (Address: Migliore 7th floor #122-126 02 3393 1995)

goth bars, gothic parties, seoul korea nightlife

La Carmina: If I came to Korea and you were my tour guide, where would you take me? What is the club scene like?

Kit Ten Ita: Seoul is limitless in terms of how many places there are to go, the number of distractions, entertainment and festivals, multimedia and interactive installations throughout the city – but to get a whole experience you would definitely have to experience the PC BANG (internet and gaming cafes) JIMJILBANG (public baths and saunas) NORAEBANG (karaoke) DVDBANG (rent and watch DVDs in your own personal stereo surround room with projector) and check out a MOTEL. All of these places are practically on every corner of the city.

As for shopping, university shopping areas such as Ewha, Sinchon, Hongdae provide a suitable variety of affordable clothing and shoes (both under American size 8) and more upscale areas in Cheongdam and Apgujeong. As for parties and events, there is a limit to the scale of parties in the Goth scene. There is a great availability of trendy clubs playing house, RnB, techno, rock, etc. Keep an eye out for posters on the streets of Hongdae – there are usually several in a row. And keep an eye out for plastic surgery and prostitution! There’s plenty of diversity as well in Itaewon – where homo hill and hooker hill (near a shopping area commonly populated by tourists and local American army base people) lead to a mosque on top.

For Goth parties in Seoul, check out BRHF Blood Red Halo (Hallow) Festival. Hye In is THE organiser for Gothic/Industrial events, and Sungwon is prominent in the scene. (La Carmina’s note, check Groove Korea for upcoming Goth clubs)

As for music, I recommend a doom (Pain’s Goth Rock Band), KOM-POUND (EBM/Electro/Industrial) and Oathean (Dosu’s Death Metal Band).

seoul, korea fashion week, models, asian goth girls

La Carmina: What do you predict for the dark fashion / scene in Korea? Is it growing, changing?

Kit Ten Ita: As for the people within the scene itself, makeup usage and experimentation in general has usually been limited in the past to simple eyeliner and powder, but I’ve seen them experimenting more and more recently thanks to external influences, such as our Korean-fluent German friend Alex, which have made theatrical makeup more accessible and acceptable. I’ve also seen more and more people modifying and tinkering their clothing rather than buying it ready-made. This particular feminine style of Gothic fashion itself has always been appealing and as people enjoy dressing up it’s more than obvious and likely that both fashion and the scene will continue to grow – especially with better exposure through bloggers.

Andrew Zimmern Bizarre Foods Tokyo Japan, theme restaurants Alcatraz

Have you experienced Seoul’s underground scene? Got tips to add?

For more blasts from the past, you can access my blog archives from the drop-down menu on the right sidebar. Here is a collection of my TV hosting clips, including Bizarre Foods. Enjoy — “and remember, if it looks good, eat it!”


  1. Kathy
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Cool! He came to Portland Maine once and ate something gross out of the inside of a fish….my brother in law works at the fish market he went to and prepared it for him….ew….lol

  2. henry
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    you are a cutie :)

  3. C W
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink


  4. Fathros
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    oh! Thank you! Is really fantastic you blog and style!

  5. Shabana
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Just saw lacarmina on TLC..Gorgeous! :)

  6. Alma
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    he looks like he likes to get freaky deaky!

  7. MelissaR
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    You look gorgeous! When you were on his show that was my favorite episode!

  8. Bethany
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    You both look great. :P)

  9. Lauren
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink


  10. Kyoko
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    you meet again! how cool

  11. Mula
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    love you

  12. irana
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    very nice picture

  13. Matthew
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Very cool!

  14. Kristina
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    yay!! Another Epi of my favorite show with my favorite Blogger!!

  15. Capitaine
    Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Hoppin’ ‘Round the world!

  16. Friv Jogos
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    It is the synthetic variety, you can come and have their own feelings. It would be great to be with friends.

  17. Lauren
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    Love it

  18. Song
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 4:24 am | Permalink


  19. Adam
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    So jealous! I want to be there!

  20. Anna
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    You’re amazing, as always! <3

  21. hammon
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Very nice picture

  22. Jezra
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Andrew Z omg! thats cool!!!

  23. May
    Posted September 29, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Lovely to see the two of you working together again. I can’t wait to watch the episode. Hope all is well.

  24. Xtine
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink


  25. David
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    That would be a dinner I’d love to be part of yes yes love u both <33

  26. Sandy
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I love bizarre foods!! I always use to watch it and I remember seeing you on the show I have to go to those places when I go to Japan :D

  27. Pala
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink


  28. Photoprincess
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    luv the blue! is it dye or hair chalk ??? i’d like to do the same

  29. Clelia
    Posted September 30, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Long time ago I saw the Bizzare Food’s episode in which you appeared! I was immediately impressed by your style and I googled you, then I found your beautiful blog I must thanks Zimmern and Bizzare Food! I am very curious too se this episode in italian (my first language) I can’t wait for!

  30. ebog
    Posted October 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    You look great with that hair and dresses. I was very impressed that. The Gothic club in Korea looks quite interesting. I really like this style

  31. Para Friv
    Posted October 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Lovely to see the two of you working together again. I can’t wait to watch the episode. Hope all is well. Thank you so much!

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