The day the music died: COVID-19 kills one of Seoul’s oldest underground music venues

Club MWG shuts down as the pandemic crunch begins to bite South Korean nightclubs

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12Tucked away in the dazzling neon lights of Seoul’s nightlife district, Club MWG, one of the capital’s oldest underground music venues, closed its doors last weekend as the pandemic crunch begins to bite South Korean nightclubs.Image Credit: AFP

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2 of 12Founded in 1994, Club MWG enjoyed its heyday in the 1990s when underground clubs were rare in the South’s capital.Image Credit: AFP

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3 of 12An intimate space with room to host 200 people, the club in Hongdae district was known for indie band performances and popular DJs.Image Credit: AFP

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4 of 12But in the past decade, the venue struggled with increasing competition as the district became more commercialised.Image Credit: AFP

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5 of 12Then the pandemic broke out – since May, Seoul’s nightclubs have been faced with repeated closure orders, hammering the final nail in Club MWG’s coffin.Image Credit: AFP

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6 of 12″It feels as if my limbs are being torn,” the club’s owner Kim Eun-hui told AFP about the closure.Image Credit: AFP

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7 of 12Kim had even taken up multiple jobs – construction worker, tutor, and part-time cleaner to name a few – to try and keep the business running.Image Credit: AFP

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8 of 12But since the virus restrictions, she has not been able to earn enough money to pay the rent for the venue. “I didn’t want to give up… but ended up succumbing to the coronavirus,” she said.Image Credit: AFP

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9 of 12Culture critics say the club was instrumental in creating Hongdae’s unique scene in the 1990s, when it was known for its underground music performances – from indie to hip hop to heavy metal – and youthful exuberance.Image Credit: AFP

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10 of 12″We have lost a symbol that represented Hongdae,” said critic Kim Seong-su. For the club’s long-time regulars, the news was devastating.Image Credit: AFP

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11 of 12″I was so sad, I felt very down to a point where I couldn’t really say anything,” said Kim Jong-chun, a 40-year-old who was a regular for almost two decades. “I loved that vibe which was very different from other venues,” he said.Image Credit: AFP

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12 of 12″I’ve been to a number of other places, but I have to say no place can ever replace Club MWG.”Image Credit: AFP

Club MWG, one of Seoul’s oldest underground music venues, closed its doors last weekend as the pandemic crunch begins to bite South Korean nightclubs AFP/Jung Yeon-je

SEOUL: Tucked away in the dazzling neon lights of Seoul’s nightlife district, Club MWG, one of the capital’s oldest underground music venues, closed its doors last weekend as the pandemic crunch begins to bite South Korean nightclubs.

Founded in 1994, Club MWG enjoyed its heyday in the 1990s when underground clubs were rare in the South’s capital.

An intimate space with room to host 200 people, the club in Hongdae district was known for indie band performances and popular DJs, as well as LGBT party events.

But in the past decade, the venue struggled with increasing competition as the district became more commercialised.

Club MWG in Seoul’s Hongdae district was known for indie band performances and popular DJs, as well as LGBT party events AFP/Jung Yeon-je

Then the pandemic broke out – since May, Seoul’s nightclubs have been faced with repeated closure orders, hammering the final nail in Club MWG’s coffin.

“It feels as if my limbs are being torn,” the club’s owner Kim Eun-hui told AFP about the closure.

Kim had even taken up multiple jobs – construction worker, tutor, and part-time cleaner to name a few – to try and keep the business running.

But since the virus restrictions, she has not been able to earn enough money to pay the rent for the venue.

“I didn’t want to give up … but ended up succumbing to the coronavirus,” she said.

Founded in 1994, Club MWG enjoyed its heyday in the 1990s when underground clubs were rare in Seoul AFP/Jung Yeon-je

Culture critics say the club was instrumental in creating Hongdae’s unique scene in the 1990s, when it was known for its underground music performances – from indie to hip hop to heavy metal – and youthful exuberance.

“We have lost a symbol that represented Hongdae,” said critic Kim Seong-su.

Culture critics say the Club MWG was instrumental in creating Hongdae district’s unique nightlife scene in the 1990s AFP/Jung Yeon-je

For the club’s long-time regulars, the news was devastating.

“I was so sad, I felt very down to a point where I couldn’t really say anything,” said Kim Jong-chun, a 40-year-old who was a regular for almost two decades.

“I loved that vibe which was very different from other venues,” he said.

“I’ve been to a number of other places, but I have to say no place can ever replace Club MWG.”

AFP and Compiled by Christian Borbon, Senior Web Editor GULF NEWS

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