City of self-starters Story by Remy Raitt / Photos by Laughlin McKee and Choi Won-seok T here is a close-knit commu- nity outside of Seoul called Cheongju where there is al- ways someone to share a drink or game of darts with, rock music is a draw and there’s plenty of space for people to share their talents. Restaurant and bar owners cater- ing to the city’s expat population know their customers by name, and the host of sports, language and cultur- al clubs ensures that those who prefer to spend their social lives sober have mates to do it with. Located almost smack in the middle of Korea, Cheongju has all the spoils of a big city but manages to maintain a small- town charm. As the capital city of North Chungcheong Province, it also boasts the most foreign residents in the landlocked province, with an estimated 400 English teachers working here. It’s only an hour and a half away from Seoul and 40 minutes from Daejeon, so it’s easy to get out on the weekends, al- though there’s enough going on here to keep residents entertained the whole year through. American David Sparks, who has been living in Cheongju for the past five years and plays in two local bands, sums up many expats’ sentiments about the size of “The Cheong,” as it’s affectionately called: “My wife and I really enjoy the size of our city. The expat community is tightly knit, so we always feel welcome, but it’s large enough that we can be wallflowers and just hang around if we want.” Cheongju plays host to Close-knit, Creative Community ‘the Cool thing about Cheongju is that if you’re interested in something and you put it out there, ChanCes are someone else will share your passion and you Can start something. Cheongju folks are proaCtive. it’s one of the reasons i love them.’ helen lloyd, south afriCa