Ben Akers of Britain is popular expat musician
By John Redmond
Popular expat musician Ben Akers is a former finance worker from the United Kingdom. Happily married and having settled down in Seoul, he performs with numerous musicians at festivals, solo concerts and radio shows.
Akers took time out from his performing and radio duties to talk with The Korea Times.
The Korea Times: How long have you been in Korea?
Akers: I first came to Korea in the summer of 2006. It's always surprising when I think that's almost six years ago now. Time really has flown by.
Q: What brought you here?
A: A strong desire to travel and experience not only living abroad, but to experience a different culture, different food, and a different way of living really attracted me to Korea. So much had been written about the neighboring countries, but relatively little had been written about Korea which made it far more interesting to me.
Q: How do you feel you have contributed to Korea?
A: I've really enjoyed being in Korea and teaching people about the differences in culture between the U.K. and Korea. It's been great to give advice to people traveling to the U.K. and helping them prepare.
Q: How has Korean society helped you?
A: Living and working in a foreign country can be quite daunting for any newcomer. I feel like I've learned a lot from being here in terms of language and culture, but most of all patience.
Q: The music scene in Korea, how has it changed since your arrival?
A: When I first arrived in Korea, I lived in the countryside and it was quite difficult to see live music. These days, I think that things have changed dramatically. Lots more venues have stages and open mic events. I've seen them advertised throughout the country, not just in Seoul, but also in Suwon, Busan, Daejeon, and Daegu too. I host an open mic at The Orange Tree, in Hae Bang Chon, Seoul, on Thursdays that goes from 9 p.m. until midnight. The response has been great so far from both locals and expats. Another great help to the music scene was the Korean government's backing of TBS eFM, a radio station aimed at English speakers. TBS try hard to not only cover international artists, but also to give local musicians some exposure. I'm currently a live music guest on The Steve Hatherly Show every Wednesday between 2 p.m.-3p.m. It's been a great experience so far in getting into the music scene in Korea.
Q: As a potential property owner, what advice would you give to expats and Koreans?
A: Although not currently a property owner, my wife and I are looking into the possibilities of ownership in the future. Considering how excellent the public transport system is here in Korea, we are giving serious thought to moving outside of Seoul where property prices are much more reasonable, while our commuting time would still be similar to living in the city.
Q: You left a good job in the financial sector to come to Korea. Why?
A: I worked in finance in England and although I initially enjoyed that work, I knew that I wanted to travel and have new experiences. Coming to Korea seemed like a challenge that I could embrace.