TRAVEL & EXPERIENCE

World’s Most Amazing Camping Experience
Baek Seong-hyun, better known as singer Bbaek Ga, is recognized as an avid camper. Once you hear him talk about his camping principles, along with his camping history, you realize he is a true maniac of the outdoor experience. Baek gives us a rundown on the plethora of fun that comes along with camping.
Baek Seong-hyun is the famous ‘Bbaek Ga,’ a member of pop group Koyote. Mostly acknowledged for his singing career, he’s known as a lover of dance and also as a photographer with experiences in magazine and advertising industries. He shoots professional fashion photographs or advertisements, and sometimes holds photo exhibitions. To avoid prejudice against a TV personality, he uses an alias of ‘by100’ for his photography career. He is well-known for high-quality photo works in the industry.
Bbaek Ga

Baek is a fan of camping. His camping experience is on a global scale, and he is known for his one-of-a-kind and snazzy camping style. The recent pandemic has brought a second renaissance to the camping scene, and he even appears on TV as a camping guru.
More experiences in camping often lead to the diversification of how and where you camp. Some may choose to go to Japan or Portland, U.S., on a backpacking trip. Some may choose what’s called motor camping using a motorbike. Others may enjoy a more relaxed camping experience by bringing a station wagon camper. They have one common ground in that they insist on a backcountry location as opposed to a designated campsite. Most people will set up their camps on a public campsite with access to electricity and water. Baek, however, is in the other party that builds their tent in the middle of nowhere. He wants to stick to his camping principles almost obsessively as they are about protecting the environment and carrying out what he believes in with regards to camping.
Bbaek Ga

Q. It was impressive when you said your future goal was to become a king of camping. What is a camping king like in your mind?
A. I had wanted to become a photographer since my childhood. So I majored in photography but debuted as a singer. I constantly tried to become a photographer like I had always dreamed of. I was crazy about taking photos. After several years of doing that, the title of photographer was added to Bbaek Ga. Now I have a similar passion for camping. I wish that Bbaek Ga will also be followed by the ‘king of camping’ title one day. In what manner does not matter to me.
Bbaek Ga

© by100

Bbaek Ga

© by100

Bbaek Ga

Photos by Baek Seong-hyun during camping trips © by100

Q. Tell us about the beginning of your camping era.
A. I like classic cars and once owned a 1983 Golf Mk2. The first camping crew was formed by me and my friends who also liked classic cars. I remember opening eyes in the morning and breathing in crisp air at the first campsite. I think I was hooked then. I felt so refreshed that I made a weird noise as I stretched my arms after getting up.

Q. You are Bbaek Ga of Koyote and by100 when you shoot photos. Are you Baek Seong-hyun when you go camping?
A. I don’t have a particular name for camping. The alias ‘by100’ was made out of fear that people might prejudge my photos because I’m an entertainer. Camping reveals who I am without any pretense, so I don’t care if I’m called Bbaek Ga, by 100, or Baek Seong-hyun.

Q. What kind of pleasure can you find through outdoor living such as camping?
A. Life in nature itself. We live in cities and in houses. Camping is short, but you build a tent in nature. The act offers many new types of pleasure. For example, it is considered more delicious to barbecue and eat meat outside than inside. I think the good energy that you feel exclusively outdoors and the experience of a different lifestyle can all contribute to having a good time.
Bbaek Ga

For a backpacking trip, he takes a backpack filled to the brim.

Bbaek Ga

On a camping trip to Japan in 2018

Q. You enjoy camping by yourself. What merit does it have?
A. With solo camping, it is very important to know how you will use the alone time. The moment you feel bored, you could be in a downward spiral. If you are determined to ‘enjoy’ it, everything will be amusing. Make sure the alone time is filled with meaningful activities. It will be great if the inspirations from your solo camping lead to a productive outcome in your work when you get back.

Q. How does it differ from a group camping trip?
A. There are pros and cons. If you are by yourself, there is no one meddling in your business. You have to do everything alone from start to finish, and that could make you more meticulous. Group camping can be less boring. You will need to cook more and differently. Food is a big part of camping.

Q. You plant a tree at your campsite before you leave. Is it sort of a ritual?
A. I do backcountry camping where there is no water, electricity, and toilet. You naturally feel grateful for nature. So I try to always plant a tree near my campground. Sometimes I forget or I find it cumbersome. I do believe, however, that if I make an effort to continue planting trees, there will come a time when it feels unnatural to not do it.
Bbaek Ga

Q. What is your camping philosophy?
A. Clean camping. I bring back my own waste and minimize any damages to nature. It is not even something to discuss, but many people fail to do it and the number of campsites is decreasing. Some campers do not want to share information regarding campsites. I wish people would understand more deeply that we do not own nature. I think those who cannot even take care of their own garbage do not deserve to go camping.

Q. Is there a reason why you like classic, vintage equipment?
A. Hoping to be a king of camping, I have tried out various tents and camping styles over the past decade. Personally I find the 1970s-1980s American camper style most charming. So I started googling such images and collecting vintage camping items from online auction sites. They are 40-50 years old and are mostly in poor condition. I use only the functioning ones for my camping trips.

Q. What item are you most attached to?
A. My titanium mug. It’s been with me for 10 years. It shows wear and tear, having gone through many uses, including a burnt spot. It traveled with me to the Himalayas, Africa, U.S. West Coast, basically everywhere I went. To me, the mug is what Wilson the volleyball is to Tom Hanks in the movie .
Bbaek Ga

Q. You enjoy backcountry camping. There must be many inconveniences. Why do you insist on those locations?
A. Being a TV personality for years, I tend to be extra-cautious around people who may know my face. I chose camping as a means of relaxation, so having to tiptoe around others didn’t feel right. Despite several inconveniences, I decided to camp in the backcountry where I can be myself. Not having a toilet, water, or power is definitely a downside, but I’m now used to it. Men easily adapt to the environment. (laugh)
 
Q. What’s on your must-bring list for camping?
A. It’s such a broad question. Basically a tent, sleeping bag, mat, chair and table, cooking tools, garbage bag, lantern, head lantern, and extra batteries.

Q. What do you usually eat when you are camping?
A. Grilled pork belly and ramyun are the best for quick meals. You never get bored of the combo. Add a glass of soju to that! There is no better marriage than that of pork belly, ramyun, and soju during camping.
Bbaek Ga

Vintage Astro van for some van life

Jeep Wrangler for camping on rough terrains

Bbaek Ga

A Honda bike for riding and camping trips

Bbaek Ga

1992 Mercedes-Benz 300TE wagon

Q. You switch your transportation means for each camping trip, from a bike to a Mercedes wagon. Can you tell us about their individual merits?
A. A wagon is great for stylish camping. It goes well with the 1970s-1980s American camping style. It offers a lot of space. In winter when I’m traveling on icy or rough terrains, I drive a Jeep Wrangler. It is a four-wheel drive and perfectly built for camping. You can drive it anywhere. Occasionally I take a vintage Astro van. There is a separate genre called ‘van life’ in camping for those who sleep in their cars. I remember seeing American hippies and surfers loading their surfboards and camping equipment onto a dilapidated van before taking off. Those are the three cars that accompany me on my camping trips. I use my motorcycle for motor camping. You simply pack your stuff on the back of your bike and head to your campground. Motor camping is a very attractive genre. You can enjoy riding and camping at the same time.

Q. Where is your most memorable camping location?
A. Portland, U.S. The whole city is surrounded with mountains, lakes, and trees. I have maternal and paternal relatives all living in Portland and have been going there every year. Two years ago, I went there for camping, and as I had expected, it offered such a great environment. But a pack of racoons came to my tent and took all my food in the early morning. Fortunately I was able to save my kimchi. (laugh)

Q. You have a vast overseas camping experience. Does each country have a distinctive camping culture?
A. In Japan, there are many campers with minimalistic, clean approaches, like how the whole nation is known for such aspects. American campers are more carefree and natural. They don't really worry about how other people view them.

Q. I remember reading your interview about how your attitude toward life changed a great deal after a big surgery. Is camping related to that change?
A. The biggest change after the surgery was feeling gratitude. I realized there are so many things I could be thankful for and it affected how I deal with my work, friends, and nature. I thank moonlight and shining stars at night. I thank warm sunshine on a cold day. If someone else said the same thing to me in the past, I would have reacted harshly. That’s who I was.
Bbaek Ga

Q. What’s the most ideal camping like to you?
A. Camping is like a harbor. Numerous ships come in to dock and the harbor is just there, quietly, accepting them as they come and go. Ships need to safeguard the harbor well. Ships are campers and the harbor is nature. I wish campers will do their share of protecting the environment so that we can all camp happily for a long time. Clean camping is the life of a true camper.
March 2021 Editor:Jung Jaewook
Cooperation: Baek Sunghyun

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