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Go Go Emil Goh

dcuartiellesSeptember 9th, 2009

I have got to know a lot of people during the last years, someone I will never forget is Emil Goh. When I arrived to my 3 months long residency at the Samsung Art and Design Institute in Seoul back in 2007, I happened to get to know a Malaysian designer living in a voluntary exile at the city that never sleeps. Since 2004, when he arrived to Korea for a residency at SSamzie Space, he felt in love with the big city and stayed there.


Emil’s endless curiosity brought him to one of the open laboratory sessions I was running at my lab in SADI. People would come to learn about open source hardware prototyping. He understood I was in the serious need for a guided tour to Seoul. I exchanged basic lectures in electronics for crazy dinners at non-touristic places. Personally I doubt he remembered anything of what I explained, but I will never forget every minute we spent wandering around the different neighborhoods. What he would never forget was a face or a name. He had an endless collection of friends coming from all over and he would devote all his time and attentions to the newcomers trying to make the best out of their time in Korea.

Soon we discovered we had common friends back in Europe. Educated as designer (or artist, or both) at Goldsmiths in London, he would develop his profession as educator at different universities. In Korea he worked for Hongik, in Singapore for Nanyang … as artist he was probably showing at every gallery in town … he also had some hits as designer like his lamp for hanging clothes in small rooms. Knew everybody and worked for everyone.

cool people

He was collecting pictures of the city. According to his latest report he had over 49.000 in his hard-drive. Could spend days riding his GPS-enhanced bike while taking shots of buildings, people, or just different types of kimchi. I swear I saw him photographing every single dish we ordered at restaurants. Collected all sorts of mobile phones just for the pleasure of understanding how they work. He even got an iPhone when it was not possible to use it in Korea just to play around with the UI.

Dynamic Duo

Today I got the sad news from a friend in Seoul. Emil left us on September 7th. I was planning my next trip to visit him, in his last email from July he claimed for his right to get to know my 19 months old daughter, Bobbie. Unfortunately it will never happen, now. Go Go Emil Goh, wait for us wherever you go.

Update: If you happen to be in Seoul on Friday September 11th, there will be a religious service for Emil. “This Friday there will be a service for him in Seoul. 11 September 09 at the St Francis of Assisi Catholic chapel in Seoul (707-10 Hannam-2Dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul 140-210, Republic of Korea. Tel +82-2-793-2070).”