Korea: Life in Pictures

6 Sep
Bundang Skyline.
Bundang Skyline.

Everywhere you turn here, the sky will be scraped by an immense high-rise.  It will have a ridiculous name, wholly un-Korean: Royal Palace, Pantheon, Zenith, Pavilion, Paragon, Park View.  All are built by a massive corporation: SK, Samsung, We’ve, LG, or Doosan.  They are the future of humanity, where everyone is packed in close, separated by tiny walls, yet a million miles away from understanding their neighbors.  Food and education are in the building or close by.  The very small makes up the very big and grand.

The Future.
The Future.

I captioned this photo because I thought the architecture represented something sleek and modern, with no shred of the past.  In retrospect, the pair of CCTV cameras furtively peering into our lives more aptly captures the title.  Which begs the question, if big cities make us just one in a faceless, teeming mass, what of individual interest is there for the camera to look at?

Surprise splash.
Surprise splash.

Goaded by her friends, this schoolgirl walked out into the middle of the fountain, expecting that the water wouldn’t hit her when it came on.  Obviously she was wrong.

Directions for ajoshi.
Directions for ajoshi.

The younger man holds his left hand to his chest as a form of respect.  This comes from the days when men wore a hanbok, which had a long sleeve that needed to be pulled back to hand something to another person.

Annyeong, jamae . . .
Annyeong, jamae . . .

There’s something quite precocious about lots of Korean children.  They’re well-behaved and seem to act like miniature adults at times, seemingly perfectly at home and competent in the world about them.  Not a lot of screaming and tantrums like American kids.

Goin' to the temple, gonna get married.
Goin’ to the temple, gonna get married.

In the midst of the modern throng, two people take the time to follow the old ways.  They will be married but it’s not just a union of convenience.  No, it is the continuation of an ancient pact.  They are not ashamed of it, nor do they think it is backwards.  The past has given them purpose for moving forward.

Timeless couple.
Timeless couple.

History moves on out there, in the world.  Nations are crumbling, tyrants are rising, great deeds are done, horrible wrongs committed.  People die cruelly and pointlessly, grand ideas are found hollow, wars rage, famines linger.  We are all a part of history; it will inevitably touch us someday, somehow, in some way, big or little.  But we still carry on, still build lives for ourselves.  Maybe it’s the divine spark within, guiding us on our unique path.  Maybe it’s the innate cheekiness of human beings, that spirit which raises a middle finger to the grimness of the world and pushes us to do great things, take great leaps.  People get married, even if times are tough.  Others buy a motorcycle and ignore sane advice.  Still others cast aside stability and convention to take a job that thrills them.  Or is the right thing to do.  We live, in spite of the darkness out there.

Old men always talk furiously to each other.
Old men always talk furiously to each other.

Wherever you go in Korea, there will be old men sitting around, looking at things.  They seem to be waiting on something but what it is, I’ll never know.  They talk heatedly with each other or play chess or nap on a bench in the humid shade.  You can see the story of rough years worn into the deep lines on their faces.  These old guys have seen a lot.  They are tough bastards.

Trees, roof.

Dragon banner.

In between the cracks we can find the past.  Even if it’s not our own, we can appreciate it.  We can understand and smile, being glad to remember and think back.  For despite all the bad of the past, never can we deny the good that once was.  And that we wish could be again.

With each day, Korea opens wider and deeper for me.  Answers only leave more questions.  So down I go, into the rabbit hole, waiting to see when and where I’ll come out.

Enter the dragon.
Enter the dragon.
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3 Responses to “Korea: Life in Pictures”

  1. Someone from Scotland 6 September 2009 at 5:07 pm #

    What a pile of pretentious crap! Your spelling and grammar is absolutely appalling and your attempts to be interesting are just plain embarassing. Are you unable to write a blog without predicting the future or trying to sound like a Greek philosopher. I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything better from someone that supports a Party that releases terrorists.

    • autarkes 7 September 2009 at 2:35 am #

      I’m quite intrigued by your claims. Obviously you’re not taking the approach of reasoned argument but that’s the Internet, I suppose. Furthermore, your claim that my grammar and spelling are unsubstantiated — I try hard to edit my work but stuff often slips through the cracks. But you weren’t gracious enough to point out what was specifically wrong. Predicting the future? Would you rather just live in ignorance and be painfully surprised when tomorrow gets here? Trying to sound like a Greek philosopher? I’m not trying to be Aristotle, if that’s what you mean. But if you mean I’m giving a philosophical light to my writing, then thank you. I think that the deeper aspects of daily human life deserve consideration. But since you don’t want prediction of the future and nothing philosophical, I’m curious as to what sort of blogs you read. Maybe Perez Hilton.

      What really irks me, though, is your attempt at anonymity. You criticized me outright and here I am putting your critique up on my blog, for the world to see. I have no problem with criticism. Yet you hide behind “Someone from Scotland” and don’t have the guts to stand by your assertions. What you don’t realize is that I can look right to the WHOIS Database and find out interesting things about you. I know that, even if you are from Scotland, you work in the United States. Specifically, you work at Lake Forest Hospital, 660 North Westmoreland Road, Lake Forest, Illinois, 60045. Which means that you accessed this blog from work. I’m sure your boss would be thrilled that you are surfing the Web on company time and making the effort to leave comments on blogs you don’t even like.

      I welcome you back to my blog anytime, “Someone from Scotland,” but have some manners and be constructive with your critiques, that’s all I ask.

  2. leslie 8 September 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    Way to go!!! What I want to know is why “Someone” feels the need to blast a writer that he/she supposedly doesn’t even know when a much “bigger” person would have just ignored a blog/comment that didn’t have direct consequences on his/her life. By the way, I LIKE your philosophical bent……and thanks for the photos.

Inveigh against me.

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