Tag Archives: pictures

Market Days

10 Nov
Back alley

Back-alley, ramshackle, dirty Korea: the Korea that keeps you here.




Deserted Sunday.



Shady dealers?



"Doosan Electronics"


taeguk artist

Taeguk sketch-artiste



Makkeolli and jokbal = content old men.





Gwangjang Shijang




classic faces

Classic faces.


Soondae (blood noodle sausage) and jokbal (pig's feet) for everyone.

Dirty Korea.  It’s homemade, crowded, a little shabby and worn around the edges, but still going strong, feeding hearts and bellies.


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.