I considered writing the past few days chronologically, but that would devolve into interminable detail. I think photos do the job better, and perhaps I’ll get to describing all the people I’ve met later.
First, the subway system. It’s immense, clean and well-organized. The subway cars have videos showing how to behave: don’t rush the doors, don’t run up or down the escalators, don’t unfold your newspaper, don’t talk too loudly on your cell phone. There’s even a comic telling parents to keep their children quiet. Here’s a nice, minor touch – stand to the right, walk to the left:
A giant hand sanitizer machine:
In case of fear of the dark, break glass:
As promised, two photos of the local market, the ‘2002 World Cup Market’. This is one wing:
And here are some side dishes:
Why it’s hard to be a vegetarian in Seoul:
Many restaurants have cute, cartoon animal logos, which means that they butcher that particular animal for you.
Here’s Jeongbalsan, on the way to Ilsan, a ‘planned city’ built in the 1990s and still growing. The government wanted to relieve pressure on density, rents and traffic in Seoul. Despite the wide-angle shot, this is a small portion of the horizon. Those aren’t hills in the distance, they’re more blocks of flats:
At first the government just built apartment blocks, but residents unsurprisingly weren’t very happy. This is downtown, consisting of four-storey malls with restaurants and shops:
I’ve never been in a suburb that was denser than a downtown. This felt like purgatory. It’s a wealthy area, quite popular with the middle classes who aspire to apartment living.
Dongdaemun Culture and History Park. In 2007 they knocked down a huge stadium complex and discovered the remains of an original, 600 year old fortress – these are the foundations. Seoul has no old buildings, since they were all wiped out in the civil war 60 years ago. The government is keen to re-establish a sense of history, in the midst of breathtaking growth:
Around the corner, an exhibit on Le Petit Prince. He looks like he’s out for prison-yard exercise:
The museum of the stadium, which was built by the Japanese during their occupation of the Korean peninsula. Finally, an honest assessment of the use of sport:
Someone’s been reading poetry. I’m not sure what the third-rate movie theatres have to do with the stadium, but it helps establish mood:
A 40 foot high advertisement on a nearby wall:
Someone took the “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” slogan and found a thesaurus. I know I could get a job fixing this sort of thing.
A few streets away, a couple of blacksmiths:
The iron is a lot more rust-brown than the photo makes out. In the shop next to this one were a couple of men sitting around, and then further in, darkness lit by flames from an open forge.