Korean street furniture and mental signposts

To continue with yesterday’s photo essay, but less thematically coherent.

Industrial symmetry:

It’s just a hill buttress, but it looks like a fortification:

Passion 5 Bakery

I’d seen this building from afar, because it lights up with criss-crossed neon blue lines after dark. Here’s its 5-storey atrium, with a 4-storey high iron chandelier.

Inside, three floors are open to the public and each have different restaurants and bakeries. The basement looks like a 1960s hotel lobby, all lavender-pink tableclothes and white curtains. The first floor opens onto a cheese shop – that imported Camembert is about $7, which isn’t bad, and the selection is rare for Korea.

I would’ve bought some but I was too entranced by the spectacle. Look at this cake-rack, for example:

I got to an adjacent jam boutique and took a picture before being told cameras weren’t allowed. It’s a good thing the clerk warned me because I would’ve kept going otherwise. These are $11 jams, which prevented me from purchasing ‘Cassis and Cranberry’ and similar confections.

Unfortunately I can’t report back on the pastry quality, as I needed an internet connection and the cafe didn’t have one. This is also rare for Korea, but people came there to eat cake and take pictures of themselves with their smartphones, not to do work.

Here’s a big cafe in Hongdae (student/artist area) where people can do work, 24 hours a day. Those are burning braziers, which gave the cafe an apocalyptic feel:

Lest I give the impression that Seoul is full of cafes and imported cheese, here’s a picture of a stoop-backed old woman. Sorry for the fuzziness, I was, uh, at an exclusive bakery eating cake for the afternoon and shot this at a zoom outside the window. The elderly in Korea have a minimal safety net, earning $180 a month. Old men and women scour the neighbourhoods towards sunset – and sometimes earlier, as the photo demonstrates – looking for recyclable materials like cardboard, which they pile onto carts and bicycles.

What do you think this button is for?

If you said ‘Make the walk signal come on’ you’d be wrong. For weeks I’d stand waiting for a light to change and wonder why no one pressed the button to speed things up. I would press it, and a little voice would come from somewhere telling me something. But that’s not surprising, even the rice cookers talk to you here. It was only later that I found out that the buttons are for the blind: they don’t make the lights change faster, they turn on a voice. How the blind are supposed to find them, I’m not sure; they’re not always in the same position relative to the walk. And I’ve never actually seen a blind person use one. But A for effort, I guess.

The worst the subway gets. I forget which station this is, but this is positively the most disrepair I’ve seen Seoul’s subway in. It’s only in this hallway.

On the topic of the subway, let’s revisit an earlier photo:

6 weeks after I took this photo, this girl is still practicing yoga on most of Line 6. She’s replayed, in staggered succession, on every monitor. After the knee-bend she attempts a single-legged stand and stumbles. She laughs at her own ineptitude. If this seems like an inconsequential detail, it is, but not if you have to hear her echoed up and down the entire platform like a cackling machine, every day.

Just art:

From the UFF cafe, presumably this is the UFF. It stands in smaller iterations, in different colours, inside next to the cash register. There’s a wall of boxes that, judging by their label, look like they’re filled with different colour UFFs, but sadly it’s not for sale.

Neither the mama nor the menu are Korean. Yet there she sits, waiting for customers to park their scooters.

I can make cute cartoon characters too. Well, inadvertently:


2 thoughts on “Korean street furniture and mental signposts

  1. Most “blind” people aren’t completely blind, but simply have varying levels of visual impairment. The bright yellow button would be enough of a contrast for most visually impaired people to spot.

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