London in Seoul

Union jacks and royal crests are in every clothing shop in Korea. At first I thought this was appreciation for a good design that happens to share colours with Korea’s own flag – itself a rather busy creation. The union jack is brilliantly put together: 3 crosses melded together in fetching red white and blue. It’s more sophisticated than the stars and stripes’ awkward symbolism, which has elements layered in an appropriately direct utilitarianism. And it works much better than The Netherlands, France and all those other stripey nations.

SKOR0001 NETH0001 FRAN0001 UNST0001 UNKG0001
From a design perspective, the winner is clear. Only from a design perspective – I remain an anti-nationalist.

However, I’ve since discovered that Koreans’ fascination with England is more than aesthetic. London itself has been successfully marketed as cool. I saw British pastiche across Russia, but that was Camden Market tat mashed together in restaurants. Koreans have done their research and found London neighbourhoods to emulate. Here’s Brick Lane, a lovely two-storey bar with Smithwicks on tap, only marred by smokers and roar of Seoul’s ubiquitous traffic.


Two Notting Hills:
IMG_1577 IMG_1765

Neal’s Yard in Itaewon, which doesn’t have quaint vegetarian restaurants like the original but serves a good fruit-waffle:


I used to live north of Dalston! This one is considerably less gritty:IMG_2575

A British institution:

I still have yet to hang out here, but I’m glad it exists:IMG_1576

And finally, if you’ve run out of neighbourhoods to cite, you can always reference the city:IMG_2088

There’s a Hackney coffee bar near my house, and no doubt dozens of others spread across this vast metropolis. It makes me happy to come across little reminders of the city I love so much.


3 thoughts on “London in Seoul

  1. I hope to travel to Asia one day…a sort of homecoming. National flags as brands, who would have thought it? Good insights, sir.

    • Thanks Jeff! You should totally travel to Asia. And the good/bad thing about capitalism and nationalism is that they’re everywhere, so they’re endlessly fascinating to study, if not to experience first-hand 🙂

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