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