All Eyes on the Quiet Metropolis


Side street in Gangnam.

Side street in Gangnam.

Four months have evaporated into the aether of time. I count off the months not in days or weeks but what, to the senses, are merely flashing moments of surrealism. How long have I lived on the other side of the world? Seconds? Weeks? Months? Really?

Yesterdays are collecting like old clothes in the attic. A rising mountain of photographs sit on the hard drive of my computer. Organizing them is an almost insurmountable task. I could not make the assertion that every moments has been shits and giggles, but every moment by and large has been something different and something new. Which is precisely what I needed so desperately only months ago. Though I love my home city of Halifax, I had been with her foggy waterfront and oak-lines streets for so long that, like anything familiar, had became somewhat tedious.

Street art in Gangnam.

Street art in Gangnam.

Seoul is a strange place, difficult to pinpoint, more impossible to fully understand. It is not the most beautiful city I have ever seen; that honour better lies with other giants like Prague or Edinburgh. Nonetheless it has many intriguing corridors and vantage points that supersede description. It is not the cleanest, and by far does not have the nicest weather. But of all the urban landscapes in which I have stood it is by far the safest, friendliest and most strange.

White Man Reading

The G20 summit begins tomorrow. Politics aside, the eyes of the world will briefly flicker toward this unique metropolis while the leaders of empires have photos taken and shake hands. Whatever is accomplished, it will, for Seoul, be a moment in the sun. As in the 1988 Olympic Summer Games or the 2002 World Cup of Soccer, Seoul will have a moment to be seen, for better or for worse.

Gyeongbokgung Sculpture, Central Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Sculpture, Central Seoul

When the dust settles on my own prolonged adventure, I will have been able to at least say that I had at one time called it home. There are moments in which I struggle with this term, still being somewhat marginalized by limited Korean language skills and having little history in common with other Seoulites. Yesterday, I completed the 2010 Korean Census, and among Seoul’s residents I have been counted. For now, I lay my head here, no matter how baffling or exhausting the day may have been.

Leave a Reply