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essays | places
the tradition of ambition
Hahoe / South Korea · 2016 Eun-Jin
I stopped in South Korea to meet a friend from the old life, my first life, and to make inroads into her country and dissect it from the inside. In the end, I learned more about her character’s chromosomes than her culture’s core. Of course, that’s even better. The information contained in one tangible person is much fleshier than the DNA holding together a country. There’s hardly anything existential you can’t learn from a person.
lines CANDY | World, give us candy, give us city, shower our aspirations of more with more aspirations, let us play a little longer, hide and seek in the dark, our shadows ripping the night’s wrapper wide open.
passages LIFESAVER | A lifesaver. Keeping people afloat. Never letting you down, let alone letting you drown. Always there for you. Loyal, no questions asked. A lightweight, but robust. A true helper and a giver, taking in the punches of your desperately flailing arms, taking care of the ones in need without patronizing. A hero. One of the best people I know.
passages FROZEN WATER UNDER THE BRDGE | What if the water under the bridge was frozen? Would it change anything? Would it change you? Would you change anything? Would your choice become easier or more difficult with more time at hand? And would it matter at all if you were looking the other way? Would you prefer to keep going with the flow?
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 heavy air
Hahoe / South Korea · 2016 sweet nostalgia
places / stories
Seoul / Friends in Places
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 public bucket list
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 crooked geometry
Five years, long and fat years at that, stuffed with a bold filling of distinguishable days, some sweet, some sweeter, some sour, and some nuclear waste. And yet you couldn’t have squeezed five minutes between the tight friends we were. But you can touch what time can’t, and I know I’ve squeezed her soft soul a little too hard at times even though it never made a sound.
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 temple and tower
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 OLED sky
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 counting lights
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 holes in the dark
Her two roommates welcomed me as one of them and I even got my own room. I would have settled for a piece of that immaculate, heated floor gladly. They also spoiled me with an intergalactic internet connection, so fast that it made my eyes spin. The first night we went to an all-you-can-eat buffet, and it felt like we ate the entire Korean cuisine, but over the next days I realized that we had hardly made a dent. Everything was as good as food gets, but I guess the seaweed is an acquired taste. They’d just sprinkle a few tiny blades on top of everything, but it was so overpowering, it felt like a ten-foot piece of kelp in your mouth.
Over the next days, we had tea in teahouses, and art, and culture. The city was made from glass and wood, ambition and tradition chasing each other. They were hard workers these South Koreans, and in some parts, you could see the kind of poverty they’d lifted themselves out of during long hours and with a work ethic that seemed like a Japanese-German hybrid.
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 dinner gifts
Seoul / South Korea · 2016 the old, the new
When I left, I got some chocolates and cute toothbrush holders for her roommates. Seemed like a decent little thank you at the time. Until one of them gave me a tripod. A full-on, proper, professional tripod. Lacking a mutual language except for cigarettes, all our conversations had been reduced to something like “work, today, good?” and smoke clouds that we uttered into the wintry air. Now I knew even less what to say.
Daegu / Putting Melons to Sleep
Daegu / South Korea · 2016 218
We also visited her parents in Daegu. They had a melon farm outside the city, or maybe the farm had them. If Jin worked her ass off at Siemens in Seoul, they worked their souls off with both hands in the dirt. We went with them one day and my favorite part was putting the melons to sleep at night, tucking them in with heavy blankets. Nothing favorite about it, to be sure, if you do it every day. Back at the high-rise apartment, more food and a sister – Ajin. She was excited about the wedding but worried about her fiancée’s supernatural snores. Simple delicacies littered the entire table. Spicy chicken feet and such.
Daegu / South Korea · 2016 twins & twins
Daegu / South Korea · 2016 down down
Daegu / South Korea · 2016 mono-caterpillar
Daegu / South Korea · 2016 original symbolism
Daegu / South Korea · 2016 West-ish
To wrap it all up, we embarked on a little day trip to some folk village a couple of hours north. Actual people lived actual lives in it. A zoo with humans, from humans for humans. Another thing or two learned.
Himalayas / Hiking Alone, Astray & Everestless
when you set out to see Everest, but Everest doesn’t care
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