Showing signs of life

Showing signs of life IMG_20160913_130051EDIT_zpsalstgrwe.jpg

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Urbane, and rather dusty

Urbane and dusty 1.jpgI began a walk not planning to go to any particular area. All I knew was, that I didn’t want to go to the river again. Been there once and once was enough. So, the general idea for me was to keep it local. As it transpired, it was very local. The net result was that I managed to walk around a huge apartment under construction. I don’t what it’s name will be, but it’s got it’s phone number on it, and they’re all eights. So, for future reference, apartment ‘8’ it is.

Man crosses bridget.jpgThe first stop was what I call, the bridge. It’s essentially the gateway to the marketplace where you can buy anything related to food. Live chickens, vegetables of all kinds, milk, (soy and cow) and meat that’s already been rendered. A tip I’ve learned is that meat bought from the market place doesn’t last that long and it can’t be stored without subsequent spoilage even if has been refrigerated.

Continuing along the urban landscape, I turned left, away from the river that runs through area and into not quite suburbia in a Western sense but, a city scape in a Chinese sense. Shops at the street level with city dwellings on the higher floors. With urban development also comes urban decay.

Further along my trek, I looked overhead to see how people lived. It’s interesting to see how people decorate or use the space they’re given. In this case, a barred window box.

But, with urban sprawl comes shops, and endless fascination with of all things, fruit. and even smartphones I suspect.At the fruit shop.jpgWith city dwelling, comes societal factors of money and jobs. Frequently, you”ll see groups of middle-aged men just sitting around. Odd-job men I’ve been told. They can be contracted out for pittance at a time.ODDJOB.jpgODDJOB

In walking around I find that older buildings are more photographic. It’s like they have acquired a persona just by virtue of being lived in. The clothes, the dirt they accumulate and the disrepair they have gives them all character.

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Finally, in a repeat reference, street barbers seem to be everywhere,while air-raid shelters, common and discrete.
Underground car park.jpg

Namdae mun, history rising again


After being burnt down in a fire started by some madman in 2008. Namdaemun, after a time, is rising again. Seen from an opening in the side, the base sits renewed albeit with spot markings on their ends. Presummably to aid their proper placement. Logs sit to one side waiting to be used in the reconstruction. Can’t wait to photograph the reconstructed gate.

There’s no snow like new snow

In the background, "Unwanted, unlived, unloved"

It’s always a bit of a thrill to see the first snow of Winter to fall. As I’ve always said, the whiteness of of the blanketing snow hides all that is dirty and ugly.

Big white powder snow falling like so much feather dander from the sky. A huge distraction, pretty to look at, but given a week of it, it becomes a slippery peril to walk on.

Demolitions and erections, life and death of a building

Things often happen very fast in in Korean. Given Koreas ‘go-fast’ culture, everything from buses to trains to taxis. Even the demolitions of buildings in Korea goes fast, if not dangerously fast.

Knocking down a building (especially a single story building) can be done in one day. To do this, they must cut alot of corners to achieve this. Maybe they don’t worry about asbestos as much as the rest of the world.

To have seen a building there when I left early in the morning and to have come back to where it was only to find nothing more than a muddy crater leads to a number of responses. Curiosity and relief.  Or elation. This muddy crater was a house/ super owned by a woman who was just old and difficult.

But this slideshow features the progress of the construction of a 3 storey building. They don’t seem to build them as fast as they knock them down.

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One Bhuddist rite that I did witness was upon demolition, a ceremony to satisfy the ancestors and spirits that had dwelt in the building. Respect, a pigs head and alcohol spread about the place to appease the soon-to-be evicted spirits.

Pigs dream of money, good fortune to the new building

As explained to me, Go sa (고사) is a ritual to the ancestors pertaining to luck and good fortune. The ritual also involves a pig’s head too, which is a Buddhist rite. Compare this to Chae sa (체사), which is a prayer to your ancestors during Chuseok (추석).

In the case of a building being demolished, Go sa is performed in the hope that the effigy (the pig’s head) will bestow good fotune and happiness to the new building after being  treated to food, alcohol and, apparently every pigs dream,  money. In return, the pig will bestow good fortune (운수) and happiness (복).

It was the first time I’d taken pictures of Go-sa. Taken in Guro digital, an older part of Seoul, the people there are probably a bit more superstitious. The house that was demolished is now a multi-storey appartment building.

Unwanted, unlived, unloved.

The empty buildings, stood incomplete. I think that whom ever contracted the these buildings ran out of money, for whatever reason. These buildings, almost have a soul to them. The empty windows seemed like eyes agape, gazing on forever. The emptiness of this, and the site lends to a feeling of ghosts.

When I went up the tallest building, I was expecting to see someone just on the next floor. Someone had had an inpromptu party on the ground floor of another, empty building. But aisde from that, there were no other signs of occupancy.

A bigger picture.