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Seoul

June 16, 2011
tags: ,

If you must know – I approached my first trip to Seoul with trepidation.

We don’t know that much, as Westerners, about Seoul.  We think of Korea as being slightly backward – yet this is one of the world’s larger economies, crammed into a republic the size of Indiana.

They’ve lousy weather, overall – which means to grow their food, they has to start it out in greenhouses.

They grow most of their own.  Something about starving not that long ago does that to a people.

This is a country as a city-state.  The nerve center, the everything that is Korea resides in Seoul.  It’s hard to describe the sheer mass of the metropolis – a place which has grown from modest beginnings a few years ago into one of the world’s great cities.  An old building here is one built in the 70’s.

Living cheek by jowl in Key West?  Man, we got it good.   We have at least three feet between houses – that’s three feet more than most Koreans!

Koreans have a hive culture – that is to say they live in large apartment complexes, or hives.  There can be 30 such buildings in a single complex, like the group dominating the skyline across the river. Thousands of people call that…home.

In what I see as a delicious dichotomy, Koreans love mountains and open spaces.  Seoul is built in, around and under mountains, the most central being Namsan.

Hiking clubs are ubiquitous here; Namsan even has a path for the blind.  Yes – you can be a blind hiker and find your way to the top of what’s known as the Lungs of Seoul. Perched atop Namsan is Seoul Tower – a local landmark fit for another post.

Koreans – and Seoul – are not without whimsy.

The giant 25 foot tall spider sits atop Leeum, the modern art museum founded by the owners of Samsung.

The city works in and around the natural environment.

Much better, methinks, than razing a site to build a developer’s dream.

The place has scooters and motorcyclists galore – much of the city’s commerce is delivered by scooter.

A working mans bike displaces between 110 and 125cc, has four or five forward gears, and is often seen carrying more stuff than what a soccer mom considers a full SUV load.  And no – they’re never washed.

Me?  I’m partial to a retro motorcycle Honda made for a few years last decade – the spitting image of the first bike I learned to ride.

This example is called a Benly 125 – but the one I knew was the Honda S-90.  I rode the wheels off that little bike – over 3000 miles of roughshod riding on a bike that never once complained.  Soichiro Honda knew his craft – and if I could figure a way to bundle one of these up and ship it to Guam – I would.

Korea surprised me.  I thought I’d hate it, but there was more to like and much to admire.  It’s worthy of a few more posts.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2011 9:14 pm

    fascinating. apparnetly they make a nice car too.

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      June 17, 2011 12:48 am

      I don’t know how you post from this IPod thingie. It’s driving me nuts.

      As for the cars, they are in process of being on of the top 3 automakers.

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