This month, I’ve been sharing my Korea, as inspired by your comments and suggestions. In this third installment, I focus on everyday life. The words most commonly submitted were future, music, fresh air, passionate, passive, fast, and slow. As you can see, the words provided covered a wide array of lifestyles.
When I think of Korea, it’s a nation of many different facets. What struck me as most relevant in the words submitted was the pairing of fast and slow. For this video, I used a very slow choral performance of Arirang by the United States Marine Corps. It’s slow pace offered the perfect contrast to the busy life I often see in Seoul. The opening shot is just that.
Taken from high above in Gangnam, this tilt shift scene is what Seoul is like for many. The scene really captures the hustle and bustle of one of Korea’s most famous districts. Those in large cities can relate. In full disclosure, if there is one street in Korea I’ve walked the most, it’s this one. A week has not gone by since 2008, that I have not set foot on Gangnam-daero.
Keeping the speed theme, we see one of the nation’s many express trains blowing through a station. In this case, it’s a humble reference to Seoul Metro’s Line 1. One of the longest lines in service, it not only allows commuters to get into Seoul, but also speeds them home at the end of a workday. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve ridden this line late at night when it’s packed wall to wall. Like Gangnam-daero, this subway line is my number one, most traveled.
The next scene is one anyone who has been to Korea can relate to – the delivery cycle. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the road, sidewalk, or IN the market. These motorbikes are everywhere and their drivers are masters in maneuvering in tight quarters. This particular shot was at a local market in northern Seoul. While shopping, this deliveryman cruised through the aisle on his way for another pickup.
Baduk is the most popular game in Korea. Sure, these days mobile gaming is more than a $100 billion industry and on television you can bare witness to intense Starcraft matches; however, a trip to any local park year round will find men gathering together and playing this classic game. Like Starcraft, it also enjoys intense play-by-play action on television. Of all the games I’ve learned in Korea, nothing has more relevance in how to live one’s life more than Baduk.
When people ask me what I found surprising when I first came to Korea, it was the sheer number of parks and open spaces in Seoul. While Seoul is certainly an urban jungle, it’s common to find several parks sprinkled among its buildings, especially the towering apartment complexes. This particular scene was filmed in Busan’s Yongdusan Park. It overlooks the city and is just a great place to get together and enjoy nature and family. The video then transitions to Jagalchi Market, one of my favorite markets in Korea that has stood the test of time, even in this modern age.
The final scene depicts the reality of living on a divided peninsula. The bus slowly drives through Panmunjom and we seen South and North Korean soldiers standing at their posts. Seeing these men facing off against one another is surreal and sends chills down one’s spine.