Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Markets and New Jobs

Much though the principal tried to land me a newer, somewhat larger apartment, in the end it was not going to come to pass. I found out after the second week of school that I might as well look for my own apartment, because the one at the dorm was simply not going to materialize for a couple of months. While I’m sure I could live like this for a couple of months, I don’t really want to so it was off to apartment hunt in Korea. Ah, but yes, in the middle of all this I had actually begun my new classes.

At present my working hours are 9:00 am to 12:30 p.m. and while long and grueling as these hours may be I am finding it difficult to think of what to do with myself with all that free time. Of course, Korea is a land that seems to have acquired some sort of special black hole designed to do nothing but take time and make it disappear so effectively that you cannot even recall what it is you were doing so you can write about it in your silly little e-journal. As it is, I have absolutely no idea what I have been doing in my spare time aside from taking cabs back and forth between here and the dorm.
Being back in Daegu provides a number of opportunities, but alas one of my favorite pastimes, shopping at Seomon market for fabric is currently on hold because the textile part of the market caught on fire. How it happens is still a little sketchy but essentially there was a fire on the first floor in a bedding shop. The shops in the market are more like kiaosks that are just set up at random all over the place. They are packed in very close together so that there is less then a two foot wide isle between stalls that run up and down closing in and taking up all the space. It can make shopping a little claustrophobic and occasionally it is.

The building where this particular bedding store was housed a number of different textile related shops. On the first floor was bedding, clothing, house wares and other things. The second floor contained undergarments, more bedding and various odd end clothing, socks, and etc. The third floor was my second home in Daegu. Wall to wall fabric shops with fabric from all over the world at reasonable prices all ready for me to come and buy it and make it into clothing. I knew many of the retailers in the stall if not by name then by site and there were many that knew me as a good repeat customer. Unfortunately, the fire that started on the first floor of the market was only mostly put out. As anyone who has ever experience a burning mattress might know, you can never really be sure if you got it all out unless you completely douse it, and I don’t think it was done properly. Neither do many of the retailers. The fire stewed for three days before finally become a huge blaze that took out the building and took three days to put out completely.

When the Boy and I did go to the market to find out what building exactly had burned down, because I was very hopeful it would not be the fabric market, we instead ran into a large collection of people standing and staring alas at the building that had gone up in flames. Among the crowd I saw a few familiar faces, but was suddenly pulled out of the crowd by a woman named Ji-hey who was a favorite retailer. She liked me because I spoke English and gave her and excuse to practice. Plus she is learning Chinese, she wants to be an ambassador someday. I was glad to see that she was safe and well.

Unfortunately she was out of business and looked like she was about to burst into tears. She owned four different shops in the building that had burned down and had no insurance at all for any of them. She explained that the large gathering of people were various retailers and buyers who were protesting against the police and fire department and demanding that they be given space in the parking garage to start up business again until a new building could be constructed.

We hung out for a bit, but didn’t really feel like either the Boy or I belonged so the two of us moved on, although I would have happily protested with the retailers. I understand just how important the textile market is for business in Daegu. Daegu, of course is considered the fashion capitol of Korea. Many women and men come to go to the fashion designed schools here, they have textile expos several times a year, not to mention runway shows and other kinds of presentations. On top of that there are any number of little clothing retailers and boutiques that get all their fabric from the market for the high end clothing they make. So needless to say, the loss of that particular building has effected a number of lives.

Fortunately for everyone the city has relented and agreed to let the retailers have two floors of the parking garage. This is good because it means that the retailers will be able to sell, but bad because the buyers will have no place to park. While there is some parking I’ve been to the market when it is busy. Often enough to know that there is usually a line to get into the parking garage, so the loss of two floors will make life a little difficult for everyone, and traffic on that end of town particularly hairy. However, it is the best way to go so I am hopeful that it will work out best for everyone involved.

The upcoming apartment renting adventure soon, stay tuned...

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