Sunday, March 11, 2007


It can be amazing what you can see walking down the streets of Korea from day to day. I'm always a bit surprised by the life here. Everything is so fast, so quick, movement doesn't cease. You become acclimated or you get left behind. In most instances you do not want to get left behind. I was gone for only a few weeks and in that short time the landscape changes, there are things I had not seen, events I was unprepared for, new people coming, new people going. There was a building on my way to work that sold Jim-Kal-Bi (a steamed beef stew arrangement). I walked to work on Friday and it was pumping out sweet smelling smoke. On Monday it was gone.

This is how it happens. One moment it is standing there a testament to time. Unchanging, unmoving, unwilling to be upended and turned away. It is as solid and predictable as the rising sun. It knows what it's place is. This is its place, this corner, this now, this spot that has been claimed. Here it will remain. And then a few days later this is nothing left. Massive upheaval, trauma, destruction occurs. The building is torn away, plucked up by it's very roots. It' leaves nothing but tilled earth and chaos, not a pipe mars the ground. It has been destroyed and it is left as nothing.

This nothingness fills the void where once something strong and solid lived. Black, engulfing emptiness. It cannot be filled by anything. It seems to make as much of a claim of ownership on the territory as the building once did. It is blankness and will remain so, unmovable, unending, black welling blankness.

I walk by the buildings rage spilled out on the street, the anger, pain, at depth and collapse. I notice it, I feel for it. Koreans pass by left and right and fail to see the torment that this destruction has wrought. The feral cats run by and pick at the bits and pieces of mice holes scattered about. The hajumas' dogs released from their homes for the morning run come and shit on this place that was once so pure. I see it, but otherwise it is not seen.

And then it begins to happen. Where there is nothing suddenly you see foundation marked out. It takes only a day and the well of nothing begins to take shape. It is not a joyous building, not a happy recreation, but merely the shaping of a thing that once was. There are the memories of that old building painted on this foundation surface. A pleasanter time, perhaps, or perhaps what can be seen is merely the remembrance of destruction being constructed into something new.

Days pass and more foundation. Steel pipes are shoved into the earth and brick and mortar start to be passed about. Large shovels come in and dig up trees that have shared this earth longer then the buildings. Destruction and creation occupy the same space. Fires are lit and burn through the night and where once was the sweet smell of sustenance is now only black oily tar drifting left and right. I walk, the building grows.

Koreans work fast. Gangs of men come together and push, pull, prod, shape the square patch that once existed. It grows and it grows. It becomes something new with hints of that old dedication to it's service industries. Shiny offices will occupy the top levels, while the Jim-Kal-bi will be cooked again on the first floor down below. A sameness and yet not so. For all the shiny exterior it has been forever changed by the dissolution of original being. It is the same and not so.

I walk by and the building is renewed. In a few more weeks it will be once again and whole and functioning place. The families with gather and feast below while the tax accounts rush to complete their work and sleep at their desks above. It moves on, life moves on, all things continue. The building stands with a sense of relief, but something more. A quivering knowing that any day could hold a new wrecking ball to tear up all those moorings once again. I don't know if that makes me happy or sad.

1 comment:

BillyWarhol said...

seriously yer an awesome writer*

i have the attention span of a gnat & i was compelled to read yer words*

yer a wise soul*

must be that Buddha in ya*


Ennui - Hall + Otes*