The Seoul I come to visit is different every time. Alleys that were once familiar evolve unrecognizably or erode away completely, giving away to the currents of development and progress. The skyline is always shifting... usually reaching higher and higher into the heavens as more of the old houses surrender to highrise apartment complexes. My parents recently moved into one of these new apartment villages but on our regular walks around the neighborhood I'm surprised to find that much of the old Seoul still lingers... a discovery that is both comforting and heartbreaking.
There is a part of me that hopes that the tangle of alleyways and ramshackle hanok homes haphazardly built on top of each other will never disappear... it is the Seoul of my parents' childhood stories and to an extent is the Seoul of my bittersweet high school memories. But deep down, I know that their days are numbered... and that's not necessarily a bad thing. These parts of town remind me a lot of Kenya... old tires piled on top of corrugated tin roofs, propane gas tanks for cooking, even outhouses... all in the same city that boasts TV screens in public bathroom stalls, talking home appliances, and wifi access on every subway line. I suppose such is the way of the future... everything changes with time and it's certainly not realistic to expect that these neighborhoods will stay this way just to preserve my romantic notions of Seoul.
That said, I'm all the more appreciative to have a husband like T. Oinge is in many ways is a two person operation. He is my design consultant, personal IT expert, and most importantly, photographer extraordinaire. I've learned a lot from him about how to take better pictures myself but this blog wouldn't look anything like it does without him. It was T who thought to take his camera on our walks and was therefore able to catch these seeming mundane moments turned into the sweetest life memories.