Showing posts from December, 2007
The NYTimes has this interesting article about New Songdo City, being built on a landfill island off of Incheon. It sounds like it could really be something and is sidestepping the usual utilitarian flair-free modern Korean development. Or it could be a globalized island sized mall insta-city ideal for multinationals to use in sidestepping the constraints of full Korean sovereignty in pursuit of Mammon. Or something in between... Could extraterritorial rights for foreigners be far behind?

"New Songdo will cost an estimated $30 billion to build, atop the $10 billion that the city of Incheon and the Korean government are spending on infrastructure projects. Every six months, $1 billion in construction is scheduled to begin. Morgan Stanley Real Estate is investing $350 million, and in November, Gale lined up $2.7 billion in financing led by Shinhan Bank....

The South Korean government has designated the area as a free economic zone, a bilingual city (Korean and English) where forei…
Korea uses 220 volt plugs. It isn't a big deal since nowadays many things like computers have little transponders or whatever they are that can be used with 110 or 220. It means that you just need a cheap little adaptor for most things to work.

The weird thing is that these plugs fall out of the wall with the slightest movement. If you touch one they sizzle and then fall out. The whole systems seems bizarrely cheap and maybe even dangerous (the sizzle is kind of freaky), especially considering that Korea is an electronics powerhouse. They should get this stuff, or so you would think.

(Now, there are some style of plugs that have big rubber gaskets that lock into the outlets, I will admit). But plugs still tend to fall out.

In America, surge protectors have become almost fetishistic if not actually pornographic. They are equivalent to Hummers. American crave crazily overbuilt things, it is a universal truth. The surge protectors, with all manner of technical ratings in joules…

that old duststorm

and here I thought it was just kind of smoggy

INSIDE JoongAng Daily: "Besides the snow and cold, another unexpected and uninvited weather guest visited the country over the weekend.
A huge yellow dust storm formed in Seoul and the neighboring central provinces on Saturday, recording a level of 400 to 600 parts per million. It was the first time since 2001 that a yellow dust storm had reached the peninsula in December."

JeongMee Yoon's Blue & Pink Projects -- Daddy Types

Somebody linked to this in the comments on Nunal after my discussion of the complexities of the color pink over here. In case you missed it it is worth looking it:

JeongMee Yoon's Blue & Pink Projects -- Daddy Types

Somewhere along the way, South Korean photographer JeongMee Yoon noticed that her 8-year-old daughter refused to play with or wear anything that wasn't pink [ya think?!], and so she began the Pink Project and the Blue Project, in which little kids are photographed in the midst of all their gender-coded stuff. Pink and blue are equally overwhelming in both cultures where Yoon shot, the US and Korea.
The warm weather of most of last week turned very cold as the weekend approached. What better way to spend a grey, windy, cold day than to tour a former Japanese prison camp?

This is Seodaemun Prison, which is in our neighborhood although hard to get to easily for us because there is a mountain between us and it.

The prison is behind the Dongnimmun gate, the Independence Gate, and it is now currently imbedded in a large, heavily used park. Actually, it was heavily used back when I walked through here in August, when it was hot. Nobody was in it when we were there, they had too much sense. It was freezing and the wind was quite strong.

The mountains are quite steep right there. This is looking to the east across the street from the park. Note the two churches and how close everything is built to the mountain. And the typical Seoul apartment building style (which is to say: quasi-Soviet)

We have to go back some time because we intended to hike the mountains behind the prison where …
Here are a few things that amused me.

The Merry Crristmas/Happy New Year sign with large Jewish star.

and then this sign I saw on a car today was interesting.

This is self explanatory. Though I haven't tried this restaurant, it is something I try to do everyday.

I may have to fly to Asia every year at Christmas time. It is definitely the place to escape the holiday.

As I have written here, it seemed to me that Christmas had permeated everything because of lights, signs, nutcrackers, carols, and even gas station attendents wearing Santa hats. Turns out that all amounted to a whole lot of nothing. Thankfully.

Christmas here seems just to have been appropriated exclusively for commercial purposes. The iconography is there, but only I think to trigger (or perhaps to create) a Pavlovian consumerist response. Almost everything was open on Christmas, fruit sellers, auto repair shops, dry cleaners, liquor stores, supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants. All of the important things in life. Plus it was a warm day, perfect day to be outside.

Usually on Christmas I like to go to the movies. But the only think I wanted to see was the post-apocalyptic film I am Legend, and hell, I bought that on DVD form a street vendor before it was even in the thea…

the ongoing eyeball

Here are a bunch of scenes from the past few days.

With the semester done, and the weather warm, we have been exploring various corners of the city we haven't been.

We spent an afternoon walking around Yeohuido island, which is often compared to Manhattan by people here since it is the central financial center of Seoul. It is also a government center since the National Assembly is there. The architecture on the island is different from the rest of Seoul, more modern in most cases and western looking.

We have to be careful to pronounce our neighborhood carefully (Yeonhui-dong) or a cab will bring us to Yeohuido. The "n" is crucial if you want to get home.

Yeohuido also has the tallest building in Seoul, which is called the 63 Building. It is, yes, 63 stories tall. I have heard that it was limited to that height because of something related to the military academy, but I can't remember the exact story.

It is a very striking building, especially considering how much i…