Traveling Home, Seoul






Traveling Home, Seoul

 

If you change your view a little bit through travel, the scenery and places that you have already come across throughout your life, become just a picture in your mind. For me, that place was Seoul in which I had been living for 30 years. As the capital city of South Korea, Seoul is a huge metropolis where a population of ten million people live on a land that spans about 600㎢. It can be a complicated place where there is a high population density, high buildings, high prices, and “high” technology.

Even though you live in one city for a few decades, you cannot go everywhere in the city all the time. We usually end up at the same places and ‘live’ inside them.

The place that you saw and took a picture of in your mind does not inspire you at your second visit. On your third visit, it becomes boring. However, the moment you take your camera and some light shoes and leave home with the mindset that you are just traveling, you get to see the scenery in a whole new light.

 

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Scenery looks different according to the light. If you heartily take pictures of the various sceneries, that heart can also be felt from those pictures. Some old place can be taken an entirely new light.

 

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Every city has fancy main streets and back alleys. That contrast makes the city attractive. The tall, high-rise buildings of Seoul, built within a few decades, are shiny and show off the city’s potential of developing at enormous speed. However, the scenery made by older buildings at the back side of Seoul is actually more attractive.

 

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The signboards of many buildings in Seoul don’t look well-organized. It normally looked frantic but as it is photographed, it looks quite aesthetic to the camera.

This travelogue will, therefore, talk about ‘viewpoint’.

The places that I believed that I knew, very much could be, in fact, completely different places. This happens when my mind changes. As I take a walk, I stop on the street looking down at the ground I just walked over. At that moment I look up and discover the flank of the city like fish bones, and I naturally press the camera shot button.

 

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Spectacular lights can be seen everywhere in cities that have made enormous buildings, such as Seoul. It is only possible to enjoy that moment when you change your viewpoint. When I become a total stranger and catch my breath rather than running busily chased by my daily schedule, my hometown where I have been living for 30 years becomes a new travel destination. I get to meet the charming lights. ‘That instant moment’ that the lights and rectangular buildings create, that vital moment, also exists in the grey city.

 

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After the sun sets, the night casts a shadow. If you want to see the real face of the city, you should walk the night streets. There, the artificial light that men made fills up the remaining half of the day to make the never-sleeping city, Seoul. It has brighter nights than any other big city in the world. If it were the naked face under the bright sunlight during the day, Seoul looks like a fancy, sophisticated young lady. The night streets are very bright so nights in Seoul are safe from guns and crimes. It is the best destination for tourists.

 

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The many nights in Seoul that I look back on, after changing my viewpoint, feels rather cozy. It is the life center for ten million people. It is the city that widely embraces us, whom fall asleep after finishing a busy day in a huge bosom.

 

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At the center, there are always people. The city that men made seems to go beyond man’s control and expands by itself. However, it embraces people, as always. To someone like me, the city is like a friend with whom I have spent 30 years with. To someone else, it becomes an attractive travel destination. In order to list how attractive the city is, I might have to write this travelogue over a number of years.

 

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Everyone has a hometown. That hometown is a home. Even though we live in or away from it, the hometown itself provides our mind a safe haven. It comforts us that we have somewhere to return, a place of familiarity. For me, Seoul is such an existence. It is still a new place even though I change my viewpoint and look again. To me, it is my hometown but it is also like a new friend that I just met. Seoul changes so rapidly that I often see back alleys that I had seen not too long ago, change to something new. When changes occur, more changes follow. Many of the old places are still maintained. However, the city grows up by itself. We, coexisting inside, also need to accept the city as it is. By doing so, the huge city becomes ‘my home’ and embraces me all the time. All of sudden, ‘home’ becomes so familiar and natural. However, by changing viewpoint, it really becomes a truly grateful existence. It is now home that always stays there, that is my hometown. No matter how far I travel, I have a home to come back to. I am grateful.