seoul series V
Soaring temperatures make a sea of white shirts appear in the CBD of Seoul at noon. It is Monday lunchtime and this isolated area of the city (literally an island) dedicated to finance becomes invaded. Although clothing stores at the groundfloors of corporate buildings advertise only Westerners wearing suits, I hardly see any of them in the real world.
This recently planned area starts being invaded by alien skyscrapers blossoming all around, and despite not existing any sense of a lively city, the fact of finding several 24h kimchi-sushi restaurants, makes me remind that Koreans are amongst the ones with most working hours in the world.
It is impossible to follow anyone randomly. Any try makes me follow workers to an eating place or back to the office. Bored of these non-productive routines and being stuck at the main crossing, I almost feel obliged, first to go also for lunch, and second, to move on to another neighbourhood.
Eager to visit the Rainbow Cathedral, an art installation somewhere in Seoul that I read via newsletter some time ago, I take the subway to that station. After appearing in an anodyne huge crossing, I realize I mistook the line; so asking everybody for a rainbow in the street is a fruitless desperate operation. This makes me go into a PC room (or an Internet Cafe in a stinky basement full with video-games freaks) and check the map for the first time in Seoul and explore these anodyne highways while walking to the exhibition.
I discover then a network of anonymously big crossings, where 5&5 lane highways intersect each other. the city in-between is as dull as the crossings themselves, making these crossroads the most exciting points. There is a gap of 300 to 400 metres between each other and surprisingly all of them have quite a big slope separating these valleys, reminding me of San Francisco, and making me walk up and down, up and down, up and down, again and again… It takes me 5 crossroads to realize that Mondays do not like art exhibitions and another 3 to find the nearest subway station.
While detouring the city in the most explorer-related sense, leaving all outdated Situationist politics aside, it is very useful to use the subway map in order to make the city even more abstract. Like transnational geographies, moving from one point to another and forgetting what lies in-between, either if is a street block or a whole country, turns the city into a virtual cloud of scattered situations.
After seeing my seventh golf course flying over a carparking and the third soldier carrying a cosmetics bag, I cannot find any office worker going for dinner in his white shirt. but it is time for me to do so.