Ok, so I’m gonna try a different writing style for my next few posts. (It’s going to imitate Brad Neely’s writing that dubbed over his version of Harry Potter)
Another late start in another week in Korea and it is already hot as balls. I think it has been a month since I left the U.S. Today, I planned to revisit two places in Seoul. Even though I’ve seen Myeongdong and Insadong I was just passing through. Myeongdong is usually known for its fashion and clothing. It also has Seoul’s only Catholic cathedral (I think that’s right). Insadong is known to display the new and old of Korea. It’s very art oriented and you can see the contrast of modern and old buildings.
But before I went to any of these, I decided to drop by the Lotte Mall/Dept Store/hotel just to see how the rich people spend their free time. When I stepped inside, the first thought that came across my mind was, “Wow, we are in the big leagues here”. Imagine the really nice and expensive stores in Tyson’s Corner in Fairfax, VA (No, not Forever 21 or A. Fitch. I mean, Armani, Chanel, Rolex, Louis Vuitton level) and just put it all together in one building. The employees are so well dressed, that you know that if you consider browsing around without wearing appropriate clothing, they are not going to pay attention to you.
As I walk through the area that sells watches and jewelry, everything seems to glow. What a spectacle it was. It’s like you just entered the Gungan City- No, actually it’s more like seeing the Triwizard Cup in Harry Potter. The bright crystalline glow reassure you ONE THING and ONE THING only. YOU CAN”T AFFORD THIS. Hell, if the wretched Harmony (Hermione) and the great Harry Potter put all their assets and money together, they still wouldn’t be able to buy the shit I’ve seen. If our hero, HP, was in my position, he would say something like, “Damn it Harmony! These things are too expensive for you and me. Even if we added Ronnie the Bear’s meager assets, it wouldn’t do jack shit!” He would immediately condemn what he saw and say, “I don’t need this stuff anyway. These glowing jewels, watches, bags, and pens are all mere trinkets in my eyes. Sold by charlatans in an ephemeral industry. I will no longer restrain and limit my greatness to the material world. Don’t let the luscious, soothing, reassuring glow fool and seduce you Harmony! The warmth radiating from the materials in this dept store is like the heat of melted chocolate. Initially, messy and immaculate, we all know what happens to those foolish enough to reach in and dip their hands in its dark currents to eat this cocoa temptation. The results are wasted feelings of regret and eventually, death.”
Such deep thinking and extensive use of metaphorical musings overheated my brain and I was disoriented for a while until I saw my favorite ice cream place, Snowmounteen. Yes, the name is spelled like that. That mango snowice was an equivalent of a thousand chill pills grounded in a mortar and pestel into fine strands of snow. After regaining my senses, I decide to get the hell out of this monument of affluence. This symbol of social stratification! I will have no more of it! There was a Lotteria, which is a Korean fast food chain. Never trying it before, I convinced myself into buying a bulgogi burger and a side of fries. What a mistake… It wasn’t that good. My body soon cried out, “What the hell man!!?? This shit is not even hot! You came all the way from America to treat your stomach like this?!”
A sudden urge to go the Myeongdong Cathedral overtook me. Maybe it was my stomach telling me to repent for the moral sin it thought I just committed. All I knew was that it was pretty hot around 2:30 PM. This church was where my grandparents got married in. As I walked inside, dipped my fingers in holy water and crossed myself, I realized I haven’t been to church in a while. Under the high ceiling and darkened room, every movement I made echoed throughout the cathedral. I was afraid to break the golden silence that hung mysteriously in the air. Sitting down and crossing myself again, I prayed and had a long conversation with the man upstairs. After I finished praying, I noticed the Gothic architecture around me and started comparing it to Protestant and Eastern Orthodox designs. Thank you Professor Angelov for teaching me about religious architecture.
As flashbacks of the History of Christianity class overtook me, I began to see the images of past Powerpoints and pictures of the architecture and history around me. Such detail and complexity! Lo and behold! Could this be the work of mere mortals? Angels, aliens, and may be even the great Harry Potter can be capable to build such wonderful structures. But man?? Creatures that are known to destroy and consume, can also create?! We, humans, seem to be this hungry horde of locusts descending upon a particularly luscious field of grain. And after the field that was once plenty is gone, these particular locusts fight and kill one another because of their insatiable hunger. There must be more to eat. More to destroy. More to exploit. We want it ALL. Until in the end, none of them survive. The meager sounds of pain and agony coming from the mortally wounded and those who survive this massacre gradually taper off as the once bright light that represented life flickers and goes out. At the pinnacle of my mental activity ended with me falling asleep for half and hour in my bench pretending to pray more.
The rest of the day was spent eating. I burned my tongue on the hot, honey filling of a hoettuk [Honey filled fried bread] (1000 Won) and cut the roof of my mouth on the crunchy part of a waffle filled with whipped cream, honey, and ice cream (2000 Won). Main message from that experience, it’s pretty cheap and easy to get a sugar high in Korea.
“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see” – Winston Churchill