Sunday, February 18, 2007

Buildings, Day 2! Happy Year of the Pig!

The Year of the Golden Pig began today. Most stores in Seoul were closed; Koreans tend to celebrate Lunar New Year at home with their families. In many cases they brave packed highways to drive for hours to reach their hometowns. It is not a convenient weekend for domestic travel in Korea. Today I wandered around quiet Seoul.
I hiked down to Hannam-dong from Itaewon. I like this part of the city; I like the hilly topography, I like the relative lack of recent massive urban renewal projects, and I like the relatively large number of foreigners around.
And I like the architecture (not usually Seoul's finest point).
Most countries of the world have their embassies in this part of the city. The exceptions are mostly a couple of big, powerful countries such as the USA, Canada, Britain, Japan, and China.
Now I'm south of the river in Kangnam. I actually very seldom come here myself, but I tend to think of it as the beating heart of the city - it's got the priciest real estate and trendiest areas. Note the avant-garde architecture.
I'm not sure if that's a natural hill on the right or not. A plaque identified it as a 토성, or toseong, or an ancient earth fortification. Southeastern Seoul has several of them, and they are marked on many maps. I'm going to have to read up on them one of these days. Anyway, they built the city around them. I don't think any existed north of the river.
It's a common motif on restaurant signs to have a cartoon picture of the animal consumed within, often wearing a chef's hat. If you think about it logically, that's a profoundly disturbing idea. I wonder how many of his brothers, sisters, and cousins that traitor prepared for human consumption today.
I'm not sure what the facade of that building is supposed to represent, but I won't look too hard for antecedents in traditional Korean architecture.

No comments: