Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Roses in Samchungdong

Soundtrack: hit play and start reading. The Shins

Song: Red Rabbit

On Sunday, before seeing Indiana Jones together (enjoyed it. Love the kitchen-sink action sequences of the Indy series...) I spontaneously suggested to Girlfriendoseyo that we meet a bit early and stroll around, because the weather was nice.

I had no idea we'd be mugged by roses once we got to Samchungdong.

Girlfriendoseyo was like a kid in a candy store.

She described this wall as "a waterfall of roses."
Words. Superfluous. Look.

But. . .

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
--Yogi Berra

Samchungdong is in danger, dear readers. Dire danger. The dastardly Dunkin Donuts dilemma: people like what's familiar, but the appearance of a chain like dunkins seems to me a blight on a cool, hip little neighbourhood of Seoul. What's next? A stinking starbucks? We have enough of those already. We don't have enough Samchungdongs. It's the old dilemma -- people find a hip neighbourhood that's free of the trappings of chain stores and corporate crap; word spreads, it becomes a hot-spot, so the chains move in, in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the neighbourhood, and because they have the resources to squeeze out the hip little independent coffee shop owners who play unique, funky music and let you write your name on the walls, and make a panini you can't find anywhere else. In the corporate attempt to cash in, the mucky-mucks and their cookie-cutter franchises dillute the unique colour that made the neighbourhood into a hot spot in the first place, it gets co-opted, and starts to suck.

The same thing happens to pristine "best-kept-secret" beaches in south asia -- a few intrepid backpackers blab, word spreads, and suddenly all the reasons people had for going there in the first place get squeezed out by the usual tour groups and noisy camera-toting bus-touring foreign currency-monkeys, to the point that you say "Phuket! Forget these hidden-away hovels! I may as well just go to Phuket after all."

Dunkin Donuts in Samchungdong. . . everything that is wrong with the (corporate) world. Is there no remaining refuge?
One more gripe about Samchungdong: Too. Many. Waffle. Houses.

Don't get me wrong: I love samchungdong! Even the waffle houses can stay, if they're nice, and each different from the other. But dunkin's has got to go.

This is an ad for Stylish Beer -- if you drink it every day, you'll look like her . . . I swear!
A Jewelry shop in Jongno 3 ga. (a site dedicated to jews in rock music, including their patron saints, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen) ought to know one of their indie stars opened a jewelry store. Maybe Ben Kweller?

Korean store openings: across from the entrance to my work last week were these, gyrating inflatable phalluses. They skimped on the sexy dancing girls, though (a mainstay on the Korean grand opening circuit). One was there, but she didn't dance much, and mostly just talked.

The air compressor makes the phallus twist like this:This is how you open a business in Korea, almost without exception.

More US Beef protests this weekend. They're starting to get rowdy -- people were arrested over the weekend, and the left-wing, anti-American string-pullers are more open about the real motivation behind their misinformation campaign to smear American Beef's reputation.

Han-woo (that's what the first two syllables on every menu item reads) means "Korean Beef" -- stores are starting to advertise their Koreanness in the beef department.

Almost every beef-serving store had "hanwoo" stickers up by their entrances, advertising that they only served Korean beef. Whether the signs can be trusted or not is another matter. Whether Korean beef is even safer than American beef at all is also completely unknown, because the Korean Beef industry has refused to allow mad-cow risk-assessment organizations to inspect their farms and slaughterhouses.In Korean, saying "Majah majah majah" (the equivalent to "OK OK OK OK") is a way of saying "I'm listening intently," while to English speakers, repeating "OKOKOK" is a sign of impatience, tantamount to saying, "I get it already -- move on". . . this can be a source of misunderstandings between Koreans trying to show they're listening carefully, and Westerners who think the Korean is acting impatient.

You know you're in Jongno 3ga when. . .
If you've ever told someone, "I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot-pole!"
Here's the guy to call:
Lush is a soap, etc., store. I love the goofy names of their fragrances. "Sonic Death Monkey" -- a must-have body-wash for those early mornings when a little giggle will help you wake up.
'nuff said.

be well, all. That's it for today.


rwellor said...


Dude.. I love your blog. Brilliant stuff and regularly delivered. I even comment on it which is rare for me.

But is there a chance, any chance that I could come on over to your house some weekend, and teach you how to focus your camera?


I'm better now...

thank you...

Roboseyo said...

rwellor: I'm sincerely glad you enjoy the blog.

Unfortunately, the lack of camera focus is a "crappy cameraphone" issue more than a "roboseyo's a dumbass who doesn't know how to work his own technology" issue. I appreciate the thought, but there is no focus button on these goofy little anycalls.

However, your comment counts as another marble or five on the "git'er'done" side of the "when should I upgrade and actually get a real camera" debate that rages on in my mind.

(I notice that the photos on your own, well-done blog are all consistently excellent.)

Thanks again.