Monday, March 3, 2014

"Toto, I've a feeling..."

Arriving in Seoul on what would become a three week sabbatical from an essentially open ended one... (minus the job to return to), I realized that despite the proximity, I definitely wasn't in Japan anymore.

The city felt more lived in (i.e. dirtier) than Tokyo. Little old ladies push (and I'm talking, a two handed shove with a little hip-bump as they brush past you for good measure, action) the person in front of them who's blocking their way without a word of apology. In fact, the words "excuse me" are not even in the Korean vocabulary.

And then there were the unsettling signs. Encased in breakable glass-front cabinets in all the metro stations are gas masks, in the unlikely event that the brothers from the north began a chemical warfare. Not that there are enough to go around, which is where Darwin's theory comes to play. But aside from the metro stations, the government equips every home with gas masks to accommodate each family member, and they request that all have a 72 hour survival kit. In addition, expats are requested to have a packed back always at the ready.

But novelty fades fast, and soon enough the only threat you focus on comes in the form of little graying firebombs who creep up from behind and send you stumbling to regain your balance after being thrown aside for walking too slow. 

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