Friday, February 14, 2014

Ave, Joe: "a warts-and-all love letter to Seoul"

Joe McPherson of ZenKimchi posts about a "must-see" video by directors Park Chan-wook (known for his naughty classic "Oldboy") and Park Chan-kyong, who as a team share the moniker "PARKing CHANce." Their film is a collaborative pastiche of normal citizens' videos about Seoul that had been submitted at the behest of the Korean government as part of a larger promotional effort. I encourage you to read Joe's blog entry, which expresses my own sentiments perfectly. At one point, Joe writes, "This was not as much an exercise in directing as much as it was an exercise in editing and narrative. It’s a warts-and-all love letter to Seoul. It’s also the ballsiest city promotional video I think any city in the world has ever produced." That's it. That's exactly it. Would the promoters of Paris be as brave? Could they show us a Paris that is gritty and unsanitized, without resorting to accordion music?

Like Joe, I'm impressed that the Korean government had the cojones to make this sort of effort, which essentially involves seeing Seoul through the eyes of Seoulites, Korean and expat alike, in all of the city's unvarnished mundanity. The video confirms my long-standing conviction that Seoul's charm isn't to be found in soaring, memorable architecture, haute cuisine, or civilizational accomplishments: its charm is more subtle, hidden in the dark corners, in the alleyways, in the hesitant or open smiles of its people. You have to make an effort to see Seoul for what it is, but once you see it, you'll fall in love.

If you have an hour, go visit Joe's blog and watch the video. If you've lived in Korea for a while, it'll resonate deeply with you. If you're a relative newbie, you'll gain a better, clearer impression of life in Seoul than you would through any other promotional medium. Trust me. (Well... trust Joe.)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My laptop crashed and it was like one of Dante's levels to read your blog on my IPhone! (Well, not your writing but the small print!)
My mom gave me her Kindle Fire HD and "BOOM"....I can check on you each day once again.
I have been working on my parents to travel with me to Seol. I would love to see it, and I know Jeff Hodges and family would be thrilled.
Jeanie Oliver