Words & Pictures

Words & Pictures

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Seoul, Korea. September 2014
(Not the best shot as the artist seemed a bit antsy but I loved the juxtaposition between life and how art “imitates” it. Beautifully tragic this scene- I had to laugh or I would have wept!)

Seoul, Korea. September 2014

(Not the best shot as the artist seemed a bit antsy but I loved the juxtaposition between life and how art “imitates” it. Beautifully tragic this scene- I had to laugh or I would have wept!)

Filed under seoul photo Black and White art portrait

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The Golden Girls (7/11 Nights)

Technically, this was a 7/11 afternoon…

The weather forecast had promised a typhoon but had failed to come up with anything more than drizzle, and so T. and I strolled down to ‘Bar 7’ in search of a table and some light refreshment.

'Bar 7' is, ostensibly, nothing more than a 7/11 Convenience store in a grubby little back street, with some wonky plastic furniture out front, squashed up my the bins. However, it could actually be the centre of the universe. All walks of life must, and do, pass through here. After all, the 7/11 has something for all, no matter what the time of day- whether it's toilet roll, a lunch time snack, sugar for your coffee, a pack of cigarettes to easy those junkie jitters, or a few cans of beer to enjoy outside. Cars pull up and drivers or passengers dive in and out; brisk business men on their way to the train make a brief, scheduled detour; high-school students in lolling packs playfully push and shove each other through the doors and round the aisles; housewives missing an all important ingredient; builders needing a boost line up for the caffeine/nicotine deluxe combo and old fellas with nothing much else to do converge here to drink beers and bottles of shoju; and all of them set that little cluster of chimes on the door ringing, ingress and egress, summoning the clerk from the back room, or his thoughts.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet people from all walks of life and gain an insight into everyday Korean culture in the few short weeks that I’ve been here.

Today was no exception:

As we stroll up, we spy the table is occupied by 4 aging ladies, one veering beyond aging to ancient. The table itself slumps at a perilous angle and yet is filled with an array of snacks and bottles of beer and shoju (mixed together to make somak). They’re hooting and howling with drunken glee, their voices dialled up in their debauchery and it’s not even five p.m yet. The oldest of the group gets up to go for some more booze from the ‘bar’ and there’s cross words and confusion, tempers flare for a moment over a disagreement over who’s paying and who’s paying what and for a moment I wonder if the whole table is going to be thankfully cast aside, allowed to meet its slow, sinking destiny much quicker than expected, and old, brittle claws be unleashed. But it’s all smoothed over and these golden gals are whooping and waving and clutching onto each other with dear, drunken love.

We manage to squeeze in to one side, pushed up against the bins and open our own beers and it’s not long before we’re drawn in.

The ladies have no English and, to my discredit, I still haven’t managed to pick up any Korean. Regardless, we manage and move through any potential problems by falling into the flow of it all: the laughter, the smiles and, if anything ever began to slow or stick, we’d raise our beers and say "Gambei!" (cheers!). All I really glean from them is that one of their number is 83 and still going strong.

I’ve seen her about, a withered prune of a woman, buckled slightly by the years weighing down on her and shrinking into the obscurity of old age but always dressed in some wonderfully mismatched riot of colour.

Eventually, it’s time for them to go. One of their number is flagging, her eyes look painted on, glazed and her face is slumping into her palm and soon she’ll follow the inevitable descent of the table at which she’s sat. However, as they gather their things- bags, umbrellas and those weird, wide visors so popular amongst older women in Asia- she perks up enough to dash inside and recharge our beers before planting a big, wet materteral kiss on my cheek! (I had hoped my first kiss in Korea would be quite different).

Still laughing and waving and whooping, they totter off homeward into the drizzle, no doubt to berate husbands, or stumble round the kitchen preparing dinner, or to take blissful, snoring naps in front of the TV. Whatever their afternoons held in store for them I wished them well and raised my gifted beer in their health.

Filed under Seoul south korea Photography Stories seven eleven 7/11 Oldladies drinking

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Yongsan, Seoul. South Korea. July 2014
Photography is more about luck than anything else- being in the right place, at the right time and being fast enough to capture the shot.
I walked out of the shopping mall, lugging my new printer, and was crossing the short, covered space to the station when I noticed a man just staring out of the windows to one side. Following his gaze, I saw this…

Yongsan, Seoul. South Korea. July 2014

Photography is more about luck than anything else- being in the right place, at the right time and being fast enough to capture the shot.

I walked out of the shopping mall, lugging my new printer, and was crossing the short, covered space to the station when I noticed a man just staring out of the windows to one side. Following his gaze, I saw this…

Filed under photo photography Seoul Yongsan south korea Sunset