After 83 years Tsukiji Fish Market held its final auction last Friday. The world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji deals in over 480 different types of fish and transacts over 14 billion yen a day. One of the omono (big items) of the market is tuna; a 400 kg (800lb) tuna fetched over 33 million yen ($300,000) this past Friday.
Andong, Peaceful East, is the home of traditional Korean culture. Founded around 1 BC, Andong became a center of Confucianism after the ascent of the Joseon Dynasty to the throne. The Nakdong River flows through this capital city of North Gyeongsang Province.
The most compelling, relatable, language-barrier-crosser of any culture is its food. Ask someone if they speak Spanish and they may answer no. But ask them if they’d like an enchilada and they will most likely reply “chicken or beef?” People are multi-lingual without realizing it; linguini, croissant, schnitzel, ramen, kimchi.
As I walked this city’s streets I saw food vendor after food stall after restaurant of foods I love, foods my mom cooks, foods my mom used to cook when I was little, foods I can only find quite like this in this city’s streets. Memories recent and old were all stirred up in each sentimental, delicious bite.
A green swath of 400 square miles splits the peninsula in half.
This land has been burned, pillaged, occupied and degraded from the Japanese invasions from 1592 to 1598 to the Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945.
This land was divided in half at the 38th parallel after World War II.
Backed by the Soviet Union and China the North pushed their way south starting a three year war that subjected the land to widespread devastation destroying cities, forests and families.
Not peace, but an armistice, settled the conflict. The demilitarized zone was created as each side agreed to move their troops back 2,200 yards from the front line, creating a buffer zone 2.5 miles wide. A buffer zone of heavily armed soldiers. A buffer zone that reminds us peace is still not here. A buffer zone keeping loved ones out of reach.
Changdeokgung Palace was the second royal villa built following the construction of Gyeongbukgung Palace in 1405. It was the principal palace for many kings of the Joseon Dynasty, and is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal Joseon palaces. The palace gained importance during the reign of the 9th king of Joseon when he used it as a place of residence. Unfortunately, the palace was burned down by angry citizens in 1592 when the royal family fled their abode during the Japanese invasion of Korea. Restoration work began in 1623 during the reign of King Injo.
Korean Folk Village was created to preserve and present the national culture to local and international tourists alike. Based on the Joseon Dynasty period real houses have been relocated from different parts of the country and reconstructed to re-enact the daily living of over a century ago.
Ihwa-dong, one of Seoul’s oldest neighborhoods, was once a place of renown. Aristocrats would come visit to take in the splendid scenery. After the Korean War the village became home to squatting refugees, building homes wherever they could and in the late 1950s a National Housing Complex was built. Many of the residents worked in the nearby garment and textile industries but as other neighborhoods prospered in the 80’s and 90’s with high-rise apartment towers, residents started moving away draining the neighborhood’s vitality. Ihwa-dong became a decaying suburb designated for demolition, home to mostly poor families and the elderly.
A city outgrowing its borders. Building up, in between, squeezing more into filled spaces. Layer upon layer of old, new, tradition, modern, luxury, practical, wire upon wire, brick upon brick.