Neon Dance in Hongdae – Aesthetic Heaven of Seoul

Originally published in Tokyo Notice Board, Dec 26 – Jan 15 2015 issue

by Dan Asenlund

Midnight. Silent shadows float past lukewarm asphalt, nightly specters on the run from a closed-off miracle. Above the sidewalk red neon light reflected off a frozen Seoul.

I’m home, but behind the unlocked glass doors of the dormitory lies a world I didn’t think possible. An aesthetic potpourri of triangular coffee shops, pirate ship restaurants and Turkish hookah bars with streams of crystal clear water running between the piles of pillows.

By day a palette in all the rainbow’s colors, street art and sculptures in all corners and alleys. By night a party paradise, clubs and bars embracing each other around a smorgasbord of street food stalls and glittering karaoke palaces.

And Noriteo, the park where bored university girls sit and wait to be picked up by adventurous Friday poets. Where guitar heroes compose verses until the breaking of dawn and where part-time fireman Jun serves well-mixed gin and tonics for two dollars a cup.

Under the crowded benches lie carved hearts, student love sealed with a lock soon to be clipped open by the bolt-cutters of reality.

A Friday poet looks up from his rhymes and listens to a girl-group chorus about Tasty Love, while a pair of smashed sunglasses reflect broken dreams in a puddle nearby.

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