(A collection of images I have already posted before into a single coherent photo essay.)
In Seoul, there is a unique shopping area between two subway stations. The Sinchon station gives access to a number of private universities such as Ewha Women’s University. The Hongik station gives access to Hongdae which is an area around Hongik university. These two subway stations are literally located one-after-the-other on the same subway line. So the area around and between them has developed into a kind of young people’s go-to place. Clubs, cafes, eateries, shops, malls – all stylishly young, trendy and (relatively) affordable (although there is a less approachable Hyndai mall with premium goods and matching price tags around the corner).
Unfortunately I did not drop in during the weekend on this trip. That is when the crowd comes in and more stalls open. A sign board outside an empty tourist office announces that the office is closed due to “declining volume of tourists”. Perhaps this area is no longer as interesting as I remembered it? Still, I enjoyed myself wandering around the comparatively and more quiet streets. Perhaps on my next trip I will time my visit to drop by on a Sunday, though I believe it will be a long time before I visit South Korea again.
It certainly seems ambitious to create a photo essay out of just half-a-day of walking around. Consider this the half-day impressions of a visiting tourist. While many photographers may be fascinated by exotic locales, I find this urban South Korean neighbourhood intriguing. Sure, shopping streets in urban cities are plentiful throughout the world, but the atmosphere and appearance here is definitely special. There is an air of youthfulness, freshness, creativity and that unique school-days feeling. This is all manifest in the myriad colours, signboards, shops, decorative trends, fashion styles and student-friendly price-tags. The South Koreans have really developed a unique and modern style in art and decoration. I am sure that when this place fills up on a weekend, it will really come to life.
One interesting aspect of Seoul neighbourhoods is the abundance of messy power lines. I found it somewhat surprising that these seem to be so haphazardly organized in the capital of one of the most technologically-advanced countries in the world. Admittedly, they do add a lot of character to the place!
To my surprise, all of my “keepers” during my half-day exploration were shot using the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED (abbreviated 60G). I am currently working on a review and perhaps it will be ready for publishing in September. Whoops that sounds like a long time away. However I prefer to give good real-life examples of how a lens performs, instead of boring graphs and uninspiring pictures of walls, fences, pillows and dull neighbourhoods. ;P As an early preview I can say that I have replaced the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G (reviewed here) with this. The 60G is a great lens and should have been assigned a gold ring. Ah if only Nikon’s marketing team could figure out how to market and sell it.
Meanwhile, do try to mark this place on your calendar if you visit and make sure you drop by on a weekend. Enjoy the crowd then. 🙂 – WY