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07 July 2010 @ 10:22 pm
new korea~~  

 



Strolling along the wide streets of Jongro district, the bustling heart of Seoul, you would be forgiven for thinking there was a photography convention of some sorts going on nearby. Everywhere you look, there are people, mostly in their mid-twenties, with the latest Nikon or Canon DSLR camera dangling from their necks. As we approach the entrance to a street going north, it is clear they all have a destination in mind. Welcome to Insadong.

Insadong has been a main tourist stop in Seoul for decades. Now, it has curiously become THE place to be seen for the twenty-somethings with the ubiquitous DSLRs. As we stroll north, there is an eclectic mix of humanity rubbing shoulders here: the drunk homeless men outside 7-11, the Japanese tourists following the flag, the stressed locals and the snappers on their way to some chain coffee shop. Most of them come here to take pictures of something. But what? What could one possibly take a picture of that hasn't already been snapped 100 times? My curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided to stop and observe for a few minutes. Who knows, I could pick up a few tips from these pros! Alas, after surreptitiously watching these guys for a while, I came to this conclusion: despite owning the latest Nikon D100 and the latest lenses, these guys are amateurs. There are here to see and be seen. It's important to have the latest gear and to use it in public. Welcome to modern Insadong.

Passing by the old ladies selling various street snacks, the shops selling 'hanji' ~ Korean paper ~ and the various ceramics stores these snappers are here to take pictures, and lots of them. Generally, the subjects of the pictures are not the traditional aspects of this area. They tend to be semi-artistic shots of their friends in various thoughtful poses while drinking a caramel machiato in one of the many chain coffee houses peppering the neighborhood. What's going on? Welcome. This is the new Korea and we've been expecting you. These youngsters have disposable income. They know the difference between a frappucino and a mocha-latte. They are the new generation that drinks coffee, eats western food, carries the LV bag and likes to spend the little free time they have enjoying themselves.

I like this new generation. They are cool and know it. This is the changing face of the Republic of Korea and, strangely, they have chosen to base themselves in the traditional heart of Seoul. Oh, and the camera? It's just another accessory.


 
 
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