In Suwon Station today, I wanted to take a picture, so I whipped out my battle-axe analog camera, and I spied a colorful scene in an I-phone accessory shop, next to the Dunkin Donuts: a girl in one of the standard-accepted-fashion ensembles arranging the artfully designed covers for the hot new phones. She had on the black heels, the black stockings, and a sunset, explosion-red sweatshirt (“hoodie’), and I thought this modern shop, minimally furnished and pristine-with a person in it-who seemed like an anachronism (as if a robot should have been attending)-among all the artifice, looked Bladerunner sci-fi. And the color of her clothes said both, ‘I am not a machine’, as well as, ‘I am art, among these things’!
I aimed at a woman nearby-a similar distance from me to the distance of the girl in the shop, so as not to be conspicuous-but my camera’s light-meter and shutter wouldn’t work. I inspected the machine. The battery cover and batteries had disappeared! What a major, big time, down-the-hole drag. I moped to the subway gate and beeped my walleted transit card, and went up to the platform for the long ride to Seoul.
Later, I ran around Namdaemun’s eclectic and crowded market, narrowly avoiding collisions with old ladies, old men, hawkers, buyers, police officers, Korean, Japanese and Chinese shoppers, and men on their ever-weaving motorcycles and scooters-who are forever coming out of every possible blind-spot to almost run you over-while delivering all manner of goods through the swarming alleys.
I was-of course-in search of a camera shop that could supply me with the things I needed for my dinosaur Minolta X-300 SLR. Most shops only sell “Dica SLRs’, or digital single-lense reflex cameras, so most men these shops waved me off. In one shop, the proprietor hardly finished mumbling his blow-off, while simultaneously taking a phone call and averting his gaze out the window, when a cool looking dude seated where they had been chatting, called out in Korean, “go upstairs; third floor.”
Well, upstairs, I found that Chongro/Dongdamun, old school Korea thing goin’ on, you know, the inlaid marble or granite flooring, the small, hide-away stairways here and there, with rickety steps, the ajumas carryiong food trays with the remnants of lunch on them-on their heads, the old office furniture (made of wood), and phot posters and calendars from years ago.
To be continued…