Am not sure if this one is going to sound nice. But recently I decided to give up political correctness. My friend Martyna was nominated to the Traveller of the Year Award Kolosy 2011 in Poland for her Asian experiences.
While reading her blog I discovered that Seoul transforms into a city with no soul. Hi Seoul! Soul of Asia! slogan says. But what does it mean to have soul. It means to secure and preserve the best of Asia, common sense tells.
I have already written about Seoul Mayor closing down street vendoring and moving these people to more and more less payable locations. This increases done by the new Mayor also.
Will Koreans ever understand that we are not coming there for artificial things?! Not for created on purpose artificial junk! Junk like Hanok houses pretending to be ancient and being in fact rebuilt from new pieces only recently?! European sophisticated shops like Zara in Coex Mall or touristy mass production in Insa Dong?!
I have asked many friends if they have old Hanbok ( traditional female dress) inherited from their grandmothers or great grandmothers. Guess what, noone has old Hanboks!
- Obsoyo! There was a war and we don't have them anymore. - this is the reply I hear often. War cannot destroy everything.
Even Brother Anthony from Sogang University, who is a genuine specialist in Korean culture, sent me off to some factory making modern "traditional" Hanboks, all very colorful and nice.
Photo from wikipedia, free licence with attribution: http://flickr.com/photos/paulcanning/314925845/
Above: This is what is available everywhere, colorful, nice, modern touristy production.
Problem is this is not genuine. I will give more space later to Korean traditional dress how it really looked not longer than 40 years ago. But here I will shortly say that 2% of society could afford these sweet colorful Hanboks. Does it make it "traditional" already? What about other groups, what about farmers? They had Hanboks too, but white/grey.
Dear Readers, I am in desparate need of white/grey farmers Hanbok! Dirty, old, but genuine!!!! If you know about anyone, anyone who may be a happy owner of some, please let me know!
If it comes to Nation Branding Korea rocks. It is only pity that instead of preserving truth they build up stories of how rich they had always been.
I am not saying that there is nothing genuine in Seoul. There are still street markets and shops with everything and nothing, ginseng, spices of the world, hand painters making art pieces on silk or rice paper, but it slowly slowly goes away melted in unified asian version of global consumerism.