Soul of Seoul

Publish date 21-06-2021

by Luca Periotto

«Overpopulation and the ruin of the landscape were galloping ailments. Lorenz railed against the inertia of public opinion; against the universal yearning for the new; against the lack of courtship rituals, beneficial to the stability of the marriage; and he feared that our civilization would succumb to the less spoiled peoples of the East "(Bruce Chatwin - Variations on a fixed idea).


Seoul, which is pronounced "Soul" in English, is undoubtedly the place with the highest concentration of cutting-edge technology in the world: an oriental mirror facing west that reflects images, shapes, sounds, colors and the coveted stereotypes of a West so close that it is engulfed by it, incorporated into an oriental humanistic model that favors the "new" over everything that has an ancient aspect.

It should therefore be considered old, over-the-top, packed with plastic and sparkling rhinestones, artificial flashes of LED lights that must confuse the opponent exactly like the game of burning mirrors used on board the boats of Ancient Rome, a defense system designed by Archi¬mede as an offensive weapon. He used the sun's rays, terrible reflections that sank the enemy ships, a technology never seen before.

The palpable difference between us Europeans and their Koreans should not come as a surprise, because the new contemporary Orientals do not seem to want to become a faithful copy of the Dent. It is clear from the fact that they have been able to forge ahead in terms of progress, the so-called "steeps", cultural passages that in every era have been necessary for the growth and development of the Old Continent starting from the Renaissance, from the Baroque, up to to postmodernism.

They are the fruit of necessary steps that they, the native Koreans, must necessarily have skipped for having been able to transform in a few decades a nation that is now the 12th economy among the most developed nations. A leap in time that has projected them from a rural peasant condition, directly into the post-industrial present that of Europe and the USA. How this was possible is no secret to anyone who knows Koreans.

If you look at Seoul from the top of one of the tallest skyscrapers, the World Trade Center, you can't help but notice its resemblance to the exploded view of a gigantic printed circuit where every single color delimits one of the many areas ( cluster) that make up this futuristic modern city: controlled functionsby a super computer, perhaps powered by quantum technology, which in turn is the "brain" delegated to control a capillary network of cameras scattered everywhere.

Seoul is the future, a city of about 12 million inhabitants, the safest city on the planet, equipped with a subway network twice the size of London. A massive, total control that favors security and privacy at the expense of privacy. 'efficiency.

A paradise where children and girls can go home even in the middle of the night without the need for an adult to take them home unharmed after school. After doing the repetitions and sporting activities, you end up spending all day away from home. For adults it is even worse if your boss forces you to stay after working hours to then go with all your colleagues first to the bar and then to dinner. You return home in the middle of the night with the perspective… Which perspective? No prospect exists on the horizon for those who will be forced to abdicate their marital duties in a country that aims exclusively at the exasperated production of avant-garde goods and services and where the professionalism and exasperated individualism imprinted in the ego of this people counts. as stigmata. There is no time to spend free time with loved ones, start a family, have children or simply sleep; no vacation is foreseen for most people in an oppressive working system. The competitive spirit is learned from the first years of life.

The somatic features of this young Asian people (it is the country where anyone, even young people, use facial plastics to change their appearance making it as western as possible), can be misleading: they turn out to be a crime of contaminations that have followed one another throughout history. The presence of the American military forces during the Second World War on Korean soil laid the foundations for an anthropological evolution that has not yet finished and the virtual bridge that connects South Korea with the United States and more than solid.

With the conflict that separates the two Koreas not yet over, in 2020 Trump asked South Korea to shell out a huge amount of money. Turning to the Seoul government, he asked to pay for the massive presence of American soldiers by increasing spending by 500%!

After all, just think that in 2019 alone the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Sun carried out 24 missile launches under the eyes of Trump, never leaving great choices to opponents other than to use the armed protection that his historic partner bestows. , so it would seem, for an apparent economic convenience even before being strategic.

The South Koreans therefore accuse the historical friends of cynicism, doing everything possible to ensure that the peace treaty is not signed once and for all to put an end to this stupid fratricidal war fought in the living room.

To understand Korea, I found myself on a date with a new friend in an art gallery in the trendy Gangnam district; known on the net, I found Kim sitting waiting for me on the ground in front of his rice papers painted in black and white with Indian ink.

His works sold in New York reach unimaginable figures. One evening, in front of a deep ceramic plate filled with very spicy "ramen" - one of the few remaining things of a former peasant culture - he began to speak, telling me the point of view of those who know the reality in which he lives well .

«Yes, here the competition is at the highest level, I would dare to say merciless, difficult to keep up with them. The South Korean is ambitious, he wants a nice house, expensive things, luxury cars, a large color TV in the living room that he will never be able to enjoy due to endless shifts. There is never an end of shift, those who refuse are cut off, the complaints of wives and husbands do not count: the company you work for is your family ".

The government has recently asked women who are expecting a child to allow their husbands to have a full fridge, ironed shirts, a clean house before labor! It is a very macho and misogynist society that does not pay much attention to the role of women, this and others are the reasons why they no longer have children. They are also the reasons that led Korea to be the nation with the highest suicide rate.

Strolling along the river that cuts the city center in two, I am struck by the beauty of the surreal luxuriance of flora and fauna. It is a twelve-kilometer long artery, costing the municipality of Seoul 700 million euros, making it the most successful and ambitious urban oasis project.

«I usually photograph Kim in black and white, but here in Seoul I can't do it because of the contamination of too many colors… You, I noticed, make ink paintings using only black: how do you do it?».

"I understand you - Kim tells me - I paint with black because for me it is the only way to concentrate my imaginary spectrum of colors. I paint high voltage pylons because I was born in a country where this energy is channeled. In a thousand years I hope my pylons will be seen as we interpret Easter Island or Stone Age today ".

NP Marzo 2021

Luca Periotto

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