Korea Neglected. Building Korea. Wild Places.

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I stumble into a place I’ve passed a few times. Something about the day or the mood I was in was calling me inside. Momentary memories of ShutterBug waking before the rest of us to snap shots of an abandoned school flash before my eyes. Suddenly, I find myself turning around and walking back towards the opening where I hear a different type of cry… this time coming from inside.

It’s surrounded by a wavy metal fence that tells you to keep out in a curiously silent way.  The air is dancing dry while the sun beat down with its increasing intensity as spring changes its shape to form summer and Earth rolls itself over to feel the warm embrace on its chilled underbelly.

As I crawl under the unwelcoming bottom edge of the metal beast, the air makes a stark transformation. Soon, my nose hairs are relived with the pleasant dampness of a morning dew.  Everything that surrounds me drips with desperate isolation. After passing through the gate on the brink of the known, I walk towards the sound of curiosity that rings so deep inside me.

I teeter along the edge of civilization and the lonely beast, between what’s comfortable and what’s creepy. I bend underneath the green mesh that protects the beast from harmful invaders and am immediately struck with the awe of its inner beauty. So lost and desolate, it’s delighted of the arrival of a once familiar creature that crawled about it’s halls and ladders. The echoes on the walls long forgotten bounce into oblivion and disappear among the darkness. The vibrations wake the beast from its soundless slumber and it greets me in a friendly manner.

The place is wild, growing with discrete desertion. Somewhere in between creation and destruction, it’s like a human lost between the sexes. Evidence of when humans disappear strike with surreal splendor so sad and sublime.

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After a series of “coos!” and “whoos!” that undoubtedly broke through the beasts’ green protective mesh, seeping into the buzzing movements of the present, I walk backwards through time to continue on my way. I could feel the gasps of despair, expelled by the bellowing beast through its halls in anticipation of losing the only friend it ever knew, once again.

I’m left in a state I can’t explain. Part of me wanted to stay and listen to the stories the beast has kept silent all these years. I pass by car dealerships and sandlots in a romantic tango. A city of steel and cement rises at all angles. Like a mangling root, the cement suffocates the soft tissues underneath. Wild places get snuffed out and morph into great green giants that are also soon forgotten.

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A bird catches my eye not high in a tree. Sounds of its charming chirp delight the drums inside my ear. I stare into the tree looking for it. I watch it leap and fly from branch to branch in its curious way, looking for a nut or maybe a mate. A woman passes by, looking in curiosity at what I’m fixed on. She quickly dismisses its beauty. Adults have important meetings and are always running late.

Soon, I arrive at a wild worm that flows from the mountains and washes my doorsteps. The river is still flooded from the rainfall two days ago. There’s just enough room left on the rocks to traverse them. I decide to lose time and myself in the moment. As I dip a toe and then a foot into the belly of the worm, I am overcome by an indescribably wonderful feeling.

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I was standing somewhere I had been before, only I felt like I discovered a whole new place. A place visited by our ancestors very often and whom still linger there in distant memories. What led me to that place in my mind? Maybe it was the beautiful conversation I had with a new acquaintance I met in a kick-about before facing the green beast. Perhaps it was my curious wondering into the deserted building, left unfinished, to rot in its structural dismay. Somehow, I found myself in this place, where as far as I could tell, I could see no one else there. Yet, there were people walking about, all around.

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