Saturday, July 17, 2010
Life in Seoul is very modular. When people work, they work. Often from 7 a.m. until 7, or 8, or 9, or 10 p.m. When they drink, they drink. Often from 7, or 8, or 9, or 10 p.m., until it's time to make breakfast. And, when they cheer for their soccer team, they put on ponchos and sit in the rain for six hours and cheer.
Oh, yes, and when it rains, it rains.
Which means umbrella culture. Umbrella culture is a small, often overlooked culture that exists in many cities. It includes those humans in D.C., or New York, who, whenever it rains, appear from nowhere--grates? dumpsters? New Jersey?--with bundles of sticks and cloth they call umbrellas. These umbrellas usually cost anywhere from $3 to $10 dollars and will usually last you through the rest of the day, so long as you don't encounter any stiff breezes.
It includes the people who carry umbrellas when it rains, but never open them. Presumably to show their better than everyone else.
In Seoul, umbrella culture is bright and pragmatic. There are pink, blue, clear, and rainbow umbrellas. There are umbrellas with folk tale characters, comic newsprint, and snow flakes. Some umbrellas are giant, some small, some are shaped as bells, and some are shaped as single sheets of paper. These last seem a fairly ineffective design, but I've seen many a sparkly woman, or well-dressed man, using them.
Seoul also has these ingenious devices in subway stations and stores, wherein you stick your umbrella and yank it out, and *poof*, your umbrella is dry, or, well, it's inside a plastic bag and so to the outside world, it's dry. Inside, of course, it's growing mold.
That woman has a cool hat.