50-million people, armies of darkness, artillery range, granite peaks, holding annual war games, Kim Jong Ung, new leadership, North Korea, ragged ridge, Republic of Korea, ROK, Seoul Tower, south apartments, U. S., Yongsan army base
January 11, 2012
Below my hotel window on Yongsan army base, cabbies salute the dusk with glowing cigarettes. Their mismatched plaids make them perfect extras for a Caddyshack remake; not at all far-fetched in this golf crazed country. Above, Namsan Hill fills a quarter of the horizon, and Seoul Tower looks like a space age, aqua-blue flag stick on the back of a monstrous, terraced green. It’s a rare night without smog, so I walk the course.
It’s a brisk 45 minutes to the top. Dodging busloads of Japanese and Chinese women who come to Seoul to shop, I make it to the base of the tower.
From the observation deck looking west, the skyline undulates as if floating on frozen swells destined to never crest. To the south, apartments line the north bank of the Han River; a kilometer wide ribbon of fast water that bisects a city of twelve million souls, and a formidable obstacle to north-south movement, were it not for its twenty-seven bridges.