Bikes & Candy Carts & Noraejarang: Week 14

Around me children careened in mad circles without any understanding of their brakes or steering. Multiple seating automatically ensured immobility as the kids were equally matched in their confusion. The beating sun along the Han River did nothing to curb the children’s enthusiasm as they hopped from bike to bike. I too raced from child to child to manually override their tiny befuddled limbs. Finally in a moment of calm I was able to sit upon the contraption I had been most looking forward to: a two-wheeler with a giant orange toilet for a seat. Perhaps the joy of toilet paper fluttering in the breeze is best not put into words.

The college neighborhood of Konkuk becomes saturated with neon as soon as the sun goes down. The streets are alive with entertainment and that night a giant sugar fish caught my eye. I paid to pick the lucky number for one of the candies and despite losing I still walked away with a small tasty prize. A block away an old woman was bent over her cart with a gurgling brown liquid over a flame. While the scene before me felt a bit illegal, I assure you it tasted like toasted marshmallows. My co-worker’s deft use of a toothpick  even won us another one of the addictive candy discs. She had managed to free an imprinted heart-shape from the center without breaking it. Oh the beautiful melodies my sweet tooth was singing!

I couldn’t have asked for a better view for the all-stars singing competition (Noraejarang) on which my friend was performing. However, as the show progressed my attention became distracted by the frolicking bodies and flourishing hand gestures which alternated between the butterfly and the clucky chicken. When the show aired it captured none of the mesmerizing front row dance floor for the drunk and infirm. These audience members tenaciously held their ground despite irritated cameramen shooing them away and their endurance was dazzling. When a newcomer began to flail on the floor like a Christian revivalist, I knew I was in heaven! Three hours later the grand prize winner was announced but I didn’t even remember her performance. My friend unfortunately did not win, but it was obvious the real stars went unrecognized that night.


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