It’s 7am on a Monday morning and I tramping down the side street towards the subway. There’s some sort of mouse / snowman sitting on a giant white teacup on a roof. It’s nearly too early to care but I stop, then walk on. This is the time when you get to see the streets. Even on a Sunday night, a time of traditional English quiet, Hongdae’s young streets are packed with bodies although you don’t have to remove yourself quite so early from your bed to see. Seoul is not a city for the early bird but rather it’s the night owl who catches the worm but I like it. I am the remnants of the night before. Empty soju and makgeolli bottles line the streets, some stacked politely in grates, others rock n roll with the other litter which pigeons peck. Are pigeons the bird kings of trash in every city? The teddy picker game machine is being bolshie now that it is morning but the metals claws inside are silent waiting to pick up what’s been left over. Around the corner and further up the street techno leaks out from an underground pool hall. The guys in the fast food place next door are talking as they either finish or start. Does it matter? Two boys come giggling. The one in the thick black jacket is holding up the other, both heads bow slightly to the ground with each outburst and they trip along like this. I hit the main street where cars are now the party goers thronging. At the Angel-in-Us coffee shop, the volume of the street has been turned up and the music blares. A girl is slouched over a table and a boy caresses her contorted face. I envy her but only have a slight envy for the group laughing on the next table as they end their day but I am in my new day.
In the subway, suits are lined waiting. Women are as spectacular as the night before, the ajoshi are as serious. Two younger men can and do here in Seoul break the mold and chatter over their take away coffees. Mostly there is a line of nodding heads in rhythm with the train. We all exit together. The sky is now blue, some clouds drift and the skyscrapers are ready to begin work. Some have already begun. At the train station, black lines cross and cross the sky marking the paths of progress. The loudspeaker announces the arrival of the sturdy silver train. Like a bird, I head south.