THE GREEN subway line, line number two, is a portal for those seeking solace in the city. The never-ending 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. cycle, spontaneous Skype conferences with foreign clients, and invasive air pollution constrain the modern man’s desire to rest with nature. Yet, subway line number two testifies that sparkling lakes and lush forests are not scenes that are merely shown on Netflix or seen in the Kinfolk Magazine—they are, in fact, an obtainable reality. We invite our readers to come aboard on the green line to enjoy the greenest spots of Seoul.
Seokchon Lake park
I was glad that I brought my camera on the trip. Photography is one way of learning to love the images around you. After taking the first shot, I looked away from the viewfinder and was amazed by how simple things seemed so different from the way I had seen them before. I took my eyes away from the viewfinder to search for what else there was to fall in love with. Looking around, the sign post and the tacky green trash bins seemed lovely. Even the sight of sweaty old men, who jogged alongside the lake, complemented the scenery. I was mesmerized by the emerald-colored Seokchon Lake, which I saw for the first time in daylight.
Taking photographs on this trip allowed me to come closer to the things I loved. I was standing near the water when a small wooden bridge caught my eye from the other side of the lake. Because my single-lens camera was limited in range, I decided to walk over and have a closer look. While daydreaming, I thought, ‘With DSLR cameras, the photographer has to strive to catch the perfect shot. Film cameras, on the other hand, can turn every surrounding image into a cherishable memory …’
Around the edges of Seokchon Lake, there were a few scenes that were too personal for my camera to capture. I remember seeing an aged couple deep in conversation but did not dare to steal their privacy. There also was an elderly lady wearing a purple flower-embroidered hat, who stared bewilderedly into her red diary. Scene after scene, I tried to walk past them all: a magpie sitting on a naked branch, joggers trotting along the path, the water sparkling under the sun… But I gave into temptation and took out my camera.
Beneath the bridge
The Ttukseom Hangang Park near Konkuk University metro station borders a significantly higher number of coffee shops compared to other corners of the river. The people near Ttukseom sat down by the riverbank and chatted peacefully amongst themselves. Many seemed to be lost in thought or were having a realization in mid-conversation. Looking around, it occurred to me that listening to music, reading a book late at night, and taking photographs on the streets were ways to draw closer to another person’s thoughts.
Silence came under the bridge. I sat down on the rocky steps and stared into the waters. The river looked as if somebody had spilled a bag of pearls in it. I wanted to dive in and catch them all.
A short walk from Dangsan station leaves one at a bridge’s distance from Seonyudo Island. Seonyudo Park seemed to have stolen away all those wanting to be happy on the weekend in Seoul. While taking photos, sounds of laughter intruded my solitary walk and lured me to the grass to rest, so I barely made an escape to the botanical glasshouse at the end of the park. On my way back home, I picked up a fresh ciabatta from a small bakery hidden near the station. It tasted familiar and reminded me of the times I found peace alone in the streets and in other parks. I happily returned home.
The trip around line number two cordially reminded me of two truths that I already know but always seem to forget. The bigger distractions in everyday life have been relationships, excelling at school, and suppressing the insatiable desire for the better future. The first truth is that the world is bigger than my own scale of imagination. The second one, profoundly more difficult to believe, is that good things happen as soon as I step outside of my room and into the real world.