While visiting my family in Seoul, my stepmom and I took an afternoon to play tourist in the city. One of my favorite places to wander around is Kyungbok Palace. It’s a sizable campus that has undergone a lot of restoration with a few great museums (although I haven’t had a chance to visit the Royal Museum yet).
This trip, we happened to serendipitously get there in time to catch the last tour (in English for me, in Korean for her). Our guide, although a bit biased in her anti-Japanese sentiment as expressed in her recapping of various historical events, knew her stuff and I learned a lot more than previous visits.
One of the things that she shared was how when the main buildings of the palace compound was being designed, the rooftops were shaped to mimic and continue the slope of the mountain behind it. Man-made buildings and nature living in harmony. A juxtaposition of sorts.
When the tour was over and we were on our way out, I thought this site (below) was a bit ironic. The view forward was built to be in harmony with nature. The view on the way out was not. And my thought as we were leaving was that the capitalist society’s obsession with development, with modern, with bigger capacity and more efficiency is devoid of wisdom. Another juxtaposition of sorts.