The Patterns of Seoul

Seoul is full of fascinating juxtapositions.  Ancient and modern architecture share the same city blocks.  A traditional tea shop will share the same building as a modern art museum.  Patterns and textures of new and old worlds can be experienced anywhere you turn.  On our last visit to Seoul, I put away my wide-angle lens, and allowed myself only to shoot with my 30mm Sigma f/1.4.  The tighter compositions forced me to focus away from landscapes and towards the smaller stories of patterns that surround us.

Shall I read the stars…

…or wonder why ajummas (old Korean women) like polka dot and flower pants so much?

Dragon designs are cool…

…but so are the calligraphy brush shops that make much Asian-inspired patterns possible.

That guy needs a frumpy blue hat to cover his hair cowlick…

…and a skeleton hoody with a zip-up hood to complete the new “juxtaposed” fashion trend.

While Seoul is full of inedible patterns, it would be a disservice to neglect the edible ones…

Rows of kimbab and kabobs look delicious…

…but I can’t say the same for boiled silkworms.  I’m pretty biased on these.  While the pattern is interesting, the smell before one reaches your mouth and the taste after it reaches your tongue, leaves the customer wishing some experiences could be forgotten.

I could end this blog post now, but don’t worry, I won’t leave you with such a bad taste in your mouth.  Instead, I’ll share a pattern that upon seeing always give joy to my heart:


Patterns reveal a lot about a place.  They can tell you about the native customs and lifestyles.  They can help you better understand people’s thinking and worldviews.  Stroll the streets of the ancient-modern city of Seoul, and you won’t be able to avoid the interesting juxtaposition of patterns, and the Korean culture they reveal.

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