bit o’ kimchi is a series in which I catalog short visions of ordinary life I encounter in Korea.
One of my favorite things about walking to the traditional market near my school is that I have to cross this big street to get there. I love walking across big streets in Korea. Since so many people walk and use public transportation, there are always lots of people on the streets (even in this cold weather).
So the other day, here I was waiting to cross this street. When the light turned green, we all poured into the crosswalk, moving in a herd. About half way across, a tall, elderly Korean man walked passed me going in the other direction. I stared at him, as you don’t often see very tall Koreans (he was at least six and a half feet tall), and if you do, most of them are young. But to top it all off, what sat upon his head but a giant, white cowboy hat. I swear it could have been a genuine Stetson.
I tried to see if he was wearing cowboy boots, but then I ran into a tiny old lady since I had been staring so badly. Niiice. Luckily, Koreans are so used to being bumped, and squished, and pushed (small country, lots of people), it didn’t even seem to faze her.
I love these large street crossings. So many people shuffling here and there all at once. So many types of people, and yet all Koreans and all so similar. But all with individual lives, and hopes, and dreams, but all crossing the street at the same time as me, trying to get to the market or to HomePlus, or the coffee shop or the LG Store. It’s kind of like there in that street is a microcosm of what Korea is and it’s exhilarating to experience it in one big rush.
Plus, a Korean wearing a Stetson is pretty great.