When I sent my friend Frank a batch of pictures from the collection you’ll find in this post, he responded, “You’re not doing a very good job of selling the place to me.”
To which I made some pithy rejoinder about reporting on my new neighbourhood rather than selling it. And I doubt the pictures here will have too many of you calling your travel agents either. I can understand that.
However, there’s more to a place, obviously, than its physical beauty. A lot of tourists go to, say, Hong Kong, and I doubt many of them are there for the pristine harbour and natural amenities. I spent a few months in Switzerland in 2010, a place so beautiful it almost hurts to open your eyes. But the whole world can’t be Switzerland.
Jangyu, for all its blistering ugliness, is my “town” for the time being (its Korean administrative division is a myeon, which is translated as “town”; it’s a bedroom community of the city of Gimhae, recently built — still being built — apparently to alleviate the pressure from neighbouring Gimhae and Changwon). I don’t know if I could ever “love” it here, but it’s possible to imagine missing it when I’m gone, the way I sometimes miss dirty, crowded, ugly, endless — and endlessly fascinating — Tokyo.
Another weird thing I’ve found is that photographing ugliness and mess and urban squalor can be as enjoyable as capturing a mountain meadow. Seriously, as depressing as the dreadful litter and shitty foothpaths and public spitting and drab buildings and maniacal drivers and piles of junk on the roadside can be, I often find myself smiling at the sheer audacity of the mess here — at some point every day I want to laugh out loud, to shout “Doesn’t anybody here GIVE A SHIT?!”
And there are the tower blocks. I wouldn’t want to live in one, but at least in their endless ranks there’s some pattern, some power in uniformity and repetition, some semblance of organisation that the eye, or mine anyway, seems to crave. And from the outside at least, the tower estates seem quite clean and relatively pleasant. They’re not strewn with plastic and junk-food wrappers and cigarette packets either.
It has something, this dirty new town, I just don’t know what to call it yet.
Anyway, I’ll let the pictures and their captions do the talking…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote