Lately a few fellow early birds I run into as I make my rounds between seaside sunrise and coffee shop have asked how the morning’s snapping went and then hit me with “So, what do you with the pictures?” And I always mumble something about the blog, and personal satisfaction, and more tangible options along the line when I have some money — but mostly what I do with them is edit. Delete and edit. Pretty sad, I know. But they give me a reason to walk, I guess…
A plus side of all this downtime is the progress I’ve made with a ton of shots from my two years in Korea, which was when and where I really buckled down and tried to improve as a photographer, largely as an attempt at therapy, self-medication and diversion. And it would be a shame if I didn’t share some of them, so I’m going to do periodic Korean Flashbacks built around a certain theme — and this inaugural episode is about cats.
Cats are on my mind of late, and Kate’s as well, as her 17-year-old, Dr Heinrich P. Mosenberg (or simply Moe if you’ve been introduced)…
Moe in June this year. I think you’ll agree: purrrrr-fection in a moggie.
..whom I’m delusional enough to think of as “mine” as well, is showing his age and the inevitably terminal effects of chronic kidney failure.
We’ve got him comfortable and reasonably content for now, which doesn’t come cheap (I wouldn’t pay U.S. $2 per can of prescription-only food for many humans I know) but it’s worth it. Hopefully he’ll hang in there till I get Stateside again, but meanwhile, in his honour, here’s a little tribute to cats — specifically those of Korea I encountered on my walks, most of which were strays or almost-strays. I suppose they had it better than dogs overall, but I still think that country is no place to be born either feline or canine…
It was a rare cat I saw in Korea that seemed well cared for, but this one at Jagalchi’s seafood markets in Busan seemed contented enough. The pungent smells there, which I found intolerable in prolonged doses, no doubt were feline olfactory heaven.
A heavily pregnant temple cat takes refuge from the crowds in the only available space: on the rocks at the water’s edge. The evening of the Buddha’s Birthday celebrations at Haedong Yonggung Temple, on the northern edge of Busan.
A fresh batch of strays — perhaps the ones in the temple vicinity are at least fed on occasion — is on the way to supplement an already bountiful supply.
A wary stray and her kitten in a vegetable garden near my main school in Jangyu. Does the fact that there was only one kitten suggests that it’s the sole survivor?
A skittery stray regards me cautiously from the scrappy vegetable garden adjoining my apartment block.
What’s with the eyes? They seem to have briefly deterred this wharf stray from checking out the enticing bait. This and the next three shots were taken on the docks at Sokcho, not far south of the North Korean border on the east coast, in September 2012.
Moving in for the kill.
Time to put the paws up.
On the Waterfront.
From my Goatography page: “Walking back from a temple many miles out of Busan, it was nearly 7:00pm, the road was dark & quiet and I was still a long way from town when with a rustling of leaves & branches a startled feline darted into the undergrowth. As in Japan, I usually found cats in Korea to be most unfriendly/downright paranoid, & not just the millions of strays. This time I had the feeling that my observer hadn’t gone far; creeping off the roadside, I discovered that it was still watching — and it had company. October 2013.”
There was an ugly, decaying little village on the edge of the rice paddies outside Yulha. The place had Doom written all over it, and I never enjoyed a single smile or even nod from the few locals when I wandered through on the way to the mountains beyond. That lack of hospitality extended to the resident felines, like this one watching from behind one of the numerous garbage piles…
..and this one, which soon bolted from its spot in the sunshine to escape from view.
This farm cat, resembling a skankier, less charming version of Dr Heinrich P. Mosenberg, is running across a dirty stretch of road between rice paddies. That’s Dead Man’s Peak (I named it) on the left, and the towers of delightful downtown Jangyu (home) in the distance.
A nervous runaway in an alley at Songjeong Beach north of Busan. The sign says “Seojin Mart” but I’m afraid I can’t tell you what Seojin means — maybe it’s just a name.
This ginger was too healthy and attractive to have been a true stray, surely — but it was one jumpy kitty, let me tell you. It lurked in the bushes on the nasty road leading up to my imprisoned dog friends, and even with a deep drain between us, wouldn’t let me get too close…
..before it fled deeper into the woods, stopping once to check I wasn’t following.
Same cat, same location, two months later. We never became friends. Nice ginger though, and I’m not usually partial to gingers.
I took a black-and-white shot of this guy/gal, but like the way the mottled colours of its pelt seem to reflect the hues of its urban habitat. This was in the crumbling, unkempt but kinda fascinating maze of backstreets on the hillsides overlooking downtown Busan. One more step and it vanished, the way they usually did. Maybe it was my face.
At last, some friendly felines! The motley crew in this and the next three pictures were wharf cats in a tiny, almost-but-not-quite-charming port-village north of Busan. They actually approached and consented to a pat and a back-scratch. Made my day — most Koreans I met on my walks drew the line at back-scratches.
I had a feeling that these youngsters…
..were the offspring of Big Balls Kim, the baddest tomcat on the docks.
Same village, same day. One of the most ferocious predators I’ve ever encountered on my rambles. I was lucky to get out of there alive.
And finally, a couple of exotic felines add some much-needed colour to the drab streets of Jangyu. From Goatography: “A forlorn-looking middle-schooler slumps to school past a piece of artwork dumped on the street in my town of Jangyu. March 2012.”
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote