A Swift Restoration and Children’s Grand Park

My 10 month old Olympus Pen EPL5 had managed to dis-guard its shutter button how I do not know. Fortunately after last weeks trip to Nandaemum I had an address in Yongsan where it could be serviced.

Firstly I headed to the Silom Sauna for a full body massage which included the guy making an ascent onto my back before  parading up and down then later using his elbows to reach spots that delivered a challenge to my pain threshold. I survived.

Readers may not know but the Yongsan area is famous for its electronics market. Recently the nearest Terminal Mall (Hall B), accessed on level three over the raised walkway, has been demolished. This whole area was earmarked for re-development a project to develop the Yongsan Station area called “the largest development project since the age of Dangun (the founding father of Korea)” eventually ended in bankruptcy. Dream Hub, the developer of the Yongsan development project, went bankrupt in 2013 after failing to repay 5.9 billion won in debt interest. Whats left is a huge empty wasteland which should have looked like this known as “Dream Hub”.

dream hub


images yongsanInstead it looks like this which is sad because as well as the project becoming bankrupt it has a sad legacy. People died in struggle for their homes. A documentary called “Two Doors” (두 개의 문) showed evictions of local residents. An accidental fire, while police carried out a forced eviction, led to the death of six people.

Our destination (FOBY and I) was Area 12 which as it happened was not too difficult to find, the Olympus service centre is on the third floor. I was grateful Frank had made the effort to be my translator and guide for the day, whilst my camera was under “guarantee” in some countries it appears the “guarantee” is not honoured. I was right in assuming the two service centres in Yongsan and Gangnam would pay homage that worldwide contract! The extremely helpful guy had a part in stock which meant removing the cameras top plated which comes as a unit including a new shutter button. After lunch, one hour later, my repair was completed for no charge. On Saturday I loved Korea.

Now I’ve converted to Olympus I need to sell off my Nikon gear which necessitated some field research in Nandaemun as there’s a proliferation of second hand vendors there. Estimates varied and all wanted to view the actual equipment rather than photos so next Saturday I’ll lug my redundant gear and do some bargaining. With the proceeds I may buy an Olympus VF4 electronic view finder which has very positive reviews.

FOBY was keen to visit the location of my altercation with bank security guards which took place during Independence Day (the Coryo Daeyungak Tower KEB bank). After a short re-enactment he was bamboozled by the way I’d been treated and recorded the scene so he could make an official complaint. Just to refresh I left Cafe Pascucci stopping outside to text, leaving my camera bag on the floor alongside me. Whilst engaged in this seemingly less than antagonistic activity I was approached by the next door banks security guard.  PerfectlyClearHe aggressively motioned for me to move away whilst instantaneously picking up my camera bag and moving it onto the pavement. He of course spoke no English but I said something about this not being North Korea and used various hand gestures to replace disparaging language. Feeling slightly awkward but compliant I put the bag down next to me and sat down on the quite public pavement. Another irritating guard arrived with the first aggressor keeping his distance. After further wasteful confrontation I handed him my phone and FOBY ascertained they were accusing me of loitering. Loitering of course can be described as “the act of standing around with no purpose” other than to of course “solicit for sexual favours or indeed offer them”  alternatively it could “loitering with the intent to commit a crime”. Only Korea could explain my acts as loitering!

later after copious quantities of chicken and a few beers FOBY headed back to his new castle in Pyeongtek and I imbibed some Cabernet at Lovestar.

On Sunday I rose early to capture some iPhoeography of the characters around Tapgol Park before taking off to Children s Grand Park. Originally, Seoul Children’s Grand Park was the site of the royal tomb of Myeong Seong Hwang Hu, who was the Queen of the last King, Sunjong.. The tomb was moved to Yangju-gun (currently Namyangju City) in Gyeonggi Province in 1926 when King Sunjong died. Recently some of the relics have been returned to the park. The park station is on Line 7 one stop from Konkuk University.

As I entered I noticed a sign saying the amusement park was undergoing re-refurbishment and to the left a lily pond that had seen the best of the summer. Straight ahead was a musical fountain but I took the path that circles the perimeter of the park. I passed through a relatively dilapidated faux Korean village and some covered walkways that had supported a crop of Pumpkins since deceased. I was heading towards the exotic bird enclosure but it transpired it was closed for safety reasons so after surviving an attack from giant parrots the next attraction was an animal show. As I’d missed the performance I continued to the seal enclosure which had both an outdoor viewing platform and a “cave” were the seals could be viewed underwater. On reaching the big cats it was hard not to feel frustrated as those that were not stir crazy slept dozily and carried tangled mains and damaged faded skins. The birds of prey had minuscule cages and damaged feathers but the Elephants appeared relatively healthy and active.

After stopping for coffee at a sculpture made from bicycle wheels and finding a giant golden egg I discovered another splendidly  converted water treatment plant. A peaceful haven from the screaming kids. The plant was accessible through steep ramps which accounted for its seemingly lack of popularity. It was early afternoon and later that evening I had a BL dinner and J & S to look forward to with Sean and Megan, so I took Line 7 direct to EBT for the journey home.


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