It could be awfully clichéd to name Seoul, the place I dwell, a spot of contrasts between previous and new. And but that texture actually does manifest in all places in Korean life, most palpably on the streets of the capital. In my favourite neighborhoods, one passes by way of quite a lot of totally different eras strolling down a single alley. “Third-wave” espresso outlets and “newtro” bars coexist with household eating places unchanged for many years and even small industrial workshops. These workshops produce clothes, plumbing fixtures, printed matter, electronics, and far else moreover, in lots of instances late into the evening. For all its status as a high-tech “Asian Tiger,” this stays, clearly and presently, a rustic that makes issues.
You may see simply how Korea makes issues on the Youtube channel All Technique of World, which has drawn tens of hundreds of thousands of views with its movies of factories: factories making forks, bricks, sliced tuna, sheepskin jackets, bowling balls, humanoid robots. The dimensions of those Korean industrial operations ranges from the huge to the artisanal; some merchandise are distinctive to twenty-first century life, and others have been in use for hundreds of years.
On the standard aspect, All Technique of World has offered close-up views of the making of ceramic teapots, picket window frames (as you’ll see in a classical Korean hanok), handheld percussive moktak to assist Buddhist monks of their chants, and even jeogori, the distinctive jackets worn with hanbok clothes.
Judging by the feedback, All Technique of World’s many viewers hail from across the globe. This shouldn’t come as a shock, given Korea’s newfound worldwide recognition. However that so-called “Korean wave” owes much less to the enchantment of Korea’s conventional tradition than its fashionable one, much less to its rustic but elegant pottery and brilliantly colourful formalwear than to BTS and “Gangnam Type,” Parasite and Squid Sport — whose “robotic woman” seems on a rug made in one All Technique of World video. One other exhibits us the manufacturing of an equally fashionable merchandise, the face masks seen in all places in Korea through the previous two years. Just some weeks in the past, the federal government gave us the okay to take these masks off open air. Whereas hoping for the arrival of absolutely post-COVID period, we’d do properly to bear in mind how the previous at all times appears to seek out its approach into the current.
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the ebook The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by way of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Fb, or on Instagram.