The elderly person who was furtively observing from a distance comes over and asks, “What are you doing?”
“Oh, hello! Just taking some photos.”
“I thought you were one of those land surveyors. Anyway, what are you photographing that house for?”
“Well, I think it’s pretty.”
“Pretty? It’s awful how it’s about to fall down. What use is there to take photos of it?”
“Ah, yes... I feel sad to see things disappearing. This kind of building reminds me of the house where I grew up in my old hometown. So I wanted to record it in photographs for exhibitions. Would it be okay to photograph?”
“Wonder if those photos will turn up in weird places. Some strangers took photos the other day and left, and I wonder whether that was broadcasted. Another time, so many of them came all at once and took photos...were they also trying to make exhibitions? It looks just hideous to me. How odd. Well, I guess no two minds think alike... well, go ahead.”
“Yes, thank you. Take care.”
The time I have spent in Seoul almost outweighs the time I used to live in the countryside.
It has been here in Seoul that I have met a lot more people and had diverse experiences.
Despite all of that, the childhood memories that fill my mind are as lucid as my accent, which never changes.
Perhaps it’s because Seoul is the site in which I always confront the continuum of the reality, while the space around the country house leaves traces.
The hometown that I occasionally visit is filled with things that remind me of my past.
The river (it’s called a river, but is much closer to a stream) where I used to fish, swim and sled in all seasons; the mountains that I endlessly explored without catching a single rabbit (Hwanseok once burnt the entire mountain while playing with fire); the entrance of the town, which was spooky day in and day out because of a nearby cemetery; Hyunghoon’s hut full of all kinds of snakes; the peach tree at Okboon’s that I desperately wanted to take a peach from; the persimmon tree at Yongsoo’s whose fruits tasted different from ours; the empty lot in front of the town hall where we played games like stick-tossing, marble-throwing, and hitting the tombstone with a stone, the rice paddies, the fields…
People are slowly disappearing.
The houses, streams, rice paddies, fields, and mountains are also disappearing.
Memories are disappearing.
It is a natural phenomenon, since the world is always changing.
Nonetheless, this feeling of emptiness in the corner of my heart keeps revealing those memories.
Maybe I am searching for an escape from them.
My childhood longing to become an adult has expired.
My gaze, where the camera stays, is not from wanting to enter into the memories, but perhaps from no longer wanting to become an adult.
Artist/ Yunho Kim