I just got back from a trip to Korea for the Daegu Photo Biennale, a great new photo festival about two hours from Seoul. I just had a few weeks back in the States and then I jumped on a plane back to Asia again. It was a little nutty.
There were curators from all over Europe and Asia at the festival, and we spent a couple days meeting with Korean photographers and reviewing their portfolios. Afterwards, I hopped the train back to Seoul and spent a week exploring my old home turf.
I lived in Seoul from the time I was six months old until I was seven, when we moved to Japan. Being there brought back all sorts of memories I didn't know I had. One morning, I walked by a group of ladies practicing Qigong. They had a little boom box playing Arirang, an iconic Korean song. I hadn't heard it since I was a child, but the first few strains brought tears to my eyes. Over the course of the trip I also remembered some Korean words we used when I was a kid, "pali pali!" and "kapshida!" (hurry up and come on). And, I had the chance to visit my childhood home and stand in my old backyard - a truly bizarre experience. It was decrepit and overgrown, and someone along the line thought it was a good idea to add brutalist architectural elements to a traditional Korean home, but it was the same spot. It was the first time I've ever been back to a childhood home.
The whole trip was fantastic, but I had one perfect day that really stands out. I spent it wandering around the grounds of the historic (16th century) Changdeokgung Palace in the sunshine and strolling through the bustling streets of Seoul eating bean cakes. Heavenly. You know how sometimes you feel grounded, centered, and on top of the world? That's how I felt. I felt at home. It was a gem of a day and I'll carry it with me for a long time. All in all, a wonderful trip!