In early 2020, people (depending on location) became variously concerned about COVID-19, the latest outbreak of coronavirus, which created a small panic among those who enjoy Mexican beer and were also morons. Of course, the new virus originated in Wuhan, a previously unheard of Chinese village of 11 million people.
Widely circulated photos portrayed this ghost town of 11 million people under instantaneous lockdown, Chinese style. Naturally people became worried, and the international news cycle even sporadically abandoned its 24/7 focus on another American presidential election (only 10 months away), revealing (more) racism directed toward Asians, because, you know… morons.
With increasing fear surrounding the coronavirus, and subsequent fear of Asians, the streets became noticeably quieter where I live. Perhaps because 99.8 percent of the population here is Asian, everyone apparently just went home and stayed there. This made for some rare sightseeing.
A friend was visiting from abroad, so… good host and tour guide time! We went to the former foreign slum/current uber-trendy nightlife district of Itaewon in Seoul. It had changed a bit. I had described this…
And… we found this.
We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace in central Seoul, where the traffic had somehow vanished.
…and off to the famous and infamous Tapgeol Park, where all the old people had also vanished.
We did Korea’s favourite day trip… picturesque Nami Island, an hour north of Seoul where families and couples go to take photos of themselves with 15,000 other people… usually.
…then back to Seoul, where the always humming Yongsan Station (one of Korea’s busiest)… wasn’t.
…and south to Jeonju, another tourist destination favoured by Koreans and Japanese. This is where people come to take photos wearing traditional dress (hanbok) with the backdrop of traditional architecture (hanok).
Jeonju was, this time… eerily quiet.
You get the idea. It was that rare, surreal, somewhat disconcerting time when 50 million people, in a tiny country (3.5 times more densely populated than China)… just… disappeared.
South Koreans and other, non-Korean-type people (Chinese people for instance) were rightly concerned about this sweeping, killer epidemic. It’s important to remain positive though because there’s an upside to everything. I reckon those people who make face masks were dancin’.