Saturday, December 13, 2008

Seoul's solution to Washington's problem

During autumn, Korea erupts into a riot of fall colors. Sure, this is not unique to Korea, but it's different from other places I've lived in for more than a year or beyond just summers, such as Southern California and Hawaii, both of which merely switch from brown to green. 

One of my favorite places in Seoul to drive in the fall is Sowol-gil (소월길), the road that runs along the southern side of Namsan (which is either a small mountain or a giant hill, depending on your point of view) in the middle of the city. Since I live close to Namsan, I end up driving along that road quite a lot (it was the scene of
this post). 

It is lined with Gingko trees (ŭnhaeng namu [은행나무] in Korean) that turn a brilliant golden yellow in the fall, as in the picture above, which I believe is Kyŏngbokkung Palace [Gyeongbokgung, 경복궁/昌德宮]. With the mountain on one side and a panoramic view of southern Seoul on the other, the drive becomes quite beautiful. (In the spring, the area is flush with cherry blossoms.)

One of the hazards of driving along that road, however, is the ajumma (older woman) and occasional ajŏshi (older man) standing in or alongside the road gather gingko nuts. The road is narrow and they are basically playing roadside roulette, with many a driver coming very close to hitting them.

The nuts are used to make tea, and they are quite valuable, which is why so many folks are risking their lives.

Thousands of miles away, in Washington DC, the problem is that there is nobody to pick up the nuts, and those nuts end up emitting an awful smell. The Washington Post describes it thus:
The bouquet of a ginkgo tree's fruit has strong notes of unwashed feet and Diaper Genie, with noticeable hints of spoiled butter.
What a lovely olfactory image. Anyway, the solution to me is clear: Provide the air fare and accommodations for the gingko gatherers and let them take their bounty back to Seoul. They, in turn, will provide Washingtonians with less smelly streets with fewer squishy gingko nuts. It's a win-win for everone.  


  1. Wow~ you got the picture already~
    I don't mind ^^
    Yujin from TN

  2. Well, if you minded, I certainly would have taken it down. You have nice photos on your site.

    Is the one I posted of 창덕궁 Palace?


Share your thoughts, but please be kind and respectful. My mom reads this blog.