Gwangju Blog




It’s about that time of year. I’m sure that most of us could feel it coming. The quickening winds, the long, dark mornings; those days will soon be upon us. It is three weeks and counting until the winter solstice. There must be a way out.

Such thoughts usually fill my mind when this time of year approaches. Curiously, it is not the weather itself which quickens my desire to jettison myself from this darkening land. Rather, it is the thought of such times which fills me more with dread. I was in the midst of such thoughts recently when passing a large, randomly placed claw machine near Jisun-dong. I have always been fascinated by these machines. The seeming simplicity of the game must be maneuverable into a higher than average chance of scoring my prized Sponge Bob or Ninja Turtle crap to be. Now that these machines have become all the (temporary) rage, such thoughts creep into my waking mind more often than not when walking through nightlife areas around town. However, I rarely waste my coins on them, preferring instead the scream then punch-a-pillow-as-hard-as-you-can games of old.

In any case, on this particular weekday evening, the sun had already set. Most people on the street seemed confident in their reasons for going to where they wanted, or perhaps needed to be. As they rushed by me, I decided to linger in front of the machine pictured above. Before composing and taking this shot, I stood for half a minute. My emotions were a complex mix of envy and pity for the faces inside. To some degree, they were probably warmer than I, and spent their days chilling with friends lest occasional moments of molestation by a giant metal claw. However, only after developing and seeing the photo above did I feel that gnawing sense of pity. It was one which could only come from an acknowledged empathy for their situation. For, despite their soft, well lit cage, it was still a cage nonetheless. They were as trapped as I on that night. As I type with legs propped up with a steaming thermos full of tea to my right, this seems strangely comforting.


[Image taken with my Contax T2 shooting Kodak Portra 400.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)