Gwangju Blog

Rite of Spring

Rite of Spring


Nothing says late spring the like the tell-tale emergence of heady beach junk on the photography blog. It is an annual rite of passage of sorts. For several years now, images of visually interesting waste on southwestern beaches have graced this blog with the hints they give regarding how we city folk utilize this expansive coastline which surrounds us. If spending most of our time in downtown Gwangju, we can easily forget the impact of this sensory scape which to a large extent affects the urban lives we enjoy. Not just cuisine, but also more subtle cultural attitudes are affected by combination of agrarian and ocean-based livelihoods which surround us. However, the news seems to have spread, as visiting these shores has become an increasingly common way to spend a warm weekend.

This week’s photo was chosen for the way it reveals changes which have come to the shores from Byeongsanbando southward to Mokpo and Wando the past number of years. While it is still relatively easy to find uninterrupted fields and mountains meeting the rocky shoreline in Jeolla-do, most access roads now lead to curated beach experiences. The fuller visual description of these changes will have to wait until another day. However, needless to say, pensions and seaside tourist haunts now lay claim to where fishing boats and the occasional unidentified ruins once lay. As such, even the refuse has reflected this change in societal use.

While shipwrecked buoys and remnants of Chinese pallets can still be found, fireworks, picnic wrappings, and kites like the one above are an increasingly ubiquitous sight. Personally, while I mourn this change local visual culture, I realize that this is inherently a transitional space, one that cares not for the sacredness of yesterday. Therefore, like the discarded pink pig monster above, I have little choice but to greet these changes with a smile.


[Image taken with a rapidly aging Iphone SE, accompanied by a heady brew of ambient music and Puer tea.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)