Outside Jeonju a building stood, rather eloquently along a small stream. Its rear door opened up onto a large open platform, a mix between a jung-ja (sitting platform) and neo-western back deck. On it, several generations of kids either grew up watching over the stream below, or commiserating with their grandparents on Chusok (Thanksgiving day).
It used to be a simple building. Built for just one family, its large communal living space was initially ideal, yet soon outgrown. With the onward march of economic recovery, links were inevitably forged between social and material one-upsmanship. First houses grew, then vehicles, then Tvs. The small one room home became a weekend hideaway from the cacophony of city life. Eventually, older family members would call this place home, content to live out their days in the fertile familiarity the narrow valley provided. The fields remained intact, although the hands that culled its bounty were largely replaced by machines which stubbornly broke the air. Still, the embankment, the view, and thankfully the aging house kept its shape.
It is now 2018, and a decade has passed since the building last called itself a home. The gravel driveway is now paved. A large sign sits just beyond, as yet unreadable in its pristine polystyrene shell. Change is indeed in the air. I often wonder if this building saw the end coming, or if those who once used it paid much attention to the history contained in its cheap yet sturdy materials. Its bones now litter the lawn where, behind camera, a galbi joint (Korean BBQ) is being born. Its prefab neo-brutalist exterior reveals that concrete can also be just skin deep. People will likely come, drawn by the same serenity which years ago birthed the scraps pictured above. After a hearty gorging of meat, the kids happily drowning in the playroom next door, guests might step outside for a Maxim and a smoke. They might even hear the sounds of the stream over the ruckus inside. If so, they will likely exhale for a moment, look out over the valley, and also wonder what was.
[Image taken with my Contax T2, shooting Kodak Portra 400. It was almost dusk, and so two stops of exposure compensation were applied to this image in camera.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)