Korean Sojourns: The Smell of Sangam

You’ll notice the stink of trash clogging the air and the weight of the clouds hanging everywhere if you take a walk outside—in the quiet backstreets the older locals stare at you with blank faces, as do some of the uniformed schoolchildren, though the modernized youth doesn’t give a damn.

You might catch a glance of the lone hulking foreigner in this area, a sunburned lump of muscled fat who doesn’t notice you as you slip by him on one of the streetcorners, past a little plastic shop full of tiny boxes of snacks, all in unreadable Korean, the sign over its awning advertising itself with a cartoon rendering of a naked woman whose long ponytails are as purple as her pubic hair.

Beneath the dizzying tenements the light is gray and dull, and the only alleviation from the faint stench of fish comes from the man squatting near the supermarket, his hands cupped over a cigarette that pours its blue smoke out into the air, a cloud you gleefully inhale through your tired nostrils as you search for coffee—there’s also a secluded sidewalk on one of the backstreets lined with trees whose names you don’t know, and the shadow of their dark leaves is a relief from the odor, smelling of rich jungles rather than wretched sewers.

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One thought on “Korean Sojourns: The Smell of Sangam

  1. Farkas says:

    Stellar, I can almost smell Sangam myself, not that I’d want to.

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