The water roared down in torrents just like this when I first arrived in the city, dousing everything in a gray, blurry film of bursting raindrops. Deep vibrating puddles gathered in the gutters as the speeding cars slashed through them, while people walked by the windows under floating umbrellas: that first storm is the same as this one. Not a second has passed; it’s still the same ash I met when I came to Busan; the passage of two years and all the transformations of life therein were an illusion.
It’s not so difficult for me to deal with the rain because I come from a rainy place; in fact I love the sight of it. To see the misty high-rises stretching out of the bottom and up past the top of our apartment’s massive glass window reminds me of all the dark leaves back home that would be thrashing so wildly in a storm like this.
The real difference between there and here is to be met under the summer sun, when some Koreans at least do their best to fit as snugly as possible into their Western stereotypes. Little old ladies as pale as corpses or Noh dancers shade their wrinkled cheeks beneath diminutive rose-spotted parasols. Children run around in their white taekwondo outfits like Jedi Knights-in-training, and motorbikes weave through them as they dart over the striped crosswalks and the tar that is painted green and red, howling up steep concrete-mantled hills.
But I suppose for the most part it’s pretty much the same: there are different designs and variations in the patterns of life, but the rain is boiling over everything, and the sun is shining, just as it does anywhere else.