A Promenade Through Seoul

The older we get in life, the more we become aware of how much we don’t know. The days of being cocky, arrogant, or thinking we can rule the world after a small string of successes slowly succumbs to the caution, skepticism, and humility brought about by our failures. As we age, we begin to understand things like the importance of time. We become aware that a flash of anger can destroy a relationship, the timing of a few choice words can either make or break our careers, and that picking up cucumbers from the grocery store can result in meeting that special person who will redefine our entire future. We also become aware that life is kind of backwards. When we are young, eager, ambitious, and full of hope, we want to change the world; however, we don’t have the resources to do so. As we get older, we are in a better position financially to change the world, but the daily drudgery and stress of life drains our passion and ambition. Even how we deal with heartbreak is out of order. The heartbreak we fight the most valiantly for was our first love. Unfortunately, when we are older, the numbing of hurt emotions allows us to give up on the functional relationships that truly mattered. Finally, time itself begins to trick our minds. The countless hours we spent waiting for the clock to move faster during math class, sitting through a sister’s dance recital, praying for the clock to strike 12 at church, or impatiently sleeping on christmas eve all fade into what feels like a few blinks of the eye.

Then, there is the irony of Prom. Prom is the pinnacle of our young careers and social callings.  At prom, we celebrate who we are, with the person we love, and with our close friends.  Of course, many of us discover later that we didn’t know who we were.  We discover that many of our friends had not revealed their true colors.  Finally, we realize what we thought was true love was really what our mothers had always told us it was . . . teenage hormones.  For many of us, prom becomes a cherished snapshot in time.  It represents who we were at one time, but it was not indicative of who we would become or of all the people we would come to cherish.  In fact, it becomes another irony of life.  Prom is a beautiful memory, but the timing of the event for most of us couldn’t be worse.

That is why I believe the recent prom in Suwon/Seoul was a brilliant idea.  It was the brainstorm of three friends who thought it would be fun to dress up and sip on spiked beverages.   What originally began as an idea for fifteen of their closest friends, blossomed into two full busses of the most well-groomed foreigners in Korea.  What these friends may or may not have realized was how much this event meant to certain people.  I met a young man who brought his lovely date and his beautiful mother to the pre-party.  Why was his mother there?  She told me it was her son’s only prom!  We also had a couple who became engaged the night before the prom.  Could you imagine going to your prom with the incredible person who you are going to spend the rest of your life with?  For many of us, an irony of life was being corrected.  We could resurrect an event that had soooo much meaning and finally place it in the context of the real person we had become and the people who we truly cherish the most.  Of course, I should have realized my fate would be the creepy, prom, photographer guy.

Not everything went according to plan.  Due to the overactive bladders of alcoholics in training, we missed the boat cruise. The girls pleaded with everyone to wait because we would miss the boat. Their advice was ignored.  However, these girls were not professional organizers. They were simply three incredible girls who wanted to do something special for their friends.  I have traveled with a few different groups in Korea and the level of detail and compassion poured into this event easily outshined anything I have participated in.  Prior to the event, these girls spent countless hours meticulously preparing things like rewards for best dressed and prom queen.  They even built a prom backdrop for portraits.  Everything before and after the boat cruise was perfect. The buses were a blast, the girls were hand delivering drinks and shots to attendees at the pre-party, and the roofless club in Itaewon was a cool place for the after party. 

So yes, there was a hiccup.  A boat cruise would have been amazing.  However, everyone was still in their prom gear looking sharp with the best photographers in the world (I’m joking) trying their best to get some classy pictures by the river.  People got upset, demanded money back, and decided to go home.  I understand people being upset.  However, the worst case scenario was 200 foreigners dressed classy as hell (with a few zombies) storming Itaewon to have the party of their lives.  Considering that my real prom was held in an American Legion Hall (Where old people play bingo), this would have been a huge win.  Why not roll with the punches and have the best time possible considering all the effort every individual put into this event?

Regardless, the pictures don’t lie.  This was an awesome event and many people had a fantastic time.  Thank you to those who rolled with the punches and thank you for all of your support of Kimchibytes.  I put off getting my masters degree this year for one last chance to chase my dream of photography and writing.  I have a feeling this is the event that I will look back and recognize as the special moment in my career when I no longer consider myself an amateur but a new professional emerging into my field.  Thank you for the memories.

5 thoughts on “A Promenade Through Seoul

  1. I thought this was an excellent piece of writing. The potential is there, and I hope your dream comes true. “Going for it” is many times the most difficult part of the journey, but it also can be the most rewarding. Look at the many friends, acquaintances and experiences you’ve had already.


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