It has been almost a year since I have this blog, and I am realising (now, looking for tags) that it does not have a single post on South Korea. Which is surprising, really, because for 13+ years South Korea remains, together with Paris, another constant in my life, a place where I always come back to. All this time it has been a home to my parents, but it is a long story, and I should tell it in one of my Chapters. For now, I’ll just say that I am in love with this place – madly and for so many good reasons. Since more than a decade, I am witnessing its rise, its growth and, now, its glory. Sometimes I even feel myself part of Korea’s success – and I am very proud of this small country and grateful for all the moments of happiness I have shared here with my family.
For all the 13 years (and counting), I came to experience cherry blossom for the first time this April. Cherry (in Korean, 벚나무 or “kotkot”) blossom is a narrow window of opportunity that opens up once a year for a week, sometimes two. God forbids to call it sakura here: even though, I suspect, it was planted by the Japanese, any reference to that time of military occupation of Korea spurs anger even more than half a century ago. (Another enemy is China: every sand wind or storm blows from there, as do hacker credit cards attacks). Cherry blossom is a magical time in Korea: the entire country stops working and starts taking pictures. There is a train station is a small city where my parents live, which is attracting crowds these two weeks: it literally stands in cherry trees, and every time a train is passing by, flower rain starts – to the delight of the crowd and fireworks of camera flashes. This train station was closed this year – to avoid accidents with the most enthusiastic photographers, waiting for the magic at the train rails.