We have just finished watching ‘Burning’, Lee Chang Dong’s masterful cinematic work from 2018 set in South Korea dealing, like ‘Parasite’, with the vampiric usage of the underclass by the rich. Frustrated love, thwarted; and desperation. But slow, real slow burn; poetic; layered. Beautiful.
It is making me want to go back to Korea again.
We have only been there once before; to Seoul, almost twenty two years ago, when D had only recently arrived, still didn’t have a working visa (he was living with me working one hour a week) and we were compelled to leave the country for eight days or so to qualify for the documentation. We chose the nearest capital city, and stayed in a freezing February, heated at feet level by the boiling ondol floor of the windowless guesthouse we were staying in and where I woke up in the night, heady, almost feverish in the darkness with what can only be described as garlic poisoning. Livid with garlic. Shaking, sweating, and breathing it like a dragon. Never have I had so much garlic in my entire life as I did that night (which I love, ordinarily, and cook with all the time but mama mia – fistfuls of chopped cloves (or even whole cloves eaten as appetisers) in the food, in every dish,that we let the proprietor order for us (mischievously?) at will, with beer and Korean local liquor, and I just wasn’t accustomed to it, the sweat that pored out of me perfumed with garlic at the blood level; almost hallucinatory.
All this time later – more than two decades have passed since that trip that I can’t remember with very much mental or visual clarity any more – and unimaginably, only a week or so ago I heard that my book, Perfume : In Search Of Your Signature Scent is now being stocked at the Myeongdong branch of LUSH Seoul. A fact I find very exciting, particularly with this newfound interest in Korean cinema (any other recommendations in that area are very heartily accepted). I need to see it. My book on the shelves. Have the food again, more selective; now as an aficionado who loves chige and shichimi and the spicy, red coloured soups. See, and taste, it all, with new eyes.