Sorry that it’s been nearly a week since my last post. The exigencies of my legal work have carried me to the Far East. I’m currently sitting in the lobby of the Stanford Hotel in Seoul, which is located in the heart of “Digital Media City” — a modernist urban neighborhood created on top of an old landfill.
Seoul is one of the oddest cities in the world, at least geologically. It has a small mountain range literally running right through it. Every morning, I have pushed myself on a strenuous run/hike up a mountain next to the hotel. Two miles up, two miles back on a rock-strewn wooded path. You would think you’re in West Virginia, but actually you’re in a city of 15 million people.
Another oddity: the City is ringed by very upscale suburbs, although the scarcity of land (and omnipresent mountains) means that everyone lives vertically. The newest suburbs are built within a few miles of the DMZ and could be easily destroyed by a random North Korean artillery shell. And you think buying a beachside cottage is risky. Suffice to say that people here are not worried about an invasion.
Finally, the new airport in Incheon — site of General McArthur’s last (and greatest) triumph – is an engineering marvel. Built on a man-made island, it’s connected to Seoul by a privately-owned superhighway which crosses miles of open water and runs you straight into the downtown.
Sixty years ago, after the War, South Korea was one of the poorest nations in the world. Now it’s one of the wealthiest. There are many reasons for that, not the least of which is a strong alliance and friendship with the United States. But the main reason is a work ethic that is really unique, even in the Far East.
Anyway, be back in Virginia this weekend.