Koroot’s located right at the foot of Inwang San, so this morning I took a hike up the mountain, all the way to the top! It’s really beautiful, with a fortress wall that traces the spine of the mountain like dragon scales. I usually try and hike in Inwang at least once when I’m in Korea since it’s so near Koroot, but I usually stick to the paths and public exercise machines located about halfway up the mountain. Today, though, I took a different trail and hiked all the way to the summit. I didn’t have my camera with me (it was a kind of spur-of-the-moment decision to hike to the top, so I wasn’t really prepared), but I managed to grab a few shots with my handphone.
I also took the opportunity to grab a couple sound bytes. So you can listen to the sounds of the mountain while scrolling through the photos, and it’ll be just like you’re there with me! (Apologies for the poor sound quality—I just had the internal iPhone mic with me. Also, sorry for the rather roundabout way of uploading these files--my internet-savvy is apparently not sufficient enough to figure out how to embed sound files on Blogger)
The first sound clip is of the mountain spring. Apparently, the water from the spring is supposed to have healing/healthful benefits. It certainly felt wonderfully cool and refreshing when I splashed my face with the water after hiking for three miles!
The second clip is of Korean cicadas. I love this sound. Funnily, the American cicada calls in late summer always gave me anxiety when I was growing up. The harsh jicka-jicka of American cicadas at night meant that summer was almost over, that school would start again, that I would have to navigate new and uncomfortable situations in classrooms full of unfamiliar faces. The cicadas heralded the looming approach to the time when I would have to once again put all my efforts into being a model student, poised and perfect. Exhausting.
Korean cicadas, on the other hand, soothe me, with their mem-mem-mem. Rather than an external façade, Korean cicadas represent self-discovery and a sense of coming home for me. This summer, I’ve heard just a few here and there, but when I first came back to Korean in 2001, it must have been a transition year for Korean cicadas, because I remember the sound of hundreds of cicadas calling to each other for hours on end being deafening.
That first trip home was definitely a turning point in my life, when being a Korean adoptee because a central and positive self-identity for me. Since then, I’ve grown and have returned to Korean many times, and the mem-mem-mem has become a sound of self-affirmation for me.