Dongdaemun Design Plaza: Seoul I Unlove?

4:38 AM


They say that developing a deep sense of affection for a person you just met while traveling alone can't be love.  It's just your heart's ecstatic reaction to meeting another human being after days of going solo. Or, you're just being overly appreciative of meeting people who are originally from the other side of the planet. Or, you really came from a lonely place that you mistaken basic gestures of politeness to be something romantic. 

Forgive my Koreanovela opening thoughts. Seoul is really romantic. I was just not prepared that it can be this romantic. 

It was in a small corner, under the nauseating club lights, that I first saw you. I really could not remember your face. Until now I am not sure if you were smiling, or drunk, or dancing or even welcoming when I said 'Hi." I could not even remember why I approached you. Or was it 'Hi' or 'Hello'? I know for sure that you gave me your glass of vodka. 

It was almost an hour down when alcohol started to go away. I glanced at my friends enjoying their time at the other side of the club while we are still here near the bar, smiling at each other. Then you pulled your friend and introduced him to me as your boyfriend. "No, no. Don't believe him," he said. Was his name Anjo? Sanjo? Mojo? I don't know because I was busy pulling myself away from you. Then you looked at me and gave me that sad, drunk face. "See? Nobody wants me." 

That's unbelievable. Now that I am starting to get a clearer view of you, I thought it would not be so hard to fall in love with such a beautiful face. You look like someone who earned his masters degree from some Ivy League university. Or someone from a prominent family but has to leave home because you want to build your own empire. 

We went on talking. I learned you're a lecturer from a prestigious school and that you've lost your way to romantic relationships because you were busy making your mark at the age of 26.  My guesses weren't far from reality after all. You're the ideal person. You're that smart ass who has forgotten to flirt. You're trying to flirt now but you obviously don't know how to do it. Who introduces a fake boyfriend right after meeting someone and would announce it later as a joke? Or are you flirting? Are you just someone sad? 

Then you got the wrong person. I am not single. That talking this way with you is wrong. How's that for tonight? 

Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza

The Dongdaemun Design Plaza is one of Seoul's newly constructed landmarks. In my opinion, this one's going to be more iconic than the Seoul Tower and as fun as Myeong-dong. 

The building, housing both art and fashion exhibits, is designed by the renowned Zaha Hadid. This is the very first Zaha Hadid structure I've seen in person and probably the most beautiful after visiting the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi and the Jockey Club Innovation Tower in Hong Kong. 

Young hearts dominate streets and parks in Seoul but you'll see twice more in DDP. In the middle of steel, sudden turns, sharp edges and sexy curves, the plaza is a perfect place for romantic realizations. Never mind if you're not in the mood. This piece of architecture might just make you more 'emo' than the usual. 

Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza

The next two hours were about you narrating how you're heartbroken. That your boyfriend, the real one, is not replying to your messages for 10 days now. That you were in the club, letting him know, expecting that he will go down here to fetch you but he did not. Then you judged my own relationship, telling me that long distance relationships aren't real. That 2 years of not going very intimate, all virtual, is a fairy tale that's waiting for a bad, horrendous ending. Of course, I did not believe you. But I was willing to listen to all of your life's bullshits even as my friends and your friends are already gone. 

It's already morning. I wanted to leave. You said you wanted us in touch with each other. I scraped out some malice in that request. We meet people in a bar not just for fuck, right? Some can really find beautiful friendships in here. Maybe, that's our destiny. Maybe that's what's right for two people who are in fragile situations. Well, mine is not ready to break as yours, I suppose. 

One week and the texts were non-stop. I am amazed with how you're doing in life. You've been to different places, representing your school, an entire country, a message of positivity to the world, and your weary heart that has been bruised by young love. You're an achiever. That's everything I wanna be. You made me evaluate how I'm living my life, partly maybe in an insecure way. You made me realize that I am slowing down. That I am such a lazy bastard juggling a corporate job, blogging and travels but with no specific direction. You have inspired me. 

It's nice to know that we can send messages to each other without awkwardness. That as far as rules go, we have not committed anything un-loyal. It's a breathe of fresh air to have someone to talk to who have known you while you were in a not-so-favorable situation. It was fun. Until the communication started to fade.

We both saw it coming. You said you and your boyfriend are fine now. That you wanted to concentrate on fixing the relationship and it may not be healthy if we continue talking. I agreed. That's what's fair and that's what we should do. But why is this painful? This one stings like a breakup.  

Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza Dongdaemun Design Plaza

One ring from Skype and it felt like my fairy godmother woke me up from a dream that's so bittersweet. Boyfriend is on the other line, talking about the future, beaming with excitement as he always does. Who needs another hero? 

Life is capable of always giving you surprises. They may not be something positive at first, or ideal, but you can always squeeze out the lessons from it. That it can be really confusing but you have to trust on instincts, the values you have, and fate to make things fall into place. That relationships, especially the long ones, are complicated but you just have to appreciate what you have. That the people who chose to stick with you are the ones you deserve. 

Nope. The club moments did not happen in Seoul. It was from many weeks ago... in Manila. It's just here while staring at the beautiful curves and edges of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza that I realized how sharp turns can lead you to the right road. Or in this buildings case, the right exit. 

Lastly, the title of this post is misleading. There's no need to un-love someone or something. The thrill of sudden attraction wasn't love. That was rather a moment of weakness. Love is committing to who you wanna be with for the rest of your life. Love is choosing what's right. 


*The Dongdaemun Design Plaza has its own MTR station along the Seoul Subway System. 
Just alight at the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station on Lines 2, 4 and 5. 

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