One of the first things I noticed about Korea as our bus drove us into Seoul from Inchon Airport, was the high-rise apartment blocks with numbers like "205" painted on the side, implying that there might be another 204 similar if not identical buildings somewhere out of sight. For a moment it felt as though we'd landed in the Soviet Union.
Since then I've come to realise that apartment buildings here tend to have these kinds of numbers on them and while you can't necessarily relate them to anything else, it does make identifying them somewhat easier given the anonymity they would otherwise have; I've often wondered if there are only five basic designs of apartment block here (this is now changing but the old buildings tend to be fairly uniform). It's only in relatively recent times that Korea decided to implement a system of street names and building numbers (don't even ask how they delivered the post before this), and even now getting a taxi driver to drive you to a specific place - given the unfamiliarity with what names exist - can prove a difficult affair even if you're Korean. In addition to the thirty-foot high numbers, and in an odd break from their otherwise Stalinist aesthetic, some blocks also have random pictures such as one near us which inexplicably feature a thirty foot elephant looking out across Busan.
None of this is to say that buildings don't have names, they do, but in recent years as the alleged quality of the interiors - if not the often generic exteriors - have increased, they have taken on such immodest titles as 'Rich House', of which we have two - apparently entirely unconnected with one another, staring at us from different places on the horizon. So how do you get one up on this when you're putting up a new building? Perhaps by calling it 'Noble Palace'. Unfortunately, my desire to outright make fun of this is somewhat tempered by the possibility that I might be living there in about a year's time if I return back here from the UK, as a convoluted series of events has led us to having something of an option over one of its apartments. Still, it's probably better than living in a building called 'evevil'.
In another slightly odd turn of events, 'Noble Palace' is going up opposite the 'Nyukaeseul Naiteukeureob' - or 'Newcastle Nightclub' in other words - it even has stripes on the building, but unfortunately they are black and brown rather than black and white.
Korean keywords: 아파트, 건물, 이름, 예술, 그림