Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rear Window

My first residence in Busan was on the first floor of a 'jutaeg' - which while being the Korean word for house, has often been extended to become part of the title of small residential apartment blocks. Newer and larger apartment blocks tend to strive to be called something a little grander, such as 'Rich House' and 'White Palace', so anywhere you live with 'jutaeg' in the title might well in fact, by modern standards, be a rather small and dumpy apartment block. Which ours was. That was fine, because I was perfectly happy to have a small and rather dumpy life in this new country, although I didn't want my new home to be so dumpy that I'd feel like a contestant in the local version of Big Brother, so it was a relief that the windows were frosted.

We're quite big on curtains and blinds in England so I never quite got my head around the idea that hundreds of Korean apartments with their floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows happily expose the lives of their occupants to the outside world. When we moved, we made sure our new apartment was fitted with the blinds which the previous residents clearly felt they hadn't needed. It must be said that living fifteen floors up with a clear view of the mountains can lull you into a false sense of privacy, even though you sometimes wonder whether people armed with telescopes are out there somewhere. But what you probably don't expect is to suddenly hear a noise at the window and turn round to see a man dangling outside.

He actually wasn't washing the windows, but seemed to be vaguely cleaning or painting around them. Maybe all apartment blocks get this treatment, but it's the only time I ever saw it. The rope stayed outside our window for two days banging against it in the wind until we finally convinced the building supervisor to remove it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had the same back home in New Zealand ... except the abseiler was washing my window when I walked out of the bathroom having just had a shower (so strangely enough I was naked) ... he didn't know where to look ...

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