This was probably the hardest adjustment I had to make when I first moved overseas. Coming from a place of great natural beauty, I never believed that man could come in to make adjustments to what nature had made and make improvements on it. It was best in its natural state. All we could do would be to try not to destroy what had already been created.
But then I moved to Korea where there is a different attitude toward nature. I could be wrong about this, but from what I observed, it was man’s duty to shape and mold nature to create a new beauty that could never be achieved on its own. This can be seen all over the place in the hills and rivers of Seoul. On the hikes through the green spaces of the gigantic city, you feel as if you have left the metropolis behind and are now out in the middle of the forest. The city is right around the corner as it weaves its way around these majestic mountains, and Korea did not believe that their living space should invade this natural beauty. Instead they decided to live in harmony with it.
Right when you forget that the city exists, you come to a crest and a clearing where somebody has built a platform and cleared away the trees so you can see a perfect view of the city down below. Nature could not have planned for this moment. It took man working in harmony with nature to make it happen.
When I first arrived to this country, I would take my runs along the river that ran by my house. Seoul is really good about supplying a foot path next to any river, and during the warmer months, it is always filled with people walking, running or biking and enjoying the river, and its surrounding landscapes. I could not enjoy it though because there was a huge crane parked in the middle of one of these waterways picking up rocks and moving them to strategic places. They were not letting the river push into the side of the banks and create the winding path that it wanted to make. I used to look at these moments as a huge mistake that this society was making.
After years of seeing what their meticulous planning and execution brought about and how they created a river that danced and sang while I ran by it, I realized that what they were doing was not such a bad thing. They weren’t trying to destroy nature, but enhance it to work together with it. It is this unique brand of beauty that I will miss. It does not mean that I think that the state of Colorado should do the same thing with the mountains that frame its capital. I’m just saying that it is a different take on something that I can still appreciate for its own style and execution.
I will love both of them for what they have to offer the world, and I thank Korea for showing me a new way to look at nature that I would never have thought of.