[OUTLOOK]Start a festival of Seoul’s own

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[OUTLOOK]Start a festival of Seoul’s own

A couple of years ago, I went to Venice on a business trip. I can still vividly remember my experiences in the city. The city seemed to still exist as it did in the 18th century. Carrying heavy luggage and having been soaked by rain, I even missed my train, so I finally arrived at my hotel at midnight.
When I entered the lobby, some Venetians were dancing, dressed up in costumes and masks as noble people. Their appearance and actions were so weird that I thought the hotel had hired actors to welcome visitors who had traveled from far away.
The next morning I went to the Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, where I found countless more people in masks everywhere.
Luckily for me, it was during the famous Venice Carnival, which is known for its participants’ great fervor and passion, just like the Rio de Janeiro carnival samba parade.
Venetians everywhere donned fabulous masks and classic costumes. Many tourists came from around the world to enjoy the festival.
During this carnival, Venice’s citizens find it nearly impossible to fight the temptation to put on masks and costumes and become lead actors in a large-scale play. A long time ago, going out during this time without wearing a mask was not even allowed.
This carnival is like an exit from the daily routine by which Venetians can turn into nobles, the Pope, or even Casanova, at least for a short while. When even the country encourages its people to put on such a show, who could turn down the opportunity?
In Korea, young people once again donned red clothes and dominated the streets during the festival of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
On the night when the Korean team had a match against Togo, I was in the area near Hongik University in Seoul, and looked happily at the young people cheering on the street. They had on red tops, paintings on their faces and red devil horns on their heads.
But there were ugly things going on as well. Some girls, who apparently were not even interested in football before, were wearing tops so small that they barely covered their underwear. They acted as if they were the major figures at the festival.
I am one of those who enjoy food, drink and fashion, rather than the type who prioritizes labor or national values. At the end of the day, sports matches are also labor for the players and just entertainment for the spectators.
Who cares what the “offside” rule means? What’s important is the festivity, not the football itself. A festival provides a pause from the daily routine for those who don colorful costumes and enjoy the festivities to the full.
Fashion reflects the reality at most times but from time to time it functions as a means to hide the truth.
With the help of clothes or accessories, people can become someone else. People can appear richer, younger, nobler, more passionate, more liberal or more popular. They can even pretend to be the opposite sex.
What is the truth that Koreans attempt to hide by wearing more colorful and provocative clothes than those they displayed during the last World Cup in 2002?
Is it that people try to hide the fact that Seoul and its young people were expected to change after 2000 but in fact did not?
I believe that the responsibility lies with President Roh Moo-hyun, for whom young people cast their votes with high expectations for a better future. The day when President Roh was elected was another festival for youth. But I would not delve into this because his leadership is missing nowadays.
Instead, I hang my hopes on the new Seoul mayor. I wish he would prepare a wonderful festival for the city.
We can start a festival of shamanist rituals in front of the City Hall and that event can spread nationwide. Regardless of regional divisions, the people can don traditional masks and dance all through the night.
At the peak of the ritual, we will face the gods and repel bad fortune from the nation. By staging our own carnival, we will then stun the whole world once again.

* The writer is the feature director of Baazaar magazine.

by Kim Kyung
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