[FOUNTAIN]The true spirit of travel

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[FOUNTAIN]The true spirit of travel

Vacation season has come. We are exposed to routine commercial images in the media that urge people to get out of the city and enjoy the summer. The roads to popular vacation destinations have turned into parking lots. It is ironic that people escape from the city to relax, but end up exhausted, both physically and mentally, before they even arrive at their destination.
While tourists might seem to have broken away from routine life and are enjoying freedom, they can only choose from given travel options and where to spend money. Your social class is determined by whether you are going abroad or staying in the country, and whether you are flying first class or coach. Since the 19th century, the tourism industry has transformed “travel” into a product that can be purchased.
The advent of the railroad marked the beginning of commercial tourism. German writer Wolfgang Schivelbusch analyzed how the railway changed the essence of travel in “The Railway Journey: The Industrialization and Perception of Time and Space.”
Rail travel destroyed the concept of time and space in the days when people traveled on foot or by carriage. The rapidly passing scenery lacked concrete reality and presented a meaningless panoramic impression. As individual regions become a part of the bigger rail network, regional cultures lost their unique auras. Travel became a straight and speedy movement from origin to destination.
As scenery became insignificant, reading emerged as the highlight of a rail journey. Travelers no longer focused on making friends on their journey as coach travelers once did. Rail travel destroyed the relationships between nature and people and also between people.
As overseas trips became more popular, governments started control and surveillance systems on foreign tourists. Thanks to the advancement of technology, we can now not only read on our journeys but take care of business on the move.
Literary critic Jeong Yeo-ul wrote, “Today, travel has become a preparation for work, or an extension of boring routine. An escape from everyday life in the truest sense, being able to connect with people and the culture of our destination and dreaming of a different self, is no longer valid in the modern era.”
In his writings on the beauty of daffodils, photographer Kang Un-gu wrote, “A journey is not just to wander or to swarm around in a group. Sometimes, the truest moment of travel comes when you squat in front of a flower and spend all day appreciating its beauty.” We should keep the spirit of travel in our minds as, out of habit, we leave for vacation.

by Yang Sung-hee

The writer is a culture and sports desk writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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