Ten minutes earlier and we would have missed you, angel. It’s not often one gets to look down on you from the sky. Tiny footprints fall around you in a scuttle of newly-beaten paths, dark against the freshly fallen snow. We made our slow, cold way up the hill through a fog of fluffy flakes and now we are warm and dry, floating 236 meters in the sky above the city of Seoul in South Korea. It’s calm and beautiful here, and simpler than I expected. Yes, it’s a tourist attraction, but there is no glitz, no glitter, other than the glinting snowflakes; no big to-do except the show put on by a blatantly un-Turkish server of Turkish ice cream, magically stretching the cold, chewy dondurma goodness out in starchy, taffy-like bands and serving it up for his awed audience.
This tower takes a visitor around the world. A quick stroll of its circular, bird’s-eye-view of Seoul is a unique peak through the window-eyes towards many major cities on earth. Nearly every pane bears the name of one major city, or more, found in that direction along with the metric distance to said location. I locate Beijing and Tokyo, the cities I am coming from and heading towards, respectively, and ponder the odd flux of life as a traveler.
I gaze out one window, down to the freshly fallen crystal-flakes on the ground, and see the angel-artist. He moves around an easel, sweeping back the snow. A camera hangs around his neck and photos peek through the easel’s protective plastic covering, beckoning tourists to save this memory forever on glossy finish or matte. He doesn’t have any customers in this weather. Hat pulled over his eyes, he sweeps to keep the snow at bay and pass the lifeless lulls that come on cold days. His twig broom draws angel wings in the snow, and he doesn’t know. It seems strange to sneak a photo of this photographer, but I do. Written in a foreign language and separated by a sea, I’ll never know his story. Perhaps he’d shrug and say there isn’t one. I’d disagree. He doesn’t have a clue. He cannot see, as I do today, the picture he paints from the sky.