Friday, November 7, 2008

Lock it in

I was in Seoul earlier this week. While I was there, I paid a visit to Seoul Tower, which is perched on the summit of Mt Namsan and has a breathtaking view over the city.

At the base of the tower is a viewing platform, which is surrounded by a wire mesh fence. I was surprised to find that much of the view from the platform is obscured by padlocks, which have been fastened to the fence. Closer examination revealed that the padlocks all have messages written on them.

I had an opportunity later that day to clarify with a local the meaning of the padlock fence. Apparently, when young people get engaged, they visit the “love fence” and symbolise the permanence of their relationship by fastening a padlock to the fence and throwing away the key. Then, once the padlock is secured and the key disposed of, the couple write a note on the padlock.

Given the rise of divorce rates in South Korea, I might front-foot the market and open a lock cutting service for jilted lovers near the padlock stall.

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