for two of the last three years, however, including this one, i've been over here in Asia, being among the first to see the new year in. in Taiwan it wasn't a very big deal, given that the lunar calendar is followed there, making Chinese New Year the big event; i can't even recall what happened just a couple of years ago. this year Jill and i engaged ourselves in a truly memorable celebration, in Seoul, Korea. by the time we showed up in the Jeonggak area of downtown about an hour before midnight, the roads had been closed and were crammed with pedestrians, all of whom seemed already to be firing off hundreds of roman candle fireworks almost indiscriminately, loading the air with debris and threatening the safety of all around. Jill and i were awestruck by this chaotic display that would surely never have been allowed to take place in Japan.
of course, we had to be involved in the frenzy, so we stumped up many thousands of Won for some roman candles of our own, sold to us by the vendors who had each brought suitcases full of the explosive sticks, and had as good a time as anyone shooting off projectiles just over the growing crowd with reckless abandon. Each firework carried about a dozen or so charges, one of which Jill managed to capture perfectly on film.
when the party was all over, we were both covered in ash and smelling like fireworks, and the streets were strewn with roman candle casings, but the atmosphere of fun and merriment still hung in the air alongside the smoke. but the party itself was a lively one. there had been all kinds of groups dancing and banging various drums when we had arrived, and it looked as though they were broadcasting a national show from the stage they had set up for famous performers. for much of the time we in the live audience had a hard time hearing those performers over the din of the crowd, despite the car-sized speakers they were using. it was a pretty surreal scene, all that chaos in the trendiest part of Seoul, then literally ringing in the New Year with a bell hung in an ancient Buddhist temple just behind the stage. for a better idea of just how excited a Korean crowd gets over a new year, check out the video below, taken by Jill just seconds either side of the big moment, and then please accept thejayfather's wishes for a very happy one of your own.