When I was traveling through one of Korea’s most popular traditional cities, I can’t recall anything that I saw. I simply don’t remember. I know that I had people-watched. But not the sort of people watching that one does at a cafe, gazing at the locals going about their daily rituals; I watched the other tourists, who were obsessed with their selfie sticks.
If there are places in the world that serve as forerunners to global catastrophe–perhaps the melting glaciers in Greenland or the poisoned waters of Flint–then South Korea is the canary in the coal mine for the smug insertion of the self into every photo (without having to interact with others. Remember when you once had to ask others to snap a photo of you? A slight bruising of the ego.)
Walking around, I was just completely baffled by the number of selfie-sticks between my hanok and the restaurant. Here are the only images that I captured along the way. I felt it was as worthy of documentation as any of Korea’s other cultural phenomenons, like the sex museums or Teddy Bear Museums.
The Plague of the Selfie Stick