Old Man Day

On my way to Jongmyo Shrine one Sunday, I got lost (surprise, surprise) and wandered into Tagpol Park. Nothing in this park is worth mentioning, except for the half dozen old men, loitering on a monument.

All of them looked the same, short, asian men clad in dark clothes and neutral-colored hats with their arms folded behind their backs.

They looked like ravens hanging out at a monument.

I made a lap around this small park and exited quickly. I finally found the entrance to the park where the shrine was located.

More old men. Many more.

They were hovering around the smaller, side entrance to the park, smoking and drinking coffee out of paper cups.

I weaved through the masses and entered the park.

Holy crap.

There were 50 or more old men hanging out in one little square. I have never seen so many senior citizens in such a concentrated area.

I walked closer hesitantly — something about the old-man mob unsettled me. Like they would attack at any sudden movements.

But as I got close, I saw why they were congregating.

There were little tables where two men sat across from each other and about five more hovered around them.

The two men were playing Go, a Chinese strategy game that I don’t understand. It’s apparently the hardest game to play/understand/master.

But there they were, the entire old-man population of a 50-block radius, playing.

One man approached me as I waited for the tour for Jongmyo Shrine (the only way in).

“You American?”


“Where are you from?”


“Ah, Texas,” He paused. “I been to Los Angeles, San Fransico, Seattle and New York.”


“Well bye no,” He said as he walked back to the mob.

Thank you for that.


— Sara



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