Okay, okay, I’m being dramatic.
But, then, it was dramatic.
Mark and I were hiking up Wonmisan as usual, except we found a couple of new features on our dirt trail. Now, if you don’t know Wonmisan, you should be informed that, unlike some mountains in Korea, it has both stairs and a diirt trail to the top. If you ask me, stairs are for shopping malls and apartment buildings: I don’t go out into nature just to climb stairs. Especially crappily-built, unevenly-sized stairs like you see on a lot of mountains. So Mark and I, we usually take the dirt trail to the top.
We’re far from the only people who used the dirt trail, though, yes, the stairs are more popular. Part of that is just because stairs are “safer” — the dirt trails can be slippery — but anothe part of it is this very Korean sense by which nature can be “improved” by being hedged in, fenced up, controlled, and humanized. If a mountain is nice, then a mountain with stairs is nicer. And a mountain with stairs and piped in music is even nicer. (One cannot help, in darker moments, to imagine that the eventual endpoint is mountains with roofed-in escalators that go to the top.)
I should have known that this aesthetic of improvement would slap me in the face eventually.