Friday, November 03, 2006

The Ilguk Hospital

One of the most prominent landmarks in Ilguk, the neighborhood three beverage factories (Coca-Cola, Chilsing Cider, and OB Blue) away from my own Yangsan-dong, is a hospital. Like Korean churches, every hospital is marked with a glowing neon cross; the ones adorning the hospitals are squat, symmetric, and green instead of red.

The residents of the Ilguk hospital are not hidden inside, but are allowed to wander (or, as is often the case, acquiesce) on sidewalks in front of the hospital. Patients in pale hospital gowns are interspersed with medical apparatus on the brick inlay. Some partients stare bleakly at the traffic and passers-by from their wheelchairs. Some nod their shaved heads at me as I walk by on my way to get groceries. Others are engrossed in their own IVs. Once, I saw a man in a hospital gown briskly crossing the street and heading for the nearby park, where he began speed-walking around and around on the concrete path.

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