A cyber-scuffle erupted earlier this week when two contrasting photo collections from the sixties emerged on a Korean site. Documenting daily life in the metropolises of Seoul and Tokyo, the shots revealed both the huge gulf which existed between Japan and its neighbour during the era, with one at the prepice of an economic explosion, the other still struggling to emerge from a horrific internal war.
Whilst some netizens have expressed feelings of warm nostalgia when viewing the images, others have seized on the opportunity to taunt each other. South Koreans have been quick to point out the apparently lack of change between the shots of sixties and modern day Tokyo, whilst Japanese agitators mocked the massive disparity between Tokyo and Seoul at the time. In the Tokyo shots, pedestrians weave through rows of skyscrapers, lit up with neon lights that would come to characterize the megatropolis. In contrast, South Koreans walk on potholed tracks, and a horse and cart trundles over a quiet street.
Flash forward to the twenty first century, and Seoul’s maze of luxury shops, nightclubs, breath taking architecture and glitzy restaurants is far closer to the urban playground of Tokyo. Thanks to radical investment and a tirelessly working population, this burgeoning Asian economy is a world away from the images of sixties Seoul- even as the historical tension in the region continues to simmer.
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