The name NamDaeMun means "South Gate" but due to the expansion of Seoul what once was the southern border of the city is now the approximate center. Near this gate a sprawling market. The SamSung Corporate Building is directly across the street; the city hall is directly down the street and a geographic line connects it to the old palace now obscured by more recent buildings. The market has been in the same spot for roughly 800 years.
During the day it is a retail market in which food, clothing, household supplies, cameras, eyeglasses, watches and a number of other items are sold. At night the market transforms. Trucks from other cities assemble at the entrances to the market and jockey for position. The market becomes a wholesale market - primarily for clothing. Because the streets are narrow, motorcycles ferry the clothing out to the waiting trucks. Even at 2:30 in the morning the narrow lanes are full of people rushing along. Bouncy, aerobics-inducing hip-hop blares out of stalls across the street to merge with all of the other sounds - motorcycles, barkers and the various noises of the crowd. The sum total noise is a frenetic piston-like roar, which is a soundtrack to monotonous, rushed activity. The whole market place throbs like a souped-up Celica shaking to the sound system inside.
NamDaeMun in the evening has all of the intensity of the stock market. Walking between the endless row of clothing stalls, the yelling, the hand gestures, the collective wave of activity all sweeps you up and propels you along. Like a seminal epicenter of capitalism with holdovers from another time. An ancient site. Ancient practices of bartering, exchange, loading, stocking, displaying all sped up to a macrobeat. Nobody seems to notice or mind the music although it forces them yell prices and counteroffers with hands cupped to the mouth.
Diurnal contraction and relaxation of a great capitalist cardiac muscle. You can imagine all such activity rippling out from this source. While the office workers sleep the fires are stoked and the engine churns furiously on towards the next day. The attraction and then scattering of the trucks full of clothing keeping the system nourished with their circulation.
You can forget yourself in this crowd but it is a forgetting totally devoid of individuality. Moving with the motorcycles and pushcarts it's almost impossible to stop; though at times you are pulled or beckoned to a shop. But the throb propels you further the noise keeps you energized and if not happy at least distracted by the carnival of it all