Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rome, rebuilt in a day

Kyung Hee University has two campuses. One is close to me in Seoul, the other is close to where I lived last year in the suburb of Suwon. The Suwon campus evokes the concrete grandeur of Pyongyang and the imperial pomp of Rome with its vast concrete squares, elaborately constructed library, massive amphitheatre and imperial gate.

The Seoul campus has the gate, as well as replicas of Paris' Notre Dame, a European parliament building or two, and a few post-apocalyptic replicas of the Coliseum that appear to function as sports fields.

These Coliseums are have imposing concrete rows and a dirt field that's frozen mud right now. In the morning, soccer games there look like death matches between middle-aged men, only without any audience. I was running through there last night in slightly worse conditions. There was a small crowd sitting in the stands at midfield.

Snow was falling and the soccer game was inspiring militant chants from the participants and the crowd. In the corner, a group of students were slowly moving clockwise in a circle, chanting and banging drums as they went. Both noises were trapped in the bowl dug into the earth, and the rows of parked cars ringing the frozen dirt field shifted the scene from ancient Rome to some post-apocalyptic Coliseum with a monster truck rally.

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