When we first moved into the Golden River Mountain
Apartments, we felt we’d been misled. They were indeed
apartments, but that was as far as they lived up to their
name. Their concrete facades—the ubiquitous beige of
everything constructed in 1980s Seoul, discolored by de-
cades of air pollution—could not have been called golden,
even under the flattering glow of the late-afternoon sun.
Nor did even the highest units afford a view of a mountainor river or anything but vast expanses of drab apartmentblocks almost identical to our own, dotted by the occasional vacant lot slated for redevelopment. Technicallyspeaking, we were just a kilometer from the Han River,but to reach it you’d need to navigate a maze of dimly litunderpasses filled with pigeon shit and puddles of mysterious origin. Not that we resented our new home forits deficiencies. We had no illusions about our situationand understood that if the place had been any nicer, wewouldn’t have been able to afford it.