In the 1950's South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world - now they boast one of the fastest internet in the world, 4 to 10 times the speed of the internet in the USA, where it actually started by mirena

In the 1950's South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world with an annual income of 67 dollars per person. Now Korea is one of the leading nations for innovation and technology .... I do not usually discuss economics as it is in my mind one unworthy of debate, at least until we have discussed the humanistic ideas that should govern our society instead. But I love the stories of Korea and Japan, and I also have a Korean last name. It is very personal to me, and I am interested in how these two nations came together to build technologically advanced societies and keep their traditions and values intact. I remember seeing Japanese teenagers talking on the phone and bowing to the person on the other end of the line. It really is a striking way of relating to others. It has always fascinated me to see a working harmony between a highly developed technological society and traditional social order.

Anyway, here we go, a snippet from a PBS/BBC documentary series produced in the 90's :


A Life in Japan - Documentary (English with English subtitles) by mirena

it is a mystery why I became obsessed with Japan, after all I was born 9016.92 kilometers, 5602.86 miles miles and 4868.75 nautical miles from it. What portion of the neural paths in my brain decided to connect with the image of Japan, made me think and read about it? Where I grew up there was very little information and attachment to Japanese things and my first visual contact with Japan was through a Taschen book on Japanese Gardens. When I moved to the States - it was in Northern California and the Bay Area was very connected to Japanese culture. One of my landlords used to tell me a story about Japanese businessman coming to the Silicon Valley before it was the Silicon Valley and waving 100 bills in bars, while supposedly looking for investment opportunities in the daytime. I went to Japan on two occasions and especially the second time - on a solo trip with my camera - I felt a deep pull towards every single train, temple, crowded intersection, pond, sand pattern, high tech shop and piece of sushi. I am still mystified as to why.

I never considered living in Japan as I don't believe I will be happy with the day to day subduedness of life. But there are so many threads still connecting me, emotionally and artistically, to Japan, that I technically don't need to.

Some Kind of Garden: A Journey Into Zen [Kindle Edition] is now live on the Kindle store by mirena

Some Kind of Garden: A Journey Into Zen [Kindle Edition] Mysterious and enigmatic, abstract and impenetrable, the Zen gardens of Kyoto are a product of enlightened and sophisticated culture whose aim was to transcend nature by means of a man made nature.

The empty space, the surrounding landscape and the frame of mind of the viewer are all part of the design. A design that transcends representation, meaning and ideology. A powerful idea distilled to simple ingredients, the evaporation of art as we know it.

The book is a collection of photographs I took and small poems I wrote during my journey to the Zen gardens of Kyoto. I felt it is impossible to untangle their mystery with the rational instrument of reason. It is a stream of visual and versed thoughts on the joyful occasion of simply being there.

Accompanying my photographs and poems are several short verses from Basho, Ryokan and other Zen poets. Their words have sometimes been modified to fit my own frame of mind, using their verses᠆ superior ability to express my own feelings.

This book is about the frame of mind and the geometry of calm that the Zen gardens of Kyoto represent. As there are no explanations on the walls of the gardens as to the meaning of the sand patterns, so is my book void of explanations and floats on a visual lotus, like an imaginary house.

This book is a photographic essay about the Zen gardens of Kyoto, designed specifically for the Kindle and features stunning, high-resolution photographs accompanied by small poems I wrote and small verses by Zen poets. It is crafted to create a calm space of the mind, a vision of tranquility and peace.

The title derives its name from an ongoing photographic chronicles I called “some kind of" project, of which Some Kind of Garden is the first volume.

Some Kind of Garden: A Journey Into Zen
Some Kind of Garden: A Journey Into Zen by Mirena Rhee
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Tokyo walks by mirena

Tokyo walks. Music - ( Public Domain recording ) Ride of the Valkyries performed by The University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Barbara Schubert:  archive.org/details/uso-2004-10-31


I created Tokyo walks for my some kind of street series, for the some kind of project. Tokyo and Japan in general have never been a tourist destination but rather an obsession I have had to pursue. It is only appropriate that I picked the Ride of the Valkyries for this piece as my experiences during my solo trip to  Tokyo and Kyoto were pure ecstasy and until this day I cannot unravel this feeling into anything that makes sense, on any rational level. I simply have the hots for Japan.

Every cake I ate, every fist of rice, every foot I planted on the pavement felt emotionally charged and even today I feel as much charged about my experiences as I was the moment I dropped into Narita airport.

The note in my diary reads:

My plane ride to Tokyo was a bit like a train ride on a train with square wheels. I was flying from nearby Korea and despite the fact that the ride was fairly short - I was crazily afraid of flying, I still am afraid of flying and every flight I take is a rigorous test of my character.

Yet, the most exciting parts of my life have and are starting with a plane ride. After the rocky introduction to Japan I entered into an immigration procedure in a room with a sign that read:


Since I was fairly amused I wasn't feeling bad anymore, neither too aged or pregnant, and proceeded without trying the Priority lane, into what I eagerly awaited to get into - Japan.