Written and photographed by Maria Lisak
Tucked behind Wongaksa temple in downtown Gwangju is an alley that runs along the larger Geumnam Street, just off Chungjangno. After attending the Gwangju News Smartphone Photography Workshop by Lorryn Smit, I chose this alley, a part of town I’ve been to many times, yet a city block that I have never explored. Thirteen years ago, I came to Wongaksa to do 108 bows. At that time, the temple grounds were all under construction and the alley was blocked off and inaccessible. My walk down the small alley on this sticky, late afternoon in August reminds me of the ever-changing backdrop of the city streets of Gwangju. This alley at the back of the temple shows how it connects its own Zen brick and tile work to the neighboring asphalt, metal, and electrical wires of the busy downtown. The darkening evening sky gave me a moment of profound serenity in the alley, epitomizing the juxtaposition of modern and traditional Gwangju street life.