Mapo: The Bridge of Life and Death

Greetings dear readers! This is my first post of 2018, so I guess I should probably say “Happy New Year!” too. One of my resolutions in 2017 was to post an update every week, but obviously that didn’t work out. This year, though, I’m sticking to it. I’ve even set aside a special day for it: Saturday, which shall henceforth be known as Blog Day (three cheers for my breathtaking creativity). Be sure to check back with me weekly.

Anyway, 2018 is off to an interesting start. Some of you might have heard about that toolbag on YouTube who got in trouble for posting a video of a suicide victim in Japan’s Aokigahara forest.

toologan

I wasn’t familiar with Aokigahara before this incident occurred, but as I started doing a little research it quickly became my first morbid fascination of the new year. To explain it in a single sentence – there is a forest at the base of Mount Fuji where dozens of people go to kill themselves every year.

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My fascination with this tragic place stems from the simple question, how? How does this happen? I understand how a place can become world-famous for its beaches, its mountains, its weather, its festivals…But how does a location become a hotspot for suicide? I remember seeing The Bridge (about suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge) several years ago, but I thought that was sort of an isolated anomaly.  Unfortunately, no. Suicide sites are a worldwide phenomenon, to the point that Wikipedia has a whole page dedicated to them. Looking over the list on that page, I was surprised to find that one of them is right here in Seoul.

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Mapo Bridge. Again, I wasn’t familiar with this place before I started digging around online, but once I knew about it I just had to see it. I enlisted my friend Lauren to be my sidekick on this particular adventure and together we headed off to Mapo. Here’s a (very short, very depressing) slideshow of what we saw there.

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I admit I felt a little weird for delving into this kind of morbid tourism, but according to my buddy Keith I’m far from alone. The travel/hospitality industry actually has a name for it – “grief tourism.” This term applies to anyone who travels to see things like murder houses, concentration camps, “haunted” locations, etc. Have you ever taken a trip to a place that was marked by tragedy, dear readers?

Disclaimer

Before I sign off, I just want to add a quick disclaimer that I did not become interested in Aokigahara and Mapo Bridge because I myself am suicidal or depressed. Thanks in advance to anyone who might have had that concern, but I assure you that’s not the case. I’ve had ups and downs in Life like everyone else, but I’m very fortunate that I’ve never suffered from the kind of debilitating depression that might lead someone to take their own life.

But if by some chance you’ve found this post because you’re feeling low, I want to urge you not to suffer alone. Even at its worst, Life is a rare and precious gift. Please reach out for help before hurting yourself.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

US – 1-800-273-8255

South Korea – 2-715-8600

Canada – suicideprevention.ca

Worldwide – http://www.suicide.org

It’s a new year, everyone. Stick around and live it well.

J.

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IG: poms_are_metal / sell_your_seoul (horror/metal account)

About J. Wiltz

"Well, you know, there really isn't very much to say about me." - Andy Warhol
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