If wearing matching clothes and carrying matching cellphone charms isn’t enough to show the world how much fun it is to be a couple, displaying lovers’ locks is another method, and it the habit is making an appearance on Jeju. If you have yet to see these padlocks of love then you need not travel far, as the symbols of hope for everlasting partner-ship have found their place on Yongduam Bridge.
The Korea Times, in December 2008, featured an article describing the bizarre new trend to publically express commitment by way of padlock, and featured the increasing popularity of clasping these at N Seoul Tower on Mount Namsan in central Seoul. According to the article, the idea of hanging locks originated a few years ago from tourists who had seen the same thing at Tokyo Tower. The fad gained momentum after two stars from the MBC reality television program “Just Married” chose Seoul Tower as a reunion venue highlighting the significance of lovers’ locks.
The idea is that couples young and old clasp locks to whatever they choose, in this case the bridge at Yongduam, write sweet nothings in permanent marker or sketch engravings and sometimes add the occasional sticker, then throw away the key signifying an eternity of love. The trend, however romantic, is not limited to couples as friends and family members perform the symbolic gesture as well.
Although the article suggested that the trend developed at Tokyo Tower, pictures of locks from around the world attached to anything from light poles, chained fences and artificial trees hint at a habit that could have started any-where. If you type lovers’ locks into the Google search engine, pictures from blogs and a rather lengthy Wikipedia description will show just how far around the world the tendency has spread. Pictures of chained locks are featured in Mount Hua, Huashan, China; Keila-Joa, Estonia; Szinva Terrace, Miskolc, Hungary; Ponto Vecchio, Florence, Italy; Luzhkov Bridge, Moscow, Russia; and even Lovelock, Nevada, in the United States.
As sincere as the idea may seem, this new expression of devotion is causing a bit of a scene, or lack thereof. According to the Korea Times, the number of padlocks at N Seoul Tower has now obstructed the views from the popular tourist site.
A 2007 BBC news article claimed that the Mayor of Florence, Leonardo Domenici, became fed up with removing 375 kilograms of padlocks every year and instituted a 50-euro, or $66, fine for anyone who continued the custom.
According to the article, the Italian craze originated from a romantic rite mentioned in two novels by Federico Moccia, “Tre Metri Sopra il Cielo (“Three Meters Above the Sky) and “Ho Voglia di Te (“I Desire You”). The urban legend says lovers will spend their lives together if they write their names on a padlock and place it on the Ponte Milvio’s third lamp post, then throw the key in the Tiber.
Officials in specific locations where the padlocks are latched have suggested that the couples keep the keys as a reminder of their love as opposed to throwing them into the distance. If the love lock trend strikes your fancy you can purchase your own to hang at Yongduam Bridge for 3,000 won.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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