Found in Insa-dong district of Seoul, in a combination bookshop / cafe / newsstand. Bruce Sterling commented the other day that Seoul was one of the quietest cities he has experienced. I had not “heard” the city that way, but after talking about this point I realized that it was indeed quiet. Not forest and trees quiet but the usual ambient din of the cities I have experienced is not here — no sirens, no jack hammers, no overly loud yammering cell phone conversations. People talk very quietly on their cell phones, often covering their mouths. I have yet to hear a fire or police siren, although a police car passed us pedestrians on a small crooked side street the other evening, it only had lights flashing and no other emergency noises. While there is a full-on dig going on to construct an subway line around the corner from my hotel, I have never heard any noise from there — there is a noise baffling wall — clear glass, not the usual closed off barricade despite the fact that there must be a lot of rough and tumble rock moving underground.
I am most thankfully amazed by the lack of loud yammering cell phone talkers. What can be done to mitigate the yellers? More audio feedback of their own voice into the cell phone speaker so that they can self-modulate?