I thought I might kick things off by sharing the photo I used to create the current header image for the Opiate:
Erected in 1988, this statue of the Maitreya Buddha stands 13.6 meters tall and is located at the Goseong Unification Observatory in South Korea. The Goseong Unification Observatory is on the east coast of Korea, the sea in the background of the photo is referred to as the East Sea by Korea and the Sea of Japan by pretty much everyone else, and is as far north as you can travel on the Korean peninsula without crossing into the DMZ or North Korean territory.
Marker A indicates the position of the Goseong Unification Observatory
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I took this picture while I was in Korea for my brother’s wedding in April of 2006. After his wedding we took a trip with his wife, her parents and brother to the east coast of Korea where we visited Sokcho, Hwajinpo, Seoraksan National Park (also here) and, of course, the Goseong Unification Observatory before returning to Seoul.
The day I took this photo was rather overcast which seemed to fit the mood of the observatory. On the observation deck people spoke quietly and even the children were subdued as they peered across the DMZ and in to North Korea which, at the time, was only months away from detonating their first nuclear weapon. I have to admit that I thought the statue of the Buddha was just a somewhat crass propaganda move particularly since there is a statue of the Virgin Mary and a tower topped with a cross nearby however now that I have read a bit about the Maitreya Buddha I can’t help but think that this statue is a display of hope for the future.