This summer I’m living in a flat five minutes walk from Bucheon station, near Seoul. Today there is a threat of rain and it’s very humid, which tends to make one feel that time has stopped: it’s as if everyone and everything is waiting for the rain to fall before getting on with their lives. There are two other reasons why one might think that time has stopped. There is a household goods shop outside the station that has a poster up which says “last day of business”, but of course it says this every day. A few weeks ago it said “last three days of business” instead, but they must have decided that was starting to look implausible or something. They do various things to look like they’re struggling to get rid of their wares. The other day they just piled everying up in a huge pile on the street outside the shop. They have a guy with a megaphone shouting all day about how cheap everything is in an urgent tone.

The other reason to think time has stopped is that “today’s coffee” in Starbucks is always the same coffee. On the little blackboard that all Starbucks branches have they have written: “now brewing: hot: iced coffee blend. iced: iced coffee blend.” Every time I order a cup of today’s coffee I have to wait five minutes while they actually brew it because it seems like no-one else is ordering it. And it tastes exactly the same as yesterday’s coffee.