No Longer the Same
Writer Chanho Kim, ’19
Trocadero Square was empty, as I slowly walked out from the metro station in Paris. Why was this so striking? Well, the location where you can take in the best view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris had virtually no tourists. It was an extraordinary moment to be able to take photographs in peace for the first time there but I had mixed feelings as I was aware why this opportunity was made possible.
My week in Paris was peaceful thanks to the lack of visitors yet it was not a pleasant peace. This decrease of tourists did not mean a dislike for my beloved city — it really meant “fear.” In other words, it was not because the city became less attractive itself but because of the aftermath of several terror attacks was still ongoing.
Paris, and France as a whole, has suffered from numerous terrorist attacks since last year. To name a few, these include the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the November terror strikes and the Nice truck terrorist attacks. These have raised civil unrest for France and Europe, which has led France to declare a state of emergency (which is still effective). Such indications have led to the questioning of the security in France, which has clearly discouraged some from visiting. I remember whenever the attacks arose, Monsieur Hollande, the President of France and other state leaders declared that they were not going to surrender to the “fear” that terrorists wish to bring. However, to some degree, it appeared to me that this beautiful city had already been submerged by the unpredictable attacks. It was a sad fact to notice that this symbolic city of grace could no longer be arrogant to the tourists it welcomed. In an ironic way, seeing first-time tourists complaining about the unkindness of “les Parisens” was more comfortable for me than seeing empty streets. These complaints meant that the old Paris, the one I recognised as proud and beaming, still remained in parts
My last mixed feeling arose at Charles de Gaulle Airport, as I waited for my flight back to Seoul, I was watching a broadcast about Boulogne Forest refugee centre on French TV. In an interview, the richest citizens in Paris were saying that they were against the establishment of Refugee Homes in the Boulogne Forest near their villas. No more “Tolérance” in France, they seemed to say. However, who is to blame for this change? During my flight back home, I brooded upon this question. Being able to come to no sufficient solution, I was only hoping that with my next visit, Paris would have regained the status that I remembered it as. Paris should stand with its chin set high and emphasise its glory, instead of being feeble and faded as I saw this summer. After all, isn’t that what we all imagine Paris to be like?