Autumn has already faded away in memory, but its scent still lingers in the air. Unfortunately.
I have heard of foreigners coming to Seoul during autumn and being taken aback by the smell. Some are too polite to mention it, thinking it is perhaps emitted by the locals, or the food, aka the infamous 'smells of garlic', but in fact it's the burst fruit of the gingko trees rotting in the city streets.
Gingko trees are lovely. They turn such a great hue of deep yellow in the autumn. Schoolgirls (before the era of the internet) used to gather them, dry them out completely and write poems and quotes and all sorts of girly girly teen talk on them and give them to friends as keepsakes. There's a sentimental nostalgic quality to gingko leaves.
But why oh why oh why do their fruit smell so gawd darn awful??? It's like a combination of rotten tofu and lemons thrown together. Foul acidity and carbon-like fumes. Street terror, we call them.
Because of their overpowering stench, Seoul City has decided to replace most of the street trees with another species starting from next year. A part of me is thankful, another part of me knows very well that I'll miss the yellow bursts of color lining the streets. After all, they are absolutely harmless when seen from the safety of a vehicle with closed windows, or in pictures.