Jimin and Yundi spread out a blanket at the foot of the Wonhyo Bridge and stared at the lights of the 63 Building, a skyscraper that seemed to take the form of two people leaning back to back. As distant traces of music wafted down the shoreline, it was nice simply to enjoy the river breeze and the moon.
A stranger once thrust his smartphone into a pretty woman’s hand and ran off, hoping that she would feel obliged to track him down in order to return it.
The joyride ended at Han River Park, which encircles Seoul’s main financial district.
She told her friends afterward, “He’s twenty-nine, but he’s so cute! As she sat on the train, debating whether it would seem too forward to friend Jimin on Facebook, her phone—a Samsung Galaxy in a pearlescent case—dinged, and a push notification appeared, announcing that Jimin wanted to be her friend. One afternoon, Jimin attended an event at which someone was handing out balloons.
He tied them to the back of his motorbike, thinking it would look like a newlyweds’ car, and picked Yundi up after her classes.
(Recent competitors include Couple, which offers a “thumbkiss” feature, and an app called Avocado, because “Avocado trees don’t self-pollinate—they need another tree nearby to bear fruit.”) Between has attracted modest followings in countries like Japan and the United States, but in South Korea more than half of twentysomethings have used it.
Each month, Between users send one another a collective eight hundred million messages and spend an average of four hundred and fifty minutes using the app.
Beneath them, in the subways, the 4G LTE network provided cellular service, even though no one talked on the phone or sent texts anymore, preferring to chat on the mobile-messaging app Kakao Talk.
The Wi Max connection was fast enough to stream music videos.
Their smartphones were lanterns, illuminating the urban grid.