It has been a while since our last post, but here are a few updates on our time in Chuncheon. It is hard to believe we are leaving here in two days. We have climbed a mountain, water skied, visited a temple on a mountain, and explored the 2018 olympic village as it is being constructed. We also visited the DMZ today. There will be blogs soon regarding that emotional, yet amazing experience.
To start this, Nick Frisk will discuss his impressions of Korea, having been here for two and a half weeks.
– Chris Lebens
Since arriving in Korea about two and a half weeks ago many things have caught the eyes of the members of this trip. Some things more than others but one thing that has stuck in my mind since the moment we arrived was the vast amounts of FREE recreational activities that are available to the general public. Much of this trip is focused on past, present and future Olympic, World Cup, and professional sport venues. But what about the ‘Average Joe (or Joan) Korean’ walking around town after a hard day at work? What is there for he or she to do to stay healthy in a culture where the food is so gosh darn good (see post from 7/1)?
The students at Washington State are lucky enough to pay a small fee within our overall University fees to have a recreation center available to us almost all day every day. However much like here in Korea once students leave school the only option left it to pay for a gym or create a workout based on home equipment or the surroundings. As someone who enjoys working out and staying active I know how hard this can be during WSU’s vacations when I do not have the luxury of a student recreation center or the money to buy a gym membership. The Korean government, who oversees the park system, in Korea has devised a great plan to offer fitness equipment to the general public at each park.
To the very moment of writing this paper, seeing these workout machines has been the most unexpected discovery for me on this trip (see picture 1). We first discovered these ingenious devices exploring a park just behind our dorm in Seoul (we have since moved on to Chuncheon). They are not much to look at if you do not understand them. They basically look like playground equipment for adults complete with swinging platforms, boat like steering wheels and strength testers. But they each serve a purpose. There are a couple of different swinging platforms for cardio based workouts, a platform for swinging oblique workouts and a platform for gut busting abdomen workouts. The strength machines are actually an arm press workout that uses your own body weight against you and finally the steering wheels are there just for fun! Now I did not personally use these machines for a workout while in Seoul, but every time I passed a park on the bus or while walking I would see parents just hanging out while their kids played on the actual jungle gyms.
Much like America, Korea also offers many bike and walking trails for residents to use along with the regular parks that have kid’s play grounds. Also very similar to America, Korea has many outdoor sport courts which are open 24 hours a day (based on lighting) peppered throughout the parks. In Chuncheon specifically, I have not had to time to explore the parks surrounding the university’s campus but while passing by I continued to see the trails and many more free recreational activities, like croquet.
I am looking at the parks here in Korea and I cannot help but think ‘what is your problem America?’ There have been many headlines in the past 10 to 15 years about how America is becoming over weight and people back home are not exercising enough. Well one thing we can do is upgrade our parks system. These little workout machines are brilliant not to mention a huge step towards promoting physical activity starting with the parents. Gym memberships can be very expensive in the United States so I understand why someone would be averted from purchasing one. If these workout contraptions were placed next to play grounds or youth sport fields it will literally start killing two physically active birds with one stone. I can also see how it can possibly be hard for parents to ‘find time for activities’ but if America were to take a page out of Korea’s handbook we would be taking a nice big step in the right direction.
Picture 1 – Photo credit to Mike Dempsey and his blog post on August 17, 2010. http://mjdempsey09.blogspot.kr/
Picture 2 – This is a scaled down model of the Olympic park in Seoul, South Korea (please excuse our tired traveler, it was along day). The thing that caught my eye about this park is just the overall size of it. Everything above the stadiums in picture is a huge park complete with jungle gyms, workout spots, trails fountains and the arch commemorating the games (halfway up on the left in the photo). Trust me it is much larger in person!
Chris Lebens: Now to hear from Josh Tyler about watching professional Soccer, visiting a temple, and water sports.
Today marks two and a half weeks since we have been in Korea and it has been an amazing experience. Everything that we have done has been such a different experience that you just learn so much from a different perspective. Korean culture is just incredible, the generosity, the humblism, the generosity of the people here is mind blowing. People here treat you with so much respect without even knowing you. They greet you properly, they thank you for everything, and they just want the best for you regardless of the situation. It truly is something incredible, these two and half weeks have shown me what I can do better just on a day to day life to make people around me better. The culture here is just like nothing else.
My experiences since the last time I have posted my blog have been amazing. We went to a soccer game, saw an incredible museum about the World Cup in 2002, we went to a temple that was built over a 1000 years ago, and today (7/9) we got to meet the President of Kangwon National University and we experienced Korean water sports. The only way I can explain the experience is once in a lifetime. The students that decided to come to this country made the best decision possible. I can speak from myself saying I was on the fence about the idea of coming to Korea, but I am so glad I decided to come. Dr. Rhee and Dr. Lebens make this experience just incredible, everything they have organized has been awesome.
Something that I really enjoyed since I last posted was the incredible temple we had the opportunity to visit. It started by going to Koreas largest dam (Soyang dam) and then taking a boat to a base of a mountain and hiking to the temple halfway up the mountain. The temple, Chung Pyungsa, was absolutely beautiful and well maintained. It was built over 1000 years ago, and legend has it, if Korean temples last longer than 1000 years they become very spiritual and a Korean National Treasure. The upkeep of the temple was incredible. The temple itself was from the Buddhist religion, and one of the few temples that survived the overwhelming attempts to get the religion out of the country. The temple had a great story to it that just explained the way of the Buddha. The temple was incredible. The entire process of getting to the temple was awesome.
Today (7/9) we got to experience Korean water sports. We were able to wakeboard, ski, and tube on a lake. This was just like home on a hot summer day with your friends. It was a nice connection to home because some of us (including me) miss our family and friends. We also were able to take some of the Korean students that we meet initially at WSU in February. We all had a blast experiencing the water sports. I really enjoyed wakeboarding because its something I usually do every summer and I was glad I was able to do it in South Korea. Also, to be able to say I did it here is awesome! I am taking every day in full stride and experiencing what South Korea has to offer and I am really enjoying my time here. I cannot wait for what’s in store next on this amazing journey!
Video link here:
More to come from the “Cougs in Korea”.