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Olympic Park April 15, 2009

Posted by jorkat in Seoul.
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Marriage is all about compromise. Fortunately for me, in our relationship, compromise is usually slanted slightly in my favour 60/40. This is why we get along so well and why I love my wife so dearly.

So when it comes time to decide on where we’re going on weekends, she usually defers to my judgement (within reason). Katie is more about beautiful scenery and touring cultural landmarks and monuments, whereas I’m more interested in people watching and you guessed it – sports. A couple of weekends ago we found the perfect venue to satisfy both of our desires.

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The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad, were the second summer Olympic Games to be held in Asia and the first since 1964 when the Summer Games were held in Tokyo.

Hosting the 1988 Olympics presented an opportunity to bring international attention to South Korea. The idea for South Korea to place a bid for 1988 Games emerged during the last days of the Park Chung-hee administration in the late 1970s. After President Park’s assassination in 1979, Chun Doo-hwan, his successor, submitted Korea’s bid to the IOC in September 1981, in hopes that the increased international exposure brought by the Olympics would legitimize his authoritarian regime amidst increasing political pressure for democratization, provide protection from increasing threats from North Korea, and showcase the Korean economic miracle to the world community. South Korea was awarded the bid on September 30, 1981, becoming the 16th nation, the second Asian nation, and the second newly industrialized economy (after Mexico in 1968) to host the Summer Olympics.

As political demonstrations emerged in June 1987, the possibility of jeopardizing hosting the Olympic Games contributed to a declaration which issued President Chun out of power and led to direct elections in December 1987. The desire not to taint the Olympic Games with military dictatorship and riots served as an impetus for Korea’s transition to democracy. Roh Tae-woo served as the transitional president, directly elected by South Koreans in December 1987. The 1988 Olympic Games provided a catalyst for controlled political change to maintain stability in South Korea.

In essence, sports saved the country. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

img_5506These Olympics were also best known for a fellow by the name of Ben Johnson. I was almost 10 years old when Ben provided me with one of my first proud to be Canadian moments only to have it tarnished for eternity when he tested positive for anabolic steroids and had his medal and world record rescinded 3 days later. Despite having 4 of the top 5 finishers from that race having tested positive for a banned substance at some point in their careers, including Carl Lewis, only Johnson was penalized and forever villified. he now lives in Markham, Ontario and is currently working on his autobiography entitled Seoul to Soul. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Enough of the history lesson. Here are some more pictures of Olympic Park.

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Now, spring wasn’t quite in full bloom but there was a fair amount of outdoor activities being played in some of the parks and fields. This provided us with our first opportunity to throw around the football (Katie throws and mean spiral) which obviously attracted some stares from our fellow park-dwellers. But nothing garnered as much attention as the new shirt Katie unveiled featured in the picture below.

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For those of you who aren’t fluent in Korean, her shirt says “Wae-gu-kin” which in English means “Foreigner”. On the surface, this may not seem that interesting or funny, but for some reason Koreans think it’s flat out hilarious. Our friends, the Mulloskey’s (Sean and Erin) purchased the exact same shirt for Sean while they were here and insisted that we do likewise. Here is Sean’s assessment from his blog last year which most accurately describes what it likes walking around with this thing on.

“In Korea, there are only 2 kinds of people. Koreans and foreigners. And I am as foreign looking as they come. So whats the big deal? Well, for starters you can’t walk down the street, to work, the corner store without someone, usually a child pointing at you and shrieking ‘waygukin’. Despite the fact that foreigners are quite common now in most Korean towns, we are still a site to behold, especially to children. So, to our complete surprise and amazement, the shirt makes every Korean who sees it laugh hysterically. I guess it’s because you’re beating them to the punch in their own language. Wearing it on the busy streets of Seoul is like walking around with a happiness gun and shooting people as you pass them.”

Of course I had ordered the same shirt but they sent me the wrong size so Katie was the first to wear it in public and I chose to walk about 10-15 feet behind her with the camera and attempt to get pictures of peoples’ reactions. They were priceless but the pictures don’t do them justice. We will do it again and get video when I finally unleash mine. I’d say that of the hundreds of people we passed that day, at least 80% noticed the shirt and a solid 65-70% acknowledged it by quietly snickering to themselves, pointing it out to a friend, laughing out loud or pointing in full blown hysterics. It was amazing. I enjoyed it even more because most of the time they wouldn’t react until after they had passed Katie so I would get to share the laugh with them as they often didn’t realize we were together until I started laughing as well. Here are a couple of pictures to give you an idea and a link to the Mulloskey site where they have video of Sean walking around our neighbourhood with his on.

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(The guy with his head down is laughing hysterically.)

I can now admit that deep down, waaay deep down, the main reason I wanted to embark on this odyssey was for two reasons. Number one, so I could write this blog. And number two, was because of this t-shirt. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint.

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Comments»

1. Sean - April 16, 2009

Use the power of instilling laughter wisely! It gets addictive. Get the “I (heart) Ajjumas” shirt.

2. Kasia Fink - April 16, 2009

Wow, I can’t WAIT to see the video. I predict instant YouTube sensation.

3. Nanners - April 16, 2009

That’s hilarious!!! I am going to write (Thanks Wikipedia!) as a citation for a paper I am writing. Man, I wish I was there!

4. Dyson - April 16, 2009

Looks like (Thanks Wikipedia!) your weekends (Thanks Wikipedia!) off are pretty (Thanks Wikipedia!) eventful. What (Thanks Wikipedia!) are the chances of (Thanks Wikipedia!) you bringing back (Thanks Wikipedia!) some centrifuges (Thanks Wikipedia!) when you’re (Thanks Wikipedia!) here next? (Thanks Wikipedia!)

5. Brigitte - April 17, 2009

Awesome! Love the shirt! Can’t wait for the video!

6. jules - April 18, 2009

I just spent the past two hours catching up with you guys… thanks for doing this. i miss you guys a lot. sorry for the cheese, i’m getting sentimental in my old age.

7. Katie - April 18, 2009

We miss you too Jules!

8. Kirby - February 20, 2015

I saw this post on other site. It had identical meaning but in a completely different words,
they use advanced article rewriter, you should read about it, just search
in google:
Niachight’s rewriter


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