Greetings, dear readers, and welcome back to A Day With J (South Korean Edition). A lot’s been happening here on the peninsula lately. For starters, you might have heard that the 65-year standoff between the North and South might finally be coming to an end.
I asked my sixth grade students how they felt about this development and they all seemed to view it very positively. 100% of them said they want peace with the North, a formal ending of the Korean War, nuclear disarmament, and better lives for the North Korean people. Most of them stop short of wanting total reunification, though. Only 10% want that. Personally, I have no idea how all of this will play out, but for now I feel things are moving in a good direction and I’d love to see an agreement that benefits both sides.
Here’s a list of my other posts about North and South Korea if you’re interested:
Vacationing on the 38th Parallel
Mississippi J and the Temple of Yeoju
China, Day 3: Midnight Trip to Dandong
North Korea: From Hermit Kingdom to Merchant Kingdom?
Oh, and speaking of countries coming together in a spirit of friendliness and peace, I completely forgot to mention my trip to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang earlier this year.
On February 24th, my friends Jason, Young, and I hopped the KTX to Pyeongchang and went down to see the snowboarding events (Snowboard Big Air).
As always, I arrived at the train station first, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. As for Jason and Young, they were…well…
It’s a shame, really. They missed a lot of beautiful snow-covered scenery.
As you’ll see in the map below, the Olympics village in Pyeongchang was divided up by events. Snowboarding over here, cross country skiing over there, bobsledding right this way…
When we first arrived, we got some bad information and ended up taking a bus to the wrong event. To make matters worse, my heart was broken when I realized that this building was not an IHOP like I’d originally thought.
The only silver lining was that I spotted some interesting Coca Cola advertising. (I wonder who gets to keep the Pyeongchang 2018 Coca Cola trashcans.)
I also got some pretty good commentary about the situation from Jason.
Fortunately, it didn’t take us very long to get ourselves turned around and over to the right place.
Except for a few Korean and Japanese spectators, the crowd was mostly made up of foreigners like ourselves.
If I was giving out spirit awards, I’d give 1st place to Canada – mostly because of the guy who showed up wearing boxer shorts in the freezing cold weather.
2nd place would go to the US of A – loud and jubilant as usual.
3rd place would go to the UK for the two or three Union Jacks we saw waving around (and bonus points for finally standing up for free speech).
From where we were sitting, we had a great view of two large screens that let us know when the snowboarders were coming down the incline. When the right time came, we could then turn and see them fly out over the top of the hill. Here’s a video to illustrate what I mean.
And here are some videos of the most memorable moments from the American team.
The entire experience was a very worthwhile addition to ye olde bucket list. And except for one little hiccup related to my souvenir shopping…
I’d say my Olympics weekend was a success.
Here’s hoping we’ll soon be saying the same about our talks with the North.
May 12, 2018