You don’t have to play PC games

Longboarding with Tony and Caroline on one of Gwangju’s few backroads.
My heart sunk a little bit when I read this in an article about South Korea in the New York Times months before we left America:
“It’s impossible for students in any country to study all the time, so they are looking for interesting things to do together. In America they have lots of fields and grass and outdoor space. They have lots of room to play soccer and baseball and other sports. We don’t have that here. Here, there are very few places for young people to go and very little for them to do, so they found PC games, and it’s their way to spend time together and relax.”
Uh oh…Maybe Korea isn’t such a good idea, I thought.” Then I just went with it. “A year in the PC rooms geeking it up with other Koreans couldn’t be that bad. You know, when in Rome. Right? Besides, what else was I am I going to do?”

Currently my favorite place to run: on the access roads through farmland.
They are usually completely empty.
So it was a little bit of a surprise when Lindsay and I immediately found great hiking trails (that would double as our running trails) within 48 hours of landing in Gwangju located right down the road from our apartment. Korea certainly doesn’t have a whole lot of greenspace, but you can always find a way to recreate outside.

It is very common to see people playing Korean board games in park shelters.
These guys are playing paduk.
The difference is you are usually recreating with lots of other people. The hiking trails can sometimes feel like a long line in the DMV or the Atlanta airport and you might have to share the soccer field with school kids. I have almost run into school kids in uniform leisurely walk across a soccer field in the middle of a game. Koreans don’t believe in space bubbles like many westerners do.

HIKING WITH CROWDS IN KOREA, WOLCHULSAN PARK

But despite the PC bang culture I spent the first year playing soccer with a foreign team and now spend my Sundays tossing frisbee with friends. While I am out enjoying the trails, running the roads or tossing the disc on soccer field in the middle of one of Gwangju’s parks, there are always lots of Koreans around. Occasionally, they will even want to try to throw the frisbee, high-five you as you run by(FIGHTING!), or just gawk at what the foreigners are up to now. But make no mistake about it, Koreans love being outside.

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