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Going to Korea. Any tips? (Read 605 times)


Black-Toe-Nailed

    Hey people!

     

    The company were I work is a joint venture of a local Dutch company and our Korean partners. They seem to be very into business runs there in Asia and they have invited us to run the 10K race in the Taegu Marathon in April.

    I am currently trying to learn as much as I can about etiquette and customs... 

     

    As far I have learned that it is rude to refuse a drink from an elder person, that you have to pour drinks with both hands, that you have to give and accept money also with both hands (left holding the right wrist) and some other minutiae. Fortunately with my 48 years I will be among the older persons so that I am sure to be able avoid a great part of the trouble.

     

    But... how is it on the race day? Is there anything special I need to be careful with? Any special etiquette for porta-potties, snot rockets or similar?
    How competitive are the Koreans? And how will they react to European runners?

    Any info will be much appreciated...

     

    Gamsahabnida!

    --

    "If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years,
    then will power is no longer a problem. It's raining? That doesn't matter.
    I am tired? That's besides the point. It's simply that I just have to."

    Emil Zatopek

      These threads get kicked down so quickly now, so he might not see it...give J-Lee-C a shout. He should be able to help you. He's pretty damned fast too.

      Come all you no-hopers, you jokers and rogues
      We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes
      J-L-C


        Hey!

         

        I actually did this race this year. The 10k is pretty large, around 10k people if memory serves. It's an out and back course that has a small hill after about 2k that'll you hit coming and going. Fairly fast course, though. 

         

        Then you can see the elite marathon finish up soon after. Really awesome event. I'm going to skip it this year to do another big race the day before since it's my last year in Korea, otherwise I'd certainly be there again. 

         

        If I remember correctly, last April the top 6 were in the 32-35 min range. I was 40ish I think with a time around 40:10ish. So not crazy competitive compared to other places but the sheer numbers and prize money do pull in some faster people. 

         

        I don't think there's anything special to worry about on race day. There will be thousands of people lined up so you can just walk past everyone and jump into the part that you think will fit your pacing. No corrals or anything. People generally push and bump and squeeze in as much as possible in Korea, so you might notice a bit more jostling early on when everyone is starting off (or in the streets, airports, stores, etc) but it's just the way things are so don't take too much notice. 

         

        I don't remember if they did this at Daegu, but at most races they'll do some random jumping and yelling thing and then everyone will massage the shoulders of the person in front of and behind them. Just follow along and do whatever everyone else is doing if you like. It's kind of funny to be a part of. Then they'll count down and off you go.

         

        In April I was super-rushed getting to the race (caught the first train to Daegu but it didn't arrive until 15 mins before race start) so I just ran from the train station to the start line and didn't do any bag drops or porta-pottie queuing or anything. Usually there are lots of porta-potties or some other bathroom type things to use, though. 

         

        They have a pretty efficient bag-drop off thing, too, so that won't be a worry. Just grab a big bag from the table, put your stuff in, tie it up and hand it in. They'll give you a sticker to put on your bib and you can get the bag back afterwards quite quickly.

         

        I'm sure you'll be genuinely surprised at the Korean races. The level of organization and the lengths people will go to help you out and make sure you have a good time is amazing. There's food (usually tofu, fish cakes, kimchi, and other things) and drinks (you can get some Korean rice wine if you're so inclined) afterwards and lots of people will just hang out and eat and drink and socialize. If you're with a company or group they may have their own tent where you can sit and relax and maybe leave your bag there. They also usually have massage tables set up if you want.

         

        After the race you'll take your chip off and hand it in and get a little food bag with the finisher's medal in it. Pretty straightforward. Especially in Daegu there will likely be lots of race volunteers around who speak English if you need help. 

         

        There are lots of wagygookins (foreigners) in Daegu and in lots of the races so you won't really be too much of an anomaly. You might get a few more cheers than other people from volunteers who like to say "wow" and "good job" and "cheer up" (that one always cracks me up. the proper use of "cheer up" seems to have been completely lost in Korea) as you run by. School kids might shout out "hello" and whatnot. It's a good time. 

         

        Spitting is very commonplace so just do what you need to do with snot-rockets and the like. No worries there.

         

        Think that's mostly all with race etiquette stuff. As for general etiquette, just mimicking what everyone else do will serve you well 99% of the time. Bow if they bow, smile if they smile, use two hands with everything (giving, receiving, shaking hands, etc.). But honestly, it's just not a big deal. Your efforts will be appreciated and mistakes will be ignored. Most Koreans seem to be very proud of everything Korean so will likely be extremely gracious and accommodating and helpful. You can just relax and take it all in and hopefully have a great time. 

         

        Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions! ^^

           

          and drinks (you can get some Korean rice wine if you're so inclined) afterwards

           

          That brings back some memories out of the far reaches.  JLC pretty much said it all. Just be a polite human and you will be fine. I always found the Korean folks to be very nice people.  Hello, please and thank you are always good first words to learn.

             You might get a few more cheers than other people from volunteers who like to say "wow" and "good job" and "cheer up" (that one always cracks me up. the proper use of "cheer up" seems to have been completely lost in Korea) as you run by. 

             

            I don't know anything about racing in Korea, just wanted to say that I get the "cheer up" thing at all the wrong moments in China too and I think it's really funny. Although to be fair, I have definitely had races where it would have been appropriate. Oh, and the most common way for people to cheer in English here seems to be "Fighting! Fighting!". 

             

            I'd love to do a race in Korea. Are there a lot? There are very few in mainland China and I wouldn't mind traveling for something in 2013. Sorry if I'm hijacking a bit, but I'm afraid I have no tips for the OP...

            Auhugh!!

            J-L-C


               

               

              I'd love to do a race in Korea. Are there a lot? There are very few in mainland China and I wouldn't mind traveling for something in 2013. Sorry if I'm hijacking a bit, but I'm afraid I have no tips for the OP...

               

              Ah, yeah, we have the Korean "fighting" thing, too. Koreans usually say "highting", though. No idea, why. Everyone says that, from school kids to old folks. 

               

              Yeah, there are tons and tons of races. Usually one every weekend or so (though some of those are no-frills 'training type' races). 

               

              In Seoul/Incheon (intl. airport) starting around March you can find multiple races every weekend, some of them enormous. Same for Busan (another intl airport). Early March to late May and then late Sept to December are the big race seasons where you can find multiple races in most of the major cities. 

               

              Some IAAF Gold/Silver races take place in Incheon and Seoul in February and March, just a couple of weeks apart. It's a marathon, plus I think they generally have a half and 10k as well. Then there's the Daegu race which is also a gold/silver race, not sure which. Then there are two more later on in the year. Very huge, very popular marathons if you're interested in that. 

               

              It's an awesome racing scene. Typically about 15 USD for a 5k, 20-30 USD for a 10k, 30 USD for a half, and 40 USD for a full. Almost always significant prize money for all of the races as well as generally having a tech shirt or bag or something of the sort plus all the post-race goodies. 

               

              If you're on facebook you can check out the "Seoul Flyers" for a foreigner-group that gives out a lot of info on races. For Busan area races there is "Waeguks Got Runs" which does the same, though less formally. 

               

              There is virtually NO race-day registration in Korea. Registration for races almost always closes one month before the start date, meaning you have to plan ahead a bit and are sorta out of luck if something prevents you from racing. Race packets are mailed out in the week before. I imagine you can do day-of packet pick up no problem (I've done that before) if you're coming in from another country, though.  


              dog person

                x

                 

                 

                 

                <------- careful with the choices of meat offered.

                 

                 

                Kristian

                J-L-C


                  x

                   

                   

                   

                  <------- careful with the choices of meat offered.

                   

                  Not exactly something to worry about.

                  MrNamtor


                  DON'T TREAD ON ME

                    I guess I'd be careful with the snot rockets and assume that a general dislike of being sprayed with someone else's snot is common to people of almost all cultures.


                    Black-Toe-Nailed

                      Regarding the "meat" thingy: AFAIK it's a declining custom there. I guess we Dutch eat more horse food (also a declining trend) than Koreans dogs.

                       

                      Being a vegetarian I will be on the safe side anyway... Approve

                      --

                      "If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years,
                      then will power is no longer a problem. It's raining? That doesn't matter.
                      I am tired? That's besides the point. It's simply that I just have to."

                      Emil Zatopek

                        I'd love to do a race in Korea. Are there a lot? There are very few in mainland China.

                         

                        That is how I introduced myself on http://www.runningahead.com/forums/topic/d0833d04115a4fd7b208c5bd20f9c1a0/0

                         

                        Funny enough in China the PE is mandatory in schools and universities. If you fail to pass the sport requirements, 100m, 1K, jumping, throwing, kicking balls, etc, you can not graduate or get a degree even you have done excellent in every other subject unless you have a medical exemption. However people stop exercising once they exit the education system. Then it becomes phenomenon again after their retirement.

                        5k - 20:56 (09/12), 7k - 28:40 (11/12), 10k trial - 43:08  (03/13), 42:05 (05/13), FM - 3:09:28 (05/13), HM - 1:28:20 (05/14), Failed 10K trial - avg 6:10/mi for 4mi (29/08/14), FM - 3:03 (13/09/14)

                          Don't expect (or offer) any high fives, hugs, or physical contact at all.  :-) 

                           

                          When pouring drinks, you should always use your right hand, not your left.  If pouring or accepting a drink from an elder, touch the inside of your right elbow with your left fingertips as you do it.  Also, if an elder's glass is empty, offer a refill for them, don't wait for them to ask. 

                           

                          Don't show people the bottom of your glass when you drink or the bottom of your shoe if you have your legs crossed. 

                           

                          Give a simple bow as you greet people, unless they are clearly younger than you.

                           

                          Some Koreans may be weirded out by eye contact. 

                           

                          My wife is Korean and I teach a lot of Korean students in LA, so that's what I'm basing a lot of this on.  Korean Koreans may be different, though.   As far as running, I don't have many thoughts there! 

                           

                          You should go on the DMZ tours if you can while you're there.  It's really interesting and sobering.  Especially the JSA tours, but I don't know if they still do that.

                            oh, and be prepared to eat a lot.  "I'm full," doesn't really cut it there.

                            J-L-C


                              oh, and be prepared to eat a lot.  "I'm full," doesn't really cut it there.

                               

                              And if you're not in the mood to drink much, don't empty your glass. Fake a sip off the top and then leave it sitting. An empty glass is seemingly required to be filled. You keep drinking = you keep drinking. Before you know it you've downed two bottles of Soju and you're holding hands with another drunk adjoshi (man) belting out horrid 80s pop songs in a small room with disco lights. 

                               

                              Which may or may not be the best night you have in Korea.... Big grin

                              J-L-C


                                Regarding the "meat" thingy: AFAIK it's a declining custom there. I guess we Dutch eat more horse food (also a declining trend) than Koreans dogs.

                                 

                                Being a vegetarian I will be on the safe side anyway... Approve

                                 

                                Unless you specifically seek it out you're probably not going to find it. 

                                 

                                I lived just down the road from a little hole-in-the-wall  restaurant selling "well-being soup" for two years before my friend told me what the ingredients of said soup are. It's more underground and certainly not openly advertised (like the majority of "questionable" business practices, e.g. shops with double barber poles). Nor will it be in just a regular restaurant a foreigner would likely enter. At least not in my city. 

                                 

                                I think I know more expats that have tried it (as some bucket list thing) than Koreans. And whenever it got brought up with my higher level teenage students they were almost unanimously against it (especially with how it can be prepared). New generation and all. It's more a thing for aging men with....er.... issues from what I'm told. 

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