Running Through Korea

If you aren’t running at least a few times a day in Korea, you must be doing it wrong. In Boulder, people saunter slowly between work and school, lost in the wafting singer/songwriter music of their ipods.

People in Korea listen to ipods, too…though from the way that they walk one might be tempted to say they must be listening to speed metal. Grandmothers barrel down the sidewalk at speeds normally reserved for message runners. High school students run flat out beside busses, thinking (correctly) that they can beat them to their destination in traffic.

Bus is coming. Run! Crosswalk signal begins flashing. Run! On your way to school. Run!

It’s a very composed run, with small quick steps and as little bouncing as possible. Always accompanied by a neutral but determined look. The kind of hustle that my old sports coaches used to demand of us when fetching a stray ball.

I am not a runner. My frame is far too large for it, and let’s just say that there would inevitably be some serious bounceage issues. But the social pressure to hustle from one place to the next is so strong that I find myself jogging from place to place. I run across intersections if the signal changes, trying to keep up with the ajummas running with full grocery bags ahead of me.

This cultural hurry-up tendency is likely the result of extreme timeliness in Korean schools and workplaces. And it’s result? I’ve yet to see one person who I’d consider to be obese here. In fact, I feel rather chunky.

No problem. I’ll keep running through Korea and eventually those pesky extra pounds will peel off.

A frequent-use stairwell. You just don't see these in the States.

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