Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Korea - Part IV (Seoul II)

(Photos here can also be found on my Facebook Fan Page!)

Now back in Seoul! We took the fast train back from Iksan so it only took about 2.5 hours. The train also offered wireless internet, but I ended up sleeping most of the way to catch up on my lack of sleep from the night before. We were due back to train at KNSU (Korea National Sport University - see Part I) and Grace could reunite with the Dae Kyo team. Also, Christin Tsai would be arriving to train with us for the remainder of the trip and she would be staying with Grace at Dae Kyo's dorm as well.

Seoul Train Station
Training started off pretty much where we left off, though the KNSU team didn't train in the mornings because they had classes. However, I was told they may have early morning training, which meant training at 6:30am before their classes. However, they would be in the gym during the afternoon session from about 3:00-5:30pm. The first couple of training sessions, we joined in with their warm up, including a team run where they ran around the gym in a line at the same pace, and then another day where we played soccer. The KNSU team is quite large, but they are surprisingly structured, as their warm up stretching, running, and even drills were done together, meaning everyone was doing things at the same pace more or less. That meant working together most of the time to keep drills running smoothly.

Soccer Warm Up

KNSU Team group stretching
In Korea, there is a surprising amount of 'yelling' that is done. I know this is more or less a foreign thing in Canada, though we are slowly picking things up in our tournaments, but Koreans do it in practice as well. It's even crazier at lower levels, like in High School teams, where between every rally, they would yell up to three times EVERY RALLY. If they win the rally or if they lost the rally, they would yell to pump themselves up. It seems a little weird at first, but they seem to do it to whoever they were up against. Although it seems quite offensive, nobody ever takes things too personally, and in the end, it seems to bring up a good training environment where everybody is working hard. It always seems more like a challenge, every time someone yells, and the idea is that you have to pretty much yell back to show that you're up for the challenge, rather than over-yell because it's not a yelling contest. Typically, they yell at one standard tone depending on the person. They will not yell weaker, they will not yell stronger. After a while, you just learn to accept it, and it's no big deal. However, I feel in Canada that we don't quite grasp that concept, so it can get quite personal. Since most coaches don't really understand this either, as it is taken from International badminton, there will definitely be mixed opinions on it. Also, with different cultural views, some may not deem it very acceptable, whereas in Korea, it seems perfectly normal and it may even be worse if you don't yell. Yelling here signifies that you are trying to pump yourself up to play your best. Typically, people who aren't trying have no need to yell... whether they are winning or losing, so it seems (IMHO). This is one topic that you'll never find in the Canadian coaching programs. In fact, watching other sports in Korea, they all do the same thing.

Lee Dong Soo (coach of KNSU) addressing the KNSU team
Crossing the river in Seoul
On the weekend, the Canadians went to a shopping mall called Techno Mart, because the Koreans were hung over from the night before (heard it was REALLY crazy). We took a short taxi ride over and began scouring the first two floors. It was mostly clothing and stuff, including hats, bags, stationary, etc, but it also had the food court, which we were looking for. I tried Lotteria, a Korean hamburger chain and to be honest, I wasn't too impressed with their burger. The others went for Korean and their food definitely didn't disappoint. After food, we went round some more and bought a couple of stationary items, then we decided to head on up. The 2nd floor seemed to be all electronics, including cameras, camcorders, mp3 players, etc. We went up another floor and it was ANOTHER floor of electronics, identical to the 2nd floor. Apparently the 2nd and 3rd floor were for domestic electronics, so when we got to the 4th and 5th floor, we apparently hit the 'Worldwide Electronics', which wasn't too far off from the domestic. The next floor, 6th now, was for cellphones. Unfortunately, I don't think it's and cheaper to try to buy an unlocked phone here (e.g. Galaxy S =P) and if anything it may be MORE expensive to buy without a contract. Regardless, we went up to the 7th and 8th floor and they had computer stuff and video game stuff... incredible, MORE electronics. I guess the mall doesn't lie about it's name. Finally, on the 9th floor, we hit a 2nd food court, though it's more assorted with different coffee shops and different types of food. The final floor, which we didn't visit though, was actually a movie theatre! What an incredible mall, but we didn't actually buy anything, except for me. I bought another pair of Kim Yuna (2010 Olympic Women's Figure Skating Solo Champion) earphones... technically I'm only missing the red pair now! Regardless, we went down to the B2 floor where they had a Lotte Mart, pretty much a chain grocery store in Korea. It's priced very well so we got some drinks and snacks before we headed back to the dorm.

Techno Mart
Techno Mart - 10 Floors!

Techno Mart floors from the elevator
We had the fortune of visiting the National Training Center, even though it was for the morning session. Apparently, the National Team also has early morning training, from 6:30am to 8:00am, then breakfast, then morning training at about 10:00am, though they start their warm up at about 9:30am. Training last until about 11:30am, then they do a cooldown stretch and head to lunch. Unfortunately, the National Team members in Europe were just returning, so we missed them by a day. Anyway, we got a chance to eat at the training center too, for 11 000 Won (~$10 CAD) and it was spectacular! It was a lunch buffet more or less and they had all types of food, including a blend of Korean and Western choices! To top it off, they had persimmon and korean pear as part of the salad bar! It was really nice to see the training center again, even though it was for a brief period of time!

Supposedly, you can run up the mountain on the left in 22 mins from the shot of this photo!
Another shot of the track to the mountain
Counting down to the 2012 Olympics! Wish me luck =P

Banner at Korea National Training Center - we should have one like this in Canada...
Video editing station
Shot of the courts with me, Grace, and Christin

National Center dining hall
National Training Center food! I ate SO much o__O

That's pretty much it for this section! Stay tuned for the final section of my blog, Suwon and Samsung Company Team Part II! More miscellaneous pictures below!

Pork Galbi (Pork rib)
Group photo including Kim and Ra's kids! They are SOOO cute! =)
Korean burger joint at Techno Mart (Lotteria), they had 3 of these in the entire mall!
Extremely obvious urinal sign at Techno Mart LOL
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