by Jehaan Rehman
Korea was quite the experience. From finding an abandoned ropes course, to falling in a fountain, to trying the most fascinating foods, the whole trip was a thrill ride. Despite hours of research to find the coolest hotspots and the best scenes, many of us went to Korea not knowing what to expect. We (except Master Kim) didn’t know any Korean, besides the numbers one through ten and the traditional TaeKwonDo commands, and unfortunately, Charyut was not going to get us very far. When we first landed in South Korea, we piled into a car and watched the hills roll by as we drove to a cabin Master Kim’s uncle owned. Watching the sunrise the next morning, sitting on the banister of the porch overlooking the vast forest, I realized I had already fallen in love with Korea… except, this was only the beginning.
The next day, we drove to the heart of South Korea, its capital, Soeul. Honking cars, huge subway railcars, bubble tea shops, prosthetic shops, poster shops, sock shops, wood shops, and more. The streets were filled with little food stands, which made it unbearable to walk more than a block without stopping to ogle and drool. For the next 7 days we did everything we possibly could. We saw statues of influential figures who contributed to the development of TaeKwonDo. We saw the DMZ, which is the border between North and South Korea, where we also explored the underground infiltration tunnels. We walked up Namsan tower, and saw all of South Korea from the that height. We visited The World TaeKwonDo federation headquarters, and walked through a lot of the city, taking both TaeKwonDo pictures, as well as embarrassingly goofy pictures.
All of us who went to South Korea had already been so close; working out together (even when classes were over), baking cookies for bake sales (to help pay for our way to get to Korea), watching weird TaeKwonDo movies (just to laugh and learn), teaching kids classes together (so we could pass down our knowledge and love), having Sunday workout sessions (when the studio was technically closed) and spending special days together (celebrating each other’s birthdays and accomplishments). Korea made us even stronger as a group. It solidified many of our relationships and brought us together, giving us an experience we couldn’t forget. My time in Korea would not have been so special without the people I had the chance of going with. Despite broken hands, bruised ribs, cut lips, bloody noses and sore muscles, we are family, inevitably brought together by TaeKwonDo and linked by ties of friendship and trust.
In truth, Korea would not have been so unique without Master Kim’s inside scoop on all the cool places, and the way his uncle and cousin made us feel at home. It wouldn’t have been so special without Mr. H finding every opportunity to tease us. It wouldn’t have been so memorable without Ms Taub proving that she could eat a whole extra spicy chicken wrap. It wouldn’t have been so funny without Mr. Mahaffie insisting on taking flower pictures everywhere we went. It wouldn’t have been so vibrant without Ms Yu’s incredible origami inventions. It wouldn’t have been so comical without Mr Zhuravskiy’s ability to laugh at himself when being told to take pictures with the weirdest backdrops. And it wouldn’t have been filled with so much extra care without Ms. Smallwood helping me out of a fountain I fell in.
Even on the plane ride back, the scope of crazy experiences did not seize. Watching Mr. H and Mr. Mahaffie watch frozen on either side of me caused a revelation; I realized, I spent ten days with insanely remarkable, funny and talented people. This is a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life. And these are people I will be friends with for the rest of my life. So Thank You, to everyone who made this trip, which started out as a dream, become a reality.