Monday, March 7, 2011

Korea - Part II (Suwon)

(Photos also uploaded to my Facebook Fan Page!)

We decided to head to Suwon earlier, as the guys were still sick from the food poisoning so we could just rest for the day. The Samsung company team trains at the Samsung Digital City, almost a mini island in Suwon. I was told there were about 8000 employees in that division there. The gym was inside a big building which also included the lunch hall, some stores and coffee shops, and a fitness area. They have 7 courts there, 2 courts are mattted. On the floor above, they have a small walkway which can be used as a ~150m track. We ended up training there twice a day along side the Samsung team, 10am-12pm and 3pm-5pm, though we had to be there for warm up 30 minutes before. Speaking of warm up, all the Korean teams do a traditional group stretch, where they run through a whole bunch of stretches together while one person counts (slow count to 20). They also stand/sit in a circle facing each other. I find that a lot of their training is very structured, even in warm ups, running, etc and though it seems a little military-like, it's also seems very 'team-building', let's say. Back home, everyone just does their own thing, whereas here, it seems everyone does everything the same and together. Talk about team bonding!

I like how they exaggerate their safety signs at Samsung =)

Anyway, let's introduce some of the Samsung Team! Apparently, how it works in Korea is that teams are quite competitive against each other, so I would have to say the girls on the Samsung team are rivals against the Dae Kyo team in Seoul, as much as Kim's University in Iksan where we are headed next, are rivals against the Sport University in Seoul (KNSU). However, I'm sure everyone is friendly enough, as the best players have to work together on the National Team anyway. But let's get back to the Samsung team! Surprisingly, both of Kim's Olympic Gold medal partners are coaching for Samsung, including Gil Young Ah (1996 Olympic XD Partner) and of course, Ha Tae Kwon (2004 Olympic MD partner). Also, Lee Hyo Jung (2010 Asia Games XD Winner, 2008 Olympics XD Winner and WD Finalist) is there to help coach and sparr. I don't know too many of the players, but I did recognize a few: Hwang Hye Youn and Jang Su Young, both WS, and Cho Gun Woo, MD. However all the players are very strong, as Samsung is one of the most prestigious company teams, as they staff Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung! Unfortunately Lee and Jung are out competing in Europe, but maybe I'll get to see them another time!

Training at Samsung Company Team!

YouTube Link: [(Clip) Practice at Samsung]

Shopping was a lot easier, as our motel is in a more busy area. There are a lot of restaurants around and little stores, but most importantly, they have a giant department store (Home Plus) which kind of functions like a Walmart, except it's 4 or 5 floors of stuff. Each floor has it's own specialty, with a floor dedicated to groceries, one to other stuff (e.g. clothing, stationary, electronics), a floor for higher end clothing and books, a food court floor, and also multiple floors for parking. The prices are very reasonable and we ended up shopping and eating there a few times. They also sell cheap socks with cute designs on them which are quite popular back home (e.g. vancouver), but probably sell for a premium (~$1 in Korea, maybe $10 in Vancouver?).

Picture of a picture of our motel in Suwon

Hello Kitty is EVERYWHERE in Korea

Training at Samsung was more fun, as we interacted with them a little more. They seemed to like their soccer warm up, where one time we played with the rule that you have to hit a chair, and one where we had mini-nets from a larger 3 person seat, so we had to shoot through it to score, but on either side. Another game they played is kind of like a volleyball/soccer blend... kind of hard to explain, but check out the video for it later. Aside from all these warm up games, we also got to play with them a little bit, like Box Game with the guys, in addition to some doubles and mixed matches. Most of all, Jon and I got to play against Kim and Ha, so THAT was SO cool! All in all, it was a good few days of training and sparring, well, until we went out for dinner...

'Tonkatsu' lunch with the Canadian team with Kim and Ha

Tonkatsu! Fried pork, fried fish, and a beef patty with rice and salad!

Additional honey fried chicken with green onion to share

And... the aftermath... I ate WAY too much

I don't know what's worse: Men's Doubles after lunch, or knowing your opponents are Kim and Ha?

The answer: playing Kim and Ha after a huge lunch =P

YouTube Links:
[(Clip) Warm Up Game]

[(Clip) Kim/Ha vs. Vandervet/Ng]

[(Clip) Kim/Ha Sparring (Pt I)]

[(Clip) Kim/Ha Sparring (Pt II)]

Dinner was good! We went out with the Samsung team and they treated! We went for Korean BBQ and the food was spectacular, as usual... but the drinking... oh my, the drinking was terrible... as usual =) What I mean by terrible, is that the amounts they can drink are incredible. We started by having a toast with a glass of beer, and the rule is that you had to drink the whole thing. Then after a bit, we did it again. Anytime someone older than you wants you to drink, you pretty much were sunk. However, if they offer you some soju, you can at least give it back. Let me explain soju first. Soju is an evil Korean drink, where it is clear, looks like water, except it contains about 20% alcohol. You can probably see where this is going. As for the 'Asian Flush' syndrome, I happened to be free of this 'curse' but in fact, it's more like a blessing here, because they said I look fine and kept offering me more! Arrgghh.... anyway, Kim told us to mingle with the players so that was quite cool, even though we have a pretty heavy language barrier. Nonetheless we did have our little conversations on how old everyone was and had more shots of soju. The age thing is quite big in Korea, where you have to more or less listen to the person who is older. Also, 'friends' are considered those of the same age or born the same year, as in Korea, they consider themselves 1 year old at birth, meaning their ages automatically go up by a year. Add to the fact they round up the year to include how old they would be in that year, you can get almost a 2 year discrepency if you asked how old they were. So we got a little smarter and asked what year they were born to make the numbers match up. Apparently, Alan and Lee Hyo Jung are the same year, with Lee Hyo Jung being a little bit older, and me and Hwang Hye Youn are also the same year, with her being older as well. Everything else was a drunken blur... =P

Have to make sure the pork is cooked this time! Black looks good enough =P

Ha Tae Kwon sitting on Jon... well, almost...

Me and Hwang Hye Youn! We are 'chingu' (friends) because we are the same age =)

After dinner, it was great (aside Ha Tae Kwon being drunk and trying to kiss everyone), but I guess we weren't finished yet o___O One of the coaches decided to take us out for chicken and beer, with more emphasis on the latter... okay, let's get to the point... it was horrible. We were already pretty messed up from the dinner, but now we had to chug beers in 'one shot' and... ugh... it wasn't good. I don't really know how we got out (actually I do, but I'm just not telling =P)... but in the end, we survived and taxied back to our motel... and it was only 11pm o__O

Either I'm drunk, or the lady parked on the side walk... okay, I'm NOT drunk.

We took the next day off, thankfully I drank like, 4 Litres of water to flush out the alcohol and prevent any major hangovers, so I was okay. I don't normally drink even close to what I had that night, and I hope I don't have to. Unfortunately, I'm still in Korea for a while... so... uh oh... Anyway, that's pretty much the scope of our Suwon adventure with the Samsung team, so be sure to look out for Part 3: Ik-san and the Won Kwang University Team!

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