South Korea is known for its beauty. We’re talking known known. People from all over the world flock to Korea in an effort to achieve the flawless skin of so many K-pop stars and actors. You wanna know how it’s done? An impeccable skin care routine. Korean cosmetic stores line the streets of Seoul like no other. There are literally 4 or 5 on each block brimming with the latest skin care innovations and make up.
Skip the chicken soup the next time you are feeling under the weather; grab a bowl of kimchi instead! This spicy, fermented side dish has been a staple on Korean tables for thousands of years. Koreans believe that kimchi can soothe an upset stomach, help you lose weight, cure a hangover, keep you from aging and much more. Kimchi is becoming readily available in many restaurants and health food stores due to the popularity and health benefits of fermented foods. In addition to being a delicious accompaniment to your next meal, kimchi may be your ticket to good health.
South Korea — I was thinking of not writing about Jesa since Wikipedia has already explained it thoroughly. Instead, I am writing this based on what I have observed and experienced and probably quote some information from Wikipedia. This picture I got from Koreatimes tells the proper way to prepare the table:
It’s that time of the year again, “the season with clear skies and stout horses.” Nothing depicts what Korean fall looks alike more accurate than this old saying. During the fall season, the weather is the best and the harvested crops are so plentiful that even livestock get to enrich themselves. Therefore, what’s not to like about this peaceful season?
For some reason, I kept thinking about heading to Kyeongju and getting some photos. Not really sure why but I could shake the feeling that something good was happening out there. Not sure what I would find, I jumped into my car, heeded my wife’s warning about the traffic and took off.
I can’t stress this enough, I had no idea what I wanted to shoot there. I felt like my shots of the Woljeong Bridge were a little boring and so I was heading out that way. However, beyond that I was not really sure what to do. I was just heading out to a beautiful city and hoping for the best and then something caught my eye.
You know, it’s a long uphill battle to beat the Koreans in judo. Here’s why. As children, Koreans can enroll in one of the many elementary schools across their country that have designated judo development programs. At a young age they commence their training on a conveyer belt of winning judo standards. And this is just the beginning. They can move on to the same in middle school, and this includes all-girl’s middle schools. Again, at high school age, players are training in judo full time alongside their studies in hopes of gaining entrance to the final level of Korea’s schooling system.
University. This is the final stage before the best of the best are plucked to train in the national program.
In Busan, Korea’s second largest city, there are two universities with judo development teams: This is Dong-Eui University as I showcased early on during my time in Korea. The other university judo program is Dong-A University which is what you see here. Judo teams share large athletic facilities with other sports and martial arts like taekwondo, kendo, boxing, and wrestling at universities like these.
These are no compromise systems training students for careers in physical education, law enforcement, and potentially the highest level of play in the sport. These are the big boys and girls. They have been training in the Korean school judo system since elementary school. That’s a lot of dedicated years.
At universities such as these, students are able to receive a degree in judo instruction and development, or other related degrees such as physical education for public schools.
You don’t want to randori with these kids in your right mind. They are true mat rats who train full time and want to win. Only the best coaches are assigned to these teams and there is immense pressure to produce results.
Make no mistake, this is not local club play. Practice sessions are uchikomi and then an hour and a half of randori 5 days a week with many other high level players. The pool is large and the bench is deep with strong players whose life is judo. Some of the main judo hubs in Korea are Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, Daegu, and Busan.
There is no guesswork in Korean judo. Show up, follow the plan, win a medal. Wash, rinse, repeat. There should be no wonder why we see Korean champions all the time.