Saturday, July 31, 2010

Whirlwind 48 hours

It's 10:30 p.m., Saturday night and the Big Swim team has officially survived Day 1, arriving safely into Hamdeok Beach.

For every day's swim I will write two things. First, a recap of what we did and second a notebook of tidbits. There is some funny ass shit happening. Readers deserve to know. Sunday morning I will write and polish off Day 1's activities. I'm trying to take pictures, but I found out today it is very hard to paddle in a straight line and fiddle with the camera, while worrying about not getting the equipment wet.

Friday morning, there was an official Big Swim presentation at the World Environment and Peace Summer School. Thank you Kim Mi-ran for taking care of us and the PowerPoint you put together! Pictured below is Sherrin and Sung-mi at the talk and below Mi-ran telling the audience Sherrin's influence for the Big Swim is Martin Strel, the man who swam the Amazon.

Friday night, "The Last Supper" was held at Sherrin's (I'm looking for photos to post, Mars.), complete with Tracie's Thai cooking ability, gin and tonics, and daiquiris. Round 2 included many Cass Lemon cans on a rooftop behind the Tapdong Firehouse.

Saturday morning and early afternoon, the sweltering heat, media frenzy, pounding headache (no relation to Friday night), and my propensity to sweat buckets made for a long day.


Last minute THANKS to ...

Before we depart today, these are more people, and some repeats, that have helped us get this far (so far):

1.) Once again to La Jung-im, CEO of Kakyo for the safety flares!!!! and a cash donation. Ms. La has been instrumental in organizing her friends and colleagues to support us, with money, water, and snacks from -

a.) Seo Dae-cheol, big donation!

b.) Nauri Mart, donation (In addition, when the Sehwa High School teachers and others go hiking at Hallasan, we all meet first in your parking lot, early Sunday mornings.)

c.) Mun Sang-pil, thanks for the money.

2.) Youn Tai-ik, Director of the Marine Safety Division for the Jeju Coast Guard, Korea. Word has it he is the best English speaker in the Jeju Coast Guard. Thanks for working with us, especially with Sung-mi, and the time you talked with Sherrin a few days ago.

3.) Kang Young-jin of the Samyang Beach Family Mart, repeat donor, gave the team 40 bottles of water, and a grand total of 3 esky(s), or collapsible water coolers.

4.) Ko Hyun-joon, the collecting manager for The Daily Jeju Environment News, donation and vested interest throughout.

5.) Mun Chang-bae, photographer and CEO of ISOP Studio, also a friend of Sung-mi's, thanks again.

6.) Louisa Frank, you said you wanted to remain anonymous. After today, I promise.

7.) Kang Yeong-yae, a friend of Sherrin's, who left a positive note on the Korean blog ("Sherrin, you can do it. I'm going to pray for you."), thanks for the cash.

8.) Yang Gi-jeong, for the First Aid Kit. Mr. Yang is with the Water Control & Disaster Prevention Division for Jeju Special Self-Governing Province.

9.) MYSTERY. One person remaining to identify. On July 23rd, a donation was deposited from Choe Nak-chul. Thanks. Who are you? We will find out in due time.


Friday, July 30, 2010

One day left !!

Tomorrow (Saturday), come on out to Samyang Beach at noon to send off The Jeju Big Swim team.

The Samyang Black Sand Beach Festival is also happening, so stay the entire day.

Thanks for all the support. It continues to roll in. I will update the new supporters before we depart.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

National Fisheries Research and Development Institute's article

From the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute's newsletter -

The translation follows:(Note: Ji-su translated this into English and Steve edited Ji-su's English translation.)

Foreigner Haenyeo, Sherrin Hibbard
(Hansupul Haenyeo Hakgyo 2nd graduate – Sherrin Hibbard)

"If describing Sherrin in one word, it would be "energizer." The passion and energy comes from her expressive face and her hand actions. By sitting with her, she is not Lee Hyori but we get pulled into her attraction."

Sherrin left home when she was 18 and travelled to Norfolk Island, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and others. She sailed from Japan to Papua New Guinea and before coming to Korea she was the manager of a Papua New Guinea shipping company. She is a traveler who doesn't know what settling down means, a human nomad.

She is currently teaching English at one middle school in Jeju. As the 2nd graduate of Hansupul Haenyo Hakgyo, and as the first foreigner, she participated in the Jeju Muljil competition May 11th. However, Sherrin who is more interested in picking up garbage along the sea than diving, is working on a campaign project to make Jeju's sea cleaner. We met Sherrin who is training hard for swimming around Jeju.

Q. Have you ever heard of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute?

Sure, for the survival of the sea, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute takes a very important role. I hope the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute can bring awareness about fisheries resources maintenance. It is in an important position where it can help people know about the fisheries, buying fish and people making the right decisions. The consumer's power is strong but in order to have a positive effect they need to get information.

Q. How did you enter the Haenyeo Hakgyo?

Australia doesn't have any Haenyeo. This is a unique job only in Japan and Korea. Also, because I was a fisherman myself, I was curious as to what the ladies who make a living out of the sea is like, and entered Haenyeo Hakgyo. We learned how to use the equipment in the sea and getting used to the sea. Most of the students for the first time in their life wore the Haenyeo suit and wore fins to swim.

Q. As a fishermen, you have a lot to tell the Korean fishermen?

I was a fisherman in Australia for 12 years. I have witnessed what overfishing's effects are to the sea. I want to tell the Korean fishermen that they should stop thinking about what they will catch today and focus on what they will catch 5 years later. They should ask themselves what role they are taking for exhausting marine resources and how much they are ruining the habitat and ecosystem loss.

Q. For what purpose are you swimming around Jeju?

The Jeju Big Swim is a campaign for protecting the Jeju sea environment. We have to choose to minimize the damage that we cause to the sea. This is something we all can do and it's just a matter of choice. My friend Steve Oberhauser will accompany me on a kayak. He is from America and he came to Jeju in 2008. He worked as a journalist and teacher and likes whitewater rafting and kayaking. So I will swim, and Steve will kayak. It's going to be roughly 200 kilometers, and will take about 30 days.

Q. Is there any Korean behavior you can't understand?

I don't understand how Korean people know they are doing something wrong and they still are treating the environment badly. For example, illegally burning plastic. Garbage disposal is a big problem. For the future generation we have to give them the right example and teach them.

-Ji-su's writing, Steve (editing only)


Check out this article:

Great article.

"The truth can only be told in English" - Sherrin's words in an e-mail. ...

Not only true, but I think this makes the Joongang Ilbo look like absolute fools, comparing the Korean article and the English article.

I had a fairly intelligent conversation last Saturday with an older, bilingual Korean man about the Cheonan incident and why he didn't trust the Joongang Ilbo's coverage of it as he sees the paper as just a tentacle of the national government.

It all makes sense.

Tell the foreigners one story and the Koreans, of which more than 99 percent wouldn't read the English article and/or be able to comprehend the article in English, another. It all works because almost no foreigners are fluent in Korean (and so few Koreans are fluent in English), there's know way to know what is the truth.

Except, the paper's one mistake, there are trusty Korean translators who aren't brainwashed to believe what other people tell them, to actually think for themselves.

Sad. Joongang Ilbo. Sad.


Two days left!!

Come out and join us at Samyang Beach this Saturday at noon for The Jeju Big Swim send off!

This is the perfect time because it also happens to be the Samyang Black Sand Beach Festival both Friday and Saturday.

Two days left. Three more articles will be posted here within four hours.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More gratitude

Kudos to these people for recently aiding with the Jeju Big Swim:

1.) Businesswoman and CEO of 가교 (Ka kyo) – La Jung-im – persuaded Seo Seoung-hyo to provide the team with water and snacks. Thank you, once again. The bug in my ear says that both people are doing well and working very hard.

2.) The always smiling and English speaking Mr. Kang Young-jin of the Samyang Family Mart (closest to the beach) gave us frozen water containers and a collapsible cooler. Sherrin commented, “It is incredibly useful – no more hot, soggy sandwiches!”

3.) Another mystery donor has been revealed. Hong Sun-young – a Jeju native doing her PhD in England – relayed this message (edited) to Sherrin: “Hong Young-ho is my brother. I am glad to hear that he finally joined in supporting the Jeju Big Swim team. He wishes you big SUCCESS. The Jeju Big Swim, go, go and go!!!!”


Part II: "#$%@ you! I'm swimming around Jeju!" ...

What actually happened Saturday to enrage Sherrin with such vitriolic disdain toward a Korean man?

I will offer my take.

On our approach to Hamdeok Beach, the three of us - Sherrin swimming, Steve paddling in the back of the kayak, and Sung-mi riding in front as passenger - were about 10 minutes out from landing at the beach closest to Seoubong.

One moment was peaceful and the next moment I saw a large jet ski coming at us full bore, and I immediately was on guard. In addition, there was a floaty raft with an engine with three young men onboard following. The one man on the jet ski started yelling, "HEY! HEY! HEY!"

There were Korean exchanges between the power tripper and Sung-mi.

I had no idea who these four people were. I assumed the water police of some sort. The raft with the three men gently corralled the kayak off to the side and Sherrin kept on swimming toward the intended beach.

The power tripper proceeded to continue yelling and did full circles around Sherrin, dangerously close, splashing water all around. I remember Sherrin getting POed and the eloquence ensued: "#$%@ you! I'm swimming around Jeju!"

In the midst of all the translating, I did pick up these men were concerned about safety.

Our transport and newly minted Big Swim team member Tracie - waiting on shore for our arrival - phoned Sung-mi on her cell phone. Sung-mi handed the phone off and Tracie asked me, something to the effect, "What the heck is going on out there?" She instructed me to ask what their authority was. I looked at one of the young pups on the craft and he did have a hat and shirt with "police" written on it.

I knew Sherrin wasn't going to cooperate by continuing to swim toward Tracie. I took the kayak in where the three (four) men wanted us to go, and we arranged for pickup after.

With nerves settled and kayak loaded on Sherrin's car, Sherrin and Sung-mi went into the Hamdeok management office and asked who these people were and why that just happened.

Turned out, the jet ski power tripper was the operator of the banana boat business. In more eloquence Sherrin later communicated to me: "The ___________ who was hooning on the jet ski was a nobody. ... Thanks to Sung-mi for her great (diplomatic) translating skills."

Later, the Hamdeok Marine Police phoned Sung-mi and said he had no authority to tell us anything.

Also, the Hamdeok Marine Police acted like real men and were apologetic about the events.

I've noticed, no matter the culture, the bigger machine and the louder the bark of an individual man, that's usually just all psychological compensation for a small __________ .


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Part I: "#$%@ you! I'm swimming around Jeju!" ...

That's right. These 6 eloquent words are why the Jeju Big Swim Team loves Sherrin.

Never mind the circumstances. On approach, we'll avoid swimming into the two outer beaches of Hamdeok when the Big Swim begins in 7 days.

Sherrin swam 10 kilometers from Samyang Beach to Hamdeok Beach in less than 6 hours during Saturday's training swim. The flippers made an appearance, along with some unforeseen rapids, and some concise verbiage from the swimmer.

I am so confident in Sherrin finishing the swim, no Jejudo man is going to stop her!

KBS interview is Sunday morning at Samyang Beach 10 a.m., sharp.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Jeju Environment Newspaper article

This article appeared in the Jeju Environment Newspaper, published July 18th, 2010, written by Koh Hyun-jun

The translation follows:
(Note: Ji-su translated this into English and Steve edited Ji-su’s English translation.)

Title: Promoting the ‘Environmental Importance’ by Swimming Around Jeju

(The woman of the moment) Australian Sherrin, for one month. Emphasis on “The sponsorship money from KCTV was a big help’

(Photo 1 – Sherrin, who is going to swim about 200 kilometers around Jeju to promote Jeju’s environmental importance)

All around the world, the environment is being destroyed, and Jeju as well. The garbage floating on the ocean, illegal fires, wasting energy, and air pollution from vehicles are destroying Jeju. As we have one world, we only have one Jeju.

If we want to sustain the current environment which is protecting us, we need to protect it as well. Environmental problems have reached a serious state. We have to change it.

This is the first time a foreigner – or anyone – is going to swim around Jeju to promote the importance of the island’s environmental importance.

(Photo 2 – First time, they made a team for the Jeju Big Swim)

Sherrin Hibbard (Australian, English teacher), who says, “We are making an important choice every day which we can change the environment,” Steve Oberhauser, and Tracie Barrett (Editor of The Jeju Weekly). These three are the main members.

“We believe we can choose to act to make our environment much cleaner and nicer.”

They will swim around Jeju from the end of July until August for a month to show people that people’s actions can change the environment. Steve will kayak and accompany Sherrin.

(Photo 3 – Sherrin has to eat and sleep on the kayak)

“We will swim about 200 kilometers and it will take about 30 days. Korea has long-distance swimming records but no records for swimming around Jeju. Also, nobody has swum around Jeju for protecting the environment. We are proud we are doing this for the first time in the world.”

They knew they couldn’t do this project by themselves so they made a project team named the Jeju Big Swim. Each team member will help from their position. However, they say, “But, we need more help.”

Swimming around Jeju for the local environment

(Photo 4 – The big adventure needs sponsorship from an organization or a business)

Even during the swim around Jeju, to save energy and money, Steve will camp outside [in a tent].

For Sherrin, because she can’t fit much in the kayak, this will be even harder.

They will communicate with the media by phone and internet but for their environmental message to spread, they need other financial support. Also, they still need safety equipment, such as an EPIRB, buoy, life vest, etc.

“We are going to swim as part of the World Environment and Peace Summer School, but we still need your help.”

Sherrin emphasized the sponsorship from organizations and businesses. “We asked organizations and businesses to become our sponsors to make this swim possible because this is a fantastic opportunity for a company to show the world they are a committed supporter for the Jeju environment.”

Because “helping this important environmental education and awareness campaign may be small work, but small work can change the world,” Sherrin emphasized that “we hope more people will join us for this change.”

(Photo 5 – Sherrin focuses on practicing every day with people like Tracie, who accompanies her)

”Will these three people bring change to environmental awareness? Yes they can! Because one action can lead to ripples of change.”

This is a message for one of the supporters.

Sherrin and Tracie met with the reporter on the 18th on their way to Hamdeok Beach from Samyang and said: “KCTV gave a lot of money to support and it helped a lot. Please tell the head of KCTV how thankful we are.”

It is just surprising how foreigners, not Jeju locals, are doing this kind of work for the local environment. If any organization or individual wants to assist, please support them by following the list below.

Web sites
Phone numbers
Bank account numbers

-Ji-su's writing, Steve (editing only)

Odds and ends ...

Thanks are in order to these people:

- Gwaneumsa Temple
I know a number of team members are already planning on converting to Buddhism because of the charitable donation.

- Sherrin’s co-teachers at Jeju National University Middle School
Including Eun Young, Mrs. Kim, Mrs. Yu, Miss Kim, Mr. Song, and Ms. Song

- Stu Rayner
Sherrin knows Stu.

-Hong Young-ho
Who are you? No one knows. Thanks for the support! Your bank account transfer read ‘Hong young ho-success’. We’re a bit confused, but understand the message.

-Lee Han-young
Provides an (edited) shout out: “Sherrin fighting”

-Steve (don't thank me)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Five random thoughts ...

1.) Nine days left!

2.) One slight correction to Tracie's blog below: "No doubt Steve, with a little more weight ... would have fared much better ..." Although a kind statement, we could replace "with a little more weight" to "about twice the mass." Considering my mass and because of this more water in the kayak at my feet, and all of our gear, this is the most stable kayak - sea or river - I have been in. In addition, I have the option of filling the dry compartment that runs along the entire bottom of the craft at least one-third making it even less tipsy. I am able to keep it afloat; it's nearly impossible to sink, at least in the conditions that Sherrin will be swimming through.

3.) The money is rolling in! According to the Big Swim Accountant Ji-su, we now have 2,650,000 won. We are currently 2,350,000 won short and our peoples are promising that will be deposited soon. I'll keep updating this situation.

4.) My official, true story: I flew into Gimpo at about 6 p.m., Friday night and flew out of Gimpo about 6:30 a.m., Wednesday morning. What I did in between, don't be afraid to ask. If you ply me with enough booze, I may reveal an unexpected ladyboy story. I've only been here 2 years, but sometimes I forget the rest of the world is not cut and dry like Korea.

5.) Nine days left!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Guest blog By Tracie Barrett

I gained new respect for Steve’s part of the Jeju Big Swim on Sunday when I stepped into his shoes (sat in his kayak) to accompany Sherrin on a practice swim. It was a perfect day when we left Samyang to drive to Hamdeok, from where she intended to swim back (thanks Mars, for driving duties). We passed through cloud and drizzle on the short drive, but the sun was shining brightly at Hamdeok’s smaller beach, beside Seowoobong. We loaded up the kayak and headed out and were just outside the official swimming area when Sherrin remembered she hadn’t stretched beforehand so stopped to do so in the water.

Both Steve and Sherrin had warned that the swim would be tedious for me but none of us had factored in a brisk offshore wind. That, coupled with the fact that my lower weight had the kayak higher in the water, giving the wind a greater area to push, meant I was paddling like crazy just to keep parallel to the shore. Each gust hitting the prow tried to turn the craft beam on and I would have given much for a small sail to take advantage of the elements. It in effect meant paddling a zigzag passage as the wind tried to take me out to sea and I tried to stay with Sherrin.

She told me the first marks we needed to aim for and we headed off, me fighting to keep on her flank but managing fairly well. The lighthouse we had set as the furthest mark before the coastline turned in had seemed a long distance from the beach but we reached it fairly easily. It was only past that point that I became the weakest link in the attempt as Sherrin started swimming straight into shore to stay close to the coastline. Fighting for every inch of leeway against the offshore wind, I was unable to keep up with her swimming speed and we had to call off the attempt after only about two hours.

Sherrin was swimming strongly and could have easily gone further but I was no use to her if I couldn’t stay close, and that proved impossible when headed straight into the wind. No doubt Steve, with a little more weight, a lot more paddling experience and a much better knowledge of his craft would have fared much better but one has to work with what is available, and this week that was only me.

Sherrin planned to spend the next few hours swimming laps at Samyang Beach and has one more weekend for a long practice swim before the Jeju Big Swim starts for real on July 31.

-Tracie Barrett

Friday, July 16, 2010

Blog is on a mini vacation ...

Next post will be Wednesday. Then the countdown begins from 10 days to the start.

Good luck regarding the KCTV check ceremony. Dress well.

Hamdeok to Samyang no problem.

Reality beckons outside the shores of Korea.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

KCTV: Would the big donor please stand up?

KCTV – a company I have worked at part-time for almost 1.5 years – has surprisingly stepped up to the plate and will give the Jeju Big Swim team 1,000,000 Won on Saturday afternoon during the ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of KCTV English News at their broadcasting offices in shin-Jeju.

Wow! This is the first Jeju business that has firmly committed to a group of foreigners caring about the environment (also thanks to the Jeju Weekly, my other part-time employer, by the way, shameless plugs all around).

I’m not sure if this speaks highly of KCTV, or poorly of all the other businesses on the island. Perhaps a mixture of both.

Regardless, the donation is incredible. I was expecting little and wasn’t going to hold anything against anyone.


P.S. The budget scoreboard will be updated once the money is deposited into the Jeju Big Swim bank account.

Once again: Why do this?

While I listened to Sherrin give an interview for a Korean national magazine 샘터 (“Saem Teo”), a few weeks ago, I remember her telling the interviewer she hopes after people hear about the Jeju Big Swim team and her specifically being single, 51, and never married that a few Korean women will have the gumption to live – if they want to – another life than the expected overbearing and “enduring” life demanded of them from their family and society, for example to get married “because it is that time” and make babies. It’s OK to be 100 percent Korean and be an individual. But many Koreans don’t believe so.

Social change is the slowest kind.

I’ve never told anyone this. But before meeting Sherrin, I met while volunteering about 6 months ago a civil servant woman - in her late 20s, or very early 30s - who works in Hallim. The woman asked me if I knew Sherrin. I knew of Sherrin, but did not know Sherrin. The civil servant had met Sherrin through the haenyo hakkyo and had said to me she wished she could be like Sherrin, in the way she wanted to be free, and do what she wanted, whenever she pleased.

She very bluntly asked me the question: “How am I supposed to meet a person within a year I’m expected to spend the next 50 years of my life with?”

I had no answer.

This story provides another reason to finish the Jeju Big Swim. Most things in Korea are secrets, such as the truth and expressing emotions. At least this woman had the moxy to express her feelings (to a stranger nonetheless), unlike many I know that just bottle it up and proceed to be the bitter and angry kind, openly defending the controlling aspects of Korean society, but secretly desiring something else, a free life.


Full media appearances (and more) ...

Note: The top 3 listed (Nos. 12-14) are newly minted. One is from Seoul Weekly (12) and two are from KCTV (13, 14).

Also new are the lists at the bottom of this post, we are waiting for two articles to be published, and four additional media outlets are expressing interest for stories.

These are already completed:

14) KCTV English News (English Jejudo television) // Wednesday, July 7, 2010 // Click on No. 392, 2010-07-07 [392 영어뉴스 English News KCTV 2010-07-07]; the coverage plays from 7:58 to 10:51

13) KCTV Korean News (Korean Jejudo television) // Sunday, July 4, 2010 // Click on No. 1151, 2010-07-04 [1151 뉴스 KCTV 주말뉴스(7/4/일요일/저녁) 2010-07-04]; the coverage plays from 7:49 to 9:55

12) Seoul Selection, Seoul Weekly (English national magazine) // Saturday, July 10, 2010 // Blurb listed under "Seoul Selection Notifications"

11) Jungang Ilbo (Korean national newspaper) // Monday, June 28, 2010 // The Jeju Big Swim adamantly disagrees with the message conveyed by the writer and how he handled the aftermath

10) SBS Seoul (Korean national television) // Monday, June 14, 2010 // Documentary entitled "I Love Korea," which airs every Monday at 6:30 p.m. Four members of the team (Sherrin, Steve, Ji-su, and Kenny) were prominently featured to a national, Korean audience // video file forthcoming, will be uploaded before The Jeju Big Swim starts

9) The Jeju Weekly (English Jejudo newspaper) // Friday, May 28, 2010 // “Blessing of the fleet, First official event for Big Swim team”

8) Busan 90.5 e-FM (English Busan radio) // Friday, May 28, 2010 // 20-minute “Inside Out Busan” radio interview with Brandon Na, 6:30 p.m. // radio file forthcoming, will be uploaded before The Jeju Big Swim starts

7) KBS2 (Korean national television) // Saturday, May 22, 2010 // 25-minute coverage part of the 1-hour emotional documentary that airs every Saturday, starting at 10:15 p.m. // video file forthcoming, will be uploaded before The Jeju Big Swim starts

6) Arirang TV (English national television) // Thursday, May 13, 2010 // 30-minute “Heart to Heart” talk show hosted by Kolleen Park // video file forthcoming, will be uploaded before The Jeju Big Swim starts
Note: It may prompt you for a username and password. It takes maybe 2 minutes to enter information to access Arirang TV for free.

5) Arirang Radio (English national radio) // Thursday, May 20, 2010 // news piece about Blessing of the Fleet aired at 5:30 p.m. // no audio clip available

4) Halla Ilbo (Korean Jejudo newspaper) // Monday, May 17, 2010 // back page article about The Big Swim with crisp color photo (below) // link is difficult to track down, may be established

3) The Jeju Weekly (English Jejudo newspaper) // Friday, May 14, 2010 // “The big swim, A former reaper prepares to give back”

2) Arirang Radio (English national radio) // Tuesday, May 4, 2010 // Steve’s 20-minute “All that Jeju” radio interview with Jenie Hahn, 10:30 p.m. // no audio clip available

1) Arirang Radio (English national radio) // Tuesday, April 20, 2010 // Sherrin’s 20-minute “All that Jeju” radio interview with Jenie Hahn, 10:30 p.m. // no audio clip available

In the works, interviews complete, waiting for publication:

* Korean National Fisheries Research & Development Institute newsletter/ magazine

* 샘터 "Saem Teo" (Korean - Seoul - national magazine)

Media expressing interest, making plans for stories:

* Seoul MBC documentary (Korean national television)

* Arirang TV “Hand in Hand” documentary (English national television)

* I Love Jeju (Korean Jejudo magazine)

* Seoul Selection book (publisher) - part of the last chapter with picture about Future and Legacy


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saturday's training session

Sherrin swam. Steve paddled. Ji-su ate. Tracie drove.

All four of us went from Samyang Beach to Sinchon on Saturday morning, exactly 4 kilometers. To clarify, Sherrin swam and Steve paddled the entire way. Ji-su was the kayak's passenger and photographer. Tracie - the legendary Jeju Weekly editor - provided the pick-up service at Sinchon's harbor.

Samyang Beach to Sinchon harbor, a 4-kilometer outing.


Preparing. Look at that rainbow of colors. Where's the circus clown Darryl?

That's more like it!

Future job: Colombian river drug runner?

Updated Open Mic pictures ...

Please see "Open Mic musings" posted Monday June 14, 2010.

Six incredible pictures have been added from this night. I believe Ji-su's Jeju Big Swim title has now been amended to translator-accountant-blog photographer.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

The clean and dirty 'S' words ...

Twenty days before The Jeju Big Swim starts!

I won't throw anyone under the bus - just yet ... and for countless reasons. I'll remain loyal to our sponsor until the end. Please understand the differences among three groups: sponsor, supporter, and non-supporter. The dirty 'S' word is the non-supporter, those persons or groups who have said they would contribute money but are not yet - maybe never - listed on our link to the right ---->

The clean 'S' words (Sponsor and Supporters, all listed) and the positives: I am amazed at all the people so far, who would literally give their shirts off their backs for us - many I have never met before, and from all around the world, and even the local supporters that have been all around the world.

For example, Fred just offered Sherrin and I 4 nights transportation, lodging, and food at the Gimnyeong Maze Park after our scheduled first through fourth completed days. Thanks Fred!

The dirty 'S' word (non-Supporters, none listed) and the negatives: I will be the first one to rail against the country I am from and constructively criticize it. Ditto, although much more lightly, for the country and island I now reside in. One of the most disheartening and frustrating things about living here is the lack of follow through and commitment. While I am here, I respect and listen to well-traveled Koreans the most. Kim Seong-kon fits the bill. As a professor of English at Seoul National University and director of the Seoul National University Press, his writings are truthful about his county's NATO tendencies: No Action, Talking Only. So many people talking they will give us money, but the reality is nothing. Too concerned about image, they can't jeopardize their reputation, lest the Jeju rumor incubates, breeds, and spreads more rapaciously than Samyang's summer flies. Sad. On their ill-fated assumptions we can't finish our goal.

Isn't the island's reputation - which we are doing this project for - more important than the local individuals' or local groups' reputations?

We will be loyal to the people who have supported us from the beginning and who will be there - or attempt to be - when we start the Jeju Big Swim. I have a feeling more people will be there at the finish - and will be thankful - but we know the difference between the supporters and the non-supporters.


Media videos forthcoming

I currently have three videos and one audio clip on my laptop desktop that I want to upload to this blog, but my lack of technological skills are preventing me from doing so.

While the Big Swim team finds a suitable person to assist in this pursuit, look forward to viewing and listening to these four media stories before the Big Swim starts July 31st ----

1.) Arirang TV's 30-minute "Heart to Heart" talk show hosted by Kolleen Park featuring Sherrin aired Thursday, May 13, 2010.

2.) KBS2 emotional documentary aired Saturday, May 22, 2010, featured the team for 25 minutes of the 1-hour program. This show is on weekly at 10:15 p.m.

3.) Busan 90.5 e-FM (English Busan radio), aired Friday, May 28, 2010. This was a 20-minute "Inside Out Busan" radio interview with Sherrin conducted by Brandon Na.

4.) SBS Seoul's documentary entitled "I Love Korea" aired Monday, June 14, 2010. This regular show which is on at 6:30 p.m., on the mainland tracked Sherrin, Steve, Ji-su, and Kenny preparing for our big task.

I will update and post within a couple of days our other media links we have been apart of in the last month. ...


Thursday, July 8, 2010



Hyun Sung-mi from The Big Swim Team contacted Reporter Yang Seong Cheol twice, after attempts to correspond via e-mail were not answered.

As I (Steve), am writing and taking the information from a Korean using English - very well, I might add - there are always things lost in translation.

Reporter Yang told Sung-mi twice to the effect: "If you want, sue!!!!" Very childish and unprofessional.

He also said angrily to the effect: "When journalists write articles, we have own ideas and reflect the idea. It is journalist and journalism."

Maybe in Korea, but not prevalent in the rest of the world consisting of more than 99 percent of non-Koreans.

Enough said. The Big Swim Team will move on.

This issue raises deeper issues: How is it possible a "famous" Korean newspaper allows its reporters to do this? How can Korea globalize with this mentality? A Korean friend asked me one time, "We Koreans are so emotional, but why can't we express our emotions [effectively]?"

Reporter Yang, why so angry? The Big Swim team expressed our concerns, truthfully. Why can't you express the truth, truthfully?


Sunday, July 4, 2010


When I first read the translation of the Joongang Ilbo article, I laughed. I wasn't surprised.

I worked as a journalist for 5 years from the age of 22 to 27 for different newspapers, all within the same company in the United States. I worked alongside people that were/are more "famous" than Mr. Yang Seong Cheol will ever be. As a fellow journalist, I am ashamed of Mr. Yang's actions. If this were to happen anyplace else in the global marketplace, he would be immediately fired. But, this is Korea.

Do journalism ethics exist here?

Is it not shameful to Koreans that there are foreigners on the island of Jeju that want to improve this society - especially as it pertains to the environment - but the reality of what we receive is Mr. Yang's actions?

As a journalist, I know his actions were deliberate. There was nothing lost in translation.

Where there are foreigners on this island that want to make a difference, what we have experienced is a reflection of society here.

I see some of the brightest and best people in Korea, but the reality is the nonsense such as this may keep Koreans "rotting on the docks" of globalization.

How can Jejudo be international if its people never learn what globalization means and ...

its tourists are forced to relax on garbage-infested beaches, smelling burning plastic from nearby rubbish piles, and the industrial mosquito sprayers eliminating pests with harmful chemicals?

A Silent Spring anyone?


Saturday, July 3, 2010


Here is Sherrin's letter to the Joongang Ilbo, professionally requesting action for shoddy reporting:

Dear Sir or Madame,

Mr. Yang Seong Cheol on Jeju wrote an article about "The Jeju Big Swim."

The article had quite a lot of factual mistakes. For example, I graduated from the second haenyo school intake, not the first. There are other mistakes as well. While it is disappointing to see such sloppy reporting, much more seriously is the way The Jeju Big Swim was completely misrepresented to the Korean public.

The article states we are swimming to tell the world about the beauty of Jeju. This is a complete fabrication.

We are swimming as part of the The World Environment and Peace Summer School to be held on Jeju in July and August. We are swimming as part of a campaign to raise environmental awareness and education.

Like many places Jeju's environment is under threat from pollution in the sea, plastic, car exhaust, overfishing, and so on. Our swim is about asking people to think more about their actions. Small things can make for big changes.

We would like to let people know the Jeju Big Swim is NOT to showcase Jeju's beauty, but to raise awareness and education about the environment.

Yours sincerely,
Sherrin Hibbard



Yang Seong Cheol (freelance reporter for the Joongang Ilbo) and Oh Ji-su (Jeju native, project translator, and incoming freshman at the London School of Economics)

If these two were to have a steel cage match, I would set the opening odds at 50:1 in favor of Ji-su.


(IV) JOONGANG ILBO - JI-SU, translator

Ji-su's writing, Steve's editing:

Well many things happened during this project. We had promised money which never came in and we had Sherrin's bad back, but nothing enraged me more than this.

Our kayaker and extremely-devoted-blogger Steve notified me we were finally in the Joongang Ilbo, one of the main Korean national newspapers. As soon as I got home, I threw everything on the floor, ran with the sweat streaming down my body and turned on my laptop. I impatiently waited in front of my laptop for it to turn on, got on the web, went to the Joongang Ilbo Web site and madly searched for the article. First, I put Sherrin's name in the search bar, then her last name "Hibbard," then tried that in Korean and started reading the most recent articles because I wasn't sure on which day we were in the newspaper. Finally, I typed in "Jeju Swim," scrolled down a bit, and found a lovely picture of Sherrin and Steve. I clicked, and before even reading carefully, I notified fellow team members of the article.

For the non-Korean-speaking members of the team, I started translating.

Then the problem began.

The title of the article, roughly translated, says "Swimming and kayaking around Jeju ... We will spread the beauty of Jeju to the world." OK, promoting beauty ... that's OK ...?

Then I moved on. Read, translated, read, translated and translated. Usually the word 'environment' comes up pretty early in most of the articles. Except this one. It just didn't show up. Never did. Our project aim "Spreading environmental awareness" somehow got changed into "Spreading the beauty of Jeju." What the f***?

Seriously, I don't think we need a girl with a bad back to swim around Jeju for THAT. Do we?

Before I move on, I first need to identify myself. I am Korean and I do believe I have rights to say great things about my country as well as shitty things about it. I will write something lovely about my country next time so let me get straight to the shitty things. We do not mention nor face the problems here. If you do, you are considered rude and unfitting for the society.

And we are trying to do something because we believe there is an environmental problem and desperately need environmental awareness here in Jeju.

Do people know that fixing the environmental problem will actually make Jeju a far better destination to come and get international attention rather than fabricating and ignoring the voices?

I was mad. But now I feel relieved because we have more reasons to do this project. Probably many other countries have much more serious environmental problems than Korea. But right now, Korea has some serious attitude problems as well.

-Ji-su's writing, Steve (editing only)


This is the link for Sherrin's response to the article written in English and Korean. Thank you to Choi Sung-hee for translating this into Korean!

Please read THE TRUTH:


(II) JOONGANG ILBO - JI-SU, translator

Here is a translated account of the Korean story into English. Included are Ji-su's words in an e-mail sent to the team before the translation (and Steve's editing):

Oops guys, I was too excited to see your name in the paper that I didn't read properly. Umm ... so I thought we were doing the project to promote the environment, but suddenly it got changed to a "PROMOTING BEAUTIFUL JEJU" project.



GOSH, no wonder why I couldn't find this newspaper in Family Mart. ... Umm ... Enjoy the article?


Article translation:

"Swimming and kayaking around Jeju ... We will spread the beauty of Jeju to the world"

Hibbard and Oberhauser came to Korea as English teachers

"How often can we see such a beautiful place? I want to let the world know about Jeju"

Two foreigners living in Jeju announced they will go around Jeju by sea. They are Sherrin Hibbard (51, female) and Steve Oberhauser (31).
Hibbard will swim and Oberhauser will kayak (a small boat for 1 to 2 people for competition) and they will swim around 250 kilometers of the Jeju sea.

These people who made "The Jeju Big Swim" project team will start the big trip at the end of July and go around the island for 30 days. During the daytime they will swim and kayak, and at night they come back inland and either stay in a minbak or camp outside in a tent. During the swim, they will write their daily log and post pictures on their blog, letting the netizens all around the world know about the scenery of Jejudo.

[Picture: Hibbard (on the right) and Oberhauser, who will swim 250 kilometers around Jeju at the end of July, posed at Samyang Black Sand Beach during their training.]

Hibbard left her hometown Sydney and came to Jeju in 2004. Currently she is working as an English teacher in Jeju National University Middle School. Sherrin, who enjoys skin SCUBA when she has time, says "The unexplored region inside the sea is more beautiful than anywhere around the world." She is a Jeju sea devotee. Two years ago when the first program for raising Haenyo was established in "Hansupul Haenyo Hakgyo" in Jeju-si, Hallim-eup, she went in on the first year and learned "muljil/Haenyo diving."

Oberhauser who is doing this with her is from Virginia, United States. He came to Jeju in 2008 and currently works as an English teacher at Sehwa High School in Gujwa-eup. Steve, who also works as an English News Reporter at KCTV, enjoys whitewater rafting and kayaking. He got asked by Hibbard, who lives in the same village, saying, "Let's start an event to promote the value of Jeju as World Natural Heritage Site" and agreed to it.

These two have started intense training from last month in the nearby Samyang Black Sand Beach. They train 2 hours per day during the weekdays and 3 to 4 hours during the weekend. After their plan was spread to others, Jeju University student Hyun Sung-mi (23) and her friends decided to support them. While these two swim and kayak, Hyun will do media communication and support. Hyun said "This is something that had to be done to promote my hometown Jeju."

-Ji-su's writing, Steve (editing only)


The Big Swim was featured in The Joongang Ilbo on Monday, June 28:

According to the World Association of Newspapers most recent figures in 2008, The Joongang Ilbo is the 16th most circulated newspaper in the world, with 2.2 million daily prints, 100,000 behind South Korea's most widely distributed shinmun, The Chosun Ilbo (No. 12). All impressive except read what happened. In Korea, the truth takes a backseat to many things, including image, honor, pride, loyalty, and ego.


Thoughts on the maps

In all positive aspects of the word, Fred has become The Big Swim's resident curmudgeon at large. (Fred open your mouth more!)

He asks: Maps look nice but why all the turning?

All 20 of the maps were completed with exactly 0.25-kilometer segments. Using this measurement, the total trip takes 211 kilometers around Jeju. If I do a 1-kilometer segment map around Jeju, the trip total drops to 187 kilometers - the perfect swim. But Sherrin doesn't swim in a straight line. The 0.25-kilometer segment map is more realistic for planning. True, the water is a bit choppier at the shores, but if anything were to happen, we are happy to be closer to the shore than out at sea.

As for the maps, I think of them more as a guideline. The goal is to complete the swim within the allotted 27 days. The guidelines tell us this is possible and can be done safely.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two environmental links ...

These speak for themselves.

The first is an intelligent look at the rejuvenation of Monterey Bay decades after Cannery Row's exploits. Any good Steinbeck fan will appreciate this and the picture of Ed Ricketts at -

The second is overfishing and the impending end of (bluefin) tuna as we know it -