Sunday, August 7, 2011

Korea - Land of the Last Minute

 I have spent the past month wondering if i was going to make it to Jeju to participate in Jeju Big Swim 2011. Despite telling them that my participation was not 100% confirmed, Southern Cross University still provided me with free access to the gym and pool so that i could train. After an anxious wait, the World Environment and Peace Summer School finally came through with a return flight from Brisbane to Jeju. I received flight confirmation details on Wednesday afternoon. I had one night to pack and get myself sorted before i had to leave for the trip to Brisbane.

When i finally arrived in Jeju i was a little (a lot!) disconcerted to find that only the Jeju Big Swim  concert event had been organised. However, my arrival seemed to be the catalyst needed and since then it's been a mad scramble to pull it all together. A series of desperate phone calls very late on Sunday night culminated in Sung Mi and i, at 10.30pm, sitting in a norae bang attending a rather bizarre "emergency" meeting convened by the team member responsible for community participation. We were greeted with half empty whiskey bottles and long speeches. It was quite clear that if Jeju Big Swim 2011 was going to happen, then we were going to have to do it ourselves - and pretty quickly at that. As i don't speak Korean most of the work fell to Sung Mi who has been doing a great job.

But today Sung Mi flies off to Mongolia and won't be back till swim day. Lucky for us, on Thursday, Mr Kim Cheon Dae stepped up to the plate. Cheon Dae is the head of the life saving group i swam with on the final day of last year's JBS and was at the meeting on Sunday night. He is organising to have sea kayakers accompany any 10 km swimmers, sorting out safety and swim logistics, liaising with the marine police and so on. Mr Kim Cheon Dae totally gets Jeju Big Swim and has even agreed to be our media spokesperson.

A huge thankyou to Mr Kim Cheon Dae. 

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