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Unread 04-19-2010, 02:40 PM
dusty dusty is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Posts: 35
Spring 2010 Meet and Greet Dillema

Hi again to everyone that I saw and met last weekend at Seonunsan. We had a great turn out and I was thorough impressed by the numbers that turned out. I'm pretty sure it was by far the largest meet-and-greet yet.

I'm writing this forum separate because it has a different tone. I want to take notice of both the good and bad points of a group of this nature, and the possible repercussions that could follow. My goal is to be as objective as possible, and I'm very interested in hearing how you felt about it as well.

I really enjoyed this weekend more than I was expecting to. One thing I told myself a day before the event, sitting at the computer reading all the different people who were planning to come, was that this event was going to be chaos. But for what it was, I think it all turned out okay. I came in thinking that there was no way to organize such a large group and have it work. But it was really cool to see the dynamicism (spelling? or did i just make up a word?) of everyone. Instead of having one big organized food happening for dinner Saturday night (as has been the case at past MNG's), everyone just kind of spontaneously formed into maliable clusters. Some people ate early, some people went to the restaurant if they didn't bring anything. And I fell into the group that ate late, wondering who had already eaten, a little guarded as I hovered over my cooking, hoping not to have to share, afraid people would come up and have nothing to contribute, but still hungry.
What turned out for me was that there were only a few people who hadn't eaten yet (that I know of) and just about everyone was able to give something. So even though I never caught sight of a soft tortilla, as had been expected, we ate a delicious gruel of taco beef, onions, tomatos, and cheese with nacho chips and a hearty side of Kraft mac'n'cheese. It was delicious and I didn't even have to plan it. Thank you to all who contributed.

Another thing I was pleased with was how everyone seemed to chip in. I did a lot of cooking, but not once did I have to do dishes. The campsite cleanup was excellent as well. I was one of the last few people to leave and was impressed with how well everyone had cleaned up, especially considering the mess that greeted us around the campfire Sunday morning.

The one thing I am a bit embarrassed about is our behavior as a group Saturday night. I know that the other people camping around us were not thrilled, to say the least. I heard from another that a Korean had come to our group to try to get us to quiet down some and was ushered away by a couple foreigners hitting their hands on their chests and roaring like gorillas. If you can, think about it from the opposite perspective:
You have worked hard all week to prepare for a nice camping and hiking weekend with your family in your home country. It's your favorite spot to go and you have been looking forward to this trip for weeks. When you drive up to the campsite, you see about 50 asian people crowding around a large campfire, talking, drinking. You decide to pitch your tent as far away from them as possible just to ensure that you get some sleep.
After a nice dinner, you and your wife and child go for a stroll and eventually decide that it's time to go to bed. As you're lying down around midnight, you hear the noise from around the campfire steadily rising. You hope that it will calm down soon so that you can finally get some sleep. After 2 hours, there is still music playing, some off-key singing, and someone howling at the moon. Your 3-year-old starts crying, saying they're scared. So you finally decide to go ask the foreigners to settle down. You go over, but communication is difficult. Not only are they drunk, but they don't really speak your language. So you, with your limited linguistics and body language, try to get them to understand that you're tired and need some sleep. Instead of diffusing the situation, they make fun of you, which you can only tell by their body language and laughter that follows. You walk away angry, tossing and turning for a few precious hours of sleep.

I only write this story to help you undestand how the Koreans felt about us. Some of us are friends with them and are embarrassed, at times like this, to be associated with KOTR. I know that people are going to party, and I don't expect them not to. But somewhere along the way, we lost our consideration for others, forgot that we are guests in this country.

I'm not too sure what exactly we should do in the future? I really enjoyed meeting everyone that I did this past weekend, but at what cost? Do you think the MNG's should continue as is? Or should there be two different locations to half the numbers? Or is there a better idea that I'm not thinking of? What do you think? What are your suggestions?
Unread 04-19-2010, 03:10 PM
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Goulash Goulash is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Yeosu Jeollanamdo
Posts: 116
Hey Dusty,
I agree whole heartedly with you. For the number of people who turned up and the lack of organization, I thought the whole event turned out amazingly well...

BUT as I was laying in my bed on Saturday night, I couldn't believe that such a well behaved and chilled out group just a few hours earlier, could turn into a bunch of bloody wankers (sorry, I'm Aussie, and I can't think of any other way to put it) towards a Korean trying to ask them to quiet down.

No amount of alcohol can excuse behaviour like that. I'm not saying the M&G should be alcohol free, but if you can't tell when you've had enough to drink, DON'T DRINK!

It only takes one drunk idiot to give the whole group a bad name. We are guests in this country and we should always act like it.

I don't know what the answer is either, and as much fun as I had on the weekend getting to know such a cool group of folks, I don't know if I'll be coming along to another such large M&G in the future.

English Teacher, Photographer & Aussie gone walkabout.
Unread 04-19-2010, 03:51 PM
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skinsk skinsk is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Jochiwon (Sejong City)
Posts: 2,552
This is the first I heard about this. . . I turned in shortly after 12 and plugged in. . . all in all, though, I've seen worse at smaller gatherings! For the sheer numbers, while the sort of behavior described is disappointing, I think a greater good was served.

The only non-KOTRers I saw were Sangwon and the Korea climbers who were there. I know some of them, as do other KOTRers, and hopefully they wouldn't let a few drunken foreigners ruin the reputation of the whole group. Anyone whose spent much time with Korean climbers (Slovak, Austrian, American) knows it happens everywhere.

We did clean the campground completely-- better than we found it, we left more firewood than we found, and I'd hate to let a few chest-thumpers ruin an otherwise brilliant weekend, when 95% of the foreigners didn't misbehave.
"If you can't do something well, you might as well learn to enjoy doing it poorly." -- from a de-motivational poster, but I find it oddly liberating!
Unread 04-19-2010, 04:28 PM
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MisterP MisterP is offline
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Geoje
Posts: 61
Mixed opinions.

Let me start by saying, after a long day of work, I am woken up often by loud drunk songs and shouts outside of my window in Geoje. And when I turned in early on Saturday, there was a loud Korean orgy sounding event in the room next door at the hotel where I bummed some floor space with the Military crew (thanks guys). There was also a second (Korean only) bon fire going on not too far from our own that was raging pretty hard.

Sucks about the chest fisting gorillas, but what I am getting at is I reckon KOTR finally got some street cred in this country of hard core party animals...

Good show up and great fun. Thanks for everyone who made it awsome and boo to those party poopers who disgruntled the locals or anyone else.
Unread 04-19-2010, 09:24 PM
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skinsk skinsk is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Jochiwon (Sejong City)
Posts: 2,552
Yeah. . . it seems like one isolated incident with pretty much everything else being amazing. . .

not sure anyone anticipated this size, and I agree the food didn't happen as well as usual. . . I think we can learn from what went wrong, though. Having a 6-7 prep time maybe, and a 7 o'clock designated burrito line time might be good. . . next time saving a platform as a designated food area would be good too!

Sun there was lots of alcohol left-- tequilla, quite a bit of whisky, beer, bukbunjaju, makkoli-- some of it we tossed. I know I had a record low 2 Marg consumption Sat night

Splitting the M & G means essentially doing away with a beloved tradition. There's nothing to suggest smaller groups in any way behave better (and in my experience here, this has not been the case).

To stop having meet and greets over an isolated incident heard second hand seems overkill. Did the eyewitness see and hear clearly and soberly what went on? Assuming this was the case, did s/he explain to the Koreans that these guys had a little too much and apologize, and then ask the people at the fire to quiet down? I mean, the fire was pretty central to KOTR, and my tent was among the closest. From my first years in Korea, pre-KOTR and my experiences since, it seems to me that Koreans are not so quick to judge. They understand alcohol and forgive partying into the night better than most westerners do. The Koreans I talked to this weekend were curious about us and seemed to appreciate that we were here having a good time. Oh, and Sang-won, who was with the climbers camped across the road from us, sent Power Power, the 14c for the second time (he's still the only one) Sat, so I am guessing they were celebrating!
"If you can't do something well, you might as well learn to enjoy doing it poorly." -- from a de-motivational poster, but I find it oddly liberating!
Unread 04-19-2010, 09:53 PM
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shanja shanja is offline
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Daejeon
Posts: 1,386
I had a good time. I was pretty tipsy Saturday night too - maybe more than tipsy!. Nonetheless I was appalled by the way the poor Korean guy (maybe a non-climber, but still Dusty's point is valid) was treated. The old "Koreans are loud sometimes so we can piss them off, it's funny/ payback/ OK" is a load of juvenile insecurity driven non-sense. Let's be honest enough to reproach ourselves at least as sternly as we complain about others. The guy wasn't annoying us, he was the victim of our noise. He didn't yell at us, he came over and was really polite and tried hard to use broken English and NOT offend us. He's got way bigger kahoonahs than those folk who (in the safety of numbers) felt it was tough and cool to make fun of him. It's irrelevant that Koreans elsewhere disturb our sleep (and they sure do!). This family had every right to expect some reduction in noise levels by 1am/ 2am.
Like it or not, we are not in a remake of "Porky's", not even in a bar or our own home. A camp ground is a public space and we (including me) were a bit loud a bit long. I couldn't give a rats red #@se about what other (Korean/ non-Korean) people were doing then or at othertimes. Dusty is rightly asking us to look at OUR BEHAVIOUR SATURDAY NIGHT.
The clean-up crew work was tremendous though and I was really impressed by how much work folks did to clean up...we DID get a compliment from a few hikers actually on Sunday about using the bags and picking up trash.
I would hate the M&G tradition to disappear...but then again some Japanese would hate commercial whaling to end too. Sometimes traditions do need to adapt to survive. I am not sure that smaller would be less "risky"....but perhaps if we can all be more honest and empathetic about our impact and effects on others (like we are about our impacts and effects on the environment) then the problem would never exist. We should be able to curtail our volume and stuff BY OUR OWN VOLITION.
quem deus perdere vult, primus dementat
Unread 04-19-2010, 10:55 PM
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dangerflower dangerflower is offline
velocity girl
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: korea
Posts: 105
feeling a wee bit sad that i missed out on meeting some great people in one of the most beautiful spots in korea! (prior commitments..T.T...) it's awesome to hear that people had a great time, enjoyed good climbing and food, and were really responsible about cleaning up...^^

however, i have to confess that i was a little ashamed and horrified to hear of the incident on saturday night, although, not having been there i can't really comment on it...but perhaps i can share a similar incident?..

last fall, i had been camping in seonunsan when some nearby campers were noisy, and they continued on even after they'd been politely asked to stop a number of times; they even complained loudly about us asking them to be quiet (about uppity girls, about people of other races, etc...). this led me to b!tch at them in an exhausted rage in the middle of the night (3:30 a.m.) and again the next morning. they acted like @$$holes, full stop, and it was really literally ENRAGING (i'm not proud that i lost it either, but i really felt driven to it). it left me with a bad taste in my mouth for a long time, toward pretty much all people of their culture, and it was a long while before i could get over my anger and hurt (it took spending a lot of time with some lovely and trusted people from the same culture). but it sounds like this person who asked people to be quiet was even better about being understanding that i had been...good on him, whoever it was... unmeritorious behaviour is not limited to race or culture...we all know that, guys, please let's not say that koreans have it coming, it's just not true...one of the things that rankles most is that this incident happened at a kotr gathering, pretty much all foreign climbers are associated with kotr (even if they don't want to be, although i hadn't thought before that anyone would want that). it hurts that it was us that were the @$$holes this time...frankly, i'm not proud to be a part of a group that behaves in such a fashion (although i know that this is generally not true).

i echo sonia's statement. did anyone apologize on behalf of kotr? although hardly sufficient, it may be an important gesture of goodwill. if not, does anyone know the koreans in question? perhaps it's not too late..?

as for splitting the meet and greet meaning doing away with a beloved tradition? perhaps it's not healthy to hang onto tradition for tradition's sake...(i'm not saying this because of the possiblity of incidents such as the one that occurred saturday night, which could have happened in a smaller group, as well, it sounds like it was only a few people...) there are a number of factors to consider...

even if we are all unfailingly polite, how would you feel if a climbing group of SEVENTY people just showed up at your local/favourite crag in one fell swoop? that would be enough to veins pop out of the necks of the most zen climbers (that's part of the reason that i don't usually attend a full meet and greet, i just can't take the crowds)...

speaking personally, i love meet and greets, but i don't love the large meet and greets that are occurring more and more. honestly, although i would have loved to met some of the new climbers and hung out at seonunsan together, i didn't mind missing the mng that much this time. i can barely get to know anyone anyway because there are just so many people. people are always coming and going because they have to travel so far in many cases. this year, i've been to a number of impromptu climbing gatherings of about twelve to twenty climbers which have enabled me to get to know a number of new (to me) people (on a much deeper level than i've EVER met anyone at a meet and greet in the past two years), and incorporate them into my life as known acquaintances, friends and even climbing partners. plus, we've had an incredible time, some of the best weekends i've ever had in korea, frankly. being from seoul, if i meet someone from, say, busan, i will probably only see them once a year, maybe twice. when i go there, i'll look up the local climbers and have a great time with them when i go to their crag (like the busan bouldering bash last fall ~.^)...a mini-meet and greet, which we can be totally spontaneous or official (isn't that sort of the purpose of kotr anyway?)... i feel that the smaller sizes of meet and greets of the past (perhaps a smaller mng is my beloved tradition~.^) led to closer relationships between me and my fellow climbers anyway... all this to say that i probably will not be likely to go to large events, but will seek out smaller events in the future, for myself at least...

just some thoughts...sorry for rambling...
'i became insane with long horrible intervals of sanity.' (edgar allen poe)

'it doesn't have to be fun to be fun'. (alpinist heading up 'the south african' route in patagonia)
Unread 04-19-2010, 11:20 PM
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skinsk skinsk is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Jochiwon (Sejong City)
Posts: 2,552
It might be noted that there was hardly anyone else at the crag either day-- in no way were KOTRers hogging any routes. . . there were 2 or 3 other smallish Korean groups, all of whom seemed to enjoy--or not be annoyed with-- KOTR. . . I think I spoke with someone from each of them!

I'm not sure anyone was defending bad behavior-- but rather pointing out that Koreans-- like most people-- understand a bout of bad behavior. As you point out, we have all-- YOU and I included-- had times when we have not behaved as we should have. Alcohol is sometimes the culprit; sometimes frustration.

The analogy of whale hunting is a false analogy. Whale hunting was never a good idea.

As for size, Seonunsan is one crag that can handle a large Meet and Greet. . . and during the vote on where (which pretty much should be eliminated for this reason) this was considered. Mun bawi, S#!t Rock and the back of the wind tunnel see very few, if any, locals and having it so early in the season, in all the years I've gone crowding has never been an issue.

And while I agree that tradition for tradition's sake is occasionally not a good idea, one must consider the tradition and the reasons. M & G have been an event to get people out to Korea's famous crags, to kick off the season by meeting people from around the country who we can later visit, and to initiate people who are new to climbing by sharing gear, experience, technical skills and techniques. Success on all these points. Holding any 70-person event to a perfection standard is not sustainable. Running such a successful event with little organization is commendable.

So much of the cautionary comments see to be hearsay or imaginative (how the other party felt, interpreted, judged us. . . the family trip to Seonunsan. . . now if these are true and someone got the full story from the injured party. . . that's another matter, but then hopefully an apology was offered and accepted. I'm not sure anyone was super-sober and taking notes on such, but as someone who was there from the start to finish, who talked, climbed and met and greeted many people (Korean and foreign) and who has been on many outings in Korea, I am just not convinced of a need to do away with the Meet and Greet-- especially considering that sooo many people had such an awesome time. . . the group thing may not be for everyone, and no-one is forced to come. . . certainly things can be learned, but perfection is unlikely. . .

What sets KOTR apart as a community is it's positiveness and it's inclusiveness. Dividing people, factioning scares me in that it may hinder efforts to be an inclusive, encouraging and fun (albeit not perfect) group of foreigners, who in 99% of the time, exert positive peer pressure. Again-- there is no excusing bad behavior: mine, yours, someone elses, foreign or Korean. . . no one gets a free pass, and witnessing bad behavior without attempting to intervene is just as bad-- but this one incident, in a weekend in which both Korean climbers and 70+ foreigners, 2 to 65, had a stellar time. . . friendships were made, rekindled, relationships blossomed, goodbyes were said. . . first leads, redpoints, projects sent and waiting for another day. . .political discourse, poetry, tales of adventures in Korea and beyond were shared, fine chilli and salsa and curries were consumed. . . songs were shared, as was work. . . and even now, people are buzzing, giddy, sharing with friends and family about a magic weekend. . . that's what I am hearing from most people, and that's where I was :-) Believe me, I have been climbing 25 years-- I've been active in climbing communities in Wisconsin, Colorado (Springs and Boulder), Moab, Korea, Trencin Slovakia, Graz Austria and Prague. . . nowhere has it going like Korea and KOTR. I've been members of numerous forums in numerous languages, countries and continents. . . KOTR is amazing and at 6! With initiatives it has the potential to be better. . . but it's pretty darn good. No one would accuse me of being pro-growth in anything but herbs and veggies, and I was really impressed with the many many people I met this weekend.

Dee. . . missed you! There was certainly room for one more^^*
"If you can't do something well, you might as well learn to enjoy doing it poorly." -- from a de-motivational poster, but I find it oddly liberating!

Last edited by skinsk : 04-20-2010 at 12:19 AM.
Unread 04-20-2010, 08:17 AM
bhylenski bhylenski is offline
Currently a "Gyeongsonian"
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Gyeongsan (Daegu)
Posts: 150
An alternative

I believe there's a middle ground here. I'm not a huge fan of the M&G's, thus I don't usually attend. I enjoy the smaller groups as Dusty and Heidi mentioned, but as Sonia stated that is my choice and I do not wish to force that on anyone else. This was not just an isolated incident, these things have happened and probably will continue to happen, even at smaller events ...especially when alcohol is involved.

I had multiple Korean climbers tell me the next morning, I was smart to get a Hotel for my daughter and I. They told me they wished they had.

Yet, folks tend to overlook these things, if your doing something constructive with your time. For example, installing a toilet, rebolting a crag, performing a crag cleanup, organizing climbing camps for youths, etc. This type of activity also creates an atmosphere of community, with everyone (Koreans included.) Relationships with the other folks there enjoying the crag, will ultimately keep incidents like Saturday night from occurring.

This also works the other direction as well. The folks that show up will be there in a different mindset. They are there to meet climbers who are in the mindset of "giving back." We are there to demonstrate the positive aspects of what 70 people can do when organized and have a purpose. Thus our weekend will be represented by what KOTR accomplished, not what a few might have done on Sat. night.

I'm sorry everyone, but M&G's have started their own evolution, there's a reason so many people, no longer attend them. Change is inevitable, we all understand that. We can keep ignoring what's staring us right in the grill, or we can make a few changes and utilize these changes to our advantage. The M&G's have grown because so many folks have made them so much fun....now it's time to actively change, instead of sitting back and having it changed for us, by a small few.

Check out the new part of the Forums (scroll down) to see the KOTR Initiatives section. We'll be organizing an event this May/June...as well as one in the Fall, to hopefully coincide with the Fall M&G's.

Check them out here.
A few of my Korean climbing friends that were there also asked if there was a way for KOTR to announce to the Korean Climbing community, when we are going to get together. They did not want the M&G's to end or break up our fun...but would have gone somewhere else, if they had known 50-70 additional climbers (foreign or Korean) were going to be there. Something to think about, as well.
Unread 04-20-2010, 08:34 AM
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skinsk skinsk is offline
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Location: Jochiwon (Sejong City)
Posts: 2,552
Not a bad idea, Bryan, to let Koreans know. . . we tend to train at Korean gyms and walls and have access on their websites. I know I mentioned it at my gym. Though frequently Korean gyms have their whole season mapped out! I think these ideas, as well as better co-ordinating meals, can all help accommodate so many people. And it was good to see you and Hanna!
"If you can't do something well, you might as well learn to enjoy doing it poorly." -- from a de-motivational poster, but I find it oddly liberating!
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