Find This: Gwangju Scavenger Hunt

Korea is full of intriguing sights. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t find myself surprised at something unique about where I’m living. I also find myself at a loss as to how to explain all of the Korean-ness to the people back home. It’s difficult for my Canadian friends to completely understand how bizarre couple sets are or what a hanbok looks like or to just what extent a friendly Korean can make your day.

Gwangju Scavenger Hunt/Joanne Cronin

Gwangju Scavenger Hunt/Joanne Cronin

marion photo

Gwangju Scavenger Hunt/Joanne Cronin

All of this is even more captivating for a newcomer. This past month, Joey Cronin found a way to help many of us capture all of the eccentricities of Korea, as well as make the new wave of teachers feel more comfortable in their surroundings.

After brainstorming for exciting new things to do with friends, Joey, along with Stew Wallace and Tamara Rose, organized the first Gwangju Scavenger Hunt downtown on October 17th, which was sponsored by Teach ESL Korea.

No one knew quite what to expect, but we all showed up with bells on, excited to see just how many bizarre things we’d have to do that day. There were prizes for the winning teams, including drink vouchers from Speakeasy, Crazy Horse and Songs, gift certificates to the Underground Grocers and Basta restaurant, and a grand prize of a one-night stay at a hotel in Busan along with a one-year subscription to 10 Magazine. The competition would be fierce.

Twelve teams of five arrived downtown to enter the hunt. After an explanation of the rules and a drinking contest, we left behind the organizers to pounce on any Korean person willing to help us finish our tasks. Fortunately, the Gwangju 7080 Recollection Festival was happening at the same time, making it easy to find friendly people willing to let loose on camera.

Some things on the list of 100, like posing with a music vendor or statue, were easy to do. Others, like eating boondaegi (silk worm larvae), were meant to test our nerve. The best ones were meant to break down cultural barriers. My favorites were ‘help someone make and sell street food’, ‘hand out samples by a makeup store’, ‘have a drink with an ajoshi (older man)’, and ‘play an arcade game with a Korean stranger’.

“Everyone enjoyed themselves!” said Joey. “Drew Roben was a bit of a champion — he ate a full cup of boondaegi and I felt bad for him. He could still taste them a few hours later!”

Drew, along with everyone who came out that day, managed to do no less than forty five tasks while meeting new people, experiencing Korean culture in a new way, and creating an array of hilarious new
photos to send to the people back home.

I can only imagine what the Korean people thought of us that day. There’s no doubt that the Koreans we met probably experienced a similar loss for words with their own friends and families. Being the recipient of one of these tasks would have made great fodder for dinner conversations in Korean homes that night. “You will never believe what happened to me today…”