It just so happened that my stay here in Seoul coincided with the 2009 Seoul Motor Show. MandDFM and I are big fans of motor shows (as regular readers will know) and so he was sure to remind me about this one. It's not every day you get to see a major International Motor Show, in the second largest urban agglomerate in the World no less.
I had convinced Yoo Sung Bok to come along with me, and he said it was his first time to visit a Motor Show so he was very excited. Here he tests out an A/C motor for me and later suggested I get one for my new gosiwon since it is always boiling hot in my room.
Sung Bok later admitted that he was really interested in seeing the models and trying to get pictures with them. It was win-win though, because while I rushed around trying to get the perfect pictures of the cars, I always knew where to find him afterwards (I just had to find the nearest booth with a model).
The best exhibit of the Show by far! This is a revolutionary new plastic, electric window mechanism and casing that will be on the new Sonata. A woman working the booth, who spoke quite good English, tried to ask me if I was interested in door technology but I had already responded "YES!!!" before she could finish her question.
Hyundai and KIA dominated this year's Seoul Motor Show. Together they had about 25% of the display space, and they had the largest number of cars and concept cars (each) of any company there. It took me over an hour just to explore all of the Hyundai and KIA cars on display. That's not a complaint, mind you, just an observation.
KIA and Hyundai also introduced some very neat concept cars (the first time I've had a chance to see a concept car at a Motor Show) including the World's first LPG-hybrid car (the yellow-green one). The best part about the Hyundai/KIA hybrid cars is that they don't look like a Prius.
Being a big fan of public transport I was ecstatic to see this Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered city bus, by who else but Hyundai? Better yet for Hyundai, the line-up to get in on the other side was longer than the bus.
This is a Korean pick-up truck. These things are everywhere making deliveries, and they get quite annoying when they try to go down narrow back-alleys full of people (which is often).
These guys, with their giant DSLR cameras and zoom lenses, were everywhere. They looked ridiculous and kept getting in the way of important amateur bloggers, and I'm pretty sure they weren't professionals either since the media day was last week.
There were a lot of models at the show trying to attract attention to the cars, but only two of them were males. It's especially fitting though that both male models were working the Audi booth.
At least I finally got to see my boyhood dream car in the sheet metal: the Audi S8.
I should say this about the models standing by the cars, though. Many people will object to their presence at the show for religious, sociological, or any number of other reasons, but they were consummate professionals.
I came here on the second last day of the roughly 10 day long Motor Show, but this model still took time to give me a smile and a thumbs up even though she had been standing there in those high heels all day and must have been absolutely exhausted.
My favourite model was this girl who gave me an exclusive. That's right, you won't find this shot anywhere else! Look at how happy she is too, and now some pesky labour law is going to prevent her from having "fun" for ten hours a day, ten days straight. What a shame.
The Seoul Motor Show also featured an Automotive History Museum section with such classics as the Model T, whatever the white car is, and...
A flying DeLorean! (I haven't seen one of those in... thirty years!)
By this time I had taken over 400 pictures and was starting to run out of battery, not to mention we were starting to get tired. Sung Bok and I decided to leave because Yi Woojin (Sung Bok's friend) had invited me out to a baseball game and we needed to go get something to eat first. Sung Bok originally had a date with his girlfriend, but figured that since he and his girlfriend had been in a fight recently that gave him a good reason to skip their date and come to the game instead.
While we were waiting for Woojin to meet us, I introduced Sung Bok to the wonderful world of body weight conditioning drills at the park where we stopped to rest. Soon though, Woojin showed up and it was off to get some snacks to sneak in to the ball park with us.
I admit that I have not been a big baseball fan since the Blue Jays won the World Series (that's not entirely true, I watched every game during their fall from grace from 1994-1996 before I finally got fed up and quit) . That being said, watching Korean baseball is an amazing experience and I'm now hooked!
Unlike normal baseball, where the fans are left to decide amongst themselves the best time to cheer, Korean baseball requires fans of one team to sit on one side of the stadium, while an equal number of fans from the visiting team occupy the seats on the other (the furthest trip away is only 3 hours on the KTX, so most of the fans come along to support their team on road games). Each team has its own cheer leader who is an energetic guy with a whistle that stands on the dugout and whoops the fans up in a frenzy, with a well-timed series of unique cheers that everyone seems to know (I think each team has its own unique set of cheers). There are also some massive Korean drums that are thumped during the cheers to make even more noise.
I soon ran out of battery, so I was not able to take many pictures at the game, but in this picture you can see the dancers who would come out between innings, our cheer leader (in the white, 08 uniform), and the inflatable plastic whacking sticks we received.
The team I was cheering for was called the Woori Heroes. The team they were playing against were one of the best in the league, from Incheon. I was told that one of the fans from the Woori team yelled "Incheon rubbish" after another of their numerous home runs, but this statement was rather ironic since the Woori Heroes were originally located in Incheon.
The Incheon team clobbered the Woori Heroes, but that didn't matter. Every time our team went up to bat the Woori faithful would rise up to cheer as loudly as possible. My favourite cheer was "Home Run, Boo-room-ba!" We would chant this whenever the DH, Cliff Brumbaugh (the Korean language doesn't always have all of the letter combinations/sounds to make Western names), came up to bat.
Originally Sung Bok, Woojin and I were down low, but beyond third base. It gave us a great view, but put us away from the main cheering section. That didn't stop me from dancing and cheering and whacking my sticks along with everyone else though, and soon Woojin said I was in the wrong section - everyone around me was sitting down and silent.
I asked if we could move closer to the main crowd, but I was told I had to go first for it to work. Apparently if Woojin or Sung Bok went first, they would be told any open seats were already taken, but since I was a foreigner I could just act like I didn't understand and go sit down anyways. I thought it seemed a bit silly, but I wanted to cheer, so off I went. With our new seats secured I was able to really get going on my cheering.
I used to be a former professional sports mascot, and so once I got myself dancing and cheering I drew so much attention that my antics earned me 20 seconds on the big screen monitor on the main scoreboard. Everyone around me recognized me and there were many laughs. Eventually though I was able to raise the spirits of everyone around me (who, up until this point had been relatively reserved) and soon we were all standing up and cheering.
After the game the president of the Woori fan club came over and he was so impressed with my cheering that he asked me to join his crew. If I ever come back to Korea I will go to every Korean baseball game I can. It's probably the best version of something American that the Koreans have modified yet, and I love it.
I enjoyed myself so much at this game that I'm going to another game on the 26th. Woojin said that the best team in the league were hosting a team from Busan, and that it was sure to be a good match. More importantly, people from Busan are very intense people, and I was told that they have the best cheering section in the league. I'll be there sitting in the Busan section on the 26th, losing my voice, come hell or high water.
After the game, Sung Bok marvelled at my energy since I was still going strong and humming the songs and cheers while he was exhausted. He made a comment on how much benefit my frequent exercising and consequent fitness levels must be for my quality of life. I have to agree. (... The More You Know.)