Safety—arguably my favorite aspect of South Korea—is so deeply manifested here that Koreans get to enjoy extremely simple luxuries that we just can’t handle in the United States. Case in point: Outdoor gyms located in myriad public parks.
Outdoor gyms like this one come a dime a dozen in Korean parks—this particular one is across the street from the world cup stadium—and I think it says a lot about Korean people and their society.
Firstly, that a free public gym even exists at all says that Koreans value fitness and health.
Secondly, that the equipment is used so frequently and vigorously shows that Koreans don’t take their tax dollars for granted (and, even more surprisingly, that their tax dollars even come back to them in ways that they appreciate, unlike 20% defense spending in my country).
Thirdly—this is the observation that I made when talking to another expat—the equipment is in beautiful shape. If this equipment were in parks all over the States, it would be vandalized, broken and misused in a week. Expat #2 added that he was impressed that Koreans weren’t too shy to do such ridiculous exercises in plain sight.
Dear God, they even have inversion tables in their parks. Now, this particular inversion table doesn’t invert all the way, (too risky for Koreans), but it’s still quite a statement of a functioning society when your tax dollars go to free public inversion tables available 24 hours a day.
Look at the lady on the right using the hoola hoop. Before I came to the park today to snap these photos, I had only visited the park at night when most people weren’t around. I always saw that big tube slung over the pull-up bars and thought it was a piece of trash that someone had left there. As an American, I assumed it was junk, never thinking for a moment that it could be a part of the exercise equipment, since no one would ever be foolish enough to include detachable (read: stealable) parts and expect them to remain longer than 3 nights. But alas, this is Korea, not America.
And if all that weren’t already too much for an American to handle in one public space, there’s another outdoor gym on the other side of the park.