I said a few weeks back that snowboard culture is really funny here in Korea. As I promised, here’s why.
First, you need to know that Korea is very image orriented. How you look is almost as important as who you are. Of course, it’s possible that as an outsider I don’t really understand this, but that’s how it seems to me. It’s not a bad thing though. In fact, I’ve had to step up my grooming and dressing game just so I don’t feel like a bum. Now I dress a bit more professionally, so that’s good.
Anyway, the same dress for success mentality applies to winter sports. If you’ve ever been to a ski resort in the last few years, you’ll know that the snowboard culture is very fashion oriented. Lots of flashy colors, ridiculous baggy pants and matching outfits. Basically what you’d expect from a sport where the target market is high school kids. Koreans love that stuff. I went shopping for snow pants (called board pants here) and I had a tough time finding regular black ones without neon, bold colorful streaks or dollar bills printed all over them. I did eventually find some regular black ones though, much to my friend’s disappointment. She was hoping I’d pick up something much more “fashionable”.
I’m not sure if this is a true assumption, seeing how I just started skiing last year and I don’t have much experience with the culture, but it seems that only people who do tricks and stuff in the snow park (and have a pretty high level of expertise) would dress with the matching suits and do the who snowboard fashion thing. In Korea, this isn’t true. On the beginner trails, you’ll find many stumbling ‘boarder with 400$ matching outfits. For a country that only has artificial snow on it’s hills, that’s a hefty fee just to “look cute”. My friend came skiing with me for her first time and she considered buying herself a full ski outfit she considered “cute”, just for her first time. Probably a good thing she didn’t as the whole experience wasn’t too successful (read disastrous). She also wanted to do snowboard because she thought she’d look “cute” doing it.While explaining this to me, she did this weird surf/snowboard action. Hardly a convincing performance.
It’s possible that you need to experience it to know what I’m talking about, but hopefully you get the gist of how the “scene” is here and how excessive it is.