Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Polar Bear Swimming Contest

This past weekend (January 31st) marked the 23rd Annual Polar Bear Swimming Contest in Busan. Hundreds of people, Koreans and a few foreigners, take the plunge at Haeundae beach every year. After a dramatic countdown with thousands of onlookers, they jump and splash around in the freezing water for one reason: health. Seriously. Some (crazy people) believe that if you do this at the beginning of the year, you will have a happy and healthy year to come.

Stretching for the big event. You have to get that blood flowing, right?

There were a few other things to do at this competition, like getting your face painted as an animal. As you can see, this is not just for little kids. And in Korea, they apparantly call it "Face Fainting".
Us under the fake snow machine. We thought it may be "real" fake snow, but it turned out to be bubbles.
They also had a blimp! Go Korea!
Some excited participants. Loren actually tried to enter the competition, but thankfully they had stopped registration.
About to take the plunge...

Let the countdown begin!
And they're off....Shamu, too!
It wouldn't be a Korean event if fireworks weren't included.
America was well represented!
Everyone splashes around for about 10 minutes while the lifeguards (you can see in the distance) slowing begin swimming in and pushing them toward the beach.
A couple of participants after the cold swim, smoking cigarettes (look closely at his hand). So much for good health!

Below is a video of the initial plunge into the freezing water.
Hope you enjoyed this event as much as we did. There are just some things in Korea that we cannot explain...

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