I ventured south of the Han River today for the first time, to see one of this ancient nation's cultural treasures right here in Seoul.

I am speaking, of course, of the Seoul Racetrack.

It was a beautiful day at the races. I wasn't the only one who thought so--there were thousands of people there. The subway, which goes right there, was packed, and the stream of humanity leaving the station and going to the track was powerful.

It is only 800 won to get in, which is 80 cents. The track itself is nicely maintained and user friendly. Instead of seats, the entire lower level consists of low concrete stairs. It is an enormous facility.

These two pictures are taken standing in one spot facing two directions, and you can't see the whole thing.

It is situated next to a park, and is surrounded by mountains. The area where they show the horses before each race is framed by traditional Korean style buildings and a natural waterful as well.

this is the actual track:

No corndogs at this track--the food was good traditional Korean fare, like these freshly made seaweed rolls.

Here is the finish line and the winner's circle:

All of the racing forms and handicapping guides were in Korean, so I was at a bit of a loss for several races (literally at a loss, since I kept losing consistently) until I figured out some basic words: win and place, for instance. My dictionary wasn't much help.

For some reason my Korean-English study dictionary does not have horse racing terminology in it, and definitely lacks "quinella" or "trifecta." Useless!

I subsequently only bet on the wins and places since that was easy to figure out. The betting is done with little scantron sheets which have a couple of English prompts, so that made it a lot easier as well. I shudder to think what the process would have been like if I had tried to make my self understood in butchered Korean at the betting windows.

I must have been quite a ridculous sight, though, as I laboriously paged through the dictionary looking up every word trying to make sense of the racing form.

The races varied from 1000-2000 meters. I don't know if it is the nature of Korean horse racing or if it just happened to be this day at the track, but there were some seriously open races and some funny moments.

In one race, a horse veered off the track into the longer-meter track during the middle of a race. Longshot horses came out of the blue and won races at the last second. My favorite, in my one winning race for the day, was one horse that finished without its jockey! The replay never even played the jockey falling off the horse, which means that it can't have been considered that big of a deal. I wish I had snapped a picture of that finishing by itself, it was hilarious.

Once I saw the nature of the field I started to bet on some oddball horses because it seemed like there was this good deal of chance and/or opportunity in the races, almost like greyhound racing. I managed to win one race this way and finish the day 8000 Won up. Eight bucks!


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