Bicycle Friendly America Winter 2018 - 24

- the physical challenge and the insights into the
past - helped shape them.
In 2011, we rode the length of South Korea, from
Seoul to the extreme southwest island of Jindo, now
connected by a bridge to the mainland. The issue
of a free trade agreement with the U.S. was being
debated in Korea; we met farmers, fishermen, factory workers, small and large business representatives, and local officials everywhere to learn more
about their worries and hopes. We were joined by
Korean and American military members serving at
posts throughout Korea in an alliance that continues to provide security in the face of the continuing
threat from North Korea. The conversations could
be lively (that's diplomatese for sometimes disagreeing), but we enjoyed extraordinary hospitality and
food everywhere.
One thing to make clear, if it is not already: I am
not an elite rider, and never have been. I ride a bicycle like I speak Korean, just good enough, but the
rewards are great and many. Cycling breaks down
barriers. It builds bonds with those who cycle together, and brings us out of our isolated and selfselected bubbles. You can't do good diplomacy
without that.
Even after I completed my three years as American ambassador in Korea, I wasn't done cycling in
Korea. Earlier this year the American embassy organized a ride across South Korea to highlight the
upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. I
joined my former colleagues for the final three days
of the ride, and found the Korean mountain passes,
especially approaching Pyeongchang, as beautiful
- and challenging - as ever. Once we'd visited
the site of the Olympic ski jump, it was a thrill to
fly downhill to the East Sea: How special that the
Winter Olympics site for 2018 also features beautiful oceanscapes nearby.
I'm sure there will be some hardy Korean cyclists
out for the Winter Olympics; the passion Koreans
bring to cycling only grows, and is infectious. But
for those (including me) who are more fair-weather
cyclists, Korea offers a whole range of cycling opportunities.
My advice: Go to Korea for the cycling. Stay for
the people, the food and the hospitality.
If you want to read more about cycling in Korea,
my blog (http://goo.gl/3bv6I) includes many entries that describe cycling trips.
Kathleen Stephens, a career diplomat, was US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2008-2011.
She is now a fellow at Stanford University.
24 BICYCLE FRIENDLY AMERICA


http://www.goo.gl/3bv6I

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Bicycle Friendly America Winter 2018

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http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/bikeleague/BFA_Summer2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/bikeleague/BFA_Winter2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/bikeleague/BFA_Fall2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/bikeleague/BFA_Summer2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/bikeleague/BFA_Winter2017
http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/bikeleague/BFA_Fall2016_GatewayDemo
http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/bikeleague/BFA_Fall2016
http://www.nxtbook.com/mercury/bikeleague/BFA_Spring2016
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com