Seoul’s skate scene was looking good when a several-hundred-strong crowd of skaters and fans bustled into Dongdaemun’s Cult Park for the South Korean chapter of international Go Skateboarding Day. Held on June 22, a day later than the international standard, to account for the weekend, skaters with skillsets as polarized as their nationalities joined together for a day-long session. The atmosphere was exceptionally good-natured, and the friendliness among the riders was a refreshing contrast to a subculture often marked by its inaccessibility. Hosted with an impressive budget from Vans (a company marked by its efforts to broach skateboarding’s counterculture-to-mainstream tension), the reverie of South Korea’s skate elite surely fascinated the eyeballing mass. Crowd-sourced choruses of oohs and ahhs bathed the skaters whether they stuck their tricks or not, and the occasional projectile board didn’t seem to faze the viewers’ steady encroachment on the spots.
A generous offering of prizes from Vans and local skate store Timber Shop went to the deserving winners of several best trick competitions, which where held on a fun box, ledge, and stair-set respectively. The ledge competition drew the most technical tricks, and expat rider Alex Benton took the prize with a nollie hardflip manual. Undoubtedly, though, the stair session was the most unanimously enjoyed; the consequence inherent in the obstacle earning it the gravitas it deserves. It seems tricks trend on an international level, and those receiving the most acclaim point directly at what has been covered in recent history by Thrasher and Skateboarder magazines – namely the hardflip and frontside 360. Their technicality is as impressive as aesthetic, and their translation into stair-skating was welcomed by an eager audience.
The crowd and entrants were treated to free beer and waffles and the event closed with an acoustic punk show for the dwindling crowds. Ultimately, the people who needed an international holiday to make an excuse to go skate went home, and the park was left to the usual crew, still going long after the prizes were distributed. They drank the rest of the beer, nursed their wounds and made plans to meet up and skate the next day. These young, tenacious riders are a far more telling litmus of the skate scene than a single-day swelling at a skatepark, and they’re a sign of the scene’s encouraging horizon.