There’s diving in Korea?…Really??
This is a guest blog post by Larry Bainbridge, who participated in the August PADI IDC in South Korea last year and who runs a dive club in South Korea, named 38th Parallel Divers. We also conducted Specialty Instructor training after the IDC in Namae-ri, where he and his club members go for almost all of their weekend dive outings and he gave me the opportunity to become a 38th Parallel diver! Thanks for all that and thumbs up for a great blog post about; There’s diving in Korea?…Really??
Getting out of the water after a dive
Enjoy the story;
I doubt anyone would ever put South Korea on their must-dive bucket list, I didn't even know you could dive in Korea when I first got here. Surrounded on 3 sides by the Pacific waters why couldn't someone dive? There are many reasons not to dive in Korea: cold, murky, not calm compared to those warm-water spots most part-time divers love. So why dive in Korea? For most of us it is simple…there is simply NO other option for weekend diving. There is no easy quick access to the warm tropical waters that are only a few hour plane ride away. We are not discouraged by 4C waters in the winter (12-14C in the summer in shallow waters), nor by the 1-5 meter visibility that we obtain here (5m is a good weekend), nor by the tough weather that gives us less than ideal conditions on a regular condition.
At the safety stop. Can you spot the cool rash vest and the shorts?
For me these are the reason I love diving and instructing in South Korea. We have conditions that make diving tough which will produce tough, skilled divers. Time after time we are told by returning club members that their skills were better than other divers on their trips to Palau, the Philippines, Thailand etc because of the tough conditions and training they experienced here. Don't get me wrong…we are not one of those yell in your face / boot camp style clubs. We love to have fun…it is difficult because of the conditions not our teaching style.
What divers do best; Going down
One other reason to come and dive in South Korea is that it is the only place on earth you can dive so close to North Korea, and recently I wrote a PADI distinctive specialty course (38th Parallel Diver) that is truly unique. You complete a single dive north of the 38th Parallel in South Korea (along with some minor course work learning about the 38th Parallel and the war). How many people can say they hold that specialty? Right now only 1.
The water may be cold, topside it's beautiful as this sunset proofs
A few years ago I founded the 38th Parallel Divers and our club is spreading the word about diving here in Korea and offering easy access (at-cost) training to those who want to learn to dive or increase their current diving skills. We are working with local shops to bridge the cultural and language barriers that existed only a few years ago. Before our club there was limited access to knowledge about diving in Korea, divers had to go through a business to basically was a dive guide/logistical coordinator. We are striving to impart knowledge not a business service for our community. We want our divers to have inexpensive access to Korea and diving…we want to dive with everyone from everywhere…this is how we learn to be better divers.
George coming back for seconds
Diving provides us (those who live in Korea) a great way to see a side of the country that we wouldn't otherwise see. We have built friendships with local dive clubs, organizations and divers. Diving is a social sport and that is no different here in South Korea. If you ever find yourself in South Korea please look us up on facebook and try to log a dive with us…we hope to see you in the water!
Larry (yes, in the background!) cooking it up whilst on the road. He's a great chef to boost!
Check out the 38th Parallel Divers website and their Facebook page. When in South Korea and want an opportunity to dive with a bunch of friendly Westerners, let alone get the 38th Parallel Diver distinctive specialty, Larry and his dive club are waiting for you!