He puts the glide into everybody's stride

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He puts the glide into everybody's stride

Whenever Kang Jeom-gu shows up, children run away. He's not a scary guy, just the Zamboni driver.

Attendees help get any stragglers off the ice rink, then it's Mr. Kang's turn to shine.

His blue Zamboni rumbles and swooshes as he whizzes around the rink. Outside the fence around the perimeter, children look on and wave. Mr. Kang first drives the length of the oval-shaped rink, then he circles around the perimeter. Hot water sprays down as a long razor shaves the ice.

Mr. Kang has been driving a Zamboni for 12 years. The two rinks at Mokdong Ice Rink are his responsibility to keep clean and skatable. Every hour, from 6 a.m. to midnight, he drives his Zamboni over the ice.

He was 35 years old when he first ice skated; he had never seen a Zamboni before. That ride around the rink got him hooked. "What can I say. I like ice," he says.

With each loop around the rink, the circle Mr. Kang makes becomes smaller and smaller. After a couple minutes, he's finished and the ice is smooth.

But not for long. A whistle blows and the children scurry back. Within a couple minutes, the ice is sliced and chipped, but packed with people laughing.

by Ines Cho
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