[Campus Commentary]Scooter girls cruise the worldA few days ago, one of my best friends called me up at about midnight and said I should meet her right away at the Sinchon Rotary. She said she got something new and special and wanted to show it to me as soon as possible.
I went right out but ended up waiting for her for over 30 minutes, which made me furious. Just as I was about to return home, I heard her calling my name and saw her sitting astride a pink motor scooter. I forgot that I was supposed to be angry and exclaimed, “Wow! It’s so cute!” She said she bought it after working at a coffee shop for three months.
She was riding on a Honda Gyro-X, a scooter that has been gaining popularity among young women since actress Kim Jung-eun was seen riding one in the hit drama “The Princess Lulu” two years ago. A Gyro-X is relatively affordable at 2.5 million won ($2,667), but it is hard to get because it has become a very hot item among 20-something women. The scooter is in short supply. I was excited and got on the scooter with her and we cruised through the streets of Seoul until the wee hours.
Scooters are all the rage on campus for female students. It’s because they are easy to handle and come in pretty designs. And scooters are not as intimidating as motorcycles for girls. There may also be less risk of an accident on a scooter than on a motorcycle, but that may not be so.
According to the Internet shopping mall Auction, 43 percent of scooter buyers are women, and 86 percent of them are in their early to mid-20s. In other words, four out of 10 scooter buyers are females, most likely in college.
Most scooter owners express their individuality by customizing their scooters, adding radio speakers and decorative bike saddles. Commuting by scooter is also cheaper than public transportation. The maintenance cost is about 10,000 won a month.
College students find riding a scooter convenient, especially when moving between campus buildings. And since some young women have the silly notion that walking makes their legs look too muscular, they prefer hopping on a scooter to walking. On my campus, I see about 20 to 30 female scooter riders everyday. One reason for this is that Dongguk University, where I go to school, is located on hilly ground near Mount Namsan, and students have to climb up and down steep terrain. What is more interesting is that over half the members of the Bike Boys, a campus club, are actually women.
Girls on these pink Gyro-Xs believe they are the new scooter generation. Our sensibility is different from what you might call the Harley Davidson generation. The Harley, the most famous motorcycle in the world, is rough and manly. Arnold Schwarzenegger rode a Harley in the movie “Terminator.” Harley riders like to show off their masculinity on a big bike. But the new scooter girls want to express something different in their personality, and they also put a value on cost efficiency and function.
I can’t wait to hear my friend’s stories from her winter vacation spent traveling around on her cute scooter. And I also dream about cruising along the Han River on my own pink scooter in 2008.
*The writer is a reporter for The Dongguk Post news magazine at Dongguk University.
by Ryu Seo-hyun
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