Veteran’s bike tour will set a new record
Park Nam-wu, a 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran, wanted to do something different, preferably something that was both challenging and patriotic.
So he decided to cycle 7,000 kilometers (4,349 miles) around Korea and visit monuments dedicated to fallen patriots and the graves of those who sacrificed their lives for the country.
Park embarked on his bike trip on Tuesday, starting from the plaza at Busan’s city hall. His 70-day journey will last until Dec. 15, during which he plans to stop by 77 cities and districts across the nation.
He will bike 100 kilometers over 15 hours every day, he said - or drag the bike if he has to.
If Park accomplishes this feat, his name will be listed in the Korean edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.
“I have savored the beauty of nature my entire life,” he said. “I am thankful to the deceased patriots who protected the country and its nature. That is why I plan to travel around the country and visit veterans’ monuments.”
Park is often referred to as “Sergeant Park,” his last rank in the Army and a nickname he said he appreciates.
He was a soldier for eight years and served during the Vietnam War. Afterward, he turned his career toward the printing business, a market from which he has recently retired.
But even now that he’s settled down, he doesn’t skip events commemorating Korea’s veterans.
During his cycling trip, he will lay flowers at the country’s national cemeteries and the UN monuments for combatant nations that are scattered across Korea.
On Oct. 24, United Nations Day, Park said he will take part in an all-nations flag parade, passing from the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan to the downtown area with 30 veterans from 21 countries who served in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Park has been a cycling enthusiast for six years now, and went through five months of intense training in preparation for his bike tour.
He is also the chief of a nonprofit organization he founded in August that aims to contribute to movements supporting unification of the two Koreas as well as world peace. The group has about 150 members from Busan.
“Busan has the only UN Memorial Cemetery in the world,” Park said. “If I have a dream, I wish that Busan would be designated as a UN metropolitan city next year, commemorating the anniversary of United Nations Day, to make Busan the mecca of world peace.”
BY HWANG SUN-YOON [firstname.lastname@example.org]