Though many find themselves in Apgujeong to attend their hagwons or to hang out at the newest restaurant, Kevin Keebum Kim (11) arrives with a duffel bag and athletic gear, ready to take on a different kind of mental and physical challenge. As he enters the rock climbing facility in Apgujeong, Kevin, after greeting his fellow climbers, powders up his hands and heads toward the wall covered in colorful plastic protrusions.
Rock climbing found its way into Kevin’s life when he was a freshman in the US. An athletic friend on his rowing team invited Kevin to a session at the gym. Curious about how his friend grew to be so strong and athletic, Kevin agreed to give rock climbing a try, and has been rock climbing ever since.
“From that day, I fell in love with the sport,” Kevin said. “I really liked the feeling I felt after completing a difficult bouldering project, as well as the tightness I felt in my forearms and shoulders after I climbed. I decided to continue rock climbing after that initial session, taking actual lessons for about three months before starting to climb on my own.”
Though Kevin moved to Korea at the beginning of his sophomore year, he continued to find time to dedicate to rock climbing despite the sport’s relative small scene in the country. Kevin finds the balance between his commitments at SIS and his love for rock climbing by climbing on the weekends, when he has more time. As he continues to practice solving the puzzle of going up the wall with different combinations of available holds, Kevin found himself reaping benefits both physically and mentally.
“I’ve definitely found myself fitter and stronger,” Kevin said. “There is this thing called a campus board, where you hang using half of your fingertips. I couldn’t go up the campus board when I started climbing, but now I can. And I definitely learned the skill of perseverance as well, because in the beginning I was more prone to giving up. Now I try to finish a problem even if it means that I’m going to ache a little the next day.”
The same way he was introduced to the sport by a rowing teammate as a freshman, Kevin returned the favor to his own teammates, extending his passion to some of his fellow cross-country friends at SIS.
“Over the summer, I was inspired by Kevin and learned to rock climb for about a month,” Andie Kim (10) said. “Kevin and I are both on the cross country team, so I already knew that he likes to challenge himself. I knew that rock climbing would be a challenging sport as well, and I wanted to take on the challenge. Rock climbing with Kevin was a new yet gratifying experience, and I hope to continue my rock climbing experiences with him and other cross country friends in the future.”