I say lots of ill-thought-out, cliche-riddled, stupid things. The one that, strangely enough, currently induces the most stomach-churning self-loathing is: “I used to work in the gambling industry.”
This is factually accurate: I spent four months in the telebetting department of William Hill, a UK betting shop, or bookies. I imagine that my readers have conjured an image of a veteran bookie, whose life has been chiseled by chance, whose heart has been savaged by Lady Luck, and who sought refuge in Korea, making a living in edutainment.
In reality, it was much less glamorous. I was a down-at-heel student, whose time was split fairly evenly between chain-smoking (roll-ups), chain-eating (Greggs pies) and taking the occasional bet. I did, however, briefly seek refuge in Korean edutainment.
The last time I uttered the damned sentence was when I last went to have a flutter on the gee-gees at Jeju "Let's Run" Horse Racing Park. Jeju has one of just three racecourses in Korea, the others being in Busan and Seoul. It ain't Aintree, but it attracts the punters.
It is set in spacious grounds, enough for a pleasant wander in summer. The first floor is reminiscent of the busiest, most fractious airport terminal you’ve ever experienced. As you ascend the floors, however, the atmosphere becomes calmer.
The placid second floor gives way to the veritable nirvana of the third and then — then you walk through the magical door marked “foreigner.” A string quartet strikes up Bach’s ‘Air,’ you’re handed a flute of Moet and given a foot massage by a specially trained and extremely affable team of Madagascan aye-aye.
Okay, not quite, but there are tea and coffee-making facilities, big comfy sofas and a no-queue betting window. There will also be a table or two of Chinese punters and probably a lone Japanese gentleman throwing you a conspirational glance.
▲ Photo courtesy Jeju Horse Race Park
Placing bets is also pretty easy (winning them, alas…). Here are the six main types:
- a win (self-explanatory);
- a place (picking one horse to finish in the top three);
- an exacta (picking the top two horses in the correct order);
- a quinella (the top two horses in any order);
- a quinella place (any two of the top three);
- and a trio (the top three in any order).
There is a betting guide in English and you fill out your bets on a form that recalls a high-school multiple-choice test. After skillfully negotiating the form you take it to the betting window and hand over your cash.
The minimum bet is a hundred won, so an uber-cheap day gambling is more than possible. I usually try and limit myself to 5,000 won per race and put on a variety of one and two thousand won bets. Readers should note, however, that I never win anything, so it’s probably wise to try something else.
The third floor has a glass-fronted viewing gallery and multiple TV screens on which to watch your horses finish dead last. Alternatively, you can go downstairs and outside to get closer to the action.
The Jeju Horse Racing Park is a great way to spend a cheap and convivial afternoon. You probably won’t win anything, or go home with a nest egg for retirement, but you will jump and scream with excitement until you realize that Number 3 never got out of the gates.
Most importantly, my readers are assured that Jeju Horse Racing Park comes highly recommended from someone who spent much of his early professional life riding the highs and lows of the betting carousel.
Jeju "Let's Run" Horse Racing Park
2144 Pyeonghwa-ro, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si
First race / last race for August
First race: Fridays - 2 p.m. (normally 1:30 p.m.); Saturdays 3 p.m. (normally 12:30 p.m.)
Last race: 7:50 p.m. (until August 31, after which the schedule will change)
By Car: Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal: 40 minutes Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal 50 minutes
Buses to Jeju Horse Racing Park
From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal: 750 or 780 (65 minutes)
From Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal: 780 (75 minutes)
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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Registration Number: Jeju Da 01093 | Date of Registration: November 20, 2008 | Publisher: Hee Tak Ko | Youth policy: Hee Tak Ko
Copyright ⓒ 2009 All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published
without the prior consent of jeju weekly.com.