Records are there to be broken and, as a nation, South Korea loves to break them.
The announcement that Seoul-based food company SPC Group broke the world record for the number of roll cakes sold (12.49 million by December 2019) was just one in a long line of achievements that grace the Guinness Book of World Records.
Some of them are astonishing, while others are simply curious. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting.
Most marathons run by a married couple
When couples get married they normally make vows of love, honor, and commitment; about how they will care for each other through sickness or poverty.
Perhaps not so many see each other taking part in a marathon together. Or 144, to be exact. Or doing all 144 marathons in one year. But it’s exactly what couple Seo Gwang-su and Shin Young-ok did from April 2015 to April 2016.
They decided to take on the challenge after spending many years running together following their marriage in 1979, and now they hold the record for the most completed marathons in one year by a married couple.
When you consider that equates to almost three a week, then it shows a level of commitment that is important: to a marathon as well as a marriage.
The Cheon-Go drum plays a proud part in South Korea’s musical history, so it makes sense for a team of music lovers to break the record for the world’s largest drum.
Weighing a mighty seven tonnes, standing at nearly 6 meters, and measuring 5.5 meters in diameter, the giant percussion instrument amazed onlookers when it was unveiled at a Simcheon-Meon music institute in July 2011. It continues to impress people today, staying there as a fixed installation — after all, moving it to a sporting event or parade would be very complicated indeed.
The United States has a tradition of using the enormous Purdue bass drum at major sporting events, but they will have to put a lot of hard work in to achieve anything as big as this Cheon-Go.
Thinnest light source
Sometimes it’s good to team up with other countries, of course. Columbia University is a US Ivy League institution, which means it’s one of the finest in the country. Its Engineering School is also famous for its excellence, so it was evident when they teamed up with experts from the Seoul National University that something important was going to happen.
In June 2015, the team managed to create the thinnest light source in history. A single 0.335 nanometre-thick layer of graphene that was just visible enough to emit light within the visual spectrum.
The global science community greeted the news with excitement as it’s thought the achievement could lead to further technological developments.
Highest earning Overwatch players
In the world of video games, Overwatch has been one of the most successful first-player shooters ever, with more than 50 million active players recorded in the first three years after its release.
The game has attracted criticism for its use of loot boxes with people seeing them as a form of online gambling: they argue that players shouldn’t have to pay for extra perks, and that they should be able to enjoy the full experience without spending money — much like how many online casinos offer free versions of their games.
On the other hand, for top players, there is big potential to earn money from the game due to its status as an Esport. The Overwatch World Cup hosts national teams from all over the world and there are a number of tournaments in which the best players can win cash prizes. In Spring 2020, two South Korean players both smashed the $220,000 mark as a duo to become the highest-earning Overwatch players of all time at that point. Hong Jae-hee (a.k.a ‘Gesture’) and Park Joon-yeung (‘Profit) made the money from 11 tournaments together.
Largest outdoor mural
When Incheon Business Information Technopark was starting to look a little outdated a few years ago, the local businesses came together to think of a way to liven it up.
Instead of a typical painting project, the businesses, along with the local government, produced the biggest outdoor mural the world had ever seen up to that point.
The incredible artwork spans almost 24,000 m² (around four football pitches) on the side of grain silos on the site and depicts a beautiful giant bookshelf. The project served as an important dialogue between the businesses and local residents, improving relations between them, as well as greatly enhancing the local scenery.
Largest outdoor taekwondo display
Taekwondo originates from Korean martial arts and was first practiced in the 1940s. It has since become a national pastime that promotes peace: for this reason, several Korean organizations wished to showcase the biggest ever outdoor display of the art in the run-up to the first-ever inter-Korean summit.
With 8,212 registered participants and lasting 10 minutes, it brought old and young people together and served as a reminder of the sport’s harmonious nature.
Longest sea dam
When two public rural institutions wanted to connect two headlands south of Gunsan in 2010, they succeeded in building the world’s biggest sea dam.
Measuring an incredible 21 miles, the Saemangeum Seawall was completed in April 2010 and reclaimed an area of 400 sq km. A road built upon the dam also serves as an important part of National Route 77, connecting Gunsan to Buan County.