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For Ko Hyojoo, there’s no better place to ride a longboard than Seoul, South Korea. You can find her cruising along the Han River, nonchalantly walking up and down her board as it glides along.
A longboard is a longer, heavier skateboard with rubber wheels that lets riders like Ko move with fluidity. Her skating videos have gone viral, ultimately amassing 25 million views after Korean-American rapper Kero One posted one of them to Facebook.
Longboarding, also known as sidewalk surfing, dates back to 1950s Hawaii. In those days, surfers started taking skateboards and elongating them, creating a device that would allow them to cruise down the pavement on days when the ocean was too choppy to ride. These days, the sport has developed into various disciplines, including cruising and carving, slalom and downhill.
Ko does freestyle, which looks a lot like dancing on four wheels. She started in 2014, at a moment when she felt socially frustrated and was looking for a hobby to focus on. Back then, Ko was working a 9-to-5 job as an engineer on the messaging app Line. One day, after coming across a video of longboarder, she headed to a nearby skateshop to get her own wheels.
Since then, Ko’s gotten invites to skate all across Asia, as well as in Berlin, Los Angeles, Paris and beyond. Her Instagram boasts hundreds of thousands of followers, as does her YouTube channel. With her cool confidence, incredible skill and flowing locks, Ko has attracted attention from the fashion world as well. You can see her freestyling in the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
Once quite introverted, Ko credits longboarding with pulling her out of her shell and giving her a more positive outlook on life. Anyone who sees the big smile she wears while zooming down streets around the globe will understand why.
Seoul, South KoreaFull Map
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