BLOG: The Goepper family's crazy first day in South Korea

Nick Goepper (far right) and family at the P&G Family and Friends house in South Korea. (Photo: Kasey Goepper)
Kasey Goepper

Kasey Goepper, sister of Indiana Olympian Nick Goepper​, is writing a blog for, chronicling the family's time in PyeongChang.

We left the house around 11:30 a.m. to meet up with Nick in Yong Pyong at the P&G Family & Friend house. When coordinating the day, it was estimated to be about two 30-minute bus rides there and back. Four busses later and getting lost multiple times, due to language barriers and incorrect bus schedule, we finally arrived at 5 p.m. By this time, Nick had already left the house because he had Opening Ceremonies to get to.

Around 6:30 p.m. we then started our trek to Opening Ceremonies, which by the way, the venue is about an hour away from our house. Being -5 degrees, it was definitely the coldest two-and-a-half hour event we’ve ever sat through. Plus we were all inappropriately dressed of course, due to the airlines misplacing our luggage the day of travel before. After the ceremony we tried to take the same bus system home. This was not as easy as we thought it was going to be. No one speaks a lick of English here; therefore no one could understand what we were trying to do or where we were trying to go.

Nick Goepper (right), slopestyle skier McRae Williams (left) and coach, Mike Hanley

One policeman would hand motion for us to head East about one kilometer, the next policeman would motion us to head West three kilometers, and then the Olympic volunteers would just say, "one block that way…" We ended up walking around downtown PyeongChang for hours. Finally running into a line of running buses on the complete other side of the city. We thought we had made it, that these were the buses that were going to take us home. Yeah that would have been nice. These were Olympic volunteer buses only. The bus drivers finally came out to help us.

They could tell that we needed help, looking rather pathetic, all wrapped up in blankets with minimal clothing on. Neither of them spoke any English, so they pulled a group of volunteers off the bus to assist. After standing there for about 15 minutes trying to understand the Korean conversation happening in front of us they tell us the buses are no longer running and the taxis are finished for the night. Handing us a stack of about 20 hand warmers, the only volunteer that spoke English turns to us and says, "I suggest you find a fire station." About a half mile down the road we wander into this fire station where we find eight firefighters clearly trying to figure out if we were homeless or not.

Kasey and Nick Goepper (Photo: Neeka Matthews)

Multiple Google translation conversations later, two firefighter shift switches, a cup of coffee, and an hour and a half later, we had a solution. By this point mom, dad and little brother, Jason, had fallen asleep on the couches, leaving me in charge of finalizing the plan. Finally at 2 a.m. I woke the rest of my family and two firefighters motioned us to grab our things and head outside to our ride. In conversation they had never mentioned how exactly we were getting home, so heading outside we didn't know what to expect.

At this point we didn't care how, we just wanted to get there. The four of us walk outside and there parked in front of us is the fire station ambulance with an EMT in the driver’s seat and one holding the door open for us. We couldn't help but laugh at the situation we had gotten ourselves in as we all piled into the back. Chris and Jason took the two seats, Linda and I took the stretcher. What seemed to be a lot faster than 45 minutes later we finally arrived to our car, in the parking lot, where it all started.

After a long day of confusion due to language barriers, the only option for the Goeppers to get home was an EMT escort. (Photo: Kasey Goepper)
After a long day of confusion due to language barriers, the only option for the Goeppers to get home was an EMT escort. (Photo: Kasey Goepper)

Everyone here is extremely nice, even though there is very little English and everything is very spread out, all the volunteers and locals are eager to assist and attempt conversation.

Filed under: