Where are We – South Korea 11 (Romance Factory)

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: We don’t have just one guardian angel; we have a battalion of them. I don’t know how many there were when we were about to crash into a truck because the brakes failed, but it must have been more than one. A collision would have caused damage to a series of vehicles.

You could also argue it was the handbrake that saved us, but I like the image of guardian angels more…

Why is it that, when we are on our way to a workshop to get 1 or 2 things fixed, more get added to the list? Maybe it is the guardian angel whispering to us,

Check out this issue as well, now that you have met the kindest people who go out of their way to keep you on the road with that battered vehicle.”

I’m telling you, those guardian angels… Treasure them!

Help on the Ground

Besides help from the universe, we get it from people – this time in South Korea. We couldn’t be more grateful than to Segon Park, Chewan Cho, Changwoo Kim, and Dong-su Pak.

Segon has helped us in so many ways over the last six months. He and his wife Sari hosted us and we could leave our rig safe in the parking lot of their apartment building while we were hiking the Jordan Trail (read here) this winter. Segon and Sari (and little Jun Young), thank you so much!

Chewan Cho and Changwoo Kim run the Romance Factory – how is that for a name of a workshop? Don’t you love it?!

The Romance Factory

Two large halls provide all the space needed to equip and modify vehicles for camping trips. While they can do ‘everything’, as Changwoo says, they focus on designing and installing storage systems. Think storage units/water tanks on roof racks, or drawing systems inside the vehicle.

A couple of years ago, Chewan sold aftermarket parts. It was all about quantity, not quality, and he got fed up with it. Burned out, he quit and went for a long camping trip, which is where he found his inspiration to start a workshop and build products to modify vehicles for camping trips. High quality and a high service are what Romance Factory is all about.

He asked his friend Changwoo to join him in the adventure, and they are finding a market in the increasing number of Koreans who love the outdoors – camping and hiking in particular – and who after their typical super-long workweek, head for nature in weekends (read here).

With Dong-su as the third employee, the team was set on solving the Land Cruiser’s problems – well, the urgent ones, at least.

Fixing the Brakes

The tension was palpable, the energy heavy. For three days I could their brains grinding and grinding, searching for possible solutions to the brake problem. They took everything apart from front to back.

Facebook friends and local friends were consulted, Coen called Rocco – thé Land Cruiser guy in the Netherlands (find him here) as well as Mr. Nakashima – thé Land Cruiser guy in Japan who has done so-o much on our vehicle a year ago (read here).

It was quite an international project!

Thank you all for chiming in, and being part of the solution.

Because yes, after tinkering with the brakes once more, Coen and Changwoo set off for another the umpteenth test drive at midnight (I tell you, Koreans work lóng hours!). From far I heard them coming back, honking the horn, and I know they were celebrating. The problem had been solved.

Time for champagne, but since we didn’t have that, we celebrated with more coffee and then red wine.

Chewan had gone out of his way to receive us, making a little ‘Romance Factory Guesthouse,’ with bunk beds in their lunchroom. Here I type away while the guys are in the workshop, regularly providing them with coffee. Here we share lunch, dinner, and the nightly celebration with wine.

The Problem?

Of course, you are now all dying to know what the issue was… It’s too complicated to tell in short so I won’t try. Coen will have fun penning a full story and we’ll let you know when it’s available for you to read and enjoy.

Here is the link to Romance Factory’s blog. Chewan posted two blog posts on the same topic (here and here); Google Translate doesn’t particularly work well from Korean to English, but the translation will give you a bit of an impression nonetheless on how Chewan is experiencing our presence in his workshop.

For more on Car Talk, check out these articles:

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Thank you for your support — Karin-Marijke & Coen

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