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Hampton/Shaler

Greenfield woman traveling to Seoul to document Olympics

| Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, 8:57 p.m.
Alexis Jabour at Gyeongbokgung Palace during her 2016 trip to South Korea.
Alexis Jabour at Gyeongbokgung Palace during her 2016 trip to South Korea.
Alexis Jabour at Naksan Park during her 2016 trip to South Korea.
Alexis Jabour at Naksan Park during her 2016 trip to South Korea.
Alexis Jabour during her 2016 trip to South Korea.
Alexis Jabour during her 2016 trip to South Korea.

Alexis Jabour, an avid fan of Korean culture, will journey to PyeongChang, South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

During her visit, Jabour, of Greenfield, plans to stay in Seoul, which she visited in 2016. Her love of the metropolis has motivated her to stay there again and take a train to the opposite side of the republic for the Olympics.

“I'm planning on buying tickets to figure skating,” Jabour, 27, said. “I just discovered there is a Pittsburgh native who is going to be in the Olympics as an athlete, so I am going to try to find out what events he will be competing in. He's a short track speed skater.”

She also will attend the opening ceremony, which she predicts will feature a large K-pop, or Korean pop music, concert.

Jabour will chronicle her experiences and conversations with locals and athletes through daily video blogs, or vlogs. Shaler North Hills Library, where Jabour works as a teen librarian, will carry the posts on its website. She also works as a board operator and on-air personality at 100.7 Star FM radio and supervisor at The Waterfront Starbucks. Jabour earned a bachelor's in media management and production from Duquesne University.

“I really like how I interact with people at all of my jobs. I really like being on air at the radio and being like that personality.”

The library staff is totally behind her on this endeavor.

“This is a unique opportunity to have a direct connection to the Olympics and to be a part of the world that many people know little about,” said Beth Lawry, the library's adult services manager. “… Since Alexis has been there before, she has some familiarity with the culture and people and brings her background as well as an openness to new things that will provide insight to a major world event and a different culture.”

Jabour became interested in Korea and K-pop through her friends, who would share music and videos with her. Her favorite groups became VIXX, B.A.P, GOT7, F(x), Red Velvet and EXO.

“I liked their concepts and their fashion and there was dance,” she said. “They have to be so talented — they have to know how to do so much. They have to sing and dance and rap, and most of them can also play a lot of instruments.”

When Jabour previously spent 10 days in Seoul with friends, she took K-pop dance classes, visited the N Seoul Tower, saw Myeong-dong Cathedral and shopped within the same upscale commercial district. Additionally, she saw a musical, visited an indoor amusement park, went bungee jumping and hiked the Seoul City Wall.

Her favorite excursion was to a gender-segregated public bathhouse, in which clients are nude.

“That kind of outside-of-my-comfort-zone experience was what I wanted to do on my trip. Also, it's just really, really relaxing going to a bathhouse.''

Jabour hopes to take additional K-pop classes and hike the mountains and more of the wall surrounding Seoul, during her upcoming vacation. She strives to see some other palaces and take in K-pop groups performing as part of a music countdown-type show.

Jabour said that those close to her are reassured, knowing that she is traveling with her roommate, Roderica Harshaw, rather than alone.

To see Jabour's vlogs from her trip, visit www.shalerlibrary.org. She also will post updates on Instagram at: alexisjabour and Twitter: @Jaboura.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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