Living in South Korea and being a huge KDM fan is both a blessing and a curse. I see amazing Korean cars, hundreds of them, on a daily basis, and I’m even lucky enough to see a lot of models that haven’t made it out of Korea yet.
[ads id=”4″ style=”float:left;padding:9px;”]I have my 2012 Kia Optima SX 2.0 T-GDI here with me and I blend in like a chameleon with the rest of the cars. What a lot of cars don’t have in common with mine is what’s under the hood!
I was invited to the local car meet by my friend Joel Johnson, a fellow US Service Member. The meet takes place every Friday night in a city call Gumi (“goo-me”). My friend and I met up with a couple other locals in our town and we convoyed up to Gumi together. In our pack we had my Optima SX, Joel’s ’13 Optima SXL, a 2009 BMW 535i, and a Hyundai Tiburon Turbo.
We arrived in Gumi at a gas station where all the drivers gathered. My jaw hit the floor as I stared at close to 100 cars including Kia, Hyundai, Nissan, Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, and more! At first the locals seemed hesitant to interact with us, but Joel and I popped our hoods just like everyone else, and very soon we had a crowd around our cars.
The “tuners” snapped picture after picture of my engine bay, while the “cruisers” stared in awe at Joel’s interior. His 2013 SXL has the white leather interior that I can only describe as “the spaceship”!
Shortly after, we decided to go check out the other cars at the meet. We stumbled on the black Kia K5 2.4 (Turbo added) GDI and we were very interested. His car reminded me of John Van Buskirk’s Optima SX. John “Stoli” is the founder of KDM Alliance and arguably has one of the nicest Optimas in the US.
The K5 was completely blacked out, matching LEDs, and an all around very nice ride. He had an unknown model turbo installed, an Apexi Front Mount Intercooler, HKS Blow Off Valve, HKS spark plugs, and an HKS intake. Overall, his car definitely seemed like a fierce opponent. A friend of ours shouted “you two should race!” and the owner of the K5 and his friend agreed!
We saddled up in our cars, he had his friend, and I had two passengers in my Optima. We met at the drag and waited for the lights to flash. I had never performed a “launch” before so I got a 10 second crash course. The K5 got the intial jump on me by almost a car length, but then my Lap 3 custom tune began earning it’s money! I ended up winning my first “race” and we pulled back around to the gas station to shake hands. He was very respectful and his friend challenged me to a race once his car was finished in the shop (This is where Wonted comes into the story). I agreed and we exchanged phone numbers.
All in all, it was a night to remember and I definitely look forward to returning to Gumi and seeing everyone again.