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AirMax (ON) by Testonics! (Why we urgently need Korean studies in Groningen)

Date:25 November 2014
Author:Tjalling Halbertsma

One of the delights of visiting Korea, apart from bibimbap of course, is that there is always something brand new to catch your attention. Something so novel it has not reached the outside world yet: an idea, a product or an entire city build on land claimed from the Yellow Sea, with an international global campus on top. Visiting the Korean Studies department of Seoul National University for our masters-students East Asian Studies, the novel experience was nothing less than the formidable AirMax (ON) by Testonics!

This is what happened. Entering the Korean studies institute of Seoul National University, I noticed my feet getting gently sucked to the ground, followed by the familiar and soothing sound of a purring hoover. Or rather, the mat full of tiny red and yellow balls gave way once I stepped on it, resulting in a sticky feeling to my feet.

The receptionist -who appeared to be SNU anthropology student Kim, see picture- kindly explained I was being vacuumed. From below, so to speak.

This is highly original thinking of course, instead of vacuuming the floor, the floor is vacuuming you (picture below).

And it is so simple that it works. When the red and yellow balls in the mat give way, air is sucked from around your shoe-soles into the wonderfully patient Air Max (ON). Mud, dust and water dissappear before you even enter the Korean studies department.

'Great idea', the Korean studies department had figured and ordered a set or two. Air Max is so new, the machine at the entrance even comes with a sign explaining unexpected visitors, what is happening to their feet.

Even better: AirMax (ON) is getting to a store near you, according to the company's website (I was visitor 753):

"For now, we sell AIRMAX only domestically, but you will soon see and experience this product even in foreign countries". For:  "As time goes by, people are getting concerned about their health. Furthermore, people also worry about invisible fine dust ..."


Korea, in other words is a great place, full of innovative ideas and pragmatic engineering. This is precisely why we need Korean studies in Groningen.

Tjalling Halbertsma visits the Korean Studies department of Seoul National University, the Korea Foundation, Pusan National University and Songdo Global University Campus, Incheon, Korea 15-22 November, 2014.