From Korea with love [Archives:2005/861/Last Page]

July 21 2005
Photo from archived article: photos/861/lastpage1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/861/lastpage1_1
By Raidan Al-Saqqaf
For Yemen Times

Little we know about South Korea, apart from your Hyundais and Samsungs, Korea is a land of art & science, a place for trade & education, and above all, destination for fascinated minds and minds to be fascinated.

I started my visit to Korea with a number of misconceptions, the first was comparative hostility like that experienced in the west, the second was language and cultural barriers, and the third was in the cost of living.

However, once I arrived at Incheon Airport, I was surprised to experience the great courtesy of airport authorities, starting from the two minutes needed to obtain my entry Visa, all the way into experiencing the city and living the diligent life of the Korean People, their respect to other cultures and nationals exceeds that of our neighbors here in the Arabian peninsula.

Apart from respecting other nationals, their respect for one another is an interesting ethnography to notice, I was impressed with the public-bus driver who drove us from the airport into the city center started the trip with a bow, followed by a welcoming speech to his humble bus promising to make this trip as comfortable as possible, and again welcoming us to the city and wishing us a pleasant stay in Seoul.

The sincere wishes were strong enough for me to love this Korea and the Korean people.

Arriving at Seoul, my Camera couldn't stop photographing the artistic nature of the city, an interesting blend of culture, contemporary arts and dynamic movement at the busy grid of streets which flow transversely through a mixture of architectural genius, that host the driver companies of Korean economy.

Crossing the Hann river to the northern side of the city, I witnessed history that made Seoul what it is today, the classical architect in the back alleys tells you a different, equally interesting story about Seoul, I walked across the back alleys of the older parts of Seoul, only to see presence of history reflected in the absence of the freshness of the southern side of the city, a good chance to test the extent of cultural and linguistic barriers, as I walked into a local store to buy batteries for my Camera, to find a young lady, I was surprised to hear sweet voice mumbling the cost in English, so I took the challenge further to a street vendor who served some kind of food; he unsuccessfully tried to explain to me what kind of food he was selling, but I appreciated the attempt.

Shopping isn't really a pleasure of mine, however my curiosity led me to browse through their markets, from conventional everyday markets to the up-town shopping malls, whatever your budget may be you will ultimately find a good bargain, especially during discount seasons.

Although my visit to Korea was short, the experience has enriched my understanding the East Asian culture, and falling in love with it.