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During 12 - 15 October 2005, I was granted a great gift; a business trip to South Korea; the country of morning calmness. According to some sources, Koreans are descendant of god and bear (i don't know how). God makes them elegant and wise, bear makes them square and tough.
I took a flight from KLIA, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia at 00:45 (12-october-2005) and touched down at Incheon, Korea on around 7:45 AM (12-October-2005). Even though I slept on the plane but yet I felt the jet-lag.
I finally understood what is jet-lag; it is due to the fact that air-stewardness try to wake you up at the wrong time to eat something.
The journey from Incheon airport to Seoul took around an hour. We were rushed to the hotel and was ordered to change into formal dress quickly because the traffic jam of Seoul, Korea is pretty bad.
But traffic jam is good for us because it provides opportunity for site-seeing. We weren't planning to go to office anyway!
It is a great city, personally I have never seen any city that beautiful. Singapore is okay, Kuala Lumpur sucks. I am not good at describing cities, however in all, the combination of mountains, well planned city management and nice architecture of the buildings cater for a wonderful city.
The first exhibition we got into was the WCEC(World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention) 2005.
It was organized to enable collaboration between korean and chinese companies. As a result of such spirit, I actually encountered a few chinese speaking Korean.
Nothing great that I can remember except for the free lunches at 3rd floor.
For the first time in my life, I got to eat Korean food and of course kimchi; a free and cheap Korean-mandatory food made out of vegetable and some spicy source. In fact there are like 200+ types of Kimchi according to my tour guide for the D.M.Z (Demilitarized Zone)
At night, I was taken to eat the claypot rice which could be presented in many formats (vegetarian, beef and etc) It was hot and spicy and it cost me around RM40 for just one meal. Thankfully, the drinks and Kimchi was free and always is.
Eating normal noodles by the road side cost me around RM8 (2K won)
The best part about Korea is its civilized culture where it is filled with high moral values. Out of the total 48 millions population, 20 millions inhabited in Seoul. I saw people walking on the street at 11:30PM and still feel fresh because it feels like morning.
I have a few arguments to serve as my basis for saying that Korean have high moral values.
1. Traffic System - the roads have no divider in the middle to separate east and west lanes. This is because they allowed for vehicles to take U-Turn at appropriate spots and thus having fixed divider would take that privilledge away. But due to their high moral values, no one actually takes short-cut at the wrong spot.
2. Crime Rate - People walk on the street up to 12 AM. According to some sources, the highest percentage for crime comes under the category of "drunk and fight", not much of robbery and theft which are usually carried out by foreigners. This could also due to the fact they Koreans are entitled for social subsidies.
3. Weather - the weather affects people's thinking and hence mindset. Everybody is having a clear conscience and direction in life. For obvious reason, people don't actually suffer from frustration and wrath related social illness, the weather gives one calm and steady bless. Also the weather makes them a stronger human being than other races, this is especially true comparing to Malaysian.
4. Patriotic - My tour guide for D.M.Z kept mentioning that South Koreans are proud of the subway systems, Ginseng, Korean girls and kimchi (a common Korean dish).
5. Being the "South" Korea - South Korean often compared themselves with the North Korean and is proud that democracy has taken them thus far.
With all these factors, I have no reason to doubt that South Korea is now an advance country and I think they deserve the place. According to my organizer Mr. Kim, South Korea had nothing 30 years ago, the Korean war destroyed everything and now they created a wonder.
The big guys are Hyundai (whose founder is actually a North Korean), LG Digital, Samsung, SK Telekom and etc.
I have seen universities building robotics and etc. The apartment that I lived in (Co-op Residence) has got a LG Digital TV cum Computer monitor which allows me to watch T.V and also go online at the same time. This is the reason why 90% of population uses the Internet. This actually reflects how successful the telecommunication sector is. I think that percentage includes those who uses 3G for emails and some mobile ATM.
Korean girl gives me the impression of being too serious. They are elegant creature but I am just not sure how to attract their attention. The fact that they walk on the streets with such great self-esteem, I can't possible stop one and say "hi, how r you ?"
Nevertheless, Korean are actually very friendly, civilized and highly morale people. I felt that they have the right mindset for success and being patriotic. The good weather gives them the ground to have a positive thinking because cooler weather calms one down and hence no anger, hatred and jeolousy arises.
My translator(Josh Jan) taught me a few things:
Gam Sa Hap mi da = Thank You
Je Song Hap mi da = Sorry
Ang nyang ha se yo = Hello
yue gi you = Excuse me
I love u = I love u
Korean likes to mention the word "hap mi da".. just like the japs who say "...gato.."
D.M.Z (Demilitarized Zone)
This is the most profitable official tourist attraction for the country. The D.M.Z is actually the border between North and South Korea, two nations separated by different ideologies; democracy and communism.
The D.M.Z is where both sides are not allowed to be having any armed military stationed. The government of South Korea encourages civilian to live near the D.M.Z where they work as farmer for living. Their annual income is USD100 according to my tour guide. The idea of having civilian activities is actually to encourge the process of reunification after the Korean war. The Olympic game was also another element of reunification.
The Korean war and its history has high impact on the Koreans. Both side are always ready to withstand attacks from one another. North Korea, being the pro-activist has always been plotting strategies to evade South Korea effectively. One of their weapon is to make use of tunnels digged underground via the means of explosive dynamite to allow for army invasion. (The border is only 1 hour drive from the capital city) Up to date, 4 tunnels had been located and the North Korean denied responsibility. Therefore, Korean men upon 18 years of age has to serve the country for a mandatory 2 years military training.
I like South Korea because its people have the right mindset and attitude for life. In buddhism point of view, this is the most fundamental element for success. Having visited the country, I couldn't help but to remind myself to always maintain a great attitude for life and leverage on the Korean spirit.
Link to other photos