Last Trip to Korea

I just happened to come across the 1stopKorea website and found it to be very entertaining as well as informative, hence I decided to write a short column about my last trip to Korea. Since immigrating to the "Great White North" with my parents about 18 years ago I had only visited Korea once before.

The most recent trip I took was last August for 2 weeks. The trip itself was very short for visiting a country that has so much to offer. I was flabbergasted by the changes the country had gone through since '89, the last year I had visited. I was taken aback that there are so many different nationalities residing in Seoul. The term 'Hermit Kingdom', no longer applies to this country anymore.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, but sure enough one incident managed to spoil the trip for me. The incident happened inside the subway train one morning, where I happened to listen in on a conversation between two Caucasian guys. I suppose they thought no one in the train understood English, hence they were carrying on a conversation as though they were the only ones in the train. The profanities they were using in combination with their derogatory comments about Korea and its people regarding everything from the unsanitary conditions of public washrooms to how 'easy' Korean women are really upset me to a point where I told them to go back to where they came from.

Don't get me wrong, I am not the kind of person who goes for an "eye for an eye" kind of resolution to every confrontation, yet I was kind of taken by the fact that these guys were carrying on a casual conversation regarding matters that no one would dare say in the West in public. I come from an immigrant family, so when I was growing up I remember being told to get out of the country by school bullies, yet in those incidents, the comments were provoked through no fault of my own.

I am not saying that every foreigner currently residing in Korea is as ignorant and backward as those two I faced in Korea, in fact I believe they were American GIs enjoying a night on the town. Overall, I found the foreigners in Korea to be incisive, kind and understanding of Korea and its people. I hope everyone residing in Korea comes away with the same feeling of fulfillment and a better understanding of its people and culture like I did.

Chuck Choi


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