25 mei 2003

Korea May 2003

Sunday, May 25, 2003
Yesterday I bought the book Korea Unmasked by Rhie Won-bok - a 236-page cartoon about the Korean people, their neighbours, their successes & tribulations and unification wish. It is a must to read this book if you have been to Korea or have plans to do so. I recognize many things about the Koreans and it explains much too.

The expats (someone sent by his/her company to work abroad) here in Seoul say that: the first country you spend more than half a year in, you will fall in love with - and have a love/hate relationship with it. Can it be that I became an "expat" when I was four years old (when I moved to The Netherlands)? I complain about The Netherlands when I am in The Netherlands and I complain about Korea when I am Korea. In both The Netherlands and Korea, I never feel at home completely, but I can feel at home anywhere a little bit. But I hope there is room for another country I can "fall in love with": for example China - since I really want to work for a few years in Shanghai...

Saturday, May 17, 2003
Thursday and Friday we went out of Seoul and had a two-day workshop with the four teams of marketing. On the first day we discussed roadmaps and on the second day we had a sportsday - footvolley and basketball. Even our vice-president participated in basketball!

In the evening, when we went for dinner and noraebang or "singing room", I realized you should always have a song ready for the noraebang. You should really practice singing this song until you can sing it (preferably by heart) and have a "100 score". Since there are no Dutch songs in noraebang here in Korea, my song is "Hotel California" by the Eagles. Now that I study Korean - level low intermediate - in a hagwon (eveningclass) every week again, I realize that one of the good things about doing an internship is that you don't have to study books for a while...

However, what I miss from my previous semester is the opportunity to read papers and magazines for free in a library! I still have to find a public library in Seoul where they have international papers (International Herald Tribune, Financial Times) and magazines (The Economist, Harvard Business Review) .

Monday, May 12, 2003
On May fourth, I went to the beach together with Sumi, Shiva and some of her colleagues and their friends. Although it took a while to leave Seoul by car (6-hour traffic jam), it was great to spend an afternoon on the Mallipo beach and visit the Chollipo Arboretum.

For the past two weeks Seoul has been decorated with paper lanterns of which some were lit in the evening. It was a great sight, especially May 8th, when it was Buddha's Birthday. So there was a big happening in Insadong at Jogyesa, a Buddhist temple. Every lantern at this site had a piece of paper under it with someone's name on it, even inside the temple. Also, there was a major Korean broadcaster filming the whole event: including a group of very young apprentice monks singing a song.

Later that evening we went to Mokdong where people at the Buddhist temple there were just lighting the candles inside the lanterns. After having dinner we went back, but unfortunately some lights had already been blown out by the wind. Nevertheless, the sight was astonishing.

Later that weekend we went to climb Seoul's highest mountain Bukhansan (837 meters high). It took the whole afternoon - but once we were up there we could see how big Seoul actually is. Some "Seoulites" were equipped with survival gear, tents and food to camp for a week (?) on the mountain.

This month Turandot - after Italy, China and Japan, hit Korea. This originally Italian opera by Puccini about a Chinese princess was now directed by the worldfamous Chinese director Zhang Yimou (who also directed the movies "Hero" and "Raise the Red Lantarn"). Whereas the opera was staged in the Forbidden Palace in Beijing, here in Korea the Seoul World Cup stadium was the venue - which means 30,000 people can watch this famous opera at the same time. The whole was show was very impressive.

Finally, last week I confirmed my flight and this year August 2nd, I will fly back to The Netherlands.