While being in Korea, I have met a lot of people. Whether it’s the nice woman on the subway who gave me her seat once she left and asked about my trip to Korea or just people around my university and dorm, looking to interact with more foreigners and people of the same age. There was a lot of people I could write about meeting in Korea, but for this blog, I decided to focus on two friends, I met on campus!
Their names are Park Mina and Yu Junsang. I asked them multiple questions, such as: if they had traveled, why they learned to speak English, and what are someone of their favorite places to visit in Korea. Afterall, it is always a great way to discover a new country by asking natives where they like to go.
For Junsang, he had been around Asia to countries like Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines. He also said that despite the close proximity, he has also never been to Japan. One of his favorite things about Korea is the wide variety of sides dishes to go with a meal (Korea actually has more side dishes than any other Asian country). He said that one thing that surprised him when traveling abroad is the eating etiquette in other countries. For example, compared to the Philippines, the eating etiquette is different because in the Philippines they eat with their hands more. One of his favorite places in Korea is 강화도(Ganghwa-do), a famous island in Korea, because it is a very calm place and it is a very comfortable place. The air is fresher, so it is a good place to eat from food tucks. There are also small street stores that someone can shop at and enjoy. It is also a great place for Hotteok , a Korean honey bread. I asked him his opinion about the mandatory military service for men and he said that he was proud to serve his country by doing the military service.
Mina had also been around East Asia; to Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam. One of her favorite things about Korea was the landscape because there is sea and mountains and plains. Korea has everything. Also, because Korea is a small country, everything is closer, and Koreans can go anywhere for a day trip compared to other countries. She also likes how people are kind in Korea. One of her favorite places in Korea is 통영, which is a sea city and made up of multiple islands. Each island provides a different view and it is, in her opinion, one of the most beautiful parts of Korea.
I wanted to know about some of the concerns Koreans have living in Korea, especially young adults. Mina said one concern, especially for college students, is getting a good job once they graduate. Junsang also said that the air pollution and yellow dust is a major concern, which is why the industry for air purifiers and masks is large in Korea.
The last question I asked, was why they chose to learn English. It is not a major language in Korea and while many Koreans learn it for exams, being able to speak fluently is not necessary. Junsang said that he learned English to communicate and speak with foreigners. Also, knowing English is good for a job and a company as English speakers can get better jobs. It is also a good way to get new ideas through conversations with foreigners. He also said it is beneficial to not need a translator and to be able to read original texts of books because some things can be lost in translation.
On the other hand, Mina has been interested in English since she was young because it was different from Korean. She wanted to know how people think, speak, and their life styles in other countries and she learned English in order to be able to talk to others. She wants to learn more about other countries. And now, she says it is beneficial in getting a better job here in Korea.
That was my conversation with Mina and Junsang! It was very interesting, and I am thankful to them for answering all of my questions. I am always curious as to what everyone’s opinions on different matters are and it was great to hear from the two of them!