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 ‘All My Senses Awakened by Korea’s Charms’Some Small Ideas of a Mexican in Love with Korea

When the idea of studying in another country came to my mind, I began to wonder about a couple of questions. The first was: “What would I like to get from another country?” The second derived from a belief that everything in this world has two faces to complete a natural equilibrium, so the second question was the reverse of the first: “What would I like to give to another country?”

A complex answer to both questions arose when I noticed an opportunity to participate in the “2012 Korean Language and Culture Learning Program for Diplomats.” Firstly, I thought that another country always presents another culture, different ways of live, and a completely different perspective about both simple and complex issues, such as daily life, nature, economics, politics, love, and also food and music.

Secondly, I had gained some experience in regard to governmental and international relationships, which has helped me to understand, as a government official, that the best way to establish and maintain a favorable relationship between countries is not always with Agreements or Treaties, or through political speeches. I believe that one of the best ways to attain a positive relationship and enduring friendship is through improvement of the actual and active relations between people. Consequently, what I would like to offer to another country is my own culture and knowledge, by sharing as much as possible, and being a personal bridge between the two nations.

These thoughts served as my motivation to immerse myself into the learning of Korea’s language and culture in order to understand the country and its people. After a short time in Seoul, I came to realize day after day that my desire to acquire specific knowledge about Korean culture was being satisfied, but this only made me want to learn even more.

A Key for Every Door

Special key: The main gate of Seoul National University, which for myself and many others, serves as an entryway to Korean culture.I believe that everything has a purpose and one can eventually recognize the purpose in each thing, even though the purpose can sometimes remain hidden. When I landed at Incheon International Airport, I was tired because I could not sleep during the flight due to my excitement of getting closer to this place, which for the next one year of my life would be my home. A shock of emotions surged through my body while riding the “limousine bus” from Incheon to Seoul National University, where I would stay.

After a while, Seoul National University’s main gate came into view, which someone told me was shaped like a key. Later, I found out that for many people it stands for a key to knowledge, and then I realized that they are right, because for me as a foreigner, and a proud Mexican, it also represents a key to this city of Seoul as well as to Korean culture. So this was the first place where my feet touched the ground in Korea. Indeed, the shape of this university’s main gate is not a coincidence; in fact it represents a “special key” for anyone who wishes to have a deeper knowledge of Korea and meaningful experiences here.

Time Warp

It is just amazing to see how old traditions can coexist with modern technology in all aspects, from communications to architecture on Korean streets, so one can find an illuminated modern building alongside a carefully-preserved, colorful ancient palace. This kind of time warp has come about as a result of the cultural inteactions that continue even today because the Korean people love their country and culture, but they also love learning and adapting whatever it is that can help them to grow as a person and as a society.

Awakening the Senses

A wave of emotions awakening all my senses, the spring flower festival in Yeouido has been one of my most memorable experiences in Seoul. After tasting Korean food, practicing taekwondo, trying calligraphy, listening to traditional Korean music bands, and taking a look at all the trendy fashion on the streets, life simply becomes different with all your five senses shocked and stimulated, and yourself feeling as if having been reborn in another realm. Of course, it is very easy to get lost in a big city, but getting lost in a city like Seoul can be a delight for the senses as you can walk for hours, whether day or night, without worrying about anything. You can just stop in at a coffee shop, or a traditional restaurant, or a karaoke room to feel yourself become a part of it.

Mesmerized with Everything Korean

One of the most notable phenomena that I have observed since I arrived in Korea is the very strong feeling Koreans have toward their country and a special respect and love for their cultural roots and nature. In the face of every pedestrian you encounter on the street you can see a deep sense of national belonging, which gives a unique touch of magic that can make any foreigner instantly feel bewitched. Thus, it is no wonder that many foreigners move from a mesmerized state to falling in love with Korea; this is not difficult at all in view of all the kindness offered by this country, which comes directly into your heart.

Saying Thanks to Everyone

Someone once told me that there are two words that are understood throughout the world regardless of the local language: they are “please” and “thank you.” After living in Seoul for almost two months and having the opportunity to be learn about the Korean language and to experience Korean culture, and most importantly the Korean people, including my teachers, program coordinators, and all those individuals who have given me more than a kind smile, I just feel, and I know, that the best way for me to say thanks to every one of them is to do my best to make the world know that Korea is a very special place brimming with youthful energy.

Finally, I want to say again that my experiences in Korea have been truly exciting and fruitful. Korea has granted me the special key to its culture and an opportunity to live in a kind of time warp that has enthralled my senses in such a way that I am not quite sure for the moment if I am mesmerized or already have fallen in love with this country.

To Korea, I thank you for having people so deeply devoted to you;
because of them, my stay in your arms can be more than pleasant.

Guillermo Raúl Medellín Cázares
Coordinator for International Cooperation
Ministry of Economy, Mexico

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