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World March Blog
23 October 2009

The Western Bumpkin

As a good Western bumpkin, before arriving here I knew nothing about Korea. I remembered that Seoul was where they held the 1988 Olympic Games and that there are still military tensions between the North and the South, in other words, I knew nothing. To be honest it was worse than nothing, because the only image that I had of this culture was what came from US war films. I imagined farmers with straw hats, walking in straw sandals gathering rice and in some cases, working in big factories making low-quality electrical products.

My arrival in Seoul broke the ethnocentrism in which we Europeans are traditionally educated a bit more. Kids watching television in the metro on their mobiles, hand-dryers in the toilets playing classical music, advertising screens in the street 20m x 10, quiet and orderly traffic, and really clean streets in which you felt embarrassed to throw away a cigarette end.

Korea has a very developed economy, with qualified professionals and one of the highest levels of literacy in the world.

Even in the rural zones where they really do grow a lot of rice, you can clearly perceive with clarity the technological development and the pulchritude in the structuring of the environment.

Sorpresa 004

Yes, there is a concern for the division of the peninsula; the North with a self-denominated Marxist dictatorship and the South that I could visit, in the front line of capitalism. They see themselves as one culture and take responsibility for the civil war that ended up with the super powers, which use them as pawns in their game of self-interests, dividing them more than 50 years ago.

I have seen a people with an extremely sensitive and educated treatment who have looked after us from the first moment.

I understand that they aspire to develop their culture that started more than 5000 years ago. It doesn’t seem that they need any “Rambo” from anywhere else to come and “save” them.

Sorpresa 002Luis Silva

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