“Korea is the Land of Morning Calm.” said P. Rowell an American traveler in his book. This was an image that represented the last Korean empire. Also H.N. Allen, American doctor, described the Korean people in his book, ‘Things Korean’ like so: “They trust other people easily and are very optimistic”.
Like this Korean people in the past were very peaceful and optimistic. In 1910 Japan invaded and Chosun empire became a colony of Japan. A continuous independence movement developed and the Korean peninsula finally became independent.
However, the Korean peninsula was divided into two parts due to the Korean War. During this time, to foreigners, Korea was very poor and full of orphans. In those days Korea was represented by “Give me chocolate”. To make things worse, a dictatorship arose in Korea. There was no democracy at all. However, Korea achieved the miracle of the Han river.
After this ‘miracle’, Korea became the 11th largest economy in the world. French Ambassador, Philip, described Korea as a ‘faster, more faster’ nation. In this way, Korea had a very dynamic change. So yesterday’s Korea and today’s Korea is quite different. Then, how do foreigners think about the present Korea? Let’s find out through Prof. Susan Pratt.
Q : How did you get the opportunity to know about Korea, a small Asian country? And what was your first impression of Korea at that time?
A : I like to travel very much. So I had booked a trip to Europe for eight weeks and one of my close friends said her cousin had moved here to teach. She came for one year. She traveled all over Asia. So I asked for her e-mail and I mailed her friend in Korea; and got a job.
I hadn’t any plan to come to Korea. It was very spontaneous. My first impression of Korea was pretty good. When I was lost and felt anxious, and if someone saw me, they came up and tried to speak English to help me. Everybody was very helpful, but like everyone it was little scary when at first when I was by myself.
Q : How do you think that your homeland thinks about Korea? A : I think a lot of people don’t know what to think because they think that Asia is Asia. They think that in Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, everybody is all the same. They don’t know that there are distinct cultural differences between Korea, Japan and China. So I think a lot of people in my hometown have no idea about each country in Asia. People don’t know Asia well, they are very misinformed.
Q : When do you feel good about Korean? And when do you feel bad about Korean? A : I have many Korean that helped me. I used to have an oriental medical doctor and he did acupuncture. So they invited me over to their home for dinner and made me Korean food and introduced me to their children. So they became my friends, it was very nice. However, I really don’t like when older people get on the bus or get on the subway and young people do not get up. I don’t like to see that. I don’t understand why these young people will not get up for older people.
Q : Then, advise Korean people frankly on what you think. A : Young people, no matter what, should get up out of their seats on the bus or subway and give the seats to the elderly. And spitting on the ground is really bad. Sometimes you have to spit, so then use your tissue or spit in the bushes, but not on the bathroom floor, on the sidewalk and down the subway steps. And motorcycles should not be on the side walk. It is sometimes very dangerous.