, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 – I have been out of Africa three times and one thing I have realised is that no matter how developed or least developed a country is, its people play the greatest role.
My third trip was to South Korea, courtesy of LG Electronics and I cannot forget the experience of my 5-day stay in the beautiful country and the warmth of her people.
My fellow journalists and I arrive at Incheon International Airport, at around 4pm on a Sunday and from the welcome alone by our tour guide Minji Kwon and her colleagues, it is enough to depict that it is indeed, going to an exciting journey.
Initially, I thought Minji was just warm to us because after all, that is her work. But it was the same case to a majority of the places we visited.
Our VIP bus to Seoul city does not only feel like the Emirates Business Class flight we enjoyed from Nairobi, but Minji makes sure she engages us throughout the one-hour drive to South Korea’s Capital, especially on the country’s history.
“Welcome to Korea. We were here two hours before you arrived and we are happy you have come. Welcome again,” she says, full of smiles, “Anyone who wants a cup of coffee, juice, soda?” It is nine degrees and coffee is obvious, for me. By the time we check in at Lotte Mapo Hotel, have our dinner, I already feel at home.
Throughout the trip we manage to visit LQ Twin Towers, Paju LG Display Factory Tour, the biggest LG factory globally, LG Changwon factory and several unique tourist sites. This does not exclude our experience of night life. Another long story.
In short South Korea is beautiful. From the roads, state of the art buildings and malls, existence of global companies like Samsung ( I did not know they manufacture classy cars), LG Corp. , Hyundai among others.
South Korea became free in 1953 after the end of Korean war and as Minji puts it, “the only thing that was left behind was people and stones. Everything was finished. Almost 6 million people died.”
But how has the country managed to grow that first?
Respect amongst the citizens and leaders.
As we went about our tour, I was curious to know from Minji, why a lot of people we met preferred to bow their heads slightly instead of shaking ours hands. According to her, this was simply a sign of respect.
Every place we entered, the welcome we got was a bow by the person at the entrance and eventually we found ourselves following suit when leaving as a sign of gratitude.
“From time in memorial, our early kings started something called Confucianism. It is was influence from China. Confucianism suggest that all people should respect each other and should abide to ethics. This is one thing that has played a great role to our development,” Minji explains, “For us it is part of life to show respect to other people and it doesn’t bother us.”