What I Will Miss about Korea – Harmony with Nature – The Move Day 16

This was probably the hardest adjustment I had to make when I first moved overseas. Coming from a place of great natural beauty, I never believed that man could come in to make adjustments to what nature had made and make improvements on it. It was best in its natural state. All we could do would be to try not to destroy what had already been created.

But then I moved to Korea where there is a different attitude toward nature. I could be wrong about this, but from what I observed, it was man’s duty to shape and mold nature to create a new beauty that could never be achieved on its own. This can be seen all over the place in the hills and rivers of Seoul. On the hikes through the green spaces of the gigantic city, you feel as if you have left the metropolis behind and are now out in the middle of the forest. The city is right around the corner as it weaves its way around these majestic mountains, and Korea did not believe that their living space should invade this natural beauty. Instead they decided to live in harmony with it.

Right when you forget that the city exists, you come to a crest and a clearing where somebody has built a platform and cleared away the trees so you can see a perfect view of the city down below. Nature could not have planned for this moment. It took man working in harmony with nature to make it happen.

When I first arrived to this country, I would take my runs along the river that ran by my house. Seoul is really good about supplying a foot path next to any river, and during the warmer months, it is always filled with people walking, running or biking and enjoying the river, and its surrounding landscapes. I could not enjoy it though because there was a huge crane parked in the middle of one of these waterways picking up rocks and moving them to strategic places. They were not letting the river push into the side of the banks and create the winding path that it wanted to make. I used to look at these moments as a huge mistake that this society was making.

After years of seeing what their meticulous planning and execution brought about and how they created a river that danced and sang while I ran by it, I realized that what they were doing was not such a bad thing. They weren’t trying to destroy nature, but enhance it to work together with it. It is this unique brand of beauty that I will miss. It does not mean that I think that the state of Colorado should do the same thing with the mountains that frame its capital. I’m just saying that it is a different take on something that I can still appreciate for its own style and execution.

I will love both of them for what they have to offer the world, and I thank Korea for showing me a new way to look at nature that I would never have thought of.

What I Will Miss from Korea – the People – The Move Day 14

I have to be honest that I have a love-hate relationship with the people of Korea. There were times that I would have wonderful experiences with random people on the street and feel like I was one of the most loved people on earth, but the next day I would get to experience Korean pride, and wonder why I ever thought this society could ever be considered kind.

But then I think about it, and that is the same truth about any group of people in the world. I have experienced it during my couple of weeks that I have spent in the United States. There are times where I look at something that was a regular occurrence here, and I think to myself that this was something that I really never missed. There are always going to be people that you enjoy, and people that get on your nerves for some reason. But when you look back at the time you spent at a place, you can look at the things that annoyed you, or you could look for the things that you enjoyed about the place. If you look at the things that annoyed you then you will always hate life, but if you embrace the moments that you enjoyed then you will look at your time here with a fondness that makes you know when all is said and done, you truly enjoyed the life you are given.

With that in mind, even though there were some things that annoyed me about Korea, the people were one of the reasons that I will look back at this place with fondness. Even though they may first come across as reserved and cold, when you get to know the Korean people, they have a heart that extends to all people and will go out of their way to make sure that you are comfortable in their world.

I think back to one of my first memories of being out in Korea. It was during the heat of summer, and I wanted to go down to the Ikea to buy some furniture for my new place. I decided that the best way to make it there was to take the subway even though I was advised against doing this. I thought that I had planned things out nicely and was working my way there, but I was finally kicked off one of the trains early because it was going off duty. I was a little lost as to what I should do next and was looking at one of the big maps in the station when I was approached by a kind, young Korean. He asked where I was going, and I told him, and he tried to point out my final destination which I was already aware of. But in the meantime, the new train appeared, and I got on thinking that I was on my way to Ikea. The kid also got on the train with me, and stood in the corner with his phone, and a little pad that he kept writing on.

This is where the kindness of Korea really shined through. When I got off the train to make a transfer to the next train, I was stopped by this kid with a list of different ways that I could make it to Ikea, and which bus or train that I could take. And then he disappeared, never to be seen again. He had spent fifteen minutes on a train to help some random stranger, and I will never forget this kindness.

This kind of generosity extended to everywhere I went. The places where I was a regular became comfortable because the owners would get to know our names, and our drinks or food that we enjoyed even though very few of them could speak English. Some of them even spent time to work on teaching us a few Korean phrases so we could feel more comfortable in the neighborhood, and there were numerous occasions that someone came to my aid when I felt the uncomfortableness of being in a foreign country and trying to figure the ways of my new surroundings.

There are many things that I am not going to miss about Korea, but there are even more that I am going to miss. But the one thing that I will miss the most is the kindness of the people, and the joy that they brought to my life in the four years that I was out there.

Thank you, Korea.