Led by Zhang Tingyan, the first China’s Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, a delegation of 194 Chinese youths visited Korea as part of the initial session of the Chinese Youth Invitation Program 2009.
The recent visit of a Chinese youth delegation to Korea marked the first phase of a China-Korea youth exchange program that had been proposed during the Korea-China summit meeting held in Beijing, in May 2008. Under a cooperative agreement with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, headed by Chen Haoshu, the Korea Foundation plans to annually invite 400 Chinese youth to visit Korea (in groups of about 200 every six months), for the next five years.
During their stay in Korea, the Chinese students will attend informational lectures on Korea, meet with relevant figures, experience Korean culture, and tour a variety of local attractions and sites. A second delegation of the 2009 invitation program is scheduled to visit Korea in early November. The following is a summary of one of the Chinese visitor’s thoughts and impressions about Korea and its people.Stylish Fashion
Korean women enjoy wearing bright and colorful clothing made with lightweight fabric. Clothes with collars and sleeves decorated with lace are popular, which seems to suit the reserved demeanor of Korean women. Elderly Korean women care much about fashion as well. They usually wear flowing skirts and matching handbags. Most Korean men wear business attire for work, but casual wear is favored during the weekend. People of all ages dress formally when they attend an important event or a gathering to observe ritual customs.Superb Food
Korean food can be described as “four of more and four of less” – more vegetarian, less meat dishes; more fruit, less green vegetable; more cold cuisine, less hot; and more in number, less in amount. Before the main course, you are served about 4-10 plates of side dishes, including mainly kimchi and bean sprouts. Sometimes, there is only one piece of a particular side dish, but several pieces are usually served on pretty plates in a proper manner. Such well-known cuisine as samgyetang (chicken soup with ginseng) and ssambap (rice with vegetable wraps) are prepared with carefully selected ingredients according to a complex recipe.Everyday Life
Thoughtful consideration is found in even trivial matters of the daily life in Korea. For example, toilets in Korea are carefully and effectively designed. Public toilets at hotels, restaurants, and rest stops are equipped with toilet paper and toilet seats for children. There are often sensor-controlled faucets and urinals, which are hygienic and help to save water. Especially, it is impressive that the light for a toilet stall automatically turns on and off, when the door latch is locked and opened, for convenient and practical use.Thoughtful Assistance
During our stay in Korea, volunteer guides helped us in many ways everyday. The schedule was compact and orderly arranged, and they took the time to give us thoughtful help at all times. As soon as we arrived in Korea, everyone received a badge and map, along with a daily schedule, list of the volunteers, and contact numbers. The map was specially prepared for our visit, with yellow highlights on the map of the routes and destinations during our stay in Korea.
At the hotel in Gyeongju, we were greeted by four welcoming banners hung at the hotel entrance, of which the banner for our group was placed third from the top. The next day, however, we noticed that our banner was placed at the top, because our volunteer guides had convinced the hotel staff to adjust the positions, due to the importance of our exchange program.
On the final day of our stay, we wondered why none of the volunteers could be found as we boarded the flight from Jeju Island to Gimpo Airport, from where we would depart for China. But when we arrived at Gimpo Airport, we saw the volunteers, holding a flag, already waiting for us; they had taken an earlier flight in order to check on the arrangements for our connecting return flight.Korean People
Throughout our stay in Korea, we were always greeted with the bright and friendly smiles of the Korean people. Everyone, from hotel personnel to shopping mall workers and passersby in the street who gave us directions, had a beautiful smile for us, revealing their kind-hearted nature. At the Korean musical “Miso,” the lead characters dreamed of a hope-filled future, while overcoming any difficulty with miso (smile in Korean), whatever the circumstances. I think the smile is a symbol of the Korean people and a representation of their spirit. Koreans seem to naturally smile all the time.
I have heard about the han (sense of remorse or lamentation) of the Korean people, which is attributed to their historical experiences. The han sentiments, however, serve as a driving force and motivation for Koreans to maintain their pride and overcome whatever hardship or difficulty that might emerge. Han is thus a part of Korea’s past and present, along with bringing together and harmonizing the various emotions of the Korean people.