Korea - a modern country with magnificent culture

The Korea Foundation recently provided me an opportunity to visit South Korea and though I spent very little time there, I will never forget the people and their hospitality.
This was my first visit to Korea and my trip was fully funded by the Korea Foundation through the Asean Next Generation Leaders Visit Korea Programme. Between May 26 and June 1, thirteen delegates from Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Singapore were in Korea to build friendships and professional relationships.

Asean media personnel and Korea Foundation officials at Jeju Island in Korea.

On the first day, we arrived in Seoul. I was amazed because I saw that the people were very pleasant and the country was very modern. I stayed in the country for just a week but I could see that the Korean people are very punctual, strictly observe rules and are very hard-working.
Our programme started with a visit to the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History in Seoul, where the delegates learned about the history of Korea. We also visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and learnt about the country’s foreign policy.
On the same day, the group also visited the Korea Press Foundation to hear about the role played by the media, especially the foundation, in supporting quality journalism, helping digital innovations in media, and enhancing informational welfare.
We also visited the National Museum of Korea, located 1.5 km from Yongsan Station. It is the largest museum in Korea and houses precious cultural assets that tell the story of the country’s fascinating history from ancient times to the modern era.
The museum is also near Yongsan Family Park, a grassy wooded area with a pond that serves as a natural habitat for various species of birds and more than 80 kinds of trees.
The War Memorial of Korea, also nearby, is located next to Samgakji Station and 1 km from Yongsan Station. It displays a vast collection of wartime relics.
In addition to galleries with a wide array of national and international pieces, the National Museum of Korea is the stage for cultural activities related to collection, preservation, research and analysis, social training, academic publications, inter-cultural exchange programmes, and concerts.
Visitors of all ages get an opportunity to participate in educational events and quality cultural programmes. For those who prefer to tour at a leisurely pace, the museum grounds have a number of environmentally friendly spaces and rest areas.
We also visited the O’sulloc Tea Museum, and tried to make the local traditional tea. The  O’sulloc Tea Museum, located next to O’sulloc’s Seogwang Tea Planation in Jeju Island, was the first tea museum opened by Amore Pacific in 2001 with the aim of introducing and spreading Korean teas and the traditional tea culture of the country.
Putting together the East and the West, and tradition and contemporary practices, the Tea Museum has grown to become a museum of the 21st century, featuring a variety of spaces, including the indoor garden, Tea Cup Gallery and the Tea Stone opened in 2013.
The museum also has an eco-friendly resting area and a cafe where visitors can enjoy a variety of tasty tea-based desserts. It was chosen as one of the top 10 museums in the world by design boom, the world’s most popular online magazine for architecture, art and design for the beautiful scenery in and outside the museum.
It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jeju, visited by 1.5 million people annually.
We also visited Jeju Island, located southwest of the Korean Peninsula and the largest island of Korea. It is one of the most relaxing vacation spots in Korea, thanks to its unique local atmosphere and beautiful natural environment.
Jeju Island has a moderate climate, and even in winter, the temperature rarely falls below 0°C (32°F). Jeju is a popular holiday destination and a sizable portion of the economy relies on tourism and economic activity from its civil and naval base.
Among the many breathtaking spots to check out on the island, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, Manjanggul Cave and Hallasan National Park are must-visit natural attractions. These are part of the island’s volcanic lava tubes that take up 10 percent of the total land area that is designated by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site.
The weather on Jeju Island was very pleasant and cool. Many Korean people and tourists come here because of the weather and to sample the local sea food.
Every place in Korea is very nice and creates a great impression. This was my first visit to the wonderful country that is Korea and I was very excited to be part of this programme.
It was very enjoyable for all the participating Asean media personnel, and I am personally very grateful to the Korea Foundation for providing me with the opportunity to participate in the  Asean Next-Generation Leaders Visit Korea Programme.

By Phomphong Laoin
(Latest Update June 17, 2019)

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