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“Learning lessons through travel in Korea”
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“Learning lessons through travel in Korea”

Erandi Thanippuliarachchi pucA visit to the Republic of Korea gave Erandi Thanippularachchi, 23, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Sri Lanka, opportunity to learn about culture, history, and how a nation can develop its potential. 

The moment we stepped into the Republic of Korea, we were amazingly greeted as “Anna ye Seiyo” with friendly and beautiful smiles.

Seoul is a clean and beautiful city, and the centre for Korean activities. This program was designed by the NIIED (National Institute for International Education) and hosted by Dongguk University Gyeongju to extend knowledge and awareness about Korean culture and practices to undergraduate students from major partner countries. This happened during the summer season in Korea, where we had the opportunity to get the feel of the serene beauty of the environment.

After being served with amazing Korean food, we travelled to the Dongguk University, where we were provided with all the lodging and sanitary facilities we needed. Our tour took us to the Namsan Tower,  after heading to high grounds of the city. The Tower was on the highest peak and surrounded by green lands from which  the view of the whole city could be seen beautifully. There were mild winds, and the wonderful architecture of Korean buildings could be seen.

Amongst the things we experienced in Korea, the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea was a legendary construction. Resemblance to the old architectural patterns in Europe and the United States was evident, and the complex was located in an open-ground area full of green scenery. An employee of the Assembly premises explained to us the proceedings of the legislature of Korea and of the parliament as well. After the visit of National Assembly of the Republic we visited the national museum, which had the portraits of past presidents of Korea and all the traditional monuments that explain the history of Korea.

Insadong market, Cheonggycheon , Dongdaemun Market and Dota Mall are the most distinguished places in Korea for a wonderful shopping experience. They have all kinds of Korean traditional items for reasonable price levels, which is a great attraction for visitors and foreigners alike.

Gyeongju was full of natural serenity and landscapes, as well as some small cities and villages. Korean history is thought-provoking because of the process that Korea went through the decades: Japanese invasions, the Shilla kingdom, the 1950s conflict and other landmark events. As with Korean history, the Korean language is also amazing because of their warm pronunciation and letters.

Korea has the utmost respect for historical places that contain tombs of emperors of the Shilla Dynasty.  Graveyards are silent and proudly honour the tombs of warriors and other heroes of their freedom struggle. Light poles along the passages, which emit a traditional music, create a more historical atmosphere inside of the graveyard. The tombs are in forms of little hills made by Koreans to protect them from the attacks of war.

The night was always yet too young in Gyeongju, considered one of the most romantic places for thought. Site Imhaejeon, with its minor historical buildings, gives life to Anapji Pond. Colourful lights are reflected on to the pond, enhancing its beauty even more.

The miracle of the Han River is the process Korea went through to achieve its overwhelming economic progress out of all its economic crises and conflicts, and yet the nation managed to gain stable micro and macro-economic status in the world. The steel industry is considered as the key of economic success in Korea, where they made the world unable to exist without them. Posco is the steel producing company situated in Pohang. Posco, which carries the theme “Resources are Limited, Creativity is Unlimited”, was like an entire city committed wholly toward steel making. Pohnag University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)  produces skilful and talented engineers and technicians for the steel industry.

Yangdong Folk Village is a beautiful ancient village with a stream running through it, where the people were very skilful in making candy items. Houses of the villagers are more than five hundred years old, and their perfection has yet not been corrupted by technology.  Shilla Millennium Park is in the memory of the Shilla dynasty, and dragon monuments have been highly influential in past years. Also most interesting are the Korean martial arts of Summudo and archery, which were taught and practised in Golgulsa Temple. The participants were highly skilful in most of those aspects, and could amaze all visitors.

Another key place that caught my attention is Ulsan, where Hyundai Motors is located. They exhibited the evolution of Hyundai Motors, which was an extremely interesting visit. It showcase their creativity and determination toward innovation.

The visit to this developed nation taught me many things. We developing nations still lag behind, even after many years of independence, and that should be a factor to be looked upon when comparing with the countries like Korea. Although it’s not a Commonwealth country, as a Sri Lankan I’m corresponding about the Republic of Korea because  of the lessons we should absorb for ourselves to enlighten us toward better development.

Photos: courtesy of Rean Combrink, Erandi Thanippuliarachchi, Karrar-Al-Shamray

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About me:

I am determined and ambitious; ready to take up any challenge. A former journalist, I’m studying law at University of Colombo and doing freelance writing. I believe the youth is the fruitful future of any country and the positive anticipation of the developing world.
I love observing people, their nature and writing about them. I am a wannabe photographer. I swim, do athletics, and sing. I consider myself as a genuine social worker. Writing is simply my passion.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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