In the land of legends, South Korea

South Korea is a lot different from its southern neighbor also from the rest of the Asian countries. I’ve finally managed to experience such difference. Visiting South Korea has always been one of my dreams. In Incheon airport I saw where many of my favorite dramas were shot, in Seoul streets I imagined my favorite singers strolling these streets. In Gangnam I relived that popular song that invaded the world.

In South Korea the charming nature is blended with futuristic technology. On a side you find (SK Telecom) preparing for the future. On the other you find monks and priests living in solitude by the nature. South Korea got the best of both worlds.

After a 13-hours flight, I met with South Korea, the Arabic delegation, and the main staff of AsiaN in Korea. The Arabic delegation consisted of (Ashraf Aboul Yazid from Egypt, Radwa Ashraf from Egypt, Metin Fındıkçı from Turkey, Abderrahim Allahm from Morroco, Saeeda Zoghbi from Tunisia, Mohammed Saif Al-Rahby from Oman, and Najwa Zahhar from Jordan). Of course the AsiaN staff’s head is Lee Sang Ki, working with a number of capable journalists and editors.

The first day passed by smoothly between knowing each other and getting dinner in a traditional Korean restaurant and strolling the streets of Seoul. The generosity of the Koreans and their welcoming attitude was visibly shown.

The next day we went first thing in the morning to the AsiaN office located in a building sponsored by Samsung Company which includes many other facilities and corporations. In the office we met the rest of the small staff, it was amazing how that this small staff could run a website in three languages. We talked about the Arabic version and our vision and how we thought it should be. We shared a lot of ideas.

But the main event of that day has to be the “Nuclear power usage” conference which we took part in. As everyone of the delegation had a paper made of his point of view about the issue of the nuclear power. We attended it beside the staff of AsiaN, many experts of that issue from many Asian countries including Andrei Lankov. Despite the difference of all the people who attended, they all agreed on that nuclear power should be used in peace.

Through the day, whether during the lunch at the Persian restaurant or dinner, we met many important figures. Like, Kim Hak-joon, president of North East Asian History Foundation; and Hong Seoung-yong, Vice chairman of presidential advisory council of education and technology.

The next day we started our morning with visiting SK telecom museum. I can simply call that place as a window on the future. One of the things we saw during the tour was the wall/screen that can go between being a pretty scene to a video call device. You can through it do your job, check your emails, know the news, watch movies or just relax in front of any scene you choose. There is also the option of controlling your car, as you can simply sell electricity to a passing car or reserve in restaurant. These amazing technologies and more than that would be available in the near future through your cell phone.

After that we went to (Nabi Café) which is run by Roh Soh-yeong, the daughter of the former Korean president. It’s typically an art center/library. They have a digital library; they write and perform their own plays besides many other cultural events. It was amazing talking to her and hearing how this has always been her dream.

Maybe the highlight of that day was when we met the great Korean poet Ko Un who was nominated for Nobel Prize. Some of his works were recently translated by Ashraf Aboul Yazid, who was interviewed there by the Korean television and talked about his experience in translating him. Meeting him was great we even had the chance to get a picture together and get signed copies.

After a nice dinner by the sea and the singing voice of a Korean singer in our ears, we woke the next day ready to hit the road and explore Korea’s nature and start our journey to Manhae Village. Manhae Village was made in honoring that great monk that’s cherished in all over Asia. The Manhae Prize now which is given peace, literature and arts is an equivalent to Nobel Prize. The museum there has some of his poems, poems written by others like Ko Un, mayor of Seoul … etc.

There we met a monk and a poet named Cho Oh Hyun. He’s a great poet that we even had the chance to get some of his works signed by him. He was so nice but sadness coated his speech as most of it was about death and how he was waiting for it.

Later on we visited one of Samsung’s headquarters, and saw some of their new technologies. We even had the chance to see a device that has only been out for two days. Samsung is really trying its best and that appears in their technologies and headquarters.

That day was full of mportant meetings, as we met Nam Sang Ahn, president of Korea institure of Energy technology evaluation and planning. Our meeting was in The Islamic restaurant Safroon, and we taled about many topic concerning Middle East and its relation with Korea, AsiaN and its Arabic version and so on.

Our next meeting was with Charm Lee, President of Korea Tourism Organization, who was German. But being not Korean has its many advantages in the field of tourism, as he would look with the eyes of a tourist, so he would know what tourists would like to see in Korea the most. We talked with him a lot and we found out that he visited most of the countries we came from.

Our next stop was the building of Chosun media, most specifically the newspaper of Chosun Ilbo and we talked with many journalists there. One of the journalists was, Roh Suk Jo, whose name in Arabic meant “Bird” who told us that he studied in Cairo, and talked with us mostly in Arabic. That had a big effect in deepening our relations and the AsiaN Arabic version relations too.

We finished meetings for that day also our trip to Korea with meeting the committee responsible for organizing 2014 Incheon Asian Games. We had a lot to talk about besides watching many videos about the games and their mascots. It was nice to know them since these games aren’t only for Koreans, but for whole Asian countries.

Then it was time to say goodbye and go back home. Though our schedule was full and tight but it was such unforgettable journey. The people we met there were really special and their generosity made us forget how tired we were. I hope this would be an amazing start for AsiaN Arabic version.

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