Experiencing Kindness from Korean People

Korean people

foreign-correspondent badge finalI’ve just returned from a week traveling around Korea and I am at a loss for words. Last night on Skype, my parents asked what I did and saw and my mind went blank. I packed a lot into the seven days I was away and yet I couldn’t express it to anyone.

I stood, mouth agape, at the base of a temple that was carved into the side of a cliff. I hiked along a fortress wall in the mountains, and I rode on a cable car where I took in 360-degree views of almost 200 different islands.

As it turned out though,  this trip wasn’t about the sights. I felt like for the first time, since I arrived, that I really got to experience the kindness and hospitality of the Korean people.

A stranger helped me when I couldn’t get through the subway turnstyle. An old man on a bicycle rode past, came to a stop and smiled. “Welcome to Korea,” he said before riding off. A young guy helped me get on the right bus when I clearly looked totally lost. I was given free food in restaurants and experienced an abundance of random kindness from strangers.

The pinnacle of it all came on the last day of my trip when I stopped at a Buddhist temple to admire the buildings. A monk came over and asked if my boyfriend and I would like a picture with both of us in it. Then he invited us in for coffee. It was an experience that I’m still trying to process – the ceremony of it all, the gifts we were given, the honor I felt in sharing such a beautiful moment. I think I was quiet for the rest of the day (a rare treat for my boyfriend, no doubt).

Korea is a stunningly beautiful country: the mountains, the rough seas, the islands and the many shades of green. I am in awe every time I’m lucky enough to see another piece of the beauty, but I think I feel luckier for witnessing the true gems of Korea — the people.

About Laura Bronner

Laura BronnerLaura Bronner is an American girl addicted to life abroad. After graduating from college she set off on what was meant to be a year of travel. That was four years ago. Since then she has lived in New Zealand, Australia and now calls South Korea home. You can follow along with her experiences on An American Abroad

One thought on “Experiencing Kindness from Korean People

  1. Rachel Sales
    Rachel Sales
    August 12, 2014
    Reply

    It’s incredible how much has been written about the kindness of the Korean people! Another article that comes to mind is Danielle Fraser’s piece about how friends and complete strangers opened up their arms to her when she had to get surgery in South Korea: https://pinkpangea.com/2014/06/surgery-in-south-korea/. What in the culture do you think makes people so warm?

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