Even if I, in a pure psycical way, now have left the country in the East, it is stucked right there. Right in the middle of my heart. A kind of magical flicker is following me around. A modest blend of taste and light is in the air. A blend that mixes the most ancient wisdom together with all possible modern technique and Manhattan-like surroundings.
Ok, for me to be on a Conference, its nothing new. To be a speaker on a conference is also a pretty common thing nowadays. After years in the field of teaching, library and school I feel seasoned. There for it is a quite relaxed Swede that steps inside Incheon Airport around mid day monday (seven extra hours ahead), a week back from now. Enormous as it is, South-Koreas main Airport Incheon – but with a custom- as well as an passport controller, that are nodding with a smile on their faces, you dont even react on the matter of the big size. Not at that point.
Koreans are known for their hospitality and nice manner, especially when it comes to take care of foreign guests, so to be a speaker from Sweden invited by the countrys ”one and only” National Library for Children and Young adults, its not a disadvantage. Not at all. Korea and Sweden has a strong bond to eachother. It goes all the way back to the Korean war (1950-1953), when Sweden through UN, handed over large amounts of medical equipment, as well as several doctors and nurses. The hospital in Pusan (on the coast-side), built at the end of the war, is well known in both countrys history. You should add here the fact that many South-Korean lifes were saved that way.
South-Korea never forgot about it!
So, the treatment is top hundred, from the first to the last minute of my four day long staying in Seoul: South-Koreas main capital and to that: the forth biggest city in the world. Together with its outlaying areas the City with a big C counting in on the unimaginable number of 25 million people!
That folks is one London or Paris, with four Berlin spread out, one in each direction from the the Downtown Gangnam-district.
Talking about bonds between Korea and Sweden… There is no coincidence that both the King and Queen from Sweden, as well as Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, visited Korea in a tight period of only three years (2012-2015). Co-operation around topics like: enviroment, trading, peace and education are all happening at once. The Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven also visited South-Korea (2013) to have… believe it or not – a look at the Korean education-system.
I can assure you that during the entire trip I felt I was in extremely good hands, having the chance to visit the country, with such a strong feeling for my own country.
Just the fact that a Swedish person does not need to have a Visa entering South-Korea. If the journey is under 90 days and not attend to be focused on work or study, it is only to put the passport in the back of your trousers and get on a plane to Incheon/Seoul.
Here again: The friendly agreement between our two nations.
Picked up on the airport by the hardworking co-ordinating crew with Park and Jason as a special command. Nothing goes wrong after that. The conference own hired bus, with its own driver, going through the traffic from hell. Not one time, more then ten times a day. Sometimes up to six route files in one direction, fullpacked all the time. A never ending 24-hour traffic scramble.
But to notice. Once again. The Koreans, with their modest way of acting, with the I Ching-styled way of behaving. In balance, with a patience coming from another planet. They go with the flow.
Something we in the West are talking about alot, right.
Go with the flow
The Koreans just do it!
That is one of the things I have with me right now. Back home. The manner, the way of acting. The patience. The acceptability.
– Ahh, now I´m back again. I was just home for an hour. Meditating.
Just like that 🙂
Add to this… The positive attitude, and the sence of humour lying there. Not always seen in clear sight, but its there, all the time, bowling under a layer of ordinary, what we often like to call surfaces. And to that: The engagement to the field. The pure love shown to the proffession. The ability to stand up straight and be proud. Just for the cause of it. The generosity… and then the thing that made the strongest impression on me: Koreans currage.
To stand up on a stage, just speaking out to the audience, being involved in a deep conversation with important people around, or pointing out strange objects on one of the many cruises through crazy Seoul, or to ask questions to the speaker-set of the conference Symposium #10, where 250 people are gathered together, people from the whole library field, unknown people from all over the country…
… To over and over again have the currage to say: We are not there yet. We are dreaming about a change. We want things to be different. We want things to happen. Right now. Can you help us?
That is the one single thing impressing me the most on this journey of a fairytale. The Power of the people. The Koreans.
To put all this in an even deeper perspective. Look at the history of the country Korea. Where the ”so called” neighbours China, Mongolia and Japan have raped the country and its people, over and over again. Where Korea everytime has been forced to build up and create a new society. Again and again and again. That is one strong people folks!
In the next part of this blog-serie covering my visit to Korea and Seoul, as one of the speakers on Symposium #10, being the representative one from the good feelow-nation Sweden, we will have a look at some of the backside matters, such as: the growing population in the main-area of the big city Seoul. Also how the school system is about to take a new turn at the same time as it is hold back strongly, of a tradition filled with hierarchic structures, where a economically well-nourished country (#15 in the World) at the same time lacks when it comes to natural ways of co-operation and free-space for the people working in a field like: Library and School with Children and Young adults.