I’m told I have very good pronunciation of the Korean language. Today I learned “Imonym mekju juseyo”…meaning “Excuse me, may I have a beer please.” These are definitely words you want at the ready. The annyeonghaseyo’s (hello) and kamsahamnida’s (thank you) are coming easily now. I’ve been asked on several occasions to say Korean words so my new Korean friends can appreciate my relatively authentic Korean accent. Apparently I could pass as a Korean now. I’m still not sure I agree, but I’ll take the compliment.
With that being said, I’m still mostly “lost in translation.” Our translators are doing an amazing job. I’m still in awe of their skill, especially when it comes to their simultaneous translation. I can’t speak and listen at the same time…let alone listen in one language and speak simultaneously in the other. And all of this on topics they’re only beginning to understand, as they’ve been engrossed in conversation with us for the past 4 days. God bless them!
The efficiency of this country amazes me! I was sitting in a meeting this morning when out of the blue the interviewee stops the conversation and asks us if we’re cold. We reply with a casual yes. Within minutes two gentlemen arrive with oil heaters to warm us up. The swiftness with which our needs were addressed was priceless.
I finally got to eat a salad for lunch…this has been a long time coming. I had a happy tummy after the first bite. We followed lunch with a quick stroll through the Olympic Market. We stopped at the end of the market and I got to try deodeok. Deodeok comes from the root of the bonnet bellflower. It is used in many Korean dishes and is also used as a natural medicine. Apparently it is a sister plant to ginseng, but from what I hear…nothing compares to ginseng…which Pyeongchang is well known for.
After work we stopped at Potato Blossom Studio in southern Pyeongchang. What an amazing place! The sole purpose of this Studio, which has been crafted from an old school, is to provide artists, musicians, and local residents with a creative space to showcase and foster culture, education and community. The gentleman who came up with the idea and sponsored its creation is a dynamic individual who is passionate about the region and the people he serves. I am in awe of his dedication and his ability to be so humble among the Korean people. This culture continues to amaze me!
Dinner this evening was a treat to be had! I ate too much…but that’s beside the point. We were graciously hosted for an evening of friendly conversation and partnership.
We were bestowed with a tasting of 8 year-old ginseng. Apparently this is “quite” special. Ginseng root can take 4-6 years to grow. The older it is the more effectiveness it has towards prevention and treatment of diseases and longevity. It’s even good for “stamina”…or so I’m told. Vince Belfoure – you better watch out…my new Korean friends were telling me it’s good for my husband…unfortunately I can’t bring any home on the plane. 🙂
The 8 year ginseng we were privileged to try was served raw with honey for dipping. The honey is meant to take away some of the bitterness, but 8 year old ginseng doesn’t have much bitterness…it’s just plain good! I feel healthier already!
Throughout the evening we were showered with ceremony. The Korean appreciation for protocol and formality dwarfs most cultures I have been exposed to…by far exceeding even my own appreciation and adherence to the same. I truly can’t express enough how majestic you feel when you are addressed or toasted by a Korean. The way in which you are made to feel appreciated and toasted for long life, health and happiness makes you feel like a true blessing has been bestowed upon you. There has not been one moment this entire trip where I have not felt this immense respect and intense focus on true positive energy. I am definitely taking this appreciation and firm belief home with me at the end of my long journey.
Each day that goes by brings me closer to Sunny, Justin, Stephanie, Souvik and Antonio. I know it’s only been a few days…and our true personalities are coming out…but it’s already amazing to see how close we have become. I’m looking forward to continuing to build my new friendships in the coming days. These will truly be lifelong relationships.
Tonight may be the first night I’ve been back in my room and ready to crash before midnight…another long day tomorrow so it’s time to call it a night. Friday is jam packed, with a long working evening but the weekend should present the opportunity for some fun and relaxation. Wish me luck!