Don’t be afraid if you do not understand French, this starting blog will be written in English…
In fact I have not yet authored any blog, but this new journey in South Korea seems to be the right opportunity to (try to) start a blog. When I am speaking about a new journey, I would rather say a new challenge as I am honored (and lucky) to be part of a Smarter Cities Challenge for the city of Busan in South Korea, where we will dive for three weeks in the mystery of Emergency Management. We are a team of five IBMers, coming from different horizons, with different background and different skills: exactly what is looked for in order to build a team revealing all the facets and talents of IBM.
Starting with the ladies:
- Madhuri Chawla from Canada
- KeeSeon Noh from South Korea
- Anthony Arcuri from the USA
- Sebastian Taylor from Norway
- Frédéric Bauchot from France, member of the IBM Academy of Technology #ibmaot.
I do not know if I should call this first part of my blog “Day 1” or “Day 0”, just because the last two days collapsed to form a single looooong day. Wake up at home at 5AM, two hours earlier than the alarm clock, maybe my body was willing to try reducing the anticipated jet lag to come. Then leaving home at 7:30AM, my wife Marie-Noëlle driving me to the airport of Nice Côte d’Azur to catch a flight taking off at 9:30AM, for reaching my connection in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport for the flight to Seoul. This was a long but comfortable flight (thanks Air France !) landing in Seoul at 7:00 AM local time. So with a jet lag of 7 hours, this means landing in Seoul by midnight, France time: the night was short, very very short as I managed to only have a 2 hour long nap.
Immigration and customs went relatively fast in Seoul airport (JFK airport should learn from Korean best practices….), and I was warmly welcome by Joanne Fernance and Yongwhan Kim from Australian Business Volunteers. Then a 45 minute drive to reach the Conrad hotel where I received a room on the 28th floor.
At 1PM I met with Sebastian and Tony for a first joint immersion in the Korean atmosphere. We took the tube for visiting three places within Seoul. If I have something to remember, I would not quote a specific area or temple or palace, but rather three different “impressions” which, I believe, revealed some characteristics of the Korean population:
- Everything is clean. Weather you are on the streets, in the metro or in private buildings, you will not be able to find something dirty. Same remark for the way people are dressed: always with neat clothing, whatever the style or fashion they follow.
- Everybody is disciplined: nobody crosses the street if the traffic lamp is red for pedestrians, people are gently waiting in front of elevators or staircases, and the driving behavior is smooth.
- People are willing to help you. In two instances, one in the tube, the other in the street, when we were giving the feeling that we were somehow lost, somebody offered his/her assistance to help us finding our way. I never saw something similar in Western Europe or North America, where courtesy is really behind what we experienced in Seoul.