Mathew's Realm

The Unexpected Lesson

korea map

It was my early morning bus ride that taught me an unexpected lesson. There were about 30 ETAs and I loading on the bus excited to observe our school visits, while feeling weirdly awake because of the jet-lag. The drive was several hours so I passed my time between staring out the window and making small talk with my “bus buddies.”  Looking to stir the conversation, I looked at my friend’s name tag and asked “Is there a story behind your nickname?” He looked up to meet my eyes directly and I was able to see his excitement. It is moments like these that I love asking questions because you can never predict the limitless possibilities of the conversation. He shared his story, which involved his Korean father and his hippy mother. The conversation became interesting and attracted the attraction of another ETA. Inevitably our talk evolved into a great discussion about Korean history and political relations. I will admit my understanding of the subject was limited, but I was amazed by both my friends’ depth of knowledge. Over an hour had passed and my Korean education had begun. I learned about the Japanese occupying of Korea and the strict laws set-forth in hopes to assimilate and eradicate Korean culture: forbidding the Korean language to be spoken, instituting Japanese language classes in school, and forcing citizens to surrender their family name for Japanese names. I learned Japan lost control over Korea after WWII and the 38th parallel soon became a new reality. I learned that a great tension still exists today between Korea and Japan as the Japanese government still denies the existence of sex slaves and brutal war crimes. I learned many things, but what I learned most is you never know where one single question can lead and how it will impact you … so go ahead ask the question.


This entry was published on July 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm and is filed under Journal. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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