62 years ago the government of Colombia decided to back up South Korea in the international war conflict against North Korea with an infantry battalion of 4314 Colombian soldiers. My grandfather Alvaro Pardo was one of them, so he fought for almost a year and happily survived. If he wouldn’t have survived, my family, including me wouldn’t exist.
One day in 2008, my father Luis Alvaro Pardo picked up a phone call and couldn’t hold the astonishment as well as some tears when heard the phrase “Hello Alvaro, I am your father and would like to see you again”. After 40 years of absence that old veteran could find his sons and daughter, and he brought a lot of old photos and war stories to prove who he was. Through that dramatic re-encounter I got to know about his days at the war in Korea. Going back to Korea made me excited and curious about the country, the people and the culture.
Instead of the war ruins he saw in Seoul back in the fifties I found a very gentle city, developed, well organized and beautiful in its cultural heritage. In comparison with the crowded and fast paced city of Hong Kong I must say that I found Seoul very comfortable, with wide public areas open for the Koreans to enjoy an outdoors life, and definitely with much more culture and arts. Theater, TV dramas, fashion, music were noticeable in the streets, and people giving themselves time for that kind of activities makes a huge difference with Hong Kong, a city where business is the priority and there is never time to waste.
It was especially good to see many Korean brands and businesses doing well, many local creations, products, dramas, and clothes. A strong local economy is the essence of a healthy development.
I found Korean people very kind and helpful, and also very shy. One of the good opportunities to get to know them was our visit to “The house of Joy”. It was great to see how they open their arms to us, prepared a whole afternoon of nice activities including a theater play, some singing, magic act, a soccer match and a Korean BBQ. They were very open and friendly, trying to get to know us better and share some of the nice experiences of the Christian faith and the work with the church.
I would like to take this chance to say thanks to MISS, for organizing this trip and I definitely had a lot of fun there. The group was very inviting and opened with me and all of them were kind and supportive.
Lastly, I would like to say thanks to Mr. Kings Ng, Ms. Winnie Chan, Mr. Andrew Chu and Mr. Simon Lau in MISS, for your generosity, for helping me a lot in many different things during my stay in Hong Kong. You have been a very real support for me, always willing to help, to share, to listen to me and to take the duty of helping international students into a beautiful friendship.