We arrived from Singapore in the midst of Seoul’s winter, and we really felt the difference. Seoul was the primary purpose of the business trip and so most of our time was spent in meetings. I was there to see Yoons English School, an amazing developer and publisher of English-as-a-foreign-language teaching materials.

It’s always disorientating to be in a new city for the first time. I’ve got to know London, Singapore, Bristol and others so well that they feel like a second home. Seoul was completely new, and it felt foreign in a way I hadn’t experienced before.

Outside of the main tourist areas, signboards don’t carry an English translation. Unlike in Europe where I can piece together bits of conversation with my rudimentary understanding of a few European languages, Korean is entirely different. The result is a fish out of water feeling which is a really interesting experience.

Fortunately my business partner and friend, CJ, was on hand to guide us through this. CJ speaks excellent English and provided continuous translation of conversations, restaurant menus and signboards.

On a day that we didn’t have too many meetings, we took the opportunity to explore Seoul.

We got to experience falling snow for the first time in our lives! Too bad Ben won't remember it.


Braving the snow storm, we made our way to the Hunminjeongeum statue which commemorates the Korean written language. A plaque at the site reads:

The language of our people is different from that of the nation of China and thus cannot be expressed by the written language of Chinese people. Because of this reason, the cries of illiterate peasants are not properly understood by the many in the position of privilege. I feel the plight of the peasants and the difficulties faced by the public servants and am saddened by the situation. Therefore, twenty eight written characters have been newly created. My desire is such that, each Korean person may become familiar with the newly created written language of Korean and use them daily in an intuitive way.

We ducked into a restaurant for lunch and when we emerged the city was under snow...

Korean Barbeque


Departing Incheon

After five fascinating days in Seoul, it was time to head back to Singapore and onwards to the island of Batam, Indonesia.