I write these words on the last leg of my journey home from Korea. I normally don’t use the blog to comment on business trips, but given the hoopla regarding the political climate in Korea, I feel this trip to be different.
Many people were surprised that I was going to Korea. “Are you sure it is safe?” they asked. Ironically, many Koreans do not think it is safe for their loved ones to travel to the United States, especially Chicago. One customer confided that his family is convinced he is going to get shot when traveling to America. (Sadly, by the time I landed back in the states, this reality rang true again).
It seems that people from both countries rely too heavily on messages about the “other” that are given to them, as opposed to going and seeing for themselves.
One customer began rambling about all the things they did not like with regards to the United States, especially its politics. Less than twenty four hours later, a different customer went on a rant about how much they liked the United States and its current stance with North Korea.
I listened to both, seeking to understand their points of view, instead of sharing my opinions.
I was reminded that I need to do the same back home. Whether in Korea, or in Chicago, we are still more alike than we are different. If we stopped shouting, started listening —and forgive me, turned off all cable news programs designed to confirm our personal biases —I suspect many Americans would remember this and we wouldn’t be as divided as we currently are.
Like many who read this blog, I am crazy about flexible packaging, spouted pouches in particular! As all of us in the industry know, the flexible packaging market is global. Korea, Europe, Latin America, the United States, and everywhere! The market rewards innovation and effort, thus providing an equal playing field for us all. And the best part is that its progress is tied directly to people from different parts of the world creating enduring relationships.
I absolutely love this!
A final, personal, note.
In the short time I was there, I fell in love with the Korean people. In fact, I have a lot to learn from their hospitality, and graciousness. Given this, I leave even more passionate regarding the conflict between North Korea and the rest of the world. What’s apparent, at least to me through various news organizations, NGOs, and ministries like Voice of the Martyrs, is that the human rights violations in North Korea are real. Moreso, it was apparent in conversations with people in Korea, that the tension existing between the two countries is ever-present. Therefore, I leave more motivated to give, more motivated to pray, and more motivated to use whatever influence I have to spur others to do the same.
While I understand some readers of this blog may not share my personal faith —and all are welcome here—I hope we can all agree that the human rights violations happening in North Korea need to end immediately.
As I have said before, every human being matters.
(Back to my normal blog Monday!)