2018, 29th International Youth Forum in Seoul, South Korea
I don’t know how I did it either, but yes I survived my summer with 4 consecutive trips. I am now writing this in the middle of the semester, because I spent my first few weeks suffocating, trying to catch up with life and settling down for reality.
If you follow me, you would have known that I went Korea twice in the past summer. The second time was to attend the 29th International Youth Forum. It was the first forum that I have attended that hosts international delegates from all over the world. There were participants from the Europe continent, which really distinguished this forum from the past ones. (YAY! Meeting Europeans without breaking the bank and buying a ticket to travel there!)
The first day, we checked into Grand Hilton Seoul, located at Seodaemun. The grand and luxurious hotel was where we met each other for the first time and the beginning of our friendships.
The hotel was really fancy, in fact I went crazy when I heard that we were going to be staying in this hotel, which was accredited 5 stars rating. Even though the catch was, it is just ONE night. But I know that I wouldn’t pay for it even if the choice was presented to me.
The agenda of the forum was to discuss the various developments in the field of technology and how, in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution, how the society and youths will be affected. The forum commenced with an opening ceremony and they invited some youths to perform several K-pop cover dances. They performed Pentagon’s Light and Blackpink’s DDU-DDU-DU (my favourite and never sick of it). I was happy to see some familiar faces from past forums! Never thought that I would be able to see them again because we are just so far from each other. The night ended with a feast, of course.
The first couple of days of the forum were filled with lectures and discussions. We had to choose a topic in advance to discuss on and the topic I chose was 'Two Sides of Personal Data Protection’. The reason why I chose the topic was because I recently completed a 3 day workshop on Data Protection during May, and I gained quite a bit of insights from the course and I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some knowledge with the others. Plus, I don’t have to do extra research! I definitely want to enjoy the forum without being overly stressed on the preparation part, so something that I was familiar with was perfect. Hehe.
Each group consisted of 20 members and we had to present our topic after 3 days of discussions. There I was presenting about Singapore’s Data Protection Policy by the PDPA. I don’t think I have ever presented infront of such a big crowd. I was really happy to be given this chance to do so.
All of the discussions took place at the Tong ang Youth Centre, which is filled with a plethora of facilities, from a garden to saunas even. My favourite place within the centre has to be the board game room! We spent nights playing Halli Galli, trust me it was so fun and exciting because the game really gives you a literal heart attack. Now I am going to get this game from Shopee and play it with my friends.
We were joking about how the creativity centre was meant to keep us in like prisoners because of the amount of facilities they provide, we don’t even have to leave this place for any reason. On few of the nights we went out to the city area, pretty much like a Hongdae of Ilsan. The only way to get out was to use KakaoTaxi couple of times to get us there because the centre was so deserted, situated in the middle of farms. Public transportation wasn’t an option. KakaoTaxi doesn’t require a Korean SIM-card / number which is really great for travellers!
After the few days of tapping off my brain juices, I think I deserved the recreation activities prepared for us. We experienced activities and innovations of the 4th Industrial Revolution - 3R pen drawing & flying of drone. I didn’t know the drone could potentially be a killer machine. Yes, it could get you killed, even though we only got to manoeuvre the tiny drones. That was my first drone-flying experience, it was challenging yet fun at the same time. I wish I could afford a DJI Maverik to shoot more videos with a bird’s eye view.
We went Namsan during one evening. I can’t believe it myself too. This is my fifth time (could be more than that) at Namsan, and also by 3rd time this year? It is funny how some of my Korean friends have never been to Namsan before, and this is already my territory. It is though, my first time going at night time.
I could probably give a private tour at Namsan Tower. What I didn’t know was that Namsan has a Hanbok shop that provides Hanbok rental service too. The downside is, you can’t walk around the entire park with the Hanbok. The area is restricted to the photo zones within the store and maybe just right outside the store.
The organiser prepared some culture activities for us and I chose ‘K-Pop Dance’ because I like Korean music #awyeah. If you don’t, I think we can’t be friends. We were given 3 choices, and I don’t know why but I ended up in the Hyorin’s Dally class (Thanks to Cheesu for losing rock, paper, scissors game and I decided to be a bro and tag along as the ONLY other guy).
Okay check Youtube for that song, you’ll find out how SEXY it is… Oh so embarrassing. We had an hour to learn the pre-chorus and then perform it on stage. It was fun dancing again, I guess. I do miss dancing back during the polytechnic as a student 6 years ago.
The instructors for the dance classes were high school students and they volunteered to teach us, really nice of them. They actually skipped school for this!
Instead of the common Gyeongbukgung Palace which is packed with tourists, there were voluntary youth guides to tour us around the Cheongdukgung Palace which is a secondary palace in the Joseon dynasty. My guide was a young girl, who is only about 14 years of age, but she speaks fluent English… I was so amazed! She’s so skilled! She was really good with the historical facts and I learned a few things from her. When I watched the Korean movie “Monstrum”, the movie featured the Cheongdukgung Palace as well, which was very relatable after visiting it myself.
We also visited Digital Media City, the hub where all the media and productions takes place. (I also saw GIDLE recording for a radio show!) We went to a VR experience centre and played VR games and also 4D rides with VR! All the big companies of media are situated at Digital Media City, like SBS, MBC, CJ Entertainment and many others. This is the place to go if you are looking to spot artists.
Many nights were spent talking to my international friends and that gave me new perspectives on things, hearing from them. I was very glad to meet couple of previous foreign participants once again and to seem them still doing so well. This forum not only focuses on the educational aspect, they organisers planned cultural activities for us too, which really was what everyone was looking forward to! Of course I’m no first timer to certain activities, but its about the people I did it with. Hope to meet them again. Here, there, wherever.