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South Korean expat loves Taiwanese lifestyle

2017/03/19 21:06:04

Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Taiwanese know how to pursue their dreams, manage their lives and enjoy life, which is more impressive and energetic than South Koreans, who tend to study hard in order to find a good job, according to one South Korean expatriate.

Noh Hae-rang (盧開朗), a native of Daegu and a Ph.D. student of communication at National Chengchi University who has been in Taiwan for 14 years, said some South Korean public infrastructure works are modeled on Taiwan's infrastructure, such as bus-only lanes and the flashing walking man signal at pedestrian crossing in Seoul.

Noh, who married a Taiwanese woman, said his "image of the Republic of China" first came from the TV drama "Justice Pao" (包青天), when he was a middle school student. He thought Taiwan, with its small size, was a democratic and free place among all Chinese speaking areas.

One of Noh's roommates in college told him that "Taiwan has a complicated history, similar to South Korea," which made him start to learn Mandarin Chinese. His Chinese teacher encouraged him to study in Taiwan.

Noh arrived in Taiwan one month after he finished his obligatory military service on a one-way ticket, because he wanted to be able to book a ticket home through a local travel agent on the phone.

Noh said that he found learning to speak and write Chinese to be tremendously difficult. In order to express himself academically, Noh has to look up words online but sometimes finds entries from mainland Chinese sources and cannot make his points in course discussions with fellow students and teachers, which makes him feel that he "is still a foreigner."

Noh calls Taiwan his "first love" and that he likes living here, but he added that many locals have ambivalent feelings toward South Korea. "Some people tell me they have traveled to South Korea and love to eat kimchi, but actually, they hate South Korea."

Noh, who intends to make a career in Taiwanese academia, expressed hope that more interaction and knowledge between Taiwan and South Korea will lessen some of the misunderstandings and animosity.

Noh is also a tourism ambassador of Daegu City, an inland city in southeastern South Korea.

With a population of some 2.5 million -- the fourth-most populous city following Seoul, Busan and Incheon -- Daegu has been variously called "city of apples," "city of textiles," "city of fashion and clothes," and "city of coffee."

There are direct flights from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Daegu International Airport, which take about two hours. The city has convenient transportation and is good for backpackers, said Noh.

When going abroad for sightseeing, Taiwanese like to pursue new places and new challenges, Noh said, inviting Taiwanese to visit Daegu.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Kuo Chung-han)