When I was waiting for the bus to come, suddenly, it started raining cats and dogs. I did not mind at first until the petrichor emanated from the drying ground. The scent of fresh and almost sweet fragrance of rain awakened my reminiscences of those happy memories at Soopchaewon. Although a month has nearly elapsed since I farewelled my companions from the ASEAN – Korea Youth Network Workshop (AKYNW) and departed for my study back in Busan, I could still hear the soft breeze blow through the trees, leaves rustling and crackling together.

All those pleasant remembrance rushes back to me. My journey started on a warm sunny day on the 2nd week of August. The moment I arrived at Soopchaewon, I was impressed by the stunning scenery of this place. The landscape was picturesque with little wooden houses nestling at the foot of the mountain. From somewhere nearby, came the steady hum of buzz sound, together with the soughing of the wind in the evergreen canopy of branches, created the harmonious melody of nature which cannot be found anywhere else but Soopchaewon.

Flora at Soopchaewon photo credit: Kim Han Gyeol

Flora at Soopchaewon
photo credit: Kim Han Gyeol

Away from the city’s light, the initial beauty of this place seemed to make it easier for everybody to be opened to each other. Our schedule began by the quick warm-up exercise instructed by the famous Korean football player Park Ji Sung. Although he appeared on screen only, it was enough to get everyone excited. Shortly after that came the ice breaking session. Despite the diversity in our nationality as well as culture, we gradually found the way to each other heart. The UCC making video played the most critical role in bringing all of us closer. Through every constructive discussion, we thoroughly talked over our ideas and concepts for the video, laughed, giggled and got to know each other better. Our friendship began like that.

Brainstorm ideas for the UCC making video photo credit: Kim Han Gyeol

Brainstorm ideas for the UCC making video
photo credit: Kim Han Gyeol

Not only did we build new friendship but we also had the opportunity to broaden our knowledge thanks to the 2015th AKYNW. On the 2nd day of the workshop, we started our day with the compelling lecture by Dr. Hadisusanto Pasaribu. For many of us, that was the first time we have ever learned about the field forestry properly. We might heard about forest reservation everywhere but not so many of us can actually understand that notion. We were provided with essential information about the importance of forest, green growth, as well as the ongoing cooperation between ASEAN and the Republic of Korea to promote sustainable development. In addition, there were also a “mission impossible” in which we had to race with other teams in finding locations and flora of the forest. Regardless of the hot weather and steep trails, we managed to complete the so called impossible ones. As the sunset slowly settled into the forest, came our night party. Under the music from various parts of ASEAN, one by one, in our traditional costume, we began to dance the night away, as the spray of glimmering lights, simmered around us. Music basically broke down all the cultural barriers and brought everyone together. Sadly, every journey has to come to it end. We headed back to Seoul the next day for the closing ceremony. Although I missed the chance to take part in the Out-bound program with other incredible friends, we still keep in touch afterwards.

Five senses forest experiencephoto credit: Kim Han Gyeol

Five senses forest experience
photo credit: Kim Han Gyeol

Get dressed for the dance partyphoto credit: Kim Han Gyeol

Get dressed for the dance party
photo credit: Kim Han Gyeol

The workshop itself is not just literally about learning but it is also about you freeing yourself from self-doubt and limitation to define who you want to be. Thanks to the workshop, I have realized that every single obstacle we may encounter will be a ladder to later success if you choose to face it. It is undeniable that “Keep moving forward and finally you will be surprised by what you are capable of.”/.

Friendship lasts foreverphoto credit: Kim Han Gyeol

Friendship lasts forever
photo credit: Kim Han Gyeol


Nguyen Minh Nguyet, ASEAN-Korea Youth Network Workshop 2015 participant