For the LEAP Ambassadors, there is no better mid-week venture than to the Glades Art Foundation in the Woodlands for an always amazing World Affairs Council event. This time around, we were fortunate enough to be accompanied by two guests: Hongjin Jeon, (aka. Andrew) a student in Professor Yawn’s Texas Government class and Dr. Lei Duan, the professor for my Modern Asian History course.
We enjoyed pursuing the current exhibits on display, one of which we have seen before: a collection of drinks!
The Glade Gallery hosts an array of exhibits as well as acts as a meeting location for many local groups. The Woodlands Photography Club was also hosting a meeting and they were surrounded by many dynamic photographs.
The event began with an introduction from Ray Cunningham, the North Houston Coordinator, who thanked the Glade Gallery, and the guests for their continued interest in the Council.
Mr. Cunningham then introduced Professor Yawn…
…who proceeded to introduce General In-Bum Chun.
Professor Yawn highlighted General Chun’s career in both the military and governmental sectors…
…and a few of his acts of service, which later General Chun elaborated on.
General Chun began by recognizing and expressing his gratitude for one of the audience members, Charles, A Korean War Veteran! It was wonderful to see this man, who must have been nearing 90, hear about an expert on Korea, seven decades after he fought for South Korea’s right to remain independent and free.
General Chun then spoke on the importance of the United States involvement in the Korean War, (1950-1953) more specifically, American troops on the ground in Korea. Chun stated, that without help from America Korea would not be where they are economically, politically, and socially today.
He then gave 5 key features about Korea that have been made possible by the U.S.
- Reforestation: after the war, the whole peninsula was a barren war zone. Now, Korea has some of the lushest forests in the world.
- International travel: Korea has one of the most accepted passports in the world.
- Healthcare: General Chun highlighted the benefits of universal health care, including regular preventive health checks.
- Public Transportation: The public transportation system is almost on par with the one in Japan.
- Public Restrooms: General Chun noted, slightly jokingly, that when you must go, you don’t have to look far! Everywhere in Korea there are accessible, clean restrooms.
Ronan O’Malley then stepped as the world-class moderator that he is, and he asked a series of questions of his own and from the audience. In response, General Chun described Korea’s relationship with its surrounding neighbors.
Most of the country’s trade is done with China, although it is extremely difficult to navigate. With their neighbor to the east, there is deeply rooted emotional history. Japan and Korea have made great strides to reconcile, but politicians from both countries capitalize on the bad blood for political gain.
For the other country that shares the peninsula, General Chun Described North Korea as “a perfect dictatorship based on a cult.” The whole country is run by one family and, socially, still operates based on a hierarchal system.
Often tying historical aspects of the country to modern topics, General Chun concluded the night with one piece of advice: communication. General Chun pointed out that historically there is a lack of communication coming from America. Often we do what is in our interests, without asking the opinions of our allies. General Chun’s advice to keep communication in mind applies to much more than international relations and is sound advice for everyone.
I strongly admire the way General Chun was able to identify an area that has potential for growth in the U.S, but also express his gratitude for what is arguably one of the best alliances in history.
As the event drew to a close, we were able to meet with General Chun in groups. The Lonestar Honors Organization was on hand, and we had a chance to talk with them, and also photograph them with the General.
We also had a chance to meet high-school students from Caney Creek, with their advisor Eric Tanner, and they, of course, had a chance to meet with the General.
And, of course, we had a chance to meet with the General as well…
…and this was probably the biggest treat for Andrew.
On behalf of the LEAP center, thank you to the World Affairs Council for always hosting informative and enjoyable events, and to General Chun for taking the time to share your expertise about your country.
Dinner at Saigon USA Pho Grill
Our goal is always to reinforce the formal knowledge we receive from the presentation with some cultural learning in the form of food. While we couldn’t find Korean food in The Woodlands, we were able to stay close to Korea in a geographical sense, and we had an amazing dinner at Saigon USA pho & grill!
We started with an assortment of appetizers: Cheese puffs, steamed dumplings, and fried wontons. My favorite was the steamed dumplings, but all of the appetizers where amazing.
For entrées, some half of us chose Pho, and the other half chose meat and rice dishes.
Everyone loved their meals, and we left almost no room for dessert! Because Tuesday was Yvette’s birthday, Professor Yawn, let Yvette pick the dessert, and she chose Strawberry and Mango mochi. The mochi was plated beautifully, and everyone enjoyed the sweet treat!