Dr. Sim Sang Joon: I love the country and people of Vietnam

Thursday, 06/01/2022 17:11
In my heart and mind, the love of Vietnam is no different from the love of the Republic of Korea (RoK). It is because I love Vietnam that I vow to forever be the one to introduce Vietnamese culture to RoK, to contribute to strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

Dr. Sim Sang Joon (fifth from left) (Photo: VUFO)

Dr. Sim Sang Joon, Director of the Vietnam - RoK Cultural Exchange Center and Honorary Vice Rector cum Head of the Faculty of Korean Language under the Viet Bac University in Thai Nguyen province, shared with The Vietnam Times on the occasion of the New Year of 2022.

Reporter: Why do you choose Vietnam to stick with your life?

Dr. Sim Sang Joon: I graduated from the Faculty of Vietnamese Language under RoK’s University of Foreign Studies. At that time Vietnam and RoK were preparing to establish diplomatic relations at the highest level. In my mind, I always wished to go to Vietnam to experience what I have learned and realized my dreams. In 1993, I was one of the few Koreans who came to Vietnam as a PhD student. In 2001, I defended my PhD thesis in Ethnology at the Faculty of History under the University of Social Sciences and Humanities - Hanoi National University, and have taught at the school.

I have had the opportunity to carry out funded projects in provinces from the North to the South of Vietnam such as: Thai Nguyen, Phu Tho, Hai Duong, Tuyen Quang, Binh Dinh, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh Long. Those are opportunities for me to be close and connected with the Vietnamese community. Although the language and customs of Vietnam’s regions are slightly different, in general, Vietnamese people have the spirit of hard work, creativity and hospitality. I have made interesting discoveries and become more and more attached to Vietnam. In nearly 30 years of living in Vietnam, I have become more and more fascinated. I love Vietnam, constantly doing comparative research on the history, culture of the two countries and gradually I have come to consider Vietnam as my second homeland.

Reporter: With nearly 30 years of living and working in Vietnam, how do you feel changes in the country of Vietnam?

Dr. Sim Sang Joon: I see Vietnam has changed a lot. Vietnam is open, dynamic and developing. The position and voice of Vietnam has had an influence not only in the region but also in the international arena. More and more foreign businesses are investing in Vietnam, including Korean businesses.

Not only economic growth, but the fields of health, education, culture and entertainment have also developed rapidly. All people live together with equality, democracy and freedom to develop their capacities. Especially, the role of women in social life is very high. The impressive thing to me is that there are many foreigners holding positions as principals and vice principals of major universities in Vietnam, including me. There is no precedent for that in the RoK.

The thing that makes me love Vietnam most is the Vietnamese people. Vietnamese people have a high community spirit, are friendly, open and likeable. The apartment complex where I live in Dinh Thon, My Dinh, Hanoi is like a family. Whenever they see me walking in the apartment yard or coming home from work, the cleaning staff or security guards greet me with a smile, "Hello, teacher." This makes me very happy, they consider me as Vietnamese, very natural.

I have been to all parts of Vietnam, and wherever I go, I have been warmly welcomed by everyone. That is the great point of Vietnamese culture and that human value is different from other countries. It's not just me, but the Korean community also feels the same way.

Reporter: Loving Vietnam, will you continue to stick with Vietnam?

Dr. Sim Sang Joon: The beautiful memories and experiences in my life were formed in Vietnam, how could I decide one day not to connect with Vietnam?

My attachment to Vietnam will continue, as I come to Vietnam as more than just a transit guest. In my heart and mind, my love for Vietnam is no different from my love for RoK. Because I love Vietnam, I vow to always be the one to introduce Vietnamese culture to RoK to contribute to strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

Reporter: Thank you and wish you good health to carry out your wishes!