In mid seventies, a group of my colleagues and I were planning to attend a scientific conference in Japan, for three days. Since the diplomatic relation between Iran and China had become normal at that time, we decided to visit China for three days, on our way to Japan. In the last couple of days before our trip, a major earthquake happened in China.
The China Embassy informed us that because of emergency situation, they would appreciate if we postpone our trip. Because of the last minute notice, and the fact that most countries did not required visa from Iranians, our director proposed to visit South Korea instead of China.
When we arrived in Seoul, the capital of S. Korea, we found a small city with green hills, like some of our cities in the Caspian area. People were friendly, prices were cheap, and compared to our country at that time, it seemed poorer. We visited their university, did some sight seeing, and decided to go shopping for souvenirs, because we had heard prices were higher in Japan.
In the Department stores, there were more sales people, mostly women, than customers. I bought some clothing, nice Korean costume, scarves, and beautiful dolls. There were few cars on the streets, and practically no traffic. However, when we tried to cross the street, a police told us we must use the underground pass in every bloc to cross the street.
When we went dawn to take the underground pass, we noticed a nice and clean Metro system, and many gift shops underground. We asked the people why they needed Metro, when they had no traffic, few cars, and obviously shortage of money, since most of them had to work two jobs to support their family.
They told us Japan has built their Metro as a gift. When we asked why? They told us because they wanted to help them have better facilities than North Korea. This reminded me of the story of Metro in Iran that I will talk about it later. It would be interesting to compare the situation of South Korea with Iran today, after 3-4 decades!
We continued our trip to Japan. It was a fascinating country. A beautiful country with advance technology, modern transportation, natural beauties, and kind-polite-civilized people. The conference was well organized, successful, and their hospitality was incredible. After three days, we came back home with lots of good memories.
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