Back Again

Back+Again

Fiona Miller, Reporter

Ten years ago, Lucy Park lived in the US for about a year and a half. Now she is back, having flown over 6,000 miles to Woodland Park, Colorado, from her hometown in Bucheon, South Korea. She currently attends Woodland Park High School as a junior.

Bucheon is located in the northern part of South Korea, a mere few hours’ drive from the border dividing Northern and Southern Korea. When it comes to weather, Bucheon is much less chaotic than Woodland Park; it stays cold all winter, and hot all summer, with none of the sporadic cold or heat fluctuations we have come to expect in Colorado.

Like many Asian education programs, school is much more rigorous in South Korea than here in the United States. Students attend school from 7:50 to 4:30, five days a week. However, after public school is finished, some students go to “Academy,” which lasts every day from 10am to 10pm, and is taken during breaks, weekends, or after school. Needless to say, Lucy has a lot more free time at Woodland Park High School. Lucy participated in the band at her school in Korea, but more value is placed in academics, so she did not have as many practices or rehearsals. Teachers usually come to the students, and students only move classes if a different type of classroom is necessary (i.e., a gym). Because of this, lockers are not commonly used. “I saw these lockers on American dramas, and I really wanted one,” says Lucy. The dress code also varies between countries. “When I came here, I was surprised, because students are not allowed to have piercings, or tattoos, so that was a culture shock. Not many students wear makeup, either.”

Of course, for many Americans, a major point of interest involving Korea is the uneasy relationship existing between the North and South. However, the atmosphere of daily life in South Korea is not as impacted by this tension as many would think. “Everyone thinks that people in South Korea are afraid of North Korea, but they’re not,” Lucy explains. “When they first started sending missles, people were, but now they aren’t as much.” The most recent incident of violence occurred November 23, 2010, when North Korea bombed the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. “Now, North Korea is trying to talk to us again. Everyone thinks that they’re only talking to try and get food.” Despite Bucheon’s relatively close proximity to the North- South border, which is about the driving distance between Woodland Park and Castle Rock, Lucy has not experienced any direct action or violence from North Korea. The real difficulty comes from knowing what is happening to the people in North Korea. “We used to be one country, and now we’re apart. I know they are facing great difficulties. I know there are people who’ve escaped North Korea to come here [South Korea]. When I hear about their lives, I feel sad.”

One improvement between Korea and Colorado is the skiing. Ski resorts attracted a large crowd in South Korea, and the slopes were packed with people. “I like that we can go skiing [in Colorado] a lot, the ski resorts are a lot less crowded.” Yet there are some things that America can never replace. One of the biggest things that Lucy misses from Korea is the food. “I love eating food, especially Korean food. Food, like rice and chicken, is different here.” When it comes down to it, there is no place like home.