My Many Firsts in Korea

ID+for+FranchisingPHLet me share with you my entry to the 16th World Foreign Korean Speech Contest in Seoul, South Korea which I am a finalist. Below is the abridged version where I talked about my wonderful experiences in my travels to the country.

When I was writing this speech, I wanted to share my incredible experiences with Korea in an entertaining way. I hope that you will be entertained by My Many Firsts in Korea.I will share 3 gorgeous experiences with the Land of the Morning Calm: My First Seoul, My First Fall and My First Liver Tartar

My First Seoul

Okay, show of hands. Who here have experienced walking along Ayala Avenue near the five star hotels? Can you imagine Ayala dotted with food stalls every few meters? Can you imagine fishball carts or balut vendors busily hawking their products the moment the sun goes down? Can you imagine walking to the train station hearing “Balut, balut kayo dyan!”?I couldn’t either.

But Seoul at night, more so in winter, is a revelation. For a Filipino who loves street foods, Seoul is a paradise. In the biting temperature of winter, every street corner you turn to has its own ajummaorahjussiselling hot and spicy tteokbokki, odeng and of course, the free soup, always the free soup to warm one’s stomach in a wallet-friendly budget.

Feeling like a million bucks? Seoul’s streets have something for you. Try the gopchang, though a serving will set you back about US $20, the taste is as sweet as the smell of a million bucks.

My First Fall

But Korea is much more than the glittering city of Seoul and its food. Korea’s countryside is heavenly glorious in autumn. It is in Cheongju, famed as the home of Jikji, that I first learned that red has so many colors. Korea’s fall taught me that there is red, and there is red. If heaven has color, it would be Korea’s autumn colors.

Fall, though it signifies the end for leaves, is when leaves go to ground accompanied by a dizzying array of red. It is a period of renewal and I am always amazed by nature’s beauty which Korea was blessed with. With reddish brown leaves swaying in the breeze, I feel the need to stop for a moment and give thanks for this beauty.

My First Liver Tartar

I love meat and I love barbequed meat more. Ah, right now, I can imagine the special sizzling sound of samgyeopsal being barbequed just the way I like it. I can even smell it. Can you imagine it too? Are you getting hungry right now?

But I will do my best to make you even hungrier, so seat back and relax.

In a trip to Gwangju, I first learned that sometimes raw is even better than barbeque. I came to appreciate the heavenly taste of raw cow liver. It just melts in your mouth. Its sweetness is unequal. Oh well, I am making myself hungry right now so I better end my talk.

Lastly, I visited Korea the first time in August 2009. From glittering Seoul to the calmness of Korea’s countryside, I told myself, “I have found my inspiration.” Korea is so vibrant, seems to be in a continual state of renewal. The vivaciousness of modern city life and the elegance of the old Korea co-exist effortlessly – so dynamic, vivid and inspiring.

So thank you Korea. Thank you for being an inspiration and thank you for all my firsts.Mabuhay ang South Korea!


Liza Gaspar is a wealth coach and personal finance enthusiast. She spends her free time helping out with the projects of the Rotary Club of Makati McKinley ( and the Gerry Roxas Leadership Awardees ( Visit her Web site at, email her at, or visit her at and


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