Koreans dropped their guard

2013-12-07 00:00

I THOUGHT Christmas would be the day this month that I really missed home, but it wasn’t; it was Friday. I woke up to a text message breaking the news.

Being so far from home, I thought technology — the Internet and my phone — would be my only way to share this loss while revelling in the marvel Madiba was.

A Facebook feed brimming with inspiring quotes, poignant portraits and personal life lessons learnt from the father of my homeland hinted that I might be right.

But, at 9 am the fifth grade English teacher, a 60-something Korean man who has never come close to showing me any physical affection, walked into my classroom, wrapped his arm around me and said, “I have respected Nelson Mandela for a very long time, he was a great man and I’m so sorry for your country”.

Not 10 minutes later three more teachers popped in to offer their condolences and laud the man who changed a country on the other side of the globe for the benefit of the world.

This is a big deal. My South Korean co-workers are painfully shy, and will at almost any cost avoid having to speak English. But today, they were moved to drop their guard, and I know the driving force behind this was the greatness and courage of one man.

While I stream SAFM during gaps between classes, I have been reading through a multitude of posts on the “South Africans in Korea” Facebook page.

Usually used as a place to find out how to send parcels home or where to find the best rooibos tea, today this online community has come together to not only mourn but to celebrate a life of incomparable importance.

Binding together as a smaller rainbow in a distant land, the South African expat community here has speckled this sad day with feelings of pride and patriotism.

Being so far away from home has amplified the realisation that we are one exceptionally blessed nation. And we have Madiba to thank for that.

• Remy Raitt, who was an intern at The Witness, is teaching in South Korea at present.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.