One of my lasting impressions of Busan will be the enormous quantity and high quality food available everyday, everywhere. I'll miss the fresh tangerines (grown on an island 200 miles south of Busan) at every meal.
Busan is a thoroughly modern city – commercial buildings, public transportation, access and convenience, shopping malls everywhere.
Busan is “business first” – not clear that much else is important at this point.
People seem to be "catching up" to their city – which by rights they should be more confident with what they have achieved.
This may be the cleanest city in the world on any given day.
Korean education has been the cornerstone to their economic success.
Parents start kids education at 3-4 typically with English – want their kids to be fluent, unlike their experience.
Elementary and Middle school are less rigid and more varied than India, China or even the U.S., with an intentional emphasis on arts, music, dance and creativity.
High school, however, is a “forced march” to the College Exam – grueling and grinding - despised by kids, questioned by parents, but the practice remains
For all its flaws and faults, Korean education has lifted the country in 35 years from receiving financial aid from OECD to now providing other countries with aid of close to $1 trillion – it may not be to American taste or sensibility, but the economic results are amazing.
In my view, with the exception of a lack of enough English speakers, Korea is well positioned for acceleration in 21st century global competition.
I think this country of 50 million offers some valuable lessons for how to remain competitive in light of outsourcing and offshoring, while moving up the value-added ladder and the increasing economic well being of its citizens.
Two last things I'll miss about Korea - Hite (Korean beer) and Soju (a vodka-like, sweet alcohol) which has remarkable potency and after two bottles allows the drinker to believe he or she can speak fluent Korean and that everyone in the restaurant is an understanding friend. Or, at least...understanding.