Not the Typical Korean Membership Training

Last weekend I attended my second Membership training (MT) in Korea. MTs are social events conducted by Universities or companies in a bid to build team spirit and encourage colleagues to socialize outside the school or work environment.  I spent two years in Korea doing my masters, and surprisingly I never attended any of these training. The events usually happen for two days and involve the team spending the night at a location far away from the city.
I had quite a strange experience at my first MT; we traveled to Daeseong two hours away from Seoul to a rented house. A typical MT in Korea entails lots of drinking, eating, Korean games (including drinking games), Karaoke among others. Since it was during winter, we didn’t have any outdoor activities to do except drinking and eating. We had our barbecue (dinner), and the real party began – drinking. In the Korean culture when someone older offers you a drink, you are not supposed to say no, and as a result, juniors usually ended up drinking more than they should. Being a foreigner I survived the drinking as they understood the difference in cultures, I, however, felt sorry for the young kids that couldn’t say no. Overall, my first experience of this MT was not fun, even though the goal was to socialize I felt like that didn’t happen for me mainly because of the language barrier and there was not much to do except drink. Also, since we had shared lodging and we had to sleep on the floor, I couldn’t get any sleep that night. Besides we had to wait for the die-hard drinkers to finish their business before the place would quiet down. Somewhat this seemed like the longest night ever.
My second MT, however, was nothing like the first one, even though I was meeting most of the members of the first time. The atmosphere was more welcoming compared to my previous one. Despite the language barrier, we tried to communicate in the best way we knew how. The ride to our destination, Seo-cheon encompassed drinking whiskey, beer and eating dried octopus: – that was breakfast for some that hadn’t had any considering our departure time was as early as 8:30 am. What amazed me though is that the leaders each get to pour a drink for the members on the bus.  This, however, is typical of most Korean gathering.
What was different for me though is the sightseeing. On our way, we visited the National Ecological Park – Ecorium in Seocheon. A perfect place for the nature lovers and a cool place to relax from the hustles of the city. The park consists domes with different flora and fauna from different climate zones including Africa. Cool place to visit if your nature lover. We arrived at the hotel early enough – I had my room overlooking the seaside and with a bed this time round. I had a stroll on the beach had my second sauna experience. Unlike my first experience, this time I didn’t mind the stares at my naked melanin, I ignored and decided to relax and enjoy the experience.
Ecorium

 

Beache Palace Hotel
 I was also fascinated by the seafood. I come from a landlocked country  – Uganda and eating some foods has been a challenge for me. I, however, got to taste some sea foods or at least enjoy the food art presented before me.
Some of the food
 On our way back to the Daejeon we visited the Modern History Museum in Gunsan. If you are looking for Korea’s maritime history, Gunsan is the place to visit. Also visited the Jinpo Maritime Park established in remembrance of the sweeping naval victory at Jinpo against the Japanese.  One can also visit the Jangmi Gallery and Theater for the traditional Korean performances, though I didn’t have the enough time to do so.  To me this was not the typical MT, I had the opportunity to socialize and meet new colleagues, and at the same time have some time for myself to relax. It didn’t feel like an obligation I had to do to be in good graces with my boss.  All in all, it was a weekend well spent. It changed the perception I had about MTs. I look forward to my next MT.

 

Gunsan

 


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