Asia,  Cultural differences

The 29th International Youth Forum

The Forum has just finished and right now I miss people I met during the event and Korea a lot. This post is about what happened at IYF and a few interesting things I learned from people all around the world.

Before the forum

My teacher announced the forum to us and we applied through Korean Culture Center. We had to write an essay relating to given topic within 4th Industrial Revolution. The Korean Culture Center sent our documents with the reference letter from my teacher to Korea and around 1 month later I got the news that I was accepted. I was excited as well as not knowing what to expect. Since it was a peak season, the flight tickets were pretty expensive. The cheapest one was from 12th August to 23rd August. Therefore I had 3 full days off before the forum started. I spent those days with sightseeing in Seoul.

The opening ceremony

Then on 17th August I went to Grand Hilton Seoul as our meeting was there. The hotel was so luxurious but the steep to go up to the entrance wasn’t a joke. I thought I was climbing another mountain again. When I arrived I met a girl from Germany, so we went up to meet the organizers and another participants. There were already a lot of people, some of them already got a room as well. We registered, checked-in, had a sandwich for lunch, then I finally had a room. The room was so spacious and comparing to the guesthouse before I felt so blessed. The toilet was a modern type that you can see in Japan. Everything was so nice. At 4pm we had an opening ceremony, where the president of The National Council of Youth Organizations in Korea and The Minister of Gender Equality and Family gave a welcoming speech. Then we saw a K-pop cover dance. Finally we had our buffet dinner. That night I was still tired as I hadn’t had a proper rest since I climbed up to Baegundae, so I just stayed in the room.

My room
Modern toilet
Flags at the tables
With the ice statue

Lectures and discussion

The next day we had our breakfast then left for Goyang city. We stayed in Tongyang Creativity Center. After lunch we had lectures. Everyone attended 2 lectures out of 3. The topic was about 4th Industrial Revolution and its change in the future. The lectures were really good and useful. But the air-condition was killing me. I was literally freezing.

I attended the lecture about society that youth will create. What I took home was that with the 4th Industrial Revolution the gap between poor and rich will be bigger. However, it is also a good time to make the changes in the world. For example using the modern technologies to help the developing countries and areas as well as people to have proper education and better life. The main point is how we take advantages of the changes and technologies to create a better world.

The second lecture was about the change in job market. There will be jobs that disappear as well as the appearance of new jobs. The essential skill is to learn, unlearn and relearn. We learn what we have now. But we also need to forget what is outdated and learn the new things that is happening in the world. Therefore we need to keep ourselves updated.

Lectures about changing jobs

After the lectures we had a discussion within our group. There were 9 discussion groups with different topics and ours was a Future Society That Youth Will Create. It wasn’t an easy topic, since it was too broad. The next day we found the solution and then divided into 4 groups to make dialogues about the changes we think we need to do in order to have a better world in education, environment, health, economy. Our group even stayed up late to finish the task, so to have an easier work for the following day.

In the morning of the next day we compiled our presentation and after lunch we presented it. All 9 groups presented their topics that covered from the technologies and its effect to the cultural impact. What I was thinking was that we don’t know what will happen in the future. But we can always prepare for it by keeping ourselves updated. And if all the youth work together to make the changes even if in the beginning it is in small circle, the world can be better. The main point is we all are working together and go in the right way. Of course it would be hard that the whole world works together since everyone has a different cultural background. The main point is we need to learn how to listen, understand and adjust to each other. We shouldn’t label anyone, including ourselves with the country we are from. We should just simply look at everyone the way they are: human. If we can take everyone equally as a person, we can adjust to each other more easily.


Then we had a youth night, where one of the participant danced and the staff sang while playing guitar. We also saw different performance like B-boy and cheerleading. It was very nice. We ended the day with a party where everyone danced and enjoyed themselves.

In and Outdoor activities

On the 4th day we had activities where we could try 3D pen and Drones. It was really fun to make things with the 3D pen. Some of them made glasses. The drones were the small one. I tried to control it, but it was so hard. I guess I need more time to practice it. At 11:30 we left to visit the youth centers. There were 5 centers, where we could learn K-pop dance, make Bibimbap, experience VR, do wooden craft and have an insight of non-profit organizations. We had to choose them before arriving to Korea. I chose non-profit organization (NPO). But the result didn’t really satisfy me. I thought we could have more insight about the system and process but we only got presentation about what they do.

3D pen

We moved on to Namsan Tower, where we could try Hanbok, traditional Korean clothes. We had around 1 hour to take pictures, then we went up to Namsan Tower. Seoul view could be seen here. It was very nice and beautiful. I bought some souvenir at the shop up there. Then we had buffet dinner nearby. After eating we had free time until 9pm to enjoy the nightview of Seoul from the hill.

Seoul view in Hanbok
View from Namsan Tower

The next day we visited Changdeok Palace. I thought we would go to Secret Garden, but we didn’t. What I had more than the last time I paid to enter, was that we had a tour guide who explained things around the palace to us. The weather was really hot as well. But honestly this time I didn’t mind, since for a few days before I was staying in the cold air-conditioned room. We had lunch in shabushabu, hot pot, which was really delicious and satisfying.

We went to Digital Media City, to play computer games while wearing VR glasses. It was so incredible. I played a roller coaster game. I only needed to sit in the chair, wear the VR to see the scene of the game through it. When the game started it felt as if I was in it. Moreover the chair also moved like in the roller coaster. In the end I got really dizzy. It felt so real. But from the outside people only see that you sit on the moving chair and keep screaming for inexplicable reason, even if they can see the game through a screen as well, but they can’t feel it.

Lesson learned

Sharing our story

We had only 1 hour to play which wasn’t much but we had to leave for the other groups to come. Then we had 1 hour to walk around before going back to Goyang. When we arrived back we had a rest for 1 hour and then we attended the closing ceremony. We had dinner and then there were a photo voice contest where participants could send their photo relating to the forum and share their experience about it. Group leaders received present for their work. During the talent show participants and staff danced or sang. They were all amazing. Everyone has their own talent and story. I really liked how the organizers gave us chance to share it with the others.

Being a leader

Towards the end of the forum we all took pictures with each other. So it was kinda hard to calm down when the organizers told us to sit down and wait for the announcement relating to transportation to the airport. But I was astonished by them. No matter how many times they asked us to sit down and nobody paid attention, they were still calm. Even the staff director told us to sit down and pay attention with a calm but determined voice. If it was me, I probably would shout. But they could control the situation calmly. This case taught me a lot about being patient and kind. No matter how ignorant others are, as long as you stay calm and be determined in what you are doing, you will still reach your goals without making uncomfortable situations.

The schedule they made also surprised me. We could almost keep the schedule. They counted with the transportation time, process and everything. The staff was also very attentive to us. We were always notified for the next day schedule, where to go, which bus to take. They organized everything beforehand to avoid the fuss and misunderstanding. Regarding the hot weather they also prepared cooling tissue for us and knowing we would be tired they also gave us relaxing mask.

On 23rd we were taken to the airport. We got a news that the typhoon might come to Seoul, so we were afraid that our flight would be cancelled. Therefore the staff stayed with us at the airport to make sure we got on the flight. If someone had cancelled flight they provided free accommodation, food and transportation to the airport for them.

With all these attentiveness and accuracy, I was conviced how a leader should be. I talked to one of the staff and he said all these were in his contract and he got a fixed payment even if he had to work more. They might not really enjoy staying for 12 hours at the airport, but they still made the most out of it and took care of us. One thing is for sure. Sometimes there are things beyond our responsibility that you cannot measure with money. For example kindness, attentiveness towards each other shouldn’t be exchanged for money, since it is a basic of being a human.


My flight was at 11:25pm so I had around 12 hours more. I didn’t feel like going anywhere, so I just stayed at the airport with other participants and the staff. I had a chance to talk to them and getting to know more about them.

  • One of the staff who sang for us, he amazed me how much effort he put in singing. He even do street performance to master his singing skills.
  • The other participant who were from developing country shared how hard it was for them to come to Korea for 1 week due to the visa problems. He almost gave up, but the staff director helped him through the process.
  • Another participant, who is 21 years old, told me he learned Chinese by himself since young age through Youtube videos and internet. He also learned to read in Korean all by himself at young age.

Their determination convinced me that I still have a lot to learn. Once we are determined to do something sooner or later we will be able to achieve it.

Art of listening

When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen,you may learn something new.’ Dalai Lama.

I used to think I can do this really easily, as I usually don’t speak a lot. But after a discussion group happening between many people from different part of the world, I realized I still need to learn how to listen, understand and accept other people’s point of view. It is a practice to all of us to learn to listen and think what other’s want to say and even apply it in our everyday life. This experience literally taught me to be humble and inspire me to learn more.

It is still kinda hard to believe that it all ended. It was so nice to spend times with them and learn more about their culture and mindset. I felt as if I’m not different anymore. Though my answer to question: “Where are you from?” is still unique and confusing, but it was nice to be around people with different cultural background. In Hungary I grew up as Vietnamese, so I always felt I stood out, which used to be uncomfortable. Here I didn’t have that feeling at all. I so miss the people and Korea. Hopefully in the near future I can meet them all again.


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