Learning about Iran: A supreme pleasure

TEHRAN, Jul. 26 (MNA) – It has been already five years since I first step onto very unfamiliar land, Iran. Back in August, 2013, I began my governmental service in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I did not know anything about Iran then. It was literally ‘the unknown world’ to me.

For a Korean who quickly absorbed western rationalism and efficiency represented by America, it was a bit of a shock to be in Iran at first. The country looks chaotic on the surface to a foreigner, but it really is a country that marches to its own beat, away from the huge waves of globalization elsewhere.

After several months, I made up my mind to do as Iranians do when in Iran. Since then I have tried to give up missions impossible and focus on the possible tasks, what can be done. I was no longer going to complain and waste my valuable time. I decided to be the marginal person filling the gaps between locals and foreigners. I started learning Farsi twice a week, too. I patronized the BRT, the metro, and the Mostaghim taxi, the same as Iranians. I often bargained with merchants over the prices at the Tajrish bazaar asking for a discount like the locals. I was able to understand Iran inch by inch through small experiences.

As time went on, I was driven by a strong desire to share my moments in the Islamic Republic with Koreans. I shared my thoughts, such as what happens in Iran and how Iranians recognize the world, with a newspaper column and contributed regularly. With no experience, I gradually became a brave writer. I was so fortunate that I could witness the historic events of the nuclear deal, known also as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of action (JCPOA), and the lifting of sanctions regime. Once the market opened, a lot of companies and countries rushed into Iran. Looking at the scene, I felt all the more keenly how intense international business was.

There have been sequential ups and downs in the Islamic Republic. The United States broke the deal in May this year, and it seems that new sanctions on Iran will be imposed again after the so-called wind-down periods. Observing what is going on in and around Iran nowadays, I have a heavy heart before the trip back to my homeland. I was always happy to express what I was learning about Iran to non Iranians, and especially to Koreans. It was a great pleasure to me.

The Chinese novelist, Yu Hua, says in his book,  “To Live”: A man gets to live simply, and learn, not for anything else. Five years in Iran was getting to know the unknown world. A powerful enthusiasm to get to know Iranian society has been the primary motivation in my life so far. Although I am going back to Korea soon, I will keep in touch with Iran. Lastly, I must express my deep gratitude for Iranian hospitality.

MNA/TT

News Code 136079

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