I believe the media and the American public have obtained an erroneous impression of South Korea, the South Korean people and the tremendous country which they have developed, built, and nurtured over the past 20-odd years. People were courteous, friendly, and did everything they could to help Olympic visitors, especially in the areas of locating a hotel, restaurant, or venue. Here are three examples that tell you a great deal about the South Korean community, which I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand:
- I was out in the pouring rain one afternoon without a jacket or umbrella trying to hail a taxi. A young Korean gentleman put an umbrella over my head, waited with me for 15 minutes, and helped me translate for the taxi driver where I wanted to go.
- Another day I was attempting to move as rapidly as possible from one event to another and a senior citizen walked me a few blocks to a particular bus stop, handed me a token, refused to accept any money, and made sure that I was aware of where to exit the bus.
- A third example of the kindness and humanity of the South Koreans stemmed from what would appear to have been a very long walk (approximately three miles). A couple of Korean gentlemen stopped in a van, picked me up, and took me to the nearest hotel, just because they were nice people trying to help a visitor.
The food was terrific; the city was clean, green, and beautified. Most important, the Korean hosts did everything they could within reason to make their guests feel welcome and comfortable. With respect to safety, people had no concern whether they were walking on the streets during the day or even late at night, as the crime rate is much, much lower, and the streets and sidewalks are safe.
The South Koreans put on an almost perfect Olympics, and a couple of isolated incidents related to the boxing arena and judging should not be how these fine people should be portrayed.