It’s true that people, not governments, are what make up the soul of a country. The essence of a people is not the negotiated treaties, bloated talking heads or propagandized photos which we consume daily. In fact, our so called “free press” is not so keen on providing images of what life is really like on the streets of places many will never see. That’s not to say there is not Life Style News Shows and Travel Channel programs that do a great job depicting life in other countries, but for the most part bad news is, well news! The song, Dirty Laundry, by Don Henley is the national anthem of today’s media outlets; you hear it in every major newscast, on every news show across all networks. I suspect that many think that upon their arrival to China they’ll see guns at the airport, tanks in the streets and a small shady character following you from place to place. When was the last time you saw a news report regarding China without a photo depicting their military might? Now let’s make sure you follow, because this is not a political blog, and the whole world condemns what China did in Tiananmen Square in 1989. But, I want to talk about the people. On second thought, maybe I’ll start with this moment in time in 1989, with that one person only known to us as “The Tank Man” since no one knows what happened to him. This moniker makes the statement that one man is stronger than a tank or a column of tanks. If the tank runs him over, he’s a martyr forever, a rallying cry, until freedom, the right of all is realized. So, we start there, with those preconceived notions put into one’s brain by the news media only telling the bad side of the story. And I am here to tell you, my visits to China and Korea were more than enlightening. The people of these countries are not as far removed from you and I as you might imagine. Yes, they may look a little different, and yes they have different cultures, different approaches to life but their hearts are large and their hopes and dreams are just as big! They have dreams of family, children, the next generation, prosperity, peace and hope for the future. I could not have been treated more kindly. Compared to some visits in our own country, I was treated much better.
I travelled to Asia for business and to sell our wine. It is true; China is an up and coming super power that wants for everything Western. However, it is also equally important to know they are a fledgling in wine knowledge but are catching on very quickly. The opposite is true when talking of Korea (that would be South Korea for those Googling). The Korean people have moved through the Cabernet Only Crown to Pinot, and are Burgundy lovers also. They enjoy a wide range of wines and are very knowledgeable and open. Their people are as pleasant, as any I’ve come to know, and although reserved in their approach to life, they enjoy themselves when the opportunity is appropriate. I have never had a distributor that was more professional, from the sales people, public relation people and my partner, Ms. Kim our interpreter. My dear friend Dr. Kim made me aware of this great market and its people and I will forever be grateful for his influence at our inception and his introduction into this new land and market. To say I was treated with celebrity status would be an understatement; it is more accurate to say I was treated with GREAT respect. A key word in this culture that hold’s more meaning than most others.
I would like you to imagine, if you can, just for a moment, what it’s like to be within artillery range from the North. In fact, there are so many long-range guns trained on Seoul from the North, the estimates are the city would be rubble before they could be taken out. This is because they are hidden in the mountains within caverns and near impossible to get to. When asked about such things, the people say they are aware but choose to conduct their lives without fear. The people of Korea are resilient and determined. They will not allow themselves to be governed by fear. They are a free society of amazing people. Korean life is full of culture, innovation and peace, with old world values that serve them well. A must visit for those so inclined. ??
Happy New Year to all, and look for some big announcements next year. We are just getting warmed up!