안녕하세요? 저는 모로코에서 온 아스마입니다.
Being a curious person, I have always showed interest in other cultures, but I never tried to engage profoundly in a specific culture until I came across Korea.
Like most of its dedicated fans, I was initially introduced to this beautiful country through Hallyu, and while the entertainment side appealed to me very much (Kpop, Kdramas, Variety shows …), I actually found myself grow a specific liking to the culture as a whole. For that matter, I spent my time doing a lot of research and, to my surprise; I found out that there were many Korean-Moroccan associations that introduced and celebrated the Korean culture in my country.
I attended many cultural events, yet the event that marked me the most was the one hosted by the “Moroccan Fans of Korea” organization, commonly known as MFK. By being part of this event, I noticed that the bond between our countries was growing by the minute, and the love that my fellow citizens showed for Korea throughout this particular event was truly moving. What made me even more amazed was the fact that our Moroccan contestants worked very hard and actually represented our country in the KPOP world festival early nominations. That’s when I realized that Hallyu was not simply an attraction but rather a heartfelt devotion.
My second best experience was even more delightful as I attended another cultural event where a Korean citizen gave a speech about how he spent a year of his life in Morocco. As a Moroccan, I tend to forget about the beauty of my country at times, but listening to him talk about his well-spent time here, his acceptance of our culture and his enthusiastic engagement in many traditional customs of ours made me genuinely grow fond of Korea even more, especially when he gave us precious pointers that may come useful if we ever visit his country in the future. His venture literally made me eager to be in his shoes so as to experience the very same cultural differences in Korea and be able to appreciate it the way he wholeheartedly did. Coming to think of it, this also made me wonder whether Koreans have an idea of our country the way we do of theirs.
Moreover, my third experience, which is my ultimate favorite since I’m a foodie, was the Korean culinary adventure. Sadly, Korean restaurants are very rare in my country; therefore I had to travel to Casablanca in order to enjoy a taste of Korean cuisine. When I first visited Seoul Garden Restaurant, I tried to make the most of it and had a taste of every possible famous Korean dish: from the numerous side dishes such as Kimchi, sweet potatoes and egg rolls to the main dishes such as Bibimpap, Japchae, and the various barbecues … Now, while Kimbap can easily become my everyday food, I actually fell in love with Jajangmyeon for its exquisite taste which instantly fit my culinary standards. Also, although I am not a huge fan of spicy food, I surprisingly enjoyed Tteokboki and found the meal to be quite delightful.
Overall, I have had a taste of almost every international cuisine, but Korean food won over my heart with a knockout. My mother often told me that my love for food will be my undoing someday, but I believe that if I have lived my whole life without having a taste of Korean food, that would’ve been my actual undoing.
On top of all of this, my interest in Korean culture made me want to be more active Hallyu-wise. Being passionate about writing, I decided to apply for a features writer position at Soompi, which is a veteran and popular news website that has been covering everything Hallyu-related since 1998. This wonderful opportunity allowed me to both express myself vividly and immerse myself further in Hallyu.
Last but not least, I was really touched to find out that Arabic language was actually taught in some Korean universities for about 50 years as the second main language. As an Arab, it brought joy to my heart to see my language cherished and instructed in a country that I have so much admiration for. In return, I found myself eager to learn Korean because it would deepen my dedication to the culture.
Ultimately, I managed to learn Hangul and I picked up a few words here and there from KPOP and Kdramas, and I am currently teaching myself Korean at home thanks to Language apps and online tutoring in order to master the language as a whole. I hope that one day I will be able to express myself in Korean the way I do in English and to phrase my thoughts in this mesmerizing language with such a beautiful calligraphy, thus giving my writing passion a fresh color.
As a whole, I found comfort in Korean culture because, despite the cultural differences and customs, I realized that from the profound respect for the elderly, to the conservative lifestyle and even the commitment to traditions … both countries share the same basic principles, and this detail warmed my heart.
People often refer to my love for Korea as a phase, but I firmly believe that it has become more of a lifestyle. Indeed, I am Moroccan, but thanks to everything I know about this compelling country, I feel like a Korean at heart.