Mr World Hopefuls Polish Their Korean
By Lee Hyo-won
Participants of the Mr World Contest seem to be making the most of their 16-day sojourn here by picking up some Korean.
It’s only been a few days since they arrived, but the young men, having visited parts of Incheon and Seoul, and some having even toiled alongside Korean Marines, seem to be warming up to the local culture.
Several national representatives received Korean language lessons prior to the trip while others were seen repeating greetings that caught their ear.
Some of the most diligent learners were those from neighboring Asian countries, where hallyu or Korean content has made waves. Alvin De Joya, 23, from the Philippines, was spotted busily jotting down notes during visits to Wolmi Island, the National Museum of Korea and other tours.
Indonesia’s Todi Pandapotan, 27, received a Korean language textbook for beginners from his sister, who is a fan of the culture here. He practices simple lines such as ``sillehamnida” (excuse me), ``ireumi mo-eyo?” (what’s your name?) and ``oraenmani-eyo (long time, no see)’’ everyday. ``I studied for three hours on the plane ride to Seoul,’’ he said, smiling.
Manuel Illich, 24, was tutored by his sister’s Korean friend before leaving Peru. He carries with him a notepad with phonetic transcriptions of useful words and phrases such as ``kal-bi’’ (marinated beef), ``an-meb-ke” (not spicy) and ``saranghae (I love you).’’
``When I say `annyeonghaseyo’ to Koreans, they are very surprised,’’ he said. ``Korean is difficult but it’s very fun.’’
New Zealand’s representative Arnold Du Toit, 26, has been struggling to pick up the language. He’s been working on the pronunciation of ‘annyeonghaseyo’ with Korean staff members of the competition every chance he gets.