After working in Vietnam as a South Korean Ambassador from 2002 to 2005, Yoo Tea Hyun returned to his home country. But, images of Vietnam and its people always occupied his heart and soul and these urged the ex-diplomat to come back to the country.
Four years ago, the former Ambassador became a lecturer at the Oriental Studies faculty of Da Lat University.
“Working as an Ambassador and teaching students are different jobs,” he said. “As an Ambassador with diplomatic power, you will be well treated as an honourable guest everywhere, which is quite different from the modest life of a lecturer. But I always work with my whole heart and special efforts in both positions.”
Lecturer Yoo did not live in a villa or luxurious hotel but he has chosen a simple room in the university’s hostel so he can live with students as he said.
Every morning, he rides to classrooms on a moped carrying a bag full of books and teaching materials on his back. According to him, a lecturer could receive respects from students when he should first love them, frequently update his knowledge and be ready to give a hand to them when they have difficulties in life and study.
For many students in the faculty, Professor Yoo is considered a father, who they can meet and confide with anytime.
“Teacher Yoo, who always smiles with us, is very dear to us,” a third year female student, Quynh Tho, said.
Talking about his remarks after four years teaching in Vietnam, teacher Yoo said that Vietnamese students lack facilities in life and study and that they meet many difficulties. But they are smart and all work very hard. When he first set foot in the University, seeing that Vietnamese students did not have computers at hostels, he met a South Korean business and mobilised it to donate 30 computers for them. At this point, he and several other South Korean lecturers at the University are planning to establish a Vietnam-South Korea Research Centre at the University.
When he is asked why he did not enjoy an easy life of a pensioner back home, he smiles and says: “I love the country and people.”
“I fell in love with Da Lat when I first visited the city as the South Korean Ambassador. The city is beautiful, the temperate climate is comfortable and the people are very friendly. I really enjoy my life and work here,” he added.
Translated by Thu Nguyen