Ever since I was young, I could not settle with being ordinary. I wanted to do something unique like become a professional drummer, and I lived each and every day challenging myself and working hard. Like a kaleidoscope, all of the memories of hardships and pleasant times I went through while founding BestFriend flashes by. As I turn another page of my life, I reflect on the turning points of my life.
Ever since I was young, I always questioned the thoughts and values I’d been taught to believe as a Korean. I was curious about how people of different skin color and culture thought of these ideologies. Like the story “Alice in Wonderland,” I couldn’t help but to think that there must be places where people lived under a different set of rules, values, and beliefs.
Goal in life, which path to take, my confused state of mind in my 20s !@#$%^&*…..
Like most Korean men, I had to go through military service. After military service, I went back to university and studied for the TOEIC exam in order to get a good job after graduation, just like everyone else, without any real dreams or goals in life. I allowed myself to float away like an abandoned ship with no destination.
So much to learn and see! I set off toward the unknown world.
Although I was living an ordinary life, in the back of my mind I knew I couldn’t continue living like this and that I had to go explore the unknown world. When the opportunity came, without a second thought, I decided to go to Vancouver, Canada. My two years of living in Canada has opened my eyes and given me the wisdom and courage to do anything and everything that I wanted to do.
Became the master of parties
My first house party in Vancouver had become the talk of the town. I remember my house was fully packed with foreigner friends. This small experiment has made me who I am today. I bonded closely with Iren and Ed, a Mexican couple, who came to every single one of my parties. They are now a lovely married couple.
I became a certified bartender
I wanted to earn a memorable and meaningful certificate. So, I attended a Canadian bartending academy. I was the only Asian in my class so it was very difficult to follow, but my friends in class always had much interest in me and helped me get through the class.
The best English teacher, Allen!
Allen was in her mid-40s and lived a free life as an unmarried woman living with her cat. Her loved one passed away and she soon followed in his footsteps. This heartbreaking memory still remains in my heart.
My unforgettable Japanese friends
Keisa, Reige, Sachiko, Aki, Miyuki, and my roommate~ I lived in a small room but these friends always came over to hang out. I made wonderful and heart-warming memories with my Japanese friends. I miss them very much…
Even if looks, languages are different, something else connects us!
This is my Irish friend Niall, who loves to drink as much as Koreans do. We often drank our nights away in Canada. After he studied abroad in Canada, he decided to come over to Korea to teach English because he loves Korean people and soccer! I still laugh when I remember him looking around in awe saying, “Wow, there are bars everywhere~!”
Different nationalities, another family to me- Joyce’s family
Miho, Izumi, Shino, Bbong-jjang, Hyuk, and Jun~ these are other study-abroad friends I met in Canada that became like a family to me. Every day with this family was like the sitcom “Friends.” We are each living our own wonderful lives now.
After returning to Korea, my first job!
This is a picture with a Swedish colleague of mine! I had a satisfying experience working at this company since I had many opportunities to travel abroad and meet buyers.
With a hospitable heart, I did not look back. Preparing for Best Friend Korean language and culture center!
I was fortunate enough to get a job in my senior year of university, and I had to take night classes to fit in my work schedule. After class, I would go home and spend all night planning my Best Friend Korean Language School project. To be honest, if I were to go through the same thing again, I probably wouldn’t be able to do it a second time. ^^
Finally laid the foundation of Best Friend Korean Language School, and…
I made my first volunteer study abroad homepage to help foreigners and gyopos with their difficulties while staying in Korea. On weekends where I had no work, I often made rounds to the airport to pick-up those studying abroad in Korea and helped them find places to stay. Soon after, there were over 5,000 registered members on my homepage, which came from the enthusiastic response of the Korean Hallyu wave. My heart was beating wildly. This was the start of my new adventure and this was what my first homepage looked like: www.gogomykorea.com
Decision to quit my job.
I thought seriously about what I wanted to do with my life. I decided to quit my job and put all my effort into establishing BestFriend. Everyone around me told me I was crazy for doing this, but I did not want to live a life of regret. I decided to face destiny.
Finding an Office
At that time, I only had a volunteer study abroad homepage… after quitting my job, I was in dire need to find a place to continue contacting those in need. After months of searching for an office, an opportunity opened up!
A dream come true!
Let’s let people know about Korea! I finally established “BestFriend Korean Study Abroad & Korean Language & Culture Center Study-room,” a place for foreigners and gyopos to learn the language and experience the culture at the same time!
After I came back to Korea from studying abroad, I felt a special patriotism towards Korea and was able to see Korea objectively. I established Best Friend Korea Study Abroad Institute to lead today’s globalized world in learning the Korean language. After that, BestFriend Korean Language & Culture Center, and a 1:1 conversational tutoring program for Koreans and foreigners to have language exchange were established.
Most recent addition: Korean Working Holiday and Korean Homestay!
We recently added a new program for foreigners studying abroad in Korea, which assists with finding accommodations. Now, we have helped over 3,000,000 foreigners and have partnered with over 100 companies all around the world to provide assistance in studying abroad in Korea.
Why aren’t we making ourselves known to the world?
Spreading knowledge about Korea and its culture is not just up to one organization. We believe that each Korean acts a representative of Korea when meeting other foreigners, and it is the duty of all Koreans to introduce and spread Korean culture to the whole world.
Start with Best Friend Language and Culture Center!
I feel true happiness whenever I have passion for something or I have love for someone.
Opportunity, passion, and love are what makes us who we are. Whether you fail or succeed, you will be satisfied with yourself if you sincerely do your best.
I would like to thank everyone who has continuously supported and believed in me, and I would like to give my thanks to Jun who has given me much strength.
I hope that Best Friend Korean Language & Culture Center will be a place to prepare you for your dreams and your future.
With my utmost sincerity,
Mins, CEO of BestFriend Korean Language & Culture Center