South Korean Moved by Vietnamese Traditions & Way of Life – Jeon Hyong Jun is currently working as a volunteer interpreter at the BBB Korea consulting service for foreigners.
Initially, Jeon Hyong Jun was in no way thinking about learning the Vietnamese language – let alone its cultures and traditions. However, with his line of career it has been a great advantage.
At one point, he received a call for help from a crying Vietnamese woman saying she couldn’t understand her husband.
This is a typical scenario for Jeon Hyong Jun which goes out with the name Tuan Jeon in Vietnamese. He would normally serve as an interpreter and at the same time, a mediator to South Korean and Vietnamese couples.
He would explain each side of the couple and make them understand their differences. The couples he has mediated would usually end up appreciative and in tears.
This scenario is just one of the many he has encountered – catering almost 2,000 people who needs his service as an interpreter.
As a young boy, Tuan Jeon was not able to enrol in his preferred language – English. He planned on getting into Chungnam Foreign Language High School however, he failed to qualify due to low grades.
This then led him to a Vietnamese class in the same school. His parents were disappointed and couldn’t fathom the reason behind the decision about learning Vietnamese instead of English.
On the other hand, his sister was more than supportive of his chosen career. According to her, doing something that many people would not dare to do is a bold and interesting move.
At the beginning, he struggled with coping especially knowing the language has six tones and five diacritics. But then, he didn’t allow this to waiver him and chose to persevere.
Jeon Hyong Jun was given the opportunity to welcome Vietnamese exchange students. And to his surprise, they were articulate in the Korean language and adapted well with its culture.
He felt ashamed as he compared himself to them. Technically, he only knows Vietnam as a country that has undergone several wars and is still coping up with its remnants.
According to him, even though he was learning the language, he has not bothered to even look at researching about the country and understand its culture. Whereas his friends knew more about his country.
With this, he has promised himself to learn more about Vietnam and its language. He found himself purchasing a dictionary learning at least 10 new words per day.
He would even sneak in a school computer to communicate with Vietnamese users on Facebook. This marked a huge step in his language learning.
Even Nguyen Thi Than Tam, his teacher at Chungnam Foreign Language High School said she is proud of Tuan Jeon’s perseverance and the awards he has won on Vietnamese writing or speaking competitions.
From here, Tuan Jeon advanced as a volunteer at the BBB while studying International Communication at the Sogang University.
He provides free consultation and support for Vietnamese expats in South Korea.
As a receptionist to a hotline number, he has to answer a call wherever he is and has received a total of 2,200 phone calls which he has resolved.
These calls are sometimes about hospital emergencies, police stations, lost and found centers and even in home family issues.
He has also gone to Vietnamese language learning immersion level and has traveled to Vietnam for more than 20 times in the last 10 years.
Tuan Jeon has recently utilized his savings to fund a scholarship program and mental support for six unfortunate children in Ho Chi Minh until they finish high school.
He said, everything he does comes from the bottom of his heart as he is destined to do it for Vietnam.
Looking back, Tuan Jeon reflects on failing the English subject and says he was destined to learn Vietnamese.