Last week, a thousand face masks arrived to the Tourism Policy Division of the Seoul Metropolitan Government from Shandong University, China, with a letter attached. The five boxes that arrived to Seoul within three weeks contained carefully packed face masks that had been gained with some difficulty.
The sender was Kong Haiyan, a professor of Shandong University, China. In September 2018, Professor Kong attended the “7th UNWTO World Conference on Tourism and Culture” held in Seoul and collapsed due to an acute myocardial infarction. They were able to save his life thanks to immediate actions taken on the scene.
After two weeks, he recovered thanks to the efforts of the medical crew and officials of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and returned to China. He remarked, “I believe I was able to recover since Seoul was the host city of the event where the accident happened. Seoul is a city of good fortune for me. I will cherish the good memories I made in Korea.”
Prof. Kong’s gratitude was fully embodied in his letter enclosed with the masks. In the letter, he wrote, “The warmth of the officials of Seoul that embraced me in 2018 was embedded in my heart, and I have constantly been thinking about how to reciprocate. It is still not easy to get masks in China, but I purchased 1,000 face masks to send to you [hoping they could become of help to you as you overcome the COVID-19 crisis].” He ended his letter with the words, “As the balmy spring must come when the harsh winter goes, the virus too shall pass, and a better tomorrow is awaiting all of us.”
Also, on the boxes that held the masks, he attached the wording “幸福安康，共待花开 (I hope you stay happy and well. Let’s wait for the flowers to bloom together!)” with his hope that both South Korea and China will break through the hardships and greet a warm spring.
• Full Text of the Letter
A letter for my companions working at the Seoul Tourism & Sports Bureau
Dear friends in Seoul,
I would like to deliver my greetings through this letter.
We recognize the weight of caring for one another amid difficulties, and we feel the growing warmth of greeting each other with the sea (long distance) between us.
The circumstances in China are getting much better. Our government and people have fought against the virus successfully and the number of confirmed cases each day has gradually decreased.
We are working from home and providing online classes for our university students. Work and life here are not of great inconvenience. You do not have to worry about my health.
Recent news about the spread of the virus in South Korea frequently brought me back to the days I stayed in Seoul.
The warmth of the officials of Seoul that embraced me in 2018 was embedded in my heart, and I have constantly been thinking about how to reciprocate.
It is still not easy to get face masks in China, but I purchased 1,000 face masks to send them to you.
If you need more of them, I will support you as best I can.
If you can contact he persons who helped me, please send my greetings and blessing along with these masks.
As the balmy spring must come when the harsh winter goes, the virus too shall pass, and a better tomorrow will be awaiting all of us.
I hope I could visit my city of good fortune where Mugunghwa, the flower that never fades, enjoys full bloom.
I am also sincerely looking forward to seeing you again in Weihai, Shandong.
When letters from a thousand miles away keep coming and going with affection and longing, mountains and oceans will come together and friendship will be everlasting.
Friends in South Korea,
I hope you stay happy and well.
Let’s wait for the flowers to bloom together.
March 6, 2020
Shandong University (Weihai)