It took him many years to see both sides of the coin.
Today, he knows that there is no right or wrong: it’s just about different ways to see things.
“In South Korea everybody enjoys a great level of personal freedom: whether it’s the choice of who to marry, where to work or what kind of life to live. But at a political level, South Korea has always been a puppet of the United States – and always will be. Then on the other hand you have North Korea, fiercely determined not to depend on anyone. But there is no personal freedom.”
When I asked him about his feelings on a reunification between North and South Korea, he smiled.
“I would love to see that, but I don’t support the reunification: not yet. The truth is that North and South Korea are two strangers… They have been separated for 70 years, they don’t know each other anymore. Even the Korean language they speak is different. It would be a shock for everyone.”
He also pointed at the fact that while South Korea is modern and developed, North Korea is way less advanced – if they happened to reunify at this stage, South Korea would just take over.
“Now my hope for them is to start a long-lasting friendship, and in the meantime North Korea needs to grow. And then, only when they will reach the same level, they will go back together. Just naturally.”
As I looked at my South Korean interpreter, I saw a warm smile crossing his face.
“I agree”, he said, giving his opinion for the first time since we had all gathered.