Visiting England is one of the things I want to do in the future. I planned a trip there in the middle of September. I purchased air tickets to and from London, and booked hotels there. To my sorrow, however, I was forced to cancel all of the reservations because of hectic work I had for almost two years. The British Hills is one of its alternatives, but I get tired of it as I visited there many times. One day I heard that there was such a place in South Korea mocking English streets. That’s why I visited South Korea this month, though I didn’t understand Korean at all.
The Gyeonggi English Village is located in Paju, Gyeonggi-do, a 50-min driving distance from the city centre of Seoul.
The entrance mocks an immigration office so that you feel as if you were entering into a foreign country. When you pay 3000 Korean Won at a ticket booth in front of the immigration, you have a booklet looking like a passport as well as an admission ticket. Bringing the passport-like booklet to the immigration counter, you have it stamped by an immigration officer after being asked some questions.
Once you cleared the immigration, you have another entrance looking like an old European castle.
Passing through the gate, you have the romantic European street with posh markets, restaurants and an English bar. All staff members speak English very well.
The GEV is a theme park of English with a wide variety of attractions. If you rent a road bike, you can go round the railed route of the streets with it. In the concert hall you can see a musical show performed a few times a day. If you join an English-learning programme you can learn how to say in English at a mock-up of a travel agency, a clinic, a bank, a post office, a police station and so on. If you think these are too childish, you can drop in on the Double Decker English pub, where you can drink a glass of beer, enjoy fish-and-chips and talk a bit with Jackie running this pub.
This 70-acre premise was built by the government of Gyeonggi-do to create global Koreans. Public English-training facilities like the GEV are in several places within the country. I think it’s one of South Korea’s national projects to educate people to be fluent in English so that they can play active parts in the global fields. To my interest, the GEV is located less than two miles from the national border of North Korea. You can see filthy-looking North Korean neighbourhoods beyond the Imjin River if you climb up a footpath to the top of the hill of the GEV. To train global human resources at such a militarily-tensioned area is very suggestive of thinking what the world is about, what nations are about, and what to get along with people from different countries is about.