Backpacking in many different countries is probably one of the most common items on a bucket list for a university student. The same applied to two young adults, Park Min-sung and Moon Hyung-won, co-representatives of Se Moong Travel, when they were in their twenties. When they were worried about their insecure future and career, they decided to travel in order to escape from the reality and take a break. Whilst some agonize whether to choose group or free traveling, Se Moong takes the advantages of both types to provide a customized travel plan appropriate for youths.
“After traveling 10 countries for more than two years, I realized that travel courses made by travel agencies were far from satisfying students,” Park said. “I wanted to make a way for youths to travel within their budget as well as gain something valuable from the trip. That is why I came up with ‘Youth Travel.’”
Focusing on travel for youths, Se Moong Travel is the first travel agency to offer a tour only for people in their twenties, with staff members of a similar age. As people get to travel with new people, they can make new acquaintances and even expand their friendships further on after the tour. Even though traveling with a stranger might sound uncomfortable, Moon remarks that those hardships are all worthwhile in the long run.
“Of course, having to cope with different types of people throughout travel and getting along with them are not easy,” Moon said. “But I see such harships as a valuable experience. It is another step to challenge themselves and see the larger world.”
Another unique feature of Se Moong Travel is its travel course. Although staff members of Se Moong guide travelers to the destination, they try not to interfere as much as possible, which is different from normal travel agencies. Rather, they encourage free travel within the designated groups. The staff only provides general information about food, weather, and things to be careful about. While enabling safe and instructed travel, it gives travelers an option to choose where they want to go and what they want to do under the guidance of the staff. At the same time, Se Moong encourages youths to see beyond popular tourist attractions and get a real glance of the local country they visit.
As much as Se Moong encourages youths to experience more, they also provide a unique travel course called “Hangul Alrimi,” a popular Se Moong challenge program. Backpacking through Europe, the travelers aim to introduce the excellence of Hangul to foreigners. How the participants introduce the beauty of Korean letters to others is entirely up to each group. One of the most common approaches that participants take is to fix Korean words that are spelled wrong at tourist attractions, help restaurants properly translate their menus into Korean, and participate in Korean cultural festivals with foreigners.
Apart from such activities, participants try their best to interact with foreigners they meet at guesthouses and during their travels. Many participants said that the challenge program enabled them not only to backpack around Europe, but also to appreciate Korean culture and language.
“Before traveling, I expected that Hangul Alrimi would just be about teaching foreigners about Korea,” said Park Eun-mi, a participant in the challenge program. “In fact, I think I recieved as much as I gave to others. Beyond introducing the Korean culture, I also learned and gained more from the experience by meeting diverse people as well.”
With many participants leaving positive reviews about the diverse experiences they went through, Park wishes that more youths would be able to have the same valuable experience.
“Nowadays, I see many busy but worn out students with loaded bags, sagging shoulders and indefinable facial expressions,” Park said. “I am not saying they should travel overseas. Whether traveling inside or outside of Korea, I hope youths can enjoy time for themselves by taking a trip. Traveling in a group is also fine. You can always find who you are when you are with friends you love to be with.”