The Korean people have a frequently used expression, Naejo, literally ‘domestic assistance’ but meaning ‘helping one’s husband.’ A typical example of Naejo is the devoted care of the late First Lady Madam Yook Young-soo for her husband, the late President Park Chung-hee, who is the father of the incumbent President, Madam Park Geun-hye.
How did Madam Yook look after her husband who was rated by some as a dictatorial President? She performed the role of an opposition leader inside the Presidential Office of Cheong Wa Dae, which is known to have substantially counter-balanced any adverse effect that her husband might have incurred due to his repressive policies.
Even today, some people criticize President Park Chung-hee, but there is practically no one in Korea who has any negative view of the late First lady, Madam Yook. She used to be called Gungmo, ‘Mother of the Nation.’
Naejo is not limited to taking proper care of one? husband. It also refers to the conduct of a good mother and in this case a good example is Madam Shin Saimdang whom you find on the 50,000 Won Korean banknote. She was not only an exemplary wife but also a good mother who raised all her seven children to become important persons in society after the passage of her husband, one of whom is the famed Joseon Dynasty scholar, Yi Yul-gok, who is also on the Korean paper money (5,000-Won note).
Now I would like to say that we have Madam Yook and Shin Saimdang among the wives of the ambassadors in Korea.
They provide their husbands with excellent Naejo by performing the work of their husband when their ambassador husbands are busy.
They take part in the cultural events of the local governments learning the traditional Korean culture and history and enhance the image of their country among the local Koreans on behalf of their husbands.
Among them are Mrs. Zofia Majka (wife of the Polish ambassador), Mrs. Anna Menkveld (wife of the Netherlands ambassador), Mrs. Marina Quintero Nobre (wife of the Portuguese ambassador), Mrs. Rosanna Bellolio Pasini (wife of the Chilean ambassador), Mrs. Pinar Okcal (wife of the Turkish ambassador), Mrs. Maria Fujita (wife of the Brazilian ambassador), Mrs. Yulia B. Vnukova (wife of the Russian ambassador), Mrs. Mihaela Fabian (wife of the Romanian ambassador), Mrs. Kalthoum Khanteche Nafti (wife of the Tunisian ambassador), and many more ladies whom I am unable to cite due to limited space. To them, I present my humble apology.
Local government leaders are very grateful to them for their kind attendance and strong interest in the cultural events, especially when the events are related with ladies such as Kimchi, bamboo salt, Oriental medicine, and various other traditional Korean foods.
The ladies more than fully deserve a commendation or some nice remarks from their government as well as from their husbands for the hard work put in and a role excellently played for their country and husbands--as well as for the Korean local governments and The Korea Post who organizes the tours for such events.
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