I am sure Penman is a good guy (he lives in coastal Gangwondo so he has good taste, anyway) and I don't really blame him for his article. The Herald, after all, chose to run it.
He spent some time in China and then moved to Korea. Korea was a surprise. A pleasant surprise. The end.
As the Herald closes it's archives after a week, I'll post the section the Herald must have loved here:
...Koreans keep their sense of a truly unique national identity. I think this rubs off into the psyche of the people, as most Koreans are modest and polite. This, coupled with Korea's geographical position in Asia and, up until very recently, a troubled relationship with their true brothers, North Korea, makes South Korea an exciting and interesting place to live! I can't yet offer a subjective comparative to Japan, unfortunately, because, simply, I've never been, but it's hard to imagine them being too far ahead! Admittedly, I, like most Western people my age, didn't have to many ideas about Korea, but it is safe to assume, if I had made many negative ones they might have been dispelled quickly. So far, I'm lovin' it!
At first read, this sounds pretty naive but, then, I have to agree that most Koreans are modest and polite. It is only the loud ones who are very loud that alter my perception. Perhaps I owe Penman some thanks for reminding me.