A pharmacist has swapped South Korea for a new job in Wrexham – and is already learning to speak Welsh.
Sungdae Kim has been appointed as the branch pharmacist at the Boots store at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre and is slowly getting used to the massive differences between his home country and his new one.
But while he is tackling the food, language and weather admirably there is one thing he can’t get his head round – the beer.
Sungdae, aged 30, said: “I like a pint of cider if I go out – I’m not getting the taste for one of your warm, flat pints of ale!
“I do like fish and chips though, and I’m not that picky about food so adapting to that has been fine.
“As for the weather – well I don’t think you can criticise if you choose to make your home somewhere else, but let’s just say that I get a bit sentimental when we do get the odd hot, humid day.”
The pharmacist did some years of military service in South Korea and then with the US military so he already spoke English when his family decided to come to Britain for his father’s job seven years ago.
He was still in the middle of his pharmacy studies at King’s College in London when his family had to return to South Korea so Sungdae stayed behind to finish his education.
“I carried on my studies here and then I was qualified as a pharmacist here so it made sense to stay. I have been doing some relief work in various places but then my visa ran out so I had to go back to South Korea.
“Luckily now Boots have sponsored my visa so I have been able to secure this job and I am really enjoying it. From my point of view as a pharmacist it is really nice to work here – it is all very well organised in terms of regulations and service.
“They do things properly here.”
Having settled in Chester to be near the Eagles Meadow branch, Sungdae is enjoying exploring the local area and has visited North Wales, Manchester and Liverpool already.
He said: “I find the people here very nice too although there are huge cultural differences too. The family unit is different. In Korea I would not be expected to be independent and look after myself when I was in my 20s but here I have had to be.”
Since his arrival in Wrexham, Sungdae has been working on his Welsh and mastered a few simple words and phrases.
“It helps to be able to say ‘croeso’ when people come in to the store,” he said. “And because I have to read out people’s addresses all the time I am getting better at the pronunciation.
“I can do the ‘ll’ now like in Llangollen and Llandudno and making the effort helps to build up a rapport with the customers so it is important.”
Sungdae has been welcomed by colleagues at Boots, where he says he is being well looked after, adding: “I am getting great experience for my career and enjoying it here so I have no plans to move on for the time being.”
Branch manager Jo Stringfellow said: “We were delighted to welcome Sungdae as part of the team here.
“He is a lovely young man and a real asset to our store here at Eagles Meadow where he is already proving popular with our customers.”