Heba is a young Iraqi woman with a good job as an electrical engineer and the prospect of a decent future.
At 28, she owns a modern flat in the newly-built Bismayah New City in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, where she lives with her mother and younger sister. It’s a vast development of neat, white and beige apartment blocks, wide, well-lit walkways and plenty of green spaces, where children can play and ride their bikes.
Heba says living there makes her feel safe and secure.
“This place has given us freedom and peace of mind,” she says of the complex that is one of many joint ventures between the governments of Iraq and South Korea.
But this isn’t Heba’s only South Korean connection.
In fact, she’s obsessed with all things South Korean. She uses Korean cosmetics, listens to Korean music, watches Korean dramas on television, cooks Korean food and has studied Korean Hangul with the aid of YouTube tutorials.
“Korea didn’t shape who I am, but it did bring out the real me,” she reflects.
But Heba isn’t satisfied with pursuing her love for South Korea from afar. She dreams of one day being able to move there. And she isn’t alone.
Heba represents a new and growing trend among young Iraqis who find in South Korea a vision for the future. While life in Iraq seems chaotic and unpredictable, South Korea offers them an enticing example of order and stability.
But moving to South Korea is a huge undertaking. Heba risks losing her job and, along with it, her family’s main source of income. Not all of her family are supportive of it.
Korean Lovers in Baghdad follows Heba on an emotional journey as she pursues her dream and goesin search of her place in the world, encountering seemingly insurmountable obstacles along the way.
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