GWIKS’s second two-week summer study abroad program in Seoul, South Korea began on June 24th and ended on July 7th, 2018. During the program, the students explored Korean identities, division, reunification, and economic differences between the two Koreas. The theme for this year’s GW Institute for Korean Studies (GWIKS) Summer Program was “Korea in the 21st Century: Past, Present, and Future in the Age of Globalization.
The students gathered at a restaurant in Jongno, Seoul, on June 24th, for the welcoming dinner and met with the two instructors, Professor Jisoo M. Kim and Professor Miok Pak. Among the summer program participants, there were seven undergraduates and five graduates from various majors – Business, Biology, Anthropology, and International Affairs. Within the two weeks, compact site-visits were planned to help the students understand the complexity of Korea’s history and how it reflects in the current modern society. The purpose of the program was to have the students see firsthand Korea’s history, economic development, and culture from the lens of the border of the 38th parallel.
The first few days, students explored the past of Korea, from the birth of the nation up to the history of contemporary times. The students visited Gyeongbok Palace, Gwanghwamun, National Museum of Korea, Hangeul Museum, Seoul Museum of History, Seodaemun prison, National Museum of Contemporary History, and Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). They were able to learn when North and South was one country to how it was divided.
The students also visited sites that reflected the present of Korea, such as Ajou Institute for Unification, Hana Foundation, Korean National Defense University, and the Constitutional Court of Korea. They learned how the division of the country has affected the current situation of South Korea. In Hana Foundation, they had the opportunity to exchange with North Korean defector students to discuss about the unification issue. At the Constitutional Court of Korea, they met with Judge Chang-ho Ahn, who was deeply involved in the impeachment of the previous president and learned about the political and judicial issues of South Korea.
To further learn about the issues in South Korea, they visited Future Consensus Institute to learn about South Korea’s position in the East Asian region, and witnessed the Wednesday protest for Comfort Women issues, visited the Women’s Human Rights Museum to learn about the historical and social issues of South Korea. On the final site visit day, the students visited Google Korea to learn about IT industry and the U.S. Embassy to learn about the U.S. approach to public diplomacy in South Korea.
At the end of the program, the students presented their portfolios based on the two-week program. Alexis Simms was awarded the prize for giving the best portfolio presentation. The Students’ portfolio presentations of summer 2018 can be found here.