Seoul Tour is the very first activity for international students, a nice beginning for life at the KDI School. Held on Feb 19 right after the Orientation course, Seoul Tour is the greeting of our KDI School to new international students, who are eager to explore how life in Korea is going on.
On a cool but sunny day, the tour around Seoul started with a very professional tour guide. During the way around Seoul, students had the opportunity to understand more about the history of Korea, the unique value in Korean life-style and culture. Meandering almost through the middle of the capital is the gentle Han River, which is long considered both the symbolically and historically as the life of the city. Along the Han River, we went to Seoul Tower, the symbol of Seoul.
Located on the north side of Namsan Mountain, the Tower is about 353 meters above the sea level. There, the fantastic 600 year-old Metropolitan City left us a memorable impression. We could take pictures, view the city by observation desk or just enjoy the cool breeze.
Leaving Seoul Tower, we went to the 2002 World Cup Stadium where the Korean football team had become the first Asian nation to advance to the semifinals. The excited atmosphere of World Cup 2002 were still fresh as if it had been the day before.
Lunch time with a very nutritious food of Korea was just a sort rest before we continued the exciting tour around Seoul. The next place was Gyeongbokgung, the Palace of “Shining Happiness”, which consists of the place for ceremonies (Geunjeongjeon), official building (Sajeonseon), the King’s residence (Gangneongjeon) and the Queen’s residence (gyotaegeon). Within the place, the combination of garden (amisan) and pavilion (hyangwonjeoung) characterizes Korean gardening art, symbolizing for the harmony between man-made buildings and the surrounding terrains left. With pleasant surroundings, Geongbokgung still a heritage of Korean’s rich culture, which can be sensed in the remaining structure of the Joseon dynasty.
Few meters from the Gyeongbokgung is the National Folk Museum of Korea. Built in 1972, the museum building has exhibits, which illustrates the history of Korean people, the traditional lifestyle and the lifecycle of Korean from birth to death. It was interesting to see how the characteristics of Korean were formed and changed from times to times.
From the ancient Seoul, we ended the valuable tour by visiting Namdaemun, an ancient market in modern form. Since its first open in 1914 with the name of the famous “Great South Gate” nearby, Namdaemun attracted us with the open air, bazaar atmosphere and extensive network of shops indoors and underground. It was really exciting and fun just walking and browsing along the valleys and mingling with the crowd. Just like we were a part of the lively and animated city.
Folk Village Tour
Really tired after a hard-studying week, our international fellow students were longing for new refreshment, an outgoing tour to Folk Village in Gyeonggi-do. A full day in Folk Village went by so fast. All the things we heard, saw and explored there were truly somewhat more than we had expected before.
Erected in 1973, this cultural village includes a diversity of uniquely Korean values from days gone by. It is the home of the true Korean heritage where many features of the Korean culture have been collected and preserved for succeeding generations.
Warmly greeting us at the main gate to the Village was an old gentleman in traditional Korean costumes, with a hearty voice, sparkling eyes and a warm smile. He led us to the mystery of Korean ancestors in hundreds of years ago.
Crossing the two great milestones, we entered a system of traditional farming houses scattering in the Land from the Northern to the Southern and the island part. Lives of ancient Koreans were vividly illustrated in all social classes, from rich noblemen to poor farmers at every corner of the Village. Here were Korean ladies waiving silk, sewing cotton; there were others making paper, prescribing an herbal medicine, hoeing land for ginseng; everyone was keeping on their work, neglecting the eager visitors. Flying with the guide man’s voice, we understand the cultural value of an agrarian country, which was deep-rooted in the Korean’s ideology and daily lives. In the era of Confucianism, human’s life was the harmony of economy, education and science. Ancient Koreans taught their young generation to lead a life of elder-respect and knowledge power. We also had a chance to join Korean festivals and activities through farmer music and dance and traditional games such as seesaw, swing, and acrobatics on a tightrope. To many international students, the traditional wedding ceremony of a real Korean couple would be a valuable memory, an interference of the Eastern and Western culture in a completely traditional procedure.
Luncheon with delicious bulgogi and various types of kimchi satisfied our fellows’ appetites and recharged our batteries to keep on exploring. Then, we had time to see with our own eyes the marvelous sightseeing of a Korean typical village when the warmth of spring was spreading over the atmosphere. Luckily, thanks to a kind friend, I was in time to shoot some photos with the hope to keep this wonderful moment in life. The time was over too fast. We went to the School with our own feeling of Korea and great thanks to the KDI School staff, who are accompanying us to across the cultural shocks and get closer to the land of Calm Morning.
Chong Dong Theater
Being in the schedule of students’ activities, Chong Dong theater visit was held on 08, April. It is this place that international can experience the spirit of Korean culture through four traditional Korean performances in dance, pungmul, vocal, and music instruments.
Situated in City Hall, the core of a new cultural belt zone along with neighboring cultural space, Chong Dong Theater is a historical place containing Won-Kak Sa’s (1908) ideology of restoration as a modern special public performance theater for new play and Pan-So-Ri. With three slogans, ‘progression and extension of traditional art’, ‘spreading out a cultural campaign’ and ‘rearing and cultivating culture for young generation’, Chong Dong Theater has contributed considerably in the flourishing of cultural scent through various kinds of art performances.
Before the performance, international were introduced about different kinds of Hanbok and had the chance to try on Korean traditional costume. Hanbok with colorful patterns and it unique characteristics symbolizing the spirit and life of Koreans created deep sentiments in mind of international students.
Beginning at 8.00 p.m, the performance programs focused on (1) Court music ensemble, (2) Taepyungmu, (3) Samunori and Ochestra music, (4) Fan Dance (Buchaechum), (5) Mono-opera (Pansori) Five Drum Dance (O-Gomu) and Farmer Music (Pangut) with animated sounds and lively performance.
The wonderful night was highlighted with a very lovely and exciting dance of performers. Guests were invited to take part in the dance with actors and actresses, making the environment were more excited and lively than ever. A combination of music, dance, laugh, enthusiasm and sympathy closed the impressive and splendid night.
Deep impression about traditional Korean performance and its related activities are still fresh in all international students. These are some of their feelings:
- Daniel (Ethiopia): “It was very amazing to me, a very special Korean traditional custom, Hanbok. Every international student has a chance to try these clothes which are truly Korean. It’s good time for me to enjoy not only in the culture, the songs, but the way they performed. It’s really nice”.
- Bala (India): “What’s a wonderful experience! We have known different aspects of Korean Culture. I am trying to take some things very special of Korean culture to bring to my home country and show my friends.”
- Mohamed (Bangladesh): “I have witnessed a rich and unique Korean culture. I can feel Korean heartbeats in the beats of drums, the rhythm and melody of music, and in every steps of dance when they perform. It’s a wonderful time”.
- Julia (Paraguay): “I have seen the performance once in my country. It’s really fantastic. I am absorbed by the drum and fan performance. Also, we have good chance to try Hanbok but I would be more happy if it were larger to fit me!”.
Sports Day was the last but not least important events in the Spring Semester. It is one of the regular events for all members of KDI School with the purpose of training students’ physical heath, as well as giving them the great opportunity to meet each others, their professors and staff members “physically on the ground” (not purely in the academic context). More particularly, this event contributes to fostering the sports spirit and nourishing the relationship and understanding within the KDI School members.
This year, Sports Day had the attendance of four respectable professors: Prof. Chung Chin Seung, Prof. Ahn Dukgeun, Prof. Jung Kwon and Prof. Park Hun Joo with all the members of School’s staff.
Held on a shinny day of 15 April, Sports Day was really a training day, full of sports for all participants. With diverse activities: soccer (within students, students vs. professors and staff), basketball, tugs of war, line-skating (capture the tail), replay race, to name but a few, the event was a enjoyable and hard-training time, especially for those who had not played sports regularly.
Barbecue, which was held by Diploma students was one of the most memorable time in Sport Day. After half a day exercising and competing with each other, it was a short but valuable time for resting, making acquaintance to others and tasting delicious Korean foods and beverages.
Sports Day marked as a funny, fantastic and memorable time for coming closer with all happy shining people, crossing the barrier of language and culture. Students all wish to meet each other more often in daily time, not just only in Sport Day.
- Bala (The most enjoyable guy of the day): “Sport Day was very funny day. I just joined some cheer groups for laughing. I got the award of big surprise. I expected at least some of the drinks (mapchu or soju) but I found a box full of noodles!!!!”
- Cesar (Paraguay): “It was exciting to meet people and share an enjoyable time. I love it.”
- Kostantinos (Greek): “It was a good chance to meet people and come closer. I would love to be able to remember all Korean first name. I am throwing down the gloves for the derby between students and staff. If only we could have another Sports Day in this summer near the sea!”.
- Deny (Indonesia): “It’s really interesting as we have a great chance to meet, compete and cooperate with each other”.
Maman (Indonesia): “It was fantastic but it would have been more exciting if we had had more Korean guys. I wish we will have Sports Day once a month”.
2005 e-MBA student gathering – real lesson for problem solving
A wonderful and unforgettable get-together: the 2005 evening MBA student went for so-called “membership training (MT),” an overnight picnic in a pension house near Yong-in, 2 hours far from Seoul by car on the date of April 15th evening to 16th. After this great event where almost two third of class spontaneously gathered in a picturesque place, everyone who has been together suddenly seems to be so close each other.
However, looking back all the preparation processes before being on board, it wasn’t easy and smooth going, though. The initial problem was that unclear role definition of the class representative, occurred with a foreign representative who wouldn’t easily get the idea of heavy role as a leader in such strong group culture. Another big challenge was the communication method via 39 students because a simple e-mail thing wouldn’t encourage people far from the front. But those problems amazingly started to be solved as a few students voluntarily came forward for the help to make things happen, like by giving phone calls to each classmate and sharing the preparation works. All the rest of classmates were also so supportive for the event and looked quite excited as D-day approaches.
The gathering started with an outdoor barbecue party in the evening. To our surprise, Prof. Kwon Jung turned out to be a master of barbecue! With such delicious meals following by nice beverages, all looked having fun and didn’t stop laughing over night while singing and chatting.
Another great thing during the MT was we could know better each other discussing one’s goals in KDI School and get precious advices about life from the Professor and senior members. At last, special thanks go to Prof. Kwon Jung who promoted the MT to the students, school staff who cooperatively supported it, and to all of 39 leaders of the class!
By Hieu Thi Minh Vuong (2005 MPP)
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