Monthly Archives: November 2013

Partner Organizations

Design Saengki

saengkiDesign Saengki is a creative graphic design studio which works with various kinds of print design. Saengki has worked with VANK throughout the years in order to produce unique, beautiful, and informative materials as supplements for increasing understanding and educating others about Korean history and culture.

So Ri Lee (Head of Dokdo Policy Division of Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial Office)

이소리님Please provide a brief introduction of Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang Province).

Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang Province) is located on the southeastern coast of South Korea. Historically, it was the center of Gaya culture, the Buddhist culture of the Silla Kingdom, and the Confucian culture of the Joseon dynasty. 20% of Korea’s cultural assets are therefore located in Gyeongsangbuk-do, and we pride ourselves on our cultural richness. Most importantly, Gyeongsangbuk-do is the provincial government that manages the territory of Ulleungdo and Dokdo.

In 2011, we launched Cyber Dokdo, an online that provides information about Dokdo, its history, and how to visit the island. The site is available in four languages; Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese. We also offer a variety of resources and education material.

Who are you and what is your role within in the organization?

My name is So Ri Lee and I am part of the East Coast Development Bureau. I lead the Dokdo Policy Division, and my work focuses strongly on research and education.

How did you come to work at Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial office? When did you first gain interest in your field?

I majored in Japanese but I didn’t have any particular interest in Dokdo. I was a language researcher and through my research, I discovered more and more information about colonial history and the distortion of the history that was being taught in Japan. In 2005, I began working in the Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial office as a Dokdo Resource Researcher. Now, I feel as though it’s my duty to share my research and knowledge with others.
When did the Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial office first begin collaborating with VANK?

In July of 2008, the Japanese government made an official announcement that they would begin incorporating education about their claim on Takeshima (the Japanese nomenclature of Dokdo) in their education curriculum. In response, we thought it was necessary for children to be educated about the Korean perspective. We saw that VANK had already been very involved in this field and had started a Global Dokdo Ambassador site. In early February of 2009, we launched the Cyber Dokdo Academy MOU and we have been working together ever since.
Describe some of the past-present-future programs hosted by VANK and the Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial office.

In total, the Cyber Dokdo Academy has had over 70,000 members. VANK takes charge of the all online education, site management, and content creation. Our office merely offers support, resources, and research materials. We also play a role in the Dokdo Camp, when selected VANK students get the opportunity to personally visit Dokdo. Up until 2011, the only offline events we hosted were the Dokdo camps. However, for the past two years, we have been working together in hosting Global Ambassador offline education and the Global History Diplomacy Strategist program. The quality of the content and the available resources has improved significantly. We plan to continue our outreach to other countries and we’ll looking forward to coming up with a variety of new programs in diverse options.
What are some of the impressions you gained while working with VANK? What is your opinion about the staff and students?

Honestly, it’s not easy to collaborate effectively for a long time with anyone. However, the passion and sincere attitude that lays as a foundation behind all of VANK’s work makes it easy for me to trust them. It’s great to see an organization that works to promote Korea with genuineness. I can see how the president inspires and encourage students through his speech and education programs. The staff approaches the concept of Dokdo and sharing Korean culture in a very realistic manner. They also give their all to provide for their members in a warm and comforting way. VANK always does a great job and I am so grateful for them. I truly hope that their sincerity can reach out to numerous areas in the global community.

-VANK Story 2013-

Excursion to Mongolia

By Intern Gloria Kang

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On Monday, September 30th, we gathered at the airport with our suitcases filled with clothes and VANK souvenirs to share with the students we would meet in Mongolia. A brief three hours later, we landed in Mongolia and set off for our hotel. Mongolia was shockingly cold but it was difficult to dampen my excitement.

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The next day began with an early trip to Sukhbaatar Square, the central square of Ulaanbaatar. There we saw the impressive statues of Genghis Khan, Ogedei Khan, Kublai Khan, and Damdin Sukhbaataar. Our guide described the legacy of these historical figures and the special places they had in the hearts of Mongolian people. We then made our way to the National Museum of Mongolia. The museum provided an excellent introduction to the extensive history and culture of Mongolia. We walked through each exhibition, noting the differences and similarities with our own cultures back home.

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It soon became time for our first event so we made our way over to Mongolia International University. The program was prepared in the following order: introduction by VANK President Gi Tae Park, traditional fan dance, haegeum performance, taekwondo performance, taekkyeon performance, K-pop performance, and finally an interactive True or False quiz.

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My role comprised of dancing in the traditional fan dance performance, and helping out with ushering and other minor duties. Our initial audience was comprised of a few students who were interested in Korean culture but the group quickly grew during the rest of the event. We were fortunate enough to hold a small forum with a cozy number of students and they expressed their general feelings about our performances, lecture, and main core concepts. I was interested to hear about the historical, political, and social conflicts between Mongolia and China. The university students were kind and articulate about their perspectives and it was eye-opening to exchange dialogue with peers from a different cultural background.

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We headed out early on Wednesday morning to Ulaanbataar University only to be greeted by gridlock traffic. After an hour of frustratingly slow progress, we picked up our things and jumped off the bus. Dressed in full hanboks and performance attire, we ran through the streets of Ulaanbataar and drew gazes and stares. We barely arrived on time and set up our things to immediately start our program. The audience for that morning was students who were majoring in Korean Language or Korean Studies. Although our translator was still needed, the audience would laugh and pick up on much of the Korean that was being spoken. The packed room was filled tight with hundreds of responsive students and exuded a heartwarming atmosphere.

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After the event, we had a quiet lunch with six Ulaanbataar University students in order to gain some insight on the life of typical Mongolian student. The students discussed academic life, daily life, likes and dislikes, and concerns about post-graduation life. I was able to hear about the Mongolian people’s tension with China, and they shed light on the historical and current social events that played a large role in the Mongolian identity. Some of the students had prior experiences in Korea and they shared their stories with us. They were funny and bright, and I realized once more how easy it can be for people from seemingly completely different backgrounds  to truly enjoy each others’ company. Of all the events in Mongolia, this was my personal favorite because of the chance to speak to Mongolian students, hear about their lives, and really engage in cultural exchange. As we parted, I only wished that we could have had a bit more time together.

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Later in the afternoon, we climbed to the top of Zaisan Memorial, and were rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of Ulaanbataar and its adjacent mountain ranges. At the foot of the memorial was a small park commemorating a Korean matyr by the name of Lee Tae Joon. He was involved in the Korean independence movement but he was also a doctor for the Mongolian King and served the Mongolian people. It was fascinating to see and learn about the historical people and events that built bridges between Korea and Mongolia.

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The next day, we were at Huree University of Information and Communication Technology. One of the VANK interns spoke about his background in environmental engineering and the collaborations between Mongolia and Korea in order to improve new technologies regarding heating and air pollution. He mentioned how his academic background and his interest in the global community was a harmonious blend with his desire to benefit his country. We spent our evening at the Mongolian National Song & Dance Ensemble. The folk and traditional music, song, dance, and contortion of Mongolia was truly like nothing I’ve ever seen before but it was all riveting and skillfully beautiful.

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My final day took me to the steppes of Mongolia and we were surrounded by endless mountain ranges. The visual scenery seemed too incredible and grand to be real. Honestly, it was one of the most impressive sights I have ever seen. In the midst of the grand open space and magnificent elevations, I felt so small and dull but simultaneously blessed to be able to be minor part of the same world. Mongolia is truly a dazzling place and my excursion with VANK gave me a chance to actively participate in cultural exchange through unforgettable people, places, and experiences.

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-VANK Story 2013-