Category Archives: Interns

International Intern – Yang Gae-La


%e5%9b%be%e7%89%871Yang Gae-La – China

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

Hello, my name is Yang Gae-La and I am from China. It has been 5 years since I’ve been in Korea and currently I am studying at WooSong University. Since I was young, I’ve been raised differently from others. Starting at the age of 6, I grew up reading “The Nine Chinese Classics”, learning liberal arts, politics, history, economics, business management, etc. of not only China but also other foreign countries. Then, I finally decided to study abroad in Korean after learning Taekwondo for about 5 years.

I think learning a foreign language is not just learning the language itself but also learning about the history and culture of the foreign country. That is why I decided to self-study in those areas. Last year, my friend recommended me to join VANK and that led me to participate in the 11th Global Tourism and Culture Diplomat events and receive a reward. In the future, my dream is to become an analyst, but I want to use my skills for a better relationship between Korea and China.

2. How did you start interning at Vank?

At first, I thought Koreans introducing things about Korea and Chinese people introducing things about China was a given. However, after hearing Vank’s founder presentation and the activities that the young adults partake in, I changed my mind. Promoting Korea is not only a work for Koreans or democrats, but also something foreigners can do by learning about the culture and spreading the knowledge all across the world.

Especially, I don’t think Korean young adults are promoting Korea as the “#1 country”, but they are promoting Korea’s history and culture as challenging and emotional. To promote Korea myself, I studied a lot into Korea’s culture and I thought the Silla Dynasty was very interesting. Silla was the weakest of the 3 kingdoms but was still able to achieve unification between the 3 kingdoms. It is an emotional history where they made the impossible possible. Honestly, I went to visit Gwang-ju to see the area in person. Visiting a place with a history of over a thousand years made my heart race and became a very meaningful experience for myself who is promoting Korea.

3. How was your experience at VANK?

At first, I was introduced to VANK through a friend and I thought, “At a time where I should do things that would benefit me, should I work for a country where I am not from?” I had a lot of doubts. Wondering what I would do at VANK, I started to learn out of curiosity. Later, I met with the founder of VANK and became in love with the staff and the organization itself. I am not exaggerating that I fell in love at first sight and I developed an interest and love for the organization.

My duties in VANK are to find erroneous information about Korea through the Korean Culture and History Diplomat programs and to promote Korea. For VANK, I went to Thailand alone and I have also promoted Korea there. The supplemental materials that VANK provided me were useful. Additionally, I went back to China during Valentines’ Day and suggested to people to go to Korea while distributing roses. However, there was a dilemma. I also got the opportunity to use my Chinese on Chinese students and since I knew the stand point of Chinese people, I was able to communicate effectively and I received a lot of great responses.

Honestly, as a foreigner, promoting Korea was not an easy job. I am not too sure if this work is considered easy for Native Koreans, but as a person from China I thought it would be impossible. Especially, I was not adept at the language, culture, and history of Korea and I also had a personal issue. During middle school, I was diagnosed with a skin disorder so I received 4 surgeries on my face. Thereafter, my confidence fell and I eventually got caught into depression. I was not able to talk with people around. After coming to Korea and experiencing life in a foreign country, my confidence got a lot better but it was still difficult for me to promote Korea in front of people. However, overcoming this difficulty was a chance for me to improve myself so I worked with more confidence.

Honestly, I have always tried my best but I’ve never thought I would be rewarded as a Korean diplomat. Out of 300 people, being picked as top 50 was not an easy thing to do, especially for a foreigner. That is why I believe that if a person has the dedication then that person can do better than a person with a better skill set. It was a big life lesson for me. From this experience, I found out that I have no limits. It felt like I was born again.

4. What did you contribute to VANK’s goals?

I think VANK is an organization that inspires and help achieve dreams within young adults. However, seeing the negative information about VANK in the Chinese translation of Wikipedia, I was hurt to hear that a lot of people thought of VANK as an organization that was weird and had a too much pride on Korean supremacy. I corrected some information about VANK on a widely used Wikipedia-like site in China. Additionally, to change people’s opinions on VANK and their staff, I promoted VANK in a positive way through Weibo and many blogs. Furthermore, there are still many people who have negative opinions about VANK but I will respect their opinions while helping to build a better relationship between both countries.

5. During your internship, what were your goals and what did you learn? Did you achieve those goals?

It hurts to hear all these negative comments about VANK in China, so I went on 3 of the most visited online sites in China and promoted VANK and corrected information about Dokdo and the East Sea. Additionally, I decided to periodically post on Weibo and blogs about VANK. I feel like there are lots of Koreans who are experts on Japan and America, but not on China, so I set a goal to summarize information about Korea and Chinese historical figures in Chinese and Korean.

During my internship, I was able to achieve these goals. First of all, out of the 3 major sites in China, I was able to correct and upload information about VANK and the East Sea on 2 of the sites. However, I tried to correct information on Baidu and Wikipedia for 2 weeks but they did not approve of my request. It was to the point where Wikipedia told me they will blacklist my account. Secondly, I was able to promote Vank and Dokdo to netizens on Weibo and other blogs. Third, I uploaded some videos promoting Korea on online sites except one site which had problems with uploading the videos (the videos were still uploaded in parts). Lastly, I picked 4 historical figures for each China and Korea summarized about them in both languages so that people from China and Korea can learn each other’s history.

6. During your internship, what did you improve on?

I think the most difficult time for me was the Dokdo Camp. As a foreigner, it is difficult to give my opinion on topics like Dokdo so I was very worried during the camp. Haven’t nothing to do with my homeland, participating in the activities felt very awkward. On top of that, the weekend I went to Dokdo I coincidently saw a news article of my interview which they changed the title and content on their own which made me very furious. After many complaints, they took down the news article. There were information of THAAD, Korea-China relations, and territorial problems so I felt very bad that they had to take the article down. I felt very thankful to Park Gi-Tae who helped me through this situation.

Also, I’ve always did things according to a set plan but VANK taught me how to work in a different way which opened my imagination and creativity. With Korea being heavily influenced by the Confucianism culture in aspects such as age and work position, VANK was completely different.

7. Any feelings while working at VANK?

Don’t rely on others and don’t wait for the work to come to you. Instead, use your creativity to do what you have to do and do what you want to do. That is what I felt while interning at VANK. In other companies, you have to follow a certain curriculum or model but VANK is a great organization that trains young adults to be more imaginative and creative and offers them great opportunities.

8. Any advice for someone who wants to become a Korean Diplomat?

Through Vank’s activities, I wish you can overcome any personal difficulties you may have. A position in Vank is much better than a position as the president, am I right? Well, people might not agree but if you feel the confidence from VANK’s activities you may feel the pride of becoming a member. You can recover through any problems.

I feel like we aren’t enjoying life like westerners. From a young age, Korean students are pressured into intense studying and once they are in college, they have to prepare for a job. This way of life seems very mundane and there seems to be no real dreams. Just as you are continuously making an effort with VANK, you should also aim for your real dream.

9. Any advice on promoting Korea?

While learning about Korea’s History, it’s not about how successful you become or what job you got into, it’s the effort that matters the most. There are lots of difficulties that young adults face like unemployment. There are also Koreans who are ashamed of their own country because of all the current problems. However, as a foreigner, Korea seems like a dynamic country with a lot of potential. Hence, Korean young adults should have more pride in their country first.

When Koreans promote Korea, they only show the aspects that they want to or an aspect through the eyes of Koreans. Since I am a foreigner, I promote aspects from Korea’s perspective and also take China’s perspective into account. Additionally, using the vast 5,000 year history of Korea, start with a topic that the target audience would like and move from there to promoting Korea. Try to initiate the conversation with a broad subject like East Asia instead of starting with Korea. For example, while talking to people about General Yi Sun-Shin, try to talk about other historical figures from other countries during that time. To do this, it is imperative that we must be adept in other countries’ history. When I read articles that don’t have a stand with a single opinion, there were interesting things and many things to learn. Hence, I recommend reading books not only about Korea but also East Asian countries or even about countries on other continents so that you can promote Korea in a very friendly way.

10. What are your future plans?

Because of the recent THAAD deployment plans and conflicts between Korea and China in general, the relations between the two is very unstable. I want to prove to Korean young adults that Korea and China are not enemies but are friends.

I disagree with a lot of Vank’s statements on Balhae and Goguryeo’s history and China’s “Northeastern Project” opposition, etc. However I respect Vank’s position on Northeastern Peace and the unifying efforts between China, Korea, and Japan to play a bigger role in the world. That is how I became a Korean diplomat. That is why I will play a big role in promoting Korea and China when I go back to China. Furthermore, I will provide help for any situations where there are problems between the two countries that we can’t see.

11. Any last words for VANK and the staff?

Working at Vank was very difficult but it was the happiest period during my stay in Korea. While heading to Dokdo camp, I was uncomfortable and the company, students, and friends probably thought I was rude, considering relations in Korea. I want to thank the founder, Park Gi-Tae, for taking care of me and I want to apologize.

Since the beginning of my 5 year stay in Korea, I felt that my positive feelings of Korea have been diminishing over time. However, seeing everyone at VANK with friendly and open-minded personalities, I began to fall in love with Korea all over again. Not having many skills to offer, I am sorry that I couldn’t have met VANK’s expectations during the 2 months. However, if you need any help from me, I will always be willing to help.


Translated by: Elton Chun



International Intern – Troy Chong


1464841359196Troy Chong – USA

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Troy Chong and I am a senior in the Korean Language Flagship program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  I was born in Hawaii and have lived in Hawaii for my whole life. This past year, I completed my capstone abroad program for Korean Flagship and also worked as an intern for VANK during that time period.

How did you start interning at VANK?

The Korean Language Flagship has a requirement of doing an internship during the 1 year abroad capstone program. Thanks to this, I was able to intern with VANK and stay with them for about a year while learning more about Korean history and culture.

What were your duties as an intern?

As an intern, my main assignments were translation work and also monitoring and updating the VANK English website. I also assisted at VANK events as a member of the VANK staff.

What was the best part of working at VANK?

There were many perks to working with VANK, but the best experiences were probably when I was able to travel to different areas in Korea with the staff. I was able to see the countryside of Korea and also partake in the different cuisines that the different Korean regions had to offer. These experiences were one of a kind and I feel that they will stick with me for the rest of my life.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

From this internship, I was able to learn about how Korean history has been distorted over the years and learn more about the culture. Also, I was able to see how a successful NGO operated and the kinds of tasks that they did. Finally, I feel that this internship helped me to improve my language skills and become more task focused.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short-term goal is to graduate with a BBA in Finance and BA in Korean Flagship by the Spring semester. My long-term goal is to use my Korean language in supplementing in the field that I plan to work in and possibly spread the knowledge about the correct information of Korea, if anyone were to state wrong, distorted facts.

Are there any last words you would like to say to VANK?

I just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation towards the entire VANK staff for taking care of me over the year. Even though there were some unfortunate events that prevented me from coming out in the beginning of the term, the staff still welcomed me with open arms and was very considerate to the situation I was in. I will never forget the time I spent at VANK and wish them well in their future endeavors.


International Intern – Jai Kim

1435202865377Jai Kim – USA

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Jai Eun Kim and I am currently a senior in the Korean Language Flagship program at University of Hawaii at Manoa. I was born in Korea and I immigrated to Hawaii at the age of six. Last year, I completed my study abroad capstone and also worked as an intern at VANK during my time in Korea.


How did you start interning at VANK?

The Korean Language Flagship Program includes a year studying abroad in Korea at Korea University and an internship of our choice. I was interested in interning at an NGO so the program coordinator suggested VANK to me. Before my interview at VANK I researched about VANK and learned how they correct distorted Korean history in the world and became interested.


What were your duties as an intern?

As an intern I did some translation work at times and assisted at VANK events. One of my main projects were to work on the VANK Story website. Some of the blogs that I uploaded were about Korean culture, issues regarding Dokdo and comfort women, and also about Korean history.

Another project that I did was to find information on Korean history through online websites. I would translate the content of that website into Korean and record information on that website. This project was to find out what kind of information there was about Korea in different websites.


Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

I started my internship worried about communicating solely in Korean, but as I worked at VANK that was not a problem at all. Everyone at VANK helped me to improve my Korean everyday as I worked there. If I had any questions they would spend time to explain things such as certain cultural differences. I didn’t expect anything when I started at VANK, but I left with experiencing a family-like environment rather than a work environment.


What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

From working as an intern at VANK I gained relationships with not only people who worked at VANK but also other students who interned at VANK. Everyone at VANK seemed like family and also treated me with the same kindness.

I also gained knowledge about things that could not be taught in the classroom such as issues surrounding Dokdo and comfort women. Also I learned that there are lots of distorted Korean history on the Internet. Some of the ones I found included the “Sea of Japan” instead of the corrected term “East Sea”.


Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short-term goal is to graduate with my BA next semester and start applying to a masters Korean program. My long-term goal is to continue to use Korean language in whatever field I go into. Also, I hope to find a job after graduating from my masters program to contribute back to NGO’s such as VANK that are promoting Korea globally.


Are there any last words you would like to say to VANK?

I don’t think I was able to express my gratitude towards the people at VANK during my last days of internship. I wanted to say I was grateful for the kindness they gave me during the year. I was able to comfortably work at VANK and get close to everyone because the people at VANK really do treat you like family. A year went by so quickly but I will cherish the moments I had with the VANK family. Thank you again for everything and I will always cheer on VANK in the future!

International Intern – Mutiara Maknun

8092Mutiara Maknun –  Indonesia

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

Hello, I am Mutiara Maknun from Indonesia. I am currently studying International Management  in Universitas Brawijaya, Indonesia.


2. How did you start interning at VANK?

It was the first time when I was offered by a friend who was working as the member of AIESEC Brawijaya at that time, and she offered me a program named Global Youth Ambassador which gives an opportunity to have a kind of internship program in overseas. As I search about VANK after applying to this program, I see that VANK has good aims in promoting Korean histories, places and people. Which are the things that I want to know more about South Korea.

3. What was the best part of working at VANK?

The best time working at VANK is the time when I am with the VANK’s team can make a great change in the work we do. As VANK working in promoting the Korean history, change or add additional information in Wikipedia and other important websites, I feel honour to be part of this organization. They like to help each other and treat each other like family.

4. What were your duties as an intern?

I have the task to find some similarities and difference between Korea and Indonesia. Even we born in the same Asian country, in some specific field, Korea and Indonesia has huge differences.  However, the culture and speaking manner are somehow the same. Beside that, I need to search about Indonesian websites which introduce about South Korea and correct some mistakes on the website. Furthermore, VANK has many websites and it is an honour to have a chance to translate them in Bahasa Indonesia.  As these days Indonesian citizen are really interested in South Korea’s culture, it will be nicer for them to know Korean more from all of the VANK’s websites.

Lastly, they also ask me to present about Indonesia and its history and culture to get a deeper understanding about it. They said that Indonesian people speak many different languages and live in diversity environment which makes it interesting.

5. What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

As it is the first experience for me to have an internship, I can have a chance to see how a working environment will be like in the future. I gain many new knowledge about Korean’s history and culture. Especially Dokdo that I never heard before and comfort women issues in Korea which is seem to be still going on, with the Wednesday protest in front of the Japan’s Embassy, while in Indonesia the issue is rarely to be discussed.

6. Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short term goal is I will go back to Indonesia to finish my last year in University. I only have one semester left to have my graduation next year hopefully and then I might have to start working soon.  The long term goal that I have for now is I will keep teaching Indonesia and Javanese language to my students as my hobby and part time job.

7. Before you came to Korea what was your impression of Korea?

The first thing that I know about Korea is that KPOP is really popular these days in my country and I heard the way Korean people work has high professionalism. They are as hard working as Japanese. Korean cosmetics are also globally well-known for their good quality and the plastic surgery is common.

8. What do you think about Korea, now that you have been here for 7 weeks?

Due to my departure in the summer time, I think simmer in Korea is so humid. But other than that, I really like Korean foods and the portion is really big. I like the way Korean likes to have a dessert such Bingsu after the main meal. And Korean people are nice and helpful even on the street. They give me some direction even some of them can’t speak English well.

Furthermore, I like the fact that Korean people appreciate their culture, and many museums and historical places are taken care really well.

9. What is your most memorable thing about Korea?

The most memorable thing is the time when VANK members and I go to Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was my second time I visited there, but the time when VANK’s members and I went there, we need to wear Korean Traditional Clothes, Hanbok,  to have such a Hanbok campaign for the high school students. I like that kind of cultural activities which let me explore more the Korean cultures.

10. Is there any last words you would like to say to VANK?

First of all, thank you for having me in this kind of wonderful family. Thank you for helping me a lot and being nice to me for the past weeks I have been working here. It was really nice to experience such a different culture even still rooted in the same Asian region. I appreciate all the effort that VANK’s member did here in order for me to feel more comfortable and let me learn and practice my Korean more. Unconsciously the time flies and I need to go back, but the memories remain and if another day we get another chance to meet again, I will happily say hello for the second time.

VANK International Interns

Atef Amri – France

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Atef I am 24, and I am from France, Paris. I am currently a Master’s student at the Neoneoma Business School in Paris.

2. How did you start interning at VANK?

I am a member of AIESEC in France. AIESEC is the world’s largest student run organization with 124 countries involved. It is an organization that provides internships around the world such as paid internships and volunteer internships and through this organization I found VANK. In my business school we are required to do an internship and as I found VANK’s mission statement I decided to apply. I was interested in Asia because I knew little about the culture and I didn’t want to stay only in Paris so that is how I started interning at VANK.

3. What was the best part of working at VANK?

The best part about working at VANK was being surrounded by passionate people. Since everyone here is passionate about their work it really inspires you to work harder. They become curious about your country and that’s how you start to become interested in them and their country. I know I won’t be able to find a place as special and unique as VANK.

4.What would you say is the most regrettable thing?

When I first started to learn about VANK the first thing that interested me was Dokdo. So the most regrettable thing was not having the chance to go to the Dokdo camp because it was held before I arrived.

5. What were your duties as an intern?

The first task I had as an intern at VANK was to do a presentation about France. This presentation made me learn that VANK has an open-minded view that allows them to be curious about other cultures. I started to understand why they were so curious about other countries. It was because in order to have peace within the world there must be an understanding of differences.

Other tasks that I did were to translate videos and also I had the opportunity to translate the entire website “May we speak”. The most important task that I had was to look for contents on the internet about Korea in French. I found mistakes about Sea of Japan instead of East Sea and also Takeshima instead of Dokdo. After I found these mistakes I made an excel document of the websites and then I started to email these websites and inform them of their mistakes. Currently, I have started to get some feedback from these websites saying they will change Sea of Japan to East Sea. I also got to analyze some similarities and differences of France and Korea which was interesting. Lastly, I had the opportunity of being interviewed on different occasions.

6. Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not.

My internship experience was better than I have expected. Before interning here I thought that the work would be repetitive, but the tasks at VANK were diverse and everyday was different for me. I was able to do my work a little every day. Also, I never got bored because in France internship is perceived to be difficult and long but at VANK they allowed me to have new experiences every day.

7.What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

There are two main things that I have gained from interning at VANK, leadership and better communication skills. As a business student I had many presentations but through VANK I had the opportunity of speaking at a conference and I also presented at Sugang University about my experiences in Korea.

8.Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short-term goal is to go back to school and to study hard. Also, I have to finish 2 more years of my masters program. My long-term goal is to have an international career. I have always been interested in different cultures and I want to travel to different countries, especially in Asia. I would love to start my international career in Asia and stay there for two years then travel to a different country.

On a side note my hobby is sailing, which I love. I want to sail around the world in the Clipper race which lasts for one year. After graduation and before my professional career life I would like to participate in this race.

9.Is there anything you would like to say to the future international interns?

I would like to tell them to not be lazy because time goes by fast. Since time is limited go out to see the city and learn to be curious. Always ask questions about the food and culture or about anything such as tasks. Enjoy your time here and don’t be scared to try new things.

10.Before you came to Korea what was your impression of Korea? 

Basically, all I knew about Korea was that it was a very far place. In France I knew nothing about Korea. French textbooks don’t have context about the different countries in Asia. I only knew the simple and basic things such as the country is divided; Samsung is Korean, and Kpop.

11. What do you think about Korea, now that you have been here for 7 weeks? 

Korea is the soul of Asia. It truly is a beautiful country and people here are all nice, welcoming, and warm. Even on the streets people are willing to help me find directions. Sometimes in Paris people are so busy with their lives that they often forget to help others. Seoul is definitely a city that never sleeps; it is so different from Paris because shops usually close early. However, in Seoul a lot of shops and stores are open late into the night. Also, the food is amazing. In Paris I ate Chinese food so I was not cautious about trying Korean food. I also really like spicy food so my favorite Korean food is army stew.

12.What is your most memorable thing about Korea? 

The most memorable thing about Korea is the architecture. How the old traditional houses beautifully blend in with nature. In Paris you cannot see buildings and nature together but, in Korea you can see the culture within the city. In Korea, tradition and modernization have a good balance.

13. After working here what kind of place do you think VANK is? 

To me VANK is home and family. My experience here has been greatly shaped by these amazing people. Everyone here is like family and I was honored to have been part of it.

14.Is there any last words you would like to say to VANK? 

I would like to say I will miss everyone here. Time went by too fast and I will always remember my time here. I’m sad to leave but I want to say I love you VANK family.


VANK Korean Interns

Yeontaek Woo

9620011542_4ccfc7cd4f (1)

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

I am currently a freshman at Kyonggi University majoring in Environmental Engineering. I am particularly interested in automotive engineering and water supply and treatment.

How did you first get involved with VANK? How did you start interning at VANK?

I have now been involved in VANK for around four years. In high school, my homeroom teacher recommended that I start a VANK club at our school. I was interested because I thought it would look great on my resume. However, I slowly became very active and really involved in the organization. As an active member, I was given a chance to speak about my personal dreams at a VANK event. I said that my dream was to be a VANK intern (laughs). The staff picked up the hint and suggested that I intern over the summer.

Describe your previous involvement and experiences as a VANK member.

I began as the Club Leader of the VANK at my high school. I received recognition as a club leader and completed my training in nearly all of VANK’s education programs. I interned at the office last summer and am interning this summer as well. During the first summer I interned, Da-Hae (the other intern) and I wrote a VANK guidebook for all student club leaders. The guidebook is meant for student club leaders to use as a reference in starting VANK chapters, hosting events, obtaining resources, and all other useful information.
In high school, we met about eight times a year in order to host events like club booths, student surveys, awareness events, and video clip screenings. I spent about 30 hours a week contacting my pen pals through Facebook, Kakao, and email. I even met up with friends who visited Korea and I still contact some of them to this day.

What are your current duties as an intern?

I’ve been rewriting and updating school manual as needed. Additionally, VANK currently hosts eleven different schools for fields such as culture, digital diplomacy, history, etc. I’ve been analyzing the trends and patterns of the students involved and their reflection pieces. My other duties involve helping out at events and assisting in judging member assignment pieces.

What have you gained from your VANK experiences?

I initially started being involved in VANK purely to boost my resume. But VANK helped me find my dreams and I continued to be active in order to find my path, not just get into college.
VANK is more known for its activities with Dokdo and the East Sea, and it may seem as though there isn’t a large connection between environmental studies and VANK. However, global issues are a large component of VANK’s World Changer program. When I participated in the VANK and KOICA Global Village Leader Program, the core topic was United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and one of the assignments was about water deficiency. We learned about transforming disinterest to interest, interest to action, and finally, action to fulfillment. It was around the time that I needed to decide my major for college and I decided to look further into environmental engineering. I became hooked .

What are some of the most rewarding/proudest moments of your time with VANK?

There are several moments that come to mind. When I first heard Mr. Park speak about the importance of thinking beyond qualifications on your resume or your personal life in order to pursue a greater purpose for yourself and your country, I was really moved. I felt a strong sense of responsibility, especially in regards to contributing to correcting factual errors about Korea. It changes my whole perspective on life and sparked a passion in me.
The second moment was when I was finally given the chance to intern at VANK. It was amazing to be able to work with the same people who helped me find my dreams. There are also so many passionate children involved in VANK. They will sit at lectures and literally write down every single word. I feel like I am a role model for these children and I still get requests to do interviews or speak at events.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

This summer break, I’m currently involved in two different things: interning at VANK and participating in a project for UNEP Korea (United Nations Environment Programme). I want to complete both duties successfully.
In the long run, I would like to get involved in professional volunteering with KOICA in Africa. I’m very interested in environment and development through appropriate technology. I’ve also considered grad school or eventually working for the Public Health and Environment Research Institute of Korea. But, who knows, I’m still young (laughs).
I want to stay involved in VANK for as all as VANK is still in existence. I think I show a new aspect of VANK that isn’t usually seen. I want to prove to people that you can achieve your goals while improving Korea and the global community.

DaeMyeong (Michael) Choi 


Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

I am currently a high school senior at Yettrang Academy. I was also an assemblyman in the 5th Youth National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. This is currently my fourth time interning at VANK.

How did you start interning at VANK?

I was interested in history and began thinking about how I could become more active in pursuing my dream. My friends and I became VANK members because we agreed and felt connected with the organization’s mission and beliefs. I felt that it was a great community where young students could express their passions and feel empowered about making a difference. My experiences with VANK were so meaningful that I began interning for short periods of time. I started interning full-time in December because I wanted to really devote my time to VANK in an opportunity where I felt I could really learn and grow before college.

What are your duties as an intern?

My main project consists of contacting Korean Studies scholars and academics from around the world. I ask them for recommendations on research topics and ask for their perspectives on the research I’ve done on some relatively unknown topics. With the feedback from these scholars, I can get a clear understanding of how to approach certain topics as I continue with my research. The purpose of the project is partly for my own personal research but it is also in search of potential topics that may be worthy of sharing with the international community. All the scholars have agreed that history tends to have a western-centric bias since it has continuously been recorded by the victors. However, scholars differ in their methodology. Some believe that history should be interpreted at face value as it’s been recorded but others believe that it’s crucial to seek out the truth and its impact on the present. I personally believe that it’s very important to understand the truth behind historical events in order to understand its impact on people and any other resulting issues that must be addressed.

Is your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

This is my fourth time as an intern at VANK but it’s my first time interning full time. The organization has entrusted me with multiple responsibilities and freedoms. I’ve been given opportunities to make presentations and am encouraged to share my ideas. Overall, it’s been a great opportunity with very little pressure. What have you gained from your experience as an intern? I’ve been able to reflect about many issues that I was personally conflicted about. I wanted to study history but I always wondered what I could do personally do as a historian. I wondered why we were always required to follow the history of the victors. It’s been a time for me to grow and seek out my own answers. The best part is meeting the numerous VANK members and sharing our dreams for the future.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

I want to do well on my high school exam (laughs) and successfully complete all my projects here at VANK. In the long run, I want to learn multiple languages like French, Chinese, and Latin.


Ji Won Shin

jiwon picturePlease give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Jiwon and I am 18 years old. I live in Gwangju, Gyeonggido.

What inspired you to get involved in VANK?

When I was in elementary school, I used to watch a lot of television trials and I thought about becoming a judge because I thought it was cool. However, I became interested in the issue of the Japanese government changing the labels on maps from Dokdo to Takeshima. I was interested in the process of how it was becoming a territorial dispute so I looked into the controversy and found out about VANK.

I knew about VANK for a while but I thought I couldn’t join until I paid the membership fee so I enrolled when I became a high school student.  I went through the education program as soon as I got the chance. I also participated in the joint event with KOICA and after I completed the World Changer education program, I started a VANK school club at my school in 11th grade.

How has your involvement in VANK changed you? 

I’ve definitely gained a larger perspective. Through VANK, particularly the World Changer program, I started thinking about and gaining interest in global issues like environmental issues and many other issues that people generally aren’t  aware of. Through the involvement in my school club, I was also given lots of opportunities to speak in front of large crowds. I used to be very nervous when talking in front of people but I am not able to express myself. My public speaking skills grew and I also learned how to interact well with others and big groups.

Most importantly, I learned the value of finding your dreams. Although others believed that I was involved in VANK as a resume-builder, I truly believed in the cause and was passionate about my activities. It became a bit stressful and competitive because career counselors would use me and new articles of me as examples of how to build your resume but I was purely interested in the movement.

How did you start interning at VANK?

I interned at VANK during January and February of 2012. I had always mentioned wanting to intern to the staff and one day, the timing worked out. President Park asked me to drop by the office and start right away.        

What were your duties as an intern?

I had always been interested in the issue of comfort women. I often participate in the Wednesday Strikes that take place in front of the Japanese Embassy. I used to volunteer at the House of Sharing, a home where comfort women live or meet together as a community. There, I would help clean, cook, and help around with the house while getting a chance to talk to the grandmothers and hear their stories. House of Sharing is very strict about who gets to meet the grandmothers. The grandmothers often struggle with having to relive difficult memories every time they share their stories. Additionally, they feel as they’ve sometimes become spectacles for curious visitors. They feel a certain pressure about having to live up to something or prove something when all they want is a closure and justice.

As an intern, I managed a social media project in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to raise awareness about the comfort women human rights issues. I also organized a flash mob in Gwanghwamun Square. Honestly, there are many Koreans who aren’t informed about the issue but that’s slowly changing.  Even international media and people in positions of power have picked up interest on the issue and the pressure for a formal apology has increased.

Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

The VANK office always had a great atmosphere and I just enjoyed the fact of just being there. I was slightly scared because for the first time, I had to have my own opinion and personal philosophy. I felt like I was growing up beyond my role as a student. Additionally people always say that nothing is ever as it seems but I didn’t feel that way about VANK at all. There were no pretentions, no fakeness. They were always great.

Describe your most meaningful experiences.

Through VANK, I’ve seen people change for the better. It’s fascinating but I’ve seen people without dreams become touched and motivated. Just the other day, my friend and I were completely depressed but the way that I talked about my own life was very different. She told me that she wished that she had something like VANK in her own life where she could gain encouragement and sense of purpose in difficult times.

One year, we had an international exchange program at our high school where several Japanese students attended our school. I learned that most Japanese people don’t care or don’t know about historical conflicts. It’s very much played up by the media and select politicians in Japan so it’s quite unfair to the rest of the Japanese population, especially those who are interested in Korea. It’s also unfortunate because the extremist statements and actions heavily impact our perspective here in Korea. In the end, I realized that we’re all just high school students with similar interests.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

I want to ace my exams and go to a school where I’ll be happy. I want to earn enough money where I can donate and give endlessly without worries. I want to give enough to make a difference and the change the world for the better. I want to always think beyond myself.


Hyunsoo (Marco) Kim


Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

I’m a sophomore majoring in International Studies at Kyung Hee University. I recently completed my military service in the Korean army this January. My hobbies include meeting new people and constantly learning new information.

How did you start interning at VANK?

After I returned from the army, I wanted to become more active in my passion for international history. A friend of mine mentioned VANK in one of our conversations so I looked into the organization. After some research, I came up with ideas on how I felt I could contribute and contacted VANK. However, when I asked them to meet with me, they turned me down (laughs). Afterwards, I went through the Cyber Diplomat process and began reflecting on how much I really knew about Korean history. I also thought about what I could offer VANK through the perspective as a student. I re-drafted a report on each of VANK’s websites and how I felt they could be improved. VANK contacted me and ask me to go ahead and take charge of fulfilling my suggested improvements.

What are your duties as an intern?

I’ve mainly been working on VANK’s YouTube channel. I felt that the titles of the videos clips were too vague and wasn’t drawing all of the potential viewership. I noticed that out of all of VANK’s educational clips, the ones with the most specific titles had the most view counts. I’ve been changing the names of some of the clips in order to see if that will increase viewership and improve visibility in related search functions. I also just recently started a PR project meant to attract interest for our educational Dokdo program.

Is your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

My only regret is that I’m unable to completely devote all my time and energy to my internship because of my responsibilities with school and schoolwork. I enjoy how much VANK trusts me to makes a positive contribution and that trust motivates to work even harder.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

I want to continue to provide my perspective as a student to VANK. And I want to keep doing my best and absorb as much knowledge and information as I can. For long term, I want to become a professional in this field and work as a bridge between different countries in the global community.


Jinseon (Selena) Kim


Please give me a brief introduction of yourself.
I’m Jinseon Kim (Selena), a rising senior at Cornell University. I have been studying in the states for seven years now. I’m a biology major with a nutrition minor. I’m planning to work for a bit at a biotech company (hopefully) before I eventually go to grad school, work on my Ph.D and continue research in the bio/molecular bio sectors of cancer research.

How did you start interning at VANK?
I found out about VANK in my sophomore year of high school. My mom saw information about VANK’s Gwangaeto project on the news encouraged me to apply for it. As a high school student in the states, I was aware of historical issues involving Dokdo and East Sea, and I thought it was a good opportunity to apply. After participating in the Gwangaeto project, I wanted to be more involved and became an official member of VANK. After the cyber training, I was more aware of lots of historical conflicts in Korea, and I wanted to contribute more. In the spring of my sophomore year, I contacted Mr. Gi Tae Park and asked him if I could intern for the summer. After a short interview in the beginning of summer, I became an intern. It lasted for about two months but I continued to help throughout the school year as well as some summers afterwards when my brother also became an intern.

What were your duties as an intern?
As an intern, I drafted a report on the various maps on internet that didn’t mark Dokdo or marked East Sea as Sea of Japan. I gathered more than 100 maps and organized them. I also translated various materials and documents from Korean to English.

What the internship just as you expected? Why or why not? 
What have you gained from your experience as an intern?
The experience was far better than expected. The staff was very nice and I learned so much more about the historical evidence that weaken many claims of the Japanese government. I also learned to think critically about how to solve this problem. It was my very first internship so I also got to experience working in a structured environment other than school. Finally, my translating skills improved a lot.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.
As a Korean who is most likely going to stay in the States even after college, I really wish people knew more about Korea and its culture. Although the situation has improved quite a bit, people still know East Sea as Sea of Japan and regard the issue over Dokdo as a minor, pointless fight. My goal is to somehow contribute to raising awareness about Korea in other countries and fix the trends distorted historical information that occur around the world.

-VANK Story 2013-

VANK International Interns

Chen zhijun (Rebecca) – China

레베카 사진1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

I am Rebecca, a student in the University of International Business and Economy in China. My major is e-commerce. I am very interested in Korean history and culture. I am an intern in VANK during this winter holiday.

2. How did you start interning at VANK?

I’ve always wanted to know about Korea, but I thought traveling is a limited way. I tried to find another way as volunteering or interning in Korea. While I told Aiesecers about my thoughts, they introduced the VANK. I searched on the website and found it very interesting. That’s how I applied for the internship.

3. What are your duties as an intern?

The first was the cultural exchange between Korea and China. I would first learn about Korean culture and history and then, I’d like to introduce Chinese culture to Korean friends. I would also analyze the similarities and differences between Korea and China. Additionally, I would find information about what do Chinese think of Korea especially on the website. By the way, My everyday work is not only to watch videos from ‘Friendly Korean Community’ and submit video for each video, but also teach some Chinese characters.

4. Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

I think it is the internship experience I expected. I applied for VANK because VANK is an organization which includes history, culture and international relationship. On the VANK website,   I read many VANK stories and knew more about the work in VANK.  Now I am working here for two weeks and quickly used to working here. I think I can create some experience by myself to let the next intern be more easier.

5. What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

It is the first time I have been an intern in another country’s organization. There are too many things I need to learn. The first I need to learn how to express my thoughts about the whole team accurately. The second is to learn to think various perspectives of others. Sometimes I will meet some Korean people who don’t know the relationship about Taiwan and China. Although it is easy for me to know Taiwan belongs to China, I need to understand them and tell them the truth patiently.

6. Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

In the short term I want to know more about Korean culture. I wonder why Korea and China has these historial problems and figure out what I can do for relationship of Korea and China. I also want to analyze similarities and differences between Korea and China. In the long term, I want to introduce Korean culture to my Chinese friends and change the wrong opinions about Korea of my friends.


Agnieszka Michalczyk – Poland

아가 사진

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

Hello, my name is Agnieszka. I’m from Poland and I’m studying Korean Language and Culture in Warsaw University.  I am very eager to get an experience here in VANK.

2. How did you start interning at VANK?

My friend from AIESEC introduced me a project with VANK. Since I really wanted to visit Korea, know about Korea more and in the same time not just travel but also do something I decided to apply. I read some articles and VANK’s webpage and felt it would be really interesting to work with VANK. I applied and got accepted so here I am J

3. What were your duties as an intern?

I am still doing my internship and my work is in progress. I was trying to find some similarities and differences between Poland and Korea. I have to say it’s a hard thing to do, especially to find similarities. I think European countries are really different from any part of Asia. But! It’s very interesting to compare Polish and Korean culture when they are so different and when I find something similar it’s such a surprise!

My second part is finding historical bond of sympathy between Korea and Poland. Poland has some similarities in history, especially about relations with Russia. I think it’s very similar to Korea and Japan. During long period of time we had very difficult relations with Russia. We lost our independence and got divided between three countries. Then during World War II we also had some issues with Russia. Now political relations are very difficult.

Third part of my work is checking Polish websites about Korea. Nowadays people are more and more interested in Korea and young people especially, are creating websites about Korean music, food, culture.

Also I have to write articles about me working in VANK once a week and everyday watch 3 videos and write about them. This part gives me a chance to learn about Korea.

4. Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

So far it’s more than I expected! I thought work would be tough and dull but it’s very interesting. People here are nice and helpful. I have a chance to experience Korea, learn and know more about not only culture but also history. I can’t say much now since I am on the internship only two weeks so far but I hope the work will be as interesting as it is now.

5. What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I got to experience not only working in office but also attending lectures, speaking in front of camera. I learned about Korean history, culture, maybe I will get some idea for my future thesis. I’m still waiting for experience to gain here!

6. Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short-term goal would be finishing my studies in two years and getting a job, I hope in Korea. I hope to pass my exams which are in 5 weeks well and gain some confidence in speaking Korean.  Later, after getting my degree I plan to take a diplomacy course and maybe get a job in that area.

My long-term goals are very simple because I just dream about having family and being able to buy nice flat. So I will work hard to be able to start a family!


Gloria Kang – USA

Gloria (10)1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Gloria Kang and I am currently a Masters student at the Korean Language Flagship Program. Last year, I completed the abroad portion of my program at Korea University.  While I was in Korea for the year, I also worked as an intern for VANK.

2. How did you start interning at VANK?

My program consists of one year in Korea at Korea University and an internship at an organization that in the field of my interest. I’d always been interested in cultural exchange so before I got to Korea, my Korean language exchange partner recommended VANK to me. He said he didn’t really know much about the organization but he thought it’d be a good match for me. When I got to Korea, I heard that another student had also interned at VANK before me. She had had a great experience and I was interested in how they “shared Korea with the world.” I felt that VANK would be a great way to really get an understanding of Korea and Korean culture. I went in for an interview and my internship started the following week.

3. What were your duties as an intern?

My main project was the VANK story website. I went through all of VANK’s PR materials, websites, book, published works, etc. and in order to provide detailed English descriptions of the various items. I also interview VANK staff, past interns, students, and collaborative organizations in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the various people in VANK, what they do, and the motivations that drive them. Lastly, I covered some of the events both hosted by VANK and co-hosted with other groups.

My second project was managing the Snapshot Korea contest, an online photo contest co-hosted with the Korea Tourism Organization. Anyone from all over the world could submit pictures that reminded them of Korea or Korean culture. It was fascinating to see all the creative entries and the various places they were being submitted from. I was also a team leader for a group of students during the visit to Dokdo and performed as a member of the fan dance team on the school tours trip to Mongolia.

Other minor duties consisted of translating, helping out during events, speaking at off-line events, and offering a foreigner perspective on various projects.

4. Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

To be completely honest, I had some initial apprehension about VANK because of what I read about VANK on their Wikipedia page. VANK had often been accused of nationalism so I was nervous about not being able to agree with or adjust to the organization’s culture. I’m also quite expressive with my opinions so I was wary that this would be a place where I wouldn’t be able to voice my perspectives as a foreigner in Korea. However, I quickly learned that my worries were unfounded. The staff immediately welcomed me like family and was very interested to hear about my opinions. They were kind, funny, and loving. Additionally, the information I had been concerned about from the Wikipedia page was extremely outdated and VANK had grown and developed as an organization. What really changed my mind however, were the actual VANK members. Anyone with a general understanding of the life of a typical Korean student knows how much they bogged are down with pressure for academic success. They participate in little to no extracurriculars and often feel lost about their future. VANK students were starkly different. VANK had taught all of them to aspire for goals and dreams that would positively impact their communities, nation, and the global world. They were instilled with the belief that having a dream was not the same as simply obtaining a career and to have pride in who they were as individuals. As they exchanged culture with fellow students around the world and they gained interest in global issues such as poverty and human rights. Most noticeably, during an exercise during the Dokdo trip where students given a task to think of ways to achieve greater peace in Asia, I was surprised to hear the open-minded, innovative, forward-thinking ideas of young students.

5. What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

The greatest things I’ve gained are my relationships with the people I met. Nearly every single person I met was welcoming, warm, and always incredibly kind to me. They were also so passionate about their desire to make their most of their life and make a difference in the world. I was inspired by the drive I saw in students that were much younger than me and in turn, I was able to reflect on my own personal goals.

I was also able to gain a deeper understanding of Korean culture and history. VANK gave me the opportunity to experience Dokdo, Mongolia, and even Gyeongju, the center of Korean history. Dokdo showed me the significance of the island and why Koreans so valued Dokdo as a symbol of the Korean identity. Mongolia gave me the chance to experience another beautiful culture and create honest relationships despite any language or cultural barriers. Finally, Gyeongju’s rich historical culture took me thousands of years into the past with sights and scenes that I will never be able to forget.

These were only a few of the memorable moments at VANK and I believe I was truly lucky for my experience there. I loved going to work every morning and always remember each day as being full of smiles and laughter.

6. Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short-term goal is to graduate hahaha. Since this might be the end of my academic career, I want to feel that I’ve done my best so I can finish without any regrets. My long-term goal is similar in that I just want to continue to give my all in the opportunities that come my way and just be someone who makes positive contributions to my communities.


Jiao (Sarah) Sun – China


Please give a brief introduction of yourself.
I’m a college senior from Nanjing University in China. I am majoring in finance and will be going to graduate school for finance next semester.

How did you start interning at VANK?
I always wanted to intern or travel abroad but I never had the time or opportunity until now. I was genuinely interested in Korean culture so I looked through the internships in Korea that were available through AIESEC. (AIESEC is an international non-profit organization that provides student with leadership training and internship opportunities at for-profit and non-profit organizations).  I was particularly interested in Korea’s relationship with other countries so I was attracted to VANK’s work with international relations. I was also interested in gaining experience at an NGO. I applied to VANK through AIESEC and was selected for the six-week intern program.

What were your duties as an intern?
I’m researched the Nanjing massacre and helped VANK researchers access resources that are only available in Chinese. I’m also worked on promoting VANK to middle and high schools students in China so that they may have opportunities to participate if they are interested. VANK gave me the freedom to research international issues that interest me such as women’s rights.

Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?
Everyone was very kind. I also thought I would be the only intern but I was so happy to meet the other interns! I enjoyed the freedom of researching topics according to my interest.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?
My colleagues taught me a lot about the topics of my interest. I was able to see all of their hard work, their passion, and the resulting efforts. Specifically, I had the opportunity to meet a comfort woman. We also have comfort women in China and the related issue of historical distortion in textbooks. I truly understood how comfort women should receive their just apologies and deserve to have their stories told as soon as possible.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.
I want to do a great job as an intern while experiencing as much Korean culture as possible. In the long run, I would like to continue to do work that promotes Korean culture to China and promotes Chinese culture to Korea.


Kyndra Love – USA

1454286_10151764527242116_1376111047_n (1)Please give a brief introduction of yourself. 

Originally from Oregon, I was first introduced to Korea in high school. I had the opportunity to travel to Korea with my music department and immediately fell in love. During my senior year, I studied Samulnori at Chungnam Arts High School in Cheonan. After returning home to the US, I wanted to continue studying Korean. So, I decided to move to Hawaii! Not only is there a large population of Koreans, the Korean program at University of Hawaii is well-known.

After completing an undergraduate program in Second Language Studies (and a year of language study at Yonsei University), I was accepted into the Korean Language Flagship program. The 2 year program was split into two parts, one year spent in Hawaii and the other at Korea University. While attending classes in Korea, we were encouraged to find internships similar to our thesis topic. My interest was based in Korean food culture and history, but it was very difficult to find an internship related specifically to my topic. So I started to do some research on possible internships and was able to find VANK.

When and how did you find out about VANK? How did you start interning at VANK? What kind of work did you do during your time there? Any problems or difficult aspects?

I actually found out about VANK through a fellow graduate of Flagship. He thought that VANK would be a perfect match for my interests; and as it turned out, it was! For about a year, I had the opportunity to be part of this organization and during that time I was involved in various activities. As a native English speaker, my main task was to assist in the translating and editing of articles, videos, and presentations. I also participated in lectures, and attended meetings and conferences between VANK and other government organizations.

The best part of my job was being around colleagues who were enthusiastic about their work; and it was a relief to intern in such a positive environment. I had previously been warned about companies where employees were treated badly or overworked. Fortunately, my experience at VANK was the complete opposite. I enjoyed coming to the office and participating in events and activities. The only difficulty I had was my intent to speak Korean at all times. As a learner, it is easy for me to become nervous when speaking, especially in front of crowds. However, using Korean at work allowed me to advance my Korean ability in many ways. It was only because of the acceptance and support of my colleagues that I was able to become more comfortable speaking in a work environment, which I am extremely thankful for.

What have you gained from your internship? What were the most rewarding moments?

There are few moments in life when you have the ability to experience something incredible. For me, VANK provided me with not one, but two of these opportunities. The first was visiting Dokdo. The tension between Korea and Japan over the two islands is well known and having the opportunity to step foot on the islands was surreal. Although it sat in the middle of the ocean, the clear blue water and birds perched on the rocks were a beautiful sight. After that experience, with all of its charm and beauty, I began to truly understand the importance of the islands to Koreans.

The second was traveling to Uzbekistan. Never in my life did I think I would be traveling to central Asia. I was impressed and surprised by the deep connection between the Uzbek and Korean people. For a number of centuries Koreans served as an integral part of Uzbek culture in regards to trade and eventually farming. I was able to learn so much about these two cultures and gained a deep respect for the warmth and kindness of both native Uzbek people and the Korean-Uzbek nationals as well.

Through traveling with VANK and attending day to day workshops, I constantly was reminded that every person has the ability to affect change; myself included. I enjoyed the challenge of pushing myself to not only be better at my studies, but be a better person as well. And for that, I am truly grateful for my experience at VANK.


Bonny Li – Taiwan

bonnyPlease give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Jia-Qin Li(李佳親), from Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. I’m a sophomore in National Cheng-Chi University and my major is Japanese Literature. My hobbies are reading and writing. I regularly go to the library and bookstore in search of elements for my novels. I’m also interested in photographing the inconspicuous but lovely plants and insects that come into my life. One of my daily routines is logging all my experiences–happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, etc.- in a diary so that I can give my future self a nice big present.

How did you start interning at VANK?

I got the chance to intern at VANK through AIESEC, the largest international student internship NGO. I sent my applications to many countries and only received one reply from South Korea so I went to South Korea for my internship at VANK. It lasted around eight weeks, from 07/16/12- 09/07/12. I spent most of my summer vacation in Korea. It was really amazing for me.

What were your duties as an intern?

Interacting with VANK members –most of them are high school students- to introduce where I’m from and who I am; writing reports about the international relationship between Taiwan, China and South Korea and what I did every week; being as a helper in events VANK held; going to many places like museums to learn more about Korean history and cultures.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I gained the ability to research more and more information, to practice writing and speaking foreign languages every day, to experience true Korean cultures, and to interact with people from other countries. Since I’m not an extroverted person, I think that there may have been some misunderstandings that happened during my internship with other interns. After coming back to Taiwan, I pushed myself to speak my true thoughts. This is the greatest thing I gained from this internship.

In the VANK office, there were less problems. But outside of VANK, there were more problems especially when talking with clerks. Most of them don’t speak English so I couldn’t understand what they meant or anything else. It was useless to make gestures so I gave up communicating with them. Besides, the price in Korea is more expensive than in Taiwan so I seldom ate out and rather cooked in the dorm. Maybe this is another ability I gained during the internship.

Another experience was going to Dokdo. It is said that even if you are Korean, it’s difficult to set foot on Dokdo because of the territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan that has last for a long time and both countries are still fighting for this island. During the time in Dokdo, I joined the group composed of other VANK members who welcome me very much and I made a lot of friends during the trip. On the last day, my group was rewarded with an amazing and surprising cultural performance. This was the most rewarding moment.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

The short-term goals are to publish my own books about comics and anime and to catch up with academics because I’ll transfer my major next semester. The long-term goals are to become a translator and interpreter because I’ve learned many languages and I want to improve these two abilities. I also want to save money to travel to Europe, Australia, etc. in the future.


Binh Nguyen – Vietnam

1015228_10151770912712275_1043372085_oPlease give a brief introduction of yourself.

Hi! My name is Binh and it means “peaceful” in Vietnamese. I am 23 years old and from Hanoi, Vietnam. I majored in Commerce and am now working in the Financial Services industry. I am personally interested in K-pop and this interest sparked a curiosity about Korea.

How did you start interning at VANK?

I worked at VANK for 8 weeks as full-time summer intern in 2011. I came to know about VANK and its wonderful internship opportunity through the job database maintained by AIESEC, an international student organization that promotes internships in various countries. As a fan of K-pop, I had always been interested in visiting and exploring Korea so I was thrilled at the chance to intern at a friendly Korean NGO that shares stories about Korean culture, history, and heritage with the world.

What were your duties as an intern?

I worked mainly as a reporter and translator. I wrote feedback with an external person’s perspective on VANK’s documentaries, stories, and other materials on Korean topics. Much of my work had to do with contributing to and managing the Friendly Korea Community and World Changer website. Additionally, I wrote several reports on assigned subjects such as “The Influence of Hallyu” and “My Dokdo Camp Experience.” I also worked on translating VANK’s English materials into Vietnamese. During my internship, VANK organized a lot of conferences for young Korean students so I had many chances to participate in and learn about organizing these events.

Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

The internship significantly exceeded my expectations! I came to Seoul anticipating 2 months of serious white-collar work in the office but instead I ended up joining a family.

The VANK office members were like family members to me; the atmosphere was completely welcoming. There was no strict observance of an office hierarchy and all staff had friendly relationships with one another. Gitae would kindly offer to make me coffee sometimes after our lunch together. My research supervisor, Hyunsook would propose research topics that she and other VANK staff members knew I would love to write about (Hallyu!). And Wonjung would often take pictures of me and the other staff. The internship was such a memorable time and I love every second of it.

I could not speak or understand Korean so living in Seoul and working in an office surround by entirely Korean people was definitely difficult, as expected.

But the thing is, I was really lucky because I received tremendous help from everyone in the office. They taught me basic Korean greetings and sayings and helped me whenever I had any questions about life in Seoul. Everyone in the office helped ease my transition to Seoul and made everyday life happier. Sunhee would often walk to the train station with me on our way home after work. Saebom would take me around the city on our search for Korean bubble teak. Saebom, Hyunsook, and Jungae all invited me to visit their homes. When I wanted to try new food and visit a new area, Bokyung took me to the Ewha Women’s University. There are so many countless things I was helped with and I am still feel so very grateful.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I met many Koreans who helped me widen my knowledge about the traditions, culture, food, and history of the beautiful country Korea and the exciting city Seoul. I also learned about the various issues and conflicts as well as dreams and hopes of the people in Korea. Simultaneously, I developed my ability to work with foreigners in an entirely unfamiliar and foreign environment. I also learned to spend time with and understand Korean and foreign friends of all different ages and backgrounds. It was truly an eye-opening experience because I got to learn a lot both from the nature of my work and from the relationship I shared with the friends I made in Korea.

The highlight of my internship was participating in the Dokdo leadership camp. Not only did I learn a lot of about the Dokdo conflict, I was also able to interact with many young Korean students and understand their dreams and wishes for a brighter and more peaceful future. I witness the successful efforts of VANK in organizing such a wonderful platform for the Korean youth (who came from all over the country) to come together in order to discuss their goals and plans for the future, share their love for their country, and build strong relationships with one another. It feels surreal to relive this wonderful adventure of August 2011.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My personal short-term goal in the next few years to meet up again with as many of my Korean friends as possible either by re-visiting Korea (which I did in 2012 and hope to do again!) or by welcoming them in my home city of Hanoi, Vietnam. Or perhaps we will meet in another country, who knows where life may take us.

My long-term goal is to always cherish and maintain life-long friendships with the friends I was blessed to have made in Korea, for such relationships mean a lot to me in my life.


Younes El Gasmi – Morocco


Please give me a brief self-introduction of yourself.
My name is Younes EL GASMI and I am 26 years old. I am from Casablanca, Morocco. I have a Bachelors degree in Management and Accounting and now I am doing my Masters in International Finance.

How did you start interning at VANK?                                                                                              I found about VANK through an organization called AIESEC, an international student intern organization.  I started the internship in February of 2011 and the duration was two months.

What were your duties as an intern?
I translated VANK materials (websites and books) into French and Arabic and also gave short speeches about my experience to middle and high school students during VANK events.

Was the internship just as you expected? Why or why not?
No, the internship was not like I expected ….it was more than expected because I felt comfortable working with the whole team. They welcomed me a lot and I am very thankful to them for this. Also, I was very lucky for the opportunity to participate in many events organized by VANK.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?
I have gained meaningful friendships, insight about true Korean mindsets, culture, and history, and meetings with lot of future Korean leaders. Really, it was the best way to discover the real Korea. The most rewarding moments were visiting Dokdo and attending the Kim Jang Hoon concert, but also I will never forget the moments when my friends opened up their hearts and homes to me.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.
My short term goal is graduating with excellence, and my long term goal is to become the president of the World Bank.


Rafael Bonaparte – Germany


Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Rafael. I am 26 years old and from Germany. I just finished by Bachelor’s degree in business and economics and recently started my Master’s degree.

How did you start interning at VANK? What were your duties as an intern?

I was an intern from August to October 2010. Frankly, I cannot remember the reasons for my decision anymore since it was three years ago. I think one of the main reasons was that no one else i knew was planning to go there…

My duties were to foster a social network to connect Korean students with other students around the world, participate in the Dokdo Island Festival, and present an overview of my experiences at VANK to the festival attendees. Additionally, I started to translate the website of VANK to proper German as the actual translation at the time was incorrect.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I gained a lot of different experience during this internship. Korean culture was completely new to me and by the end I hope I understood the meaning of most things and culture.

My only difficulties were the lack of cheese (hahah).

The most rewarding moment was when I was given the opportunity to speak in front of approximately 800 people about my experiences with VANK. Also, the trip to the border to North Korea was fascinating.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

My short term goal is it to change my university from Gießen, a small city in Germany, to London, UK. My long term goals are to find a decent job somewhere in the UK, Germany, the Middle East, or Asia. My career goals lie in the financial sector, probably a mixture of financial knowledge and IT.


Polly Chan – Hong Kong


Please give a brief introduction of yourself. How did you start interning at VANK?

My name is Polly from Hong Kong and I am currently working as a personal assistant in a business consulting firm. I worked at VANK as a summer intern in 2010 through the AIESEC exchange program. I decided to participate in AIESEC because It’s amazing and eye-opening! I love learning about new cultures and making new friends. I chose VANK because I wanted to know more about Korean traditional culture and the intern job description sounded perfect for me.

What were your duties as an intern?

During my internship, I participated in writing a column about Korean traditional food, translated the English VANK website and one of their publication to Chinese, and most importantly, I was a part of the leadership camp to Dokdo island!

Was your internship experience as you expected? Why or why not?

The internship was just fascinating and eye- opening. It deepened my understanding of Korean traditional culture and history and I got the chance to visit Dokdo island, a place that not even average Koreans can visit. I enjoyed the job a lot because I was able to help promote the amazing Korean traditional culture to the younger generation in Seoul. The hardest part of my internship was language. If I had had a better knowledge of the Korean language, I surely could have done more, helped more, and made a better impact on VANK. That’s why I decided to study the Korean language when I back to Hong Kong.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

I truly treasure all the people I met in Korea and every moment I experienced. It was just unforgettable and life- changing.

Describe some of your short-term and long-term goals.

I hope in the future, there will be chance for me to work with VANK again! It was such a meaningful NGO. I will continue to promote Korean culture to my friends in Hong Kong and definitely will keep in touch with all my lovely friends in Korea. Long term, I would like to balance my career and personal life while making significant steps in my career.

-VANK Story 2013-