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00707012
2012.11
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KOREAN

‘We Shared Friendship as Next-door Neighbors’/Korea-Japan University Students Exchange Program

The ‘“Korea-Japan University Students Exchange Program,’” jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Korea Foundation, is a representative reciprocal-visit program for fostering friendship between Korean and Japanese students through mutual understanding was conducted from September 8-21, with the participation of a total of xx students from the two countries. (check the total number of participants from both countries) Initiated in 1972 and marking its 40th anniversary this year, the program has included the participation of numerous university students from both countries over the decades. The annual reciprocal visit program for college students of the two neighboring countries, often described as “close but distant,” began in 1972 to increase friendship between young people of the two countries with unresolved historical issues. On October 12, in conjunction with a farewell ceremony, I sat down with Kim Jae-min (Department of Law, Hanyang University) and Kim Kyung-mi (Department of International Studies, Ewha Woman’s University), two of this year’s 28 Korean participants, at the KF Cultural Center, to hear their thoughts about the exchange program. This year’s program had 28 Korean students. After a farewell ceremony, held on October 12 at the KF Cultural Center, I interviewed two of them: Kim Jae-min, of the Department of Law, Hanyang University; and Kim Kyung-mi, of the Department of International Law, Ewha Womans University.

How did you come to participate in this the program?

Kim Jae-min :“Since my dream is to become a jurist well-versed in the field of well versed in trade, I had participated in a winter workshop organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. With that occasion as momentum After the workshop, I frequently visited the ministry’s website and one day found a notice about the student exchange program. If the program had been held in November as in previous years, I couldn’t have attended it. But this year, the event it was held early in the semester, so I could participate after obtaining approval from my professors.

Kim Kyung-mi :“My dream is to I want to become a diplomat, so I visited the ministry’s website to check the test schedule of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy and found a notice for the program.

I applied for it right away because I believed the program will would be of help in my future career. There was no problem with school for me, because I am taking this semester off.”

What procedures did you have to go through?

Kim Kyung-mi :“After submitting my application in mid-August and being selected through an interview process at the end of the month, I attended the an orientation session for participants on September 3. During In the interview, I was asked if I was interested in Japanese culture and how I would respond if a Japanese person asks me about sensitive issues between Korea and Japan.”

Kim Jae-min :“For On the application form, I was required to write wrote about why I applied the reason I was applying for the program and my plans for related activities, and activity plan. I was also required to put down my certified English or Japanese test scores, but I heard the scores didn’t make any a big difference. Rather, I got an the impression that they tried to select tended to favor those who had never visited Japan, and evenly among individual schools tried to be fair to all schools.

With JPT (Japanese Proficiency Test) scores of Level 2 and Level 3, for Kim Jae-min and Kim Kyung-mi, respectively, they had no problems with little difficulty in everyday conversation. However, But they said, that even those who spoke no Japanese at all didn’t have any trouble, either, because they were paired with people students who did have Japanese ability for home stay with Japanese families.

The program offered activities that cannot be experienced by ordinary tourists.

Kim Jae-min :“For Japan On the Japanese side, the Korea-Japan Cultural Foundation arranged the our schedule. The program was good overall because we could enjoy cultural experiences like seeing “Nogaku,” a classic Japanese musical drama, and participate in events such as making karakuri (Japanese dolls) generally good, offering us opportunities to experience traditional Japanese culture, such as attending a performance of nogaku, making karakuri screens, and learning about the tea ceremony.

Kim Kyung-m i:“Since my dream is to become a diplomat, the visit to the Korean Embassy in Japan Tokyo was the most memorable experience for me. This was particularly so because the visit was made immediately after we heard the we made the visit right after he heard Japanese foreign ministry officials claim, “There is no territorial problem with dispute over Senkaku Islands but there is a territorial problem with Dokdo,” during our visit to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. dispute over Dokdo.” Personally, it was great to meet diplomats working at the diplomatic front and it was so reassuring to hear them say: it was gratifying and reassuring for me to meet our diplomats who serve at overseas outposts, confidently saying, “There is no need to respond emotionally.”

In his activity report, Kim Jae-min wrote that he was particularly impressed by the tea ceremony demonstration, during which where he learned that it is courteous to appreciate the guest makes a complimentary comment on the tea cup after drinking the tea as a gesture to acknowledge appreciate the host’s kindness.

Students participate in a tea ceremony./Korean students participate in a hands-on session for making karakuri screens.

What do you think about your homestay experience?

Kim Kyung-mi :“It was a very good opportunity to look deep into at the inner side of the Japanese people. I stayed for three days at the home of with a couple in their 50s for three days. They both were both fluent in English and had a homestay experience with Europeans, too in playing host for Europeans. In their house, we fully experienced the Japanese people’s tasted the unique kindness hospitality of the Japanese people. When one of us expressed an my roommate said she had much interest in Japan’s culinary culture, they took were kind enough to take us to a traditional Japanese restaurant. As for any cultural differences, I felt, A notable cultural difference was that they were very considerate of others whenever they were talking in conversation. They made eye contact and carefully answered questions, one by one.

Kim Jae-min:“I stayed at the home of an older woman in her 70s, who runs a business. I could feel her warm heart when she always continuously insisted on paying the our taxi fare. One thing I noticed in particular was that they would turned their shoes outward after removing them before when entering a house. From this, I felt they were attentive to every minute detail.” I could see they paid attention to small details in everyday life.

What lessons did you learn from the visit program overall your visit to Japan? And what did you miss?

Korean students and their homestay hosts pose for a group photo. Kim Jae-min :“Would I be exaggerating too much if I say that I felt the Japanese are people humans just like us? Anyway, my ingrained inborn resentment toward Japan was dissolved them has been diluted and I still stay in touch with the homestay family my homestay hosts. It was regrettable that I could not speak Japanese more fluently so that I could feel and learn more about Japan. One thing I find regrettable is that if I speak Japanese better, I could have learned and felt a lot more.

Kim Kyung-mi :“For me, it was really fruitful to realize the precious value of meeting people through the Korean group of visitors to Japan and the Korean embassy officials as well as the homestay family rewarding to realize how precious it was to meet my fellow participants, officials at the Korean Embassy and my homestay hosts, among other people. However, it It would have been better if they had informed us about the specific places and plans of our activities even more fruitful if we had been informed in greater detail of all the places to visit and activity plans in Japan in advance. For instance example, we visited an eco-friendly facility but we did learn much our tour ended up being superficial because we lacked background information and technological knowledge. In addition, we didn’t have enough time to interact with Japanese young people.”

As for the program Summing up, they both said it was a good opportunity to make many good in unison that they had valuable experience in making friends and a valuable experience to think again about Korea-Japan and people-to-people relations interaction and relations between the two neighboring countries.

The Korean delegation to the 2012 Korea-Japan University Students Exchange Program visit the Korean Embassy in Tokyo.

Kim Sung-hee Adjunct Professor
Department of Media and Communications
Sookmyung Women’s University

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