Category Archives: Notable Students

Hyeonjong Kim (2019. 07. 08 ~ 2019. 08. 30)

1. Please give a brief introduction for yourself.

Hello, I am Hyeonjong Kim and has been a member of VANK for nine years since 2011. I am a student studying Political Science and Diplomacy at Yonsei University, interested in public diplomacy and Korean diplomatic history.

2. How did you start interning at VANK?

People I had met through VANK who already had their experiences as an intern at VANK recommended me to take the chance when given the opportunity to work as an intern too. I applied for the internship this summer as VANK announced to select interns.

3. What were your duties as an intern?

I actually did more than I had expected. In brief, I participated in the ‘Wikipedia Project’ which was to make multilingual contents to upload on Wikipedia, and produced a manual that was named ‘WIkipedia Korea PR Project Manual’. You may refer to the following news article link below.

https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20190819066400371?input=1195m

I organized the reported errors on our 21 Century Yi-Sunsin Project Site (http://korea.prkorea.com). I participated as a staff on the VANK Dokdo Camp as well and made some training packets for the camp. I also did some translation works from Korean to English and vice versa in VANK conferences for Clara and Jessica, the two of five interns that worked together this summer as an intern. I gave short lectures at conferences and at Dokdo camp. Likewise, I sent letters to international presses like CNN, museums, and foreign government organizations and translated them to Korean.

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

Same as the last answer, I think I learned more than I had thought. I spent most of my life at schools since the age of eight, and this was the first time for me to work at an office. I had felt like that I was almost always obligated to learn passively at school, but working at VANK taught me how to work proactively by finding the work I could do. Likewise, my English language skills have improved as I got to use more English than in my normal life. I have rarely used English in my life since when I was sixteen. I also got to learn more about American and French culture as I worked with American and French intern. Above all, I had a great time with VANK staffs and learned how to communicate well as we got along each other.

5. What was the most memorable thing you did at VANK?

The most memorable part would be the Dokdo Camp joining as a staff. Since I had been on the camp as a member seven years ago, and I stlil keep in touch with the members since then. This time, as I participated in the camp as a staff, I was very touched. Seven years ago, I just had to be responsible for myself, but this time taking responsibility for thirty students for three days was not an easy task but was the most worthwhile thing I did at VANK. Who knew that I could be at the Dokdo Camp with VANK as I did seven years ago?

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

With four other interns, we could learn and experience about Seoul and Korea day by day. Fortunately, we could spend time together by visiting the Namsan Tower, Bukhan Mountain, Seodaemun Prison History Hall, going to an exhibition, an orchestra concert, and joining the Dokdo Camp.

Above all, I, being a nine-year-long member at VANK, am proud of myself as I could materialize and diversify the concepts of VANK activities for the VANK members of the next generation as I have mentioned above at the question number three.

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

Three weeks had passed quickly as we prepared and held conferences and the Dokdo camp. Working as a staff at VANK let me meet a lot of new people and I could answer other members’ questions regarding VANK. Students taking part in VANK conferences are the ones who only need to participate in the conference, but I could prepare the conferences with other staffs behind the scene.

8. Any advice on VANK members, or to people who want to participate in VANK?

A ninth grader that joined VANK for nine years, passing through high school and college, I have always thought that VANK is a ‘unique’ organization. VANK always takes challenges and moves on toward a new goal. This is a place where they start the projects that no one ever tries, and have the vision for the future. Joining VANK is a way of loving Korea, telling the world about Korea, and making friends from around the world.

Join VANK to grow together and make dreams come true!

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

Hope this is not my last time at VANK. (haha)

I have always said ‘Good morning’ when I came to work. I am happy as I could always start my day by saying ‘good morning’ and saying ‘good evening’ at the end of every day. With the expereince and memory of this summer vacation that seemed like a dream of a summer night, I will always practice what I have learned through VANK as I move forward. Thank you very much indeed!

Clara Dannepond, France (2019. 07. 02 ~ 08. 14)

  • Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

I am Clara Dannepond a French intern at Vank, I am from Paris but I am studying at the university in Milan, Italy. My major is economics and I’ve always been very interested in foreign countries culture and history.

  • How did you start interning at VANK?

I was very interested into Korean history and culture when I first came to Korea last year so coming back to Seoul this summer. I wanted to do something meaningful during my time here. I found VANK through the AIESEC portal, a worldwide student organisation providing internships abroad. As I was talking with Vank staff before starting the internship, Vank appealed to me as a peace fighter, and I wanted to be a part of this project.

  • What were your duties as an intern?

My first job was to create the French website about Korean culture, history and issues. I also had to translate a lot of content form English to French or Italian, for exemple translating in Italian the Korean declaration of independence.

  • What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

Entering at Vank was my first internship abroad, and I feel like I gained not only a lot of knowledge about Korean culture and history, but also I understood what it is truly to be Korean, the essence of Korean identity. I am now able to understand deeply an other culture which is not my own, so I am one step ahead of becoming global citizen.

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

My goals were explained to me by the Vank staff from the beginning. However, they gave me a lot of free space and I could do almost whatever I was interested into. Setting goals at the beginning of the internship was a great way to know where to go and to focus on the most important things. Vank is very active and everything is moving very fast, so a lot of unexpected tasks were coming on a daily basis. It was very interesting work in such a great work environment and I learned a lot for the future. Even if I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do because of the lack of time (6 weeks goes very fast), I feel like I did the most I could and I will keep helping VANK in the future.

  • What did you contribute to VANK’s goals?

Spreading rightful information about Korean culture and history around the world is one of the main goal of VANK. Creating the French website to rise awareness about Korean issues and tach about Korea is something that I hope will help VANK aim to create a peaceful and knowledgeable world.

  • Any advice on promoting Korea, Dokdo, eastsea, jikji, etc?

As a foreigner, it is sometimes very complicated to identify to Koreans issues and history, as I wasn’t raised in Korea. However, comparing Korean thoughts and dreams to French dreams helped me a lot to catch the true essence of Korean feelings about Dokdo, the East Sea, Jikji.
Promoting these issues to the world by comparing them to other issues foreigners are familiar with is very helpful, as for exemple comparing the Rising Sun Flag and the Nazi Flag.

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

I would like to say that VANK, as an organisation that helps the world to be a better place, is doing a great job. The staff at VANK is very dedicated to the effort, and working in VANK makes me feel like I have an impact and a voice in this world. The goals of VANK are wide and VANK has big dreams, but all of their goals can be realised because VANK world hard, has great ideas and a lot of young Koreans believe in VANK, symbolizing the Korea of tomorrow.

Jessica Washington, USA (2019. 07. 01 ~ 08. 21)

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Jessica, and I am a senior at the University of Mississippi. I am majoring in psychology and sociology and hope to do my master’s degree work in sociology. I enjoy reading, writing, meeting new people, and playing video games. Since I was young, I have been interested in cultures around the world. In college, I was given the opportunity to study Korean as a modern language at my university. Through this course, I learned a lot about Korean culture, and my knowledge made me interested in other aspects of Korea.

2. How did you start interning at VANK?

My advisor at my university found out that I studied Korean before I changed my major to psychology and sociology, and being that she is from Korea, she really wanted me to see the country for myself. She urged me to sign up for the UM Experiential Learning in East Asia program, funded by the Freeman Foundation in Hawaii, so I could intern in Korea and live there for the summer. After signing up and being accepted for the program, I got in contact with a company called CRCC Asia, an internship provider company that sets students up for interviews with different companies based on their interests and/or major. I chose to work for an NGO since I am very interested in sociology, and one of the organizations they matched me with was VANK. I researched VANK before the interview, and I was very surprised to see what their goal was: to teach people about Korea and in the process, learn more about other countries to bring about peace in Asia. Facets of this goal have to do with the Dokdo and East Sea issues, which I learned more and more about while I was preparing for my interview. By the time I had an interview with my supervisor, I was very curious about these topics and wanted to know more.

3. What were your duties as an intern?

As an intern, my main duty was to write English articles about all types of Korean topics for the English VANK website. I also gave presentations in the office and at conferences, listened in on lectures given about current issues, and researched many topics for the articles that I wrote. I met many people in and out of the office, ranging from students to government workers and acquaintances of people at the office. The initial task of writing for the English website spread into me doing a lot of things, all of which helped me get a better grasp on Korean culture, history, and lifestyle for me to write about.

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

I believe I have gained many things working here at VANK. I have gained knowledge about Korea that I initially did not have, friends and acquaintances that I hope will last into the future, and a better base knowledge of what working at an organization is like and how I can best assist the goals of the whole office.

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

My initial goals were very clear-cut. I wanted people in the United States to understand Korea the way they understood where they live. In the United States, it is not uncommon for people to keep a close eye on current happenings, especially when negative things are happening. It was hard for me to not see some of the things that were happening back home even while in Korea because all of my friends talked about these things. That type of open conversation was what I wanted to bring to the English website. I wanted, in the beginning, to show people that Korea can be understood in the same way we understand any other country: by looking at history, culture, and current events. Those were the main topics I wrote about. The Three Kingdoms Period, K-Pop, economic issues: they are all topics that I thought would be best to present to people to deepen their understanding of Korea as a country and the people. I researched these topics heavily and learned a wealth of knowledge in the process.

However, I now understand that simply knowing about something does not change how one feels about it. For issues like Dokdo and the East Sea, Korean people express strong feelings about these things, especially because they are tied to the Japanese Occupation Period in the early to middle 20th century. For these topics, I want people around the world to understand why Korean people feel the way they do about these topics and why correcting the incorrect information that has been displayed on maps and in books for years would be in the world’s best interest. Right now, both of these goals are ongoing, and I hope to continue writing for the English website even when I return home to the United States.

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

Besides writing articles, I think that me being a foreign intern from the United States has helped a lot. For instance, when we had conferences, many young Korean students would come up to Clara, an intern from France that was here at the same time I was, and I and tell us how proud they are that we, as foreigners, would be interested in telling people about different aspects of Korea. It was surprising but also reassuring that so many people supported what we were doing and wanted to speak to us about it. I think that after speaking with us, many students felt more determined because they were able to see firsthand that people from around the world want to help them as well.

I also think my English skills were a big help. On my last day as an intern, a fellow intern, Jiwon, had sent an email to a large corporation asking them to take down merchandise that depicted the Rising Sun Flag because of its imperialistic nature and what it stood for during the Occupation Period. She had been very professional in her email, yet the one she had received from customer service was rather short. Initially, everyone thought that the company was denying that they had any obligation to stop selling their products. After Hyeonjong, another intern, explained the situation to me, he brought me over to read the email. After reading it over multiple times to make sure that what I was thinking was correct, I said that the outcome was good and I explained that the person emailing meant that they would take the products down, and the reason that they were allowed to be sold in the first place was because they did not know of the symbolism of the flag. Language barriers can be very complicated and lead to misunderstandings, so I am glad that I cleared up the situation!

7. Any advice on promoting Korea, Dokdo, eastsea, jikji, etc?

I think that understanding the meaning and history behind these symbols is the best way to promote them. When you can actively tell people about why something means a lot to you or other people, it helps convey those feelings to someone else so they can understand. While talking about facts, I think Korean people being open about how they feel about the topics will also help.

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

I would like to thank all of the people at the VANK office, all of the cyber diplomats, all of the government officials and every person I have met because I feel that they are a large part of why my experience in Korea has turned out to be unforgettable. I learned an immense amount of knowledge about Korea in just two months by living there and speaking and working with Korean people. I think that this experience has better prepared me for my future, regardless of where it takes me, and I would like to apply the skills that I have learned here in my future profession.

Jiwon Han (2019. 07. 04 ~ 08. 30)

1. Please give a brief introduction fo yourself.

Hello, I am Jiwon Han and I am studying in Dong-A University in Busan. When I was a sophomore in high school, I became a member of VANK as I was in charge of leading the VANK club at our school. Starting this year, I participated in several VANK conferences, and I had the opportunity to work here at VANK office for the summer.

2. How did you start interning at VANK?

When carrying out missions after VANK conferences, I felt that I could have been more helpful with the method and the result. So as a VANK intern, I wanted to work actively on long-term missions while working in the office.

3. What were your duties as an intern?

At first, I was assigned to search on web sites that sell products related to the Rising Sun flag, and send letters to the companies to change people’s mind around the world about the Rising Sun flag. Also, I had to revise and redeem the articles on the VANK Freedom Fighter English web site which the other American intern Sean worked on last year. I learned how to edit and manufacture videos regarding VANK conferences, the Dokdo Camp, Intern video clips about promoting Korea, and I also worked on making news clips regarding issues like Dokdo, East Sea, etc, and posted them on social media.

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

Working at VANK helped me develop active thoughts and abilities when solving problems. I could also earn the confidence when solving problems in the future. Within solving these problems, I could learn that the world should acknowledge Korea truthfully and that Korea should be good friends with world wide citizens.

5. What was the most memorable thing you did at VANK?.

Making a video clip about Clara, the other VANK intern, promoting Korea was the most memorable thing I did. It was actually my first video clip that I have made by myself, and that’s one reason I could say it was the most memorable, but mostly, a foreign friend personally promoting Korea’s Jikji, Hangeul, 3.1 Movement was very impressive to me.

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

I wanted to correct errors regarding Korea around the world. The first mission I had was to stamp the Rising Sun Flag products from companies that sell those products, and I feel that I have corrected some of them. But still there are lot of products that are still sold on the internet regarding the Rising Sun Flag, I will keep working to accomplish the goals after my internship in VANK is over.

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

I prepared for every single conferences with other interns and took videos and edited them. Also, we prepared for the Dokdo camp together and I took many photos and videos with my camera to make a video to show the Dokdo camp members for a surprise on the last day at the camp.

8. Any advice on VANK members, or to people who want to participate in VANK?

The most important thing as a VANK member is to tell the world about Korea and to try becoming friends with people all around the world, as I could become good friends with Clara and Jessica to share thoughts and promote Korea together. Working as a VANK member is not adding a line about my experience on my resumé, but is a challenge to join on a small step towards changing the world.

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

Thank you for selecting me as an intern and letting me work for two months. As a member of VANK, it was such a valuable memory and I will never forget the experience I had with VANK. I want to keep working on the projects that I have done as a VANK intern and hope to see you again in other conferences. Thank you again for taking care of me for two months!

International Intern – Lacey Bonner

Lacey Bonner – USA

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Lacey Bonner and I am an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. I am a double major in Korean and Political Science and for my Korean major, I was a part of the Korean Flagship Program. I spent a year in Korea attending Korea University while taking part in an internship at VANK as part of my capstone.

How did you start interning at VANK?

Underneath the Flagship Program, each student must fulfill an internship and thus I joined VANK as I believed it was the best fit for me and my interests.

What were your duties as an intern?

As an intern, I got to fulfill many duties. One of my principle duties was undertaking the creation of English content for two websites launched the year I interned. I did research for and wrote content for the VANK “Bring USA to the Korean Classroom!” website as well the website featuring Korean independence activists that operated during Japanese occupation of Korea. I also did a lot of translation work from English-Korean and Korean-English as well as take part in lectures in Korean towards Korean youth on multiple occasions.

What was the best part of working at VANK?

The best part about working at VANK was definitely the people! I loved my coworkers and I got to get to know each and every one of them individually. They were open in sharing Korean culture as well as learning about my culture. Getting to travel with them to Pyeongchang for the Olympics and to Chicago for a NAKS event allowed my experience to transcend just the workplace environment and establish life-long friendships with the team at VANK and I will never forget them.

What have you gained from your experience as an intern?

As an intern, I’ve gained an increased understanding of Korea and Korean history. My Korean ability has also improved exponentially from when I first began. However, most important of all, I’ve been fortunate enough to expand my understanding of the world from being able to listen to and learn from other world views I would have never been able to access before.

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

In short term, I plan to graduate in the spring of 2019 with my double major and to graduate with my Korean being the best it possibly can. My long term goal is to someday work in a position in which I can utilize what I’ve learned in Korea and Hawaii and use it to bridge the understanding between Korea and the United States. I also want to die with no regrets.

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

Thank you so much for everything you have taught and given me. I will use it well in my life going forward and will never forget where I received it from. I was so lucky in my internship and with whom the people I was able to work alongside. I will miss you greatly but that makes all the more reason for me to come visit you in the future! Thank you and best wishes!

VANK Members – JuYeon Lee

JuYeon Lee (VANK@ Seoul Global HS Club Leader and 1st President of VANK School Club Leaders Association)

Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

My name is Juyeon Lee and I am a seventeen year-old high school senior. I enjoy listening to music and singing. I do want to perform on stage one day even though I’m not very good at singing. I enjoy watching movies, dramas, and documentaries. I used to make my own videos when I was younger. Lately, I enjoy writing in my free time. Every time I get a new thought in my head, I jot them down as little thought notes. I have been keeping in touch with penpals since I was in seventh grade.

How did you get involved in VANK?

Until I was 14, I had never been abroad, never even been on a plane, due to personal restraints. One day, I randomly search “penpal” on the internet. I thought having a penpal was just for people who had been abroad or had relatives who lived abroad. I found a penpal site for people like me who had never been outside of their country so I went ahead and signed up.

At first, I emailed a bunch of different people but I soon realized that we weren’t true friends. After six years, I have three close penpal friends left: Enni from Finland, Cansu from Turkey, and Bella from Belgium. Because of the time difference, I used to secretly video chat them at 3am and get in so much trouble when I got caught. My mom was worried because wouldn’t go to bed. She would threaten me and try to get me to stop by hiding the letters and presents but I rebelled more and became more passionate thanks to my mom. When Bella and I contact each other we send super long weekly emails that are about five pages long. I realized that kind of communication is charming in its own way as well and we have really gotten to know each other.

For some of my penpals, we first started with email and now we communicate through snail mail. Email has a lot of advantages because it is faster than snail mail but I think snail mail is much more valuable because we can send physical gifts and snacks that share our different cultures. One time, Cansu sent Turkish Delight to my school and I got to share it with my friends. I don’t know why but I’m unable to throw away any of the wrapping paper or snack packaging from my penpals so I’ve been collecting it all. It’s also really fun to be able to see my penpals’ different handwriting.

When I initially started exchanging emails with my penpals in sixth grade, I wanted to share information about Korea just as my penpals shared information about their own countries but I didn’t know how. I discovered VANK’s Gwanggaeto Dream Wings Project and wanted to receive the souvenir kit. The souvenir kit was free but I thought I had to become an official VANK member so I secretly sent 20 dollars to VANk to pay for the membership fee without telling my mom (haha).

My first real VANK experience was participating in the 2009 Dokdo Camp. I had been attending an academy and was given an assignment to write a paper about Dokdo. I attached the paper to my application for Dokdo Camp and was selected. The overall experience was very meaningful. I even met a girl there who went to Seoul Global High School and thanks to her, I am currently a student there as well.

What have you gained from your VANK experiences?

As I contacted my penpals, I realized that although I was Korean, I didn’t know much about my own country. Though I was patriotic, I did not know about the existence of numerous historical errors published about Korea in textbooks and academic resources. I learned about international perceptions of Korea and also felt that it was unfortunate that such a large portion of them had to do with North Korea. Even now, I don’t consider myself an expert but I have gained an overall confidence. When I began a VANK club at my school but I was very shy but I was pushed into situations that didn’t allow for me to be shy. I had to act as a representative and be brave so I slowly became more outgoing and active. Additionally, I began studying English because English is necessary for a lot of VANK activities. My English is still not great but it definitely has improved.

Describe your past activities as a VANK member.

In 9th grade, I suddenly had the thought that I would like to start a VANK school club but I didn’t know where to even begin. One day, I heard that a friend of a friend was in the process of starting a cartoon club at school and I was shocked. So I thought, “why can’t I do the same?” I wanted to start a VANK school club because I wanted to share the great emotions and experiences that I felt through VANK activities with the other students at my school. I ran around my school and darted into every single teacher’s room in order to find a club advisor. When I got home, I created handmade recruitment posters. I interviewed all students who signed up to be members. Our club advisor had only heard of VANK, she didn’t actually know anything about the organization. The whole club depended on me and I had to the lead all weekly events. Every Friday night, I thought about what to do the next day. I made tons of powerpoints and prepared programs such as classroom exchange penpalling with classrooms in other countries. The results were great. We penpalled with schools in the U.S. and in Turkey. The 20-30 club members enjoyed that event the most. We also went on field trips to places like Changdeokgung palace and Kyungbok palace.  I worked really hard and I will never forget the moment when I saw the name of our VANK club in our middle school newsletter.

Why are VANK school clubs important?

Most Korean teenagers don’t know much about Korea and they don’t know how important it is to be informed. VANK school clubs help students understand the value of Korea. Joining VANK on an individual level requires paying the membership fee and personal active effort. It can seem like a very scary large organization that is difficult to approach. School clubs allow for students to experience VANK on a close level, especially to those who didn’t previously know about VANK. VANK school clubs show that VANK is actually very approaching and welcoming.

Also, there are many campaigns or activities that can only be accomplished by VANK school clubs. For example, we collaborated with other schools and held Korean culture awareness events in Insadong. These are small-level campaigns that only school clubs can do carry out, before student enter college or the work force.

Why did you decide to establish VANK School Club Leaders Association?

When I started my VANK school club, I checked the main VANK website and counted over 100 school clubs. However, the website seemed very outdated and I wasn’t sure about the accuracy of the statistics. I thought it would be a good idea to gather all the clubs scattered around Korea and collaborate on ideas and projects. Newer clubs could get advice and support from the veteran clubs. I put my thoughts into action by starting an internet café and contacting all the club leaders I knew. When we held the event, I was so proud to see something that had started from nothing. It was great to see so many scattered clubs become united as one and discover opportunities to improve and advance all together.  A lot of school clubs disappear after one year but hopefully through the VANK school club leaders association, we can strengthen the network connection and provide each other with the necessary support.  I hope to eventually create newletters for newbie leaders written by veteran leaders documenting their past struggles and successes.

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

In regards to VANK, I want to continue to stay involved in college. In terms of my personal life, I don’t really know because I’m interested in everything. I think it’s both good and bad but I’m unable to really focus on one thing. My dreams and goals have changed many times. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher, a scientist, a chef, and a writer. Even now, I have so many dreams that I can’t decide right now. I feel like there’s so much I still haven’t experienced in life. I don’t ever want to be so rash as to say I don’t want to do something without having tried it. Some things I’ve thought of are becoming a documentary producer or musical actress, working for Google, and starting an NGO for the underprivileged. I don’t have a set dream but who says I have to decide now? If I live to about eighty, I still have sixty years to go. I want to try everything. Hopefully I’ll study arts and technology, maybe media or political diplomacy. Most importantly, I really want to be able to travel and personally meet the penpal friends that I’ve been contacting for so long. I want to continue to meet people from all different backgrounds.

Sometimes I wonder, why should we think it’s important to share Korean culture? There are a lot of different cultures in the world. I can’t express the right answer and I still think about it often but I think it’s more than just understanding who we are and where we’re from.  I believe there are positive effects from cultural awareness and exchange.

-VANK Story 2013-

International Intern – Yang Gae-La

Yang 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.

International Intern – Troy Chong

Troy 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

Jai 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

Mutiara 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.