Author Archives: vankstory

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.

I organized the reported errors on our 21 Century Yi-Sunsin Project Site ( 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!

2019 DOKDO CAMP (2019.08.08-10)

Have Dokdo in mind, Bring Korea to the world!

VANK members from various backgrounds participated in 2019 Dokdo Camp. This year, marking the 11th anniversary of VANK Dokdo Camp, we visited Ulleugndo and Dokdo from the 8th to 10th of August. Especially this time, three foreign VANK interns from the United States and France joined the camp with us. Three days at the camp was a short time for us but we had such a great memory being together in Ulleungdo and visiting Dokdo. Shall we go take a look at our memories at 2019 Dokdo Camp?

By the way, I am Hyeonjong Kim and I joined the camp as a staff at VANK. On this VANK Story, I would like to tell what our members did at the camp and the places we visited in Ulleungdo and Dokdo. Also, I interviewed our three foreign interns about how they had felt about the camp.

Day 1) 2019.08.08. Feel and Learn about Dokdo in Ulleungdo

Some members gathered at the VANK office in Seoul the day before the first day of the camp. We took a bus at 11PM from Seoul to Pohang, in which we took the ferry to Ulleungdo. After we had breakfast in Pohang, all the camp members have arrived at the ferry terminal. The weather was nice and the ocean was still and calm so it took about three and a half hours to Ulleungdo from Pohang by ferry, and we gathered around to have lunch.

In the afternoon, our members were separated into two groups and one group visited the Dokdo museum while the other group visited the Dokdo Observatory. Even though the way to the museum was steep and the weather was scorching hot, we eventually arrived at the museum.

We listened to the curator’s explanation about Dokdo’s general information and had a look around the museum. We could feel and learn about Dokdo’s history and about the people who have protected Dokdo for years. After the tour, we headed to the Dokdo Observatory, which took about five minutes on a cable car. As we went up the stairs to the urban observatory, we could look down the spectacular view of the beautiful island Ulleungdo. Sadly because of the fog on the sea, we were not able to see Dokdo from the observatory, but we took gorgeous pictures with the view of Ulleungdo’s beautiful coast and kept our memories of the coast in our minds.

After the tour, we headed to our resort and had a delicious dinner. In the evening we held our orientation of the camp and listened to the lecture by Gitae Park, the founder of VANK, and lastly we had our group activity.

Mr. Park held the lecture titled as “Dokdo in our hearts, VANK Peace makers’ great challenge!” From the lecture, we could learn about the dreams of VANK and Korea, and we also got closer to our foreign interns who also joined the camp. We could talk about our dreams and share our thoughts toward changing the world.

Lastly, we had a group activity with the theme of ‘How can we tell the world accurately about Dokdo, the East Sea, and the Rising Sun Flag?’ Many ideas came out from our five groups and let’s take a look at what our members have thought!

PO1NT (Group 1)

We presented about the Rising Sun Flag regarding it’s imperialistic and war criminal character that we should know and tell the significance of the Rising Sun Flag.

하L (Group 2)

We set up a plan on banning the use of the Rising Sun Flag in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Koreans who are planning to visit Tokyo during the Olympic season should tell the people by using goods made to let people stop using the Rising Sun Flag and also by telling the people via social media to stop the use of it.

반크하3 (Group 3)

We wanted to tell the truth of the Rising Sun flag to the people who do not know about the Rising Sun Flag and to people who try to idealize it. We came out with diverse ideas such as teaching the people regarding the problem of the Rising Sun Flag, or conducting campaigns like handwriting challenge via social media, or conducting street campaigns like using placards, posting announcements, and flash mobs.

강치는 우리마음에 있조 (Group 4)

We wanted people to know accurate facts about Dokdo by producing wireless earphones. We wanted to provide a magnificent idea by using the wireless earphones and its case to present Dokdo and Korea.

5늘밤 주인공은 우리조 (Group 5)

We may produce goods regarding the ban of the Rising Sun Flag and conduct social media challenges by posting pictures with the goods we’d made. Also, we wanted to use the profit to post an advertisement on Times Square about banning the use of the Rising Sun Flag.

Each idea was brilliant and we could see the passion that our members had, to tell the world about Dokdo, the East Sea, and the truth of the Rising Sun Flag.

Day 2) 2019.08.09. Having Dokdo in Mind, Bringing Korea to the World!

On the second day of the camp, we visited Dokdo at first hand. Actually we had to entirely postpone our camp itinerary from 7th~9th to 8th~10th because of the typhoon. All the ferries from Pohang to Ulleungdo and of course from Ulleungdo to Dokdo were canceled on the original date of departure, the 7th. However, as all the VANK staff worked hard to move the schedule to the next day, the weather got nicer and the typhoon had dissipated. Therefore, we were all able to visit Dokdo on the 9th.

At 8:30, we got on board the ferry, El dorado, and we all prayed for the sea route to Dokdo to be calm and safe. After two hours on the ferry, we could catch a glimpse of the beautiful island Dokdo, and in a few minutes, we could approach the island and land at Dokdo. The actual landing at Dokdo was breathtaking as from the old saying, ‘A thousand hearings are not worth one seeing’. The shining sun and the astonishing ocean perfectly fit the view of Dokdo. As all the groups gathered around to take a group photo and we all shouted “Having Dokdo in Mind, Bringing Korea to the World!” Even though we could only spend about thirty minutes on the island, we looked around the island and took as many pictures as we could.

After we got back to Ulleungdo, we had bulgogi for lunch and headed back to the resort. Then, we prepared for our second group activity. With all the feelings we had with entering Dokdo. all the members prepared for the performance we were going to held after dinner. The performance was about performing a play regarding Dokdo, East Sea, and the Rising Sun Flag. All of the performances had the dreams and souls of VANK, of Korea, and of the members of the camp.

1. PO1NT (Group 1) performed a short play by making a shirt to tell people the truth of the RIsing Sun Flag.

2. 하L (Group 2) performed as if they were in a international class with students from around the world, telling them that Dokdo belongs to Korea.

3. 반크하3 (Group 3) presented a play informing foreign musicians who has been using without noticing the facts regarding the truth about the Rising Sun Flag.

4. 강치는 우리마음에 있조 (Group 4) performed by comparing a girl taking away a boy’s belongings to Japan trying to seize Korean territory.

5. 5늘밤 주인공은 우리조 (Group 5) presented by showing a contest between the use of East Sea and the use of Sea of Japan.

Lastly, all the members wrote an essay with a topic “Dokdo is ______”. As this was the last activity of our camp, everyone tried their best on writing essays.

Day 3) 2019.08.10. Experiencing Ulleungdo

The members gathered at the auditorium after packing up all the belongings. On the last day of the camp, first thing we did was to present an award for the teams who did their best on the camp and for the individuals who had written great essays the day before. Especially this year, for the first time through the history of the Dokdo camp, the French foreign intern, Clara Dannepond has won the 1st prize! She presented her essay to our camp members saying that ‘Dokdo can inspire the World’ and ‘Dokdo is a Freedom Fighter.’

The last thing we did was to write our dreams on sticky notes and attached them to the world map. We could find out how astonishing dreams the members had of their future and for the future of the world.

As we checked out from the resort, we hopped on the bus for a tour around the beautiful island, Ulleungdo. On March, the round trip of the Ulleungdo became possible as all the road sections were opened, so we could save some time. One of the most memorable places of the island was the Nari Basin, located in the middle of the island. Nari Basin is made by Seonginbong’s past volcanic activity and is a unique place to get the view of flat land in Ulleungdo. The members could experience the traditional houses where people in Ulleungdo had lived years ago.

After the tour, we arrived at the Jeodong ferry terminal on the east coast of Ulleungdo and headed back to Pohang. At around 5:30 PM, we landed in Pohang and went home safely. Even though it was a short three-day trip, the camp was special to all the VANK members who participated the camp and they could feel the essence of Dokdo by sharing common dreams and goals. As the old saying, “Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.”, the camp for us was a chance to move forward with our dreams in our hearts!

Have Dokdo in mind, Bring Korea to the world!

P.S. I could interview our three foreign interns who participated in the camp. Shall we go have a look at how they felt about the Dokdo camp?

Sean Poteet, U.S.A.

I would say the best part of the camp was meeting all of the other campers and seeing their devotion to the cause of educating the world about Dokdo. Visiting Dokdo is perhaps one of the greatest honors and privileges I have been able to receive in my time at VANK. To me this island represents the years of pain Koreans have endured, but at the same time represents the peace and progress they have been able achieve despite adversity. I know that the future will bring a more knowledgable international community that recognizes Dokdo as Korea’s territory.

Jessica Washington, U.S.A.

My favorite part of the Dokdo Camp was team-building with my team. The activities often had to do with developing strategies to help people understand the sentiment that Korean people have towards Dokdo, the East Sea, and the Rising Sun Flag. I felt that learning about all of this was not just fun, but I could also connect many ideas about America with the topics that we were focused on. Imperialism and colonialism runs deep in many countries, and knowing more facts about Korea and being able to connect them to my home country was very helpful. In the US, I feel like we don’t learn about other countries enough if it does not involve the US in some way. Having the opportunity to learn specifically about these issues has broadened my horizons greatly and has given me a stronger desire to learn about other countries’ histories. My teammates were all also very helpful and insightful, which only enhanced the experience that I had during the camp. I believe that learning about Dokdo, Ulleungdo, and Korean history in this way has been an eye-opening experience for me, and I hope that many young people get to experience the same thing!

Clara Dannepond. France

I didn’t know what to expect from Dokdo camp, but what I experienced during my 3 days in Ulleungdo and Dokdo was far beyond my expectations. Not only the islands were magnificent, but also the team work we did to warn the world about Dokdo issue was highly interesting. Being paired with Korean middle school, high school and university students and share our ideas and thought about Dokdo was a rewarding experience. The camp was very constructive as we could share our ideas freely and come up with strategies to fight for Dokdo, the East Sea or the rising sun flag. I could also see how Koreans and VANK members are implicated in the process, as even middle school students were giving very great ideas to help VANK actions. I don’t think French middle school students would be that implicated in such a difficult issue, so I showed me the will of Koreans to always fight for independence from Japan. The trip itself was beautiful, we had a great time visiting Dokdo and Ulleungo, trying traditional food and to see the nature. I didn’t expect Ulleungo to be such a paradise island. I wish every Korean and foreigners to have the chance to visit Ulleugdo and Dokdo, first because it brings a lot in the understanding process of the Dokdo issue, and also because the sea and the nature are truly amazing.

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!

2018 Dokdo Camp [2018.8.8~10]

[2018 Dokdo Camp] : Having Dokdo in Mind, Bringing Korea to the World

Students from a wide range of age and background participated in 2018 Dokdo Camp. They were selected as Dokdo camp members based on their performance in previous VANK activities. Representing their towns and schools, they all showed ardent passion for Dokdo and Korea. The three days was long enough for them to get along with one another and become companions of dreams from mere strangers. Then, let’s look into the memories of the three days in Ulleung-do&Dokdo and see how meaningful time they built up together as one by sharing their dreams and visions.

By the way, I am Daemyeong Choi, an university student majoring in history. I participated in the camp as VANK(Voluntary Agency Network of Korea) staff. The camp was very meaningful for me as well. As one who wishes to pursue a history-related profession and be an advocate for those ‘underrepresented’ in history like the Koreans under the Japanese Imperial rule, I was pleased to meet and hear from the students full of ideas and visions to promote Dokdo and Korea. As I forward this article, I will introduce some of the brilliant and enlightening students I met in the camp.

Day 1 (2018.08.08)

At late night on August 7th, students living near Seoul gathered in Vank Seowon. Briefly after greeting each other in somewhat awkward silence, we got on a bus, which led us to Pohang in several hours. In the morning, the other half group of students arrived and met us at the Pohang Ferry Terminal. In the meantime till the departure, students, divided in six groups, had time to know one another and break the ice.

On the way to Ulleung-do, the weather was clear, but the waves were a bit high, having many of us suffer from sea-sickness during the two and a half hour trip until we finally got to the dock. Right after having lunch then, we moved to the Dokdo Museum, the first territorial museum in Korea that opened in 1997. Guided by a kind and gentle commentator, we viewed through the diverse collection of ancient maps and relics related to Dokdo and East Sea. This was particularly special moment for Jiyun Jeong, a 9th grader from Suwon Middle School, who “became interested in Dokdo” after she “accidentally saw an exhibition about Lee Jong-hak who was the first director of Ulleung Dokdo Museum.”

Then, we moved to the Dokdo observatory next to the museum by a cable car. Since it is possible to see Dokdo in sunny and fresh days from the spot, we walked up to the observatory in anticipation of seeing Dokdo in our own eyes. Yet, Dokdo, shrouded by mist, was not visible. Some of us got disappointed, but the beautiful sight of Ulleung-do itself was great and pleasing as well. The two foreign interns in VANK, Diana and Cazz were quite impressed by the view. Diana showed her admiration for “the nature in Ulleung-do (that) is well preserved to date making a harmonious symmetry with modern buildings.” Cazz also told her impression as the following, “when I looked over Ulleung-do at the observatory, though I could not see the Korean peninsula, I could see all the people around me speaking in Korean and I could definitely tell I was stepping on a Korean territory.” Hoping that it would be possible for us to land on Dokdo the next day, we came down from the observatory and moved to our quarters.

The evening was time for the Team Activity I. The students needed to come up with creative ideas and strategic ways to promote Dokdo in terms of storytelling. In advance to an actual team activity, the head of VANK, Park Gi-tae, addressed his own experiences and efforts to promote Dokdo. He strongly urged that the students themselves need to take action rather than shifting the responsibility to government officials or someone else. Motivated by his lecture, the members started to work on their own ideas.

The outcomes were pretty high in quality. Team 1 suggested launching on a SNS project named ‘Making Dokdo Challenge’ through which people can get to know about Dokdo in a more friendly way. Team 2 thought of making an app that explains historical backgrounds regarding Dokdo in the form of classical stories by recomposing them in the context of Dokdo and connecting the app to an online-mall where people can buy stuff branded in Dokdo. Team 3 went on to suggest promoting Dokdo through K-Pop by commercializing a K-pop cheer stick while Team 4 proposed commercializing ‘dolls’ that represent the painful history of Korea. In detail, Team 4 suggested linking historical issues like ‘comfort women’ and ‘forced labor’ with the dolls and giving a vivid account of the stories related with the dolls. Meanwhile, Team 5 suggested making various kinds of promotion materials like a puzzle, a letter cover, a fan, and a nail sticker. Lastly, Team 6 proposed making a material for the blind such as a ‘Dokdo name card’ in braille.

Day 2 (2018.08.09)
On the second day, we were busy from the early morning because we were scheduled to visit Dokdo soon. After finishing breakfast in a hurry, We got on board praying that the weather would remain calm so that we could land on Dokdo. Unfortunately, the sea waves were even bigger and more violent than yesterday. It even rained in the middle of the sailing. Yet, as we got closer to Dokdo, the weather got nicer and the waves became softer, allowing us to lay our feet on Dokdo. We could stay for a half hour and save the image of Dokdo in our eyes as well as in cameras. For me, who suffered heavily from sea-sickness, it was even difficult to stand still, but Dokdo was there, and I couldn’t help myself being overwhelmed by its magnificent sight.

Similarly, the members also felt very close to Dokdo and were impressed a lot. Jiyun said, “the best of all was visiting Dokdo. Even though there was seasick, when I arrived at there, it was very impressive and I became more eager to introduce Korea and Dokdo.” For Hyung-geun Park from Youngnam high school, “Three Brothers Cave Rock’ was very impressive because the rock, divided into three and combined together as one, seems to represent reconciliation and peace.” Yejin Kim from Jeju Girl’s Business High School could sympathize with Dokdo’s grief. “I came to commit myself to defend Dokdo so that the painful memories of the past would not be repeated”, she said.

The way back to Ulleung-do was better. After having lunch, we came back to our quarters and got ready for Team Activity II. It was about addressing the issues regarding Dokdo through various types of performance. Before we got to work, the members were informed that it was important to take a rational approach to the issue in order to persuade the international society. Gi-tae also told of his own story how he organized and performed a play to let people know about the ‘comfort women’ issue when he went to the US.

Both Team I and III dealt with the issue of “comfort women;” Team I made a play of the comfort women statue in relation to the Holocaust while Team III performed a play through which they developed heated discussions on how to inform the world of Dokdo and comfort women issue. Team II, on the other hand, performed a pantomime and monologue based on a sad tale of one family during the Japanese Occupation Period. They told stories of mom and dad who were taken to Japanese military camps, separated from each other and exploited by Japanese soldiers respectively. Team IV made a parody of the Snow White tale by recomposing it in regard to Korea-Japan relations, especially stressing out what Dokdo symbolizes for the two countries. Team V tried to approach this issue from a different point of view. They introduced the territorial dispute between Japan and Russia over the Kuril islands in their play and related it to the Dokdo issue. Lastly, Team VI made up a play that dealt with the issue of Japan protesting against the inclusion of Dokdo in the unified Korean flag for 2018 Pyeonchang Winter Olympics.

The last program for Day 2 was writing an essay about Dokdo. Each of the students wrote their impression of visiting Dokdo and compared Dokdo to certain objects or notions they feel how Dokdo is like. The best essay was written by Jiyun Jeong, one of our interviewees. The following is an excerpt from her essay.

  Dokdo is a letter that we send to the past. It is a letter that cries for the world to remember the atrocities Imperial Japan did to Koreans, which initiated by illegally annexing Dokdo to the Shimane Prefecture in 1905, and to remember the tears Korean people shed by helping us to get sincere apologies from Japan. ⋯⋯. Dokdo is a letter that we send to the future. It is a letter that asks the future generation to continue our efforts to defend Dokdo.

Day 3 (2018.08.10)

Well, it became the final day of our journey. We had an awarding ceremony complimenting every team and individual for their hard works and participation. After then, we briefly went on a tour of Ulleung-do and came back to Pohang. Everyone could not believe it already became time for farewell. The last three days were such memorable time we could find ourselves together sharing one common dream, that is, having Dokdo in mind, bring Korea to the world. For Yejin Kim, it was time when “students from all parts of Korea could stand together under the same dream.” She added, saying “I came to love Dokdo and remember Korean history and culture more deeply thanks to the camp.”
Other members also left their impression. Jiyun said, “this camp was a meaningful opportunity for us to remind why we have to remember our history. This camp helped me go closer to my dream to be a diplomat.” Minyoung Lim from Yongin Ehyun Middle School also wanted to say thanks for helping her make good memories. For her, “Gi-tae’s lecture about how he organized a play about the comfort women statue was very impressive.” Minsol Kim from Insung Girl’s High School, also left her remark that the camp was very interesting because she could participate herself in the activities. She also said, “To me, Dokdo is like my grandfather who used to tell me about Dokdo. So, I love Dokdo a lot.” Lastly, Hyung-geun said, “this was the special moment in my life when I could communicate in one heart with people with different backgrounds.”

So, that’s it! We had very special three days. It was time for us to share our dreams and hopes. Under the common goal to promote Dokdo and Korea, we could engage each another in the right place at the right time. We intend to build strong mutual relationships as we continue to struggle to achieve our dreams. Thanks, everyone!

Design Saengki

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

Unified Korea World Map (통일한국 세계지도)

The possibilities of a reunified Korea are endless. Not only will there be peace within east Asia, economic development between countries will also proper. The once isolated Korea will have opportunities to create trade with nearby regions and also develop their industrialization. Also, instead of using its military to protect and fight itself, a reunified Korea will be able to distribute their military power towards peace in other countries with disputes still going on. These endless possibilities show that reunification is a feasible option for Korea because of the numerous benefits that Korea could gain through reunification. These possibilities are shown on the map like a feasible railroad that could connect Korea, China, Russia, and even Europe.

However, change will not happen without any effort or determination. We must do our best to overcome this division and achieve our dream of positive change and prosperity for Korea and the world.

Help us in the effort of reunifying Korea and accomplishing this dream!

Astronomical History of Korea and the World (천상열차분야지도)

How much do you know about astronomy? There were many great developments, inventions, and astronomers who have helped us to learn more about the stars and skies. One famous example is the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus who helped to formulate the heliocentric model of the universe. In other words, Copernicus was the first person to create a model that proposed that the Sun, and not the Earth, was the center of the Solar System.

Did you know that Koreans also had many scientific developments in the field of astronomy? It all started during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) . During this period, remarkable scientific developments were achieved and many astronomical instruments were created. Later on, an astronomical calendar system called Chilijeongsan was also created in 1444.King Sejong was also able to create the Korean native alphabet, Hangeul, and the native time system during this time.

This was all made possible because of the remarkable scientists who supported King Sejong’s vision. These scientists, like Jeong Inji, Jeong Cho, Yi Cheon, and more were actually named after a few asteroids  by the International Astronomical Union in 2004 which were discovered by modern Korean scientists.

King Sejong and these scientists were able to make remarkable contributions towards history.

Just like these historical figures, you too can help bring a change in history!