Category Archives: Past events

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.

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!

Dokdo Camp!

2017 Dokdo Camp : Having Dokdo in Mind, Bringing Korea to the World

[2017 Dokdo Camp in Dokdo]

Those people who wanted to share their own story participated in ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’. They have a wide variety of dreams & ambitions in their mind and have lived to achieve the things that approach to the final destination so that their minds are already strong and hopeful.

[2017 The repoter of Dokdo Camp ]

Hi, I’m Soongyu Kwon and a staff in VANK. I undertook the mission to write a real story in English during this camp. I have interviewed their hopes and supported many VANK officials for 3days (17.07.25~27). I really hoped to interview personal emotions and dreams with most of participants but I could not. This is because I don’t have enough experience as a reporter. I think It is a chance for me to learn how to interview with people and write the record in English.

Day 1(2017.07.25)

“A long journey begins with just a single step.”

Participants gathered in Pohang Wharf Passenger Terminal at early morning. They came together from all over the county. Some of them came from Seoul on the 24th of July and others came here at that morning. Finally, we met all the members of ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’. Those who participated in the camp are representative of all the VANK’s members so they undertook an important assignment.

It was raining all through that morning. Fortunately, as soon as we board the Sun Flower Ship, It stopped raining. All of people were happy and looking forward to visiting Ulleungdo & Dokdo. Unlike VANK officials were worried, they got on well with each other easily.

After we departed from Pohang, It took about 3hours to Ulleungdo. As soon as we arrived at Ulleungdo, we had Ulleungdo Cuisine ‘Honghapbap’ for lunch that was prepared by mixing steamed rice with mussels and seasoning. It has been introduced with postcard in VANK. After lunch, we headed to Dokdo Museum & Sigaji Observatory.

We were separated into two groups and started off to explore. The group A and I went to Dokdo Museum first and then went to Sigaji Observatory. Dokdo Museum opened on August 8, 1997 in order to research, educate and exhibit on the diverse areas of Dokdo particularly in its history and culture. As Korea`s first territory museum, Dokdo Museum will actively promote the history and culture of Dokdo to the world and take a leading role in research and education on the island. We were accompanied by a Dokdo Museum tour guide. She explained Dokdo’s cultural, economic value with historical evidence and encouraged our activities to protect the national sovereignty and pride. It was meaningful time to organize our thoughts about Dokdo and we became to be able to deal with the problems more clearly than any other people.

Next, we went to Sigaji Observatory to see Dokdo. There was a sign that let people know where is Dokdo from Dokdo Observatory. We heard that we can visually find faraway Dokdo when It’s an really fine day. we were looking for seeing Dokdo but It was not there. Unfortunately, It was been foggy on the sea. However, the view toward Dokdo was perfect. We felt the fresh air for 15 minutes and went to accommodation to have dinner and unpacked our luggage.

At last, we came together to prepare a team presentation. Before starting activities, we had a worthful lecture to help us to understand more easily from the leader ‘Gitae Park’. He told us his own story about how did he found VANK. He wondered why many foreigners don’t know about Korea and really hoped to change that situation. That is the reason why he founded VANK for Korea. In common with many other people, He also thought “Can one small my idea change the world?” but he always tried to do his best and grow many teenager honorary ambassadors. He proved that “Your efforts will never betray you!” as you can see current VANK. He made many participants more confident to do their best through this lecture.

Following that, Sungeun Park who is a official of Gyeongsangbuk-do Dokdo Policy Division cheered for participants. He encouraged our activities and, in fact, that helped us when we resolved the problems. Futhermore, he said “I’m happy to work with VANK because many korean teenagers get to know the historical fact of Dokdo and try to revise the wrong history in the world through VANK” and then “I’m worry about losing my job because of you guys who are working hard for Dokdo! Haha I meant it for a joke! Thanks to VANK and guys, Korea is getting bigger and more trustful”.

Then, after we took lectures, they were given few minutes to discuss a topic and got the point in order to deliver the thoughts. They tried to judge a topic from the perspective of world and consider how to tell officials to resolve this problem as if they are the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trades. After a couple of minutes, in spite of not enough time, surprisingly they told their ideas from different points of views and shared own their ways settling a conflict. Finally, the first day successfully ended!!

I made some questions for ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’ and asked them to four people who are Sumin Ahn(SM), Donghyun Yoon(DH), Jisun Choi(JS), and (Heeji(HJ) Kim). Each day, I’m going to share some of their own stories at the back side of writing.
Sumin Ahn


Reporter SG : Let me know your name, where you’re belonging to and How do you find out VANK?

SM : Hi, I’m Su Min Ahn, a student of Sahmyook University. I went to the University after I graduated from high school. I met ‘Ji Yun Ryu’ who is a member of the team 3. she found the promotion materials of VANK, recommended me to join VANK so we signed up, participated in the program that get to know about Dokdo & East Sea. Finally, I became ‘The 9th Global honorary ambassador for Dokdo’ this year.

DH : Glad to meet you. I’m Dong Hyun Yoon, a student of Chonnam National University. I’m studying history and making Historical Cultural Contents by myself. I was looking for the program related to contents when I found ‘The 9th Global honorary ambassador for Dokdo’. That was the first time I’ve done and then I carried out the mission as ‘The 9th Global honorary ambassador for Dokdo’.

JS : Hi, I’m Ji Sun Choi, a senior in Kookmin University studying a law department. I was chosen to be an exchange student so I went to Florida, U.S for second semester in 2015. At that time, I’ve experienced sad things relating to Korea. When I was in school, American born and raised in U.S didn’t know where Korea is, what a country is and what kinds of history they have. I didn’t expect that kinds of situations. I was absolutely shocked. I didn’t like myself because I couldn’t describe anything about my country. After I finished studying in U.S, I went back my country. As soon as I arrived in Korea, I started to look for organizations that teach people Korean history. As a result, I found VANK and signed up. Actually, I’ve heard of VANK before but I wasn’t interested in VANK.

HJ : Hello, I’m Heeji Kim, a student of Suncheon Palma High School. I got to know VANK through the club of school. Among There are a leader and a vice-leader of the club among my friends so I’ve heard what kinds of activities they do from them. One day, an official document that was written by VANK came to school. That was the notice to gather the members of ‘The 6th digital diplomacy ambassador for Dokdo’ so I signed up and applied for ‘The 6th digital diplomacy ambassador for Dokdo’


Reporter SG : Could you tell me your own story you’ve done for Dokdo & East sea?

SM : The process of carrying out some missions for ‘The 9th Global honorary ambassador for Dokdo’, I went to Gyeongbok Palace that was built in the Joseon Dynasty era with my friends. At the moment, I was wearing Hanbok that is Korean traditional clothes. I prepared some promotion materials for foreigners and gave foreigners that. Many foreigners were happy to get these promotion material and said “Thank you! It’s a really good opportunity to know Dokdo & East Sea. I haven’t ever experienced like you for my country. I’m rooting for you.”

DH : When I was a sophomore in high school, I was a member of ‘F.B.I’ which is a debate club of Gwangju Inseong High School. At that time, many Koreans were highly interested in Dokdo because The Japanese Education Ministry, which is in charge of revising the nation’s school curriculum, has rewritten classroom textbooks to define the disputed islands, called Takeshima in Japanese, as their country’s territory. We wanted to make people aware of these problems so we organized a flash mob for Dokdo.

JS : I was studying in Florida, U.S. When I went to the New York Library, I saw a map here. There were some mistakes about the name of Sea. East Sea was written in Sea of Japan. I wanted to fix it correctly but I didn’t know how to do so I took a picture of that part and went back Korea. As previously said, I found VANK and learnt how to fix it correctly through ‘The 9th Global honorary ambassador for Dokdo’. During the process of the mission, I made a decision to resolve this problem. I studied how to write corrective letter and then sent it to the New York officials. Unfortunately, they didn’t reply to email.

Day 2(2017.07.26.)

“We were walking on air & We were on cloud nine.”

I’ve heard that It was raining in Dokdo on first day but fortunately the weather was extremely sunny on the second day. It was perfect!! We headed to Dokdo with happiness. We boarded the Pyonghwao ship which is service only government officials’ execution of duties in order to visit Dokdo. It takes two and a half hours from Ulleungdo. Although there was a strong current in the sea, the wave couldn’t stop us to go to Dokdo. Finally, we reached Dokdo at 11 o’clock and one hour was given to us.

We went to the eastern island of Dokdo where maritime polices are working. They greeted us warmly and guided us through many stairs to go to maritime police station. We could see the beautiful scenery and also felt fresh air there. It was off limit to the public at all times. Thanks to VANK & Gyeongsangbuk-do officials, we were able to visit Dokdo as a public officials and also get to a restricted area. It seemed like our first step as a real honorary ambassador for Dokdo. At a word, It was an unforgettable experience.

We recollected our mind and went back to Ulleungdo because we had many tasks to find solutions to problems. After boarding the ship for two and a half hours, we came together at seminar room to discuss with each other. The beginning of the tasks, we reminded yesterday’s activities and then started to do new activities. The mission of the second day was to write a play and to enact it. First, they made a decision how situation do they describe. Second, they set up a strategy to persuade the official of company suggesting how to revise the wrong information. Third, they composed story frame and catched the point of play to tell audiences certainly.

A couple of hours later, we acted a play. All of the members thought outside of the box. Sungeun Park specially said, “It absolutely seemed that it happened. It’s amazing. It was the same us to try to revise the wrong history and to send a corrective letter and was a opportunity to show how smart you will became in the future. I’m proud of you guys than yesterday.”

After that, we wrote our own story about visiting Dokdo. It was a next mission of the second day. Every participant thought of the whole second day. I really love the atmosphere because It’s a time to organize our thoughts during 2017 Dokdo camp. All of participants focused on writing and filled out their papers. After thinking of Dokdo, we took a picture all together for the second day.


Reporter SG : Why did you participate in ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’ even spending your time?

SM : I thought that as a Korean, I should go to Dokdo once. After ‘The 9th Global honorary ambassador for Dokdo’, I got a chance to go to Dokdo and catched it because, if I miss this chance, I wouldn’t go to Dokdo ever so I tried to participate in ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’.

DH : It’s my dream. One of the bucket lists is to go to Dokdo. After taking the KSAT, I’ve been looking for the best way to get to Dokdo every couple of years. This time, I participated in the program that is ‘The 9th Global honorary ambassador for Dokdo’. I tried to carry out all of the missions. After that, I won for best ‘The 9th Global honorary ambassador for Dokdo’ and also got a chance to visit Dokdo.

JS : I’m a senior in University. I will graduate soon and work as an intern so I thought this is the last chance as a student of University. On the one hand, I really hope to see the VANK’s leader and ask him where his confidence comes from. He started from a small group. The small group grew into one of the most influential organizations in Korea. Therefore, I became confident and made me think that I can do everything on my field wherever and whenever.

HJ : I applied for Dokdo Camp with worry about fail but It came up smelling like a rose. I went to take a class of ‘The 6th digital diplomacy ambassador for Dokdo’ from Suncheon to National Museum of Korea. The mission were to make UCC for Dokdo. I haven’t ever recorded UCC. I asked my friend how to make and then I stayed up all night to made UCC. Finally, I made it. I did not want my effort to go to waste. Actually, It was examination period, when I carried out the mission. However, It was a good choice so that I could not stop the missions. If I stopped the missions, I couldn’t meet Those who cheer for each other and feel the fresh air of Dokdo.


Reporter SG : What have you learnt during ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’?

SM : I met many people who are from different places in Korea. To be honest, I f딧 difficult to be close with a person I’ve met first time but I learned how to get on well with people through ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’, and It was a chance to think that Dokdo is not too far from us and we can reach Dokdo easily so I’ll go to Dokdo again with my family on holiday.

DH : As previously said, I’m making Historical Cultural Contents myself. After finishing studying, I’ll also continue to produce content so I always think about it. I think It’s the best opportunity to get to know how to prepare program like ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’. Therefore, I tried to find new topic among many contents and paid close attention to how staffs deal with many problems.

JS : Let me say just one or two words, I learnt the passions of young people. It’s a common phrase but I mean it. I haven’t ever promoted Dokdo as a Korean territory the same those who participated in this camp. They work really hard until now. I couldn’t help but think back to my high school days. It’s a opportunity to reflect on myself so I make sure that I’ll continue to promote Dokdo to the world.

Day 3(2017.07.27.)

“Man’s feeling are always purest and most glowing in the hour of meeting and of farewell.”

It’s the last day of ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’. Most of participants stayed up nights to talk each other. Although It was really tired, we met everyone actively. we gathered in seminar room for winding ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’ up. We hosted the award ceremony for result of activities during ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’ before starting to travel around Ulleungdo. The award ceremony category is two fields that are the essay for Dokdo and Team Activity. ‘Young Ju Lim’ won the top prize in the essay for Dokdo. She described her own feelings of looking at Dokdo and presented it in glasses.

“If I’m wearing ‘Dokdo glasses’, surprisingly we can put new animals and plants and clear nature. However, Many people don’t like to wear glasses because It’s uncomfortable. That is why difficult historical facts and an old wound are seen. I’ll fix it precisely and smooth wound while I’m wearing Dokdo glasses.”

As you can read, we thought that she deserves the award. Also, other winners expressed their own feelings and ideas, so they deserved the award. Next, we awarded a prize to the team. The second day, we had a presentation to demonstrate fixing a distorted history and sea of Japan correctly. We were unable to evaluate their presentations because every team, each member enthusiastically moved their topic into an actual situation in order to resolve the problems. Therefore, we awarded all of the teams but there was a little bit of differences between prizes.

After the award ceremony, we prepared to depart and got on the bus to go to Korea Institute Of Ocean Science & Technology(KIOST) in Daepunggam Coast, Ulleungdo. The KIOST research on ocean resources and related applications and commercialization of such resources for the development of marine science and technology and the marine industry. We got a opportunity to take a valuable lecture specially ‘Dokdo’ from officials.

According to expert, Climate change and the alarming rate of biodiversity loss worldwide are the most critical environment challenges society faces today. One of the most important factors for overall ocean health is ocean biodiversity so the KIOST was made and researching on ocean of Ulleungdo & Dokdo. They already had strategy and action plan for conserving ecological value and natural beauty of Ulleungdo & Dokdo. It made all of us think that conserving biodiversity cannot be thought afterward. It was a chance to learn a perspective considering ecological value as well as the historical accuracy to us. They suggested paradigm to us.



Specially, I put the interview story here because of the last day. The last question whoever can guess is ‘what is Dokdo in your mind?’

Reporter SG : What is Dokdo in your mind? (Please, Express Dokdo own your way)

SM : It is a good thing to show opposite nations(Japan) the strong image as Korean territory and It’s constant Korean territory. On the other hand, after visiting Dokdo, I thought that we seem to destroy the nesting birds, other animals and plants. Originally, Dokdo is not a human’s thing. That is owned by nature. Because of human greed, that was taken as a possession of the land and It’s getting vulnerable so I hope that after Japan makes a polite apology, we must try to restore nature to its original condition.

DH : Dokdo is the most important topic for me. It can be convened at any time, whenever It is threatened by Japan. That means Dokdo has influenced on Korean. At another point, The Lonely Planet that has real influence over the world introduced Ulleungdo to the world as The World’s Best Secret Islands so I thought It would be great way to let people know that Dokdo is nearby Ulleungdo and that is Korean territory. I’ll try to show many people the historical facts until Japan gives up all of things.

JS : There are many territorial disputes in the world but I think that it is not the same. Dokdo is not a simple territorial dispute but a matter of the national sovereignty and pride. I’d like people to think Dokdo is not a small islet in Korea but Dokdo & Korea are equal. I’ll do my best until people know the historical fact of Dokdo and East Sea.

HJ : I called my parents before I got off the ship in Dokdo. They were proud of me to go to Dokdo as a Korean so I hoped to see the view of Dokdo but I couldn’t. There were some problems to connect each other. I was really sad. After finishing calling my parents, I took a picture and sent them many photos I’ve taken. They were really happy and then I promised to come here with them Later. Therefore, Dokdo is ‘promise’ for me. I really want to come again with my parents and hope that Dokdo becomes to be famous island of Korea whoever people want to come here.


At the end of the interview for 3 days. Thanks for answering a couple of questions and sharing your own stories. It would be good materials to show people the purpose of Dokdo Camp and the reason to continue to next year.

We spent a half hour to make up our mind here and transferred to Nari Basin. It’s known as the only plain in Ulleungdo. We had ‘Wild Vegetable Bibimbap’ for lunch and, after that, took a break a couple of minutes in Nari Basin Playground. It seemed that everyone went back to childhood. After we moderately smelled the roses, we’ve travelled from Nari Basin to Ulleungdo Wharf Passenger Terminal which is the final destination on ‘2017 Dokdo Camp’. Finally, Dokdo Camp of this year also successfully ended in safety. Every participant and official worked hard for three-days.

You know, there is a saying “Man’s feeling are always purest and most glowing in the hour of meeting and of farewell.”. We were unwilling to part with all of members. The meaning of word, we felt very sad and our hearts were chocked with emotion. We parted with a promise to meet again in another campaign of VANK.

Those people who want to share their own story participated in 2017 Dokdo Camp. They explored and discovered Ulleungdo & Dokdo. As a result, they became closer to their final destination. They’ll continue to try to do their best. We trust them and are waiting for them. Thank you!!!

2016 Dokdo Camp [2016.8.3~5]

2016 Dokdo Camp; Having Dokdo in Mind, Bringing Korea to the World

With people who share similar dreams and hopes, explore and discover Ulleungdo & Dokdo!

Hello, this is VANK youth leader, Yoojeong Jeong (YJ)! I’ll be a three-day-reporter of 2016 Dokdo camp to give you glimpse of this camp:) This year camp was the luckiest camp ever, and you’ll know why in a moment. Also, there are some bits of interviews added so as to hear real story from the members.

Day1 (2016.8.3)

Although the day was scorchingly hot, VANK staffs and members gathered in Pohang at early morning to explore Ulleungdo & Dokdo. Let’s hear from some of our members to tell us why they participated in this camp! Let’s welcome Taegeon (T), Seo-won (S), and Dogyun (D) to this interview 🙂

YJ: So, What made you here to spend the last days of your summer vacation? Also, before you tell us more about this camp, would you please introduce yourself?

T: Hello, I’m Taegeon Kim from Jeju-island! I was always interested in Dokdo, and while I was searching Dokdo at the internet, I learned VANK and one-day lecture on Dokdo, ‘Global Dokdo Ambassador.’

S: I’m Seo-won Byun and I’m a student studying at Philippines. As I have more foreign friends than Korean friends, I could easily realize how foreigners have some wrong information regarding Korea. So, I was searching how to explain such wrong information in a right way and rectify them. That’s how I reached VANK and this camp. As Dokdo and East Sea are the most representative errors regarding Korea, I wanted to learn more on this matter.

D: Last not but not least, I’m Dogyun Kim from Gimcheon! Currently, I’m on the way to set up a VANK club at my school. Initially, this club started out as ‘Comfort Women’ club but we extended to other issues such as Dokdo and East Sea. And, while we were researching on these issues, we met VANK and decided to change this club into VANK club. With my club members, we participate in one-day lecture to learn more about VANK and the issues. During the lecture, I was moved and motivated to accomplish all the tasks from the lecture, and I was chosen as the camp member!

After we landed on Ulleungdo, we went straight to Dokdo museum and Sigaji observatory. This camp started off with learning more about Dokdo and experience whole view of Ulleungdo. It was much meaningful as the first spot was implicitly intended for members to address Dokdo with objective approach, rather than emotional appeal.

At last, back at seminar room, we finally had time to introduce ourselves to others. Before we move into an actual team activity, we had two valuable lectures to help our members to understand more on the topic we are addressing. First lecture was truthfully motivated to bring out each member’s passion to act toward wrong information. Gitae Park, head of VANK, has strongly urged members to make actual action toward the issue, rather end up being mad and complain to others. Although there are limits, there are always ways to confront this issue and take action as a student.


Next lecture was informative lecture from Sori Lee to give utmost important information regarding Dokdo. She especially pointed out that we should not be cynical toward Japan, but to understand them. Furthermore, we should learn our situation and the perspective of the world, and thus deliver our history wisely.

Then, the first team activity started out with exciting music and the performance that was created by each team member. It was only after few hours since team members met each other, but they tried their best to become a one team and deliver their thoughts on Dokdo. Just wait for a moment to hear more stories about the team activity.

Day2 (2016.8.4)

The weather was perfect for our trip to Dokdo, two and a half hours away from Ulleungdo by ship. The wave was so still that we were not even supposed to take a medicine for seasickness. This is why this camp was so lucky! Thanks to the weather, we were able to spend about an hour at Dokdo, which rarely happens. We went to the eastern island of Dokdo where police guard of Dokdo stays. And, back again with our three wonderful interviewees to tell us more about our exploration!

YJ: The climax of this camp, exploring Dokdo! How was it to actually visit and step on Dokdo? You guys might have felt something that is hard to put into words!

Seo-won: To be honest, at first, I didn’t have much expectation. I just thought that it won’t be that different from the photo of Dokdo. However, I realized at a second as soon as I landed that photo cannot express beautiful scenery of Dokdo. It was much more beautiful compare to any other photos taken by photographers. I thought to myself that I need to protect Dokdo not because we have to. But, because we need to protect the beautiful view along with valuable ecosystem within the island.

Taegeon: Visiting Dokdo made one of my dreams come true! It was my life dream to visit and explore Dokdo as my future dream is to protect the island. First, I wanted to become police guard to protect Dokdo physically. However, I wanted to protect Dokdo in other perspective such as becoming international lawyer and act towards it. Dokdo is a true motivation and crux of my dream.

Reporter YJ: Then, let’s hear from other members who are also thrilled to tell us more! Let’s invite our lovely friend, Juyeon:) So, Juyeon, how was the Dokdo trip?

Juyeon: Hello, I’m Juyeon and I just stopped by because I wanted to share my thoughts, too! Well, Dokdo would be the most memorable trip ever in my life. Some people would be questioned on why it is meaningful to visit Dokdo. I think this leads to same question why we go traveling. People these days enjoy traveling around the world, visit new places and experience new culture and unique life style. And these trips become bits and pieces of our memories that stay in our mind for a life time. It’s same with Dokdo! As we traveled to Dokdo with our friends who share similar hopes and dreams, this also becomes haunting experience that could never be forgotten. The reason we act on Dokdo became our own efforts to protect our precious memories with our friends, not because we need to protect our territory. Trip to Dokdo has built unforgettable memory to all of us!

After putting aside the sadness of leaving Dokdo, back at Ulleungdo, We had the second team activity. For team activity, each team had to discuss on specific ways of responding to major media, which is the primary source of spreading wrong information around the world. Such media includes CIA World Fact Book, Lonely Planet, Google Map, Microsoft Bing Map, and etc. All of teams were having common basis that they all have credibility on such media and this is the very reason why they should rectify the mislead information. So as to give credible information to all the readers around the world, media should not provide information that was intended to promote imperialism.

Day3 (2016.8.5)

As the last day of the camp, we gathered in seminar room for wrapping up our camp by each of us sharing personal comments on the camp. And then, we went to last trip around the Ulleungdo that extended our haunting memory from Dokdo. As it is our last part of trip, let’s get back to interview to hear the overall comment of this memorable camp!

Reporter YJ: So, our long but short journey to Dokdo & Ulleungdo has come to an end! It would be a bittersweet moment for all of us. Still, I would like to hear overall comment ! There must be a lot of things that you learned and thought to yourselves.

Dogyun: Well, before I came to the camp, I was both excited and worried as I get to spend three days with people I first met. But, as soon as I arrive and meet my team mates, all my worries were gone and spend the days with excitements. Also, this camp would be a great help for me to set up VANK club in my school. Now, I understand VANK vision and right response toward Dokdo and East sea issue as in student level. With my club members, I would actively take action and pile up small changes to bring bigger changes. Personally, I have come up with approach to myself, as well. To myself, as my dream is to become researcher of biotechnology, I always dreamed of promoting peace in my own field of expertise. However, it seemed contradictory to be interested in global issues and disregard domestic issues. I would always try to be interested in both aspects along with building up my expertise. In short, this camp has become one of turning point for me in various ways!

Taegeon: Personally, I thought I know many things about Dokdo. But, I realized that knowing is not enough, taking action is the most important part. The most memorable part was the second team activity, when we had to come up with ways to rectifying wrong information in foreign major media. I thought to myself that I should not only focus on learning factual information regarding this matter but, I should actually write down formal letters to rectify the wrong information in foreign websites. I would not stop as knowing about it but take further step to take action.

Seo-won: I was a little pressured to come to this camp, as I am preparing for entering university. But, I learned there are more things to learn outside the textbook and experience something new. Also, this camp has changed my dream, as well! I wanted to become an interpreter or translator but, I wanted to engage actively on these matters. Now, I want to be a person who participates in various international conferences and meetings to represent Korea. This would also help me to choose my major in university. I appreciate everyone including VANK staffs that have made this wonderful opportunity for us.

Juyeon: My dream is to become a webtoon(web comic) artist and I would like to apply what I learned at camp with my dream. I want to draw a webtoon that introduce Dokdo to the world that could easily read by people without any resistance. This webtoon won’t have one-way contents, but a flashback of this precious memory and hope to share this story with others.

So, this brings up the finale of this camp! How this camp sound to you?

With people who share similar dreams and hopes, explore and discover Ulleungdo & Dokdo!

66th UN DPI/ NGO Conference

From May 30th to June 1st, VANK was given the opportunity to participate in the UN DPI/NGO Conference. Being that this was the first UN conference to be held in Korea, it was a big event for Korean NGOs to be involved in. The main theme for this UN Conference was Education for Global Citizenship and the concept is based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were recently adopted by the UN at the UN summit in September 2015. The main goals that the SDGs want to accomplish is ending poverty, fight  inequalities, and tackling climate change. The SDGs are the successors to the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) that the UN developed back in 2000, and the SDGs include a total of 169 targets that are related to the 17 goals.

At the booth VANK focused on presenting the following to participants of the conference:

  • Intoduction of VANK (The great movement of a small organization)
    • How VANK was created
    • Members of VANK
    • What VANK does
  • VANK’s 2 Main Education Programs
    • Cyber Diplomacy Program
      • 14-step education process
    • Worldchanger Program (Focus on SDGs)
      • 12-step education process
  • Cases of VANK Members having an impact on the World
    • Sang-min Kwak
    • Yea-jin Lee
    • Gae-ra Yang
    • Agnieszka Michaelzyk
  • Promotional material that VANK offers to educate the youth and members
    • World Heritage Map
    • Vision of Asia Peace Map
    • Humans Rights World Map
    • Maps for Worldchangers
    • SDGs World Map
    • SDGs Postcards
  • Event: Provide feedback about VANK/VANK’s booth or a simple task and/or strategy to accomplish one or more of the SDGs

People who participated in the event were given promotional materials as a courtesy for participating in the event. In addition to the aforementioned promotional material, VANK also provided participants with “Mugunghwa” Korean Maps, Jikji Postcards, and Korean Food Postcards.

Overall, the reaction of people to VANK’s booth was successful. More than 100 people participated in the event and people from different countries (not just Korea) were able to learn about VANK’s motive, the SDGs and how individual people can make a great impact to the world.

Traveling to Gyeongju for SDGs

From May 30th till June 1st, the 66th UN DPI/NGO Conference was held in Gyeongju, Korea and the VANK staff and I had the opportunity to participate at the conference. Being that the conference’s theme was about SDGs and education for becoming a global citizen, it was a perfect fit for VANK to be a part of this conference since VANK’s Worldchanger education program exemplifies this theme.

On the first day, we gathered in front of VANK and packed up all our bags and things that we needed for the conference into the car. We then started the long jouney to Gyeongju and it took us about 5 hours to reach our destination. We then got to the convention center and prepared our booth as the opening day was tomorrow. The design of the booth was really nice and stood out from many of the other booths.

After the setup of the booth, we had dinner and then arrived at our pension. The area of the pension was really interesting because you could hear hundreds of frogs croaking throughout the night. We then held a short meeting to plan out our agenda for the next day and prepared the promotional materials that we would pass out to the participants.We then played a game of Korean jacks to decide who would have to prepare breakfast for the next day. Luckily, my team didn’t lose (1 point difference) and we were able to enjoy an extra 30 minutes of sleep.

The next day was the opening day of the conference and so after spending about an hour at the booth, most of us headed to the 3rd floor of the conference to watch the opening ceremony and see UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon speak. After the opening ceremony, we had lunch and then worked at our exhibit.

For this day, I got to wear a hanbok (Korean traditional clothing) and introduced our organization and booth while wearing it throughout the day. It was my first time wearing a hanbok and I needed some time to adjust to the clothing, but overall it was comfortable to wear and warm at the same time.

At the booth I talked about VANK’s origin, history, and the present day of where VANK stands today. I also talked about the 2 education programs that VANK offers which is the Cyber Diplomacy program and the Worldchanger program. The Cyber Diplomacy education program covers Korean history, culture, and territorial and social issues while the Worldchanger education program focuses more on SDGs and global issues. Both of these programs focus on the idea that one person can make a big difference in the world, and VANK also displays this message accurately, being that it is a small organization that has already affected over 140,000 members in a mere 17 years. I also talked about the various cases where students have made a huge difference and contribution to society. One example of this is the elementary student Gwak Sangmin who is a VANK member. After making a pen pal friend from Kenya, she learned about the poverty issues that her friend suffered from and wanted to help out in any possible way. So she started to fundraise on the streets by herself and any money that she raised was sent to her friend in Kenya. Her parents were eventually also inspired to join her in her fundraising and eventually, they moved to Kenya where they established a preschool to help educate the youth. Finally, I explained about the different promotional material that were on display and about all of the different topics that they covered. The promotional material made up of videos, maps, and postcards were the core foundation for educating the VANK members and thus a very important part of VANK. Also, I asked if the person I was explaining to was interested in participating in our small event and if they were, I gave them some of our promotional material on display as a reward. We also arranged shifts so that each of us could explore the different booths around us. There was a lot of people of various backgrounds that came to our booth and many of them were interested in the work that our organization did. Many people also complimented the designs of our promotional material and design of our booth. I also got to meet many people from various countries and it was interesting to see everyone gather from such remote locations to meet at this one location for this conference. There were even people from countries that I had never heard of in my entire life like Tajikistan.

There were also many interesting booths around us like Peace Boat and UNAI and there were even booths where they taught you exercise routines or yoga. One of my favorite booths at the convention was Good Neighbors because they offered VR headsets to help simulate and see the actual reality that was happening in countries that were suffering from poverty, especially in the Africa region. The video I watched was about a young girl who had to work hard to create food for her brothers and sisters. The food seemed to have a pasty kind of texture and did not look appetizing at all, so it was more depressing to see that the kids had to eat nourishment like this just to survive.

There were also a various number of roundtable lectures and workshops where they covered various topics. I participated in one of the roundtables which focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) and how they can help create an equal education system for everyone. However, the solutions that they presented were very vague and generalized which was slightly disappointing.   At the end of the day, we ate dinner and then returned to the pension to rest for the next day.

The next day was the last day for me and a few of the VANK staff. The other half were planning to stay till the end of the conference. We arrived back at the conference center and got back to work at our booth. This day, I got to meet a professor at my home college and it was interesting and nice to see someone in full Hawaiian attire after being away from home for so long. After eating lunch at the conference center, we parted with the group that was staying and we headed back to Seoul. It was a rough journey back (6 hours…) but we finally made it back to Seoul in one piece.

Thanks to VANK, I feel that I got to experience something special and being that this was the first UN DPI Conference in Southeast Asia, it made it that much more unique. Also, seeing all the different NGOs gather in one area and show their common interests and goals made me appreciate more of the objectives and tasks that all these organizations wanted to accomplish. Even if some ideas were different, the end goal was to help create a better world for everyone to live in equally. I was glad I got to experience this conference and see all the various people from various countries gather at one spot to share their ideas for a common goal.

-VANK Intern (2016): Troy Chong- 2016. 6.2

Second week in VANK [Aga]

My second week in VANK is almost finished.  How do I feel?

I think I kind of got used to atmosphere here and I feel really naturally now. Two weeks has passed really fast. Today is Friday and I was so sure it’s Thursday… sadly, it’s not.

It’s so strange that work here is not boring for me. I do things that interest me, I explore Korean culture, I learn history. There were some events and even though I wasn’t very active I felt interested. It was first time when I had to tell about myself in front of 70 kids. It was unforgettable experience. I am usually a person who gets stressed so easily. Though I don’t show it, inside my brain there is a ton of thoughts, my heart is running crazily. Even though I’m such a person, I wasn’t stressed at all. Okay, maybe a little bit but compared to my usual reaction it was nothing. I am not sure if kids understood me but at least they were smiling. I’m glad for such an experience even if it was only my introduction.

Work at office is also nice. It’s also some kind of an experience that will be precious for me when I go back to Poland. I will tell my friends how many nice people I met, how much I’ve learned.  Once again I am happy to be here and grateful for VANK choosing me for their intern.

Once again, food in Korea is so delicious I want to eat and eat and eat but my stomach is not that big. The only shock for me was fish with head. I think I can’t eat anything that has a head… I prefer not to know how it looked like before it went down to my stomach. Apart of that, I love everything I ate here. People from office are always recommending mi something which I always like. They know my taste so well. Oh! THANK YOU!

Now… let’s get out of office. Weather here amused me a bit. I thought I will run away from cold weather but Korea is also cold. Luckily I am used to Polish temperature, which is -20 in January, so I’m not complaining. I took warm clothes with me and I think I won’t freeze to death.

Anyway… I’m going sightseeing even if it’s -40. My camera is ready, I am ready and waiting for Saturday morning!

How much I don’t want to go back to Poland. When I think that it’s another week closer to me leaving Korea, I feel sad. Time flies so fast…….. too fast.


First week of international intern, Rebecca

<My first week in VANK> 2014.1.27

* Rebecca (Chen zhijun)

What I have done:

Visiting  vank website to know more about vank.

Study Korean history, culture and etc. by attending online.

Register to and watch videos, write down my feeling about these videos.

Read the book “May we speak”.

Doing a presentation to introduce China

Search the information and details about Nanjing Massacre.

Attend a history lecture.

This week was the first week I came to Korea. All of jobs written down above make me know more about vank and Korea.

Korea is quite different from what it was in my mind. It is a right decision for me to come here, change the opinions about Korea.

There are too many things leaving me a deep impression. First of them is the historical lecture. Although I cannot understand the whole Korean lecture,I know contents they talked about by Yoo Jeong’s translation. I learned this period of history in my senior high school. It is one of the most important part in Chinese history book, especially relationship between Korea,Japan and China. I didn’t like history in my senior high school, like many Chinese young people. Now I know how important it is.I cannot judge the behavior government of other countries. I believe in my country.And I think one day we can solve all of these historical.

The second is Korean food. We come to different Korean restaurants at lunchtime. Korean food is really delicious for me. I cannot choose my favourite from so many kinds of food. Everything is new and fantastic for me.

I want to learn more Korean language and tell my Korean friends more about China in the future. I believe by my efforts Korea and China can get a little improvement.

First week of International intern, Aga

<My first week in VANK>  2014.1.27

* Aga (Agnieszka Michalczyk)

On the first day of my work I came to the office  a bit scared. I wasn’t sure what I will do or how people there would be like. A day before I was thinking really a lot about my future work.

So.. it’s almost 9am and I’m entering the office full of anxiety, scared and not sure how people will react when they see me. But I was surprised, positively surprised. I was greeted warmly by Gi Tae. It was another shock, how is that possible that boss is so nice, enthusiastic and just open to people. He was smiling all the time which made me a bit relaxed. Though I wasn’t prepared for another explosion of joy when Bo Kyung entered the office. Everyone was just so nice. I couldn’t imagine better welcoming. I thought in my previous work in Poland people were kind but I guess I didn’t know what kindness is. I didn’t expect such a warm welcoming as I didn’t expect such a nice work. I think I can understand why people in the office smile so often, the atmosphere here is so pleasant and warm. I can only hope it will stay as it is now which I’m sure it will.

The welcoming was perfect and so were those 4 next days. I was waking up every morning with a smile on my face and coming to office for a work was a pleasure for me. I could experience various of new things. Of course I had my responsibilities but while doing work I learned as well. What is more, I had a chance to meet minister, which was a really great experience for me, participate in historical lecture (though it was in Korean and it was hard to understand, I enjoyed it a lot and learned pretty much during a short lecture), or be interviewed. I have to mention delicious food I was able to try during lunch hours! I am happy that I was able to come here and work with VANK. I’m looking forward for next weeks and I hope they won’t finish too fast.

Excursion to Mongolia

By Intern Gloria Kang(2013.11.5)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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