Discovering diversity in Seoul

February 28, 2018 @ 2:49PM
By NST Education

Held for the third time under the International Culture and Education Exchange Programme (ICE 3.0), 35 students from Universitiy of Malaya’s (UM) First Residential College participated in a student exchange programme to Seoul, South Korea.

ICE 3.0 programme director Mohamad Zarif Akmal Khairuddin said: “ICE is a stepping stone for students to equip themselves to be agents of change in uncharted areas, exploring and understanding communities one country at a time, with our tagline ‘discover beyond diversity’.”

This year, it was held in collaboration with Sungshin Women’s University (SWU), under its 2018 Winter Short-term Programme. SWU is one of the top private universities in Korea with a number of notable alumnis, such as Goo Hara, from the Korean girl group KARA, and Jung Ihyun, a Korean novelist.

Delegates were welcomed by Professor Doobo Shim, the dean of SWU’s Department of Media Communications, who expressed his hope that the programme would introduce Korean and Malaysian cultures to both universities.

UM students were given the opportunity to experience cultural activities, such as K-Pop dance, wearing the hanbok (Korean traditional attire), attending a tea ceremony, making bibimbap and facial make-up. They were given basic Korean lessons, where they learnt to read and write Korean characters, also known as Hangul. There were also academic discussions on the “Korean Wave”.

Shim said the Korean Wave emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000, when Korean dramas, such as Winter Sonata and Autumn in My Heart, appealed to many.

However, he said, the training of K-Pop idols had led to mental health issues.

“These idols only sleep up to five hours a day and do not have time for other activities.

“Transgression of privacy, grueling schedules and high expectations of the industry have not made things easy for them.”

He said mental wellbeing was a taboo subject in South Korea, adding that it was only brought to light due to the suicide of Kim Jong-hyun, a member of popular K-Pop group SHINee, who struggled with depression.

This year, ICE 3.0 aimed to become agents of change by empowering youths to take the lead in environmental issues.

To achieve this, delegates visited the Cheonggyecheon Stream, which went through a three-year restoration project in 2002, and its museum. They learnt about the efforts taken by the local council to preserve the river. Since its opening, the museum has offered educational programmes on Cheonggyecheon’s history, culture and ecology.

UM deputy vice-chancellor (student affairs) Professor Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof said she hoped that the student delegates would be able to incorporate values gained from the programme to compete globally.

She also hoped the success of the programme would pave the way for more exchanges in future, including research exchanges.

ICE 3.0 advisor Mohd Hairolnezam Kahmis said: “We are proud of the project’s success.

“They (the students) have manifested their leadership despite the challenges and the economic slowdown. South Korea, a developing country, was a great choice as it has a lot to offer the students.

“ICE is not just a ‘field trip’, it has objectives and, therefore, is a great platform for students to develop into future leaders of Malaysia.”

Delegates in ‘hanbok’, the traditional Korean attire.
ICE 3.0 delegates participating in a Korean tea ceremony, or ‘dado’, organised by SWU.
The Cheonggyecheon Stream is a 10.84km-long stream flowing through the heart of Seoul. It has significant cultural and historical value.
A group photo commemorating the completion of the 2018 Winter Short-term Programme at Sungshin Women’s University in South Korea.
Universitiy of Malaya deputy vice-chancellor (student affairs) Professor Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof handing a token of appreciation to SWU Vice-Chancellor Professor Bokyung Yang.