When a group of nearly 20 Korean college students decided to venture to America for the first time, they chose a slightly unusual itinerary — Yale, Harvard and MIT.
After arriving at Yale on Monday, the group from Korea University, one of Korea’s top three schools, has spent the past two days discussing politics, taking campus tours, and eating meals with their Yale contemporaries. The group is scheduled to leave today and will stop at Harvard and MIT for two days before heading to Washington, D.C.
Hanppuri, the Korean international student organization, the Yale College Council and the Yale International Relations Association all took part in organizing the two-day visit.
The visiting students and members of Hanppuri, YCC and YIRA spent Tuesday afternoon discussing anti-Americanism on Korean college campuses, Korean-American political relations, and the differences between Korean and American education systems.
“It was great to have the intellectual exchange with the students,” said Yoon Seok Lee ’05, a YCC representative and Hanppuri board member. “Having the students here talking openly about these topics is timely not only because of Sept. 11, but also because of the current political climate in North Korea.”
Following the discussions, each of the Korean students was paired up with a Yale host for dinner. Hanppuri president Pil-Woon Oh ’04, who took his visiting student to Thai Taste, said the dinner was a nice opportunity to discuss political issues in greater depth with his Korean counterpart.
The night before, Yale graduate students who are alumni of Korea University treated the visiting students to dinner.
The group chose Yale from a pool of prestigious American universities because of the strength of Yale’s political science department and the student government on campus, Lee said.
After being at Yale for two days, the Korean students said their experience at Yale lived up to expectations.
“The trip has been excellent because Yale students have been extremely helpful,” said Woo Chul Hwang, leader of the Korea University student council. “We are very thankful to Yale for hosting us. Yale deserves all the recognition it gets from around the world.”
Korea University senior Seung Wan Jung said he was particularly impressed by Yale’s long history, its confident students, and the diversity of the student body.
Hwang said he hopes to have the group return next year and has also offered to host Yale students if they visit Korea in the future.