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(Spring School) Three Keywords for a lock called “East Asia”

Even though I am quite familiar with Japan-cause I have lived in Okayama for a year as an exchange student-, it was very interesting and refreshing experience for me to participate in this program. This opportunity makes it possible to reconceive how culture, economy, society, and environment can be changed when many countries-especially Korea, Japan and China- combined each other.


I, in particular, am interested in Japanese society, as I have studied Japanese language since high school and learned Japanese Studies as a second major to be more knowledgeable about Japanese history, literature, philosophy and contemporary society.

Needless to say, I have wanted to be around professionals in this academic field and gain as much experiences and knowledge as I can. And whole parts of this program have fulfilled my desperation and let me know more about how contemporary Korean, Japanese and Chinese society, where in particular highly diverse cultures are combined, deal with their obligation and commitment as a member of East Asia.


The most impressive and memorable part of this program for me, personally, was the lecture from Horie Professor. The theme of the lecture was “Cultural Exchange in East Asia and Muti-cultural society”. The thing that I could learn in this lecture was “What the ‘culture’ is” – that is, culture means the way people see the world. Therefore, one object could have numerous meanings according to what culture they have. In addition, one culture could affect the other and also be affected by other culture. That is why we-Korea, Japan and China-have similar but at the same time different culture.  


Furthermore, the discussion session of the lecture actually gave me a revelatory insight about how should I act as a member of East Asia. I think the following three key words could be considered as a essential qualities as to be a better member of East Aisa.



  1. Cosmopolitan Outlook


This program was a huge stepping stone for me to achieve not only my academic goal, but also a sense of accomplishment as a real cosmopolitan.


I am really excited when I meet people from other culture, because meeting a person who has different experience or thoughts means opening a new world that I have not known yet.

However, living with foreigners as a next-door neighbor was a different matter. Especially Korea, Japan and China, where yet recognized as a homogeneous society, a number of citizens feel uncomfortable being with people who have different cultures from them.


Nevertheless, we, Korea is becoming highly globalized society as many foreigners are starting to live in Korea for many reasons, so that living as a cosmopolitan is unavoidable and essential duty for us. Therefore we have to take everything into consideration to be a ‘real’ cosmopolitan, that is, to be a person who can understand and accommodate the idea of symbiosis.


To start with, it would be better to follow the lead of cases of Japan and China than to begin from the bottom of the ladder. I could learn not only the basic theories but the practical and applicable strategies of multicultural symbiotic society from Japanese and Chinese friends. I could, in addition, take a further step and consider how we, Korea can make these our own, because, despite Korea, Japan and Chinese have a lot of similarities, there are definitely some differences among them.


  1. Friendship


 When I was in Japan as an exchange student, I and some of my friends of Korean had Cultural Exchange Camp with Japanese. Even though I was not familiar with speaking in Japanese then, Japanese friends were really kind and considerate so that I could get used to the surroundings. I was deeply moved what they did for me during the camp: introduced there school campus and their daily life, prepared various refreshments, and let us experience a real Japanese culture.


In addition, what I experienced in this program made me more be moved. When I visited Japan this time, Japanese friends made a lot of good memories for me so that I can have quite good impression toward Japan despite of controversial topics between Korea and Japan.


Furthermore, I could introduce various aspects of Korea as well. As I major in Korean language and Korean literature –so I have comprehensive knowledge of Korean culture-, I could effectively explain what ‘Koreans’ thinking’ or ‘Koreans’ behaviors’ is. As this program composed of Korean, Japanese and Chinese participants, many Japanese and Chinese friends wondered about Korean contemporary society and culture. I could help Japanese and Chinese friends who want to know more about real Korea.


  1. Cooperation


The last but not least, the thing that participants of this program could learn was cooperation for a team. Many Korean, Japanese and Chinese helped each other who get in trouble with adjusting new surroundings. In addition, we all cooperate with other Korean, Japanese and Chinese participants when doing team projects. I am not a native speaker neither in English nor Japanese. However, I could cooperate with others to be a better participant thanks to many friendly friends. I asked help when I got in trouble with something, and I willingly helped other participants when they got in trouble.



Nowadays, the relation among Korea, Japan and Chinese is rather not good, and actually the controversial issues have continually brought up for a long time. We may call the relation among Korea, Japan and China as a “LOCK”.


However, no matter how simple or trivial it is, I think these three keywords can play a role as a “KEY” for a lock called ‘East Asia”.

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