Experiencing Korean culture: portal to understanding Korea
The program for experiencing the Korean culture allowed students to experience many of the traditional cultures and the city’s cultural landmarks. Students not only learned Korean etiquette, made kimchi and Korean traditional craftwork and learned gugak (Korean traditional music), but also visited the Changdeokgung (Korean palace), the Gugak Museum and the National Museum of Korea. Many students enjoyed experiencing the culture, which they had been only able to encounter in Korean dramas and movies. They also saw what a worthwhile endeavor it was to probe the intersection of Korean culture.
Although the students have enjoyed the same cultural experiences, they have all received different impacts on the country and culture.
“My few days in Korea has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” Kuo Xiao-ling (Xibei (Northwest) University) said. “The country, Korea, and its culture are so beautiful. I came here to experience Korean culture, such as wearing the hanbok (Korean traditional clothes), spreading the red pepper sauce on the cabbages to make kimchi and visiting the Changdeokgung.”
Among all the experiences, Kuo picked wearing the hanbok as the most memorable.
“The vivid colors and details of hanbok ㅇamazed me,” Kuo said. “I cannot possibly put my feelings into words. Hanbok is much better than Chinese traditional clothes.”
For Wang Liu Na, a Chinese student at Shandong Shi Fan University, making kimchi was her most memorable experience. Thinking the process of making kimchi hard and confusing, she had never had the courage to make it and always bought some at a Korean supermarket in China. However, as she observed and followed the steps of making kimchi through the training program, Wang realized making it is not as difficult as she had thought. She is determined to try it on her own when she returns back home. In addition, she actually felt relaxed and quite familiar with the culture and the environment of Seoul.
“I did not experience any difficulties since the first day of the entire program,” Wang said. “Korea feels like my home country.”
On the other hand, for Tang Qing, a student at the Beijing Foreign University, this was her first visit to Korea. Despite visiting Korea for the first time, she was able to easily adapt to the environment and bond with other students thanks to the arrangement of programs that brought all the students together to exchange cultural experiences.
Tang is interested in the relationship between Chinese and Korean cultures. She thinks the Korean culture receives a lot of attention through Korean pop songs and Korean dramas, while China does not have a unique contemporary modern culture. Although the contemporary cultures of China and Korea are different, Tang believes migration and the role of material culture existed in the past and still remains between the two cultures.
“In history, China and Korea had an intimate relation so the two countries shared many cultures,” Tang said. “The legacy of the two collective cultural heritages has constructed the cultural aspects we take part in today and has enriched the two countries’ qualities and peoples’ lives.”
Tang’s perception of Korea had always been good, but after this visit, she became more interested in Korea. The program’s schedule was tight so she vows to take in more of the country’s arts and culture during future visits.
Overall, the students said they were inspired by the valuable cultural experience, and the program was well organized, allowing them to gain a better understanding of Korean culture and the country as a whole.
* Reporters: Ahn In-kyeong & Lee Ha-kyung