The author and fellow participants on the 2011 March for Peace and Unification. Photo credit Park Chan-yong.
When I was first to meet the MOU overseas correspondents, I stood outside the Central Government Complex building in the growing darkness. The back gates have two guards posted on them, South Korean policemen quite a few years younger than I am, and they were very sorrowful when they told me I could not go in without an ID badge. They struggled to find the words in English. These three aspects of the guards—their youth, and sorrow, and struggle—made me sympathetic enough that I waited outside instead of bluffing my way in.
The other members of our group arrived gradually; they drifted up the street and attached to our group, like plastic bottles to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We talked and swirled intermittently as we waited, explaining and re-explaining schools and majors and life situations. I have had similar meetings many times before and since, but this was remarkable for its cocktail-party-on-a-sidewalk-outside-a-government-building feeling, an unusual locale, though we eventually moved to a proper restaurant once all our group members arrived. But even from the very first meeting, it was clear we were about to have an unusually unforgettable summer. Continue reading →
Applications for the 2012 MOU Overseas Correspondents Program have been received and are currently in the process of being evaluated. Thank you to all of you who have sent in an application. We appreciate the interest that many of you have shown. You should expect to hear back from us within this week (April 2 – 6) if you are selected for an interview.
Michelle wrote a great article about the MOU Internship, and I wanted to write about what kinds of advice I would give to future applicants to the Overseas Correspondent Program and add a little bit about my experience at MOU. Continue reading →
The Ministry of Unification is pleased to announce the Overseas Student Correspondent Program which offers motivated undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to work as student correspondents for our Ministry.
This is an opportunity for students to interact and dialogue with North Korean defectors, South Korean college students, South Korean government officials, and other professionals involved in various aspects of the North Korean defectors’ resettlement process in the Republic of Korea.
Students will also be given the opportunity to produce creative videos on unification and participate in the Youth Leaders for Unification Camp.
Currently, we are looking for suitable candidates.
Interested students are requested to submit their resume, application form, cover letter, 1 passport-sized photo, and short writing sample (1 page max) to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, March 30th, 2012.
Selected applicants will be notified by email by April 3rd to schedule for a phone interview. The interviews will take place on April 4th – 6th. All applicants must state the name of the internship in the subject line of the email.
Having looked at various articles after the death of Kim Jong-Il, I started to reflect upon the Korean friends who identified with North Korea in Japan and the few North Korean people that I knew personally. Of course, their opinions could not be anymore diverse because of the different backgrounds they had come from or the different perspectives that they held. Also, the relationship that my Korean friends in Japan had to North Korea is very different from the students who had actually been born in North Korea and escaped while they were still so young.
While I researched the Korean minority in Japan last summer before my internship with the Ministry of Unification, I had the opportunity to interview a few people who had visited North Korea while they were high school students. Until North Korean education schools in Japan had started to request more government support from the Japanese government, the classrooms had featured pictures of the two Kim leaders as a regulation declared by North Korean administration who had in the past received visits from teachers who would report on the progress of the children’s education. Therefore, I had asked my interviewees about their thoughts on Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.
Last month I wrote about my experiences from the first part of the MOU summer internship. But I haven’t told you about the best part (personally at least) yet! Today, I’m going to let you in on the second part of the internship: volunteering. If you’re interested in North Korea and you like people, you’re going to love this.
Imagine an internship where your interests are a priority. Now add being treated with respect. And then add on top of that field trips every week to some of the most interesting places in South Korea. And as a bonus, go ahead and add the opportunity to eat some of the best food in Seoul with some of the most important people within the Ministry of Unification. Sound too good to be true? Usually, it would be. But, believe it or not, all of this, and so much more, is what the MOU summer internship was like for me. Hopefully I have your attention by now, so let me give you some more details. Continue reading →
Everyone has his or her share of problems, prejudices, sorrows. But even so, I don’t believe in unadulterated hatred. And I know what it is to be angry and upset. I know what it feels like to be disadvantaged because of history, discrimination, and imperialism. I know what it means when I can’t fight off the ignorance of a million people. It means that I have only to clear away my own ignorance and to observe the ways my own behavior can impact the lives of others. So even when I don’t think that I can forgive or forget the way people have treated and will treat people like me – people who look like me – I know that hatred toward them will only destroy me.
I wanted to say the same things to him but I didn’t know enough Korean, and he didn’t know enough English. So after he told me how much he hated them, and I said, “I know,” we just sat on the benches of Hangyeore contemplating the hills in the distance and putting our conversation behind us. But I am sad that we never finished it. Continue reading →
Before my two-week stay at Hangyeorae High School for the Ministry of Unification 2011 summer internship, I had been concerned with measurements toward assimilation. However, I found that my short stay at Hangyeore transformed my understanding of the assimilation process and changed the opinions I had of assimilation. Continue reading →
My cubicle’s next-door neighbor was just about to light a piece of mugwort on fire on the supposed chi-blockage above my right elbow when the office higher-ups flooded back in to the office. My acupuncturist saw them coming first; worry flashed across his face like a summer storm, and we moved hurriedly to stow the contraband. We swept the bag of mugwort back behind the books, pocketed the lighter, and returned casually to our desks, as if we had barely noticed the return of Those With Power—as if we had nothing to hide.
It was funny—though at the time I deeply resented the return of authority—because the loss of our acupuncture lesson was trivial to our futures, even for my career-ensconced office-mate. We stood to lose very little, and anyway our bosses are friendly people. But go fifty miles north from our Seoul desks, into North Korea, and the threat posed by those with power is no longer a small matter. The cards are sometimes similarly trivial—the unauthorized sharing of knowledge, as we were doing, for instance—but the stakes there are imprisonment or death. Citizens of North Korea have everything to hide.
Here, however, we are free to share knowledge as we wish. It is our goal! So, for me, these articles will attempt to offer glimpses into a country and a situation that is, for most of us, very difficult to learn about.
The Ministry of Unification’s Overseas Student Correspondent Internship Program aims to educate undergraduate and graduate students on the various issues surrounding the unification of the Koreas, including those of human rights and politics. This is an opportunity for students to interactand dialogue with North Korean defectors, South Korean college students, South Korean government officials, and other professionals involved in various aspects of the North Korean defector assimilation process in the Republic of Korea. Students may also opt to intern at the MOU offices prior to their volunteer work. Additionally, interns will serve as international correspondents to the Ministry of Unification and contribute monthly articles with relevant content to the Overseas Correspondents’ blog. The purpose of the blog is to raise awareness about the issues involving the Korean peninsula in the international community. Interns will be responsible for maintaining the blog in conjunction with the Ministry of Unification.