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Expanding Cooperative Relations through Personal Interaction

With support from the Korea Foundation, Prince of Songkla University organized and conducted a Korean Studies Workshop at Royal Phuket City Hotel, in Phuket, Thailand (June 17-19), which included the participation of secondary school teachers in Thailand, who were eager to learn more about Korea.



In recent years, Thailand and Korea have steadily strengthened their relations in various areas, including the Thai education sector which has shown a strong interest in bolstering its cooperative efforts with Korea. In response to this situation, a Korean Studies workshop for 30 Thai middle and high school teachers was recently held, which generated considerably more attention than in the past. The three-day workshop was highlighted by lecture presentations by ten Korea specialists from universities, government agencies, and private institutions in Thailand. They provided in-depth information on various topics, including the current status of Korea’s politics, society, culture, and education, in an effort to enhance the participant teachers’ understanding about Korea.

Education on Korea
Vice President Prathana Kannaovakun and administrative officials of Prince of Songkla University, along with Korea Foundation staff and representatives of the Korean Embassy in Thailand were on hand to observe the proceedings and offer their encouragement to the workshop participants. In addition, a local TV network (Channel 7) and a national radio broadcast station covered the event and aired a phone interview with a University official, resulting in notable publicity for the Korean Studies Workshop and the efforts to promote Korea-related education in Thailand.
It is meaningful that Korea specialists from Thailand delivered the lectures on Korea to the workshop’s secondary school teachers. It is also significant that the workshop served as an occasion to map out activities to expand the education of Korean language and Korean Studies, along with reinforcing relations among the participant schools involved with Korea-related education. During the workshop, a meeting was held at a separate conference room, which included the attendance of representatives of the participant schools and relevant institutions. Representatives of Prince of Songkla University, the Korea Foundation, the Korean Embassy in Thailand, and the Thai Ministry of Education sat down with the middle and high school teachers and educators to discuss a systematic program to strengthen Korea-related education.
The meeting participants expressed a keen interest and favorable response to the plans of Prince of Songkla University to implement a new certification program for the training of Korean language instructors in Thailand. They also offered suggestions on efficient ways to secure the proposed program’s approval from the Ministry of Education. Above all, they called for the program’s implementation as soon as possible in order to meet the demands of Thai society for additional opportunities to pursue Korea-related education, and especially Korean language instruction.



Fresh Perceptions of Korea
In conjunction with the workshop, students of the Korean Language Department of Prince of Songkla University gave a demonstration of kimchi-making and performed popular Korean songs, while students of the middle and high schools affiliated with the University demonstrated Taekwondo maneuvers as part of a dinnertime program. The workshop participants also experienced how Thai students learned about Korean culture, which is starting to leave its mark in Thailand.
A discussion session for workshop participants, the final event of the program, was moderated by Vice President Prathana Kannaovakun of Prince of Songkla University. In the presentation of group discussion results, the representatives of each group noted that the participants had acquired new perceptions of Korea, in various sectors, through the workshop proceedings, in addition to expressing a hope that the workshop event would be held on a continuous basis. They also called for the implementation of a certification program to train more Korean language instructors as soon as possible as middle and high schools in Thailand need assistance to expand their Korea-related curriculum.
In a departure from previous workshop gatherings, in which the program lecturers were selected from only Korea-related specialists at the university level, this year’s event included a broader range of human resources, with working-level experience and knowledge related to Korea, from the Thai governmental and private sectors. In this way, the workshop served as an opportunity to consider new ways to promote Korean Studies in Thailand, based on the particular circumstances and situations of Thailand. In addition, the workshop also revealed the need for the Korea Foundation’s guidance and assistance to smoothly organize this workshop program, in accordance with its primary objectives.