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KF Supports 2012 Symposium at U.P. Diliman Campus

Ways to Nurture Korean Studies in the Philippines  KF Supports 2012 Symposium at U.P. Diliman Campus

The 2012 Philippine Korean Studies Symposium was held on February 24 at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City, the Philippines, with support from the Korea Foundation. The Korean Embassy and the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines cooperated in hosting this annual symposium on Korean Studies.

Opening Doors for Academic Exchange

The 2012 Philippine Korean Studies Symposium, held at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City, attracted some 250 scholars and students from across the Philippines. Despite the growing number of Koreans residing in the Philippines and widespread popularity of Korean pop culture in recent years, Korea-related education and research in the local academic community remains at a fledgling stage. In light of this situation, the Department of Linguistics of the University of the Philippines Diliman organized a symposium to discuss ways to encourage Korean Studies at universities across the Philippines. In particular, the forum sought to facilitate academic exchange between Korea and the Philippines by creating a network among the scholars and students of both countries.

The symposium began with an opening address by Dr. Ronald S. Banzon, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of the Philippines Diliman. In his welcoming remarks, Minister Kim Yong-ho at the Korean Embassy in the Philippines emphasized that the symposium was meant to discuss subjects that would contribute to Korea-Philippines bilateral relations. He remarked that with the opening of the Korean Cultural Center and a steadily increasing number of Korean residents and tourists, there has been a growing interest in Korean Studies in the Philippines. “I believe this symposium will serve as a crucial opportunity for our two countries to better understand each other,” he said.

Development of Korean Studies in the Philippines

About 250 scholars and students from across the Philippines participated in the symposium. The morning session, entitled “Overview of Korean Studies,” featured lectures by Professor Lew Seok-choon of Yonsei University (“Korean Confucian Ethics and the Philippines”); Professor Roald Maliangkay of the Korean Studies Center at Australian National University (“Hallyu, Hype, and the Humanities: The Impact of the Korean Wave on Korean Studies”); and Professor Cho Hang-rok of Sangmyung University (“Academic Integration of Korean Language Education and Korean Studies”).

Professor Cho remarked that, although the Philippines has sufficient historical reason to become a strategic hub of Korean Studies in Southeast Asia, let alone its geographical proximity to Korea, the country currently lags behind other nations in the region in this academic field. However, if the Philippines can find ways to integrate Korean language education with related academic disciplines and Korean culture, it would be able to emerge as a regional hub of Korea Studies, he said.

The afternoon session included panel discussions on two subjects: “The Current Status and Future Development of Korean Language Education in the Philippines” and “The Current Status and Future Development of Korean Studies in the Philippines.” First, there were presentations on the current situation of Korea-related education at various local institutes by Professor Jay-Ar Igno (Department of Linguistics at U.P. Diliman), Professor Sarah Domingo-Lipura (Department of Modern Languages, Ateneo de Manila Univesity), Mr. Hwang Jong-il (Sejong Institute/Jung-In Korean Language Foundation), and Ms. Noh Ok-jin (Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines). The presentations were followed by an extensive discussion on ways to improve Korean language education in view of local circumstances.

The 2012 Philippine Korean Studies Symposium, held at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City, attracted some 250 scholars and students from across the Philippines.

In a presentation jointly prepared with Bae Kyung-min, a KF visiting professor at the U.P. Diliman, Professor Igno identified the key issues that need to be addressed in order to train more qualified Philippine instructors of the Korean language. Meanwhile, General Secretary Hwang of the Sejong Institute emphasized the importance of offering a more substantive curriculum to local students, who are mostly learning Korean to find employment opportunities rather than for academic purposes. In response, Professor Cho and Professor Kang Seung-hae, of Yonsei University, pointed out the need to localize instruction methods so as to meet the particular situation in the Philippines. They also recommended exchange programs with Korean universities to provide more qualified lecturers and a greater variety of extra-curricular activities.

The panel on “The Current Status and Future Development of Korean Studies in the Philippines” was conducted by Professor Lily Ann G. Polo (Asian Center, U.P. Diliman), Dr. Cynthia Neri Zayas (Center for International Studies, U.P. Diliman), Dr. Ma. Crisanta N. Flores (Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, U.P. Diliman), and Professor Kim Djun-kil (University of Asia and the Pacific). They discussed the recent trends in Korean Studies and introduced the current efforts of their respective institutions to promote research and education in Korea-related subjects.

Professor Flores expressed her hope for exchange programs to be expanded beyond the academic sector to encompass the government and other related organizations that can contribute to the enhancement of Korean Studies in the Philippines and bilateral relations between the two nations. The session was also participated by Korean Studies experts, such as HYPERLINK "http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.205283839570233.42151.203947039703913&type=1" Dr. Kwon Hee-young (Academy of Korean Studies) and Professor Kim Tschung-sun (Kyemyung University), who called for more cooperation of local institutions to promote Korean Studies in the Philippines. They proposed the establishment of a joint research system based on common features shared by the two countries and a new model of Korean Studies to address the specific needs of the Philippines.

Looking Forward to Academic Harmony

The University of the Philippines Diliman Center for International Studies’ East Asia Ensemble performs Korean folk music with the native instruments of the two countries. A folk music performance by the U.P. Diliman Center for International Studies’ East Asia Ensemble wrapped up the symposium. The group performed “Arirang,” Korea’s representative folk song, on traditional Korean and Philippine musical instruments including the gayageum (six-string zither) and janggu (hourglass drum). Recalling his six-month stay in Korea to learn its traditional music at the National Gugak Center, in Seoul, Hernandez Otto, the janggu player, hoped that just as the two countries’ musical traditions can create a wonderful harmony, Korean Studies in the Philippines would also develop in ways to harmonize with local circumstances.

In her closing remarks, Professor Mary Ann G. Bacolod, chair of the U.P. Diliman Department of Linguistics, stressed the need for further in-depth research on Korea as the two countries are becoming ever closer and seeking to identify common denominators. She also expressed her sense of responsibility as a scholar by saying that not only the University of the Philippines but also other local academic institutions should increase efforts to assure the steady development of Korean Studies in the Philippines.

Unlike past events that generally tended to focus on Korea’s popular culture, the symposium sought to find specific ways to advance Korean language education and Korean Studies in the Philippines. Student participants, in particular, said that they now intend to broaden their interest beyond Korean dramas and K-pop to Korean history and education system, and to expand their interactions with Korean residents in the Philippines.

Bae Kyung-min KF Visiting Professor, University of the Philippines Diliman

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