Geeky Stuff I’ve Been Doing In Korea Part 2: Conference-hopping

I can’t get enough of learning. Classes seem to not be enough. And neither are museums (see previous post on “Geeky Stuff I’ve Been Doing in Korea Part 2: Museum-hopping“), which of course feed my relentless interest on 사극 (historical drama), 한국전통문화 (traditional Korean culture), and 전쟁 (war).

And so, I’ve gone to a place where serious graduate students go: conferences. And here in Korea, especially Seoul National University, there are many.

The first one I went to was right in my own backyard, of course: The Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS) Symposium 2013: New Challenges for Korea in the Era of Global Changes. Two of my favorite professors in Korean Studies were here. As a graduate student, this was the equivalent of “K-pop fan-girling”.

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And then there was the Distinguished Lecture in SNU by Microsoft founder Bill Gates on the Voice of Innovation last April 21. According to this SNU article, over 1700 students registered, but only 300 students were chosen to attend the event. Needless to say, I was one of those lucky students.

A few days before the lecture, I got an email from GSIS saying around 25 students will be chosen for this event. Interested students must submit one or two questions to Mr. Gates. We were chosen based on the quality of our questions. I asked something about Mr. Gates’ creative process and seeming penchant for a multidisciplinary approach to creativity.

During this lecture, we were in awe at how Mr. Gates was so articulate and eloquent. He just teemed with intelligence.

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Last but not least is the Asan Plenum 2013, organized by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, one of Korea’s (and the world’s!) leading think tanks.

I went there as part of the Asan Plenum 2013 Young Scholars Program, where I worked as an e-reporter through Twitter.

As a Young Scholar, I was also given access to two special lectures for Young Scholars. I chose two lectures about China. I know, I know, it seems counterproductive since I’m a Korean Studies student, but believe me, I have a special reason for this. And it’s something along the line of…China is rising, and Korea’s path is inevitably intertwined with China’s, so knowledge of China as a regional and international actor is vital. Besides, I’ve had a strong interest on Chinese language and cybersecurity prior to my pursuit of Korean Studies. So these two seemingly divergent topics mesh beautifully in my mind.

Part of being a Young Scholar was being given an opportunity to attend a Networking Lunch with the world’s leading scholars and fellow students. I was assigned to the group of Middle East experts, who talked about the ongoing Syria crisis.

At first I was at a loss as to how the Middle East relates to my Korean Studies, but later on, I realized that learning about the Middle East, an unstable region, is vital and definitely connected to my Korean Studies since Korea gets its energy resource from this region. Moreover, the Middle East is also an important trade partner of Korea. Thus, Korea has a stake in this region’s stability. If I weren’t assigned to this Networking Lunch, this fact would have been under my radar. So I consider this a blessing in disguise.

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Aside from conferences, I’ve also been a regular viewer of Indie Plus movies in Sinsa, thanks to free tickets I’ve been lucky to win from Community Korea.  After each screening, there’s a Question-and-Answer portion with the movie director–a great way of gaining insights on the director’s creative vision and life.

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