Growing influence of franchise chains at SNU
Kim Hyeon-yool
University campuses across South Korea are experiencing a surge in the presence of franchise chains. Seoul National University boasts a remarkable 60 franchise outlets (including various restaurants, convenience stores and cafes) – the highest among domestic universities. According to recent data from the University Education Research Institute, 465 commercial facilities have set up shop in 53 universities across Seoul, averaging nearly nine outlets per institution. Notably, the top 10 universities each accommodate around 30 commercial establishments. The sharp increase in the presence of these commercial facilities on university campuses can be attributed to the financial need for universities to generate income through leasing. Over the past decade, many universities, grappling with financial difficulties due to government-imposed tuition fee freezes, turned to leasing as a revenue source. This trend intensified after government support waned in the post-COVID-19 era, leaving universities in dire financial difficulties. The rapid increase in franchises on campus is more than just a commercial boom; it is a growing problem directly impacting students. As these franchises multiply, student spending is on the rise, posing a real financial challenge for the student body. If this trend continues without intervention, students may find it increasingly difficult to manage their expenses. What adds to the concern is the dwindling presence of student-friendly businesses that traditionally offered substantial benefits to the student community. These businesses, which once provided budget-friendly options and perks, are facing stiff competition from the growing number of franchises. It is essential to recognize the broader consequences of this trend, acknowledging that it not only affects students' wallets but also jeopardizes the accessibility of services that directly benefit our student population. Addressing this issue requires a proactive approach, ensuring that the unique needs and interests of students are not overlooked in the evolving commercial landscape on our campus. Varied Perspectives on Franchises on Campus Various perspectives surround the prevalence of franchise chains on university campuses. For some, the influx of these franchises represents an opportunity to generate additional income, potentially improving student life through enhanced services. This viewpoint emphasizes the positive aspects of the franchises and their potential contributions to the overall campus experience. "The lease income generated from on-campus commercial facilities is reinvested into students' education expenses," explained an official at a private university. Many SNU students welcome franchises. "I don't think introducing franchises itself is a good thing, but I don't see a need to view it negatively either,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous. “Franchises, being primarily composed of large corporations, offer benefits such as discounts, online ordering, and familiarity.” “I think it's positive in the sense that it ultimately contributes to the convenience of students, so personally, I think there's no need to be negative about it," the student added. "I really like it! I don't have to go outside to get delicious food, and the on-campus discounts are substantial!" said another student. However, there are some concerns and complaints. Lee Hee-sung, a researcher at the University Education Research Institute, raised concerns, saying, "external businesses that pay rent to the university must make a profit. Naturally, these businesses prioritize profits rather than student well-being. As a result, campus living costs can only rise, heightening the burden on students.” "Universities profit from students' tuition fees and impose additional high usage fees to the firms, effectively dividing the money paid by students between major corporations and the university," he added. While the majority of SNU students generally hold a positive view of franchises, there is some criticism regarding the current franchise situation at SNU. They noted that prices tend to increase excessively and felt the growing daily expenses due to franchises are burdensome. Also, many suggested that franchises should offer more visible benefits, such as student discounts. In light of these factors, it is evident that some changes are necessary. A possible alternative for expensive franchises would be Saenghyeop, a unique and independent university organization. What is Saenghyeop? Student cooperatives, commonly referred to as "Saenghyeop" in Korean, are unique nonprofit organizations collaboratively managed by university staff and students. These cooperatives play a pivotal role in overseeing various indispensable welfare facilities on campuses, encompassing dining options, convenience stores, bookshops, and vending machines. Significantly, the surplus income generated by these cooperatives is predominantly reinvested for the benefit of students. The inception of the student cooperative concept can be traced back to 1990 at Chosun University, where the objective was to provide essential welfare facilities for a holistic university education. Over time, this model has proliferated to 34 universities across South Korea, establishing a community where students and staff actively engage in the management and promotion of ethical consumption practices. Sogang University took a pioneering step by establishing its student cooperatives in October 1988, marking the beginning of Saenghyeop's steady growth. Presently, Saenghyeop boasts over 130,000 members across 33 universities. What sets these cooperatives apart is their unwavering commitment to reinvesting generated profits back into the university community. In practical terms, student cooperatives have been instrumental in making higher education more financially accessible. They prioritize maintaining reasonable prices for products and services, considering the financial situations of students over accumulating substantial profits. Their primary mission revolves around ensuring that the overall cost of living on campus remains affordable, thereby alleviating the financial burden on students. However, the burgeoning presence of commercial facilities within universities has posed challenges to the revenue streams of these cooperatives. Some universities have gone as far as imposing rent and security deposits to Saenghyeop, contributing to a decline in their activities. According to the Korean University Cooperatives Association, the nationwide membership rate has plummeted from 33.8 percent in 2004 to a mere 15.3 percent in the past year. This decline underscores the pressing need to address the challenges faced by student cooperatives and rejuvenate their role within the university landscape. Despite these difficulties, the ethos of Saenghyeop remains rooted in its dedication to student welfare. As commercialization intensifies on campuses, the critical role played by these cooperatives in fostering an affordable and student-centric environment means strategic interventions may be necessary. By reassessing their operational dynamics, collaborating with university administrations and enhancing outreach efforts, student cooperatives can reclaim their pivotal position in supporting students' financial well-being and maintaining an ethical and accessible campus experience. Revitalizing Saenghyeop in SNU Seoul National University Student Cooperative (SNUSC) has encountered a series of challenges, including the closure of Global House in 2017, the Family Life Convenience Store in 2018, the closure of dining halls in building 500, restaurants, Cafeteria No. 4, tea house DaHyangManDang, and the computer supplies store in subsequent years. A qualitative survey conducted to understand SNU students' perceptions of SNUSC revealed a limited awareness of the cooperative, which was especially exacerbated post-pandemic. Moreover, a more significant issue is the low participation of students as SNUSC cooperative members. SNU members can become cooperative members by paying 10,000 won ($7.49). Cooperative members are entitled to benefits such as a 3 percent discount on purchases of stationery and memorabilia, a 5 percent discount on all products at Cafe Neutinamu, discount on TEPS exam fees, and exclusive perks during cooperative events. When asked about their willingness to pay 10,000 won for these benefits, many students expressed that they did not see significant merit in them. Particularly, while Saengheyop highlights the TEPS exam discount as a major perk, most students deemed it irrelevant due to the infrequency of taking the exam. Students at SNU have expressed a keen desire for more meaningful benefits, particularly advocating for larger discounts on various beverages and meals at the school cafeteria. Additionally, they've put forth suggestions such as exclusive snack sharing events and prize giveaways solely for cooperative members to incentivize joining the cooperative. While meeting these demands may pose initial financial challenges for both the school and Saenghyeop membership-based facilities, it presents an opportunity to address a broader issue: the decline in Saenghyeop membership. The idea is that by offering more attractive and practical benefits, such as increased cafeteria discounts, there is a likelihood of revitalizing Saenghyeop membership. The current low participation in Saenghyeop activities could be attributed to the demanding job market and shifting student priorities. Therefore, despite the potential financial challenges, meeting these demands becomes a necessary step to overcome the declining engagement in Saenghyeop. In essence, while there may be some financial implications in the short term, addressing the students' desire for more practical benefits not only improves their daily lives but also serves as a strategic move to boost Saenghyeop participation. It becomes a necessary investment to foster a more vibrant campus community, ensuring students find value in extracurricular activities amid the competitive demands of the job market. A SNU student emphasized that SNUSC should accurately identify the needs and demands of students. Facing competition with large franchises, it is crucial for SNUSC to consider not only the quality of service and products but also the familiarity and trust that play significant roles in consumer decisions. To redeem its position, SNUSC should pay meticulous attention to the specific needs of student consumers to compete effectively with the variety of services offered by larger franchises. The challenges faced by SNUSC highlight the importance of adapting to student needs and preferences. By reassessing and enhancing the benefits offered to cooperative members, with a focus on more relevant and desirable perks, SNUSC can reclaim its position as a valuable resource for Seoul National University students. In doing so, not only can it meet the current demands of the student body but also ensure the cooperative remains a cornerstone of student life at SNU.
Private campus tours impact SNU campus life
Lee Si-un
"[Private campus tours] are too noisy and make campus life uncomfortable," said a Seoul National University student. "It's fine for them to come to the campus, but it seems they shouldn't enter spaces where they're not supposed to," said another graduate student. Who are these individuals dissatisfied with? Many of you have probably seen a group of students dressed in school uniforms walking around the campus. They are students who have come for a “campus tour” along with university student mentors, touring around campus and engaging in various activities. There is a clear distinction between privately organized campus tours and official campus tours organized by Seoul National University. Official campus tours are programs available at many universities. In the case of SNU, there are several campus tour programs conducted in collaboration with student ambassadors, such as SHINE. These official campus tour programs are typically well-organized with appropriate group sizes, structured curricula, and well-trained mentors, and they are generally carried out without significant problems. On the other hand, private institution-led campus tours often cause issues on campus. These private campus tours are conducted by tour agencies that recruit students and college mentors to participate in campus tours through the Internet and print advertising. The participating student groups vary depending on the nature of the tour. For simple visits, students from elementary school to high school may participate, but for career and education-related campus tours, the age range of participants tends to be slightly higher. Private campus tour companies charge a participation fee from students and distribute a daily wage to mentors, keeping the remaining amount as profit. Their main goal is not to accurately transmit credible and exclusive information about the university, nor is it about managing the students; they primarily aim to generate profit which is why the companies do not have any incentive to control the problems that may arise during the tour. Students participating in private campus tours sometimes make excessive noise within the campus, and this can be a source of inconvenience to other students. Furthermore, a significant number of the mentors responsible for managing these students have not received proper training, making it very challenging to effectively control their behaviors. In a survey conducted by The SNU Quill, 54.2 percent reported experiencing noise disturbances due to private campus tours. Furthermore, 92.3 percent of respondents answered that the noise disturbances had an impact on their university life. The location where noise issues were predominantly raised was the Kwanjeong Library, followed by department buildings, and the Student Center. This indicates that students at SNU are indeed experiencing the effects of noise disturbances caused by private campus tours. It is easy to find more concrete examples of the problems caused by private campus tours. On Everytime, a social networking service frequently used by SNU students, there are numerous posts expressing dissatisfaction with campus tours. According to these posts, some students currently studying at SNU have had their study environment significantly disrupted by the noise coming from students participating in campus tours, particularly in areas near the library. Furthermore, in recent incidents, more campus tour students have been seen entering Kwanjeong Library, potentially indicating the increasing severity of the issue. Another commonly mentioned issue was the inconvenience caused in the university cafeteria. Private tour participants share the university cafeteria with SNU students. As tour mentors instruct all tour participants to use only one cafeteria, SNU students who dine together with tour participants inevitably have to endure long queues. This is especially problematic for students who need to eat quickly between classes. "I have to finish my meal at the Arts Building cafeteria within 30 minutes, but due to the longer lines created by campus tour students, I’ve had to give up on my meal," complained a SNU student. Another problem lies in the suitability of the mentors conducting campus tours. In preparation of handling official campus tours, SHINE (SNU's official student ambassadors) members thoroughly familiarize themselves with a detailed script. This is an all-encompassing guide, consisting of the history, geography, and other comprehensive information related to SNU. After mastering this information, mentors undergo extensive training through rehearsals. Only after completing all these steps do they become eligible to conduct campus tours. On the contrary, mentors for private campus tours are individuals who work for a daily wage and may conduct tours without having extensive knowledge or experience related to SNU. They typically receive brief pre-tour training on the day they are scheduled to conduct the tour. As a result, the possibility of these mentors conveying inaccurate information remains, and their ability to effectively manage the students is not guaranteed. However, as campus tours serve as a way to introduce the university to external individuals, there is a significant responsibility to spread accurate information. Therefore, campus tour mentoring is not a task that can be done by just anyone or with a minimal burden, as job postings for these short-term gigs often emphasize. A student who had participated as a private campus mentor shared their experience, stating that being a mentor posed challenges including the need to conduct campus tours based solely on their limited knowledge about the school. This not only created difficulties due to a lack of information but also made it challenging to capture the attention of the students during the tour. Another worrying aspect of tour mentors is that it is not uncommon for them to have no affiliation with the university at all. Private campus tour agencies, in cases where they cannot find Seoul National University students for the job, often recruit students from other universities and even non-students as mentors to conduct campus tours. If a non-SNU student serves as a mentor for the campus tour, it becomes more likely that they will convey information about the school that is far from the truth. Additionally, since they lack a sense of connection to the school, they are less motivated to show the university in a good light. They also may not feel the need to prevent actions that could harm the school because even if campus tourists cause issues, it is not the mentors’ own university, so they are not directly affected. The last and perhaps most troubling issue is the damage inflicted on the university by students participating in private campus tours. On 2 June, 2023, students who came for a campus tour at SNU played a game of tag and activated an emergency shower on the first floor of building 504. Building 504 is part of the College of Natural Sciences, a space where lots of experimental research is conducted. If the water from the emergency shower or the students' carelessness had damaged experimental samples, it could have resulted in significant setbacks to research and harmed the university's research capabilities. Another example can be found at Seoul National University's main gate. Recently, the university repainted the main gate as part of renovation work. Less than a year later, it is already covered in scribbles from students on campus tours such as “Class of 2029 OOO, OOO was here.” SNU students have expressed dissatisfaction with the appearance, and repainting it would result in a loss of both time and resources for the university. So, is there a way to address the problems caused by private campus tours? Some members of the university community argue that private campus tours should be banned entirely. However, due to the nature of our campus, completely prohibiting private campus tours is very challenging; SNU is a public institution with an open campus, which allows not only enrolled students but also the general public to visit freely. Since a complete prohibition of private campus tours is difficult, all stakeholders — current students, users of private campus tours, and the university itself — should strive for mutual coexistence. Within the university, the administration needs to clearly define the entity responsible for managing private campus tours, as the ultimate responsibility for campus management lies with the university administration. Currently, the administration is aware of the potential for conflicts during the tour process. However, since there are no regulations or policies regarding private campus tours, they should establish an internal system to address these matters as soon as possible. One example could be providing an official letter to private campus tour companies, containing the necessary guidelines for conducting tours. This letter could explicitly state the areas that students participating in the campus tour are allowed to visit and places they should refrain from visiting. Additionally, it can include details about the school's history, structure, and other relevant details to guarantee an accurate and comprehensive campus tour. Mentors engaging in private campus tours must be mindful not to disrupt the education and research activities of university members, emphasizing the importance of respecting the campus as a dedicated space for academic pursuits and advising tour participants to refrain from disturbing students and researchers. Since the participants themselves may not realize this, the organizers and mentors responsible for the campus tour should consistently communicate this information to them. If campus tour companies fail to show even the most minimal effort, dissatisfaction among students will likely continue to grow. The campus is a place for academic research, and at the same time, it's an open space for everyone. Until now, SNU students, though reluctantly, have been understanding of private campus tours and the associated inconveniences. This understanding stemmed from the students’ acknowledgment of the university campus as an open space and also remembering the admiration they had for the school when they were young. However, if the issue of private campus tours remains unresolved in the future, their patience may be put to the test. In light of this, institutions such as the university administration and the student council must promptly propose solutions to address the matter.
Another view, another inconvenience
Kim Min-seo
In 2022, a grass field was newly built in the heart of Seoul National University’s Gwanak Campus. As it provided space for the school’s shuttle bus stop, the free shuttle system started to operate more systematically. This benefited many SNU students, but unfortunately, the disabled were not granted the same convenience. This is not the only problem they face regarding mobility. This article addresses the human rights issues that disabled students experience daily at SNU. On the way to school, students with wheelchairs have two options: to take the low-floor bus such as 5516, or to take a taxi. As of 2022, 70 percent of Seoul’s city buses are low-floor buses, according to government policy. Low-floor buses now operate on campus on routes 5516, 5511, and 5513; however, the introduction of these buses is the result of a constant struggle between bus companies that operate on campus and TurnToAble, SNU’s student club advocating for disabled students’ rights. The conflict regarding low-floor buses unfolded in 2015, when these buses suddenly disappeared from campus due to speed bumps. Since low-floor buses are designed with a low body to increase accessibility for wheelchair users, they are very sensitive to road conditions. If there are speed bumps on the road, the lower parts of the buses continue to break down as they collide with the bumps. This was why Hannam Transportation, the bus company that runs the 5516 routes, stopped operating low-floor buses. According to Hannam Transportation, the repetitive impact to the bus floors resulted in continuous breakdowns of the low-floor buses, which incurred major losses worth tens of millions of won for the company. With the disappearance of low-floor buses, wheelchair users suffered great inconveniences. The school initially concluded that it was acceptable to not operate low-floor buses, as SNU already had a shuttle bus for students with disabilities. However, according to various interviews done at the Seoul National University Human Rights Forum last February, disabled students pointed out that the shuttle bus alone does not sufficiently guarantee their right to move. Since there is only one such shuttle bus for disabled students, applications are accepted at the beginning of the semester. The shuttle operates according to a set schedule and stops circulating after 6 p.m., which is not long enough for many students to get home. As a result of the students’ consistent complaints, the school did not increase the shuttle bus for disabled students, but required low-floor 5516 buses to operate once again. However, despite this long fight to make low-floor buses available on campus, students using wheelchairs are still unable to take the bus during rush hour, when even students without wheelchairs need to cram themselves into a fully packed bus. It is quite common to see a long line during peak hours at the bus stop near the SNU metro station, and with the buses already jam-packed upon arrival, only three or four more people barely make their way in. Therefore, wheelchair users have no other alternative but to take a taxi to reach the campus. Then, what about the free school shuttle bus? Those who have used the school shuttle bus at least once could relate to why wheelchair users cannot make use of it. To board the bus, individuals must climb two steep stairs which are immovable and high, even for non-wheelchair users. The school shuttles are severely limited in terms of accessibility, as they are not equipped with the necessary accommodations for wheelchairs, such as ramps. SNU continues to use these types of buses because the shuttle program is outsourced to a private company. Unlike city bus companies, the private bus company does not offer low-floor buses. On a broader scale, what is more serious is that almost no Korean tour bus charter companies have low-floor buses. In other words, outsourcing shuttle buses is a major factor that contributes to the restriction of mobility rights. The SNU free school shuttle service, intended to help students reach certain on-campus destinations without having to pay in order to help them financially and enhance overall welfare, is actually not of any benefit to those with physical disabilities. After reaching campus by taxi, students can use the mobile application SNU Map, which provides information on barrier-free routes where wheelchairs can go. Even though shortcuts are not provided, the map helps students find travelable paths inside the campus using slopes. However, this convenience does not extend to some buildings. Due to SNU’s landscape, there are classrooms between two floors that elevators cannot reach. For example, in Building 8 at the College of Humanities, there are numerous doors on nearly all sides of the building leading not only to floors one or two, but also to “floor 1.5.” So, for the disabled students, getting to the 1.5 floor means having to find a side door that connects to that floor as they cannot get there by using the doors leading to fixed floors like one and two. The issue often continues inside the classroom. While there are desks that are high enough for the wheelchair to get in, they are always located at the front of the classroom, right in front of the professor. They’ve had a long journey all the way to the class but the stairs inside the building and the limited height of the desks do not allow the students to freely choose their seats in class. Going back home, the students with moving difficulties face the same problem they faced in the morning rush hours: still no room in low-floor buses and no way to use the free school bus. So, they choose to take a taxi, because despite its burdensome cost, there is no other way. Despite the school's ongoing efforts to create a barrier-free campus, it is apparent that mobility rights for the disabled students are -not being upheld to the fullest. As SNU tries to transform its campus into a barrier-free and inclusive community, practical feedback is needed. The low-floor buses on campus, a service that should be readily provided, was only implemented after efforts in 2016. The students as a whole must reflect to see if we have been assigning too much burden to on-campus disability organizations. The role of student disability organizations should be to present and propose views that nondisabled students cannot recognize, not solving the whole problem and hosting the process. Therefore, SNU must find ways to induce more students into the field of public opinion, one such example being a discussion that was recently held on campus titled, “Looking at the world through the eyes of a disabled person: Rights for people with disabilities in universities, current status and ways to improve.” As more and more technological developments continue on campus, we must make sure that all members of SNU are enjoying the welfare equally. SNU should seek ways to bring more students’ attention to this mobility problem, and to take joint actions with student organizations, such as working in tandem with TurnToAble, to make sure change actually happens on campus.
ChatGPT – The future of learning or a cheater’s tool?
Choi Sung-min
A machine that writes your essay for you as you sit back and relax. A tool that solves all your math problems in the time it takes to open your textbook. For students from any era struggling with coursework, this may have been the idea of an utopia: a world of all play and no work, but still – hopefully – an A. Well, in 2022, the dreams of this utopia may have come true – due to one incredible invention made possible by artificial intelligence technology: ChatGPT. Trained on a vast amount of data, and therefore so versatile, it seems there is not a single thing ChatGPT cannot do. Members of SNU have been using ChatGPT for a variety of purposes, from learning new things and translating foreign textbooks to getting research assistance for professional presentations and essays. However, not everyone praises its versatility. On the other side of the ChatGPT craze, there are people who see the chatbot as a threat: an evil machine that only serves to demoralize hard-working students and ruin academic integrity. After a year of coexistence with ChatGPT, it seems the time has come to take a look at ChatGPT’s effect on our lives at SNU. The Status Quo A survey conducted on July 2023 by the SNU Faculty of Liberal Education which asked 582 students and 163 professors about the use of ChatGPT at SNU indicated that about one-sixth (16.7 percent) of students have experience using it for various purposes, including writing codes and essays, and summarizing and translating documents. Furthermore, 56.5 percent of the students reported that they have not used ChatGPT but are willing to use the service in the second semester of 2023. The situation was similar for professors at SNU. Among professors, 17.8 percent responded that they have used ChatGPT for academic purposes, and 56.4 percent were considering using it in the fall semester. The survey shows that many members of SNU, regardless of their profession, are interested in using ChatGPT for academic purposes. A survey conducted independently by The SNU Quill in November 2023 showed that the number of people actively using ChatGPT has remained significant, with 73 percent of survey participants saying that they have used it on assignments–directly or indirectly. The impact also extended to classrooms, with about half of the respondents having experienced a change in grading and/or teaching methods due to AI. Is it really that good? When ChatGPT was first widely introduced in February 2023, students’ reactions were mixed on the true potential of the technology. On the popular college social media Everytime, students generally found it useful for translation, proofreading, and writing code. One student even claimed to have gotten an A+ using a report written by ChatGPT, though the validity of this claim remains uncertain. Others have found flaws inside the AI system. One issue is that ChatGPT often generates realistic information that is completely made-up, commonly referred to as hallucinations. These hallucinations can range from outlandish claims – such as one viral post of ChatGPT claiming that an upset King Sejong threw a Macbook at one of his servants while creating Hangul – to subtle inaccuracies that are believable and thus hard to spot. These hallucinations, especially the latter type, make fact-checking a vital process while using ChatGPT. “It is hard to utilize ChatGPT in more specialized fields of study as it often produces false information mixed in with correct responses, which is hard to differentiate,” commented one respondent in The SNU Quill’s survey. Similarly, another issue that was raised about ChatGPT is that it is prone to subtle errors, especially regarding math and science problems, compared to other programs, like the popular math problem-solving software WolframAlpha. Still, ChatGPT is excellent for getting a more customized version of whatever information you need – something a Google search won’t easily get you. One common use is in summarizing long articles, getting directly to the point, and saving time for the busy reader. Another forte of the AI, for the coding enthusiast, seems to be its ability to generate customized code snippets – lines of code that solve your specific programming problems when you are stuck. “ChatGPT is really good at writing and debugging code,” said a student from the Department of Pharmacy. He had been working on a browser-based Tetris game which was made possible via assistance from ChatGPT. “The good thing about GPT-4 is that it gives you options on which code you can use for your projects. It makes creating simple web apps like these easier.” In spite of this, he agreed that there were weaknesses in ChatGPT, specifically with chemistry and math problems, where the model tended to make calculation errors. All this said, ChatGPT seems to have had more of a beneficial effect on those at SNU. In The SNU Quill’s survey, 45 percent of the respondents agreed that ChatGPT had “made college life easier,” compared to the 13 percent who disagreed and the other 41 percent who were unsure. Cheating Allegations “With great power comes great responsibility,” Spider-Man once said. This can be no truer for ChatGPT, which in some aspects is a more powerful cheating tool than anything that has ever existed before. We must now define the subtle line between getting help from ChatGPT and cheating. But where exactly do we draw this line? – Professors’ View The SNU Quill’s survey shows that as of Fall 2023, many professors permit the use of ChatGPT with some degree of freedom, as long as the work itself is not entirely executed by AI. 70 percent of students responded that they have been in a class with such restrictions, especially in subjects that are vulnerable to the influence of AI. More and more professors are mentioning the usage of ChatGPT in assignments. Professor Won Jung-dam, in his class of Discrete Mathematics of the Computer Science department, noted in the syllabus that he forbids “asking ChatGPT (or other LLMs) for answers to homework,” whereas “asking the definitions, concepts, or extra examples relevant to the course is fine.” More notably, it was possible to find many introductory English classes, such as College English I and II where using ChatGPT was mentioned as plagiarism, possibly due to the AI’s better performance in English. “Whilst using AI programs such as ChatGPT to write assignments is clearly unethical […] there are a number of applications of AI which can potentially enhance students’ learning experience on writing courses,” stated Professor Nicholas Shaw in an announcement for his Advanced English course in the winter semester of 2023. The survey also showed that many professors do not explicitly mention the use of ChatGPT in the classroom. This indicates that the effects of ChatGPT may perhaps be less pronounced in some classes. In the first semester of 2023, it seems that students may have been relying less on technology than previously thought. “Students did not generally seem to be aware of the effects of ChatGPT in the classroom,” said Professor Cha Ik-Jong in an interview featured on SNU News. He later added that students seemed to be using it more actively in College Writing 1 classes a few months into the semester. – Students’ View Despite the restrictions on AI use imposed by some professors, it seems that not many students think cheating using ChatGPT is a big issue. While many leverage ChatGPT for academic assistance, The SNU Quill’s survey showed only 14 percent of students felt that others using ChatGPT in the current state is unfair. An interesting result was that everyone having equal access to AI was an important factor in them thinking so. When asked if the students themselves weren’t allowed to use AI while others were, 60 percent of students found this situation unfair. Then, granted that everyone has access to ChatGPT both inside and outside the classroom, students increasingly feel that using it for help in assignments is not cheating – it may be the new norm. Another thing to note is that the effectiveness of ChatGPT may depend on the nature of the subject taught. It seems ChatGPT is generally less efficient at advanced topics that require original ideas. “In literature majors, I don’t think using ChatGPT is a big issue, as essays require a personal understanding of the topic which cannot be achieved by AI alone,” remarked one respondent. Meanwhile, ChatGPT seems to pose more concerns for introductory-level courses and those involving topics where AI excels. On the Bright Side That being said, ChatGPT possesses an equally large potential for positive academic integration – something that is being recognized by many members of SNU. Even instructors have noticed this potential, as the SNU Faculty of Liberal Education hosted a lecture on the potential uses of ChatGPT for students. A lecture with the title: “A New Experience Learned by Chatting, College Life with ChatGPT” was held, which focused on the possible uses of ChatGPT in education, such as for brainstorming new ideas. The presenter, Professor Cha Ik-Jong, discussed his belief that ChatGPT should “not be used as a tool for writing in haste, but for easily structuring and summarizing a text.” Concluding Thoughts In summary, while the concept of integrating ChatGPT in the classroom sounds good to many, its implementation requires careful deliberation. For some members of SNU, ChatGPT is a fascinating tool – a personal assistant that travels with you anywhere and everywhere, that makes life so much easier. For others, it may be that ChatGPT is a threat because it makes those things so much easier – it is now hard to know if anyone puts in their genuine work anymore. Whatever your opinion may be, we must not forget that the controversy around ChatGPT is because of its potential as a powerful academic tool. And this potential could be harnessed by everyone teaching and studying at SNU. ChatGPT could be more than just a nuisance for professors handing out assignments, and a utility for students who seek cheap answers from it. Classes are still being affected by the issue of the ChatGPT cheaters, but it is positive that many students see the impact of ChatGPT as something more than that. Besides, if someone lets ChatGPT do all the work for them and learns nothing – wouldn’t it ultimately be their loss? There is no turning back from ChatGPT. So it would be in our best hopes and interests that ChatGPT will be remembered as a tool that benefits all members of SNU alike.
How to Become a Sports Expert in SNU: Introducing the DTM program
Kim Min-seo
A longtime dream of mine has been to become South Korea’s leading sports marketer: I would actively facilitate the inclusion of Korean sports athletes into broader international leagues. However, because the sports industry is not a promising industry yet in Korea, Seoul National University (SNU) currently only has a few classes pertaining to it. While looking for clubs and academies in SNU that would enable me to gain real-life experience in the field, I found the “L&K (Leading Key) Sports Management Group.” L&K is an academy under the Physical Education Department and allows students to have on-the-field experience by collaborating with various sports clubs and investors. I have participated as part of the seventh batch of L&K and through the experience, I learned about the “Dream Together Master” (DTM) program and thought this would be a great chance to introduce SNU students to the DTM graduate program. What is DTM DTM was launched in 2013, and is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (MCST). It is a graduate program that educates future global leaders in sport management, and fosters sports administrational leaders from all over the world. The program belongs to the SNU’s Department of Physical Education, and the main professor in charge is Kang Joon-ho from the Department of Kinesiology and Global Sports Management, within the Department of Physical Education. Dream Together Master is a two-year, 36-credit program that embraces a wide range of topics with 10 total themes. There are three modules per theme, and the program offers one team project and one individual project per theme. The themes vary from focused topics like sports humanities to broader topics such as sports event management, sports marketing and sponsorship, and even deals with sports law and arbitration. Not only does DTM offer the courses, but it also provides students with various experiences in the sports field by holding special lectures and hosting on-the-spot study sessions during the semester. The DTM hosts the “Dream Together Forum” each year, where participants discuss various sports issues all over the world. The speakers in each forum vary according to the topic, and the event also calls on experts when needed—during the Pyeongchang Olympics, it involved officers from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Moreover, this graduate program cooperates with the L&K Sports Management group which is formed among undergraduate students. The members of DTM work as an advisory committee for the project that the L&K members conduct, which is about devising practical schemes about the sports Official Development Assistance (ODA) services targeting developing countries. They share their experiences on-the-field and provide local information that undergraduates have difficulty accessing. As such, under the core values of sharing and excellence, DTM’s ultimate vision is to promote global sports development through the education of international sports administrators and to establish a global sport network. The program is hosted by the Department of Physical Education in SNU, but it is a cooperative project that is funded by the Sports Ministry and the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation (KSPO). It is also in cooperation with the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee and in partnership with the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), International University Sports Federation (FISU), and World Taekwondo (WT). Funded by various associations, DTM usually offers athletes or sports administrators from developing countries with full scholarship opportunities which cover students’ tuition, living expenses and flight tickets. How do you become a DTM member Since this program is a graduate program, there are several admission requirements and preferred qualifications. Admission processes also differ for international students and Korean students. These are several requirements that separate this program from that of other graduate schools. For international students, the applicant must be a former and current sports administrator or athlete. As it is a graduate program related to sports, the applicant can have a bachelor’s degree or higher in any field. In a similar vein, if applicants are from countries recognized in the List of ODA Recipients provided by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) or have participated in major international sporting events (Olympics, Asian Games, World Championships), they become more desirable candidates. The DTM program is also open to Korean students, however, English proficiency is given a greater emphasis compared to foreign students, which means that standardized test scores are required. What makes DTM so special Despite SNU’s reputation as a prestigious university, it is not a leading institution when it comes to the sports industry as it lacks sufficient undergraduate courses in the field. Moreover, though there is a Department of Physical Education, it is under the College of Education and thus, the curriculum focuses more on the process of becoming an educator and lacks diversity in course options. Despite this, there must be reasons why DTM members chose this program over others. To hear more about the real-life experiences originating from the DTM program, I have interviewed a member of DTM, Ugrasena (Dream Together Master Program Tenth Batch). Ugrasena has played baseball in Indonesia since he was 16 years old and played in national leagues and international games as a national representative. He realized that a career as an athlete and a sports educator was not promising in Indonesia. Thus, he wanted to study more about the industry and use this knowledge to grow the industry in his homeland. While he was searching for graduate schools, he discovered DTM in SNU. (1) What brought you here to SNU DTM? What is its specialty compared to other sports management related graduate schools? To begin with, I really liked the course structure of DTM. Most other graduate schools related to sports consist of 10 modules in a curriculum, so we get to learn 2-3 modules in a semester. But here in DTM, we handle 30 modules in one and a half years. So, I really like the fact that I could get to learn more compared to other graduate schools. Also, unlike other sports related graduate programs, DTM tackles sports ethics, which is not only about sports itself but also about sociology and philosophy. I believe ethics is such an important part in every industry, and especially furthermore in the future, and I really appreciated that DTM involves such a program. Not only the classes in school, DTM provides students various chances to acquire practical sports fields from Gocheok stadium to ski resorts. It enables us to experience diverse sports stadiums, which were sometimes absent in our homeland. (2) How diverse are the members of DTM? There are 22 people in our batch, and we have students from 7 regions from 17 countries. The 7 regions include the Middle East, South Asia, South America, Africa and so on. Even though there are some students from the same country, since they are from different regions, they have different characteristics. Also, recently, the women’s ratio has increased, so the diversity is guaranteed much more compared to before. As we have diverse members, we can learn from each other and know how to collaborate with others who you can’t agree with. Every module, students get mixed, so we get to meet different members each week. During that process, we might face some cultures that do not fit one’s values well, but we work to meet the goal we share, so we get to understand each other much better. (3) Can you tell us more about the “Dream Together Forum”? The Dream Together Forum is an annual event that is hosted by DTM. Since we are funded by various institutions in Korea, it’s an official occasion where all the institutions get to share their visions together. The basic aim is to maximize the power of sport as a peace-making tool. Thus the topic changes each year based on what is most relevant to international society, and the most recent one was about the Sport and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the New Globe. Cooperation with undergraduate students - L&K sports management group Since DTM is a graduate program unavailable at the undergraduate level, how can we be certain we want to pursue a profession in this field? For those concerned about these issues, there actually is a program for undergraduates who are interested in the sports industry. This program is called the “L&K sports management group.” Incidentally, Prof. Kang Joon-ho is also in charge of this program. This group also has a “DTM Project” which encourages cooperative teamwork with DTM members. In order to get more information about the L&K Sports Management group and their cooperative projects with DTM members, I have interviewed the president of the L&K sports management group, SungJib Lim (L&K eighth batch president). (1) What kind of organization is L&K and what similarities does it share with the DTM program (in terms of members and goals of the society)? L&K and DTM are groups of people who love sports in common. The similarity lies in the fact that both organizations share a vision to discover and expand the value of the sports market. However, I think DTM students have outstanding professionalism compared to L&K, as they are former athletes or those who are currently active as sports administrators. In contrast, L&K students provide creative ideas through a younger sense and broader thinking, and a virtuous cycle structure is established in which DTMs provide advice on the feasibility and direction of development. In addition, whenever we have difficulties in finding materials in non-English speaking countries, one of the difficulties mentioned above, DTM students from each country directly obtain the materials we need or contact local people to provide materials. (2) What is the background that led you to interact with DTM students and to carry out the DTM project? L&K’s advisor is Professor Kang Joon-ho of the Department of Physical Education, and one of the projects he is working on is the DTM Graduate School. One of his students, a senior who created this group and was the president of the first batch of L&K, has been working for the DTM group. He thought it would be such a good chance for both undergraduates and graduate students to have a cooperative project, so he offered the group a chance to get consultations from the DTM members about our project. This positive relationship has been maintained until now, the 9th batch, and L&K and DTM students continue to exchange help. (3) Interaction between undergraduate and graduate students is not common. Are there any difficulties or special moments you felt through this experience? It is true that the experience of interacting with graduate students is very rare, especially from the perspective of an undergraduate student. However, there are also some challenges. First of all, language is such a big barrier. The members of our group and I can speak English, but as the accents are different according to each DTM member’s motherland, it’s sometimes difficult to communicate. However, at the same time, it offers us opportunities to come into contact with various forms of English, allowing us to bring about development in personal English skills. Also, it is difficult to find data from Asian countries. Since the DTM project is about designing ODA programs for developing countries, we need background data about the target country. We always have a concern that the actual local situation may be different from what we investigated. There always lies the difficulty of finding out the local situation in non-English-speaking countries in detail only with Korean or English data. However, the interest that DTM students send us is special. Being able to make direct contact with foreign students and being able to see sports practitioners, especially those with foreign nationality, up close and ask for advice seems to be a special feature of L&K. In addition, there was an experience that the project we carried out rather led to discussions among the DTM students. On the final presentation day last semester, we presented our final project in front of DTM students and offered them time to ask questions about our projects. I remember being deeply impressed by the fact that the curiosity that started with one question was derived and continued to second and third questions. I think that being able to continue active discussions with various people about one field is also a special feature of L&K and DTM. (4) Are there any people within the L&K group who have careers related to the DTM project? Would you say there is a strong connection between L&K society activities and DTM? As I mentioned earlier, the research assistant of DTM is L&K's first batch senior. Also, among the L&K seventh batch students who graduated last year, there is a student who is preparing to go to DTM graduate school. Also, even if you do not enter DTM itself, L&K students also receive a lot of help in their careers through the advantages of the DTM project. There are many students in L&K who want to enter sports-related international organizations, and through the DTM project, they can experience communicating with foreign sports administrators and forming relationships which enables us to give mutual help. In addition, since DTM is composed of students of very diverse nationalities and disciplines, members who had knowledge only in their field of interest prior to L&K society activities will be able to build knowledge on other subjects while conducting the project. It also lets students study the way to look at the sports market in Korea through the activities of analyzing the sports market of other countries from a business management point of view. As far as I know, there is no organization on campus that focuses as much on the 'sports' market as our society, so if you are dreaming of a career in sports, it would be good to continue collaborating with various organizations within our society. Last words from the writer My experience in L&K and collaboration with the DTM members allowed me to have a broader understanding of the world as I got to communicate with various people from all over the world. For undergraduates, opportunities to engage in field-related activities are rare. L&K offers projects with various professional sports clubs on field such as KBO and the Korea Ski Association. Through L&K activities and interacting with DTM members, I learned a lot about the various sports circumstances in different countries and Korea’s status in the sports industry. It allowed me to realize that as much as following precedent is important, promoting cooperation with developing countries is even more crucial. Even to those who are not interested in sports itself, L&K will enable you to have a wider perspective when considering international issues. No other SNU undergraduate experience will enable you to have consistent communication with the professionals who treat you as their equivalents in discussion.
CMP and SMP welcomes you unconditionally
Baek Ji-min
Though there are many different ways of meeting new people on campus, it is relatively more difficult to make connections through spontaneous encounters–i.e., without engaging in academic pursuits or finding similar interests. Seoul National University (SNU)’s Campus Mentoring Program (CMP) and School-life Mentoring Program (SMP) allow more varied types of connections. The Center for Campus Life and Culture (CCLC) is a center fully dedicated to SNU students and faculty in need of psychological support. It provides a wide range of professional services including psychological counseling, self-development programs, and crisis interventions. The Competency Development Department, one of the departments of CCLC, develops various programs to improve network competency between SNU students. The Campus Mentoring Program (CMP) is a mentoring program which connects incoming Korean freshmen, or the mentees, with enrolled upperclassmen, the “mentors”, as a way to expand networking opportunities for the freshman. Like CMP, the School-life Mentoring Program (SMP) is a mentoring program with the same format, but it is for incoming international freshmen. There are four types of activities in CMP and SMP: individual mentoring meetings, group mentoring meetings, gathering events, and group supervision. Individual mentoring meetings are compulsory meetings that take place between one mentor and mentee. These meetings are held once a week, more than two hours each time, and take place a total of 10 times or more. Students can plan their own individual mentoring activities. CCLC provides funds – provided that they meet the minimum requirements – to help assist in the execution of mentoring activities. Six of these individual mentoring teams are lumped into one larger group to host group mentoring meetings. Group mentoring meetings are regular meetings with other mentoring teams, where approximately 20 people meet each other. It is an essential activity as it is a chance to mingle with other CMP and/or SMP members. There are group supervision meetings for mentors and mentees. CMP and SMP mentors and mentees share progress on their activities and provide feedback. Moreover, mentees can get advice regarding campus life thus far including concerns over grades , extracurriculars, relationships, etc. These meetings take place three times a semester for mentors and only once for mentees. Lastly, there are general gathering events for all mentoring members that are held twice each semester. All mentors and mentees at CMP and SMP go on a picnic, potluck parties, etc. Different activities take place every semester. This semester, the first gathering was Sports Day. Students played various games at the school gym and had a group dinner. The second gathering event was “Running Man in SNU campus.” Like the Korean variety show ‘Running Man,’ the members in groups roamed around the campus, playing games in hopes of winning prizes. How can you join CMP and SMP? Who can join? CMP and SMP recruit new mentors and mentees every new semester. The qualification of mentors are all undergraduate students that are in their second year or higher. Students who are taking a gap semester or year can also apply to become mentors. The process of application consists of two parts: an online application review and a face-to-face interview. After the interview, the selected mentors receive basic education and orientation in preparation for becoming mentors. Any freshmen who want to join the program can apply for CMP and SM. Filling the application online is the only requirement. Mentees should consider most importantly whether they have enough spare time for the mentoring program. There are mandatory activities to attend to receive certification so it is important that you consider your schedule for the upcoming semester. Personal Experience As a CMP mentee this semester, I met the best mentors and had the amazing opportunity to make new and lasting relationships with other CMP members. I had always wanted to connect with people outside my department, so as soon as I saw the email that alerted me of the application deadline, I joined without hesitation. I got to experience various activities through CMP. Through individual mentoring sessions, campus sightseeing and a food tour around Gangnam station were some of the more memorable ones. We also studied together for midterms and traded snacks with each other. At group mentoring sessions, I went to a board game café, Han River, as well as other fun places with my buddies. I especially remember when our group members ate jjajangmyeon at the square in front of the administrative building together. I loved it because eating jjajangmyeon on campus grass has been what I dreamed of for years. CMP provides various activities and events so that students can meet up regularly and frequently. Group gatherings events were held every two months and provided the opportunity for CMP and SMP members to fraternize with each other. Even on days when my assigned mentor and fellow mentee were busy, I could still meet mentors and mentees in my group and try out fun activities together. Now, at the time when CMP is almost over, I am fully satisfied with CMP. I was able to bond with students that I couldn’t possibly be friends if I didn’t join. I fully recommend it to everyone who is interested in CMP and SMP. There were some mentors who came back from the military and joined this semester, so you see, anyone can apply. Those who want to make great relationships between fellow students are all welcome to join. I interviewed CMP and SMP Coordinator Han Gwang-hyun, and SMP mentor Lee Young-jun to provide readers with an intimate glimpse into CMP and SMP. Q1. Hello. Please briefly introduce yourself and the mentoring program, CMP and SMP. GH: I’m Gwang-Hyun Han, working in the Competency Development Department of CCLC. I am currently the coordinator of both CMP and SMP. To provide a brief explanation, CMP and SMP are programs to help freshmen adjust to campus life at SNU by matching freshmen mentees with upperclassmen mentors. YL: Hello, I’m Young-Jun Lee and I’m a student in my third year studying at the SNU School of Dentistry. I am a SMP mentor this semester. Section 1: All about CMP and SMP Q2. I am interested in the inception of SMP and CMP. How did these programs come to be? GH: The mentoring programs take place over the course of one semester; this year, CMP is in its 16th year and SMP is in its 13th year. The Department of Social Welfare first organized the mentoring program as a part of student welfare. There were no other programs at SNU that supported incoming students in adapting to university life, therefore you could view it as the university’s official guide that provides support for freshmen students. Q3. It has already been the 33rd session for CMP and the 26th session for SMP, this semester. What do you think is the main reason this program has maintained popularity over the years? GH: I think it is because students have a good time in the program. They have responded positively to their experiences here. In many cases, students that participate as mentees of CMP or SMP often come back to become mentors. I think this helped generate buzz around the program and ended up becoming the primary driving force of the program’s longevity. YL: In my opinion, I believe it is because there is a lot of demand for mentoring from students. Freshmen and seniors alike want to meet new people and make new relationships. I think CMP and SMP have continued over the years because there are many freshmen students that want support from their peers and senior students that want to help their peers as well. Section 2: Why CMP and SMP? Q4. Why and how did you join this program? GH: As I majored in social welfare, I naturally heard of various programs conducted by CCLC and one of them was CMP and SMP. After completing my master’s degree, I wanted to gain practical experience, so I came in as an employee at CCLC. After some time working in the Competency Development Department, I became the coordinator of CMP and SMP. YL: Last year, when I was in my second year, I took a gap year to study abroad and had the chance to meet people from various cultural backgrounds. I gained new insights from listening to these students and gained the ability to think of solutions in a more multifaceted manner. Once I came back to SNU, I searched for programs that could likewise help me meet students from various backgrounds and looked up possible student-led activities at SNU through my email inbox. As soon as I discovered this program, I immediately applied to become a SMP mentor and so far, I am having a wonderful time this semester. Q5. What has been the most memorable moment at CMP and SMP and why? GH: The most unforgettable part of being the coordinator of CMP and SMP is watching students thrive as they work on their personal growth. As the coordinator, I read the reports students submit after they have personal and group mentoring sessions and I make sure to give detailed feedback. I can also get direct feedback in supervision meetings and experience first-hand how much they have grown as students. The most consequential moment is when mentees tell me that the mentoring program has helped them out a lot. In recent years, the freshmen entering SNU come from a more diverse pool of high schools than before; however, this also means they sometimes do not have seniors from their own highschool to mentor them at the university. CMP and SMP can help these students build strong relationships, just like the ones they would have with their high school seniors. A lot of freshmen have also said that they find their mentors to be trustworthy and dependable. In moments like these, I feel very proud. YL: I don’t think I can pick one single moment. I liked every part of the experience. Q6. What is the biggest distinction between CMP, SMP, and other mentoring programs or extracurricular activities such as the student council and other clubs? What makes CMP and SMP so special? GH: First of all, CMP and SMP are official programs organized and supported by the university. Students can receive help from certified professional counselors at CCLC. I also have a first-degree social worker license, and this helps me provide feedback as a certified expert in mentoring activity reports and group supervision sessions. My expertise gives students the opportunity to freely seek out counseling sessions and any extra help they may need. YL: I think it is the fact that we are free to do our activities however we like and without restrictions, and that we can meet students from all types of cultural backgrounds in this club. Other activities such as academic conferences and clubs have a strictly defined purpose or goal. In contrast, in CMP and SMP, students learn to interact with others through the natural process of getting to know each other. Section 3: The Future of CMP and SMP Q7. To whom would you recommend CMP and SMP? YL: I hope students who want to find ‘genuine value’ join this program. I want mentors to be sincere in helping mentees. I also want mentees to be eager in this process. Though I cannot say that everything I say is correct, as an SMP mentor, I believe that sincerity and eagerness are the most crucial factors in the mentoring program. In the case of SMP mentees (the international freshmen), they enter SNU with a high likelihood of not knowing anyone. So, these SMP mentees especially look forward to meeting a “true upperclassman.” . I hope students joining CMP and SMP can truly engage in the mentoring activities and desire to learn the true importance of mentoring. Q8. Does the mentor applicant have to be fluent in English or other foreign languages to join SMP? YL: I don’t think that matters much. There are many students who studied at the Korean language school or came to Korea to get Global Korea Scholarships (GKS). There were also students that could not even speak English, but they have done the mentoring successfully and I have seen many instances like that. I think language may be useful but not the fundamental factor required for the SMP mentor. What is important is understanding and knowing the values of the mentoring program. Q9. Any last words for students interested in CMP and SMP? GH: I hope students come to participate with a healthy and cheerful outlook. Please do not come thinking of casual one-off meetings or thinking of this as a way to bulk up your resume. If you do so, you would be taking away a precious, joyful opportunity for someone else. CMP and SMP are really good programs where you can receive official support in adjusting to school life and experience personal growth in various ways; I hope students seize the opportunity to experience this mentoring program. YL: In short, I hope students apply without feeling burdened. I don’t think having specific goals is important in CMP and SMP. It is different from joining a club or academic conference where you have an explicit purpose like making more friends or learning something. I think it is important to put in your best effort in the mentoring program and participate in every activity with sincerity. I hope future participants will learn the meaning of mentoring through this program.
SNU’s establishment of the “Advanced Convergence Department” —Concerns within the campus
Oh Ju-yi
Seoul National University (SNU) has announced the establishment of a new department, the Advanced Convergence Department, to cultivate advanced interdisciplinary talents from those enrolling in the 2024 academic year. The department consists of five majors: Next-Generation Intelligent Semiconductor, Sustainable Technology, Innovative New Medicine, Digital Healthcare and Data Science. This move will result in an increase in student enrollment by 218 starting next year, according to a 2023 interview with the College of Engineering Student Council. The adjustment to the enrollment quota was made possible by the South Korean government’s decision in August 2022 to lift quota regulations for universities to foster independent innovation and train talents in crucial domestic industries like semiconductors. According to SNU, this is the first undergraduate quota expansion since the early 1990s. SNU’s enrollment initially almost doubled from 3,300 to 6,500 students in 1981 after the introduction of the graduation quota system, but has since steadily decreased to 3,233 this year, except for a small increase in 1992. As such, this increase in the admission quota is quite an unusual event. Background of the establishment So why is the university establishing this new department? In the past few years, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix have repeatedly approached SNU with the proposal to create a “contract department for semiconductors,” and the parties involved have had numerous discussions on this matter. Here, a “contract department” refers to a department in which students are guaranteed employment at a specific company after graduation and receive full tuition and financial assistance while in school, but in return, they must follow an educational program to develop the skills desired by the sponsored company. SNU was the first to receive this request for the establishment of a semiconductor contract department, in line with the government’s initiative to cultivate non-memory semiconductor chips. However, this talk was met with opposition from within the university as some believed that training talents for specific fields and companies go against the spirit of a national university like SNU. Nonetheless, on the back of constant requests, SNU submitted a proposal in January to establish a System Semiconductor Engineering major, with an enrollment quota of 57, within the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering in the College of Engineering. Eventually, SNU decided on the establishment of the Advanced Convergence Department, after the Ministry of Education requested revisions to the proposal. Thus, on 27 April, the Ministry of Education announced the allocation of enrollment quotas for general universities in advanced fields and healthcare fields for the 2024 academic year, including the establishment of the “Advanced Convergence Department” at SNU and the aforesaid five majors of the department. The specific plans for each department's educational program are yet to be determined. Interview with the President President of Seoul National University Ryu Hong-lim told SNU Quill that the establishment of this new department represents the development of national-level initiatives to foster future convergent talent and create a model for talent education. According to Yoo, “Humanities and social science professors will also participate in education for the Advanced Convergence Department, beyond sharing the College of Engineering, and the major will be jointly developed by several colleges.” Mixed Reaction from within the campus However, SNU’s announcement of its plan to establish a new department called “Advanced Convergence Department” has been met with mixed reactions from within the campus. While some faculty members and students have welcomed the move, others have expressed concerns about the potential impact on existing departments and programs. Those who support the establishment of the new department argue that it is a necessary response to the changing needs of the workforce and the increasing importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in the era of rapid technological advancements. They also point out that the department could serve as a platform for the university to strengthen its research capabilities and compete with other leading universities in the world. However, some faculty members and students have raised concerns about the potential repercussions. They worry that the new department may attract funding and resources that could have been allocated to other departments, potentially weakening their research capabilities and educational quality. Additionally, some have expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the new department in achieving its stated goals, citing the challenges of truly integrating disparate fields into a cohesive educational program. Looking deep into students’ concern Even though more than 200 undergraduate freshmen will take the entrance exam later this year and enter the university’s program next year, the specific plan for operating the undergraduate program has not been finalized, raising concerns within the university that other departments may be affected. There are concerns about how to coordinate with the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences, which have similar educational programs, over the allocation of personnel and facilities for education. For instance, the “Next-generation Intelligent Semiconductor” major may overlap with the curriculum of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; the “Sustainable Technology” major may overlap with the curriculum of the College of Engineering; the “Innovative New Medicine” major may overlap with the curriculum of the Department of Life Sciences, and there is a possibility that the “Digital Healthcare” major may overlap with the curricula of both the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering and the Department of Life Sciences. As a result of this overlap in educational programs, there are issues that need to be addressed quickly before the establishment of the college, such as the lack of of professors and staff to be assigned to the Department of Advanced Convergence, the scarcity of classroom space and infrastructure, and a consideration for existing departments in the College of Engineering. Consequently, many students at SNU, including those in the College of Engineering, have raised questions concerning the dearth of specific discussions and explanations regarding these matters. As a response, the Student Council of the College of Engineering has held talks with SNU’s Academic Support team. The university has responded that “the Department of Advanced Convergence is not being created within the College of Engineering or as a part of the College of Education” and that “there are no plans to use facilities in the College of Engineering.” Despite this, no clarification has been provided regarding the size of the faculty or staff, classroom space, or detailed plans. However, due to the lack of time and the nature of the program, people predict that current professors in College in Engineering may be required to open additional courses or to be transferred to the Department of Advanced Convergence. As such, the atmosphere within the university remains uncertain, and concerns among its members continue to be expressed. Is expanding the quota and making a new department the best solution? Seoul National University’s expansion of its enrollment capacity is in line with the government’s commitment to fostering talent in advanced fields. However, is expanding enrollment capacity the best solution for addressing the shortage of personnel in advanced engineering fields? If the enrollment quotas for related departments are expanded, will there be enough research personnel in advanced engineering fields? (1) Creating a new department As a student who has studied Biosystem Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering for 5 years, I think the research areas under the proposed majors can be covered and researched sufficiently in pre-existing majors. If there is a high demand for a particular field, I believe the priority should be to expand support and recruitment for existing departments and to increase support for research labs related to the field. Existing majors have been developing their curriculum for decades, and professors have been working hard on research. Therefore, I think that progress in the relevant field can be achieved by supporting existing departments rather than creating a new major which has the potential to bring a conflict of interest. In addition, I think that sufficient domain knowledge is necessary for the field of “convergence”, and that convergence without substance is nothing more than superficial learning. For that reason, I believe that traditional subjects should remain as they are in undergraduate courses, and that convergence studies are more suited to graduate-level programs. Thus, it remains to be seen whether the newly established “convergence” majors can provide education that truly enhances students' skills. (2) Expanding the quota Before creating the new department at SNU, the government has created semiconductor contract departments in 10 other universities—including Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology and Yonsei University—to train talents in the semiconductor field. However, in the last year, the dropout rate for registered students in the semiconductor contract department was 155.3% higher than the number of students recruited. Most of these students ended up pursuing medical studies such as medicine or pharmacy. In addition, 28.8% of students who were admitted this year to SNU ultimately gave up their spots, and many of them also chose to pursue medicine. This means that top-performing students are no longer as interested in pursuing engineering careers as they are in becoming doctors. Moreover, the increasingly severe concentration of medical students indicates that beyond the issue of imbalanced human resources, the vitality of society has declined because people have become reluctant to take on challenges and fear failure. In other words, even if new departments such as the Advanced Convergence Sciences Department are established, if students lack internal motivation to work in engineering fields, external rewards to support that motivation, and a social atmosphere that fosters challenges, improving engineering talent will remain a distant dream. The establishment of relevant departments is an abstract and localized solution, and it is difficult to consider it a fundamental solution, as it alone cannot change the career choices of students who are making life-changing decisions. The admissions process for the new department will begin this September. Since the establishment of the department has already been decided, it is necessary to thoroughly prepare facilities and educational programs within the school so that newly admitted students can receive good education and to prevent chaos due to the increasing capacity. In addition, to ensure that the establishment of a new department has the desired effect of fostering talent in the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics(STEM) field, fundamental solutions such as providing appropriate and sufficient rewards for students in the STEM field to maintain their passion for research are needed.
Making connections from around the world: An introduction to SNU Buddy
Lily Meckel
In August 2022, I flew to Seoul for my exchange year at Seoul National University (SNU). I was full of excitement and nervousness—I was moving across the globe to a country I had never been to, where I did not know the language or anyone there. Yet, these nerves quickly subsided when I arrived and made connections with amazing people who made Seoul feel like home almost immediately. Part of the reason for that was SNU Buddy—the organization on campus that pairs exchange students with Korean students at SNU and hosts different events throughout the semester for exchange students to get to know SNU and by extension, South Korea. From visiting landmarks, such as Namsan Tower and Gyeongbokgung, to eating group dinners at Gwangjang market and Korean barbeque spots, to taking trips such as temple stays and Membership Training events (MTs), the SNU Buddy programme truly gives you the full experience of exploring Korea. As a buddy (a fulltime student at SNU that helps out exchange students), you can meet people from all around the world. It has been a major part of my year at SNU, so I thought—for those who may not know about it—to introduce it by interviewing two buddies, Donghyeok and Jihee. The organization works as follows—when exchange students sign up, they can peruse the uploaded buddy profiles on the sign up system and pick a personal buddy on a first-come-first-served basis. Each Korean buddy is assigned a handful of exchange students and they proceed to form a small buddy group. Then, several of these small personal buddy groups are put together into bigger groups that are assigned a specific arbitrary number—last semester, I was in group 1, and this semester I am in group 8. These groups do various activities together, and for certain occasions, all groups do activities together, including the weekly pub, the MT, the Olympics, the Amazing Race, and more. So, there are several layers to the SNU Buddy organization, and aside from being buddies, the Korean buddies also work in one of the four teams which organize the different events. As for my personal highlight in my two semesters in SNU Buddy, the weekly pub was by far my favorite event. Not only has it taken place around the corner from my house, but it has also always been a weekly event to look forward to. You play drinking games, see your friends, and always have the possibility of meeting new people since there are so many members in the organization. The nights have often ended with karaoke or getting some food, so it is always a good time. Other highlights for me have been the temple stay and definitely the MT. For the temple stay, we stayed overnight at Guinsa temple, experienced what it is like to live there as a monk, and learned a lot about Buddhism and Buddhist rituals and customs. As for the MT, it was very fun as it marked the end of the semester, with all buddy groups coming together to play different games, drink and eat Korean barbecue. Now onto the interview: I am interviewing Donghyeok and Jihee, two Korean buddies partaking in SNU Buddy. Donghyeok is a group 8 buddy; he is a classical composition major in the College of Music and is in his 5th semester at SNU. Jihee is the team leader of group 8 – she is in her 3rd semester at SNU and majors in computer science and engineering. Q: What is SNU Buddy? Donghyeok: SNU Buddy is a volunteer non-profit organization. We help foreign exchange students adjust to life at SNU and life in Korea through different events and activities. Jihee: SNU Buddy is a student body affiliated with the Office of International Affairs (OIA) of Seoul National University. It started in 2005 as an organization called "Foreign Student Helper" under the Foreign Cooperation Headquarters, but in 2009, it was converted to the current student autonomy system "SNU buddy" and is operated by student management. Q: How long have you been a member, and why did you join SNU? Donghyeok: I joined SNU Buddy in the first semester of last year (2022). So, this semester is now my third semester with SNU Buddy. I joined SNU Buddy because I had a friend who was in SNU Buddy before me, and he told me to join because it would be really fun. So I wrote my application, sent it to SNU Buddy during the recruiting period, had an interview and then officially joined! I also wanted to improve my English skills and thought it would be fun to meet foreign exchange students. Now my English has improved very much, and I have many exchange student friends! Jihee: SNU buddy recruits its members every semester and this is my first semester joining SNU buddy! As to why I joined SNU buddy, it’s a personal story — but last semester I was in the taekwondo club of SNU and met many foreign students. It was my first time encountering so many foreigners. Having such long and meaningful conversations in English was a big deal to me. I had never had the chance to exchange opinions and thoughts, and just get to know people who were raised in different environments than those already around me. I had such a great time in the taekwondo club, and one of the members told me about SNU Buddy and recommended me to join. So, after that semester I decided to join, and here I am! I am so grateful that I made a move out of my comfort zone. I literally just created a new comfort zone — SNU buddy means that much to me. It is full of opportunities to interact with so many amazing people from various backgrounds. Q: In SNU Buddy, you have the buddy groups, which consist of exchange students and Korean buddies, and also different teams, which organize the activities throughout the semester. What different roles have you had experience with in SNU Buddy, and which one has been your favorite? Donghyeok: So, there are teams and Buddy groups. When it comes to the teams, there are four teams in total: the entertainment team, the leisure and sports team, the planning team and the cultural exchange team. In addition to being a buddy each semester, I have only ever been in the entertainment team. During my first semester at SNU Buddy, I was a junior member of the entertainment team. In my second semester, I was a senior member, and now I am very experienced, so I can help the team leader or give advice to other team members. Jihee: Since this is my first semester in SNU buddy, I can’t tell you about various semester experiences, but I am now taking on the role of group leader. It means so much to me. It’s not just the responsibility, but the group leader position itself that gives me a higher sense of belonging. Q: I know the Office of International Affairs promotes the organization to all exchange students (who have to fill out a form to join) but what is the promotion and application process like for a buddy? Donghyeok: When I first joined SNU Buddy, I had to fill out an application. The executives then check applications and make their first picks. In the second round, there is an interview where you are asked different questions about your motivations to join SNU Buddy. They also always ask some English questions to test your English level, but it is not the most important thing. After the interview, they then pick the buddies! Jihee: You submit the application form that includes questions such as ‘what is your motive to join,’ ‘what do you love to do’…etc. If you pass the first stage, you get an interview and if you pass the second stage as well you get recruited! This happens before the start of each semester, and you begin the matching between Korean buddies and foreign buddies after that. Q: What have been your favorite experiences at SNU Buddy? Donghyeok: I have had so many good experiences with SNU Buddy, so I will mention one per semester. During the first semester, my favorite event was SNU Superstar, where I performed and played the piano. That was the starting point to really enjoying SNU Buddy for me. After that, I got very involved and made many foreign exchange student friends. Since then, my English skills have improved very much. In the second semester, SNU Buddy Olympics was my favorite event. I played almost every game - it was hard but very fun. And this semester, I am really enjoying everything! I feel very happy to be part of SNU Buddy. Jihee: Definitely the people. I never would have met them anywhere else. Such precious relationships! Q: If you had to pick just one favorite SNU Buddy event, what would it be? Donghyeok: Only one thing? I would say the weekly pub. It is a great chance to meet everyone involved in SNU Buddy. We can drink, play games and talk, which is so nice. But I also would say the SNU Buddy Olympics. During the Olympics you create teams and can play sports together, so I really have enjoyed every Olympics. Jihee: Pub night. I really like all the activities like doing sports, or just going out to eat — but pub night gives us the opportunity to talk to each other in a more comfortable environment. As I mentioned above, my favorite thing about SNU Buddy is that there are several opportunities to interact with people from various backgrounds. Q: Why should students partake in SNU Buddy, and what are the benefits? Donghyeok: So, first of all, you can massively improve your English skills by joining SNU Buddy. You can also meet students from around the world and do language exchanges! This semester, for example, I put on my profile that I want to study German, so if there are any German students coming to SNU this semester, they can join my group, and we can practice together. That is how I made one of my friends this semester. Overall, you meet people from around the world, learn about their culture, and can get any advice on going to other countries if you want to go on exchange yourself one day! Besides that, you also meet really nice Korean buddies. Everyone is very nice and fun to be around. So, the benefit is really that you meet so many amazing people! Jihee: It’s just a whole different type of experience, like a frog inside a well. You can always talk to people within your own department, Koreans, and enjoy the culture you are used to, but you’ll never know what people from other countries think about, like to do, and feel. To me, I wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to make memories and be more open to the world around me. So, as you can see from Donghyeok’s experiences, Jihee’s experiences, and mine, SNU Buddy truly is an amazing programme to partake in, both as an exchange student and as an SNU student. I will always remember it as having been an integral part of my exchange year in Seoul and am grateful to all the people I have met from it, including Donghyeok and Jihee. If you have any questions about the SNU Buddy programme, do not hesitate to contact SNU Buddy on Instagram @snubuddyofficial.
Beware Freshmen: Your classmates are not who you think they are!
Lee Seung-ku
“Hello. I am Lee, and I am a Freshman this year.” Introductory messages fill the Kakaotalk chatroom which had just been made to welcome incoming freshmen enrolled in Seoul National University’s Political Science and International Relations program. A 18-year old freshman surnamed Lee scrolls through the public Kakaotalk profiles of his new classmates. Abound with excitement, he is truly thrilled to meet each and every one of them. The fact that they have gone through identical admissions processes creates a sense of mutual connection, even though he has never met any of them in real life. But that excitement soon gives way to angst when he finds out that something is not quite right. Lee cautiously counts the number of participants in the group chat. SNU admits 74 new Poli-Sci undergraduate students annually, according to the department’s website. On top of that, it recruits one or two international students outside of its annual quota. The department has assigned two sophomores to help the new recruits feel welcome, and to guide them through their first few days at school. Simple math tells Lee that there should be approximately 78 people in the group. That is why he is shocked to find that the chatroom is infested with almost 90 participants, all claiming to be his classmate. Lee cannot help but wonder, who are these people? Tracing covert identities: from communism to dictatorship To uncover their identities, one must, oddly enough, first understand the complex history of South Korea’s communism, Red Scare, and democracy in the context of one unique word. Frakti. Frakti is a loanword originating from Russian that has truly left its mark in Korean history. The original Russian word—pronounced frakitya—refers to factions or groups. However, the word’s definition has changed over time in Korea, evolving to include new definitions. The National Institute of Korean Language currently defines frakti as “someone who enters an organization or field with a hidden identity to achieve a special goal.” The word first appeared in South Korean media following the “National Assembly Frakti Intrusion” which occurred in the scorching summer of 1949. The story begins when National Assembly Rep. Kim Yak-su from the then-ruling Democratic National Party was arrested on the charges of treason, along with three other congressmen. The prosecution accused Kim of meeting with North Korean spies and conspiring against the government. Kim and his colleagues were named “Frakti from the Worker’s Party of South Korea.” Back then, the original Russian definition of “faction” was being used, branding Kim and his colleagues as a faction of the WPSK that secretly infiltrated the Democratic National Party to further North Korea’s agendas. Kim, now labeled a spy, was sentenced to three years in prison, but escaped a year later when the Korean War broke out. However, this definition for frakti, referring to a communist spy, was short-lived. The term was given a completely new meaning following the tumultuous war. The war had greatly reshaped Korea’s political sphere, ushering in an age of dictators who consolidated power through anti-communist rhetoric. Frakti, a word of Soviet origin, was no longer used by a government reluctant to use words from the communist Soviet Union. Rather, the term was adopted and used by South Korea’s anti-dictatorship, pro-democracy activists. South Korea’s longing for democratization was kindled in 1960, spearheaded by small and localized protests, often organized by university students. Dictators throughout Korea’s modern history, ranging from South Korea’s first president Rhee Syng-man to strongman Chun Doo-hwan, all hoped to control and subdue the students. The Korea Central Intelligence Agency started recruiting conservative and power-hungry students to infiltrate the Student Body to obtain information on upcoming protests, and to ultimately tear them up from the inside by pitting students against each other. As student protests became more widespread in the late 1980s, the demand for such spies steadily increased, and the government hired recent graduates, felons, and the homeless to perform these tasks. Later, they even went as far as torturing captured pro-democracy activists and forcing them back to school on covert spy missions. When the existence of such government-sent spies became known, students called the spies frakti, and efforts to weed them out caused rampage throughout the student community. People who were revealed as, or accused of, being a frakti were often beaten up by their peers, with some even meeting their death in the process. Government-appointed fraktis existed well into the 1990s, although Korea achieved democracy in the late 1900s, ousting Chun in 1987. The latest controversy surrounding frakti came about in 2008, when large masses gathered in a candlelight vigil to protest the Lee Myung-bak administration’s decision to lower import standards on US beef. South Korea had stopped importing US beef in 2003, following the discovery of a Mad Cow Disease strain in US beef products. However, the Roh Moo-hyun administration had signed in 2007 to resume beef imports as part of an inclusive Free Trade Agreement. During the 2008 protests, photos were leaked which hinted that the police were covertly planting people among the protestors to turn the vigil violent. A violent protest meant that the police could be more forceful and aggressive in its approach to disperse the crowd. ‘Just a small joke we play’ So how does this little history lesson tie in with incoming freshman Lee’s puzzling experience? Well, that is because the ten-or-so people in Lee’s Kakaotalk chatroom, posing as his classmates, are in fact the notorious frakti. But rest assured; they are neither communist sympathizers colluding with the North, nor government-planted spies monitoring Lee’s every move. That would be more problematic. Just like any other word, the definition of frakti has since evolved. Today, frakti refers to college sophomores who pose as freshmen to play “a prank” on the incoming class. They usually keep their role until late February, revealing their identities only when the semester starts. These pranksters, also sometimes called X-men, declare themselves as being harmless, sitting in the back rows of freshmen orientations, learning the inside dynamics of the incoming class, so that the upperclassmen can “better assist their foray into university classrooms.” By facilitating conversations in rather awkward settings, where everyone meets each other for the first time, fraktis bridge freshmen together, and help them get a boost in their sweet campus lives. Or so they say. And after the grand reveal, the flustered freshmen fall to a giggle, and the former fraktis and freshmen stay best friends, happily ever after. The end. Roses and daffodils, flowery euphemisms, so sweetly oozing and sticking to the tongue. But is that really the case? Are they really as harmless as they seem? A graduating student, who wished to remain anonymous, told The SNU Quill that she thought fraktis were anachronisms, and that they did more harm than good. “I still remember the betrayal I felt when I learned my closest classmate was in fact my seonbae,” the student bitterly recalled. Seonbae is the Korean word referring to someone who has seniority at a school setting or workplace. “Most of my classmates felt the same, and there was widespread distrust after the first frakti was caught. That is why we decided to abolish the tradition in our department,” she added. The feelings of betrayal were most prominent among the people who experienced being on the receiving end of the frakti joke. However, some participants said they thought the tradition was necessary, even beyond just having fun. A sophomore student who acted as a frakti this year said that the frakti tradition helps the upperclassmen get to know the incoming class better. “It helps us get to know the students more personally,” the sophomore said. “It helps us reach beyond the barrier that exists between seonbae and hoobae.” Hoobae refers to people who lack seniority. “It is also ultimately helpful to the incoming class because the seonbae are able to understand their worries better, and help them adapt to the new school better,” he added. He also argued that because the fraktis lead most of the conversations in the chatroom, the fraktis allow incoming strangers to get closer to each other in a shorter amount of time. “Plus, it’s just a small joke we play.” However, there are constant reports on social media of harm being done because of this “joke.” Nightmarish stories in which a freshman suffered repercussions after bad mouthing a sophomore to a frakti can easily be found online. Some student advocacy groups said that this was a type of gapjil—arrogance and authoritarianism showcased by people who are in positions of power—based on the informational divide. They argue that some seonbae sacrifice the freshmen’s dignity just to have fun. To prevent such mishaps, the Students and Minorities Human Rights Council at SNU published a guideline on how these frakti jokes should be played without hurting the younger students. The guideline begins by calling out the joke as being inherently “deceptive,” and “an assertion of power by the seonbae.” It then recommends measures to ensure that the frakti joke is played safely. It reminds its readers that the inherent purpose of frakti should be to facilitate the freshmen’s assimilation. It condemns fraktis who only talk amongst themselves, or start becoming close with just one or two freshmen, excluding others. It also says that fraktis should not host or attend unofficial after parties, and work to protect the rights of his or her hoobae. Fraktis should adhere to creating an inclusive environment, and other upperclassmen should refrain from asking the fraktis’ opinions on certain freshmen. The fraktis should set an example and show the underclassmen that they do not have to do anything they do not want to. It also asserts that the fraktis should continue its efforts to stay close-friends with the freshmen after his or her grand reveal. Meanwhile, some people on campus have been calling for stricter measures to be put in place, citing the decision of Korea University’s Department of Media and Communication to abolish the tradition altogether by revising the department’s student bylaws. The fine line between ‘tradition’ and ‘bullying’ The frakti prank is quite frequently depicted in South Korea’s popular culture. Streaming service provider Seezn recently released a comedy drama titled “New Recruit,” which details events that happen during the main character’s compulsory military service. In the first episode, the squad leader plays a frakti-like prank on the protagonist who is fresh out of boot camp. Squad leader Corporal Choi Il-gu pretends to be a private, just like main character Park Min-seok. Cpl Choi leads on Priv Park to badmouth Private First Class Kim Sang-hoon, who is of lower rank than Cpl Choi, but of higher rank than Priv Park. Priv Park is in tears as Cpl Choi reveals his identity, and PVC Kim laughs away at the joke. However, once Cpl Choi learns that Priv Park is none other than the son of the current Division Commander, who is a one-star general, Choi rushes to tell Park that the joke he and Kim had made was nothing but a mere “tradition.” “You know! It’s just a tradition on our base!” Choi rants, justifying his action. So many practices survive well past their time under the name tradition. But what exactly are traditions, and should they continue to exist just because they always have? Various versions of a saying that answers this question have been diffused across military bases in Korea, as the Republic of Korea Army contemplates ways to eradicate accounts of bullying among soldiers. One version of the saying goes, “it is a tradition if everyone agrees with the practice, but it is bullying if even just one person fails to agree.” These wise words whispered by an anonymous guru asserts that there is a slim, but concrete line between tradition and bullying; and that line is denoted by the existence of a victim. The notion that Park should accept Choi’s frakti joke just because it is a tradition leads us down a slippery slope. Honor killing, female geneital mutilation, and child marriages were traditions practiced in different civilizations across the globe for various religious, political and social reasons. Of course the stakes are different, but must we accept these practices too? A harmful tradition is nothing more than a case of ongoing bullying. The practice of frakti on campus definitely has its upsides. Frakti jokes can break the ice, and can act as crutches for the freshmen as they make new friends and get accustomed to their campus lives. But it is about time we wondered, do the good outweigh the bad? Must we continue this tradition even if people feel betrayed or mocked? Does everyone truly agree to the practice? Some food for thought.
Proselytisation on campus: A personal review
Kim Hae-soo
Being confronted by individuals who ask about your religion and knowledge about the bible is not a rare experience – especially on our school grounds. But who are these people? Where do they come from? And most importantly, why are they doing it? Proselytisation (more commonly known in Korean as ‘노방 전도(nobang jeondŏ)’) – originates from the word stranger or newcomer in Greek. It is a term that describes the process of “induc[ing] someone to convert to one’s faith”, or “recruiting someone to join one’s party, institution, or cause.” However, people are actively trying to avoid proselytism – especially in this era of individual thought and freedom. In truth, proselytism has been made illegal in many east Asian/ Pacific countries, the Near East, and South/ Central Asian countries. And although it is allowed in some countries, other countries tend to have strict regulations for proselytisation. Some religious leaders have even openly condemned the act. For example, in 2013, Pope Francis mentioned that “proselytism is solemn nonsense”, that “it does not make sense” and that evangelisation should be placed higher on the list. The differences between evangelism and proselytism will be explored later in the article. Although there are other religions that proselytise, this article will focus mostly on the relationship between Christianity and proselytisation, as many of the people who proselytise on campus are from Christian groups. Interpretations of the biblical verse “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15 NIV) will also be explored. Proselytisation in Korea, however, has developed an especially unhealthy reputation, as the methods of proselytisation are seen as forceful, and because the conversations are mostly one-sided and overly forceful. Furthermore, the unhealthy reputation of proselytisation in Korea has further developed because of cults and unverified Christian sects – which is why understanding the presence of existing cults in Korea is pivotal when viewing Christianity and proselytisation. Before we dive deeper into proselytisation on campus, a clear distinction needs to be made between Christianity and cults (more commonly known in Korean as eedan’ or saibi’ – as these cults also practise proselytisation in Korea. According to, the primary difference between a religion and a cult is that while a religion is “a particular system of belief/worship, often consisting of a code of philosophy and ethics” while a cult is a “small group” with “unique beliefs or socially deviant practices.” The presence of these cults in Korea arose through many problematic political issues in the past. The Diplomat has referred to these cults in an article as “an obscure Christian sect widely described as a cult [dominating] the news in South Korea,” and according to Today regarding one of those issues, South Korea “has [proven to be] fertile grounds for cults to flourish.” The recent spread of the Coronavirus has also played a role in exposing these cults, creating more alertness when it comes to religious groups. Many of these cults are derived from “Christian sects”, and because these cults actively practise proselytisation, differentiating clearly between Christianity and cults is pivotal in understanding the relationship between Christianity and proselytization. While many cults seem harmless, they are fundamentally based on brainwashing, gaslighting and lead to different forms of abuse in most cases. Furthermore, it needs to be understood that discerning the differences between actual Christians and these cult-like “Christian sects” becomes extremely difficult, especially from a non-Christian viewpoint. To worsen the situation, according to Today, “there’s no reliable data on how many cults currently exist in South Korea, but there are a large number of fringe churches and groups.” It becomes very difficult identifying cults, especially through simply looking at adherents, which makes it extremely easy for one to automatically assume that people who proselytise on campus have been sent by these cults. Although not all people on campus who try to “spread the good word” are from cults, the recent surge of ‘cult awareness’ clearly shows the limitations of proselytisation. Originally, proselytisation was a revered act of innocent faith that was never ‘wrong’. However, the infamous history of proselytisation being used by various rising cults and sects has made it a difficult era for Christians today to proselytise. It is also the rise of the importance of individual thought and freedom that has made proselytisation into something that is ‘forceful’, as religion is something that is personal and something that ties in closely with culture and identity. Given the above situations, I personally find myself avoiding people who proselytise, even as a Christian. I have been proselytised at many times during my first semester at school, and while not all the proselytisers were from cults, the possibility that they were part of such cults was always lurking in my mind (and I have been confronted by a few sketchy people). Adding onto this, I have experiences where a proselytiser would persistently follow me a long way, right to the entrance of my lecture class, even when I told them I was feeling uncomfortable. And upon asking certain proselytisers who they were affiliated with, some were unable to give a clear answer, stating that they came from a small group of people who were not from the school and met on Saturdays to pray and study the bible. These kinds of interactions would leave me feeling eerie or uncomfortable. So, when confronted by proselytisers, it is important to first ask if they are from the school, and to ask which group or church they are affiliated with. If these questions are not answered fully or if you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, it may be better to leave the situation. It is also important to research the different kinds of cults in Korea and how they operate when trying to distinguish between cults and religions. Below is an extract from a symposium, For and Against Proselytism, hosted by Professor José Casanova – a professor of sociology at Georgetown University. “I fully acknowledge the religious to preach the good news, to proclaim the Gospel. For some religions at least, certainly for Christianity, this is a duty, an obligation which must be taken very seriously as central to the religion. But against this religious duty there is the moral obligation, which I must take equally seriously, to respect other versions of the good news, other gospels, which other religious persons, other humans, take equally seriously.” … “Individuals may have a right to conversion, which should be legally protected by every state that has signed any of the modern universal declarations of human rights. But this does not necessarily imply a parallel, juridically enforceable right to proselytise.” … “Ultimately, it all depends on how we define “persuasion.” If one could envision a form of persuasion that would be devoid of any force, of any unequal relation or power, of any subjection, of any seduction, of any non-rational factor…. Of course such persuasion is unreal.” Although Casanova does not offer a remedy or a viable solution to the problems presented, the stance presented in the symposium explores a fair aspect of proselytisation by standing for it and against it. And the statement that there cannot be “a single universal religion or culture” is realistically true. As a Christian myself, I had speculations about the concept of proselytisation. My personal conclusion explores the roots of Evangelism. Evangelism – meaning good news in Greek, has the same principles as proselytisation. However, I believe Evangelism focuses more on presenting the gospel through everyday life, compared to the active, rather public proclamation of the gospel (proselytisation). While proselytisation and evangelisation have the same intentions, some draw a clear line between those two, claiming differences of public vs. personal and stranger vs. private life. Evangelism can be regarded as ‘less forceful’ and ‘more effective’ when compared to proselytisation. While talking to some of my Christian friends – some who have proselytised on campus, and some who have not, I found that while all of them thought that proselytisation is a worthy and respectable act, some remarked that it may not be the most suitable method of “spreading the Gospel” or showing God’s love in today’s society. Some mentioned that the methods of proselytisation could change, as it extremely difficult to succeed in proselytising, and some said that Christians who have not proselytised cannot actively criticise proselytisation as they do not have an exact understanding of it. Even between Christians, there are many debates and perspectives regarding proselytisation, and it is definitely not a simple matter. Some may find on-campus proselytisation offensive Although we should be aware of the possible danger of cults and sects, I wished to explain why some Christian groups support active proselytisation. I am in no place of discerning right and wrong, but I hope that this article was an opportunity for you to understand another viewpoint, and possibly add to the growth of your thought and mind. Regarding controversial issues today, a neutral stance is largely expected of everyone. However, we must remember that hiding behind neutrality and becoming too comfortable with not having one’s own thoughts becomes a different story. If we do not consider various viewpoints, it limits our potential to grow in thought and mind. This also makes us vulnerable to just following the herd without second thought when new controversial topics come up. In other words, it is important for us to think for ourselves and still be able to understand other perspectives. So, moving forward, I hope that this article has provided an opportunity to think about Christianity, cults, and proselytisation.