SKorea: Foreign students have tough time at university
Share this on

SKorea: Foreign students have tough time at university

This Chosun Ilbo article says that international students in Korean universities are frequently ostracized, and the headline says they are treated as wangdda (cast-outs). The second to last paragraph has a priceless quote from a Korean student when asked if there are any complaints in the opposite direction.

“Professor, please move me.”

It was the time for creating the summer class schedule at a private university in Seoul. 22-year old Ms. A, an international student from China, raised her hand as soon as her name was written and complained. The professor looked at the student once, asked her “to which class do you want to move” and then moved her immediately.

Noticing this, other students also raised their hands and moved their positions, and soon Ms. A’s course had only foreign students who spoke accented Korean. Ms. A said that “I knew that Korean students try to avoid courses which have foreign students, but I was really upset to see many of them trying to move.”

Caught in the war for a good GPA, foreign international students are losing their footing. Universities bring in the foreign students and then expand their English classes, but those foreign students are blatently excluded from regular classes.

21-year old Mr. B, an international student from Azerbaijan, says foreign students are excluded from class events. He said that “If I go to such events with Korean students, it will be like I’m invisible… the Korean students have no patience for foreigners who have trouble speaking Korean.” Mr. B attended the events twice, then was never invited back.

23-year old Ms. C, an international student from China, wanted to be involved in the class atmosphere but found it very difficult. Ms. C said that “it seems that Korea university students go out and drink after class events and become friends that way… but female Chinese students mostly do not drink alcohol, so it’s like we have no chance to become friends with Korean students.”

She also spoke of the difficulties that arise between international students and Korean students. Ms. C said that “during one class event a Korean student said some very insulting things about Chinese people so I cursed at him in Chinese.”

Korean students also have complaints about foreign students who cannot fit in to the classes. 23-year old university student Lee Gang-woo (a pseudonym) said that “frankly, if I go to a class event with foreign students it makes me tired because there are not as many Korean students to talk to as there are in other classes.”

34-yearold Lee Jin-seop, head of the foreigners’ help center at Kyunghee University, said that “to achieve the comfortable atmosphere for foreign students, we all need to work hard… our methods include special events in the city for foreign students, cultural experiences, and staying in touch with them to give advice.”

Topics covered: