In my last post, I talked about why I wanted to study abroad, now I want to talk about why I picked South Korea.
For those of you who want to go to South Korea, you might have a similar story. Junior year of high school, a friend of mine really got into K-Pop and so for her birthday I decided to get her a 2 disc Super Junior CD while I was visiting family in China. That’s where it all started for me. She got a couple of us really into it and we formed a dance group, practicing twice a week and performing at talent shows. We had even thought about auditioning, though looking back now, I don’t think any of us had the skills.
From K-Pop, I got into the rest of the Hallyu wave: K-dramas, reality shows, entertainment companies, actors/actresses/idols and the culture. I’d binge watch shows, try to learn Korean, learn the choreography to dances and watch my favorites participate in reality shows. I had an obsessed phase once where I knew birthdays and bloodtypes, stage names and real names, random facts and special quirks. Coming from someone who probably couldn’t name enough actors/actresses from her own country to hit the double digits, didn’t really follow bands and singers, and wasn’t really one to watch TV, this was kind of a big deal.
Yet I knew that the things I see in the media, the things that I google and watch and read weren’t accurate portrayals of everyday life in Korea. I mean, not everyone falls in love at first sight, has a super strict snobby stuck up mother, or has some tragic secret that could ruin their entire world (or at least love life). I wanted to see what they didn’t show. It’s a culture that, in some ways I am quite familiar with, yet in others boggles my mind and it’s something that I want to experience for myself.
I also want to go to South Korea because of what it has. With one of the highest education rates, and one of the most technologically advanced countries (with over 82% Internet penetration and over 75% of the country with smartphones – taken from here), it also is big in the semiconductor industry (Hello Samsung), as well as the steel, car and ship industries (company names can be found here or google search top Korean industries). Yet these are just the fields that I find somewhat interesting (in one way or another), there’s still the banking industry, and the rapidly growing field of cosmetics and plastic surgery.
A lot of these desires started junior year of high school and that’s when I started to look more closely and think more thoroughly about going abroad while in college. Freshman year at Harvey Mudd, I took a Korean language course off campus at CMC and really enjoyed learning about the history behind the language and getting a little more in depth knowledge of it’s culture. While I am no longer (in my opinion) obsessed about K-Pop and the Hallyu wave as before, it’s still something that interests me a lot and a culture and place I want to learn more about, so my first choice location for studying abroad was South Korea.