Diplomats, CEOs to study Korean pop culture
By Na Jeong-ju
Following is the full text of questions and answers during an interview with Catholic University of Korea President Pahk Yeong-sik, conducted at his office on July 18. Father Pahk, a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and gained his master’s and doctoral degrees there. He has served as the university’s president since January 2009. ― ED.
Q: The Catholic University of Korea (CUK) is set to open the Hallyu Graduate School (HGS) in late August. It’s interesting because the Korean cultural wave, which has become a worldwide phenomenon, is now serving as a catalyst for stronger diplomatic and economic relations between the country and the rest of the world. What stimulated your interest in studies on “hallyu”?
A: The name of a country itself is a cultural asset. Culture includes almost everything about a country. That’s why culture is a national pride and national competitiveness.
In this age of globalization, Korea is being understood through its pop culture, namely hallyu. But hallyu is in its infant stage. It should be carefully fostered and developed.
It’s time to discuss ways of making hallyu sustainable and more globally accepted. This is one of the reasons why we decided to create the graduate school on hallyu.
It will conduct research and systematic studies on the Korean cultural wave. The school will develop methodologies and research programs about the phenomenon. And we hope our efforts will increase national competitiveness and expand the country’s diplomatic and economic frontiers.
The concept of this school is “Attractive Korea,” which is to develop cultural products that can show the attractiveness and beauty of the nation to the world. It’s more than studying about the globalization of K-pop and K-drama. In addition, we are seeking to create the value-added chain that encompasses all economic fields, including trade and tourism. To realize that goal, we must create a cooperative and sustainable global network.
The primary aim of this school is to create a knowledge-based platform on hallyu that we can share with the rest of the world. It will nurture talents who will develop hallyu further and become a global hub for education and research on hallyu.
Q: Can you explain about the programs and courses HGS will offer?
A: The school, which will be set up on the seventh floor of the Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital in Banpo-dong, southern Seoul, will offer two programs in Hallyu Advanced Management and Hallyu Culture and Business.
We are now recruiting students with a view to commencing lectures in the second semester. The advanced management program will be for foreign ambassadors in Korea, diplomats, executive board members of global companies, and board members of Korean companies who are interested in hallyu.
One of the objectives of this course is to promote mutual understanding about culture. We will provide participants with cultural experience programs to better understand the Korean wave. Lectures will be given in English only.
We hope participants of this program will play the role of cultural ambassadors for Korea once they return to their own countries.
The culture and business program includes a master’s of business administration program and a six-month research course, which is a non-degree program for pop stars and those involved in the entertainment business. Lectures will be given in both English and Korean.
The curriculum includes studies of Korea’s entertainment industry, tourism, fashion and food.
Q: We believe that continuous support and aid from the government and related industries is necessary to foster a worldwide fan base for K-pop and K-drama. Do you have any ideas for establishing cooperative partnership with them?
A: I think the one-source, multi-use approach is essential in developing cultural content. The entertainment industry needs to collaborate with other industries as well as the government to create greater spillover effects.
HGS will help build a bridge between the entertainment industry and the government and create a cooperative partnership because hallyu is not just about entertainment, but also about culture. It should cooperate with other industries as well to create a synergy effect. This is why we selected Yoo Jin-ryong, former vice culture minister, as the first dean of this school.
In that regard, we have signed agreements with the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency to exchange human resources and develop related programs. We are also working closely with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Creative Contents Agency to develop globally-accepted cultural products.
Through such a cooperative network, we will conduct systematic research on the Korean wave and maximize its potential. We are ready to actively cooperate with companies and public organizations to secure the international competitiveness of Korean cultural products.
Q: Why do you think people around the world like Korean pop culture?
A: I think there is more than one reason. K-pop and K-dramas gained worldwide popularity as the country’s international presence has grown rapidly. There has also been a change in people’s recognition of pop culture in line with technological development. Our systematic approach in nurturing the entertainment industry and talents has also contributed to the spread of the Korean wave.
The development of information technology products and social networking services made it possible for entertainment firms to promote their products and stars globally in a very short period of time.
As the Korean wave is spreading, it is now improving the country’s global reputation. We must make efforts to continue this virtuous circle.
Q: Some people say the Korean wave will be short-lived. What do you think?
A: People’s tastes in culture always change. So the popularity of Korean pop culture could fade.
However, given the fact that people’s interest in Korean pop culture reflects their growing interest in Korea, the Korean wave will last a long time, as long as we make concerted efforts to boost cultural exchanges. Increasing Korea’s contributions to the world is also important.
This is the reason we decided to set up this school. We will play a bridging role between Korea and the rest of the world to make hallyu a sustainable, everlasting global phenomenon.
Q: Please explain about CUK’s globalization programs.
A: We have developed a set of “Inbound Globalization” programs to help our students experience and understand the culture of various countries without having to go abroad.
It includes the Global English Outreach program, under which Korean students can live with their peers from around the world and foreign professors. We set up an English language dormitory inside the International Campus, which can house some 1,100 people. Korean students can improve their English proficiency by interacting with foreigners in the dormitory. It is part of our efforts to cultivate future global leaders and train our students to the highest degree of competence in their own fields as well as in communicating effectively in multicultural contexts.
Since being founded 155 years ago, our university has been the home of important scientific breakthroughs, innovation, academic research, cultural diversity and community service. It is not just a religious school. This is where world-renowned scholars and dedicated faculty prepare the students for the challenges of the 21st century.
We will advance even further with a strong commitment to help our students maximize their potential and achieve their dreams.