Lunch and Learn: South Korea

Picture this: you walk into a room and a foreign melody you’ve never heard before immediately fills your ears. The lighting is dim, creating a cozy environment. You sit on a couch and admire the walls adorned with the South Korean flag and other decorations. 

This was the atmosphere of the South Korean Lunch and Learn Oct. 22. The International Student Center consistently holds events like the classic “Lunch and Learn,” where students gather to hear a presentation about another country.

“Students should be able to share their culture with the Liberty community,” Kristina Bautista, who helped organize the event, said.

She also stressed the importance of being mindful of the people around you and how their culture might have influenced them. 

 “No matter where you’re going, it’s important to learn about perspectives other than your own,” Bautista said.

During the event, everyone’s attention was directed toward Seyoung Evie Jang as she gave an informative and intriguing presentation on her home country of South Korea (officially named the Republic of Korea). Now a junior, Seyoung came to Liberty University to study aeronautics. She stated that it is difficult to become a pilot in South Korea if you are not involved in the Republic of Korea Air Force.

Seyoung grew up in (Dynamic) Busan, a large city with over 3 million people. She described it as a place with “a lot of things to experience,” referring to the numerous festivals, beaches and water sport activities available there. Seyoung also lived in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. 

With a population of more than 10 million people, Seoul is the largest city on the Korean Peninsula. Interestingly, it has been a capital city for more than 1,000 years. Seyoung described Seoul as having both traditional and modern architecture and beautiful mountains. 

However, in some areas of Seoul, one can see a “big contrast” between the wealthy and the impoverished. That being said, in the late 1900s, South Korea went from being a relatively poor country to now being one of the world’s richest after its economy developed rapidly. Seyoung pointed out that South Korea is one of the only nations to go from being a beneficiary country to a donor country as it used to receive aid but now sends aid to other nations.

The large, bustling cities of Seoul and Busan are drastically different from Lynchburg, Virginia. Seyoung talked about some of the many differences between American and Korean culture, and one contrast she found particularly interesting is the interactions between strangers. In America, it is common to make small talk with strangers, which is not the norm in South Korea.

Seyoung also described the countries’ differences in food. In South Korea, rice is a staple for nearly every meal, and the dishes tend to be spicy and savory, as compared to the salty and sugary foods in the United States. 

In describing the religion of South Korea, Seyoung talked about how she was not a Christian before she came to Liberty University. She said that many South Koreans are Buddhist, and Christianity is poorly received in the country. Christians are often perceived as hypocrites in South Korea.

Overall, the event was informative, and many students learned about a culture other than their own. 

David Shin, another contributor to the Lunch and Learn event, believes it is important to cultivate a “diverse view” and “learn the culture” of other people in order to better understand them and how their actions and beliefs have been developed. Another important reason for hosting these outreach events, according to Shin, is to make international students “feel at home” and “more comfortable” at Liberty. 

Follow the International Student Center @LUinternationalstudents on Instagram for updates on cultural events or email for more information.

Bear is a feature writer.

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