South Korea is going to great lengths to attract international university students, for example through scholarships and programs taught in English. Over the past decade, the number of foreign students has increased eightfold and now over 85.000 foreign students attend Korean universities. But while welcome on paper, they find themselves in a largely homogeneous society in which multiculturalism is a contentious issue – and this causes friction.
To learn more about the situation of these students and multiculturalism in the Korean education system, we had the honor of interviewing Professor Rennie Moon. We discussed the different types of multiculturalism present in universities, the factors motivating student to come to Korea, the barriers limiting interactions between Korean and foreign students, as well as the role of foreign faculty members within the Korean education system.
Rennie J. Moon is an Assistant Professor at the Underwood International College of Yonsei University with a focus on higher education in the context of globalization. Her research and writings have been published not only in academic journals but also in newspapers, such as the Comparative Education Review, the Donga-Ilbo and Korea Daily Joongang Ilbo. Professor Moon obtained her Bachelor’s degree at Wellesley College and her PhD in International Comparative Education at Stanford University.
If you look at the student admission process, the US cares much more about diversity, I would say, than Korean universities as a criteria. They really value diversity. They really think diversity creates a better educational environment for students, for faculties, for the university – but that kind of mentality is largely absent in Korea, at least among the Korean academic community.
The interview was recorded on April 4th in Seoul.