Walking through the streets of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is entering a global city. At nightfall, the high rise buildings are coloured with giant screens and flashing lights and the streets lined with a mix of Korean and Western influence from local vendors selling live octopus to Taco Bell and more.
Our cultural tour of Seoul took us from the temples of the Gyeongbokgung Palace to exploring local markets. The Palace and Museum offered insight into the Choson Dynasty with modest design and detailing with a mountainous backdrop. Traditional Korean Marketplaces like Gwangjang sold everything from fruit and vegetables and Korean ‘pizza’ to a fresh assortment of meats and fish. We also took a trip to Seoul Tower with panoramic views over the city from 200m above.
Our media visits painted a picture of the Korean media landscape from popular networks like Chosun Daily, KBS and JBTC to inspiring non-for profit organisation Newstapa. We were also fortunate to visit Medicom, the number one PR agency in South Korea that works with clients like Samsung, L’Oreal and LG.
Other visits included the Korean Press Foundation and the Korea Foundation that offered insight into Korea’s place in the world. Our visit to the Korean Tourism Organisation highlighted the upcoming Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2018. We had the opportunity to dress in the traditional Korean hanbok and treated to a lunch of bibimbap. We had the chance to visit Yonsei University and exchange ideas with Korean media students about academic culture and how they view the media.
Additionally, we were fortunate to meet with the Australian Ambassador at the Australian Embassy in Seoul who answered our questions about the strong relationship between Australia and the greater Asia-Pacific region.
In our final days, we visited the National Assembly and were able to learn about the operations of the Korean Parliament. We also took a tour of one of Hyundai’s factories in the countryside and were impressed by the progressive factory operations.
Overall this trip offered an incredible insight into Korea and solidified my appreciation of Korea as a nation essential to the fabric of the Asia-Pacific region. Despite often being overshadowed by its neighbours, South Korea is an increasingly powerful nation that cannot be ignored.
The home of diverse and progressive media, technological innovation from corporations such as Samsung and Hyundai, vibrant nightlife and a distinct culture and history, South Korea definitely deserves its place in the global arena as one of the world’s most fascinating countries.
I would like to thank KACS and our sponsors for their incredible hospitality and every opportunity we were given from taking this trip. I strongly encourage future media students to apply for this scholarship as it has taught me so much about the world and reinforced the significance of the Asia-Pacific region for Australia.