To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Korea-Japan Secondary School Educators’ Exchange Program special symposium and workshop event s were held in Korea, which included the attendance of teachers of social studies from the two countries. Under a theme of the future of Korea and Japan, based on an educational perspective, the symposium was co-organized by SNU’s Institute for Japanese Studies and In-Service Training Center for Education (October 23). In addition, the workshop gathering, which focused on the outlook for Korea-Japan education, included the attendance of mainly previous participants of the exchange program, on October 24. As part of a congratulatory dinner, the attendees listened to an evaluation by the Institute of the results of a survey of exchange program participants, which had been conducted in August and September 2009. (The homepage of the Institute for Japanese Studies includes details about the survey findings.) A video with highlights of the exchange program, since its launch in 2000, was shown at the dinner event, as well.Role of Education
The symposium and workshop events included the attendance of 14 Japanese secondary school teachers, of such subjects as history, geography, and civics, along with 12 Korean teachers and seven researchers, who participated as paper presenters and discussants. The participants from Japan were selected from among former participants of the exchange program, mainly involving social studies teachers and education administrators, who had submitted an application to attend these gatherings, which contributed to a kind of “reunion” atmosphere.
The symposium event was also attended by the visiting delegation of 18 Japanese teachers, as part of this year’s exchange program. About 50 Korean and Japanese teachers, in total, attended the two-day event, along with education researchers, to share their experiences and thoughts about education through in-depth discussion. The presentations focused on two major themes: education’s role in Korea-Japan relations and ways to deal with bilateral issues through social studies classes. The presenters introduced actual cases of classroom instruction and the role of education in regard to these themes. They also described how their personal experiences from the exchange program have been applied to the teaching of their students.
The fundamental goals of the symposium and workshop proceedings were to assess the results of the KF Korean Studies Work shop for Japanese Educators, thus far, and to discuss suggestions for improving the program’s overall effectiveness. Groups of 20-25 Japanese teachers of social studies have been invited to visit Korea, for a two-week stay, on an annual basis, since the program’s launch in 2000. As such, the aggregate number of Japanese participants now amounts to more than 200. Although initiated by the Korea Foundation, the program has now established itself as a key social contribution project of the Institute for Japanese Studies of Seoul National University. The Institute thus organized the symposium and workshop, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the exchange program, in an effort to evaluate and confirm the significance of this program, which has required a substantial investment of financial and manpower resources, and also to adjust its objectives, in response to today’s social circumstances.Era of ‘Social Relations’
There have been significant changes in the domestic and international situation surrounding Korea and Japan since the commencement of this exchange program in 2000. In addition, 2010 will mark the centennial of Japan’s annexation of Korea. Since the early 2000s, the relations between Korea and Japan have entered a new phase thanks to a dramatic increase i n private-level exchanges, along with the emergence of common issues and challenges that transcend nation-state interests, as a result of globalization trends. The two countries’ perception of history, however, has yet to be properly addressed because it is intertwined with the historic attitudes of their own peoples. In fact, this situation has come to be known as a kind of “history war,” which often flares up over territorial claims. Therefore, it is necessary to lay a solid foundation through steady growth in mutual understanding, rather than simply showing short-term results, while squarely facing up to history-related matters, and at the same time creating more opportunity to identify common social challenges and to promote cooperative efforts for their resolution. Through the presentations at the symposium and workshop gatherings, I could confirm specific efforts in this regard and also see the exchange program’s ability to contribute to this trend, to a certain extent. The moderator of a discussion, Jang In-seong, SNU Professor of the Department of International Relations and Vice-Director of the Institute for Japanese Studies, aptly summed up this recent trend as a noticeable shift from “historical relations” to “social relations” between Korea and Japan.
This exchange program for educators constitutes an especially meaningful project of the Institute for Japanese Studies, which strives to include the public’s interests in its research work,
based on people-to-people interaction. Designated as an institute for Humanities Korea (HK) projects by the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Institute has been fulfilling its mission of establishing itself as an international center for research on contemporary Japanese society. It is a fundamental task of HK projects to integrate public input and academic scholarship through close communication with society, while focusing its research efforts on contemporary Japanese society.
In this sense, the 10th anniversary of the exchange program has been an ideal occasion to publicize the vision of the Institute for Japanese Studies, and the efforts to promote Korean Studies in Japan. I thus hope that future endeavors of the Institute will broaden the horizon of public service through interaction with various peoples beyond national boundaries. Finally, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Korea Foundation for its steadfast support and all the other organizations and people who have also rendered assistance.