Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea visits Rhodes University

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Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela together with the South Korea Ambassador, His Excellency Chull-joo Park. Photo cred: Bukamuso Sebata.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela together with the South Korea Ambassador, His Excellency Chull-joo Park. Photo cred: Bukamuso Sebata.

By Katlego Nkosi


Rhodes University’s international recognition was boosted last week when the South Korea Ambassador, His Excellency Chull-joo Park and administrative official, Jung In Myeong, visited Rhodes University.

“I have heard a lot of good things about Rhodes University and I wanted to come and see for myself,” declared Ambassador Park.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, Dr Kwezi Mzilikazi and Director of Internationalisation, Orla Quinlan, warmly welcomed the Ambassador upon his arrival.

"We always seek academic exchange opportunities for our students and researchers. We also want to work with universities in other parts of the world to address some wicked problems facing humanity. These problems include climate change, water insecurity, diseases, human migration, food insecurity, and much more. So, this is an opportunity for us at a higher level to engage the ambassador and then take things forward from there,” said Professor Mabizela. The Vice-Chancellor also shared some memories and impressions of Korea, which he had visited recently. 

Discussions about the higher education system in South Korea took place over lunch, which included several Rhodes University academics. Ambassador Park shared some of Korea’s history, including its colonial history, the impact of the Korean War and then its more recent success, via industry. The ambassador was asked what he believed were the factors leading to Korea's successful development. He concluded that education was the key. “If you are not wealthy in minerals and other resources, then developing your people and their skills is the way forward,” he explained. 

Deputy Dean of Commerce, Professor Lynette Louw, discussed the possibilities of having Korean industry leaders come and share insight with the staff and students at Rhodes University, which the Ambassador eagerly supported.

The International Office organised a forum for Ambassador Park to engage informally with Rhodes University postgraduate students interested in studying or teaching English in South Korea. During the discussions, it was clear that Korean film and popular culture caught the imagination of South African students. The Ambassador told the students about the extensive academic opportunities, including exchange programs and funding.

Ambassador Park said he always likes to talk to students, as they are the future. “You will soon be at the helm of everything that you criticise now,” he told the students.  

During the presentation, Ambassador Park shared that there are eight countries with whom the Korean government has an arrangement to recruit English teachers, and South Africa is one of those. He urged students to visit and experience South Korea as tourists, students or working professionals.

The Ambassador finished his visit with a short campus tour accompanied by officials from the International Office.

“It is always great when ambassadors visit us and see for themselves what we offer as a university. These visits can often be a bridge between us and the universities in their countries who may be interested in working with us,” Quinlan concluded.