(Waseda University, Faculty of Commerce~ exchange student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)
I came to Korea as an exchange student from Waseda University at the end of August this year.
The reason why I decided to study abroad in Korea was because I wanted to get to know Korea better. When i was in high school started to listen to KPOP and became interested in Korea. While studying about Korea, I learned that there is a dark history between Korea and Japan and that it appears as a history recognition problem of today's Japan and Korea. But on the other hand, there has been exchange between Japan and the Korean Peninsula for thousands of years that made both countries had a great influence on each other. How could you ignore such a neighbor country, South Korea? I came to think that two countries will overcome the walls of history and cooperate with each other in the future. To that end, I think that young people who will be the next generation in the future need to take action.
I started to think about how I could contribute to build friendship between Japan and Korea. The answer that came to my mind was "to know Korea". I think that the big cause of the deterioration of the relationship between Japan and South Korea is that "both parties do not know the partner". Because I do not know the other person well, when there is a difference in my way of thinking, I will see the opponent as an "enemy". Therefore, the first thing we need to do to improve relations between Japan and Korea is to positively communicate, know the differences between each other and accept them. From that point you will be able to find a way of improving the relations between Japan and the ROK. Having this on my mind I decided to study abroad and at the same time, do an internship where I could contribute, even in a small way, to connect both countries and improve their relations.
There are two activities that I am mainly involved with. Supporting volunteer activities for the program "multi-cultural symbiosis" designed for Korean middle and high school students and management of the Korean classroom in Seoul. During the "multicultural symbiosis" program, we work with Korean middle and high school students. By communicating with them, we learn how students are living in school and what kind of things are popular among them. As for the operation of Korean classroom, we have many opportunities to talk with Japanese students and Korean teachers while supporting classes.
Upon entering the university, I have been interacting with Korean international students at Japanese universities. However, my image of Korea changed a lot when I actually came to study here. I also got the chance to know trends in people's thinking and behavior, sometimes I even feel something strange as "different from myself", but I always feel thankful to the Korean people who are warm and open about their feelings.