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Introducing: Asia Society Summer Camp

30 children from Korean multi-ethnic families participated in the 2011 Asia Society Summer Camp program, jointly sponsored by the Asia 21 Korea Chapter and the Seoul Global Center. (Asia Society Korea Center)
by Jeff Tompkins
25 August 2011

SEOUL, August 13, 2011 — 30 children of multi-ethnic families in Korea participated in the first Asia Society Summer Camp from August 10 to August 13 at the Hyosung Training Institute.

The Summer Camp was hosted by the Asia Society Korea Center and jointly sponsored by the Asia 21 Korea Chapter (K21) and the Seoul Global Center.

K21 Members funded the program, arranged site visits and taught classes, which included the following opportunities:

  • A T-shirt making class by Eddie Suk Hyun Kang, artist;
  • A tour of the Demilitarized Zone and the 30th Mechanized Infantry division arranged by Lt. Col. Hae-il Jung;
  • A tour of the National Assembly arranged by the Honorable Ryan Jung Wook Hong, a National Assembly member;
  • A music class by You-young Kim, a world-renowned violist;
  • A tour of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology arranged by Dr. Dohyeon Kim, university professor;
  • A Korean cooking class with Sean Sea-Yeon Kim, accountant;
  • A Korean history class led by Jonathan Dong Woo Lee, CEO of bookseminar.com;
  • A talent show organized by filmmaker Wonsuk Chin.

The volunteers were provided by the Seoul Global Center. The children were divided into six teams, each of which put together a musical/theatrical performance for the talent show, held on the evening of the 12th.

Providing for the children of multi-ethnic families is a relatively new phenomenon in Korea, and poses particular challenges for the Korean government. As Korea has never traditionally been a haven for immigrants, for the most part it lacks both adequate relevant legislation or workable practical mechanisms for ensuring proper education for these children. Even when these families manage to overcome systemic hurdles, they often lack the financial resources needed to cover the high cost of education in Korea.

To help offset some of these costs, and to give greater voice to children of mixed-ethnicity families, Asia Society Korea Center established an education program and a scholarship fund in 2009 to help further their hopes and dreams of these children.

According to Dr. Kyongsoo Lho, the co-chairman of the Korea Center, "the Center seeks to enhance people's awareness of such families, create a discourse about new partnership opportunities, to embrace non-governmental approaches and to stimulate the imagination, potential and future growth — not just of multicultural children, but of Korea itself."

In this respect, the Asia 21 Korea Chapter, also known as Korea 21 (K21), has proposed a line-up of projects that include speaking engagements, youth leadership programs, and most recently, a summer camp program for the children of the multi-ethnic families in Korea. This Summer Camp has the potential to be a signature activity of the Korea 21 as well as a model for Asia 21 communities in other countries.

"The further goal for the program is to build on a highly successful base of programming, further expand such public programs drawing on Asia Society's growing networks and to leverage our global reach," said H.S. (Hyun Sang) Cho, an Asia 21 fellow and the chair of the K21, who generously provided the venue and meals for the entire program.