Korean students share experiences

Kennedy Nolen, Multicultural Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a series about international students at Eastern.

One South Korean student’s love for baseball made coming to the United States for a degree an easy choice, since the sport is America’s pastime.

Senior history major Seonghwan Kim is from the fifth largest metropolis in South Korea, called Daejeon. With a population of 1.5 million, the move from central Korea to a smaller city like Charleston in the Midwest was new, he said.

Kim said he has always been interested in Korean baseball and loves to watch different teams play American baseball games.

He has been to the newly-named Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago to see a White Sox versus Cubs game and also to Wrigley Field to see the two teams play each other.

Every professional sports team in the U.S. is good, except soccer, Kim joked.

Kim has been in the U.S. since January this year and will return to Korea this December.

“From baseball, I started to become interested in American people and culture. I think the American university system is developed well,” Kim said.

At Eastern, Kim is a member of the Korean Student Association, where he met several other Korean students.

Sung Kwan Park, a junior political science major from Seoul and the president of the KSA, said there are 22 Korean students at Eastern along with five Korean professors.

The KSA gives Korean students the opportunity to meet with one another, hang out and share their culture with American students, Park said.

He said KSA members socialize with Americans to spread their culture, share their language and cook Korean food.

This is Park’s fourth semester at Eastern. During his freshman year in the U.S., he stayed with a host family.

Something that surprised him about being in Charleston was that everyone had cars. Since he lives in a large city, he said no university students in Seoul have their own cars.

Professors in the U.S. are nice, helpful and easy to talk to, Park said.

Kim said at first the classes in America were difficult, because in Korea, students only have to complete one exam and have two large assignments.

He said he was not used to having multiple assignments worth different amounts.

Park said he chose to come to the U.S. because the political system is more similar to Korea’s than England’s, and he wanted to learn more about the historical background of American political parties.

“A lot of professors around the world come to study at major universities. I admire John F. Kennedy. He was a good president, and Abraham Lincoln,” Park said.

During one break from school, Park and couple of his Korean friends went to Las Vegas. It was the first time he gambled.

“I spent $60 on a buffet, but it was pretty damn good,” Park said.

One thing Park wishes Korea would get is a chain of Jimmy John’s shops.

“I really want Jimmy John’s in Korea,” he said.

Kennedy Nolen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].