Vice President for International Affairs – Dr.Hong, Jun Hyun

 

What started as an occupational interview quickly turned into an insightful conversation because of the genuine aura I received from the Vice President of International Affairs, Dr. Hong Jun Hyun.

Dr. Hong has been a professor at Chung-Ang University for 16 years, and before becoming the VP of International Affairs, he held the titles Dean of Institute of International Education, Associate Dean of Graduate School, and Chair of Department of Public Administration. Aside from the education fields, he has held many advisory positions within the government including the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Government Administration, Ministry of Education of Republic of Korea and so forth.

Currently, he is conducting research on the relationship of the central and local governments and how to achieve an ideal level of local autonomy.

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Interview:

Q.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your role here at CAU.

A.

My name is Jun Hyun Hong. I have been a professor at CAU for 16 years. I majored in Public Administration, which some people might find boring but it is very exciting to me. I am currently the Vice President of International Affairs and In my role, I strive to pave the way for the internationalization of CAU both on graduate and undergraduate levels. I also believe in the importance of taking care of international students, looking after their personal well being as well as their academic prosperity. Furthermore, I overlook the coordination of collaboration with foreign universities; as well as working to make this campus international and foreign student friendly.

 

Q.

What led you (both academically and professionally) to where you are today?

A.

Most important thing for me is God; the lord got me here. Aside from the spiritual, my desire to make education better for the next generation is why I am here today.

I feel like the current situation for students in South Korea, and probably most parts of the world, is that they are receiving education and training themselves for jobs within their residing country, but I want our students to be introduced to the global job market. Most Korean students can be a little timid, but I want them to learn about other countries and cultures, and bring themselves outside of the boxes that have been placed on them. Because Korea is becoming a more globalized and open society, and we have to strive to be world competitors. Therefore, I constantly ask myself how can I, as VP of International Affairs, help prepare our students for the globalizing world.

 

 

 

 

Q.

I am aware that you’ve studied abroad in the United States, how would you describe the experience and how has it influenced your life decisions?

A.

Back in the 1990’s, studying abroad was not a common thing to do. When I went to the United States to study abroad from 1990 to 1996, I was scared. It was the first time I had ever left home and everything was different from what I was used to in Korea. I had no friends or relatives and had to adopt to a completely new environment. And honestly, I felt discrimination from a few neighbors who at times yelled at me and made my experience a bit unsettling. But I believe that experience made me stronger and I adopted to the new environment with survival instincts.

Funny enough, at the time, my doctoral thesis was on racial discrimination, specifically residential segregation in metropolitan areas. My research led me to learn about important historical events within the United States, and with the support of my university’s faculty and staff at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I was able to conduct great research and receive the award for ‘contributing to a just society’ with the Lawrence Howard Doctoral Research Award. I was the first Asian to receive that award; and it was extra special to me because it was a symbol of my hard work and progress.

Coming back to Korea I’ve taught my students to be cautious of racial prejudice. And to look at one’s self before judging others.

 

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Q.

I am aware that you believe in the Internationalization of Higher Education, please describe that further.

A.

Internationalization of higher education is very important. Aside from the value of understanding new countries and cultures, today’s job market is no longer limited to one country, and boundaries are expanding. If you look at big Korean companies, you will find that most of them have exported their businesses overseas and have a non-Korean workforce in those countries. This means that students should prepare themselves for vast working environments and not always depend on domestic companies and jobs but have the option of going abroad. And in order to ensure their preparation for the global job markets and ease mobility, I believe that Korean education should be modified to prepare students for jobs abroad.

Q.

Describe your current research and the results you hope to find?

A.

My research is on intergovernmental relations. The relationship between central and local governments. I am hoping to find the answer to what is the most desirable level of local autonomy. Although South Korea started its local autonomy system 21 years ago, we are still in the premature stages compared to countries with longer history local autonomy such as the United States and Great Britain. I have been watching the local government for nearly 20 years and have held advisory positions for committees. This has helped me a great deal throughout my research as I strive to find empowerment for local governments and a level of autonomy.

 

Q.

What are your personal/professional goals while being at CAU and what do you hope to see of this University?

A.

I have been in my position for the last four years and in my department I was involved in the making of international collaborative programs. Because I believe the next generation needs contexts in the global environment. I really want my university to be one of the best for internationalization and globalization in Korea. This might be the university’s goal, but it is also my personal goal.

 

Q.

Anything else you’d like to add?

A.

My ultimate goal is to make this university internationalized and for it to be foreigner friendly. You might have noticed that although we have many exchange students, much of our campus is still only Korean in terms of signs for directions, announcements, events, and so forth, but I want it to be more bilingual; not only for the familiarity it would bring foreign students, but also for the Korean student who might not get the opportunity to travel abroad for various reasons, including familial and economic inabilities. I want them to walk on to campus and feel as if they are studying abroad. That is my ideal and eventual vision for this campus.

Additional Question: How accessible is studying abroad to CAU students?

  • Not full enough, but we have ample opportunities. We have 500 university partners around the world and we receive about a 1000 exchange students but only send around 400. Although there are many chances to go, we do not have many Korean students wanting and/or being able to study abroad. One of the tasks to myself is finding ways to motivate domestic students to go abroad. And I am always looking for suggestions.
  • What I have noticed is that this generation wants to be stable. I have a daughter who is currently in college and I sense that she, along with much of her age group, think a stable condition is a safe one but if we live like that, we can lose out on many things.

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Q.

What can we, as exchange students, do to make this campus better?

A.

On average, international/exchange students are more outgoing than their Korean peers because it is almost embedded in the Korean culture to be introverted; that coupled with the fear of daring to speak a foreign language, discourages Korean students from approaching international students. I have even noticed in the courses I teach that if I have one or two exchange students, neither groups talk to each other. So if it is possible, international students can approach Korean students. I don’t mean to burden you, because I understand that it is easier for international students to stick with other international students and Koreans with other Koreans, but this is a challenge to you to get out of your comfort zone for the greater purpose of cultural exchange and vast knowledge attainability.

 

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