Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mayor of Seongdong-gu in South Korea visits KSU

The mayor of Seongdong-gu and a delegation of government officials and businessmen speak with students at Kennesaw State University about South Korea.

Mayor Jaedeuk Goh of Seongdong-gu talks with KSU students

KSU offers Teaching English In Korea Program to Education Students

Mayor Jaedeuk Goh of Seongdong-gu talks with KSU students

KSU offers Teaching English In Korea Program to Education Students


Jaedeuk Goh, mayor of Seongdong-gu in Seoul, South Korea, spoke to students about health care, law enforcement, fire fighting services, and water services in Seongdong-gu, a sister city to Cobb County.

Goh highlighted the differences between Seongdong-gu and Cobb County. Seongdong-gu is one of the 25 districts that make up the city of Seoul, South Korea. The small district covers a total of 6.5 square miles and is home to 310,000 people. In comparison, Cobb County covers 344.5 square miles and has a population of more than 700,000 people.

Cobb County and Seongdong-gu have been sister cities since 2007. Kennesaw State University is also partnered with Seongdong-gu through study abroad and the Bagwell School of Education.

Student Curiosity Sparks Interesting Questions

Students were curious about how Seongdong-gu differed from America. They asked the mayor about the living conditions in Seongdong-gu, the education system, taxes, and the business economy.

Goh explained that Seongdong-gu is made up mostly of small businesses rather than large corporations. Students there are required to attend six years of elementary school and three years of middle school. High school is optional and requires tuition to attend. In regards to taxes, ten percent is the base tax rate on any purchase in Seongdong-gu.

The students also inquired about his favorite American singer. He replied “Pat Boone,” a pop singer from the 1950s and 60s. The students were amused.

One student asked his honest opinion of America.

“I am not an honest man,” he said jokingly. The class laughed. He went on to explain to her that he loved America and its people.

“Even with the 10 second delay for translating, he was still able to make us laugh. It was cool,” said Lauren Fox, a student in Heeman Kim’s class.

Goh was introduced by Kim, assistant professor of communication at KSU. He was accompanied by a team of Korean government officials and business executives. Jinny Kim, a KSU graduate, escorted the delegation and served as a translator for the mayor.

“It was great that he could come. It was a very different experience.” said Fox.

Historical figure

Goh is the only mayor in Seongdong-gu to be elected for four terms in office. By law, a mayor may hold a maximum of three consecutive terms in office. Goh served for three terms then left the office for one term after which he was re-elected. He is currently serving his fourth term.

KSU offers Teaching English In Korea Program to Education Students

Since summer 2008, Kennesaw State University’s Teaching English In Korea program has been partnered with Seongdong-gu. Through the volunteer program, students are able to participate in language and cultural experiences while teaching English at elementary, middle, and secondary schools.

The program lasts six to eight weeks. Up to 10 students may travel to Seongdong-gu however, the number depends on the current need for teachers.

“It’s according to how many the school wants. This year three elementary schools in Seongdong-gu requested teachers,” said Dr. Sandy Bryan, coordinator of the Teaching English in Korea program at Kennesaw State University.

Going to Seongdong-gu costs students only $60. The government of Seong­dong-gu provides round-trip airline tickets and room and board for students who qualify to be English instructors. In a recent trip to Kennesaw State University, Mayor Jaedeuk Goh of Seongdong-gu stated that a dream of many Korean children is to speak English well.

“The Korean children love our teachers. [The teachers] spend 40 hours a week in the schools,” said Bryan, who has coordinated the Teaching English In Korea program for three years.