Bringing two cultures together – Pt. 3 with Jae-min Jung


Bringing over 60 young, talented performers after a competitive selection process, The World Association for Arts Exchange Organization (WAAEO) held their ‘Korean Artists’ Performance and Global English Leadership Camp’ from February 19th until February 26th. Their grand performance took place on February 21st at the Valley Academy of Arts and Science High School where young performers displayed wide various forms of entertainment through dance, music, arts and speech. Some of the speeches included topics on Korea’s history and the current ‘K-pop wave’, electrifying performances of taekwondo were shown, beautiful dances of ban-go and arirang were performed, and creative drawings that told a story were presented.

After the WAAEO’s show has successfully ended, K-Herald met with group leader Jae-min Jung, who came as a supervisor to the young, performing artists. The 6-feet tall leader with the looks of a K-pop idol star is currently a college student at South Korea’s Sung Kyun Kwan University, majoring in system engineering of high polymers. This was his first time volunteering for the WAAEO and getting the opportunity to come to the United States with them as a group leader. He was fortunate to attend high school in England and thanks to his completed schooling there, he didn’t have too much trouble understanding English. In the event where he first discovered that he would get a chance to meet with Americans and experience American culture in the states with the WAAEO, he expressed that he was filled with excitement and curiosity.

As Jung did not actually participate in the performances, he was strongly focused on the young American children in the audience as he watched their reactions and expressions to the performances made by the young Korean artists. “I felt certainty that being able to understand one’s culture and the real historical truth is not possible without having someone else introduce it. Especially the historical truths that involve between Korea and Japan where there are a lot of mixed opinions involved in both parties. I saw that there were a lot of surprises in the audience when they heard the real truths about some of Korea’s histories and that it wasn’t the “truth” they were familiar with.” With this being said, Jung also mentioned that this made him become even more motivated in continuing to spread the awareness of Korean culture.

Jung also has experience of being deployed in the frontline during his military service in South Korea. This comes as no surprise as two years of military service is mandatory for all men in South Korea until the conflict between the South and North Korea is resolved. “After finishing high school in England, I returned back home to Korea and got deployed right away. That’s when I truly became aware of the reality of Korea and that the patriotism and endurance of the military life was such a precious time where I was able to gain maturity.”

When asked about his future goals and plans, he replied by stating that he would continue focusing on his studies on his current major on the macromolecule system of engineering and hopes to become an international specialist in the field. “In addition to achieving my own goals, I would like to help in any way that I can to further develop the friendship and even have a fundamental role in finding solutions to resolve any misunderstandings or conflicts between Korea and the U.S.”

Yuna Hwang