New Aberystwyth–Korea link rooted in work of Welsh missionary

17 March 2015

Students from the Korea Wales International Christian School who are currently studying at Aberystwyth University, with the director of the University’s International English Centre, Rachael Davey.
Students from the Korea Wales International Christian School who are currently studying at Aberystwyth University, with the director of the University’s International English Centre, Rachael Davey.

The International English Centre at Aberystwyth University has recently formed a unique partnership with the Korean Wales Christian School near Seoul.

This unusually-named school was founded in 2008, but the link between Wales and Korea dates back to 1866, when Welsh missionary Robert Jermain Thomas spread the Protestant teachings in East Asia.

While Thomas has been largely forgotten in his native land, he is revered in Korea, and every year hundreds of Koreans make a pilgrimage to Thomas’ former home near Abergavenny.

It was this spiritual connection which first drew Daniel Sung to study in Wales. Upon his return to South Korea he was determined to strengthen the ties between the two nations.

Inspired by his Christian beliefs and his experience of British education, Daniel Sung founded the Korea Wales International Christian School (KWICS) in 2008 and is now its Principal.

According to Daniel Sung, the philosophy of KWICS is ‘whole person education’, in contrast to the typical Korean educational approach, which he considers to be overly focussed on preparing students for university entrance exams.

In addition to teaching a full academic curriculum, KWICS encourages pupils to engage in community service, international travel, artistic and musical activities.

Principal Sung’s vision is to develop school-leavers who have an ethical and global outlook, and a desire to contribute to both Korean and Welsh society.

His own experience as a student in Wales was that “the people there are warm, kind and make you feel welcome”.

Today, 12 students from KWICS school are studying at Aberystwyth University, where they find a home away from home, and have integrated successfully into the university and the local community.

Principal Sung hopes his students “can continuously go to Wales for their studies and while there, return the favour of Welsh missionary Robert Jermain Thomas by supporting and serving the local community”.

To this end, he recently sent two cellos and two violins for his students to play in St Paul’s Methodist Centre in Aberystwyth, where they are active members of the congregation.

Rachael Davey, Director of the International English Centre, visited KWICS in December 2014 to formalise the partnership between the school and Aberystwyth University through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

She said; “We’re delighted to have this link with KWICS. I was impressed by the warm welcome I received there, and by the deep sense of affinity for Wales that’s evident at the school. The students who have come to Aberystwyth from KWICS contribute very positively to both the academic and the wider community, and are a pleasure to work with.” 

KWICS staff and students are planning a visit to Aberystwyth in June, and the more students from the school are set to begin their university education at Aberystwyth in 2015, further strengthening the historical link between Wales and Korea.

The students from Korea currently studying at Aberystwyth University are Hyemin Kang (International Foundation Certificate), Juhwan Jeon (International Foundation Certificate), Woorim Kang (International Foundation Certificate), Yunseol Nam (BA Business and Management 3rd Yr), Jihye Woo (International Foundation Certificate), Yuna Bae (International Foundation Certificate), Seunghwan Cho (International Foundation Certificate), Hyosub Kim (BA International Politics 2nd Yr), Yeajin Sung (BA Film & Television Studies, 1st Year), Doohyun Lee (International Foundation Certificate), Yunjoo Lee (Target English), Nahyun Lee (International Foundation Certificate) and Yeachan Hong (International Foundation Certificate).

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Contacts

Rachael Davey
International English Centre
Aberystwyth University
rad27@aber.ac.uk / 01970 621985

Arthur Dafis
Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs
Aberystwyth University
01970 621763 / 07841979452 / aid@aber.ac.uk