Students Gain Hands-on Media Production Experience During Study Abroad in South Korea

Professor Cheong viewed through the lens of a camera during one of his lessons.

Professor Cheong viewed through the lens of a camera during one of his lessons.

Students traveled to Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea, this summer for an intensive tutorial in media production taught by award-winning Brooklyn College Department of Television and Radio Adjunct Associate Professor Young Cheong ’00 M.F.A. Media Production and Cultural Studies in South Korea is a 20-day class in which students are introduced to the fundamentals of electronic media creation through the lens of Korean culture and hands-on fieldwork. The course was created three years ago by Cheong, who serves as the program director.

“Having been born and raised in South Korea and educated at Brooklyn College with New York, the world’s media capital, as a backdrop, I’m in a unique position to see and understand both sides,” said Cheong. “And I thought a study abroad program would give American students the chance to examine genuine, traditional Korean culture as well as the equally dynamic, newer aspects of the culture.”

Cheong’s class is made up of two sections. Before traveling to South Korea, students are given a crash course in media production in Brooklyn. This allows Cheong to assess their abilities before they hit the ground running in South Korea. Once there, the students are instructed on the use of the latest technology and divided into groups. They are then partnered with students from Dongguk to come up with topics that they analyze for similarities and differences between American and Korean cultures. They then present those findings in narrative video form.

Gail Bier, senior director of International Education and Global Engagement, joined students and faculty on the trip in order to better assess the program’s rigor and value.

“It’s easy to misunderstand how much work our faculty members do for international education programming unless you’re there on site,” said Bier. “They are incredibly dedicated to our students. They are great mentors and great teachers.” She added, “What the South Korea media production course does exceptionally well is integrate the local students from Dongguk into the program, which creates an opportunity for collaboration where the students work to overcome obstacles such as language to produce a polished and successful final project.”

Junior Raven Wilson heard about the Study Abroad Program in South Korea from a friend who participated last year and suggested she sign up. A member of the Brooklyn College Korean Culture Club, Wilson became interested in Korean culture through the global phenomenon of K-pop (Korean pop), a highly stylized form of South Korean popular music. Mesmerized by the dancing she saw in the k-pop music videos, Wilson, a trained dancer who stopped performing due to an injury, was immediately hooked.

The students pose for a selfie in a peaceful area on arrival in Seoul, South Korea. Junior Raven Wilson is seated in the center.

Wilson, who is double majoring in communication and theater production, and works an assistant at the college, knew the opportunity to study in South Korea was too good to pass up. The cost of Wilson’s trip was largely covered by the $2,000 she received from the Furman Fellows Program Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship.

“The biggest obstacle was the cost of travel, and the Furman Scholarship covered that and then some,” said Wilson, who had never been to South Korea.

Wilson’s project involved a comparative study of hip-hop culture in New York and Seoul. She and her classmates filmed interviews with New Yorkers and residents of Seoul to determine how each interpreted hip-hop, and whether there was any overlap, or if the forms were distinct based on geography.

“One of the questions we asked during the interviews is ‘What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you here the phrase hip hop?’ The answers were vastly different, but at the same time, similar,” Wilson said. “When we were in New York, many of the responses were ‘fashion,’ ‘New York,’ and ‘style.’ But when we got to Seoul, one of the most consistent answers was ‘black people.’ All of the responses in New York ultimately culminate in that one answer we received in Seoul. Because all of those things, from our view, in the context of hip-hop culture, were created or inspired by black people.”

A bonus was that Professor Stuart MacLelland ’87 M.F.A. happened to be in South Korea at the same time as the students working on a separate project and visited with the students to give them some pointers on interviewing techniques. Wilson appreciated the professor’s visit, as well as an optional side trip she took to Tokyo, Japan.

“A good thing that came out of the trip to Japan was that I started dancing again,” Wilson shared. “I took an amazing dance class there which reignited my passion for the art form.”

Cheong said he looks forward to the next program, which will take place in the summer of 2017. “I’m anxious to teach more students who will be able experience the dynamic culture of South Korea.”

For more information about Brooklyn College study abroad programs, be sure to attend the next Study Abroad information Session, Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 1– 2 p.m., 1108 Boylan Hall.

 

Contact: Ernesto Mora | 718.951.6377 | emora@brooklyn.cuny.edu