Holly: "Despite not being able to go to Seoul, the internship exceeded my expectations."
Over the past two years, I have eagerly been awaiting the opportunity to travel to South Korea. Despite not being able to physically travel, the CJ Cultural Foundation internship offered me a unique way to experience and learn about many parts of South Korean culture.
My appreciation for South Korean culture has grown through watching K-dramas, listening to K-pop and learning Korean. South Korean pop culture has become increasingly popular throughout the world and provided me with great comfort throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Naturally, I was very excited when the opportunity to intern with an organisation that is playing an important role in this global phenomenon came up.
Another aspect that drew me to the CJ Cultural Foundation internship was the company's core philosophy of ‘no culture, no country’, which reflects its desire to spread music and arts from South Korea across the world. Something I really like about K-pop is that the music transcends languages and there is a strong sense of community present within fandoms.
CJ Cultural Foundation, which is part of the South Korean conglomerate CJ Group, supports young creators in music, film and performances. The Cultural Foundation works closely with CJ ENM, who produced Parasite. They also host MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards), which many of my favourite artists have performed at previously.
My main research project was writing a paper on the future of music, specifically the future of concerts.
Having attended multiple online/virtual concerts over the past two years, it was a topic I was excited to delve into.
My research covered online/virtual concerts, as well as the metaverse, holograms and hybrid concerts. It was really interesting to consider not only the technical elements that need to be considered for concerts in the future, but also the importance of preserving the audience-artist connection.
Holly says she couldn’t wait to return and explore more of Asia after visiting Hong Kong in 2019
Despite not being able to go to Seoul, the internship exceeded my expectations.
My mentor was wonderful in providing me with opportunities to discuss and learn more about South Korean culture. We had several Zoom ‘culture’ talks; my favourite one being on Seollal (Korean New Year), and the chance to speak with Asia New Zealand Foundation Asia Honorary Adviser Min Heekyung, who is also the executive vice President and head of Corporate Social Responsibility for CJ. I also was fortunate to attend the annual Korean Day in Christchurch, as well as meet with Mary Yoon, President of the Korean Society of Christchurch.
Interning with a South Korean company motivated me to continue self-studying Korean, and trips to local Korean restaurants and karaoke rooms made me feel slightly closer to the cultural experiences South Korea has to offer.
Having the opportunity to intern with a distinguished company in South Korea, as well as being supported to research a topic that is close to my heart, was a wonderful opportunity. The internship has also helped me gain a much better understanding of Korean culture.
Since completing my internship, I have returned to university to study a Master of International Relations. I’d like to focus my thesis on East Asia, so I enjoyed complementing the academic aspect of my interest in South Korea with a cultural one. I feel much better equipped to use my skills internationally; after studying, I hope to live and work in Asia.
The end of my internship coincided with the chance to virtually attend another concert by Korean band BTS. This time, I was experiencing the concert with an extra layer of interest. I’m looking forward to being able to travel to South Korea to experience Korean culture and attend a K-pop concert in-person!