Online intern delves into the impacts of Covid on S. Korea's film industry

Business intern Kate Falloon says undertaking an online internship with Korean entertainment conglomerate CJ Cultural Foundation gave her invaluable insights into Korean culture and a desire to return there to study. During her two-month internship, Kate investigated how the South Korean and New Zealand film industries have been affected by Covid-19.
Kate standing in a park

Kate says she fell in love with Seoul when she visited in early 2020

It’s hard to believe how quickly my time interning for CJ Cultural Foundation flew by. The past 7 weeks have passed in a happy blur of learning, researching, meetings and emails.

While it would have been incredible to have spent this time in South Korea as previous interns have done, there have undoubtedly been perks in working from home. I have certainly enjoyed being able to set my own working hours and being able to take a summer school paper while interning has been a bonus.

I was lucky enough to visit Seoul briefly at the beginning of 2020, mere weeks before Covid-19 became a global concern.

Of course, I fell completely in love with the city. Its vibrance and fast pace and love of the arts and incredible food was unmatched to anything I’d previously experienced - I think within our first few days in Seoul I was already plotting how I could come back.

Kate sitting next to a large cartoon dog sculpture

Kate: " was the most incredible opportunity to expand beyond what I’ve learnt during my degree."

I’m currently a third-year student at the University of Auckland, studying towards a Bachelor of Global Studies majoring in Global Politics, Human Rights and Korean, and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English literature.

Naturally I jumped at the Asia New Zealand Foundation opportunity to work with  CJ.

To be able to gain internship experience with a globally renowned conglomerate while also deepening my understanding of New Zealand and South Korea’s relationship and my knowledge of Korean culture; it was the most incredible opportunity to expand beyond what I’ve learnt during my degree.

Over the past month and a half, my work has focussed on the film industry and how it has been impacted by Covid-19.

One facet of CJ Cultural Foundation is their film aid programme, Story Up. This programme discovers proposals of independent screenwriters and short film directors and supports them to make their films and enter the market.

I’ve been looking in to how both New Zealand’s and South Korea’s film industries have been impacted by the pandemic and have been interviewing filmmakers both locally and abroad for their perspective of how these effects might be mitigated.

It has been truly fascinating to dig deeper into an industry that I haven’t had a great deal of experience in.

Kate and two other people on screen during an online call

Kate's work for CJ Cultural Foundation has focused on the film industry and how it has been impacted by Covid-19

Working from home can sometimes be quite isolating, however our supervisors from both CJ and the Foundation worked hard to prevent this by keeping in frequent contact and organising valuable opportunities for upskilling.

One opportunity I have particularly enjoyed is taking an online language course to improve my Korean fluency. It’s been a great way to keep up my learning in between semesters at University.

Earlier this month, the Foundation organised a meeting with Onnuri Lee, a member of the Foundation's Leadership Network based in South Korea.

Hearing from him about his career after graduating from the University of Auckland and moving to South Korea was very interesting, and he offered insight into workplace and cultural differences between the two countries.

Looking to the future, I have hopes to undertake postgraduate study in Seoul, which would ideally lead into a career in the realm of either international relations or culture and the arts.

This internship has supported me to learn more about the connections between Asia and New Zealand, to interact with industry members, and to build skills that will be a great stepping-stone to kickstart my career.