Unification Policy Study Trip to Seoul - July 2023


This summer a group of 14 SEAS students went on a 12-day trip to Seoul, South Korea, focussed on the relationship between the two Koreas and the prospects for the re-unification of the Korean Peninsula. The trip was funded by the UniKorea Foundation and was aimed at giving students a first-hand insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the two Koreas in overcoming the inter-Korean divide.

During the trip, we visited a number of organisations and institutions engaged in work on North Korea, inter-Korean relations or in the settlement and support of North Korean refugees who have escaped and come to live in South Korea.

The South Korean Ministry of Unification

These included the South Korean Ministry of Unification, the National Assembly, human rights monitoring organisations, and NGOs that provide advice and assistance to North Korean refugees to aid their integration into South Korean society. We also had the opportunity to visit the British Embassy and meet the British Ambassador to South Korea, Colin Crooks, who previously served as Ambassador to North Korea. This was followed up by a tour of the Embassy gardens and a visit to the Embassy pub!

The National Korean War Memorial Museum

The British Embassy in Seoul

During other visits, students were able to ask questions of journalists dealing with the challenges of reporting on North Korea, have a meal at a North Korean-run restaurant, tour the National Korean War Memorial Museum and look directly at a working North Korean village and farms across the narrow river border from the Odusan Observatory. We also spent a morning chatting with students at an alternative school for North Korean refugees, before viewing some of their artwork produced in art classes.

Odusan Observatory on the North Korean Border

Visiting Liberty in North Korea

Throughout the trip we were accompanied by a North Korean refugee from the UK, who shared his perspectives on the meetings and encounters throughout the trip. The UniKorea Foundation and other organisations gave us in-depth presentations on a wide range of initiatives aimed at fostering North-South engagement, campaigning on North Korean human rights issues and giving voice to personal experiences from life in North Korea. Students engaged with experts from various fields by asking many thought-provoking questions, highlighting the complexity of the issues under discussion.

Local history tour by the UniKorea Foundation

Outside the scheduled meetings, students enjoyed exploring some of the sights of Seoul, as most were visiting Korea for the first time. We also met some SEAS graduates currently working in Seoul in various fields, who shared their experiences after completing one of our degree programmes.

Deoksugung Palace in central Seoul

At the end of the trip, students reflected on their experience through the production of a creative output, a selection of which are linked on these pages. The group were given free rein to create an output of their choosing that reflected in some way on an aspect of their learning during the trip. 

We would like to thank the UniKorea Foundation for their support in making this study trip possible and providing us with the funds for a truly memorable and life-changing experience!


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