With quarantine restrictions starting to lift in South Korea, summer study-abroad programs have been gaining popularity again. Hosted by the largest universities in Korea, these summer programs offer opportunities to learn Korea’s language and culture while immersed in the heart of Seoul.
Since the late 1970s, going on a pilgrimage to Seoul on a Summer Language Program has been a right of passage for thousands of Koreans living abroad. A hugely popular way to meet fellow Koreans from around the world and reconnect with Korean culture, these summer programs are now much more open to non-Koreans and there are a plethora of programs to choose from.
Most programs range from four to six weeks and host a wide range of courses depending on students’ areas of interest. Make sure to check out program dates and registration deadlines if you are interested in participating this summer. Below are some of the best options for a summer experience in Korea you’ll never forget.
Among the most prestigious summer programs in Korea, the Yonsei International Summer School (YISS) has been operating since 1985. YISS offers a multitude of courses from the arts and humanities, economics, history, social sciences, and science and technology that students can take in tandem with Korean language and culture classes. There are also numerous openings for research and corporate internships in Korean firms that allow students to pursue professional positions while participating in the program. Located in Shinchon, Yonsei University may be the optimal place to explore the wonders of Seoul while learning from the best professors around the world.
Within Yonsei University, the Yonsei Korean Language Institute (KLI) is the oldest language institute to offer introductory Korean courses to non-native speakers. KLI also hosts a 5-week Summer Special Program and includes culture classes such as Korean cooking, pottery, Taekwondo, K-pop dance, and more. All classes are taught in Korean but all applicants are required to take a language placement test before the program begins. If you’re interested in this program, more information is available on their website: https://www.yskli.com/hp/intro/kliIntro001.do?yskliMenuNo=kliIntro001.
After watching Katrina’s five minute video about her fabulous summer at Yonsei, you’ll want to sign up immediately.
The International Summer Program (ISP) at Seoul National University is another summer program that takes place in one of the leading educational institutes worldwide. ISP is an intensive six-week program that covers various academic subjects, ranging from economics and business, engineering, life sciences, and international studies. ISP also offers enticing cultural excursions that take students to historic landmarks across the country. This program particularly emphasizes courses on Korean language and traditional arts for students who are more interested in advancing their knowledge of the country’s culture.
Here’s a video of Seoul National University’s International Summer Program (ISP) that gives insight into what the experience entails.
Korea University’s International Summer Campus is well-known for its academic prestige and diversity in courses. With unique courses in the field of law and politics, Korean and East Asian studies, as well as finance and data analytics, Korea University is another popular destination for students to delve into subjects they are passionate about. Additionally, the university also sponsors internships in the corporate business sector where students can gain experience working in the marketing, sales, advertising, public relations, or operations department of some of Korea’s largest firms.
Hanyang International Summer School (HISS) invites over 2000 students to their campus every year and offers advanced classes and immersive cultural experiences. HISS features the highest variety in their courses, including classes in art, public health, sports, media and communications that other summer programs do not currently offer.
They also highlight the plethora of activities that students can participate in, divided into K-Dynamics, K-Tradition, K-History, K-Modern and K-Culture. While other programs tend to focus on more historic and cultural sites, these excursions include both traditional and modern activities that students can choose from based on their preferences. Notably, Hanyang University also features a Winter School if that is something more accommodating to your schedule.
Check out this informational video about Hanyang University International Summer School (HISS) with specific updates on the program regarding COVID regulations. The two HISS alumni dive into details about how to apply, what to expect, and tips for getting tuition discounts.
Despite being an all-female school, the Ewha International Summer College (EISC) is open to international students all over the world. EISC was the first Korean international summer program to open in 1971 and maintains a system known as “Peace Buddy”, where Ewha Womans University students are paired with foreign exchange students to guide them through the city during their stay. The program prioritizes a small class size in all its courses and gives students an opportunity to create intimate connections with their professors. EISC is also well-known for its outstanding Korean language classes that are offered at varying levels of fluency.
The International Summer Session at HUFS was created in 2003 to bring international students with a shared interest in Korean and Asian studies together. As opposed to the programs listed above, this summer session tends to focus on courses related to Korea, including Korean culture, cinema and media, economics, and language. HUFS also features excursions to the North Korean border and historical folk villages so that students can maximize their exposure to Korean history.
More Options for a Fun and Educational Summer in Seoul
Michelle Lee is a recent UC Berkeley graduate with a BA in Political Science and Economics. She lives in the US but frequently travels to Korea to visit family. She is currently working as a paralegal at a law firm in LA and enjoys staying on top of Korean dramas and movies.