Please Read Carefully

So don’t get me wrong. I write about KGSP on this blog because I know it’s confusing. Even I was confused and I speak English as a native speaker.

And the people who ask questions here basically ask good ones. You guys are doing the work by coming here in the first place, and I respect that.

So please forgive me for taking a moment to vent…

Theoretically speaking there are no good or bad questions in the world… BUT…

At the very least I wish that some people would thoroughly read the KGSP guidelines before asking questions. (Again not here… Mostly on f*ceb**k).

It would also be really nice if people on fa**bo** would read other people’s past questions before posting their own.

I understand the feeling that you must get everything exactly right, and the desire to get answers quickly. But on **ce**ok I’m not going to answers questions that I or someone else have answered before.

(But to reanswer some FAQs from there… “Faculty” (in the place where you write the university and department you are applying to) is not a faculty member/professor, it is a division of the university (above department). For example I am Yonsei University/GSIS/Global Studies. GSIS is my faculty, Global Studies is the department. And the second FAQ is about the top part of the checklist where it says “Institute of Application/ Confirmer,” you don’t have to write anything there. And finally, the “Research Proposal” is not for regular Master’s or PhD candidates. It’s only for the research scholarship. If you do not know how to fill it out, you shouldn’t be applying for it.)

So, yeah…

In Kyoto, Japan at Kiyomizu Temple there is a shrine dedicated to love and matchmaking. At this shrine there are two rocks. It is said that if you can walk from one rock to the other with your eyes closed, then you will be able to find your true love. It is also said that if you require help from someone to do it then you will also need help from someone in finding love.

I feel like this process is the same. I really wonder if some people are really ready for a graduate program if they can’t find the answers to the most basic questions themselves.

Again there are plenty of mysteries regarding KGSP, and tons of valid questions, and lots of individual circumstances. “Please tell me how to apply for this scholarship” is not one of them…

FAQ ~ Where will I study Korean?

If you are selected for KGSP, and do not yet have TOPIK 5 or 6, you may be curious about where you will study Korean for your language year.

The answer is not so easy.

The first thing that I can say is that you will not study Korean in the same region as your degree school. This is definite. They do this on purpose so that you can experience different parts of Korea.

Personally, I think this is a good thing. Different parts of Korea have different dialects and cuisine etc, so getting to know them is enriching for you as a Korean traveler. Another advantage, especially for those ending up in Seoul, is that whatever region you end up in is likely to be cheaper to live in than Seoul. A year to save up is not a bad thing.

Of course if you already have a home someplace in Korea (like me), or you have a spouse somewhere in Korea (like me) this may not be the most convenient arrangement. I was lucky in that I am still close to where my husband is, so I can go home for weekends if I choose, but I may just be lucky (or they may have done it on purpose. I don’t know.)

The next thing I can say is that you cannot choose where you will study Korean, nor can you change schools once they have decided for you. You can’t do it, it doesn’t happen, end of story.

So then what are the possible places you could be sent?

The answer to this question varies by year.

This year (2014 selectees) there are ten schools, but last year (2013 selectees) there were twelve schools. In addition to a reduction of the number of schools, there were also some changes to the schools.

They can be broken down roughly into 5 regions. Seoul, Northern Region, Central (West) Region, South Western Region, and South Eastern Region. (The colors below refer to the map at the bottom.)

  • Seoul/Red – These three universities were used for 2013 selectees, but for 2014 there are no schools in Seoul proper.
    • Kyunghee University (2013)
    • Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) (2013)
    • Sungkyunkwan* (There are Seoul and Suwon campuses. Suwon is just south of Seoul.) (2013)
  • Northern Region/Blue
    • Inha University, Incheon (2013/2014)
    • Kangwon National University, Chuncheon (2014)
    • Hallym University, Chuncheon (2013)
  • Central (West) Region/Green
    • Sunmoon University, Asan (2013/2014)
    • Chungnam National University, Daejeon (2013/2014)
    • Pai Chai University, Daejeon (2014)
  • South Western Region/Orange
    • Jeonju University, Jeonju (2013/2014)
    • Chonnam University, Gwangju (2013/2014)
  • South Eastern Region/Purple
    • Keimyung University, Daegu (2013/2014)
    • Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan (2014)
    • Dongseo University, Busan (2014)
    • Silla University, Busan (2013)
    • Pusan National University (2013)

On the map below you can see approximately where everything is. The highlighted areas are special designated metropolitan areas. These are Korea’s bigger cities (Seoul is pink, Incheon is blue, Daejeon is green, Gwangju is yellow/orange, Daegu is the inland purple, and Busan is the coastal purple). The stars are smaller cities.

You’ll notice that even when they’ve changed schools, they’ve generally added a school in the same general area, for every school they’ve taken away (with the exception of Seoul).

Map courtesy of Wikipedia

As for how they choose which schools to send people to, that is a mystery. One thing you will notice is that none of the old, well established schools are on the list; such as Yonsei, Korea U, SNU, Sogang, Ehwa, etc. Part of the goal of KGSP is not only to raise the level of Korean among foreigners, but to also raise the level of Korean language education in Korea. Well established language programs have little trouble filling spots, and can constantly work on improving their programs with student feedback and results. Smaller programs like the ones KGSP uses need more help. Beyond that, I’m not sure what motivates NIIED to drop one school, keep another, and add yet another. The group of schools for 2015 and beyond may be similar, or totally different, but they will probably be in the vicinity of existing schools.

What if I don’t live in my home country?

This was my biggest concern when I applied.

The official KGSP information includes a handy dandy FAQ… which either didn’t address, or didn’t fully answer most of the questions I had. Useful right? (To be fair it probably will clear up a lot of your questions, but may leave you with others.)

So there is one question in it that does address people who do not live in their home country.

16. I am Japanese but I am working in Vietnam. May I apply for the program through the Korean Embassy in Vietnam?

Perfect. I am American but I was working in Japan, so what do they say?

Sorry, but you can’t. You should apply for the program through the Korean Embassy in Japan. In addition, the Korean diplomatic missions of the countries where scholarships are not available are not empowered for selection of the candidates of the program.

That’s pretty good, and it is certainly the correct answer.

If you live in a country that is not your home country then you have two choices. You can apply through a designated university, or you can apply through the embassy in your home country. (So, basically the same two choices as everyone else…)

The basic assumption of the universities is that you aren’t in Korea (and all the better if you are in Korea), so beyond that the universities don’t care where you are. No matter what your country is or where you are in the world, you can apply through a designated university. (That is assuming your country has a “university quota” and you should check this.)

Regarding the embassy application, however, you should probably confirm with your embassy that it will be okay. Most things shouldn’t be a problem, but my concern was interviews.

I had found a lot of different experiences from past applicants about interviews. Some said they got called by the embassy. Some said they were never interviewed. Yet other people said they were forced to travel halfway across their country to go to an interview in person. This last one was the thing that worried me. If my country absolutely required an in person interview (and usually with very little notice) then that was not going to be possible.

This was when I called the Korean Embassy in Washington, DC. They said they couldn’t answer my question because I don’t live in Maryland, Virginia, or any other state in their jurisdiction. (For any country other than the USA you don’t have to worry about this issue. The embassy is the only place in your country that you can apply.)

So, I called the Korean Consulate in New York City (because my parents live there, and I have a New York driver’s license). They weren’t exactly sure what to do with someone living abroad (and told me to call NIIED), but by that time I had decided that if the Atlanta consulate was in charge of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, then an in person interview was probably not going to be an issue for USA candidates.

I ended up applying through the consulate in New York (if you are from the US and living abroad, go with whatever state your parents live in as your local residence, or if you have any other way to establish residence in the US). I also sent a copy of my New York license to show that I did in fact have a reason to be applying there. Overall, New York was pretty laid back. DC was less friendly…

But again, if you are from a country other than the USA  and are living abroad, you should check with the Korean Embassy in your own country yourself. There are embassies that have more strict policies regarding who can apply, and there is at least a possibility that they would require you to come for an interview in person. In this case, you would probably be forced to apply through a designated university if your country has a university quota.

NIIED cannot keep track of each country’s policies so I guess their answer in the FAQ is as complete as it can be. (Which brings up another important issue. Regarding application issues, you should contact a first selection institution (embassy or university) because NIIED will not answer most of those questions.)