SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Korea Bizwire) – International students hailing from ASEAN member countries think South Koreans and their country are “friendly”, “kind”, “hardworking” and “difficult”, according to a joint survey conducted by the ASEAN-Korea Centre and the Korean Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
From March to May, the two organizations spoke to 1,004 South Koreans between the ages of 25 to 35 and 320 of the aforementioned students in an effort to reveal the opinions that each group had about the other.
South Koreans’ words to describe ASEAN countries and citizens were found to be significantly influenced by economics and travel. Words like “developing country”, “prices” and “foreign laborers” were common, as well as words like “tourism” and “vacation”.
Both groups were found to have positive inclinations towards the South Korea and ASEAN relationship, as 61.8 percent of South Koreans described the relationship as “average”, while 27.9 percent said it was “good”. This was reversed amongst their counterparts; 61.2 percent of ASEAN respondents selected “good”, while 20.8 percent chose “average”.
The positive vibes carried over to observations on the future. ASEAN students exhibited greater optimism, with 82 percent rating the South Korean and ASEAN relationship in the future to be “good” or “very good”, while 64.2 percent of South Korean students answered likewise.
Responding to the question, “What are the most important issues pertaining to the South Korea and ASEAN relationship?”, there was some overlap in the answers. In order of most to least important, South Koreans named international marriages, economic cooperation, and migrant labor. ASEAN students also mentioned migrant labor, but overall placed economic cooperation and tourism before it in importance.
The survey included questions answered by ASEAN students only. When asked to name the most important reason for choosing to study in South Korea, 46.9 percent named “scholarships or other economic reasons”. Other commonly chosen answers were: “curiosity and a feeling of familiarity with South Korea” (27 percent), “recommendation by a family member or friend” (9.6 percent), “for post-university career purposes” (6.8 percent) and “excellent major or educational quality” (5.6 percent).
Over half of all students responded that they were satisfied with studying abroad in South Korea (53.7 percent), while 27 percent responded with “average”, and only 5 percent said their experience was “bad” or “very bad”.
South Korea also won high marks for being a trustworthy country. Nearly 70 percent rated South Korea to be a trustworthy country, with 23.6 percent responding with “average”.
Interestingly enough, men were found to gain a more positive image of South Korea after they set foot in the country compared to women. When asked “How has your perception of South Korea changed from before you arrived?”, 63 percent of men disclosed that their perception had become more positive, and only 7.6 percent said it had gotten worse. On the other hand, 39.7 percent of women responded that their perception had improved, while 24 percent said the opposite.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)