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Interning in Pohang, South Korea

This summer I have the opportunity to intern in Pohang, South Korea. I have worked primarily under two under Regent Graduates who now teach at Handog International Law School (HILS), Professor Collier and Professor Mundy.

Along with teaching, Professor Mundy runs a NGO called the Women’s Hope Center. The Hope Center provides in-client (women who stay in the Center’s housing) and out-client support for women who need help. Whether women are escaping abuse, trying to get back on their feet, or are pregnant and do not have any other support, the Hope Center works to provide not only financial support, but job placement, education, and counseling from a Christian perspective. One of the centers primary demographics, especially for in-client support is young pregnant women.

The center is one of the few (maybe only) Christian crisis pregnancy centers in Korea. Even though abortions are illegal in Korea, they are still widespread and very common. Since the Korean culture is a shame-based culture, even Christian families often encourage their daughters to get an abortion rather to save the family from suffering public shame. The Hope Center works to show that even the women feel they cannot raise a child, other options like foster care, adoption or 24-hour babysitting are still feasible options.

For those that stay in-home, there are certain requirements such as budgetary restrictions and church participation. Every week I get to sit in and participate in the Hope Center meetings, and it has been humbling to see how hard they all work and sacrifice to make a difference.

My research this summer for the Hope Center has been to research and write a paper, which will be turned into a pamphlet, about how U.S. citizens may adopt Korean children legally and get them U.S. citizenship. Korea is very nationalistic, nearly every Korean you meet will be 100% Korean, and all will claim to be. Accordingly, they are very protective apprehensive about letting foreigners adopt their children or gaining citizenship. The pamphlet will work to explain complex law in a simple fashion to Americans who contact the Center, or other places the pamphlet will be distributed, so they can make an educated choice if adoption from Korea is right for them.

As abortion moves towards legalization in Korea, hopefully a pamphlet that lets people navigate the adoption process will make the prospects of adopting from Korea less daunting and will allow for more adoptions. By encouraging and making the path to adoptions easier, these young women will see they can still give their children a good life and alleviate a lot of the family pressure.
I work with two other Co-workers, the counselor Grace and office manager Wade. Both have been extremely welcoming to me. They have taken me out to try new Korean foods and even prepared food for me as well. Wade and I have also taken up table tennis once a week after work as well. To be able to help a center work to save lives and rescue young women in such an apparent way, with such great people, has been a blessing and an opportunity I am truly grateful for.

I have also been able to learn and explore much more about Korea. I lived in Korea previously for a year. Before I lived near Seoul and while I got to experience Korean culture, Seoul is still very Westernized. In Pohang, I have gotten to see more traditional temples and food, and have had a more traditional Korean experience.

Along with the Women’s Hope Center I have two other projects. The first is with Professor Collier, a Regent Law School graduate, who now teaches and Handong International Law School (HILS).
I am doing research on the massive Chinese infrastructure plan called “One Belt One Road” and the developmental and legal consequences that will arise from it for Mongolia and Korea. Professor Collier is working on a paper about the project and my research memo will help lay the foundation for him to write his paper. It has been a unique challenge. It is a topic that I had not heard of prior to coming to Korea. Basically, the Chinese hope to spend over a trillion dollars on infrastructure projects throughout Asia and Eastern Europe to link them into trading zones and increase connectivity between them. With this massive project, the Chinese look to pursue economic as well as geopolitical goals. This project will likely be around 25-30 pages when finished.

The other project is with one of the Korean professors at HILS, Professor Won. He is writing a chapter in a book about issues of law faced by different countries around the World. He is a Korean international law expert and has been chosen to write the section on Korea. He has had me find sources and research issues such as human rights offenses, the justification behind the Korean war, and rights of P.O.W.S.

Both these projects have been extremely interesting, and life outside of the internship has been great as well. I would encourage all future students to do this internship, especially those hoping to pursue law internationally. The research topics are all relevant and the teachers are incredibly knowledgeable on the topics. For instance, Professor Won had me read nearly the whole Geneva Convention and then helped talk me through how it applied specifically to the Korean War.

-Sam Kane

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice intern.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.