On October 26, there was an election which Park Won Soon became the Mayor of Seoul. The University of Seoul (UOS) has been a big issue because of Park’s promise to cut tuition fees in half. The existing tuition fee is already half of that among other universities, but thanks to that promise, our tuition fee will be even lower! Kim Jong-min who is the president of the 47th Student Council would be delighted because he helped lead efforts to lower our tuition fees even before Park became the Mayor. He had a meeting with the Mayor Park and requested five things for UOS students. In this article, we will cover the conversations between Jong-min and the reporter about the 47th Student Council, Donggodongnak.
Donggodongnak had four main requests; Declaring against incorporation of national and public universities, freezing tuition fees, changing communication problems between staff and students at UOS positively and higher quality of festivals.
Excellent Effort to Resolve Students’ Inconvenience
First, Donggodongnak actively opposed the incorporation of public universities by participating in several rallies with other universities. They think incorporation would lead to tuition fees becoming too expensive. Also, universities would avoid investing in humanities related subjects such as liberal arts because the university may have concentrated on lucrative academics. For these reasons, the 47th Student Council put an advertisement in a newspaper (The Kyunhyang Shinmun) opposing incorporation on March 2. As well, they passed an agenda about UOS’ incorporation opposition at the Students’ General Meeting. At this meeting, about 96 percent of UOS students opposed the incorporation of the UOS. Therefore, Jong-min assembled and led a group of UOS students to rally at Seoul Station on April 9 to declare all together.
The second major activity of the Student Council was to freeze tuition fees. The UOS’ annual tuition fees increase 55 percent and it is in the top three among universities in Korea in terms of increasing tuition rate. Donggodongnak tried to keep this rate down.
There is a committee to deliberate tuition fees. Originally, the university office insisted the committee’s corporation of members would be appropriate if there are four staffs, five professors, three students, one expert and one alumnus who are selected by the President of UOS. However, Donggodongnak clamoured that the proportion of students should be higher than any other group. Therefore, it changed the corporation of members to; four professors, four students, one expert and one alumnus. Also, Jong-min made the most of his efforts to cut tuition fees in half. Before the date of the mayoral election in Seoul came, he made an agreement with Park Won Soon which would lead to the realization of the tuition fee decrease if Park was elected as the Mayor of Seoul.
Above this, there were several big issues this year. There were the Mindeulle accident (Mindeulle was the name of restaurant near the university back gate where about 30 students suffered from food poisoning,) Hwang Seoung-won’s accident and so on. Among these affairs, he impressively remembered the incident involving Seoung-won. Seoung-won had a financial difficulty so he diligently worked to earn money for his tuition fee. While working at E-mart, he died in an accident. The 47th Student Council regarded this incident as not just his problem but everybody’s problem. Jong-min thought, ‘If there was enough attention given to the situation, we could pay off Seoung-won’s 10,000,000 student loan debt.’ He was right. Students’ participation in paying off his debt made it come true. It also lightened the burden of Seoung-won’s family including his sister. Although workers including him died, organizations responsible for the incident including E-Mart and Tranekorea did not negotiate about compensation with his family. Therefore, Donggodongnak had a rally in front of E-mart for justice for his family.
Still Much to Be Desired
Though he put in a lot of effort, some of his promises suggested by him when he ran for the president of Donggodongnak remain undone.
His third promise; making a point for better communication among students and staff at UOS, has not been executed well. A direct way to communicate between them still does not exist. Therefore, we expect the next Student Council will make an effort to settle this problem.
Unfortunately, Donggodongnak also did not take care of UOS awareness among Korean high school students. He pledged he would raise UOS’ popularity by requesting the Director Office of Planning in UOS to reinforce business on the university arrangement table, which shows the level of each university and its departments. However, he could not keep this promise.
We look back at the one year of the 47th Student Council’s activities. Most of the students in the UOS community which is also called Gwangjang, applauded members of Donggodongnak because they have been working hard as previously said. The President of Donggodongnak, Kim Jong-min, said we should pay more attention to each other. He suggested students make small scale meetings. By doing so, he hopes this kind of meetings will help friends in need like Seung-won. Lastly, the reporter having an interview with him wants to say, “Thank you for your dedication to the students of UOS!”