Kim Kyu-jeong Designs Korean History Education in Jeju

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Interview with a culture designer – Kim Kyu-jeong, a Designer for Korean History Education
Date of report: November 13, 2016 (Interviewed on November 9, 2016)
Culture reporter: Kim Na-yeong


These days, local elementary school students and their parents give high marks on unique after-school programs. One such after-school program, taught by Kim Kyu-jeong, has drawn special attention for her Korean history class. Ms. Kim has a broad range of students. She not only teaches elementary school students but also gives lectures in the preparatory program for the Korea History Certificate, which is required to be certified as a tour guide with a specialized interpretation license. Teaching children to adults, she is a proficient Korean history teacher who prepares all her lectures thoroughly. We visited one of her classes for an interview.

On the day of the interview, she gave a lesson on the story of Onjo (who is said to be the stepson of Jumong, the first king of the Goguryeo Kingdom) who left the Goguryeo Kingdom to set up a new kingdom named Baekje. What was interesting about her class was the group activity. She first explained that Jumong had left a half-split dagger to Lady Yuhwa (his first wife) when leaving her, saying that their son Yuri would visit him when he had grown up. Kim told her students that Yuri could prove their father-son relationship by presenting the other piece of the dagger. Finishing her story telling, she distributed some fake daggers that were split into two pieces to the students. Each student received a different piece; one got the hilt, another the blade. The cuts of the pieces were all different as well.


Kim then said,
“The piece you have now will determine your partner for today. You’re not supposed to create a team with your friend or anyone else you want. Instead, you should find the other piece of your dagger, and the student with the matching hilt or blade will be your partner. Please try to put the pieces together and decorate the complete dagger with your partner.”
I found her idea quite unique. I could see some of the students were introverted or had difficulties fitting in. Besides, students about that age distinguish themselves by gender, and they try to create peer groups on their own as well. Kim gave the students a moment of thrill and anticipation they could enjoy while looking for their mysterious partners. At the same time, they were assigned to complete the task that could only be done by both the partners, even when if were grouped with someone who they had not hoped to be work with. She came up with an idea where the students had to understand and accept each other and work together.
Running the after-school program, Kim wishes to teach not just historic knowledge but also how to tolerate and embrace differences. She said watching her students cooperate makes her happy and feel rewarded. Closing the interview, she expressed her will to do her utmost to help kids understand history easily by learning through enjoyable games and activities.