Sungkyunkwan University Korean Language Program Review

Detailed Information

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) is a highly-regarded university where Korea’s historical academic tradition converges with all the demands of a modern university. Located alongside the famous University Street (Daehangno) in northern Seoul, SKKU’s Korean program is fairly low-key and a little different. The university has a second technical campus in Suwon, but this review will focus on their Seoul campus.

 

Key Links

 

Affordability

SKKU’s Regular Program has six sessions per year, so each session is only 8 weeks rather than the usual 10. Whilst the shorter semesters may provide some more flexibility for your own scheduling, classes each day are slightly longer.

  • Regular Program (200hrs, Mon-Fri 9am-2.50pm) – 1,600,000 KRW/ term + 60,000 KRW

 

If you plan on completing multiple levels, SKKU allows you to finish six levels within a single year, as opposed to a year and a half.  The course is also slightly more affordable than the universities in Sinchon (Yonsei, Ehwa, Sogang).

 

Location and Housing

SKKU is located in Hyehwa-dong and serviced by Hyehwa station on Subway Line 4. The subway exits onto University Street (Daehangno) – actually named after the former campus of Seoul National University which still operates a hospital there.

Whilst many rave about the location of the universities near Hongdae in Seoul’s west, SKKU’s central location has plenty to offer. Notably, it is within arm’s reach of many of Seoul’s iconic landmarks including the beautiful Changgyeonggung Palace, Dongdaemun, Insadong, Bukchon Village, Gwanghwamun, and Gyeonbuk Palace.

Although the area’s reputation as a student hotspot has waned in recent years, the location is actually great if you want to be near Seoul’s cultural heart without the crowds associated with ‘hip’ areas such as Hongdae or Gangnam. There are still plentiful choices for food, drinks, and cafes, as well as the most famous theatre district in Seoul. What’s more, Naksan Park is a calm getaway ascending behind Daehangno where you can follow fragments of the old city wall and reward yourself with great views of the metropolis below.

Although its central location pushes up the cost of housing in the area, there are plenty of officetels and student housing available. A basic one-room in the area will cost around 500,000 – 700,000 KRW/ month with 5,000,000 – 10,000,000 KRW key money. Cheaper options are available, but would generally be in hasukjips or goshiwons – see more about housing in Korea here.

 

Reputation and Content

SKKU is almost as esteemed in Korea as the big three SKY universities in Korea, but arguably boasts a richer history as it claims to continue the legacy of the Joseon-era education institute of the same name established in 1398!

In recent years, a partnership with Samsung has allowed the university to invest in flashy new facilities and improve access to educational resources. However, the Korean language program is still fairly unknown and rather small in comparison to other universities’. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as those who have attended SKKU’s program tend to praise the fact that they are part of smaller classes and a more tightly-knit foreign student body.

The curriculum itself is one of the more balanced programs in terms of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. This is in part due to the longer classroom hours allowing various modules to be taken every day; including conversation-focused speaking and cultural classes, listening, reading, and grammar/writing classes. While naturally varying from class to class, teachers at SKKU generally encourage individual students to actively engage, which cannot be said to be typical of all Korean language programs’ approach.

 

Atmosphere

Due to its dedicated building slightly off-campus you may at times feel quite removed from the university proper. However, this means you are likely to become very close with the students and teachers at the language school, although limited in your opportunities of meeting local Korean students.

The student body is almost majority Chinese, many of whom are seeking the language requisites to enter SKKU, with the next largest representation being Japanese. The remainder come from rather diverse backgrounds, with several European and British institutions sending Korean Studies students here under a partnership. As only the minority are English native speakers, an added bonus is that the environment is very conducive to adopting Korean as a lingua franca among classmates both in and outside of class.

Exploring the many cafes, restaurants, bars, or noraebang, in the Hyehwa area will mean there are no obstacles to bonding with classmates. You may find yourself heading up towards the main campus as well, especially since alongside the state of the art facilities are the centuries-old buildings from original Joseon-era university, accessible for anyone to stroll and relax in.

 

Opportunities

It is difficult to gauge the opportunities offered at SKKU. While its strong reputation around Korea will help when later applying for jobs within Korea, SKKU’s fairly overlooked Korean language program means that there will not be as many opportunities for TV appearances, university clubs or activities, or internships that are available at the major Korean programs such as Yonsei. In any case, you can always start researching opportunities here.

 

Asia Options Verdict

In short, we rate SKKU very highly and consider it a hidden gem among Korean language programs in Seoul.

Although somewhat distanced from other universities, its location is central and a superb entry point for discovering Seoul, but admittedly not as dynamic as the known nightlife hotspots of Seoul.

SKKU’s course is relatively affordable and is structured as a shorter but more intensive term, with a balanced curriculum.

Although Koreans regard SKKU very highly, extra-curricular opportunities are limited when compared to larger university programs such as Yonsei.

 

What Students Say... 2 Leave your rating
Opportunities
I forgot to mention the opportunities:
It is true that during my 4 months there, I haven't heard about job opportunities for foreigners. I haven't even asked to be honest. I did find job offers for foreign students through contacts or online but I've made those researches on my own.
I suppose you can go to the International Office Affairs and ask them for this kind of information.
Let me just add that if you're looking for a part-time job while studying, you'll have more chances if your level of korean is high.

By the way you can contact me on nowanderwhy.tumblr.com. I've shared my experiences in Seoul there. Just feel free to message me.

Also thank you to AsiaOptions.org, these reviews on universities helped me a lot!
August 27, 2016, 3:59 pm
Affordability8
Location8
Reputation9
Opportunites3
Atmosphere8.5
0
12
Between tradition and modernity, a unique experience
It's been exactly a year now since I left SKKU. I was there for 4 months and took the Korean Language Program for exchange students (let's call it KLP).

Affordability: I heard from other students that it's one of the cheapest programs in Seoul. However, I cannot 100% support this statement since my home university had a partnership with SKKU. The KLP was part of the exchange program.

Contents: for the KLP we had handbooks which had lessons broke down into themes like "Greetings", "What will you do today?" or "What time is it?".
The professor we had spoke in English at the beginning and once we started the second level, she spoke Korean more. Although in the Regular Korean Language Program (RKP), I heard professors only spoke Korean which is better for the immersion in my opinion. The handbooks are probably different for the RKP and more complete in grammar. Because the KLP had quite simple contents which is good for beginners. We did 2 levels in 1 semester and if I remember well, the RKP students were 1 level ahead of us.

Other classes: there are other classes mainly in Korean and I think 2 or 3 in English about Korean society, arts and culture that both exchange and visiting students can take.

Location: Seoul campus is in Jongno-gu at the exit of Hyehwa station. The campus seemed big to me but according to some Korean classmates, it's one of the smallest campuses in Seoul. It's quite uphill so you can have some good exercise before, in between and after classes.
More seriously, we were a bit sad that we were far from Hongdae (20~30mn) or Gangnam (~40mn) but in the end we loved it. Hyehwa is calm but animated in the evenings, especially on the weekends. It's known as the "food district" as it has a lot of restaurants. Shops, Cafes, Marronnier Park, Seoul National University hospital are available walking distance. You can even go to Gwangjang market on foot as well (20mn?).

Dorms: If I remember well, exchange and visiting students can apply for dorms. So I think it applies for RKP students? They have 3 dorms in Seoul: one located 5mn walk from uni. Another one which is 10mn away and you can go through the beautiful (600 years) old campus as a "shortcut". The third one was for boys and it's about 15mn away by subway or ~30mn on foot.

Atmosphere: Because it's a small campus, it felt like it was easier to socialize with people. If you do the RKP, maybe you should join activity clubs if you want to meet Korean people (or go to the gym, library... up to you to start the conversation). Of course both RKP and KLP students can join activity clubs.
It was slightly tough back then as not many of the club members knew English. In 2 of the dance clubs, at least 1 person spoke fluently English so it was ok. I'm not sure about music, photography or other clubs but I don't think it is a huge problem in general (as long as you share the same passion!).
There is also the university festival around May. Great way to dance, socialize eat and get drowned in a crowd of Korean students. I found my way back and had a lot of fun.

Reputation: SKKU has a strong reputation. It may not be the top university but its students' unity and strong history are well known by Korean people. Wandering around Seoul with our varsity jackets proved that point. People often noticed our jackets and were positively commenting (more like whispering) about it.

Finally, I had a great experience. I kind of regretted not staying for a year but as an exchange student, it was kind of tough for my courses. But I am thankful to SKKU because I've learned a lot, met wonderful people and it made me want to go back to Korea to learn the language throughly. I am now looking for more intense language programs and am struggling in deciding which university I shall go to.
If you have more questions, write or call Sungkyunkwan University, they are quite responsive! If you have questions on the student life, you can also ask me. Good luck 🙂
July 12, 2016, 5:37 pm
Affordability8
Location8
Reputation9
Opportunites3
Atmosphere8.5
0
18

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