Seoul National University celebrates 70 years this year
Motto is “Truth is My Light”.
The university was founded in August 1946 when 10 institutions of higher education around the Seoul area were merged. So, it is 70 years old this year.
Seoul National University (SNU) is considered to be “the best” in Korea and is much sought after by students and parents, even though entrance is very competitive. It’s a national research university and has 3 campuses, the main one at Gwanak, which was constructed in February 1975. It has 16 colleges, one graduate school and 9 professional schools, with a total of 17,000 undergraduate and 11,000 graduate students.
It has a memorandum of understanding with over 700 academic institutions in 40 countries and with the World Bank, notably in Business and Management, Law, Political Science, Life Sciences and Engineering. The medical, nursing and dental schools are at the Yongon campus, and the Science and Technology campus is at Suwon.
We are staying on the main Gwanak campus, in the south of Seoul. It’s roughly a Y shape on its side with the smaller north arm divided from the larger south arm (with the main gate) by a mountain. We are staying at the Hoam Faculty Guest House, right at the end of the small north arm, where other faculty housing and many dorms also are. To get to the main part of campus it’s a long trek uphill to the split in the Y, and then down. As I mentioned in the earlier post, we are here for the International Rumen Microbiology Workshop, run by Rod (look closely at the banner and you will see Professor R. Mackie) and organized by Dr. Baik and SNU.
It’s a sprawling campus, built up and down hilly slopes and the almost-valley between them. There are steep roads and paths and many staircases linking various buildings and different parts of campus. The setting is very pretty with lots of trees and green spaces, a small stream and waterfall flowing into a pond, and views of mountains in all directions. It’s especially lovely in spring with hundreds of (many white) cherry trees, making lacy splashes against the green of pine trees. There are also many azaleas and long banks or hedges of huge bright yellow forsythia bushes. We feel very fortunate to be here in the spring and to experience the cherry blossoms at their peak.
Some of the older buildings from just after WW2 are showing signs of deterioration sadly—chipped paint/concrete, broken paving stones, sunken paths etc. One day, when I was sitting at a café on campus, a uniformed man came by taking photos of crumbling steps on a long outdoor stairway.
But, like any big campus, it feels lively and dynamic when school is in session. Students stride around in the (seemingly) universal student garb of jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies of jackets, sneakers and backpacks. Some of the girls wear shorts or skirts over tights but, when I sat and watched the student world pass by, that female elegance often associated with Korean young women was noticeably absent—at least in the day time.
A number of cafes and cafeterias are dotted around campus, all very reasonably priced. At one, I saw 2 set-meals for 4,000 won each (less than US$4!). Very affordable for a student.