Sookmyung, Great Power to Change the World
Sookmyung, Great Power to Change the World
  • Kim Lee Jihyun
  • 승인 2018.06.09 13:59
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Imagine being in a situation in which you are the only Sookmyungian among your friends, all of whom attend schools other than Sookmyung.  Although you hold deep affection for Sookmyung, would you be confident enough to promote Sookmyung to them?  What would you say?  What would you begin telling others?  In other words, how well do you really know Sookmyung Women’s University? There are probably plenty that you don’t know or are unaware of, but are things that you can be truly proud of.  For Sookmyungians, this article provides you with everything you should know about Sookmyung.


Pieces of Sookmyung


Sookmyung Women’s University is a private university in Seoul with approximately 13,020 students. Located in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, it has two distinct campuses.  Sookmyung translates as ‘pure and bright’ in English, and Sookmyung Women’s University’s motto is three words: ‘Modesty, Wisdom, and Justice’. ‘Gentle Power to Change the World’ is the main slogan of Sookmyung, and ‘Be the Queen, Rule Your World’ and ‘My Sookmyung (pronounced the same as fate in Korean) says change the world’ are other known slogans. Sookmyung aims at nurturing future female leaders who will contribute to the development of humanity and indeed, it has shaped many of its students into fine female leaders since its establishment. Nevertheless, do you know the history of Sookmyung Women’s University’s establishment?
Sookmyung Women’s University was established in 1906 by Empress Sunheon, a concubine of Go-Jong, the 26th king of the Joseon Dynasty and first emperor of the Korean empire. Determined, she initiated the plan to establish Myungshin Women’s University in 1906, which later became Sookmyung, because she felt educating women would lead to national salvation and secure the future of the nation.  In 1938, just prior to World War II, intellectuals of the age who strongly believed women who received higher levels of education to be the way to national salvation started a nationwide fund-raising campaign to establish Sookmyung Women’s University.  With backing from scholars and their fund-raising, Myungshin Women’s University evolved into Sookmyung Women’s University. Sookmyung Women’s University is Korea’s first national women’s private school, and it is based on national salvation ideology.  Again, Sookmyung was established first by imperial finances and site allocation, but later it was expanded with help of intellects of the age.  In other words, Sookmyung represents national historic mentality and a strong sense of pride for all Sookmyungians.


Fate to Be the First and the Best

Started as Korea’s first national private women’s university, Sookmyung has been bestowed various honorable titles.  The most representative and renowned examples are Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) and Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality Management.  Sookmyung Women’s University was chosen as the first university to host women ROTC cadets in 2010 from among seven other candidate universities.  In 2012, ROTC cadets from Sookmyung ranked first in a completion among 110 ROTC cadet hosting universities.  Except for the act of tossing hand grenades, all aspects of the ROTC training course kept the same standards between female and male cadets.  Park Kieun (Department of Physical Education '13), 1st female ROTC officer, ranked top among 51st ROTC cadets.  Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality Management is a major created in agreement with Le Cordon Bleu in 2007.  Le Cordon Bleu is global educational institution that creates highly reputed food art and hospitality. Sookmyung has educated hospitality management specialists in Korea since 2007. Moreover, the Division of Economics, which was found in 1955, has a longer history than any other domestic women’s university in Korea.  The Culture & Tourism Major at Sookmyung is one of its kind, and it was founded in 2000.  Also, the University opened the first ever Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program in 1997, which later evolved into the The Department of TESL in the School of English in 2011.  In other words, Sookmyung has always pioneered new fields.
Sookmyungians also have this pioneering spirit.  A number of alumnae actively work in diverse areas.  Jeong Heesun (School of Pharmacy '78), first woman director general of National Forensic Service in Korea, and Kim Kyounghee (Department of Composition '81), first woman conductor in Korea, are just the tip of an iceberg.  The press is another field where Sookmyugians are making remarkable advancements.  Lee Geumhee (Department of Political Science & International Relations '88) is a renowned broadcaster, and Lee Iksun (Department of Child Welfare & Studies '91) became the first ever female weather forecasters, and Jang Yewon (School of Communications & Media '10) became the youngest announcer in the history of SBS.  Moreover, Ahn Nakyung (School of Communication & Media '14) is currently employed at JTBC as an announcer. Seo Eori, a journalist with Pressian, is creating headways with her reporting on the sexual molestation of Jung Mongju, former member of the National Assembly and candidate for the mayor of Seoul.  Even home on campus, Sookmyungians are making movement in various areas.  For example, ‘Sookmyung Ambassador’ is the first ever honorary ambassador leadership group by enrolled students among Korean universities, which was established in 1999.  ‘Sookmyung Interpretation Volunteers (SMIV)’ is a leadership group that was established in 2002 and it is the first interpretation volunteer group composed of university students.  ‘Extraordinary People’, a group founded in 2002, is the first ever female invention club among domestic women’s universities. Many Sookmyungians are boldly going where no one has gone before and doing an amazing job.


Sookmyungians, Where Is Your Pride?



To investigate student pride at Sookmyung Women’s University, SMT surveyed 144 students about school honor.  According to the survey, 79.2% (114 of 144 respondents) said they were proud to be a Sookmyungian.  Only 3 respondents said they were not proud of their school. These results clearly illustrate students’ satisfaction with the school.  When asked to choose three reasons on what makes them proud to be a Sookmyungian, 53.7% of respondents said they liked that Sookmyung students were free to openly discuss feminism, 50% said they treasured the school mascot, Snowflake, and 47.1% said they were proud of alumnae who have taken active roles in society.  Following these top three comments, respondents also said they were proud of the school’s history (41.9%), the school’s reputation for diligence (41.2%), and the beautifully decorated school products with school symbols (30.1%).  SMT also investigated students’ knowledge about Sookmyung.  The top three known facts were all connected to official school policies: first women’s university to be selected to host an ROTC troop in Korea (67.4%), first national women’s private school in Korea (66.7%), and first recruitment of school models in Korea (40.3%).  The littlest known facts were that Sookmyung in 1955 was the first Korean female-only university to establish a faculty of economics (5.6%), Sookmyung is home to the world’s largest embroidery museum, Chung Youngyang Embroidery Museum (3.5%), and Sookmyung operates a food institute, the Sookmyung Women’s University Korean Food Institute (2.1%).  Since the responds were so diversified, findings clearly reveal that student knowledge is very disparate.
Where can students learn more about their school? Most students, at the moment, as revealed by the survey, learn facts about Sookmyung through the school community like Everytime application or on SnoRose (49.3%).  Official university promotion materials ranked next (48.6%), and official school websites (25.7%) and SNS (24.3%) followed after promotional materials.  The key finding, then, was that official school sources were not claiming first place, and when asked about school public relations, 47.9% of students expressed negativity towards the effort of the school in this regard.  The result here is in direct contrast to the positive perception expressed by students responding to the first question regarding their feeling of pride as a Sookmyungian.  In short, students did not feel the same degree of satisfaction with the school’s effort towards public relations as they did for being a Sookmyungian.  When asked to comment on changes needed to promotional techniques, respondents said they would like to see more promotion of the school’s high employment rate (54.4%) and socially active alumnae (53.6%).  Impressive, however, was that many students seemed to want to promote Sookmyung’s high entrance score requirement in order to prevent devaluation.  This concern was also expressed when respondents were asked their satisfaction with Sookmyung’s publicity effort.  Respondents voiced the opinion that more promotion is needed at high schools as well as there is a need for more Public Relations centered SNS and online communities.  Respondents also suggested the need to supplement promotion activities with a brochure, to increase advertisement in examinee’s textbooks and subway billboard.  The comments by students highlight their concern, so SMT hopes that the Office of Public Relations and leadership groups, which deal with Public Relations, take heed of these findings for the betterment of students and the school.


To Be the First and the Best

Sookmyungians have a lot to be proud of, but many students are ignorant of these amazing aspects of Sookmyung Women’s University.  To spread the word on Sookmyung’s achievements, the school needs to put more effort into promoting its greatness. Sookmyungians also need to know what it is they should be proud of as the first and the best at Sookmyung.  Sookmyungians, do your best in everything, become influential in society, and continue to make history for Sookmyung.  We need to keep up being the first and the best as representative of all universities not just only of women’s universities.



Kim Lee Jihyun
Hong Kim Gyeongmin
Park Kim Yujin

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