WINTER PILOT PROGRAM
By ACE Conference Team
DATE: 2022.02.14 ~ 2022.02.18
LOCATION: Online (Zoom)
• Seoul National University: 6 students
• National University of Singapore: 5 students
• Peking University: 6 students
• Rikkyo University: 6 students
• Keynote Speaker: Professor Hannah Kim from Macalester University
• Seoul National University Faculty: 1 professor, 1 student advisor, 1 teaching assistant
• National University of Singapore Faculty: 2 professors
• Peking University Faculty: 1 professor
• Rikkyo University Faculty: 1 professor
On February 14th (Monday) through February 18th (Friday), Seoul National University hosted the first-ever ACE Conference over Zoom, a platform that replaced what would have been an offline conference had it not been for the pandemic era. The topic of this conference was ‘Demystifying Social Inequality in Asia’. For this online conference setting, students were separated into three themed sections: social media, film and drama, and news media, with each section splitting into two groups, every group including a member from each university. Over the five days, student groups analyzed the topic of ‘Demystifying Social Inequality in Asia’ through their assigned theme lens to prepare a group presentation for the final day. This conference was led by a team of six conference participants from the host school Seoul National University.
To kickstart this conference, Professor Bumsoo Kim from Seoul National University, Professor Hideyuki Matsui from Rikkyo University, Professor Feiyu Sun from Peking University, and Professor HwayChuan Kang and BoonChuan Low from National University of Singapore each gave their brief welcome greeting. Following this warm welcome, keynote speaker, philosophy Professor Hannah Kim from Macalester University, gave her speech on “Fiction and Social Critique”. She discussed how fictional narratives are powerful literary tools used to portray cultural norms and societal issues. The presentation analyzed Korean films like Minari, Squid Games, and Parasite, explaining how each of their narratives aims to reveal different aspects of Korean society. Her speech gave insight into how a narrative free from facts can in turn offer its audience a chance to view certain issues in a new light.
After concluding the academic formalities of the conference, the rest of the first day was dedicated to student socialization. As all conferences are on their first day, there was the anticipation of awkward air between the students who were meeting each other for the first time. To prepare for this, host students created an ice-breaking session on Gather Town, a web-conferencing software designed to make virtual interactions seem more real. Then, student pairs (planned before the conference) gathered in separate rooms to get to know more about one another. Although this Metaverse platform was hardly a satisfactory substitute for in-person interaction, it was an innovative alternative that students otherwise would not have thought to use. Thanks to Gather Town, the relaxed atmosphere made for a smooth transition into group discussions for presentation planning.
After four days of group work, all six groups prepared excellent presentations for the final day. Once each theme section was done presenting, the students had a chance to ask questions to the presenters and share their thoughts on each topic.
Here are the summaries written by the host students in each group:
“We presented on “How Social Media Influences Linguistic Discrimination in Asia” and specifically focused on accent discrimination within the realm of linguistic inequality. The main insight from the presentation was that social media overall helped embrace what we originally perceived (in our home language and English accents) to need “fixing”. As linguistic discrimination originates from the ability to deduce one’s ethnic background, academic achievement, social class, and birthplace from a person’s style of speech, it has always created a divide between those who speak in a more “standardized” fashion and those who don’t. However, as seen from the analysis of our home countries, Korea, Japan, Singapore, and China, social media has created platforms for people to reconcile these differences through education, entertainment, and innovative methods of communication.” (Hyeshin Oh)
“Team SHY addressed the problem of generation inequality due to social media. Many social media platforms are being used, but it doesn’t mean communication has become popular. Rather, older generations are not used to social media, which means they couldn`t participate in the conversation, which could lead to social isolation. Also, different words are being used by each generation, which deepens the gap between the generations. Difficulties in adapting to new technologies and regional disparities worsen the problem.” (Suyeon Lee)
“Under the title “Social inequality in Asian films: What makes them unique?,” we addressed four unique aspects of Asian social inequality depicted in films: lack of racial discourse, familial or paternal love, education and competition, and gender inequality and representation. Providing examples of many Asian films (and some TV dramas), we claimed that these four points reflect the unique circumstances Asian countries partly share, such as lack of diversity in race, patriarchal culture, education as a social ladder, etc.” (Sung Won Ryu)
For Triple Es, we referred to the South Korean drama, SKY castle to demystify different types of educational disparities in the East Asian Cultural Sphere. Although SKY Castle is an exaggerated representation of Korean society, we believe that it exposes several aspects of educational inequalities that are relevant to Asian countries including but not limited to misrepresentation of women in STEM, unequal access to private education, and geographical educational disparity. (Jin Woo Lee)
“For Team Sesame News, the presentation was about “Gender Inequality in Asian News Media.” Based on the journalistic authority of news media, which is to be believed to represent the truth and sound legitimate, we tried to demystify how gender discrimination is intensified through news media in four Asian countries. We discussed in five categories: biased language, gender roles, birth rate, military service, and reactions to feminist movements. Overall, we concluded that the news media market and traditional gender rules are deepening the under-representation of women in news media. Also, we further suggested that requiring better management and supervision of news media is essential.” (Eunseo Kim)
“For Team CCTV, we focused on the situation of educational inequality existent in Asia. We first analyzed the differences in the narrative of educational inequality in News Media, then aimed to examine this inequality on a micro and macro level. We presented both the dominant and opposing perspectives in news media in a neutral way to suggest that in contentious issues like educational inequality, we should think critically about those who convey information, their motives, and their sources, so that we are not swept away by either narrative.” (Seyun Choi)
Each group took their unique approach to clarify different kinds of social inequality in Asia. After the presentations were done, the students were asked to vote on a presentation that resonate with them. By a close vote, 1-1 Social Media group (Shauna Tan, Aicy Li, Yuka Sato Hyeshin Oh) was awarded best presentation for their eye-opening discussion on the everyday impacts of linguistic inequality in Asia. During the closing ceremony, all students were awarded Certificates of Participation and the winning group participants received an additional Award of Excellence and the books Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. With a final speech from the host students, the five-day conference was brought to a close.