As a spring community project in Art Revolution class, I would like to work with VANK(Voluntary Agency of South Korea), a community that I have been involved since sixth grade.
# What is VANK?
VANK is a cyber dimplomatic organization and its members mainly work online via their personal blogs, VANK website, Friendly Korea Community(a part of VANK) Websie, facebook, youtube, etc. As representatives of Korea, members have their own special mission to create friends around the world and at the same time portray correct information, particularly distorted historical facts, about Korea. (More information about VANK available at http://korea.prkorea.com/wordpress/english/2012/03/06/about-vank/)
Ki-Tae Park or VANK dan-jang-nim(how members call him in Korean) is the most important person in this community. In fact, without him VANK will not exist.
Park was not a smart student nor talented person when he was in high school. He ended up going a small community college while majoring in Japanese language and culture.
He started VANK in 1999 when he exchanged an e-mail with a foreign friend for homework assignment in community college. Park was shocked his foreign fried knew very little about Korea and possessed incorrect information about Korea. (Though Korea is becoming one of powerful nations in global economy and international relations, Korea was not a well-known country at the end of 1990s.) He started to dream that if one Korean had five foreign friends and was able to teach them correct information about Korea, one day, six billion friends around the world would have a holisitc understanding of Korea. Thus Korea would be able to be a “friend” of the world, after creating close relationships with other countries.
The most important lesson from how he created VANK is that Park wasn’t a special man; he was not born into wealthy family; he was not a talented and smart student in his schools; he ended up going to community college but his dream let him inspire more than thousands of Korean students to change Korea and the world.
I met him last summer at an off-line meeting. Park emphasized the importance of “mustard seeds.” Mustard seed is known as the smallest seed in the world. However, if the seed successfully grows up, it will become a large tree. Park said he found five important mustard seeds in his life; for instance, the first seed represents the old Japanese lady who motivated Park to create the website where people around the world can be friends of each other.