In 2022 Justice Desk Africa formed a partnership with the Hope to the Future Association in South Korea. HFA operates youth outreach programs including global citizenship education and volunteer activities to foster global competence and attitude of domestic and international youth. The organisations share a vision and purpose for empowering young people to be human rights defenders and through this have decided to partner up in order to exchange ideas and learn from each other. For the first component of this program, the Hope to the Future Association hosted 10 girls from our Mbokodo Project and three of our staff on an incredible human rights exchange program, and in August of 2023, the favour will be returned when Justice Desk Africa will be hosting 10 Korean students to experience South Africa.
The trip to Korea in December 2022 was a great success, with the JDA crew being able to visit a traditional palace and watch a Nanta show. They also experienced the winter snow of Korea and toured Vivaldi Park Ski World. There was also a trip to a Korean international school where the girls got to spend the afternoon with some Korean students, see how education is done in Korea and talk about the struggles that we face in South Africa when it comes to the quality of education. They also visited Dream with Ensemble; a multi-award-winning musical group, consisting of members with disabilities from South Korea, who JDA had previously met on their tour of South Africa.
One of the highlights was a visit to the National Sports University, where they watched the Taekwondo team and got to attend a session with 4-time World Champion, Jung Kook-hyun, a national hero in Korea. The girls were able to participate in an entire lesson with the Taekwondo students and Jung Kook-hyun, learning the basics of Taekwondo and watching a Taekwondo performance. The students instructed the girls and were extremely kind and patient. They constantly hyped up the girls, who felt so confident and so happy. As a way to repay them, the Mbokodo girls taught the students some South African dance moves and they danced to some Amapiano. Afterwards there was time for a visit to the Gustav Klimt, Gold in Motion exhibition, an immersive exhibition devoted to the main figures in the Viennese art scene, of which Gustav Klimt was a key figure.
Overall, the Hope to the Future Foundation created plenty of platforms and opportunities for the Mbokodo girls to learn about Korea. They were able to learn how it has expanded and grown its economy in such a short period of time, but also learn about Korean values, like hard work, a commitment to your nation and to building your nation and making it stronger. These were things that the girls really resonated with and wanted to bring back to South Africa. A lot of our Mbokodo girls had discussions about the fact that as a nation, South Africa still continues to be very divided, but it did seem like Korea for the most part was a very united country and they collectively are committed to putting in serious effort to building their nation.
There were also a lot of conversations about the problems that Korea also faces, even though it's considered a first world, very wealthy country. A lot of people would assume that they wouldn't have, but the girls were able to learn about various corruption issues, discrimination. racism, colorism, and a lot of mental health issues that the Korean people experience. They also learnt how some amazing people in Korea are working hard to address these issues in the country and improve the lives of all.
The trip was a wonderful occasion for the exchanging of ideas and values and helped solidify a relationship between South Africa and Korea, as well as for HFA & Justice Desk Africa. A massive thank you to Hope to the Future Association for hosting us and helping to create this incredible experience, we look forward to working together further in future.