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Roanoke College students, faculty reflect on their trip to South Korea

"It's a very nuanced, complicated political issue."

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke College students have been back in class for about a week now, and they're sharing stories of how they spent their summer break.

Six students, and two professors, spent some of that time studying in South Korea.

10 News talked with them in may before they left and caught up with them since their return to find out what they learned.

The start of this semester at Roanoke college has involved taking a look back at a chance of a lifetime to study for three weeks in South Korea.

"We were studying the relationship between North and South Korea, looking less at the political relationship and looking more at the cultural and sociological aspects of it," said Roanoke College senior Anna Ford.

That meant the six Roanoke College students and two faculty members who made the trip in May hit the ground running, talking with North and South Koreans, with a focus on North Korean refugees, and partnering with a local university to shed light on a complex issue.

"It's simplified into something that resembles an action movie, where it's a very nuanced, complicated political issue," said Roanoke College senior, Alex Pelletier.

Their research trip happened right after North and South Korea held historic peace talks in April, which students say was met with a mix of apathy, skepticism and hope.

"Reunification might not have been plausible in their minds, but at least opening the borders was something a lot of people talked about and hoped for," said Ford.

A $46,000 grant funded the trip, and students and faculty will present their research at a conference next year.

"I'm so happy our students had the opportunity to go on the other side of the globe and do serious research and I'm hoping this research can take them to their next major step," said Dr. Stella Xu, an associate history professor at Roanoke College.


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