NATIONAL

Korean siblings become valedictorians at top Turkish university

By 임정요
  • Published : Jun 19, 2016 - 09:07
  • Updated : Jun 19, 2016 - 14:58

Two South Koreans have graduated at the top of their classes at the prestigious Bilkent University in Turkey.

Kwon Tae-young and his little sister Min-ah were awarded Bachelor's degrees in interior architecture and environmental design, and graphic design, respectively, at a ceremony held last Saturday.

The older Kwon says he decided to study in Turkey when he was preparing to re-take South Korea's college entrance exam in 2011.

He convinced Min-ah to come with him to the country where their father was working at the time, and the two entered the school in Ankara, the Turkish capital, the following year.

Kwon Tae-young (Left) and Min-ah are awarded class valedictorian certificates at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, on June 11.(Yonhap)
The Kwons were apparently two out of four South Koreans at the university. Despite being minorities, however, their transition was made easier by "hallyu," the worldwide popularity of Korean pop culture that was starting to take root in Turkey.

"The Turkish are in general friendly toward South Koreans even though they don't know much about our country," the older Kwon said in a phone interview with Yonhap News Agency. "But 'hallyu' really helped us adjust to the new environment."

The Kwons were also behind the establishment of a Korean language department at their school this spring.

"We've continuously requested the school to create Korean language courses, and even held a signing petition," the older Kwon said. "Our efforts paid off before we graduated."

The older Kwon plans to enroll in a Master's program at Polytechnic University of Milan, with Min-ah looking for jobs in Germany. (Yonhap)