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International Affairs

Summer school program with Kyung-Hee University, Korea

For more than ten years, École Polytechnique has been offering a summer school program to students coming from Kyung-Hee University, Korea. This opportunity convinces some of them to apply at l'X for a Master's program or a PhD.

Jiho Yoon and Sungyeop Jung at the Laboratory of Physics of Interfaces and Thin Films, © École Polytechnique Collection, J. Barande

"A few years ago, I knew France mostly for its cultural aspects and its famous artists, such as Manet or Renoir" says Sungyeop Jung, a Korean student currently doing his PhD at École Polytechnique, before adding: "Since the summer I spent at l'X, I know that France is also a country of major scientists and engineers!" Jiho Yoon comments: "So many great names are connected to École Polytechnique, such as Cauchy, Fresnel, Ampère... It's very impressive to be in this prestigious institution!" Both came at first through the summer school program offered to students from Kyung-Hee University, Korea.

More than ten years ago, it's the relationship built between Yvan Bonnassieux, Professor at École Polytechnique working at the Laboratory of Physics of Interfaces and Thin Films or PICM, and Professor Jin Jang, Director of the Advanced Display Research Center at Kyung-Hee, that gave birth to the program. "Thanks to an international Academic and Research Chair sponsored by Samsung at the time, we worked closely with Kyung-Hee University and we wanted to initiate student exchanges", explains Yvan Bonnassieux. Groups of about 30 students from Korea thus started to come for a few weeks at l'X every summer where they got to work on physics of semi-conductors while learning the basics of French language and culture. Indeed, Sungyeop Jung and Jiho Yoon really appreciated those lectures taught by Florent Gusdorf and John Wisdom: "It helped us understand the values and the lifestyle of the French people".

Both students consider that this experience has been decisive for their future. Instead of joining a Korean company right after their Bachelor like most other students do, they chose to learn French and apply for the Double Degree Master's program at École Polytechnique, "even though there is no guarantee to find a PhD position afterwards", notes Sungyeop Jung, "but working with scientists such as Yvan Bonnassieux or Gilles Horowitz, researcher at the PICM, is so rewarding that it makes it worth taking the risk". While Sungyeop is about to finish his PhD under the supervision of Gilles Horowitz, Jiho is looking for a PhD position. As a student in the "Technological innovation, engineering and entrepreneurship" Master's program, Jiho is also attracted by entrepreneurship and feels that École Polytechnique is a great place to be become a startupper.

With this program, a lot of Korean students from Kyung-Hee University have applied to Master's and PhD programs at École Polytechnique. On November 18th, Frank Pacard, the Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Research, accompanied by Yvan Bonnassieux, will spend two days in Seoul to meet École Polytechnique academic partners in Korea, including Kyung-Hee University but also Seoul National University and KAIST. This visit will be an opportunity to promote further cooperation with Korean universities, thus participating to the success of the Franco-Korean Friendship year.

Jiho Yoon in the Laboratory of Physics of Interfaces and Thin Films, © École Polytechnique Collection, J. Barande