On January 2, President Yeom Jae-ho stated that one of the missions to be accomplished by the school is to “try its best to elevate the standards of Korea University (KU) despite the adversities that may be faced along the way.” In doing so, one of the methods that President Yeom suggested were the completion, reconstruction or removal of some of the school buildings such as the SK Future Hall, Science and Engineering Library, and the Communication Building, respectively. The third item in particular received undivided attention from the KU students.
According to President Yeom’s 2018 New Year address, the Communication Building will be going through drastic changes. The new College of Political Science and Economics, the new College of Liberal Arts as well as the SudangSamyang Faculty House and the Korean Language Center will be built in the place of the current Communication Building after its removal. Although not much has been certified in terms of the exact procedures ready for the Communication Building, what can be said for sure is that those procedures will affect many of those on the KU campus—a reason why the issue will continue to receive much spotlight during the next few months.
▲ The Communication Building. Photographed by Kim Jeong Ho.
Digging Deeper Into the Communication Building
Transferring entities within a single building may not seem like the biggest issue. However, the Communication Building has been a shelter to numerous students since June of 1968. The four-story building faces the Student Union Building directly across the People’s Square; its 4,556 m2 portion of KU’s Seoul campus contains numerous department rooms and facilities such as the post office. It is also where the offices of the press—some of which are the Korea University Weekly, the Korea University Broadcasting Station (KUBS)—are located.
Right after its construction in 1968, it was called the News Broadcasting Institute and was considered one of the most modern, up-to-date facilities of the school, equipped with a tall antennae that other buildings were not provided with. 2018 being the 50th anniversary since the initial construction of the building, there is no doubt that the Communication Building is one of the older buildings of our campus that have long been discussed in terms of a renewal or a transformation of some sort.
Another recurring issue that has always been brought up by the students was the problem of accommodating enough space regarding each of the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Political Science and Economics as well as the Business School. The College of Liberal Arts has been under a continuous struggle in housing its student facilities such as the club and department rooms as well as its classrooms for many of its courses.
Regarding such issues, President Yeom has proposed the idea of establishing the new College of Liberal Arts. One of the strides made by the 50th Student Union of the College of Liberal Arts, Seorosori, pertaining to such an issue, is the meeting held with President Yeom on Tuesday, January 23. According to the final report of the meeting, Seorosori has requested that the school provide all of the 26 social facilities situated in the Communication Building with an alternative space; moreover, their return to the newly constructed College of Liberal Arts was to be guaranteed.
▲ The Communication Building Subcommittee Meeting held on March 22. Photographed by Lee Che Yeon.
The Demolition of the Building
Through it all, it seems most probable that the removal of the current Communication Building will result in the aggregation of the new College of Political Science and Economics and the new College of Liberal Arts, resulting in a new building that is supposedly called the Humanities and Social Science Building, at least for now. Such a transfer could only mean that the numerous clubs, student council rooms, and on-campus press offices will need to get up and move into an alternate space.
Pertaining to the demolition, a member of the Executive Committee of Club Union, Chung Yong Woo (’17, Medicine) said, “The idea of the removal of the current Communication Building is most definitely a welcoming one concerning its old age.” Chung continued, “However, if the school were to continually exhibit an exclusive behavior in its decision making process, it will only intensify the anxieties felt by the students.” It was the collective voice of the students that the school encompasses the voices of the students in making further strides with the demolition of the Communication Building.
Likewise, it is most crucial for the school to figure out a space that could properly embrace all the rooms that are currently situated in the Communication Building and to do so in an all-inclusive manner. More communication efforts of tuning in to the voices of the students are required as many students take a rest, socialize with their friends, and work in the building. There is a need for the school to respect and take into consideration the attachment that the students feel towards this space. Chung mentioned from her personal experience, “Although the Communication Building will leave us, I hope that the memories that came from it will not.”
In order for the students to request a more strategic solution and to receive constructive feedback from the school, students themselves have begun to take more organized steps on this issue. The College of Liberal Arts has also come up with the Committee for Space Measures which now has two separately designated sectors—one of which is the team in charge of the Communication Building and the other, for the SK Future Hall. Moreover, the first official meeting of the Communication Building Subcommittee under the Special Committee for Space Measures was held on March 22 discussing methods in order to handle the issues regarding the Communication Building in a more productive manner.
Cho Sungwon ('16, Korea Language and Literature), the Vice President of the College of Liberal Arts, also added, "The College of Liberal Arts Committee for Space Measures is planning to send a request for a practical consideration of an alternative space." Cho continued, "We hope that the requests are considered with some serious gravity."
The Next Agenda for the Building
Whatever procedures will be taken to replace the current Communication Building with the Humanities and Social Science Building, the school needs to make sure that the needs and voices of the students using the building are heard and fully incorporated throughout the construction that is about to take place in the next few years. Although no specific guidelines are provided in how the school will ensure the space of the students, it is most critical that the school does everything it can to provide them with an alternate space; the students can only hope that the new buildings will become what the Communication Building has been for students—a home since it was built just half a century ago.