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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Student Spotlight: Suhong Lee

Wofford+Senior%2C+Suhong+Lee%2C+returns+to+campus+to+finish+his+college+career+after+three+years+of+service+in+South+Korea.
Wofford Senior, Suhong Lee, returns to campus to finish his college career after three years of service in South Korea.

Wofford Senior Suhong Lee returned to campus this fall after completing three years of service in South Korea. Lee was born in Seoul, Republic of Korea, where he lived until moving to Washington State in 2010. When reflecting on his childhood, Lee ’21, shared, “Seoul was very fun and joyful. We had many movie theaters and museums near my house where events and performances were held such as live music concerts, art exhibitions, plays, and musicals.” 

When asked why he originally chose to attend Wofford he said, “I chose Wofford College because of its excellent liberal arts education and small class sizes which enables students to better engage with professors and other classmates. Another small reason was that having lived and attended high school in rainy Bellevue for four years, I wanted to experience something different in a different place. Being a senior now and looking back, I couldn’t be happier that I chose Wofford.” 

Currently, Lee is studying to complete his major in international affairs. 

After the Korean War the South Korean government established a mandate that men between 18 and 28 years old should serve around two years in the Republic of Korea’s military. Lee ‘21, further explained that service is required because “South Korea is still at war with North Korea, and North Korea is still a dangerous country that threatens South Korea and cannot be trusted.” 

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When asked how he felt before leaving Wofford for service in South Korea he remembered, “It was sad to leave friends and Wofford. However, every healthy Korean male must do the service as stated in the ROK’s constitution, so this was expected. I wasn’t sure whether to do the service in the middle of school or after I graduate. But I’ve heard a lot that it’s better to get the service done early, so I decided to do it after my junior year.” 

When arriving back to South Korea, Lee went through basic training for five weeks where he “learned how to shoot guns and the basic rules of the military”. He described his experience by saying, “I was stationed at Yanggu which is near the DPRK border, and I did duties such as being a guard and a night watch.” 

Lee was stationed on guard duty at the armory, where they stored ammunition, weapons, bombs, and grenades. Lee ‘21, explained, “Those weapons would be used by active and reserve forces if North Korea invades South Korea.” 

Lee reflected on living near the DPRK border where rules were very strict and said “soldiers give up certain freedoms in exchange for military rules, and act as they are told.”

He believes that this experience allowed him to meet a lot of different people from different backgrounds. 

During service Lee never forgot Wofford. He said, “during all the hard times I’ve been through while I was in service, I imagined myself back at Wofford as a senior. While I was in Korea, Wofford felt so far, like in a dream almost. And when Covid-19 was at its peak and the U.S. was under lockdown, I was worried that I wouldn’t even return. So when I returned, I was very happy!” 

He shared some of the struggles from the transition of military life back to civilian life by saying, “I sometimes struggled with the cultural difference. For example, when I was wearing a hat, I kept taking the hat off whenever I entered an indoor space. Also, I kept talking in a military dialect even though I was out in a civilian world.”

Similarly, Lee reflects on his life at Wofford before and after service saying, “The school has changed a lot. I noticed that the library and campus life were renovated, Burwell is undergoing change, and there is a new freshman dorm. While school has gone through changes, I was happy to see the faculties back whom I’ve seen before. While I’m enjoying my senior year at Wofford, I’m missing my family and Korean foods made by my mom. I’m very excited to see my family again next month.”

Lee hopes to continue working in the U.S. after Wofford. When asked about his plans for the future he said, “even though the job market is hard right now because of COVID-19, I’ll do my best to find one. Also, if I decided to pursue a higher education, I think that would be a great option as well.”

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