Calcasieu teacher visits South Korea in field study experience - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Calcasieu teacher visits South Korea in field study experience

(Source: Justin Clark) (Source: Justin Clark)

Imagine on your first trip out of the country, visiting the line separating North and South Korea. For a Calcasieu Parish geography teacher, that was a reality last week when he and some other U.S. teachers ventured to Seoul.

"It was amazing, it was kind of an out of body experience to a certain extent," said geography teacher Justin Clark of both Barbe High and Sulphur High.

Clark recently came back to Southwest Louisiana from an eight-day trip to South Korea courtesy of the Northeast Asian History Foundation.

He was one of only seventeen teachers chosen for the field study experience where topics such as geographical naming issues and political atmosphere were discussed. 

While there, the educators gave presentations about Korean influence in the United States.

"For me it was easy, we have Lotte Chemical," said Clark.

The company is part of multi-billion dollar investment in Southwest Louisiana, but has it's name on all sorts of products in South Korea.

"Drinks, candy, they have a mall, they have Lotte World, they have recently open up Lotte Tower which is the 5th tallest tower in the world," Clark explained. 

He described it as a "Walmart meets land developer meets Disney World."  

The question everyone is asking though - How was it being so close to North Korea?

Clark says the people he met along his journey remain hopeful North and South Korea could one day reunite. As far as the atmosphere, Clark says no one even mentioned what was happening across the border, they simply accepted it as every day life.

He says, however, the tensions could be seen in one place - the border between the two states.

Clark visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) but was first given a strong warning.

"You're being videoed," Clark echoed the caution he was given, "Don't gesture, don't point, don't laugh. You are being videoed and everything they can use as a propaganda tool they will use."

While touring a joint conference room Clark realized something.

"People on this side of the table, you are in North Korean territory right now," he was told by a guide.

"It's hard to process until you realize he is correct. I've stood in North Korean territory for about 3 minutes," said Clark.

From his time at the DMZ, in Lotte Tower, at a Buddhist temple, even just walking the streets of South Korea, Clark is taking his once in a lifetime experience and sharing it with his students this fall.

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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