Want a job? How about animal training?
That sums up the busy schedule of Jung Jin-hyee, 36.
After a quick swim at 6 a.m. she heads to work at an engineering firm in Bundang, Gyeonggi. When the sun sets, she becomes a student studying a unique and specified major ― colors. Jung is in her last semester at Yong-in Songdam College.
The colorist major was established last year to meet the growing demand of color marketing and therapy. Jung was one of the first 50 students to enroll in the department.
Satisfied by the newly established major, Jung says that color is a basic but important element in everyday life.
“When you change your home curtains or choose wrapping paper for a present, it is crucial that you select the right color ― color stirs emotions and the mind,” she said.
The study of color was established due to the growing advertising and interior design industries, says Professor Lee Seon-ho, who teaches the subject at Songdam.
Lee notes that on recruiting Web sites such as Recruit or Job Korea ― two major career recruiting Websites ― there are an increasing number of ads seeking color designers in the fashion, interior and paint industries.
“Students who major in color become experts who promote individuals, companies and items with colors, adding a higher product value,” Lee said.
The study of color is just one of the newly emerging majors in Korean colleges that reflect changing trends in society and culture.
This week the Korea Employment Information Service published a book titled “Unique Departments and Attractive Careers.” It introduces about 40 unique majors that are offered in two-year colleges throughout Korea. The majors were selected by the Ministry of Education, professors and education researchers.
Some of the unique new disciplines listed in the book are Animal Training and Events, offered at Taekyeung College; Combat Sports at Kyungbuk College of Science; Motorsports at Catholic Sangji College and Ajou Motor College; Yoga Therapy at Howon University; Trichology and Hair at Suwon Women’s University; International Sommelier at Masan College; Racing Model at Ajou Motor College and National Defense and Science Technology at Hoseo University.
In recent years, combat sports rose in popularity as cable television aired live martial arts programs.
Martial arts star Choi Hong-man played a role in raising the public profile of combat sports.
Anticipating growth in the industry, Kyungbuk College of Science started a new course teaching students to become combat sports professionals like Choi.
Trichology deals with the study of hair and scalp health.
“The major [trichology] was established as more people look for leisure beauty activities,” said Professor Moon Young-sook from Suwon Women’s College.
Students in this major learn about beauty and health, including the structure of the body and physiology.
Lee Yoon-Seon from the Korea Employment Information Service said the new book could be a valuable reference tool for many high school seniors who are currently applying to universities or colleges after the national college entrance exam, which ended last month.
“More college majors have become diversified and detail oriented,” Lee said.
The Korean Council for College Education also announced nine new college majors, including medical coordination, mobile communications and client management, magic entertainment and creative doll making.
“The segmented majors establish a diversified career,” said Lee Seung-ju, the section director of the Council.
He noted that students with specific majors at two-year colleges may be able to jump into the job market earlier and start earning a paycheck.
“Compared to the academic-oriented four-year universities, two-year colleges pursue practical technique and future-oriented study,” Lee said.
Perhaps because of this practicality, college graduates have a high rate of employment.
According to 2005 data from the Council, 83.5 percent of college graduates were employed, whereas only 65 percent of university students got a job.
One student pursing a non-typical major is Lee Ho-young, 26, who is studying animal training and events at Taekyeung College.
Despite Korea’s high unemployment rate, Lee hopes to open his own unique pet shop next year after graduating. He thinks animals will play a larger role in society, creating more job opportunities for students like him.
Hoping to capitalize on that social trend, the animal training and events major was established at Taekyeung this year.
Students raise and manage animals, creating a new culture in the pet industry.
Practical training is crucial ― students work part time at large aquariums, animal research centers, pet hospitals and animal production and event companies.
Lee is happy that the major was established. If not, he would have let go of his long-time dream.
“I’m fond of pets like cats and dogs but I also like extraordinary ones like snakes and eagles,” Lee said. “But it wasn’t easy to get a proper education that covers the whole subject.”
There wasn’t a suitable education system that offered Lee a variety of animal-related studies. Then he learned about the new major early this year and applied.
There are approximately 80 students enrolled in the major. Every Tuesday and Friday, students stage an animal performance and a musical.
In addition to animal training major, Dong-A College established a major that educates students on horse care.
Students learn animal nutrition, stock farm management and mountain horse riding. With this background, they later may become horse-riding managers who train professional racing horses.
Making toy dolls is another specialized major at Yong-in Songdam College.
But what students create are not just the toy dolls you see at Toys “R” Us. Students use highly sophisticated computers to create three-dimensional figures and avatars.
“Technological development has produced a definite shift in culture,” said Professor Yoon Sung-hyun from the college. “Both children and adults are looking for their own toy collections.”
The professor noted that most toys in Korea are imported.
“Korea does not have its own production,” Yoon said.
He hopes the new major established last year will boost the industry and create jobs.
But amid these niche college majors, there are skeptics who say the “curriculums” are short-lived and too trend-oriented.
“Students should not be dazzled by trendy, flashy majors,” said Lee from the Korea Employment Information Service.
Professor Yoon noted that those majors mostly relate to beauty and looks.
“Students should not be victims of excessive college publicity,” he said.
“Students should carefully examine the majors and plan their career prospects.”
By Lee Eun-joo Contributing Writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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