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Forging Cultural Bonds and Unity for Malaysian Students in Korea


Forging Cultural Bonds and Unity for Malaysian Students in Korea

21 January 2024

Forging Cultural Bonds and Unity for Malaysian Students in Korea

When the Look East Policy was introduced in Malaysia, the nation saw more Malaysian students going to Japan and Korea to pursue their tertiary education. As a result, the Persatuan Pelajar Malaysia Korea (PPMK) was established in 1984 to provide a community and a platform for Malaysian students in Korea to connect with one another. 

With the motto “Knowledge for Development”, PPMK strives to foster the spirit of unity among Malaysian students in Korea and to strengthen ties between Malaysian students and the local and foreign student bodies in Korea. 

MyHeart was fortunate to have spoken with Heavendran Thamil Selvan, a second-year Chemical and Biological Engineering student at Korea University. Heaven is a committee member of PPMK’s Academic & Career Bureau for 2023/24 and took the time to share some insights about PPMK’s achievements and activities over the years. 


More than just an ordinary student association 

PPMK has approximately 500 members across more than 10 Korean universities. The majority of the members are sponsored students, namely scholars under the Public Service Department (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA)), Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP), Yayasan Tenaga Nasional (YTN) and others such as Samsung, Hyundai and Kia. Regarding the committee members, PPMK has representatives from 10 universities, giving them more opportunities to support students in different universities. 

Seeing that most of its members are based in and around Seoul, PPMK has built a strong relationship with the Malaysian embassy and its officers. This leads to a lot of collaboration on events and projects for the students and with government officials who visit Seoul. 

PPMK also has a special fund called the PPMK Tabung Khas, which serves as a means to offer small loans to students facing emergencies, such as a family member’s death or illness. The Tabung Khas aims to provide support and alleviate the sudden financial burden to its members in times of dire emergencies. 


Uniting members through cultural and sporting events 

One of the big events organised by PPMK is their Hari Kebudayaan or Cultural Day, where they will have mini traditional games and activities such as ting tingkolam drawing and ceper. Students will also wear traditional outfits and go on the local public transportation to showcase Malaysian culture. 

“So, it’s kind of like the Keretapi Sarong event in Kuala Lumpur, but we do it in Seoul on a much smaller scale,” said Heaven. “And fun fact – I won the best-dressed award last year!” he added with a laugh. 

PPMK also runs sporting events, such as Larian MADANI and their Karnival Sukan Mahasiswa (KASUMA). KASUMA is organised twice a year during the Autumn and Spring semesters and includes sports like netball, handball, basketball, Frisbee, track and field events. 

“We like to bond over sports – juniors and seniors get to mingle and learn from one another,” Heaven said. 


Supporting the students’ professional development 

PPMK also strives to provide opportunities and platforms for its members to develop their professional skills. For instance, they run the Simposium Kerjaya Mahasiswa (SIKMA), a career programme for graduating students to explore various career pathways from their alumni. SIKMA was also supported by TalentCorp under the MyHeart Young Global Leader (YGL) programme. MyHeart YGL is an empowerment and enhancement initiative for Malaysian students abroad who aspire to develop interpersonal and leadership skills to prepare for future career progression.  

Through SIKMA, the alumni share their experience with the Korean or Malaysian working cultures, which is a golden opportunity for the graduating students to learn more about transitioning from being a student to a working professional. They also work alongside companies to organise career workshops or fairs to support their student recruitment, such as a recent collaboration with Samsung.  


Expanding their connections via MyHeart  

Heavendran sees MyHeart as an opportunity for all Malaysians abroad to expand their network and connect with other Malaysians, either in Korea, neighbouring countries or even globally. This can allow them to tap into the wealth of experience and knowledge that other Malaysians have in different fields and bond over the shared love for Malaysian food and culture. 

“After all, we are all Malaysians at heart, right?” 

To explore and connect with PPMK or other Malaysian associations abroad, join the MyHeart community today.