Jinjae Lee

‘Hyper Island is not Swedish, it’s very much global. No matter where you’re from, you will fit in.’

Jin made a name for himself at Hyper Island within the first few weeks, by sharing his experiences and beautiful photographs on social media. We met Jin, 30 years old, who moved to Sweden from South Korea for an interview. Jin wants to take all the great things he learns at Hyper Island back to his home country.

Hi Jin, tell us who you are.

So I’m Jin and I’m 30 years old in Korea and 28 years old everywhere else. Yes, in South Korea we have a different age count. Before I came to Hyper Island, I was working in an Advertising Agency. I didn’t have a specific role. I worked mainly with researching new technologies, creating business plans, prototyping VR/AR and then suggesting strategies to clients to build and promote a specific product.

During my studies won the Grandprix in the advertising student competition at Cannes Lion Korea. Cannes is also where I met the guys from Pop-up agency. They were the ones that pointed me towards Hyper Island. That was back in 2015.

You studied Psychology and Marketing at university. Why did you choose those?

I wanted to study Public Administration first, but my grades weren’t sufficient. I decided to do Liberal Arts and then went more into Psychology in the process. I’ve always had a big interest in other people’s stories and behaviors. So when I started studying Psychology, it came easily to me. I found that I’m bad at listening which is, of course, the main component in Psychology. Marketing is more about telling people things based on what you know about their behavior. I figured it would be ideal for me to combine the two.

You say the guys from Pop-up agency first introduced you to Hyper Island. But what made you take the leap to leave your job and home to study here?

I mean I was really, really into the Pop-up agency guys – what they were doing, how they were doing it. I watched a documentary and read some articles about them. When I actually met them, they really changed my perspective on how to do things.

I asked them how they learned these things and they all said Hyper Island. That inspired me. Around the same time, I was getting bored at my job so it felt like it was time for me to learn something new. That’s when I remembered Hyper Island. I looked the school up and talked to some people there and decided to apply. After I got in, I traveled to Stockholm to meet some current students and staff and that really confirmed my expectations and matched the needs I had.

Now that you’re here, can you compare Hyper Island to your previous learning experiences?

It’s totally different from Korea – almost the opposite. Korean education is just about teaching and memorizing. Tests and grades are all that matter. Often it happens that students only memorize and don’t really learn anything.

At Hyper Island everything is up to me and I’ve realized that I need to learn to ‘own’ my learnings. We have a huge influence on our learning culture here. All my classmates are passionate about this and really eager to learn. This culture really supports my motivation to learn new things and develop new skills.

For example, I didn’t think I would ever start writing or taking pictures, but during my first weeks here I started a project with a classmate. We took pictures of our classmates during the first week and plan to do the same when everyone graduates to compare. And also I started writing a blog about my experiences at Hyper Island and in Sweden, which I actually really enjoy.

Hyper Island has already completely changed my perspective. Before, I thought learning was just all about memorizing, but here I realized that learning is so much more. It’s about testing and failing and reflecting. Coming from Korea, this is quite a big deal.

How do you find the community among students?

It’s my first time studying abroad and living independently. I didn’t have any international friends before. I was super afraid that I would end up overwhelmed and alone, but it ended up being super easy to make friends. We have so many different nationalities and everyone is super open. It feels really good. It gives me the confidence to reach out to people and hang out with them, even though I’m generally shy. It makes me really happy to explore this new city with a bunch of new friends. I already feel at home thanks to this.

How difficult did you find it to get settled in Sweden?

The culture certainly is very different. Korea is still ruled by hierarchy, while here it feels like the opposite. I can already see that the working culture is very different too. If I want to get a job here, I would really need to change my mindset. So instead, I think I might to go back to Korea and work there after I’m done. I want to share my experiences and learnings with people there because I really believe in them. I think that’s very valuable.

Do you have any advice for someone considering Hyper Island?

Hyper Island is not Swedish, it’s very much global. No matter where you’re from, you will fit in. You can influence the culture and take an active role in it, which makes studying abroad so much easier.