Commitment to Academic Exchanges in the Age of COVID-19

A Case Study of Arrival and Quarantine Experiences from the Republic of Korea


  • William H. Stewart Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
  • Bo Myung Kim Hankuk University of Foreign Studies



global mobility, Korea, exchange students, COVID-19, quarantine, exchange lifecycle


The suspension of international student mobility programs has been common due to COVID-19. In the Republic of Korea, the successful management of the pandemic allowed borders to remain open and mobility to continue. In Spring 2020, however, the Korean government started requiring quarantine-upon-arrival for all inbound travel; the sudden announcement created confusion. The Fall semester would see students arrive with no knowledge of how quarantines would work or in what ways the isolation period might affect them. Student motivations for exchanges during a global pandemic with increased health risks, mobility obstacles, and stresses were unknown. This case study reports the arrival/quarantine experiences of 10 exchange students in Seoul, Korea. Students’ views and expectations of Korea as a safe study destination were juxtaposed with tumultuous arrival experiences. We discuss these findings in terms of the academic exchange life cycle and the importance of resource/service accessibility amid novel pandemic-based norms.

Author Biographies

William H. Stewart, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

WILLIAM H. STEWART, EdD, is the Inbound Exchange Student Program Manager at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, where he coordinates all aspects of inbound exchanges. He specializes in transnational and international education, particularly where these fields intersect with distance education. His research focuses on student motivations for, and experiences with distance education in cross-border settings with a focus on the Korean context. He earned a doctorate in Educational Technology from Boise State University. 

Bo Myung Kim, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

BO MYUNG KIM, MA, is an International Student Officer in the Office of International Affairs at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. She has spent more than 15 years working in international education with both in- and out-bond components of exchange programs. She holds a master’s degree in International Studies from Seoul National University with research interests in global student mobility.


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How to Cite

Stewart, W., & Kim, B. M. (2021). Commitment to Academic Exchanges in the Age of COVID-19: A Case Study of Arrival and Quarantine Experiences from the Republic of Korea. Journal of International Students, 11(S2), 77–93.