Summertime Standouts: Jayleen Serrano

Senior art student studies South Korean films

Jayleen Serrano next to a giant stuffed bear in South Korea
Jayleen Serrano

Jayleen Serrano, a senior art student concentrating in graphic design, has a special connection with South Korea.

Her mother is Korean and much of Serrano’s childhood was a blend of American and Korean culture, including the entertainment and art she consumed.

This summer, Serrano had the opportunity to study abroad in South Korea and apply an academic lens to a piece of South Korean culture: films.

“I understood Korean cinema to be a part of my identity, but never fully understood the cultural or historical context surrounding it,” she said.

Serrano was one of six CSU students participating in an education abroad program called “Cinema, Culture, and History in South Korea.” The month-long program in Seoul is led by Associate Professor Hye Seung Chung from the Department of Communication Studies and focuses on the history of cinema in Korea’s post-colonial era. From the Golden Age classics of the 1950s and 1960s to the blockbuster hits and contemporary art-house films of today, students examined the films in the context of the sociopolitical and cultural issues the country was facing at the time.

When she wasn’t in the classroom at Ewha Women’s University, one of South Korea’s most prestigious universities, Serrano spent her time exploring the city.

“I’ve been going to Hongdae — a well-known art district in Seoul — on a daily basis,” Serrano said. “On weekends, local artists post up to sell their work, and the region is crammed with art stores and exhibitions. There are also cafes featuring live sheep, cats, dogs, raccoons, and even meerkats.”

In order to prepare for her extended stay in Seoul, Serrano spent a semester studying Korean. “It definitely wasn’t enough, but I can’t imagine trying to navigate without being able to understand anything,” she said.

As an artist interested in exploring electronic mediums and video game design, Serrano appreciated the lessons gained from Korean cinema about how to tell a good story.

See photos and read more about the “Cinema, Culture, and History in South Korea” education abroad program by visiting the students’ blog.

“When discussing how to visually communicate narratives in clever, engaging ways, it echoes what we discuss in any drawing or photo course,” she said. “Being equipped to watch films critically is inevitably helpful when seeking inspiration for narratives, angles, and storytelling.”

The Department of Communication Studies is in CSU’s College of Liberal Arts.

About Summertime Standouts

Summertime Standouts is an annual feature on SOURCE that highlights students who made an impact this summer around the globe, across the country, and even close to home.

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