2016 U.S. Congress – Republic of Korea National Assembly Exchange Program


The U.S. Congress – Republic of Korea National Assembly Exchange Program is a unique program designed to broaden the perspectives of Korean and American young people on: the legislative process; the history of U.S. - Korean relations; and current economic, political, and security aspects of the bilateral relationship. The program also provides the U.S. and Korean participants with firsthand experience of each other’s people and culture, and creates opportunities for participants to form long-lasting personal contacts.

The program was first created in 1981 by U.S. Representative Ben Gilman and his counterpart in the Republic of Korea National Assembly David Pong. Congressman Mark Kirk assumed the program’s sponsorship during his tenure in the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2010. After Congressman Kirk’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2010, Congressman Robert Dold from Illinois took over congressional sponsorship of the program. Since 2013, Senator Mark Kirk has reassumed program sponsorship. The program, funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Congress and Republic of Korea National Assembly and developed and implemented by Meridian International Center.

Program Description

This joint exchange program combines internships in host country national legislatures with briefings from government officials and private sector specialists, peer interaction, and cultural activities. Ten Korean university students and a group leader from the Republic of Korea National Assembly will participate in the U.S. program and an equivalent group from the U.S. will participate in the U.S. and Korea program.

The Korean and American delegations will spend eight days together in Washington, DC. Afterwards, the Americans will depart for Korea, while the Koreans will remain in the U.S. for site visits to several U.S. cities. At the end of the program, the Korean delegation will return to Korea to reunite with their American counterparts for three days together in Seoul. Specific dates for the American delegation are:

  • Thursday, July 7 – Saturday, July 16, 2016 - Washington, DC
  • Sunday, July 17 – Sunday, July 31, 2016 – Seoul and other cities, Korea


The U.S. delegation consists of 10 American students, between the ages of 20 and 27, nominated by members of the U.S. Congress and selected through a competitive application process. For additional information please check the "Qualifications" and "How to Apply" sections below.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification of the Republic of Korea National Assembly nominates and selects the Korean students to travel to the U.S.


US Department of State

The participation in this program for the selected members of the U.S. delegation is fully funded by the U.S. Department of State including domestic flights to and from hometown, international flights to and from Korea, as well as hotels, meals, and local transportation while in Washington, DC. The Republic of Korea National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification will cover all program costs in Korea including accommodations, meals, and local transportation to scheduled meetings and events, as well as entrance fees for planned cultural events, museums, musical performances, etc. Other incidental expenses, such as gifts, souvenirs, movies, free time activities, and meals outside those included as part of the program are the responsibility of the individual participants.

Qualifications and Responsibilities

Minimum Requirements

Participants in the program are required to meet these requirements:

  • Active interest in the U.S. government, U.S. foreign policy, and/or U.S. - Korean bilateral relations;
  • A minimum of two academic years at an accredited institution of higher learning;
  • American citizen, preferably between the ages of 20 and 27, with a valid U.S. passport;
  • Enthusiasm for travel and experiencing different cultures and traditions; and
  • Nomination by a member of the United States Congress, with preference given to current or former interns.

Responsibilities for U.S. Delegates

  • Demonstrate willingness to experience Korean culture and participate in cross-cultural exchange;
  • Represent the U.S. and your nominating congressional office as an “Ambassador” to Korea;
  • Work with your nominating congressional office to plan a one-day internship on Capitol Hill for your Korean counterpart;
  • Act as host to your Korean counterpart during the Washington, DC portion of the program;
  • Fully familiarize yourself with provided reading materials and program itinerary;
  • Actively participate in discussions during professional appointments with questions and analysis; and
  • Demonstrate professionalism and respect for all participants and hosts throughout the program.

Post-program Requirements

There are two final requirements upon completion of this program:

  • A one-page memo is due one week after the completion of the program summarizing your experience on this program.
  • We strongly request (and encourage!) the participants in the program to meet with their sponsoring congressional office, either in Washington or at the district office, to brief the Congressperson and/or Senior Staff on your experience in this program and your thoughts on U.S.-Korea bilateral relations.

Important note: this program is not geared for U.S. applicants who have already had significant opportunities to travel or live in Korea.


Project summary

2016 U.S. Congress – Republic of Korea National Assembly Exchange Program | July 2016
Number of Visitors: 21
Regions: East Asia and Pacific
Countries: South Korea
Impact Areas: Education, Public Diplomacy, Youth Leadership Development
Program Areas: Global Leadership
Partners: Public Sector, Private Sector