Dream Together Master Program from the beginning and beyond

Everyone has dreams

“My dream is to build a better world through educating the best experts in sports management and administration who will help all global citizens to enjoy sports,” Seoul National University Professor Joon-ho Kang said, sharing one of his most-cherished thoughts.

Professor Kang Joon-ho
Professor Joon-ho Kang, Director of Dream Together Master program / dtm.snu.ac.kr

How to make this dream come true?
Through one of the best programs in the world – Dream Together Master (DTM).

Professor Kang is both the founder and the irreplaceable director of it, since its creation in 2013. The concept, the brand-name of the program then and now: “What kind of DREAM do you want to have? It might be to make yourself a better person, and your country or the world a better place for all society through sport. You cannot stand alone in this dream. We can help you, and we will do it TOGETHER. And with all of this, you will become a MASTER, with a special degree and professional skills.”

Behind the story of DTM is a story within a story

Until the end of the 1990s, Korea was a recipient country of Official Development Assistance (ODA) – that is, it received aid from foreign countries for economic and social development. From 2009 onward, however, Korea has reversed its position, from the recipient to donor – helping developing countries in a variety of industries, such as agriculture, education, and medicine.

But for years no one suggested paying attention to sports, even though Korea had become a sporting powerhouse, hosting many major competitions over the decades. No one, that is, except for Professor Kang. He kept thinking about how Korea could contribute to global development via sport. And one day, everything came together.

“In 2012, I had a chance to talk with the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Korea, Yongwhan Kim,” Professor Kang said. “During that conversation, he asked my advice about some projects related to the sport which Korea could accomplish. And I came out with my plans that I had before about global sport development programs.”

This is how the Dream Together project started to live

Originally, the idea was to create a high-quality project for ODA countries that would cover everything related to sport. That is, an intense immersion while in Korea, with a focus on programs not only for athletes but coaches and administrators and more, to then be taken back home – anywhere and everywhere in the world – to enhance their own professional organizations. For athletes and coaches managed by the Korean Sports and Olympic Committee, and for administrators, the focus was right at home: at Seoul National University, where DTM would be based.

Jincheon National Training Center / SNU 5th batch

When the Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism of Korea officially accepted the project, the Next Generation Sports Talent Development Foundation (NEST) became the organization with the financial resources to run it. In 2016, NEST merged into the Korean Sport Promotion Foundation (KSPO), and all responsibilities related to the Dream Together project went into KSPO’s business.

“Most of the sports budget in Korea, about 90 percent, is coming from the public organization KSPO,” Professor Kang said. “KSPO is the motion generator for Korean sports. Any project, regardless of the sport, is sponsored by KSPO.

“Even after graduation, KSPO gives attention to DTM alumni. For some of them, they offer intern positions in Korean sports organizations, including KSPO itself. And they help them to implement their ideas in each country through follow programs.”

The Dream Together Master program was designed to take sports talent from developing countries and help turn such women and men into great leaders with global competence

But what are the key factors that distinguish it from other similar international initiatives?

“To make this program successful, it should be different from other alternatives. How to make our program stand out? Its key distinguishing factors are – the university, curriculum, and faculty,” Professor Kang said.

“SNU is a national university which is the top university in Korea, with world-renowned sport management faculties in the global sports management graduate program. SNU is the only university offering masters and doctoral degrees in sport management. The curriculum is designed from the students’ perspective based on what kind of knowledge is required to educate the best and successful sports administrators. It embraces a range of innovative 30 modules, along with one team project and individual project for the thesis. And we have about 40 percent of international professors, 40 and 20 percent from SNU and other universities in Korea, respectively. It makes our faculty truly international, not only because of students but also because of the international faculty.”

snu dtm welcome dinner
Dream Together Master program faculty with 5th and 6th batch students at Welcome Dinner, September 2018

Furthermore, to expand social networks and knowledge, practical skills, and cultural experience, the program offers various extracurricular programs to the students out of the school.

To have an opportunity to study here, prospective students need to meet all mandatory criteria

The baseline: English proficiency along with identifiable potential and good attitude. “But,” Professor Kang said, “in addition to excellent English abilities, during the interview, we try to find out their attitude, potentials, and intellectual capabilities. Also, important is the possibility that the students after graduation from the program will be able to contribute to the sports field in practice.”

For now, the program has already successfully given 138 students from 49 countries the chance to make changes back home. Officially, the program will run until 2023 with the possibility of renewal beyond.

From Professor Kang’s perspective – and, now, that of scores of others – the program should live as long as possible

“Let’s compare the DTM program with a growing tree. DTM is a seed that we put in the soil seven years ago. And to see that tree in blossom, we need time. We can’t cut it now. We have to keep it growing until we see the beautiful flowers on it,” Professor Kang said.

From the left: Olha Zavhorodnya (DTM 6th batch student), Professor Joon-ho Kang (the director of DTM), Iaroslav Tokmachov (DTM 5th batch student)

“I hope, in 10 or 20 years, everyone will still see the blossom of success through our students and graduates, who are able to make world sports better in every aspect. That is a true value of the Dream Together Master program.”

The comprehensive story of its director, written by Olha Zavhorodnya.

About the author

Zavhorodnya Olha
Co-founder and chief editor of sports4world.com
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