Studying Criminal Justice in Korea Gives UNH Students Unusual Perspective
Studying Criminal Justice in Korea Gives UNH Students Unusual Perspective

by Karen Grava
Director of Media Relations

For Paul Raffile ’15, learning about international justice and security is more than an academic pursuit.

It’s not only that he’s studying at the Korean National Police University as part of a new UNH exchange program, but also that the program there includes sessions with people from around the world. Recently, for example, he sat in on a session with 30 policewomen from Afghanistan who are also training at the KNPU.

“It was an incredible opportunity,” he said, “to hear their experiences as police in a country undergoing tremendous turmoil.”

(L-R) Naomi Constantino ’15,
Amanda Carter ’15 and
Paul Raffile ’15.

The women shared their challenges in a country where women have struggled to slowly gain freedoms since the end of the Mujahedeen era and Taliban rule, Raffile said.  “This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience as they spoke candidly about the reality of their country, debunking many beliefs I had constructed from its portrayal in the media.”

Raffile, of Wallingford, is no stranger to international study. In the fall of 2012, he studied at Goldsmiths at the University of London, and in the fall of 2011 he was a student at the CEA Global Campus in Seville, Spain. For the fall of 2013, he was looking for a program that was different from the ones he previously enrolled in. “KNPU is one of the top police universities in the world,” he said. "It is an honor to be studying here.”

“Studying international security in South Korea is the epitome of experiential education,” Raffile continued. “I am able to see firsthand and hear directly from Korean citizens about their opinion of North Korean politics and conflicts. I recently visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone and Joint Security Area, where I witnessed the continuing standoff between the North and the South in the aftermath of the Korean Armistice Agreement. Exposure to these experiences is something that simply cannot be observed in the U.S.”

The program is a one-of-a-kind student exchange, said David Schroeder, assistant dean of the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, who was instrumental in setting up the program.

“Students get to participate in a type of comparative criminal justice experience unlike any other,” he said. “They live as a police cadet in a vastly different culture. Students are chosen for their ability to succeed in such an environment and embrace such an experience. This combination makes the experience they bring back to UNH a source of great criticality when examining the American criminal justice system.”

A double major in political science and criminal justice, Raffile is part of an exchange program in Korea that includes two other UNH criminal justice majors, Amanda Carter ’15 and Naomi Constantino ’15, and 11 other students from the Chinese People’s Public Security University, Vietnam People’s Police Academy and the East China University of Politics and Law. 

There are also two students from the KNPU, Hoseon Lee and Shinwoo Kim, studying at UNH this fall.

“At first we thought it would be difficult to integrate into the KNPU lifestyle, especially with most other students in the exchange cohort coming from police universities,” Raffile said.  “It was actually surprisingly easy to get used to the very structured system. Roll calls, marching, uniforms and saluting have become second nature.”

Since the courses the exchange students are taking are taught in English by Korean professors, many of whom have worked in international or national policing or investigation agencies, language is not a problem.

Raffile is, however, learning Korean, and he isn’t shy about noting that the class is the most difficult in his curriculum. “The Korean language is vastly different from English – and any other Western language – in every way imaginable,” he said. “During the first few weeks, attempting to read Korean characters was almost nauseating. Weeks of practice later, we can now read Korean words, but we still don't know what most of them mean. I admire the Chinese and Vietnamese students as they're learning a third language in a course taught in their second language. I have set a goal for myself to become proficient in the language before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.”

Raffile finds the other students at the KNPU very friendly. “Many speak English, and they are eager to talk with us,” he said.  “I've been invited to go out on daytrips, hiking, sightseeing and even to visit some students' homes.”

As for Korean society, Raffile has been surprised by the honesty and trust he has found in the people. “I've seen cash drawers left on counters with signs for customers to pay for their items and take the proper change and iPads left out to advertise for businesses,” he said.  “There was one incident where I overpaid by $3 at a restaurant and the owner ran halfway down the road to return the extra cash. These are situations that unfortunately do not happen often in the U.S.”

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