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  • Gyujin Shin, George Washington University

Bringing Mappers from South Korea

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

Learning how to digitize maps through Open Source Mapping platform was one of the most meaningful and surprising moments while studying abroad here at the George Washington University. I always have enthusiasm to make a good use of my knowledge for society, and OSM gives a perfect opportunity for everyone to make a small contribution to the world. Because of the easiness of the tools and the good-intended projects, platforms such as HOTOSM was absolutely stunning for me personally. My home country, South Korea, obviously has geographic attention globally, and its information technology infrastructure is surely one of the best throughout the world. Korean people are early adopters, fast learners, and have positive drive. I am absolutely positive that university students and all the other potential participants from South Korea will feel the same as I did when I first encountered OSM, and it will be expanded in no time once it gets introduced.

From the governmental level, Geographic Information System (GIS) has been emphasized through involving GIS into national land planning, city planning, infrastructural development, and environmental development consistently since 1995. Currently, the Land Management Information System (LMIS) and Urban Information System (UIS) are conducted as part of National GIS (NGIS) construction business, so the government is at their fingertips about how GIS is important in every society. Because South Korea is such a small country, Korean people are very sensitive on surrounding information based on geographical location. Every automobile has a GPS system with well-systemized navigation, we are also sensitive on the accuracy and real-time information. Based on these facts, South Korean youth mappers will be great contributors for OSM regarding our basic understanding of the importance of mapping and its relevancy with daily life. Additionally, because South Korea went through a horrible war in 1950s and the country had to start all over again, we understand how important this project is for developing countries to get over the difficulties.

As part of the USAID YouthMappers internship program, I am getting in touch with South Korean universities to start their own chapter for open source mapping. The top three schools in Korea, which are Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University are the first priority targets, and then I will move on to other universities that have a geography department. From the USAID 50 Anniversary Case Study, it explains how South Korea moved “from aid recipient to donor.” From a donor’s position, HOTOSM will be our opportunity to contribute to the countries in need and help them to advance their security and prosperity as stated in the USAID’s mission statement. I have addressed the importance of this project to various universities, and it would be great if USAID or any relevant organizations can support them to establish the chapters and raise more youth mappers from South Korea.


Gyujin Shin is a senior at the George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, DC. Gyujin majors in Information Systems and Technology Management at GWU's School of Business and minors in GIS. Currently, he is a virtual YouthMappers intern at USAID and a member of the Humanitarian Mapping Society at GWU.

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