A Hanyang Student Co-Founded the Social Salon ‘Tobekant,’ Opening Another Phase of Discussion
Discuss Freely with a Mask
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Lee Jong-won (Political Science and International Studies) and Park Jun-su (Civil and Environmental Engineering), the founders of Tobekant, were surprised at a phenomenon that millennials (those who were born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) and Generation Z (those who born in the digital environment between the mid-1990s and early 2000s) understand social and political issues only by reading the titles of news articles or from popular comments. Lee and Park wanted to make a center point that people can get information considerably and get along with people who share similar values. As a result, Tobekant, a social salon—which is a meeting to share one's own preferences and opinions on a certain topic—was born.
Tobekant began with a slogan of ‘a meeting for current issues and news for the 2030 generations.’ It holds meetings not only under the topics of current issues and politics, but also under love, business, start-ups, and movies. For more information, please refer to the website of Tobekant.
The executive members of Tobekant provide an environment to share opinions freely after opening gatherings according to topics. There are no limitations such as occupation, age, or gender to be a member, but one has to keep the first principle of ‘listening to others carefully and unconditionally.’ Through unconditional attention, members share their thoughts. Adhering to the first principle forms an atmosphere that people can share their preferences and opinions. Lee and Park said, “Members can form shared thoughts, and it can further develop into a healing process to keep one’s composure.”
One can see members of Tobekant wearing a mask within Tobekant activities. The ‘Mask Debate’ where people talk to each other with a mask is a special characteristic of Tobekant. Lee found out that people are hesitant to join a conversation on political and social issues after interviewing more than 50 people. He sought ways to cultivate an active debating culture. Inspired by a quote from Oscar Wilde: 'Man is least himself when he talks in his person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.’ He also gained inspiration from a TV show called the ‘Masked Singer,’ from which he made the ‘Mask Debate.’
Lee and Park dreamed of starting a start-up while taking classes for around two years as convergence startup majors. They made their mind to open a start-up as they took an actual start-up workshop class by Professor Kang Chang-gyu (Startup Support Foundation). With the help of Professor Kang and their trials, their dream was boosted as the idea was chosen as a pre-startup package project of the Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development. Furthermore, the team of Tobekant was born last July as they scouted Jo Hyeon-seok (Civil and Environmental Engineering Class of `04) and their high school friend Kim Hyeong-jun (Yonsei University Class of '15). They will apply for the early startup package project when support from the pre-startup package ends this March.
As a strength of Tobekant, Lee said being all-student founders is the one. “Since we are students who studied at universities that promote startups, we have the composure to fail, not to be impatient for success,” said Lee. Being all friends, their startup goals are trust and friendship, not success. A strong trust is a priority in any situation, and it could be found in their partnership agreement. In the document, it is written: ‘the ultimate goal of this Partnership Agreement is to make sure that the friendship of the four founding members is not damaged.’
Global News Team
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