By Lee Hyo-jin
Yang Geun-mo, a high school student from a multicultural background, won the gold medal at a nationwide vocational skills competition held earlier this month, recognized for his exceptional computer-aided design (CAD) software skills.
Born of a Vietnamese mother and a Korean father, Yang is a senior at Geumsan Hitech High School in Geumsan, South Chungcheong Province. Geumsan Hitech High School is a “Meister” high school, a type of vocational training school here.
The 18-year-old participated in the annual nationwide vocational skill contest hosted by the Ministry of Employment and Labor held in Boryung, South Chungcheong Province from Oct. 14 to Oct. 20. The competition gathered 1,800 contestants from nationwide who competed in 50 different categories.
Yang was one of the 36 contestants who participated in the CAD category. The 18-year-old showed the best performance, scoring 89.8 out of 100.
It is the first time for a student from South Chungcheong Province to win gold in the CAD category, according to the organizers.
By winning the gold medal at the nationwide contest, Yang has won the opportunity to compete for a spot representing Korea at the World Skills Competition, a vocational skills championship held every two years. The next one will be held in 2026 in Shanghai.
“I want to thank my teachers, friends and others who supported me. There were some difficulties as I prepared for the contest, but I think I was able to win the gold medal because I didn’t give up,” Yang said.
He expressed hopes to begin his career at Samsung Electronics after graduating from high school.
Yang was the grand prize winner of the 10th Korea Multicultural Youth Award hosted by The Korea Times in 2021, recognized for his diligent attitude which led him to obtain technician certificates in various fields at a young age.
The Korea Times hosts the annual award to encourage students from multicultural backgrounds and promote cultural diversity and inclusivity in Korean society.
During a 2021 interview with The Korea Times, Yang said he was at times burdened by the fact that he has to be the breadwinner of the family. His mother left home when Yang was in elementary school, leaving him and his younger brother behind to be raised by their father. His father, however, has not been able to take good care of them as he has been suffering from alcoholism, he said.
Despite such struggles, Yang grew up as a bright, self-driven student and one of the top students in his school.