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From Domestic to International Success – SNU’s Debate team

Jan 07, 2021

SNUDA Members at the 2019 KIDA National Championships (KNC)
SNUDA Members at the 2019 KIDA National Championships (KNC)

SNU’s competitive spirit can be seen from the many teams its student body hosts. Since the interests of students are so diverse, competition can take many forms: from varsity sports teams to the Symphony Orchestra, there is something for everyone. Most recently, SNU has found great success on the domestic and international debate scene. Each semester, the Seoul National University Debate Association (SNUDA), strives toward greater heights. Founded in 2007, SNUDA is a member of the Korean Intervarsity Debate Association (KIDA) alongside twenty other institutions.

An important contributor to the success of SNUDA is its ability to cultivate new talent. A tradition of the association is its two-day weekend workshop, held at the beginning of each semester. The workshop is a rite of passage for all members, and introduces fledgling debaters to the basics of Parliamentary Debate. During the workshop, recruits learn and practice debating under the guidance of existing members. The workshop also features lectures by SNUDA alumni and other veteran guest debaters. Despite the workshop’s rigorous schedule, members universally report that it is an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. To end the exhaustive weekend, SNUDA hosts a dinner party where the efforts of new members are recognized through awards and prizes.

The start of each debate season is marked by the Sogang Rookie Tournament (SRT). For many recruits, this bi-annual tournament is their first taste of debate competition. Despite being a rookie tournament, SRT is always a highlight for domestic debaters. Institutions stake their pride on new recruits, as they hope for a successful start to the season. In the Fall of 2019, SNUDA was able to bring home the championship title. For the first SRT of 2020, SNUDA had teams secure the quarterfinalist and semifinalist positions.

SNUDA has also cemented itself as a strong contender at the KIDA National Championships (KNC). As the largest and most competitive domestic tournament, KNC is open to debaters from all over the nation. The energy in the tournament hall is palpable, with teams rallying their debaters with chants and cheers. From the quarterfinals onward, spectators are welcome at the matches, adding another level of excitement as debaters present their arguments to judges and onlookers alike. SNUDA had great results for the 2019 Fall KNC, with two of its six teams making it to the Grand Finals.

On top of its domestic success, SNUDA’s international presence has continued to grow. One of the greatest aspects of the varsity debate scene is its sheer scope. There are several international tournaments hosted each year, which have SNUDA members competing in venues abroad. In terms of regional success, SNUDA was able to claim finalist spots at both the 2019 North East Asia Open and the 2020 Australasian Debating Championships, the latter of which was a first for the team.

Association heads attribute SNUDA’s success to the strong bonds that its members share. Workshops, joint sessions, and meetings help strengthen and sustain the relationship between new and existing members. Moreover, debating entails frequent communication and feedback; in this sense, SNUDA has been able to foster a welcoming and comfortable environment. Moving forward, the association has its sights set on the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC). This tournament, hosted in a different country each year, is scheduled to be held in Korea in 2021. With fierce competitors from all over the world, WUDC will be SNUDA’s biggest challenge yet.

Written by Min Seo Ki, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,