Korean alumna global finalist in the StudyUK Alumni Awards

The prestigious British Council StudyUK Alumni Awards highlight alumni who are leaders and have used their experience of studying at a UK university to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions, and countries.

Una Hong is a finalist in the Culture and Creativity Award category. The alumna completed a PhD in Sport Policy and currently has two roles: one as Associate Professor at the Ewha Womans University, and the other as Vice President of the Korea Football Association (KFA). 

The alumna previously worked for ten years as a FIFA referee. This role included many highlights for Una, including refereeing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, and The Women’s FA Cup Final in England. 

In 2009 Una was awarded ‘Referee of the Year’ by the Asian Football Confederation and knows through her work achievements she has had a positive impact towards gender equality in football.  

Una commented: 

“Upon retiring from refereeing at the end of 2012, I was appointed as an executive committee member in the KFA in 2013. After 8 years, at the age of 41, in February 2021, I was appointed as the first-ever female vice president in the 88-year history of KFA to be in charge of the women’s football and refereeing. Upon the announcement of the appointment, the Korean media called KFA’s appointment, a ‘Striking Decision’; so far, all past vice presidents in KFA were men in their 50s and 60s with preferably a national team career. 

“The first project I led as vice president of KFA was the Memorandum of Understanding between the KFA and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education in July 2021. My mission was to change the perception that ‘football is masculine.’ I firmly believed that KFA should collaborate with schools. The reason is that the image of football begins to form through Physical Education.” 

The alumna credits some of her success to her UK education. Una commented: 

“I pursued my PhD degree at Loughborough, the best and ideal place for sports-related academic field. Not only having had the privilege to train at top class facilities in the world but also, more importantly, I learned at Loughborough University that sport was regarded as everyone’s activity—not only for the elite athletes but also for everyone.  

“I firmly believed that the UK was the best place to study, and I honestly can testify that I have complete satisfaction about my decision to pursue my higher degree in the UK. Moreover, I would like to be the very bridge between South Korea and the UK to promote UK’s education.” 

Congratulations to Una on becoming a StudyUK Alumni Awards Global Finalist.