York forges closer ties with Korea Foundation

As part of a multi-legged visit to eastern North America, Korea Foundation president Byung-Kook Kim visited York and was thanked for the organization's support of York’s Korean language studies program. In turn, history Professor Janice Kim travelled to South Korea to visit the foundation’s headquarters in Seoul, where she furthered the discussions started at York.

The 20-year-old foundation, which supports Korean culture worldwide, was thanked at a luncheon hosted by York International for funding half of two three-year faculty positions in Korean language in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics (DLLL), one of which has just ended. The other position will start in September and end in 2014.

Above: From left, Jiyoung Yoon, program officer for Korean studies at the Korea Foundation; Hyeon-Seon Choi, director of Korean studies; York history Professor Janice Kim; Byung-Kook Kim, president of the Korea Foundation; York DLLL Professor Mihyon Jeon; and York art history Professor Hong Kal

President Kim was also given a tour of the Keele campus, where he had the opportunity to learn more about the University and its programs from York Professor David Dewitt, associate vice-president of research, social sciences & humanities, DLLL Professor Sheila Embleton, DLLL Professor Mihyon Jeon, visual arts Professor Hong Kal, Lorna Wright, associate vice-president international, and Janice Kim, who organized the event.

During Janice Kim’s follow-up trip to Korea last month, she met with Hyeon-Seon Choi, director of Korean studies at the Korea Foundation, to discuss further funding opportunities with the foundation for York’s Korean studies and research activities. Kim says she hopes the foundation will agree to grant York half of the seed money for a Korean speaker series that would start in September, as well as a library grant to access several academic and archival databases available in Korean.

York needs access to e-resources and to South Korean digital databases,” says Kim. At the moment, York’s libraries have no access to most non-romanized text, such as Korean. “We also discussed the possibility of York joining a North American consortium led by the universities of Virginia and Michigan of e-learning – transferrable course credits for web courses – in Korean studies,” says Kim. “York has a critical mass of people working on the colonial era in Korea, so I could envision someone wanting to take an e-course with us.”

There are a total of 10 York faculty members in sociology, political science, history, the humanities, DLLL and art history who teach and conduct research on Korea and the Korean diaspora, says Kim. York is one of the leading centres of Korean studies in Canada. She hopes further collaboration and research will allow Korean studies to flourish at York. There is already a cluster of Korean researchers at the York Centre for Asian Research.