Grant from the Korea Foundation Boosts Korean Studies at UW-Madison

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DATE: 1/31/2006

CONTACT: Ronnie Hess, Director of Communications, Division of International Studies,
UW-Madison, (608) 262-5590,


WI – The Center for East Asian Studies has received nearly
$100,000 to expand Korean studies at the UW-Madison. The grant includes about
$85,000 from the Korea Foundation, an independent organization affiliated with
the South Korean government that promotes various academic and cultural programs
fostering a better understanding of Korea around the world. Additional funds
will be provided by the Hyuk Yu Korean Studies Fund, named after a UW-Madison
professor emeritus in Chemistry who helped initiate a fundraising drive for
Korean Studies at UW-Madison, and other funding sources. The Center for East
Asian Studies, a member program of the International Institute, is one of eight
federal (Title VI) national resource centers within the Institute, the largest
number for any American university.

Last year, in response to heightened interest in Korean language and area studies,
the Center for East Asian Studies spearheaded a Korean Studies Initiative,
which is devoted to improving and expanding Korean language and area studies
offerings on campus, as well as making resources available to the community
through outreach events.

Korean language courses have been expanded this year to include third year
level classes. A special topics course, “Modern Korea: North & South,” was
taught last fall and was linked to a special series of public lectures, “Understanding
(and Misunderstanding) North Korea.” This spring, a new course on “Korean
Popular Culture” is looking at the “Korean Wave” of popular
culture that has swept East Asia.

The new funds will enable us to hire a visiting assistant professor next year
to teach two Korean literature and culture classes each semester, as well as
to sponsor a conference on Korean Confucian thought in February 2007,” says
Hope Rennie, assistant director of the Center. “The visiting professor
will meet the immediate needs of our students while our Center continues fundraising
towards our ultimate goal of a new tenure-track position in Korean Studies.”

to Rennie, some Americans may not realize the strategic and economic importance
of the Korean peninsula. South Korea is the seventh largest trading
partner of the U.S. and North Korea is an important player affecting the
future peace and security of the United States. Rennie says UW-Madison students,
those interested in business or in international relations, will need to
know more about Korean language, culture and politics in their careers.