Aug. 17, 1995
Vol. 15, No. 1

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    U of C to become leading center for Korean studies

    Grant provides for hiring of new faculty, library additions With a total of $5 million in grants, including a $1.5 million challenge still to be raised, the University will create a leading center for Korean studies by hiring new faculty and enhancing its library collections on Korean studies.

    The University will raise $1.5 million in matching funds to bring the endowment to its total of $5 million. The funds will be used to establish three endowed faculty positions in Korean studies. The scholars named to those positions are expected to specialize in sociology, history and literature.

    The Korea Foundation, Seoul, Korea, has pledged $2.5 million toward the professorships. In addition, the foundation has provided $304,500 to support, for a period of three years, the hiring of visiting faculty with an interest in Korea.

    The library collections in Korean studies will be boosted with an $80,000 grant from the foundation. The grant is part of a program to improve library collections at six major universities across the country. At the University, the funds will be used to purchase materials related to welfare studies, environmental studies, education and international relations.

    The University already has built an endowment of $1 million for Korean studies from gifts received over the past five years from Jong-Hyon Chey, chairman of Korea's Sunkyong Group. Chey received his A.M. in economics in 1961 from the University.

    Scholarship on Korea at the University dates to 1937, when the Press published the first book in the West on Korean land use. Korean studies was enhanced in the mid-1980s when Korean language study was inaugurated and the University Library's Korean collection was substantially strengthened, thanks to annual gifts from the Sunkyong Group.

    The University Library collection now includes more than 10,000 volumes on Korean culture, history and economic and social development. The library also holds the fourth largest collection of Korean periodicals in the United States.

    The addition of specialists on Korea will further enhance Korean studies at the University by strengthening the work of students and faculty members already engaged in the interdisciplinary study of East Asia.

    The study of Korea currently makes up one-third of the yearlong East Asian Civilizations core course in the College. Undergraduate students are also growing more interested in Korean language courses at the beginning and advanced levels, and they are enrolling in larger and larger numbers. They are also producing a literary journal, Kil Mok, devoted to the literary perspectives of Koreans and Korean-Americans.

    On the graduate level, several joint-degree programs allow students to combine an A.M. in East Asian studies with an M.B.A. from the Graduate School of Business or with an A.M. from the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies.

    Among faculty research projects on Korea is recent work by Mary Brinton, Associate Professor in Sociology, who has studied women's labor-force participation and produced several scholarly articles on the topic. Other faculty members with a scholarly interest in Korea include Prasenjit Duara, Associate Professor in History, author of the book Cultural Nationalism in East Asia, and Norma Field, Professor in East Asian Languages & Civilizations, who has been studying the history of Korean-Japanese relations and of Koreans living in Japan.