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Korean Studies Initiative

The East Asia Program is devoted to enhancing and developing the inter-disciplinary Korean studies at Cornell. To do so EAP hosts several projects for the integration of Korean studies into the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, faculty and student research, and the resources and services of the Cornell Library. 

In spring 2017 the East Asia Program is sponsoring along with the Department of Asian Studies visiting assistant professor Hyun-ho Joo, who will teach ASIAN 2218, Introduction to Korea. This introductory course approaches the history and culture of Korea from a broader East Asian perspective. While focusing on key aspects in shaping premodern and modern Korean identity, the course places Korea in a larger cross-national context, particularly its close interactions with China and Japan. Reading primary and secondary sources combined with visual materials, the course chronologically and thematically examines major historical moments, from Korea's participation in and exit from a Sino-centric premodern world order, Japanese colonialism and its ramifications in Korean society, economic development and democratization, to the rising popularity of Korean popular culture. Professor Joo received his Ph.D. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is an Associate Professor at Yonsei University's Wonju Campus in Korea. His research interests are the history of Sino-Korean relations and the cultural interactions between China and Korea in the early twentieth century. He is currently working on Korean print media's delivery of China-related news as a strategy of disseminating Korean nationalism under the Japanese colonial censorship.

Distinguished Visiting Professorship

With the support of The Korea Foundation and the Cornell Vice-Provost for International Affairs, the East Asia Program, in collaboration with its partners Ewha Womans University and Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, hosts a distinguished scholar in Korean Studies each semester to teach a course at Cornell and to engage Cornell faculty and students in their research. 

Spring 2015: The Korea Foundation Distinguished Visiting Professorship brought Professor Joohee Lee, Professor of Sociology at Ewha Womans University, to teach the course "Contemporary Korean Society."

Fall 2015: The Korea Foundation Distinguished Visiting Professorship brought Professor Eunshil Kim, Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at Ewha Womans University, to teach a course in Anthropology and Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, "Studying Korea Through Gender and Sexuality."

Fall 2016: The Distinguished Visiting Professor in Korean Studies was Professor Miseong Woo of the Department of English Language and Literature, Yonsei University. She taught a course "Korean Modernity and Popular Culture" and curated a film series at Cornell Cinema, "Dispatches from the Korean Peninsula."

Korean Studies Speaker Series
EAP Korean Studies Speaker Series poster for City and Literary Modernity

In 2014-15 the EAP Korean Studies Speaker Series brought four up-and-coming North American Korean Studies scholars to Cornell, speakers in the fields of Anthropology (Eleana Kim), Art History (Sohl Lee), and History and Film Studies (Todd Henry and Chris Hascome). The April 2015 “The City and Literary Modernity” workshop was particularly successful, with six Cornell, Syracuse, and SUNY Binghamton faculty discussing the recent publications of the two visiting presenters (Henry and Hascome), orienting these Korean studies works within current interdisciplinary scholarship, and engaging an audience of more than 30 Cornell students and faculty in a high-level review of the field of Korean studies. The Korean Studies Speaker Series will continue to bring scholars to Cornell for lectures and other projects (such as day-long symposia) over the coming academic year. The new associate director for Korean Studies in EAP will coordinate closely with such units as Departments of Anthropology, Linguistics, Asian Studies, Government, and Sociology as well as with the ILR School and the Law School in the selection of speakers and the scheduling of events to maximize the intellectual impact of this speaker series.


November 14, Chung-hye Han (Simon Fraser University): “Syntax of the Korean Relative Clause: An Experimental Study”

November 10, Pilhwa Chang (Ewha Womans University): “Women Meet: Coming from Two Koreas and Two Chinas”


September 12, Eleana Kim (UC Irvine):  “From Land Mines to Gold Mines:  Reconfiguration of Nature and Nation in the InterKorean Borderland

November 5, Sohl Lee (Stony Brook University): “Virtual North Korea: Notes on Architecture, Exhibition, and Communication"


September 16, Charles K. Armstrong (Columbia University): “Everlasting Fraternal Friendship: North Korea and the End of Communism”

October 18, Jesook Song (University of Toronto): “Living on Your Own: Single Women, Rental Housing, and Post-Revolutionary Affect in South Korea”

October 21, President Sun-Uk Kim (Ewha Womans University): “Gender Equality Legislation in Korea”

November 12, Kyung Hyun Kim (UC Irvine): Video Essay: “Weather in Hong Sang-soo”

April 10, Sonja Kim (SUNY Binghamton): “Carving a Space: Mission Medical Encounters in Colonial Korea”

May 5, Haejoang Cho (Yonsei University): “Male Frames Female Pictures: A Feminist Ethnographic Travel Through Compressed Modernity (of South Korea)” with Laura Nelson (UC Berkeley) and Laurel Kendall (American Museum of Natural History /Columbia University)

Also in the Korean Studies initiative the EAP supports the work in the Cornell Library to develop bibliographic resources and services in Korean Studies. Two Library staff are able to devote time toward developing acquisitions needs, electronic databases access, library resource guides, and other resources for Korean studies. This work is done in line with the on-going 2CUL project for sharing collections and resources between the Columbia University and Cornell University libraries, as well as the EAP-led university partnerships with Yonsei University and Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea.