Socheon Center for Korean Studies

As Korean culture gains popularity throughout the world, Korean Studies is garnering more attention as well. Well acknowledging the importance of Korean Studies, Madam Socheon Young Hi Park has generously donated 100 million won for further research on Korean Studies and for the establishment of the Socheon Center for Korean Studies. The Socheon Center opened in June 18, 2013. The Center’s aim to foster Korean studies through international seminars and lectures, and also to give GSIS students opportunities to experience and learn more about Korean studies and Korean traditions.

Excerpts from the Global Perspective (Vol.4 No.2) on the Socheon Center:

The Opening Ceremony for the Socheon Center
The “Socheon Center for Korean Studies” has opened in the morning of June 18, 2013, at the Graduate School of International Studies. The Socheon Center is established for the further research of Korean studies, one of the five majors provided at GSIS. The opening of the Socheon Center was made possible by the generous donation of 100 million won from Madam Socheon Young Hi Park this March. The Center, designed to resemble the style of a traditional Korean house, is composed of two seminar rooms and the central lounge for both research and conferences. Moreover, the Center has a room that uses the Korean traditional method of heating, ondol, where international students can experience Korean traditions such as calligraphy and tea ceremonies within the school.
To commemorate the opening of the Socheon Center, the newly instated Director of Socheon Center for Korean Studies, Professor Tae Gyun Park moderated an opening ceremony. Many GSIS professors, including Dean Hwy-Chang Moon, Professor Young-Nam Cho, along with GSIS staff members, students, and guests participated in the ceremony to celebrate. Gosa, a traditional ceremony wishing for good fortune, and in this case, the future success of Socheon Center was held as well. International students who were new to this tradition had an opportunity to participate in the ceremony and experience Korean tradition up close. Their experience did not end there; students and guests were also provided with opportunity to practice Korean calligraphy and students were able to get more acquainted with Korean traditional culture by writing their names with a writing brush and ink for, perhaps, the first time in their lives.
International Workshop for the “The Future of Korean Studies”
The Socheon Center for Korean Studies hosted its first international workshop titled “The Future of Korean Studies.” For the morning session, scholars were invited from both home and abroad to commemorate the opening of Socheon Center. Distinguished guests included members of SNU: Dean of GSIS Hwy-Chang Moon, Dean of SNU Office of International Affairs Jong-Ho Jeong, Director of Institute of International Affairs Chong-Sup Kim, and Director of International Center for Korean Studies Sung Chang Park; as well as foreign scholars John Duncan of UCLA and Matsubara Takatoshi of Kyushu University. Each scholar shared their hopes and expectations for the future of Socheon Center and the field of Korean Studies. They identified how Korean Studies could further advance in different areas.
Two round tables were organized for the afternoon session. For the first round table, Korean Studies scholars from around the world were invited to brief on current reality of Korean Studies in different parts of the world. Professors invited for the first round table included Hwasook Nam (University of Washington), Eugene Y. Park (University of Pennsylvania), Young Ju Ryu (University of Michigan), Ki-Soo Eun (SNU), Hyaeweol Choi (Australia National University), and Karlsson Anders (SOAS, University of London). It was identified that there is a growing number of students interested in Korea. While demand is growing, not all demands could be accommodated at the moment. Director Park explained that one of the challenges Korean Studies confronts is that not all majors are covered; hence, finding ways to address the need for different majors is one of the major questions for Socheon Center. To this, all scholars shared the need for continued efforts to link universities in order to provide students with opportunities to access broader range of discipline and ideas.
The second round table invited three students; Shin Woo Lee (Ph.D. Candidate, UCLA), who researches on the implications of palace gates and walls that divide the royal court and the outside world, Jung Min Kim (Ph.D. Candidate, GSIS), who studies Korea’s response to rapidly changing global environment; and Keiran Macrae (M.A. Candidate, GSIS), who wrote his thesis on changing perceptions of Rhee Sung Man. The opening of Socheon Center is an important departure point for future of Korean Studies, carrying hopes and expectations.
Written by: Azariah Kang (‘08 Korean Studies)