Celebrating ten years of Korean studies at Stanford

Celebrating ten years of Korean studies at Stanford

shin anniversary headline Gi-Wook Shin, director of the Stanford Korean Studies Program, delivered remarks at a dinner celebrating the program's tenth anniversary, February 24, 2011. Rod Searcey

"I would like to invite my colleagues, students, friends, and supporters to celebrate what we have worked together to achieve over the last decade and I ask you all to join me in continuing this record of achievement in the decade to come."

Gi-Wook Shin
Stanford KSP Director

Gi-Wook Shin came from the University of California, Los Angeles to Stanford University in 2001 to establish a program in Korean studies. "Naturally, I had mixed feelings—of excitement and hope, but also of anxiety and uncertainty," says Shin. "Looking back, I made the right decision." The Stanford Korean Studies Program (KSP), today a thriving and vibrant program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC), recently held a series of major events to celebrate its tenth anniversary in February 2011.

Stanford KSP is unique among other Korean studies programs in its interdisciplinary, social science-based research focus on contemporary Korea. The U.S.-Korea relationship, particularly policy issues, is strongly emphasized in the program's research and publishing activities. Stanford KSP is instrumental in the success of Shorenstein APARC's two initiatives—the Korea-U.S. West Coast Strategic Forum and the New Beginnings policy study group—aimed at improving policy-making decisions in the two countries.

The program is grateful for the strong and generous support it has received from individuals, corporations, and foundations since the very beginning. In 1999, an endowment was established for the professorship that Shin holds, the Tong Yang, Korea Foundation, and Korea Stanford Alumni Chair of Korean Studies, which was followed closely by funding for two more Korea chairs. In 2004, Dr. Jeong H. and Cynthia Kim provided funding to establish a professorship named after former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. Dr. Kim is President of Bell Labs at Alcatel-Lucent and a member of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Advisory Board. A search is currently underway to fill this important position. The Korea Foundation then donated funds in 2005 to establish a third professorship, which is currently held by Yumi Moon of the Department of History.

Stanford KSP has successfully established two annual professional fellowship programs, the Pantech Fellowship for Mid-Career Professionals and the Koret Fellowship, something unparalleled by other Korean studies programs. The program's faculty, fellows, and visiting scholars—most of whom teach courses and speak at public events—greatly contribute to the intellectual vigor of the Stanford community. Paul Y. Chang, PhD '08, an assistant professor at Yonsei University's Underwood International College, says, "The program provided the ideal context to engage with passionate scholars and develop my research program."

Stanford KSP's visitors find themselves, in turn, rewarded by the experience of being at Shorenstein APARC. Former Korean Minister of Unification Jongseok Lee, a visiting scholar from 2008 to 2009, says, "While enjoying every bit of life at Stanford . . . I worked hard in the office from early morning to late evening, as if I were a graduate student preparing his final dissertation . . . It was a truly meaningful and memorable year." Stanford KSP maintains strong ties with its former students, fellows, visiting scholars, and other affiliates, in part through the Stanford Shorenstein APARC Forum in Korea, an organization that has grown since 2003 to boast a roster of over 100 members.

In addition to the interaction with Stanford KSP's faculty and visitors, Stanford students benefit greatly from numerous social science and language courses, internship and overseas seminar opportunities, and the ever-growing Korean-language library collection supported by the program. Social science courses cover such topics as the Korean economy, the politics of the Korean Peninsula, modern Korean history, and many others. Through the Stanford Language Center, students may take a rigorous, comprehensive offering of beginning- through advanced-level Korean-language courses. An internship program co-sponsored with the Center for East Asian Studies provides students with the valuable opportunity to live and work in Korea each summer. Since its establishment in 2005, Stanford's Korean-language library collection has expanded to include a total of 41,300 print volumes and 13 electronic databases.

On an annual basis, Stanford KSP offers innovative and impactful programs addressing current, policy-relevant issues and events, as well as historical factors with contemporary relevance, that are shaping the future of the Korean Peninsula and the U.S.-Korea relationship. Conferences and workshops bring together leading Korea scholars with policymakers and other subject experts, including business leaders and international journalists, for productive and meaningful dialogue, research, and publishing activities. Stanford KSP's popular, long-time seminar series and special events afford members of the Stanford community and the general public the opportunity to listen to and engage with distinguished political figures and prominent scholars.

Stanford KSP celebrated its tenth anniversary on February 23 with a special public seminar examining the state and prospects of science, technology, and economics in Korea and Northeast Asia. The next day, it held its annual Koret Conference, a major event bringing together prominent Korea experts to discuss the future of North Korea. The anniversary activities concluded that evening with a dinner and reception to honor the generosity of Stanford KSP's long-time donors.

Proud of the program's accomplishments to date and optimistic about the future, Shin says, "I would like to invite my colleagues, students, friends, and supporters to celebrate what we have worked together to achieve over the last decade and I ask you all to join me in continuing this record of achievement in the decade to come."