Established in 1972, the Center for Korean Studies coordinates and develops resources for the study of Korea at the University of Hawai‘i. The Center seeks to promote interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches to Korean studies by drawing on its faculty members in disciplines as diverse as anthropology, architecture, art, Asian studies, communication, creative writing, economics, ethnomusicology, education, geography, history, language, linguistics, literature, management, political science, sociology, and urban and regional planning.
With the largest concentration of Korea scholars and resources at any academic institution outside of Korea itself, the Center strives to be the premier institution for the study of Korea in the United States. The Center conducts scholarly conferences; sponsors research projects; presents colloquia, seminars, and lectures; publishes significant research on Korea; and contributes to the enhancement of the University's library system and other University research facilities.
Center Programs are supported by endowments and other funds. In 1993, the Center established an endowment with gifts from the Korea Foundation, the international programs arm of the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was increased to $3.1 million with contribution from supporters of Korean studies in Hawai‘i and Korea. Interest from the endowment is used to support and enhance the Center’s ability to meet its long-range goals.
In 2006, the Korea Foundation renewed its partnership with the Center through a $1 million gift, which, matched by $1 million raised by the Center from donors, was used to create an endowment to support creation of new positions in University departments lacking Korean studies faculty.
In 2015, the Academy of Korean Studies, as part of its Core University Program for Korean Studies, awarded the Center a five-year grant for a project titled “Diversity, Identity, and Universality in Global Korea.” The grant provides approximately $850,000 over the five-year period for research projects being undertaken by Center faculty members.
An endowment of $250,000 was also established in 2015 with Drs. Sung-Chul and Daisy L. Yang's gifts to support the Korean Studies at the Center.
The Center’s goals are:
- to enhance the quality and performance of University faculty with interests in Korean studies;
- to develop comprehensive and balanced academic programs related to Korea;
- to stimulate research and publications on Korea;
- to coordinate the resources of the University with those of the Hawai‘i community and other institutions, organizations, and individual scholars engaged in the study of Korea;
- to assist students in fulfilling their educational needs while at the University of Hawai‘i;
- to bring together scholars in conferences and workshops devoted to assessing the state of North Korean studies;
- to improve Korean language teaching materials for intermediate and advanced students of Korean;
- to sponsor new research and make the results available to a wider audience of specialists and the general public through the Center's program of publications;
- to organize conferences and publications to shed new light on critical periods and relationships in Korean history and to offer an integrated understanding of modern Korean society;
- to establish links between the Center, the University of Hawai‘i, and institutions and businesses in Korea;
- to create continuing community outreach projects;
- to expand the audience for Korean studies through lectures, films, colloquia, and cultural events;
- to provide support for undergraduate and graduate students interested in furthering educational opportunities at the University of Hawai‘i and through exchange programs in Korea.