(1) Project Objectives:
Korean studies have become a new icon that recognizes the new trends of the world. With Korea’s continuing prosperity and consolidating democracy, it is essential for Korea to revitalize the Korean Wave and its popular culture. Korea also needs to promote international cooperation across the national borders; achieve innovation of science and technology; prepare for the future; and respond to the challenges in its international relations, natural, human, and environmental crisis. The Center for Korean Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa is the largest Korean studies research institution in the Americas that has more than 40 Korean studies professors and experts conducting academic research and education. Located in a geographically strategic focal point linking the East and the West, and the Americas and the Pacific, the Center for Korean Studies serves as a hub for Korean studies education and research in the trans-Pacific region.
Throughout the long history of Korean immigrants in the Americas that began in 1903, the Center for Korean Studies has served as a touchstone to examine the issues of Korean immigration to the Americas and the current state of Korean Americans. The University of Hawaii has a unique position in the development of Korean studies in the Americas having top reputation in the areas of history research, politics and international relations, including inter-Korean relations, and Korean education. First of all, Hawaii is a place where Korean immigration has started, and the Center boast for its unmatched accumulation of research achievements by the professors who covered diaspora research, and library materials such as McCune Collection, Sun-il Lee Collection, and various other Korean immigration collections. In the field of unification, politics, and international relations research, the Center has a long history and tradition in the study of the division and reunification issues on the Korean Peninsula since professors Dae-Sook Seo and Glen D. Paige. Several experts in the field are working together to make the Center a new leader in the field. In addition, in the Korean language education field, the Korean language department and the flagship programs cover all levels from basic to advanced making the University a representative institution for training Korean language experts in the United States.
In particular, with the support of the Korean Studies Core University Program of the Academy of Korean Studies over the past five years since 2015, the Center for Korean Studies has conducted various research and education activities under the theme of “Diversity, Identity, and Universality in Global Korea” covering the areas of linguistic diversity; social inequality in Korean society, the similarity and differences in the two Koreas, and Korean immigration and Korea's role in the East Asian Community. As a result, the Center now developed a sound system that sustain collaborative interdisciplinary research, expanded and strengthened its capacity to take push for more advanced research, and expanded its span to broader international networks. Now, the Center intends to become an institution that plays a pivotal role in supporting and developing Korean Studies across the Americas beyond Hawaii. It also intends to promote Korean Studies in cooperation with Korean studies institutions at the early developmental stages. While deepening our research on various dimensions of changing Korean society, we intend to broaden it with two major axes: the study of Korean diaspora in the Americas and the research on peace, prosperity, and unification on the Korean Peninsula, which are the strength of the University of Hawaii. Through these activities, the University of Hawaii’s Center for Korean Studies will be firmly established as a strategic research institute for Korean studies in the Americas, providing Korean studies research results across North and South America and the world, and acting as a hub for Korean studies development.
The research and education on the diversity, identity, and universality of global Korea will be continuously pursued. Furthermore, in the short term, we will reorganize and catalogue existing archives and collections related to Korean diaspora; books and other materials related to North Korea, and various materials for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, while utilizing the existing institutional network of education and research. We will gradually develop an international collaborative network for Korean diaspora research and a peaceful prosperity and unification on the Korean Peninsula research. Ultimately, the Center will lead and share the outcomes of Korean Studies leading and strengthening international cooperation.
(2) Potential Benefits:
Currently, a meeting of the directors of the Korean Studies Institute in North America is held annually and an annual international conference for the directors of the Korean Studies institutes and graduate students takes place regularly. However, there has been no comprehensive cooperation process providing a multi dimensional view of the activities of each institute. Approximately 15 universities in the U.S. operate Korean Studies Research Institute or similar programs, but their activities are not closely connected and limited to simple information exchanges between research institutes.
This Strategic Research Institute Project aims at establishing a close mutual cooperation network among research institutions of Korean studies, and, in the long run, develop it into an international cooperation network. We will build up on our on-going research on various dimensions of changing Korean society. In addition, focusing on the Korean diaspora in the Americas and Peace, Prosperity, and Unity of the Korean Peninsula Program, the Center will generate various tangible outcomes including publication, conferences, and exchange activities under mutual cooperation. It will also gradually share archives and various research data through the institution network. The Center will greatly contribute to planning the future of global Korea in the long run by creating an international research and public service network for Korean Studies covering South and North Korea and the Americas.
Korean studies are the foundation for boosting public diplomacy. The important missions we have are to study the sustainable values that Korean studies should guarantee, globalize Korean culture including the Korean Wave, sublimate it to universal values that can be circulated and reproduced in the world, and, at the end, lead them to become the foundation for peace, prosperity, and unity on the Korean Peninsula. The Center for Korean Studies will contribute to the dissemination of Korean studies into the public and community beyond the academic realm helping the development of inclusive values that empowers the people.
The Center for Korean Studies is well prepared to work closely with existing research and community institutions and resources, including wide networks at the University of Hawaii and Korean communities in Hawaii and elsewhere. The Center will try to contribute to the development of sustainable values for Korean studies through its research and education on Korean society and culture. By using the Korean diaspora program and the Korean Peninsula peace, prosperity, and unification program as two pillars of our program, and by expanding various activities connecting universities and communities in the US, Canada, and South America, the Center for Korean Studies will be a hub for research and revitalization of Korean studies in the Americas.
(3) Contents of Project:
Under the above stated project objectives, the Center for Korean Studies at the University of Hawaii will consolidate the networks in Hawaii, and establish a cooperation system with external partners to cover the U.S., Canada, and South America. Furthermore, the Center will provide various international activities covering South Korea, North Korea, Europe, and Asia. It will also promote dialogue between Korean studies and other disciplines in the US. In addition, considering various uncertainties that may occur in the future, such as COVID-19, we will expand the utilization of various data and sources that could allow the continuation of operation and achievements in both virtual spaces and direct human and physical world.
The project is centered around the following three principal areas:
1. Establishment of a Korean Studies Network in the U.S.
a. Establishing close cooperative network with other Korean studies centers in the U.S.
b. Exchanging and having academic cooperation for the study of Korean diaspora in the U.S.
-UCLA, Chile, University of Toronto, and so forth.
c. Enhancing the status of Korean studies through expanding the exchanges and cooperative relationship with other research centers in the Americas and in Asia; developing cooperation network with scholars in the field of Asian research and organizing occasional events with alternating exchange visits.
d. Developing joint programs for the peace, prosperity, and unity of the Korean Peninsula
with Stanford University, University of British Columbia, UCLA, International Society for Korean Studies, and so on.
e. Working with Korean diaspora and peace, prosperity, and unity of the Korean Peninsula programs in other regions.
f. Expanding Korean studies for the public domains.
g. Functioning as the top think tank that will open the future of global Korea.
2. Establishing the cooperative system of exchange and sharing the archival collections of the Korean diaspora.
a. Displaying the data and collections
b. Building the digital library
c. Accumulating online resources
d. Having joint international academic activities
e. Having an annual international conference – The sustainable values of the Korean Diaspora as well as the peace, prosperity, and unification of the Korean Peninsula
f. Publishing journal article and book
3. Establishing the cooperative system of exchange and sharing the sources related to peace, prosperity, and unification of the Korean Peninsula and North Korea.
a. Expanding the collection and provision of North Korean materials
b. Securing the foundation for activities to promote peace, prosperity, and unification
c. Initiating various activities to promote peace, prosperity, and unification of the Korean Peninsula
d. Journal publication, article publication, and professional advice
e. Facilitating the linkage activates with international organizations
Based on the goals above, we would like to produce results that will lead to three stages during the next 10 years.
Stage 1 (2020-2023) Lay the foundation for the Korean studies network joint service of materials
(1) Secure the foundation of the network of the Korean studies centers in the U.S.
(2) Organize and share data on the Korean diaspora.
(3) Lay the groundwork for the project of peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula.
Stage 2 (2023-2026): Promote joint projects and services of Korean studies database
(1) Formulate a pilot joint project with other Korean studies centers in the U.S.
(2) Activate the database of Korean diaspora-related materials developing the digital database.
(3) Prepare service of database and establish the international cooperation system for peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula
Stage 3 (2026-2030): Establish international networks for Korean studies in the Americas and achieve sound cooperation system
(1) Establish a permanent network and joint service of digital database.
(2) Provide materials of the Korean diaspora and immigrants in the U.S. through the website of the Center as well as the Hamilton Library Network at the University of Hawaii.
(3) Establishment of North Korea-related materials and databases. Consolidate strong international cooperation system for peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula
Korean studies, Global Korea, Korean immigrants, Peace, Prosperity, Unity, Korean Diaspora