Situated among Northeast Asia’s major powers of China, Russia, and Japan – Korea has been a strategic hub geographically as well as culturally throughout its long history. Divided into the North and South at the end of World War II, the Korean Peninsula remains mired in the legacies of the Cold War. The relationship between the U.S. and Korea has been dynamic and complex, especially after the Korean War (1950-1953). The economic and political ties between the two countries as well as Korean immigration render the Korean language as one of the critical languages to the U.S. There are 77 million speakers of Korean across the globe.
Today, New Jersey has the third largest Korean population, following California and New York. Palisade Park, NJ, which is only 40 miles from Rutgers–New Brunswick, has the highest concentration of people of Korean ancestry in the United States at 36.38% of the population. As the leading public university in the state, Rutgers is uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges of promoting a deeper understanding of Korean culture, language, and people. A strategic partnership was inaugurated on October 29, 2009 between the city of Daegu, South Korea and the State of New Jersey to build a world-class bioscience cluster.
The Korean program at the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures encourages research, develops curricula, and sponsors lectures and other cultural activities to enhance the understanding of Korea. As a result of the workshop on the William Elliot Griffis Collection in 2008, a bilingual compilation of the Griffis Korean materials is now available online.
Among the Korean Program’s faculty, Young-mee Yu Cho engages in research on theoretical phonology and morphology, Korean historical linguistics, and Korean language education. As the president of the American Association of Teachers of Korean (AATK) (2006-2009), she was able to articulate the particular needs and goals of Korean language education in the U.S., and initiated the task force to develop the National Standards and Guidelines for Korean Language to be published in 2011.
Suzy Kim's current research focuses on North Korea, a country that is often in the media spotlight, but of which little is known. Her emphasis is on social and cultural history, particularly everyday village life during the formative period of North Korea's history (1945-1950). Her teaching and research interests include gender studies, oral history, and social theory.
Ji-Young Jung's expertise in language pedagogy and second language acquisition contributes to enhancing the Korean language curriculum and developing the Korean teacher training program.
Since 2008, the Korean program has admitted students in the Master of Arts for Teachers program and produced the first teacher who obtained New Jersey Teacher Certification in Korean. She is currently teaching at Palisades Park Junior/Senior High School.
Affiliated faculty include Yeon-Soo Kim (Spanish), who deals with questions of visuality and narrativity in literature and films produced by Korean and Korean-American artists and, Sukhee Lee (History), who teaches courses on Classical Asia and Modern East Asia.