Yale-Korea Week 2023: an inaugural celebration of Korean culture and history

Yale celebrated its first ever Yale-Korea Week from November 4–14, reflecting the rapidly growing interest students at the university have in Korean-related courses and studies. Organized by the Office of International Affairs in collaboration with Korea University, the MacMillan Center’s Council on East Asian Studies (CEAS) and Korean American Students at Yale (KASY), and featuring events held by the Yale Film Archive at the Yale Library, the K-pop dance group Yale Movement, Yale Taekwondo and the Yale Korean Bioscience Society, Yale-Korea Week events drew hundreds of attendees from all across Yale’s community to learn about and commemorate the country’s culture, denizens, and diaspora.

The week featured several lectures from Korean Studies scholars both at Yale and a number of other global universities, including Korea University and the University of Hong Kong. The topics spanned a variety of ideas, ranging from violence in Korean Buddhist history to the gendered logic in faith-based aid work after the Korean War. Korea University professors spoke on topics regarding literature and culture, with Yale professors acting as moderators.

Dong-One Kim, the president of Korea University, also delivered a lecture on Nov. 13, discussing the place of technology and labor in the era of generative A.I., such as ChatGPT, amongst others. Referencing the rapid industrialization of South Korea, Kim illustrated the modern-day challenges both the United States and South Korea face with continued multi-varied technological improvement.

One central theme throughout the week was peace on the Korean Peninsula, with a lecture on Nov. 6 by North Korean human rights advocate Seohyun Lee, as well as a series of musical performances on Nov. 10 that featured music from Korean folk traditions alongside classical Russian pieces. In a Q&A session following the performance, violinist Hyung Joon Won and maestro Toshiyuki Shimada discussed their experience traveling to the DMZ in 2018, playing, amongst other songs, ‘Arirang Fantasy,’ a rendition of the folk song sung in both Koreas and scored by a North Korean composer.

Yale-Korea Week events were not solely academic in nature, however, with the festivities on Nov. 11 for the Yale Celebrates Korea event drawing in a full crowd. Attendees enjoyed Korean food and drinks as they watched dances, martial arts, musical performances, and the movie Chosen, a documentary following the stories of five Korean Americans running for Congress in 2020. Joseph Juhn, the director of the documentary, was also in attendance. Other events included a series of sold-out shows held by Yale Movement, who also performed at the Yale Celebrates Korea event, as well as a densely-packed screening of Minari, attended by the director Lee Isaac Chung ’01.

The series of events concluded with a reception sponsored by Korea University with the goal of tendering a long-term relationship between Yale and Korea University. Jieun Pyun, the Director for Asia at the Office of International Affairs and one of the main organizers of Yale-Korea Week, expressed “This inaugural Yale Korea Week highlights strong Yale Korea relations. As Korea continues to grow its presence and role on the global stage, we are determined to continue deepening and strengthening this relationship.”

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To view a photo slideshow of the Yale Celebrates Korea event, click the photo below.

Slideshow Link