Yale Korean Language Study program celebrates 30th anniversary

This past October marked the 30th anniversary of Korean Language Study at Yale. The Council on East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the Macmillan Center honored the occasion by hosting a celebratory event with guest speakers, presentations and lectures by faculty, students and alumni. 

Korean language studies at Yale has come a long way since its first course offering in 1947. The University’s original Korean language program was disbanded in 1965 as a result of declining enrollment and support, however, in 1990 the program was revived after years of lobbying from the student-led organization, Korean American Students at Yale (KASY). The program has since grown immensely, garnering great interest from students and continues to work on expanding its faculty and widening its curriculum to not only Korean language study but also other Korea-related interdisciplinary subject areas. 

Director of the Yale Center for Language Study, Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl, and CEAS Chair, Hwansoo Kim, opened the ceremony by delivering welcome addresses. Other key speakers at the event included Jaeseung Moon, Deputy Director of Korea Foundation USA and Byung Hwa Chung, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in New York. Additionally, guest speaker, Robert Ramsey, Professor Emeritus of East Asian Linguistics at the University of Maryland delivered a lecture entitled “The Korean Alphabet, Korea’s Gift to the World” and Yale Professor Aaron Gerow, East Asian Languages and Literatures, delivered a lecture entitled “Bong Joon-ho and Koreeda Hirokazu: Some Thoughts on Korean and Japanese Cinema.”

Notable alumni also attended the event, including award-winning writer, Min Jin Lee ‘90, who shared some thoughts to commemorate the momentous milestone. In her remarks, Lee reflected on her time at Yale as a student but in particular about the importance of her classmates and her efforts in advocating for the return of Korean language study at Yale. The program’s success and continued development today, is merely an outcome of the resilient efforts students put into driving change and growth on campus 30 years ago.

Other celebrations included a video tribute on the history of Yale’s Korean language program put together by current students, a showcase of traditional Korean dance and music performed by the New York Korean Performing Arts Center and a display of a special metal works and flower arrangement created by well-acclaimed, floral artist, Claire Won Kang. 

As Korean language and culture courses continue to gain traction among Yale students as well as globally with Korean universities and partners, the continued initiative, engagement and enthusiasm from students reveal a promising future for Korean studies at Yale.


To learn more, visit the Council on East Asian Studies website