The University of Missouri has christened a new Institute for Korean Studies (IKS). MU aims to bolster and continue the university’s decades of research on Korea through the institute.
MU announced the formation of IKS on Tuesday and launched the program on Thursday. Assistant professor of history Harrison Kim and assistant professor of political science Sheena Greitens worked with the Asian Affairs Center to create IKS. Both professors have written books about their studies of Korea. Kim said he and Greitens came up with the idea for IKS about two years ago and have worked to make it a reality since then.
MU’s relationship with Korea dates back to the 1950s. After the Korean War, President Harry Truman created opportunities for South Korean students to study at public universities in Missouri. MU now has over 1,000 alumni in Korea, some of whom work for the South Korean government. MU has also hosted visiting scholars and exchange students from Korea.
“The goal of IKS was really to create a focal point where our faculty could come and tap into those resources to expand and build for their own research,” Greitens said.
Greitens said MU’s research on Korea has come from several departments, not only History and Political Science but also Art, Agriculture, Hospitality Management and others. She also said students have expressed interest in learning about Korea. MU already offers a variety of Korean courses and a Korean Studies minor.
IKS will support research trips and bring in speakers such as Grace Jo, who spoke at the launch event Thursday in Memorial Union South. Jo is an activist who fled North Korea as a child with her family and is now a U.S. citizen. A documentary about her journey called “I Am Grace” accompanied her speech.
“I think we can learn a lot (from her) about not just North Korea, but the global issues of refugees, migration and human rights,” Kim said.