UI to welcome Korean institute


The University of Iowa has collaborated with Ewha Womans University of Seoul, South Korea, to start a Korean language institute on campus.

The UI has collaborated with Ewha since last winter, and it will hold an official grand opening for the Korean language institute in the coming months.

The first grand opening will take place on Oct. 8, when an official opening ceremony will be held in the IMU second-floor ballroom.

UI Korean language Lecturer Sang-Seok Yoon said that Ewha is a very popular university in Korea. Last summer, 15 UI students went to Ewha to participate in its summer program.

UI Dean of International Programs Downing Thomas hopes this new program will help to develop more opportunities for UI students who are interested in Korean culture.

“We have a partner university in Seoul, South Korea, where we have a good relationship,” Thomas said.

Since Korean course offerings and language enrollments have been growing, the UI decided to jump on board to create the Korean language institution in partnership with Ewha and the King Sejong Institute.

Thus far, there are six other Korean language institutes that support King Sejong branches around the world, but the one that is being opened here is the “only King Sejong Institute in the Midwest,” Thomas said.

King Sejong, a Korean leader, invented the Korean characters that Koreans use as their writing system in 1446. Koreans have used that writing system ever since, Yoon said.

“The King Sejong Institute is to stretch Korean culture to the local people,” Yoon said.

Yoon said the Korean Language Institute is planning lots of cultural events.

“Anybody can come to the ceremony, and we will cater some Korean food so people can taste Korean food and learn a little bit of Korean language,” Yoon said.

First-year graduate student Clara Keum, who will be the assistant administrator of the institute, has promoted Korean culture and events since her freshman year at the UI, when she was on the executive board of the Korean-American student association.

“I think it would be nice to have this institution to teach students in a more organized way about Korean culture and Korean language,” Keum said.

Thomas said there are quite a number of Korean students at the UI, so he hopes this program will help promote good, strong relationships between the United States and South Korea.

“We hope to raise better awareness of Korean language and culture and create more opportunities for Iowans to have an international experience for perhaps studying abroad in Seoul or by taking classes here on campus meeting Korean students as well,” he said.

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