[KS] korean studies at the university of california in jeopardy

Ross King jrpking at interchange.ubc.ca
Thu Apr 24 12:41:54 EDT 2008

Thanks to all who have weighed in so far on this. 

Rudiger Frank's comments are well taken. When he says this, though: 

"East Asian Studies are harder to attack than Korean Studies"

I am struck by the extent to which this particular discussion in general, and the broader issue of Korean Studies support in general, ignores or downplays the crucial importance AND utter vulnerability and abject neglect of Korean language programs. 

What is getting cut everywhere (or at least, what is easiest to cut everywhere) are part-time, soft money, short contract Korean language teachers. 

How paradoxical that at the moment in Korean history when (South) Korea has more money than ever, and the popularity of Korean language studies has grown so much as to start attracting, for the first time ever, significant numbers of non-heritage learners to our programs, 

a) the new LMB regime has clawed back 10% of the Korea Foundation's budget for grandiose 'super canal' and 'English language immersion' schemes, 

b) other South Korean 'language promotion agencies' that support Korean have turned their collective backs on North America, even as their budgets increase (the 'Sejong Institutes' scheme, a copycat of the PRC's 'Confucius Institutes'), 

c) UBC this year turned away 80 non-heritage learners of Korean because of a lack of budget for Korean language teachers (the original message from UC-Berkeley was that it may well savage its K lg program; what's happening at other schools?), 

d) even North American colleagues on the Korea Foundation's advisory board routinely leave language programs out of discussions on strategic planning for the future. 

The first thing that gets cut in hard times is not just Korean Studies, but Korean _language_ teachers and programs, but there are good arguments to suggest that they should be the first place to START investing, and that those investments should take a more aggressive and long-term perspective. 


Ross King
Professor of Korean, University of British Columbia
Dean, Korean Language Village, Concordia Language Villages

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