Press Release

New Institute for Korean Studies Launched at GW
The First of its Kind in the Nation’s Capital Area

On Thursday January 12, 2017 the George Washington University will launch the GW Institute for Korean Studies, created through generous support from the Academy for Korean Studies. The Institute will be housed in the Sigur Center for Asian Studies in the Elliott School of International Affairs. The interim director of the Institute is Prof. Gregg Brazinsky, until June 2017, when the Director designate, Korea Foundation Associate Professor Jisoo Kim, returns from her sabbatical.


The inaugural event will begin at 10:30 AM in the City View Room of the Elliott School, 1957 E. Street, NW, 7th Floor. It includes an official opening ceremony by GW President Steven Knapp, followed by a ribbon cutting, and music performance, and luncheon.

Congratulatory remarks will be delivered by National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman William D. Adams, South Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-Young, and other dignitaries including: Academy of Korean Studies President Lee Ki Dong, Korea Foundation President Sihyung Lee, Literature Translation Institute of Korea President Seong-Kon Kim, Associate Provost Douglas Shaw, and Deans Reuben Brigety and Ben Vinson III.

A special inaugural conference made possible by the generous support of the NEH, focuses on “the Korean Humanities and the Korean Diaspora,” will bring many of the world’s most distinguished experts on Korean literature as well as the beloved South Korean poet Moon Chung-hee to campus. It will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the City View Room.

GW’s relationship with Korea is long and significant. It’s most famous Korean alumni include Soh Jaipil, a renowned leader in the Korean independence movement who graduated from Columbia Medical College (now GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences) in 1892, and Syngman Rhee (B.A. 1907, a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, 1949, and an honorary doctoral degree in Law, 1954), the first President of the Republic of Korea. Recently, GW presented Roh Tae Woo, the 13th President of the Republic of Korea (1988-1993), with an honorary degree in 1989. Lee Myung-bak, the 17th President of the Republic of Korea (2008-2013) with an honorary Doctor of Public Service in 2009. More than 1,000 GW alumni—the largest concentration of GW alumni outside of the United States—reside in the Republic of Korea.

In 1983 GW became the first university in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area to offer Korean language courses as part of its regular curriculum. Under the leadership of Professor Young-key Kim Renaud, the Elliott School for International Affairs, and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Korea related research and course offerings at GW have grown dramatically during the last three decades.

In 2000 GW appointed the first Korea Foundation Professor of History. Professor Jisoo Kim, a leading expert on Korean legal history and director of the new institute, has held this position since 2010. In 2002, the Elliott School recruited Professor Gregg Brazinsky, a specialist on U.S.-Korean and Sino-Korean relations, who will serve as associate director. In 2012 GW hired Professor Celeste Arrington, a specialist in comparative politics focusing on the Koreas and Japan, to fill a second Korea Foundation chair in Political Science. Other core faculty members of the institute include: Richard Grinker, a renowned expert on autism; and Miok Park, a respected theoretical linguist. Thanks to a third matching grant from the Korea Foundation and the fundraising efforts of Professor Kim-Renaud, GW will establish a new endowed professorship in Korean Literature in the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department by 2018.

The mission of the GW Institute for Korean Studies (GW-IKS) is to consolidate, strengthen, and grow the existing Korean studies program at GW, and in the greater D.C. area. The resources of the institute will be used to establish a lecture series, annual signature conference, and works in progress seminar while providing support for the popular Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium in the Humanities. It will also assist in recruiting new graduate students interested in Korean studies.

The opening ceremonies and conference are also supported by GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, East Asian Languages and Literatures Department,

Sigur Center, Textile Museum, and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the USA, the Korea Foundation, and the Korean Literary Society of Washington. This event is free and open to the public but an RSVP is required. Space is limited; register early by clicking on this link: For any inquiries, contact Alexander Chung <[email protected]>, 703-994-6151.