Inter-University Center for Korean Language Studies Now Accepting Applications

Korean language studies at Sungkyunkwan UniversityThe Inter-University Center for Korean Language Studies at Sungkyunkwan University is now accepting applications for advanced academic Korean language training in the 2016 summer session and the 2016-2017 academic year. The Inter-University Center is an advanced Korean language training institution for academic researchers, graduate students, and prospective researchers in Korean studies as well as related professionals. It is jointly operated by Sungkyunkwan University and the executive committee of the Inter-University Consortium, currently co-chaired by faculty from UCLA and the University of British Columbia.

The IUC academic-year program focuses on building basic academic vocabulary, developing presentation skills, and enhancing writing abilities. A separate intensive six-week program is offered during the summer. The summer session is designed for students needing to upgrade their skills before starting the fall semester; students seeking to build on what they have learned during the preceding spring semester; and students seeking to refresh their academic Korean.

Tuition is $5,000 per semester for students from IUC member universities and $7,500 per semester for students from non-member universities. For the summer program, $2,500 for students from IUC member universities and $4,000 for students from non-member universities. Scholarships will be offered to selected applicants on a competitive basis.

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A Comparative Look at Industrial Relations Values

industrial relations speaker Byoung Mohk ChoiThe Department of Sociology Spring Colloquium Series and the Center for Korean Studies present a talk by Professor Byoung Mohk Choi titled “Industrial Relations Values: A Comparative Study of Western, Thai, and Korean Values” Friday, April 29, 2016.

Choi will speak at 3:00 p.m. in Saunders Hall 244. He is the department head of the School of Social Welfare at Far East University in Seoul. His research interests include social welfare, health, population, IT, social problems, the elderly, and community development. Professor Choi has published several books on Korean society and national health, dementia care, welfare, sociology, youth suicide, human behaviors, and social environment.

For further information, telephone the UH Department of Sociology at (808) 956-7693.

Pumba Performance April 29 at Kennedy Theatre

The Center for Korean Studies is pleased to join with the Asia Forum in presenting one performance of the Theatre Gagaŭihoe production of Pumba April 29, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. in Kennedy Theatre on the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa campus.

This is the thirty-fifth anniversary year of the play Pumba, which was written and first presented in 1981 by Si-ra Kim (1945–2001), an activist, poet, and playwright. Kim staged more than four thousand performances in his lifetime. Since his death, his wife, Jung-jae Park, has led the performance group.

Pumba comes from a word repeated in certain songs of street singers and beggars from the early twentieth century. It is an onomatopoeic word for passing gas. Beggars would knock on the doors of rich people and sing and dance until they were given food. If they got no food, they would chant “pumba, pumba” and yell that the rich person deserved to “eat their farts.”

In synopsis, the play’s central character is Gaksul, who claims to be an angel from heaven. He falls asleep starving from the world’s indifference and inhospitality. He dreams of knocking on a rich person’s door and asking for food. Because of Gaksul’s volubility and skilled performance of a Korean ballad, the rich person offers him food, and Gaksul eats. He wakes up, however, and realizes that it was only a dream. Despondent, he misses his wife Soojeby. He recollects the time of the Japanese occupation. He was jailed for fighting the Japanese but escaped and went to Angel’s Village. After liberation from Japan, he hears a confession of love from a village girl, Soojeby. They get married, but after a short period of happiness, he loses his wife during the Korean war. His sadness and anger go to the extreme. The time returns to the present, and he misses Soojeby’s noble love, which was like salvation for him. He realizes that life is about giving everything we have. He leaves as heaven’s message brings down the curtain ending the play.

The co-sponsoring organization, the Asia Forum, is a nonprofit private nongovernmental organization in Korea. Its members include many University of Hawai‘i and East-West Center graduates.

Admission to this single performance of Pumba is free, but space in the theater is limited. Telephone the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956-7041 for further information.

Pumba performers

Spotlight on High-Profile Executions in North Korea

Rob York will discuss executions in North KoreaRob York, chief editor of a Web site specializing in news of North Korea, will discuss recent instances of high-profile executions in North Korea in a History Forum talk Thursday, April 28, 2016. Some of the executions have been described by credible sources as involving methods so grisly as shooting the victim at close range with anti-aircraft weapons.

York’s talk, titled “Public Executions and North Korea’s Right to Death,” will take place from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. in the UH Mānoa Department of History library (Sakamaki Hall A201). The presentation is sponsored by the History Department and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society.

In his talk, York will consider how the accusations and executions are connected to North Korea’s modernization process and the ruling Kim family’s adaptation of public pageantry. Black-market activities following the Great Famine of the 1990s contributed to these developments.

York, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Mānoa, is the chief editor for NK News (, which specializes in North Korea-related news and analyses. He previously spent four years at The Korea Herald reporting on topics including North Korean affairs.

The talk is free and open to the public. For further information, contact Prof. Peter H. Hoffenberg ( at (808) 956-8497.

Re-thinking Korea Overseas Adoption

Korea overseas adoption imageThe controversial topic of Korean overseas adoption will be taken up in a colloquium at the Center for Korean Studies on Thursday, April 21, 2016, from noon until 1:30 p.m. The colloquium speaker will be Yonsei University anthropologist Yoonkyeong Nah-Yim, who will present a talk titled “Re-thinking Korea Overseas Adoption from Sending Moms’ Perspectives.”

Overseas adoption has been an unresolved issue in Korea for more than seven decades. As the country overcame poverty after the Korean War, the practice of sending adoptees to foreign countries began to draw more attention from scholars and human-rights activists. The practice has often been rationalized in terms of culture-related practices such as patriarchism, boy-preference, blood-ties, and the like.

In this presentation, Prof. Nah-Yim will look at adoption issues from the standpoint of the sending moms, a perspective that has been largely invisible from the beginning. Are mothers’ rights to–not duties for–giving birth, caring for, and rearing children in the safest environments guaranteed and protected as basic human rights in Korea? Does the Korean government meet its responsibility to guarantee and protect mothers’ basic human rights? These are questions, she says, that must be answered in order to bring about change in Korean overseas adoption practices.

Korea overseas adoption speaker Yoonkyeong Nah-YimYoonkyeong Nah-Yim is an associate professor in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Yonsei University. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in women’s education/women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At Yonsei, she teaches courses on gender studies, research methods, and feminism theories. She is co-author of a forthcoming book titled Ŏmma ga ap’ŭda (Korean Mom in a Predicament).

The colloquium will be held in the Center for Korean Studies conference room from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. Center for Korean Studies colloquia are free and open to the public. The Center is located at 1881 East-West Road on the UH Mānoa campus. Limited paid parking is available in the lot mauka of the CKS building and in visitor lots elsewhere on campus. For further information, including arrangements for access for the handicapped, telephone the Center at (808) 956-7041.

This event is supported by the Doo Wook and Helen Nahm Choy Fund at the Center for Korean Studies and is co-sponsored by the Jon Van Dyke Institute at the William S. Richardson School of Law.

Mermaid Wraps Spring Korean Film Series

Korean film series feature My Mother, the MermaidThe Center for Korean Studies spring Korean film series ends swimmingly on Tuesday, April 19, with a screening of the 2004 feature My Mother, The Mermaid (인어공주), directed by Pak Hŭng-sik. The film stars the popular actress Jeon Do-yeon, who won several best-actress awards for her performance in 2004 and 2005.

My Mother, the Mermaid wraps up the spring Korean film series, titled Divided Images: Women in Korean Movies, which has presented feature films illustrating varying aspects of gender issues and feminism in contemporary South Korean society. The films were chosen by UH librarian Jude Y. Yang and presented with the assistance of graduate student Hye-Yoon Choi.

To mark the conclusion of the series, light refreshments will be served before the screening, so come early. Refreshments will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. The feature will begin at 6:30 p.m. as usual.

Here’s the outline of the plot: Na-yŏng (Jeon) is tired of living with her relentless mother and her father, who is too naive. One day, her dad suddenly disappears, and Na-yŏng decides to go to her parents’ hometown on an island to find him. To Na-yŏng’s surprise, her mom, Yŏn-sun, appears in front of her as a twenty-year-old haenyŏ, or diver. Her energetic attitude is the same, but the incomparably purer and more innocent version of Yŏn-sun is undeniably lovely. However, Yŏn-sun has fallen for the village mailman, Chin-guk, and he cannot hide his feelings toward her either.

Film screenings take place in the auditorium of the Center for Korean Studies at 1881 East-West Road on the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa campus. Korean films are shown with English subtitles. The screenings are free and open to all.

This series was supported by the Timothy and Miriam Wee Memorial Fund at the Center for Korean Studies. DVDs used for the film screenings are gifts of the Korean Film Council and the Korean Film Archive.

For further information about the film series, contact the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956-7041 or Jude Y. Yang ( at (808) 956-2319.

Limited, paid public parking is available in the parking lot adjacent to the Center and in other visitor parking lots on campus for $6.00. For more information about parking regulations and locations, consult the campus parking office Web page.

An advertising trailer for My Mother, the Mermaid is available here: