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Korean studies


Korean studies, or Koreanology is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of Korea, which includes the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and diasporic Korean populations. Areas commonly included under this rubric include Korean history, Korean culture, Korean literature, Korean art, Korean music, Korean language and linguistics, Korean sociology and anthropology, Korean politics, Korean economics, Korean folklore, Korean ethnomusicology and increasing study of Korean popular culture. It may be compared to other area studies disciplines, such as American studies and Chinese studies. Korean studies is sometimes included within a broader regional area of focus including "East Asian studies" or "Asian studies."
The term Korean studies first began to be used in the 1940s, but did not attain widespread currency until South Korea rose to economic prominence in the 1970s. In 1991, the South Korean government established the Korea Foundation to promote Korean studies around the world.
Korean studies was originally an area of study conceived of and defined by non-Koreans. Korean scholars of Korea tend to see themselves as linguists, sociologists, and historians, but not as "Koreanists" unless they have received at least some of their education outside Korea and are academically active (for example publishing and attending conferences)in languages other than Korean (most Korean studies publications are in English but there is also a significant amount of Korean Studies activity in other European languages), or work outside Korean academia. In the mid-2000s, Korean universities pushing for more classes taught in English began to hire foreign-trained Koreanists of Korean and non-Korean origin to teach classes. This was often geared towards foreigners in Korean graduate schools. There are now graduate school programs in Korean Studies (mostly active at the MA level) in most of the major Korean universities. BA programs in Korean Studies have now been opened at two Korean universities. The BA programs are distinctive in that they have few foreign students.