Why do we study Korea?

23 11 2009

Leonid Petrov (The Korea Times 11-27-2009)

In 2009, the Korea-Australasia Research Centre (KAREC) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have commenced a national project funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Through the Strategic Collaboration and Partnership Fund a total of $9.36 AUD million over three competitive funding rounds will be available to organisations, including universities, higher education providers, businesses and Asian communities.

The KAREC’s National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP) focuses on Korean language and studies education in Australian schools. It is also in line with the government’s aim to increase opportunities for school students to become familiar with the languages and cultures of Australia’s key regional neighbours: China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea.

As the first milestone of the Project, KAREC has organised a National Strategic Conference, which was held on 19–21 November 2009 at UNSW, Sydney. The purpose of the Conference was to examine the current status of Korean language and studies education in Australia and to establish a long-term strategy to ensure continued development.

The major theme of the Symposium on the 19th of November was the current situation, issues and challenges of, and strategies for Australia’s Korean language and studies education. On the 20th of November, there was a round-table discussion on the coverage of Korea in high school non-language subjects. Korean Studies academics and high school teachers of Society and Environment, English and Arts participated in this discussion. On the 21st of November, a workshop for Korean language teachers in Australia was held.

Why Do We Study Korea?

What motivates us, while residing in Australia, America or Europe, to invest our time, money and effort to examine the past of this small country, squeezed between the giants of East Asia? It must be our interest in Korea’s dynamic present and promising future that stimulates our curiosity about its tumultuous history.

The Korean Peninsula, a land bridge between the Asian mainland and North Pacific islands, for centuries possessed great strategic geopolitical significance and played the role of a middleman in cultural transmission from China to Japan. Transformed under Chinese influence, Korea itself nurtured a unique culture and independent spirit. Despite the rise and fall of local dynasties and foreign suzerains, the Korean people managed to develop and preserve their own identity throughout thousands of years of existence

Practical Implementation of Korean Studies

A training approach that advocates the practical application of Korean studies in economy and trade, politics and international relations, administration and communication can achieve a double benefit.

First, it prepares the students to be better equipped for interesting and well-paid jobs, and, second, helps Korean businesses find excellent local staff and skilled consultants who will promote their export-oriented activities

In Crisis There Is Also Opportunity

The socio-economic and political position of Korea, in such circumstances, is pivotal for success or failure of Korean studies in Australia and elsewhere. When choosing a regional language, students must realize that Korea provides them with many more opportunities than, say China or Japan.

The image of Korea as the bridge or hub of East Asia can be helpful in fulfilling this task. However, studies of language and culture form only a basis for further government-sponsored or industry-linked training

See the full text of this article here…

Also see ‘What do Australian Students Learn about Korea in Australian Schools’ by Jill Wilson here…


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