The Academy of Korean Studies (AKS) is going to set up 50 centers in 27 countries over the next 10 years and expand grants for world-renowned scholars in their research.The new long-term project called "Laboratory for the Globalization of Korean Studies," which refers to basic research units that will enable top-notch scholars to conduct studies, in which a director and a small number of researchers collaborate.
It is part of the institute's efforts to uplift Korean Studies to the level of Chinese and Japanese studies.
The project is expected to not only yield academic achievements but also arouse wider interest in Korea on a long-term basis."The lab project will begin this year with 3 billion won investment and it will receive support from the academy for the next 10 years. It will see a growing number of grants each year because the current administration wants to use Korean Studies as a national brand," the vice president said.
AKS has already provided grants of some $100,000 annually per university to 17 institutes around the world since 2006 to better promote the image of Korea. But the project is a more intensive and in-depth development of overseas Korean Studies, aimed at creating a pool of specialists on the country.
Domestically, AKS is also providing education to both locals and foreign students. The Graduate School of Korean Studies, its subsidiary school, has produced some 1,000 graduates so far.
The numbers have increased from 77 in 2006 to 80 in 2008, and 91 - from 21 countries - of the total 200 students in 2010.The institution offers a selective and interdisciplinary education in Korean Studies in four divisions and 14 majors.
Not only the quantity but also the quality of applicants is getting better. The thesis topics are diverse with academically high value. Among the graduates, Debby Tung, from Taiwan and translator of Korean dramas such as "Jewel in the Palace," is a good example of cultural exchange with other countries. She is connecting the two countries through her translations.
Due to her help, the fifth World Congress for Korean Studies organized by the academy will take place from Oct. 25 to 28 in Taipei, Taiwan at the Chinese Culture University where she studied.
The academy will also reopen the Jangseogak Library, Joseon's archive home to the royal documents next year to help extend research on, and the collection of old manuscripts.
It encompasses over 100,000 classical texts, formerly held in the royal archives, along with tens of thousands of pieces from private collections. Some of the materials in the archives, such as the "Uigwe" (Joseon Kingdom Royal Protocols) and "Dongui-bogam" (The Great Compendium of Eastern Medicine) have earned worldwide recognition with their recent inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The academy was founded by the government on June 30, 1978 for the purpose of performing in-depth research into Korean culture. To achieve this aim, the institute has devoted itself to identifying and interpreting traditional Korean culture, defining the academic identity of Korean Studies, and cultivating scholars with a global perspective who will be indispensible in the 21st century.