The mission of Yale Korean Studies is to promote and support scholarship on Korea at Yale. Yale Korean Studies is committed to the growth of inter-disciplinary scholarship in fields and disciplines including, but not limited to, history, religious studies, film studies, literature, language and linguistics, anthropology, and sociology. Yale Korean Studies also coordinates Korean Studies events and programming, and fosters a cooperative and collaborative academic community among faculty, staff, and students at Yale interested in the study of Korea.



The history of Korean Studies at Yale began with Korean language studies. The first Korean language course at Yale was taught by Elinor Clark Horne in 1947 in the Institute of Far Eastern Languages (IFEL). A few years later, Professor Samuel E. Martin took over the Korean program with the assistance of Ms. Young-Sook Chang and Mr. Sung-Un Chang. The Korean language program in IFEL continued into the 1960s, supported by the United States Air Force and primarily educating Air Force personnel and missionaries. By 1965, enrollment declined and Air Force support diminished. The Korean language program was terminated and IFEL was dismantled. As a result, remaining Asian language instruction was moved to the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures.

Korean language instruction at Yale resumed in 1990, following years of lobbying by the student organization Korean-American Students at Yale (KASY). Prof. Samuel E. Martin and Seungja K. Choi, who was then a Ph.D. student in Linguistics at Yale, started the Korean language courses in the fall of 1990. As the demand for Korean courses steadily grew, the Korea Foundation and Yale established a $1 million fund to support the program in 1995. In 1999, Dr. Jaehoon Shim joined the faculty and taught advanced language courses and Korean history (until 2002), and Dr. Angela Lee-Smith joined the faculty as the program’s second full-time language instructor in 2003. The language program has continued to grow since that time.

Growth of Korean Studies beyond the language program began in earnest in the late 2010s. In 2018, Prof. Hwansoo Kim of Korean Buddhism and culture joined Yale to teach in the Department of Religious Studies and take the lead in the expansion of Yale Korean Studies. In early 2019, Jude Yang joined Yale as its dedicated Korean Studies librarian, Jude Yang. In mid-2019, Yale appointed Prof. Hannah Shepherd of modern Japanese and Korean history to begin teaching the Department of History in Fall 2020 (postponed to Fall 2021). Later that year, Yale hired Hyun Sung Lim as a third Korean language instructor and admitted its first Korean Studies Ph.D. student, John G. Grisafi, to the department of Religious Studies. The Council on East Asian Studies continues to nominate one Korean Studies post-doctoral fellow each year.


About this website

This website was created in November 2019 to serve as the online hub for the Yale Korean Studies community. The site was designed by Nicholas Chang and the content is authored and managed by John Grisafi.