In the News – Korea’s 1st N. Korean Studies Dept. Faces Shut Down

In the News – Korea’s 1st N. Korean Studies Dept. Faces Shut Down

Dongguk University, the first Korean university to establish a major in North Korean studies, has laid out plans to possibly remove the department altogether.
If the university follows through with the plans, it would continue North Korean studies only as a liaison subject that students can take in conjunction with their first major starting from 2013.
It means the school will no longer offer North Korean studies as a major.
While adding that the plan is not yet finalized, the university says that the reform measure is an inevitability, since students generally avoid majoring in North Korean studies, because it does not guarantee a job after graduation.
Students now majoring North Korean studies, however, say that they haven’t been consulted about the possible plan.

[Interview : Jeong Chan-hyeong, President
Dept. of N. Korean Studies Student Council, Dongguk Univ.] “Students have chosen this major because of a commitment to resolve problems caused by the division of the two Koreas. We believe it is wrong to abolish a socially meaningful department like North Korean studies just because of its employment rate.”

If Dongguk University finalizes its decision to remove the department of North Korean studies, Korea University will be the only university left in the nation that maintains the major.
North Korean experts emphasize the importance of the department saying that it fosters a better expertise on North Korea.

[Interview : Yoo Ho-yeol, Professor
Dept. of N. Korean Studies, Korea Univ.] “The major at the undergraduate level is necessary to develop a full package of studies, which will nurture people that will eventually lead inter-Korean relations. The department needs governmental support for such reasons.”

On the contrary, some experts say that professional knowledge of North Korea can be taught in graduate schools and that North Korean studies will shut down eventually once the two Koreas unify again.

[Reporter : Hwang Ji-hye,] “Professors and students in related departments now have to wait for Dongguk University’s final decision that is expected to be made late December.”
Hwang Ji-hye, Arirang News.

DEC 01, 2011

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