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The Breakdown

Perhaps it’s your deep interest in the practice of taekwondo.  Or maybe you’re drawn into the political complexities surrounding the Korean Demilitarized Zone.  Whatever the reason, you are curious about Korea’s rich history and culture.  And therefore, you’re most likely a prime candidate for a major in Korean. 

As a Korean major, you’ll certainly have your fair share of classes focusing on conversation, composition and grammar.  Fortunately, studying a language at the collegiate level goes far beyond those brick and mortar lessons.  Indeed, you will be exposed to the culture, art and history of Korea.  You’ll be able to study everything from the country’s adoption of Neo-Confucianism to the films of Park Chan-wook.  Perhaps most exciting, you will likely have the opportunity to study abroad.  And there’s no better way to learn a language than total immersion!

Should you decide to study Korean, you’ll need the patience and the fortitude required to achieve proficiency (not to mention fluency) in a foreign language.  It also helps to have a good ear for accents and an appreciation for the nuances of grammar.  Moreover, when studying another culture, it’s best to maintain an open mind.  Finally, you should try and acquire a taste for kimchi.


Nuts and Bolts

Don’t fret; Korean majors don’t spend all of their time conjugating verbs.  While grammar is certainly a part and parcel for the department, you’ll enroll in a variety classes designed to address all aspects of Korean (and even East Asian) culture and history.  Courses might include: Readings in Korean Poetry, Korean Writing in Mixed Script, Literature of the Korean People, East Asian Ethical Thought, Elementary Korean, History of Korean Civilization, History of Modern Korea: 1860 – Present and Readings in Korean Journals.

Decisions, Decisions

Korean majors love to learn about different countries and cultures, from languages to literature and all topics in between.  Therefore, they might also think about studying Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, English, Hebrew, Portuguese, art history, international business, political science, East Asian studies, international relations, Slavic studies, Latin American studies, African studies and anthropology.

What's Next

You might not believe it but as a Korean major you’ll be uniquely positioned.  Indeed, the writing and critical thinking skills you’ll hone coupled with the international savvy acquired through studying another culture make you quite marketable.  And while teaching and translation are common, noble and attainable positions, you will discover that you are not limited to those two professions.  Certainly, many graduates find positions with Korean-owned companies involved in a variety of different industries.  Others might seek employment in international education or with study abroad companies.  A handful of Korean majors also land jobs with NGOs, doing aid work within a variety of Asian countries.  The foreign service is another attractive route as is international business.  Lastly, the tourism and hotel industries are popular, as they allow for a high degree of interaction with international clients.



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Don Munce