South Korea at Wesleyan: Some Highlights

Claire Choi '13

Claire Choi ’13
Seoul, South Korea

Art History Major Seo In (Claire) Choi ’13 of Seoul, South Korea, is interested in how socio-economic and cultural circumstances have shaped artwork. In addition to her studio art classes, Choi has explored many different disciplines during her four years at Wesleyan, taking classes in philosophy, French and German, and in the College of Letters.

Claire is a Freeman Scholar and a member of the Freeman Asian Scholar Association. "Freeman Asian Scholars are a very unique and warm-hearted group of students, and we have many great memories together. It is such a welcoming community that I am proud to be part of it," she says.

Roth Tours Asia

President Roth Visits Seoul

In 2013, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth visited several countries in Asia, meeting with alumni, students, prospective students and guests. He made stops in Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bankok.

Seoul is home to a tight-knit community of Wesleyan alumni. More than 40 alumni, students and prospective students attended the reception there with President Roth. Here he is pictured with William Choi ’89 at Namsam Park in Seoul.

See more photos from President Roth's trip in Asia here.

Korean Drumming Ensemble

Korean Drumming Ensemble

Wesleyan offers one of the few Korean drumming ensemble courses in the U.S. Initiated by Joo Im Moon '03, a Freeman Asian Scholar from South Korea, the ensemble started as an informal student group in 2001.

Joo Im Moon had some p'ungmulnori lessons in Korea before coming to Wesleyan, and become the instructor of the group. The informal student group met with great enthusiasm from Wesleyan students. One year later, Joo Im acquired support from the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies and brought back a few musical instruments from Korea. She then formed the Samulnori Student Forum in Fall 2002, with Professor Su Zheng as faculty advisor.

Learn more here.

Jonathan Best

Jonathan Best
Professor of Art History and East Asian Studies

Jonathan Best is a professor of art history and East Asian studies, whose research and publications focus on early Korea, addressing religious history, diplomatic and political history, as well as art history. His current research centers on the critical historiographic analysis of the Samguk sagi, the oldest surviving history of Korea. Initiating what promises to be a long-term, multi-volume project is his monograph, A History of the Early Korean Kingdom of Paekche, together with an annotated translation of The Paekche Annals of the Samguk sagi (Harvard University Asia Center Press, 2006).

At Wesleyan, Best teaches courses including "Great Traditions of Asian Art," "Buddhist Art from India to Japan," and "Traditions of East Asian Painting."

Chi-Young Kim '03

Chi-Young Kim '03 Translates Best-Selling Korean Novel about Missing Mother

In 2011, Chi-Young Kim '03 translated the best-selling Korean novel, Please Look After Mom (Knopf), which recounts the story of a family's search for their mother, who disappears one afternoon amid the crowds of the Seoul Station subway. The novel is told from the points of view of four family members.

The Korea Times wrote that Please Look After Mom “would not have made a sensational international debut without professional translator Kim Chi-Young.”

Based in Los Angeles, Kim is the recipient of the Daesan Foundation Translation Grant in 2005 and 2008, and the 34th Modern Korean Literature Translation Award in 2003. Her other translations include Kyung Ran Jo's Tongue, Young-ha Kim's Your Republic is Calling You and I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, and Lee Dong Ha's Toy City. Read more here. 

Glenn Stowell

Traces of Life: Seen Through Korean Eyes, 1945-1992

For four months in 2013, the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies housed an exhibition presented by The Korean Society titled, “Traces of Life: Seen Through Korean Eyes, 1945-1992,” capturing the details of Korean people’s everyday lives in that period. It featured 27 photographs taken by the first generation of Korean realists, 13 pioneers whose works evoke nostalgia for a nation in a radical transition from its past.

Curator Chang Jae Lee describes the exhibition as a counterpoint to the turbulent history of this period in Korea, featuring “exuberant visual diversity" and “anthropologically important aspects of the nearly forgotten past.” Touching and expressive, the photographs show how people used their traditions and humanity to face a new world of independence, industrialization, development and complex political shifts. This represented the first time these black-and-white photographs were exhibited in the United StatesRead more.