Often lauded for its international appeal and outreach, USC took another step toward becoming a global university last week, establishing an exchange program between USC and members of the National Assembly of Korea.
Last week, Dean Howard Gillman of the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences and Korean National Assembly Secretary General Park Kye-Dong signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the exchange program between the National Assembly and USC’s Korean Studies Institute.
The exchange program — the most extensive program the Korean National Assembly has signed with any American university — will bring members of the National Assembly to USC and give students an unparalleled chance to learn about Korean culture and politics.
“Through this exchange program, members from the National Assembly will come to USC to attend classes, guest lectures, engage in seminars and workshops and generally promote a greater awareness and encourage an informed dialogue about U.S.-Korean issues among our students and in the surrounding communities,” Gillman wrote in an e-mail.
This memorandum will allow students and faculty to connect with influential Korean political figures who will begin to come to campus in the near future.
David Kang, director of the Korean Studies Institute, said he is excited both for the opportunity for Korean political leaders to visit USC and for the possibilities this relationship hold for the Korean National Assembly. He hopes students will one day be able to hold an internship in Korea with a National Assembly member and enjoy lectures not only from politicians but also from Korean movie stars.
“What we are trying to do at USC and the Korean Institute is to prepare students for the next generation of leaders … Having real interactions that go back and forth will give students another aspect of how USC is at the forefront of being a global university,” Kang said.
This exchange program will not only greatly enhance USC students’ and faculties’ understanding of Korean issues — the National Assembly will also benefit as well.
According to Gillman, the signing of the memorandum indicates the desire of the Korean National Assembly to partner with USC and to take advantage of the opportunities available here.
Kang agreed, noting that Korea currently has a young democracy that will improve through its connection with USC, giving members of the National Assembly a chance to learn about American democracy.
“This MOU is broader and serves a larger constituency than anything that the National Assembly has signed with any think tank or educational institution in the U.S.,” Gillman wrote. “The strength of any university is its commitment to engaging in and producing research that is non-partisan and makes an invaluable contribution to much-needed discourse on important issues.”
Currently, the Korean Studies Institute is located at the Ahn House on campus, but it will soon open a branch office in Koreatown on Wilshire Boulevard. This location will provide easier access for the National Assembly members and will help expand the program to the Los Angeles Korean community.
“This is a great opportunity to expand relationships with the larger Los Angeles community,” Kang said.