History of GW's Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium in the Korean Humanities





The HMS Colloquium in the Korean Humanities Series at The George Washington University provides a forum for academic discussion of Korean arts, history, language, literature, thought and religious systems in the context of East Asia and the world.  The Colloquium series is made possible by an endowment established by the estate of Hahn Moo-Sook (1918-1993), one of Korea's most honored writers, in order to uphold her spirit of openness, curiosity, and commitment to education.




Dr. R. Richard Grinker, Professor Anthropology & International Affairs & Human Sciences, GWU, (Tel) 202-994-6984 (Fax) 292-994-6907, rgrink@gwu.edu;

Dr. Kirk W. Larsen, Korea Foundation Assistant professor of History and International Affairs, GWU, (Tel) 202-994-8115 (Fax) 202-994-6231, kwlarsen@gwu.edu;

Dr. Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Professor of Korean Language and Culture and International Affairs, GWU: Initiator and founder of the HMS Colloquium series, (Tel) 202-994-7107, 7106 (Fax) 202-994-1512, kimrenau@gwu.edu.


A Brief History of the Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium in the Korean Humanities at The George Washington University

The Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium in the Korean Humanities series was established in 1995 with an endowment established by the gift of the Hahn Moo-Sook Foundation in Seoul. Hahn Moo-Sook (1918-1993) is one of Korea's most honored writers, and the Colloquium series upholds and recreates her spirit of openness, curiosity, and commitment to education. In the capital of the United States—a very political town—where programs on policy-oriented current affairs reign, the HMS Colloquium series at GW purports to provide a forum for academic discussion of the Korean humanities, as Korea's presence has been increasingly felt on the international arena in various cultural and academic subfields. In this meeting participants are invited to enjoy an interdisciplinary and international dialog on Korean arts, history, language, literature, thought and religious systems in the context of East Asia and the world.

The HMS Colloquium in the Korean Humanities series has become one of the fine traditions at GW. Various organizations within and beyond GW, including the Korean Embassy, different departments of the Smithsonian Institution, and other universities in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, have joined hands with HMS Colloquium to organize programs in the Korean humanities. GW's Sigur Center for Asian Studies has been a constant sponsor since 1998. Each of our very popular meetings has received enthusiastic reviews from those who have attended it, including the speakers, all of whom have been world-renowned leaders in a particular field of their talks.

We have videotaped every meeting, and since 1999, we have also produced a monograph each year with the papers and commentaries presented at the colloquium, slightly revised to reflect audience input. The previous year, a special conference was organized to discuss Korean women's creativity from the 15th century to the 20th century, to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Hahn Moo-Sook's passing and the 15th anniversary of the Korean Language and Culture Program at GW. The resulting volume, Creative Women of Korea: The Fifteenth through the Twentieth Centuries, is published in 2003 by M. E. Sharpe in Armonk, New York, one of the major publishers in the United States.

R. Richard Grinker (Professor of Anthropology, Human Sciences, and International Affairs), Kirk W. Larsen (Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of History), and Young-Key Kim-Renaud (Professor of Korean Language and Culture and International Affairs, and Chair of the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department) are co-conveners of the annual meeting.

Typically we choose as the meeting day a Saturday in the month of October. Hahn Moo-Sook was born on October 25, and we usually enjoy beautiful weather around that time.

A complete list of our past meetings is given below. As the list indicates, we began to include commentators in the program in 1998. We have also published the colloquia presentations as a book (1998) and monographs (every year since 1999).

(1) "Psyche and Cosmos in Traditional Korea Thought," with Michael C. Kalton and Young-Chan Ro as guest speakers, November 4, 1995.


(2) "Views of Enlightenment and Monastic Practice in Korean Son (Ch'an/Zen) Buddhism," with Sung-Bae Park and Robert Buswell as guest speakers, April 27, 1996.


(3) "Shamanism in a Confucian Society: Past and Present," with Boudewijn Walraven and Laurel Kendall as guest speakers, October 26, 1996.


(4) "Writing and Reconciliation," with JaHyun Kim Haboush and David McCann as guest speakers, October 25, 1997.


(5) "Sparks of Creativity: Women in the Korean Humanities," with John Duncan, Young Hai Park, Yi Song-mi, Mark Peterson, Kichung Kim, JaHyun Kim Haboush, Sonia Hauessler, Kumja Paik Kim, Bonnie Oh, and Yung-Hee Kim as speakers who also served as discussants of other papers, and Young-chan Ro, John Goulde, Kongdan Oh, Don Baker, and Marsha Weidner as discussants.  October 24-25, 1998 [Co-organized by the Consortium of Universities of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area and the International Circle of Korean Linguistics.].


(6) "Creation and Recreation: Modern Korean Fiction and Its Translation," with Korean authors, Pak Wan-so and Ch'oe In-ho; translators, Bruce Fulton and Yu Young-nan; and commentators, Peter Caws, Alf Hiltebeitel, Young-Key Kim-Renaud, and Peter Rollberg, October 30, 1999 [Co-sponsored by the International Communication Foundation, Seoul, Korea].


(7) "Christianity in Korea," with speakers, Don Baker and Chai-sik Chung, and commentators, Bonnie Oh and Harry Yeide, October 21, 2000.


(8) "Music of Korea," with Byung-ki Hwang and Robert C. Provine as speakers; and Andrew P. Killick, Chan E. Park, and Elizabeth D.Tolbert as discussants, October 20, 2001 [Co-organized with the Korean Cultural Center of the Korean Embassy, Washington, DC].


(9) "Text and Context of the Korean Cinema," with Park Chul Soo (Film Director), Chris Berry and Hyangsoon Yi as speakers and Harvey B. Feigengaum, Ranjan Chhibber, and Peter Y. Paik as discussants, October 26, 2002.  In conjunction with the Colloquium, the Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution presented five recent Korean films, October 18-27, 2002.


(10) "One Hundred Years of Korean Literature," with Elaine Kim, Heinz Insu Fenkl, Nora Okja   Keller, and Don Lee as speakers and Patty Chu and You-me Park as discussants starting with the readings by the speakers the first night of the Colloquium at the National Museum of American History, October 24-25, 2003 [Co-organized with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program (APAP) and National Museum of American History].


(11) "Education in Korea," with speakers, Nancy Abelmann, Jae Hoon Lim, and Michael J. Seth, and discussants, Fred Carriere and Gregg Brazinsky, October 23, 2004 [In cooperation with the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery].


(12) "The Military and South Korean Society," with speakers, Eugene Y. Park, Seungsook Moon, Sheila Miyoshi Jager and jiyul Kim, and discussants, Carter J. Eckert, John R. Merrill, David R. McCann and Gregg A. Brazinsky, October 22, 2005 [In cooperation with Harvard University's Korea Institute].


(13) "Korean Food," with speakers, Sangmee Bak and Kwang-Ok Kim, and discussant, Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall, October 28, 2006.


(14) "An Evening with Kim Chiha—Korean Poet," with presenters, Kim Chiha and David McCann, June 8, 2007.


(15) "Korean Architecture: Past and Present," with speakers, In-Souk Cho, Jong Soung Kimm, and Jeff S. Lee, and discussant, Roger K. Lewis, November 3, 2007.


[NB: Further information is available at the website, https://www.gwu.edu/~eall/specialevents.html.]