Members of HanChum, Cornell's traditional Korean dance group, performed at the anniversary celebration in Klarman Hall.

Courtesy of the Korean Language Program at Cornell University

Members of HanChum, Cornell's traditional Korean dance group, performed at the anniversary celebration in Klarman Hall.

September 25, 2019

Korean Language Program, Now With ‘Record High’ Enrollment, Celebrates 30th Birthday with Music and Dance

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With the help of dancers in elaborate hanbok gowns and hip-hop groups performing popular k-pop dance routines, the Korean Language Program celebrated its 30th anniversary last Friday in Klarman Hall.

“I wanted to plan this memorable event to save and cherish our history,” one of the event’s planners, Prof. Meejeong Song, Asian studies, told The Sun. “If we don’t do that, then it might all disappear.”

The celebration featured performances from student dance groups such as E-motion, LOKO, Hanchum and Korean percussion group Shimtah. It also presented the documentary Looking Back, Moving Forward, created by JT Miller ’21 and Sophia Lee ’22, which showcased the journey of the department.

According to Song, who has been a part of the Korean Language Program for nearly 20 years, the program was first created in 1989 by Professor John Whitman, linguistics, and Professor Heyrin Diffloth Cheong, the first Korean language lecturer at Cornell. Dick Feldman, the former director of the Language Resource Center, was also instrumental in the development of the program.

The 30th Anniversary celebration offered an opportunity for the Cornell community to recognize these three important contributors in a flower ceremony.

Song then gave an overview of the program to the audience of 200 people, retelling its history and highlighting its students.

“We started with only elementary Korean 30 years ago,” Song said, “now we have six courses in one semester with classes for both heritage and non-heritage speakers.”

“This semester we have a record high enrollment of 105 students,” she added.

Song believed that the Cornell community’s increased interest in Korean pop-culture contributed to the growth of the program.

“So many more students are interested in taking Korean because they want to understand Korean dramas or listen to Korean pop music,” she explained.

Song hoped that student interest in Korean will continue to grow so the program can open more classes and enrich student experiences.