In 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies and withdrew from the Korean Peninsula. The Korean Peninsula then divided into two zones, South Korea and North Korea. Your Korean major, of course, will focus on both—their similarities, their differences, their troubled relationship, and their individual plights and progress. It’s an area the world is constantly watching, and you’ll delve into its turbulent history and its uncertain future. A major in Korean will give you a wide spectrum of knowledge about both Korean language and Korean culture. The language will serve as your main focus, and you’ll learn the grammar, the syntax, and how to read and write characters in modern written Korean. Through consistent reading, listening, speaking, and writing in Korean, you’ll soon reach an impressive degree of proficiency. Becoming fluent in a language takes a great deal of work, but after four years of study students in most programs are able to converse with a high level of success. Many colleges use multimedia centers so that students can work on their skills using computer programs and audiovisual aids. Your courses will include Korean politics, society, economics, culture, and government. You’ll learn what matters to the Korean people—plus those people in the related island groups and borderlands—personally and globally. Your newfound abilities to speak and write in Korean will open you up to appreciate and interpret in their context Korean texts, films, art, and music. You’ll truly gain a perspective on what it means to be Korean, and how Koreans see the world. Whether it’s international business, foreign relations, news journalism or teaching abroad, a major in Korean offers plenty of new opportunities.
The best preparation you can have for a major in Korean is the experience of learning another foreign language, even if it’s not Korean. Courses in English, history, and other humanities will strengthen your reading and writing skills and will be of great value as well. A strong foundation in math and science courses will give you a solid background with which to enter any liberal arts program.