Missouri Southern will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our nationally recognized themed semester program in Fall 2017 with the Korea Semester.

A faculty and student committee has been planning the events throughout the spring semester. The committee includes two Korean faculty members, Dr. Hyunjung Kim (communication) and Dr. Kyung Joe (management), and a student, Lauren Lant, who spent a semester at Sangmyung University in Seoul.

While the semester’s focus will be on South Korea (the Republic of Korea), we do not want to overlook the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). It’s hardly a Democratic nation; its totalitarian dictatorship and human rights abuses make it one of the most repressive nations that ever existed. Still, we cannot ignore the slightly larger, northern half of the Korean Peninsula and its impact on the Asia-Pacific Region and the U.S.-Chinese relationship.

We will celebrate the visual and music culture of South Korea, its innovative technology, the Korean martial art of taekwondo, Korea’s unique alphabet (Hangul), and certainly the wonderful culture of Korean cuisine. The chef from Jin’s Korean Grill in Springfield, Mo., will provide a cooking demonstration and share samples of his specialties. We’ll also show some of the most popular Korean films throughout the semester.

We’ll tackle some serious issues, too, such as the prospects of reunification with North Korea (One Korea), life near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), defectors from North Korea and the religions and spirituality of the Korean Peninsula.

The English Department is in the process of selecting a “common reader,” a book that will be read by students enrolled in composition classes. If it can be arranged, the author will be brought to campus in November to give presentations and to sign copies.

The Southern Symphony Orchestra’s contribution to the Korea Semester will be to provide an original arrangement, for string orchestra and piano, of “Arirang” – the Korean folk melody (recognized in both Koreas) as roughly the equivalent of “America, the Beautiful.” Dr. Jeffrey Macomber, orchestra director, is completing the arrangement.

The Southern Jazz Combo, under the direction of Dr. Phillip Wise, will perform an original composition for jazz ensemble based on traditional Korean folk music. The work will be premiered during the fall concert.