The Center for Critical Korean Studies at UC Irvine announced Monday it was awarded a pair of grants totaling more than $1 million to fund research and educational programs while also funding a new faculty position.

The Academy of Korean Studies, a division of the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Education, awarded UCI $800,000 in the form of a Core University Grant. The funds will support faculty research, undergraduate education, graduate student fellowships and community and campus programming. UCI is one of two institutions in the United States and one of seven globally to receive the grant. In 2016, the center received $850,000 from the same grant.

“The AKS grant is crucial to the growth and development of the center,” director Joseph Jeon said in a statement. “With the help of the first AKS grant, we were able to establish the center as one of the most vibrant and active centers for Korean studies in the United States. This new grant will help us continue our mission of fostering top-notch research, supporting undergraduate and graduate learning, and connecting UCI to the community around us in Southern California.”

Meanwhile, the Korean Foundation awarded the center $300,000 to establish a tenure-track professorship in Korean art history in UCI’s Department of Art History. The position will begin in fall 2022 after an international recruitment process.

“The new position in Korean art history will complement existing strengths at UCI in literature, film and cultural studies,” Jeon said. “It will also help deepen our connections to our community, for whom Korean art is a growing interest.”

Tyrus Miller, dean of UCI’s School of Humanities, said, “These grants will help the center further cement UCI’s place as Orange County’s prime destination for Korean scholarship, study and programming that enrich our understanding of Korea’s rich history and vibrant contemporary culture.”

UCI’s Center for Critical Korean Studies has hosted events spanning history, literature and pop culture, including the Korean Hip-Hop and New Explorations of Afro-Asian Identity Conference and “The Rise of K-Culture” webinar series. The center is planning an international conference on contemporary Korean women’s literature and film, according to the university.

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