The National Korean Studies Seminar (NKS) is a private, non-profit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to informing educators about Korea’s history and culture and the Korean American experience in order to promote cross-cultural understanding. It is the only national organization organized by experienced award-winning educators to offer opportunities for K-12 educators of all disciplines to learn about Korean history and culture, Korean American students and their families. It is annually organized by Sung Kim and Mary Connor who have carried out more than 100 days of workshops for over 10 years throughout the United States. They have also created many lessons and over 40 Powerpoint lectures, published over 25 articles on Korean history and culture in leading journals, and recruited educators to participate in workshops from coast to coast. Both organizers have received awards from the Republic of South Korea and national organizations within the United States. In 2017, Mary Connor published “Teaching East Asia: Korea”, which serves as the first supplementary instructional material for K-16 educators. This publication and the seminar handbook are now available electronically to the public. NKS has organized several outreach Korean culture seminars in cities across the U.S., including Seattle, Tucson, Cupertino, Cincinnati, Chicago, Atlanta, and Minneapolis.
The Korean population has increased rapidly in the United States, especially in the Los Angeles area, but opportunities for educators to be informed about Korean history and culture have not kept pace with changing demographics. China and Japan continue to be emphasized in schools and teacher education programs, but Korea is rarely mentioned.
The five-day seminar aims to remedy this deficiency. Public and independent school teachers will become more knowledgeable about Korea and its rich heritage. They can then see a more complete and accurate understanding of East Asia. Furthermore, the role that the United States must play in supporting peace and stability throughout East Asia will come into focus. Understandably, Korean American students too will profit from learning about their heritage.
In order to accomplish these objectives, prominent scholars, writers, artists, musicians and others are hired to present varied aspects of Korea’s history and culture. Educators also receive extensive handouts that include valuable resources and helpful lessons to bring the country into the classrooms. Teachers and school administrators learn about the Korean American experience and become more effective in meeting the needs of these students and their families.
Racial tension does exist in Los Angeles and other major cities. Immigration and family mobility have increased the problem. Public schools have serious financial constraints that limit their ability to meet the challenges of racial and ethnic diversity, to say nothing of the poverty and stress that have become an unfortunate reality of urban life.
Since 2004, organizers of these programs at the Korean Cultural Center, together with additional workshops they have created, have included nearly 3,000 teachers and administrators from 37 states. The outreach has included educators from schools throughout California and numerous universities, such as the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Illinois, the University of Colorado, the University of Washington, San Diego State University and conferences (California Council for Social Studies and the National Council for Social Studies). Programs have been made possible through generous contributions provided by the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles, the Academy of Korean Studies, the Korea Foundation, the Overseas Koreans Foundation, the Los Angeles Forerunners Lions Club, and individual donations from Korean Americans from coast to coast.
President & Director: Sung Soon Kim (Teacher, Korean Dual Language Program, Cedarlane Academy, Hacienda La Puente USD)
Advisor & Co-Founder: Mary Connor (Former President and Program Director of the Korea Academy for Educators 2004-2012)
Assistant Director: Jini Shim (KECOS Online Course Instructor; Korean language teacher at the Fullerton School District)