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The James Joo-Jin Kim Center for Korean Studies promotes interdisciplinary research and teaching across the University community on issues related to Korea. Named after its benefactor, Mr. James Joo-Jin Kim, the Center (originally established in 1997 as Center for Korean Studies) advises the university on Korea-related initiatives, sponsors conferences and lectures by invited speakers, awards grants to faculty members and students, hosts visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows, and undertakes community outreach efforts toward a better understanding of Korea.

Departmentally, the majority of Korean studies students and faculty are located in East Asian Languages & Civilizations, History, International Relations, the Graduate School of Education, Anthropology, and Sociology.

The Korean studies collection at the Penn Libraries is focused on supporting researchers and scholars in Korean studies, as well as Korean language learners. Research and teaching at Penn and collecting efforts have recently concentrated on the following subjects: contemporary media and literature, pop culture and Hallyu (Korean Wave), gender and disability studies, historical genealogy, sociology, education practices, Chosǒn history, colonial-era Korea and Koreans, and North Korea. The bibliographer aims to collect comprehensively on such specialized topics, while also creating a strong foundation for research and study of a broad range of topics in Korean studies, including history, politics, literature, religion and philosophy, and the arts in premodern and modern periods. In coordination with Penn’s other Global Collections, the Korean collection strives to feature diverse and underrepresented voices and to collect materials that address issues related to borders, identity, and national belonging.

1. Chronological

Collecting emphasizes periods ranging from Chosǒn to contemporary Korea. Collecting includes works on some pre-Chosǒn periods, on subjects such as archaeology.

2. Formats

Collecting focuses on print books (such as contemporary scholarship, primary sources, literature, and advanced textbooks) and e-resources, and includes acquisitions of other media such as DVDs. Our electronic resource packages include journal articles, ebooks, and reference materials.

3. Geographical

Congruent with the interdisciplinary and comparative nature of the Penn community’s current pedagogical and research approach to Korean studies, collection development focuses on pre-war Korea, modern and contemporary South and North Korea, Japan, and China (including the former Manchuria).

4. Language

The Korean studies collection specializes in Korean-language materials, supplementing them with translations of literature or key scholarship into English and other languages, as well as important secondary scholarship in Japanese and Western languages.

5. Publication Dates

Current Korean studies collection development concentrates almost exclusively on materials published within the last five to 10 years, due to the scarcity of materials published prior to that period in Korea. Collecting includes recent reprints of historical primary sources.

Korean studies materials are generally purchased directly from Korea via KBooks Repository and Panmun Co., Ltd. Through a recently established approval plan with KBooks, and through additional selection lists developed in collaboration with KBooks' proprietor based on targeted needs, the bibliographer seeks to continue growing a strong general collection while cultivating depth in selected specialized topics.

Panmun supplies regular lists of newly published books and other media (such as DVDs), and selections at Panmun are made by way of recommendations from Penn’s Korean studies community. The latter selections are particularly geared toward current research and study needs.  

Further selections are determined from lists sent by organizations such as the National Library of Korea, National Assembly Library, and Korea Foundation, from which the Penn Libraries receive gifts in kind. North Korean publications are purchased via China Classics, and Japanese publications are purchased through the Libraries’ main Japanese vendors, JPT and Kinokuniya, as well as via the Japanese used book market.   

The following subject areas are collected broadly: Korean history, politics, literature, religion and philosophy, and the arts in premodern and modern periods.

Current strengths of the collection include:

  • Colonial Korea across disciplines and national borders
  • Chosǒn history and culture
  • Genealogy primary sources from throughout Korean history
  • Gender studies
  • Rare North Korean periodicals
  • Contemporary Korean fiction and other literature
  • Primary sources on the Dokdo/Takeshima controversy

The following categories of materials are generally not collected:

  • Gray literature
  • Children's literature
  • TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) preparation textbooks
  • Translations of Western literature into Korean
  • Works on science and technology in general