Greetings! My name is Choi So Young, and I teach Korean history and Korean studies at the Department of the History and Culture of Korea, part of the Faculty of Korean Studies at Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies (TSUOS). Established in 1991, TSUOS is the largest Asian studies institute in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Since the Department of Korean Language and Literature was set up in 1992, the university has become the only Uzbek institution where students can earn doctoral degrees in Korea-related studies.
The most memorable among my years at TSUOS was the establishment of the Faculty of Korean Studies. When I began to work here as a KF Visiting Professor in 2016, the Department of Korean Language and Literature belonged to the Faculty of Far East Asian Languages. In addition to the Department of Korean Language and Literature, the Department of International Politics and Economics taught Korean politics and economics; the Department of Philosophy, Korean philosophy; and the Department of History, Korean history. Students could earn master’s degrees and doctorates in Korea-related subjects, too. However, the lack of classes and the level of teaching left much to desire given the increasing demand for them. Thus, Korean Studies majors at TSUOS long dreamed of having a faculty specializing in Korean Studies education and research, and in 2018, their dream came true with the establishment of the Faculty of Korean Studies.
Students at the Faculty of Korean Studies may choose such majors as Korean language, Korean literature, Korean culture, Korean history, Korean politics, and Korean economics, and all of them are required to take Korean language classes five times a week. Each class lasts for 80 minutes. One of TSUOS’s goals is bringing up Korean studies specialists who have a good command of Korean and may be able to help other schools open Korean studies departments. The school also aims at bringing Korean studies research in Uzbekistan to a higher level. I myself take part in various activities to lay the foundation for Korean studies research. I developed the curriculum for the Department of the History and Culture of Korea, published Korean history and Korean cultural history textbooks in Uzbek, and joined in the translation of Korean literature. Together with other professors, I plan to produce a Korean language textbook for Korean studies majors.
The Faculty of Korean Studies conducts classes in two ways that, respectively, aid students’ future careers where job opportunities and study periods in Korea are concerned. Every year, three to four students leave for Korea to take Korean studies courses, and by the time they come back home, they help improve the level of Korean studies research in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has been the home of Koryo-saram, or ethnic Koreans, for a long time. Uzbeks are so deeply interested in Korea that it is their most favored foreign country, and Korean is their number one choice for a second language. I would like to convert such public interest in Korea into more vigorous research in Korean studies.