The Korea Foundation presented Harvard Wednesday with the first installment of a $3.5 million grant to fund the study of Korean literature.
The donation represents the largest sum of money ever given to any foreign university by the South Korean government.
As part of the agreement, the University will try to match the $3.5 million in order to provide a permanent endowment for Harvard's Korea Institute.
The Korea Foundation will contribute to the Korea Institute's administrative and operational expenses, will endow a chair in Korean literature, will fund two postdoctoral fellowships beginning in 1994-5 and will donate $50,000 annually to support graduate students working in Korean studies.
In a ceremony at 17 Quincy St., Son Chu-Whan, the president of the Korea Foundation, presented President Neil L. Rudenstine with part of the funds, according to a press release.
"This is a wonderful day for Korean studies-not only at Harvard, but in America generally," Rudenstine said in the release. "Other institutions will see what has been accomplished here, and we hope they will follow. The gift augurs well for the future study of Korean culture and civilization."
Rudenstine expressed his gratitude by concluding his remarks with his "newly acquired very limited Korean linguistic skills" by pronouncing the words "Kamsa Hamnida," meaning "Thank You."
In his presentation, Son commented on Korea's rising importance in the international community. He said the agreement will mark a turning point in Korean studies here.
Professor of Korean History Carter Eckert, currently the only tenured Korean expert at Harvard, expressed his enthusiasm for the grant. "I think it's a sign that Korean studies will become a much more active part of the East Asian agenda here at Harvard," he said in the statement.
Eckert's current position is also funded by a Korea Foundation grant received in the mid-1970s.
Eckert said that Korea has been a "missing link" in many seminars held in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations because there had not been any scholars qualified to speak on the subject.
The Korea Foundation's gift is the latest in a series of large donations to Harvard over the last several months. It comes as the University gears up for the official announcement this spring of a five-year, $2 billion capital campaign that will dwarf any fund drive in higher education history.
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