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The Current State and Task of African Studies in Korea

HONG Myung-Hee 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Since the 2000's, interest toward Africa in Korea has increased rapidly. Korea's interest in Africa began in the second half of the 1960’s. However, this interest in the 1960’s was motivated by political and diplomatic necessity at the time rather than the needs of indigenous groups in Africa. Korea had to oppose North Korea’s diplomatic expansion in Africa to gain the support of international organizations like the United Nations. This interest in Africa motivated by diplomatic needs vanished quickly after the end of the cold war in the 1990’s. Authentic Korean interest in Africa began to emerge in the 2000’s. Korea's rising international status based on economic development led to a natural interest in Africa, which was the last frontier on earth. As a result, African studies in Korea increased significantly after 2010. The increase in the number of theses, articles and books was remarkable from 2010-2016, in comparison with 1957-2010. In spite of the increase in the quantity of thesis, articles, and books, the problem with Korea’s African studies is above all, its preponderance. Over 75% of thesis and 70% of articles are concentrated in the domain of politics and economics. This reflects the fact that Korea’s interest in Africa is based on short term political and economic interest, indicating that Korea’s African studies did not deviate from the rudimentary phase in its quantity and quality. Another problem with Korea’s African studies is the lack of integration of different types of research. African studies in Korea has three components, government funded research centers, university laboratories and individual researchers. The government funded research centers focus on the overview of African nations and their political and economic information. University laboratories mainly perform research on the theoretical aspects of politics, economics, human sciences and culture in Africa. Individual researchers are concerned with various categories. However, these three groups have failed to achieve a synergic effect on African studies in Korea and most of the research on Africa does not extend beyond each academic area. To overcome this problem, first of all, a live exchange may be necessary between domestic researchers.

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