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Korea Studies

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1619 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Rm. 724
Washington, DC 20036


Develop a comprehensive understanding of the economic and political conditions of the Korean peninsula, inter-Korean relations, and engagement with regional and world powers. Prepare to join the next generation of leaders managing business, trade, diplomacy, conflict, and strategy in this critical region.

Become an Expert

Combine quantitative skills in economics and statistics with deep knowledge of the peninsula's role in global affairs. Learn Korean through language courses at beginning, intermediate, and expert levels. See the Republic of Korea firsthand through annual study treks to explore the country's history, culture, and business.


Featured Courses

Develop a comprehensive understanding of the Korean Peninsula, including the economic and political development of the two Koreas, inter-Korean relations, and the peninsula's foreign relations with its immediate neighbors and with the US.


The Korean Peninsula at the Intersection of US and Chinese Interests

This course examines the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula through historical and diplomatic practitioners’ perspectives.

This course examines the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula through historical and diplomatic practitioners’ perspectives. Politically, the strategic interests of major powers intersect on the Korean Peninsula; in a place China long felt part of its sphere of influence, the United States now maintains a military presence. Drawing on original diplomatic documents and other source materials, as well as first-hand experience of current-day diplomats, this course will consider the trajectory of the two Koreas’ relationships with the United States and China and their role in the international politics of East Asia.


Political History of North and South Korea

This course gives an historically informed overview of politics and society in the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) and The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea).

The course will focus on profiles in political leadership, the development of political institutions, and societal change. It considers the legacies of colonial regimentation, Cold War militarism, and national division on domestic politics. Specific topics include authoritarianism, democratic transition and consolidation, civil society, government-led industrialization, and debates on Korean unification.


Political Economy of North and South Korea

This course provides a comparative and historical perspective on Korea’s development.

Korea’s development experience over the past half-century has been a source of fascination for development specialists and a source of inspiration for other developing countries eager to extract lessons that they can apply. One of the poorest countries in the world at the beginning of the 1960s, Korea joined the ranks of high-income industrial democracies within a generation, becoming a member of the OECD in 1996. To promote development, the government and the private sector made joint efforts to address innovation and coordination externalities while minimizing negative government externalities such as corruption. They developed “a big-push partnership” in which the government shared the investment risks of the private sector and provided support largely based on performance in competitive global markets. The reinforcement of successful experiments through the feedback mechanism of performance-based rewards led to dramatic changes over time. Committed to human development and social cohesion as well as economic growth, Korea pushed ahead with a coordinated and broad based program of trade, industrial, and human resource development.


Two Koreas: Research and Record

The course will explore how the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945 shaped the socio-political, cultural, and ideological trajectories of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Through scholarly writings, primary source documents, and fiction, students will examine themes critical to understanding the two Koreas today, including colonialism, communism, modernization, nationalism, economic growth, industrialization, urbanization, social change and demographic transition. The course also considers Korean energy security, citizenship, inter-Korean relations, and the foreign relations of South and North Korea. The course will look at South and North Korea alongside one another, making comparisons and drawing parallels where appropriate.

Learn From the Best

Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

James Person

Senior Faculty Lead, Lecturer of Korea Studies

Wonhyuk Lim

Adjunct Lecturer

David Rank

Adjunct Lecturer

Alexandre Mansourov

Adjunct Professor

In the News

North Korea in 1956: reconsidering the August Plenum and the Sino-Soviet joint intervention

James Person published an article for Cold War History, 9/18

South Korea stocks could be ready for a rebound.

James Person quoted in Barron’s, 8/2

Advance Your Career

Gain the intellectual framework and analytic skills necessary to enter a variety of roles across the public, private, multilateral, and nonprofit sectors.

Recent Internships
  • Albright Stonebridge Group
  • Korea Economic Institute of America
  • United Nations
  • US Department of Defense
  • US Department of State
  • World Bank Group

Recent Employers

  • Fenwick & West LLP
  • IHS Economics and Country Risk
  • Sughrue Mion PLLC
  • US-China Business Council
  • US Department of Defense
  • US Department of State
  • US Department of the Treasury
  • World Bank Group

Build Your Network

Join a diverse, accomplished, influential community of scholars, practitioners, alumni, and students working across sectors in 140 countries around the world.

Johns Hopkins SAIS students in Korea

Students enrolled in the course "Two Koreas: Research and Record" traveled to South Korea to attend lectures and meet with various government officials, experts, and scholars at multiple research centers, institutes, and universities.

Johns Hopkins SAIS alumni

Alumni based in Seoul, South Korea met up for a reunion event.

Johns Hopkins SAIS class discussion

The Korea Studies Program hosted a luncheon discussion featuring Professor Yonho Kim, Korea Economic Institute fellow; he gave a fascinating presentation on the increasing availability of cell phones in North Korea and the impact that it has had on the domestic economy.

Johns Hopkins SAIS students and faculty

The Korea Club regularly hosts events throughout the academic year, bringing the school’s community together for those who are interested in learning more about Korea.

Gaining a Competitive Edge in the Field of Korean Affairs

"I attended two study treks, one to Japan and one to South Korea which provided me with a a richer understanding of the country and issue at hand through professional, diplomatic, and cultural experiences."

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A Personally Enriching Education

"I am constantly amazed by my fellow students, whose insights, work ethic, and sense of humor challenged and inspired me."

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Check back soon for upcoming events.

Beyond the Classroom

Explore the dynamics of international affairs on the Korean peninsula through study treks, internships, and exciting research opportunities.

Korea Club

Bringing together classmates school-wide interested in the Korean peninsula, this extracurricular club offers networking opportunities with alumni and professionals active in Korean markets, culture, and policy.

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World-Class Events

The program organizes a monthly luncheon that features prominent policymakers, practitioners, and scholars of Korean affairs to speak about a wide range of critical issues in the region and share their fields of research and expertise.

Networking Events

Network with alumni and professionals and organize student-led events exploring pressing issues related to Korea outside the classroom.

Student Government Association

Serve as the liaison between the student body and administration, offering ideas for programming at the school and selecting guest speakers for the faculty research seminar series.