South Korea Country Brief

Korean temple near lake and mountain

Decades after the "Minnesota Project" helped rebuild Seoul National University, the University of Minnesota maintains strong research, alumni, and student ties to the country.

Expand all

Research and Faculty Connections

USAID "Minnesota Project"—1954-1962

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) selected the University of Minnesota to advise and assist in rebuilding and modernizing Seoul National University after the Korean War. The USAID project was headquartered jointly at the University of Minnesota and Seoul National University; initially targeting the fields of agriculture, engineering, and medicine, it later expanded to include public administration, veterinary medicine, and nursing. Nearly 300 Korean scholars studied in the United States between 1954 and 1962, most of them at Minnesota; 60 earned master’s degrees and 14 earned doctoral degrees. Two-thirds of the 59 U.S. faculty members who served in Korea were from the University of Minnesota. Seoul National University is now the preeminent institute of higher education in Korea, and many University of Minnesota alumni—trained during and subsequent to the end of the USAID project—are now in positions of leadership in Korean universities and government. Minnesota faculty continue to travel and lecture in Korea based on ties forged through this contract. In 2004 SNU and the U of M Medical School celebrated 50 years of collaboration with a special series of seminars and lectures. SNU has launched a similar initiative, that it is calling the “Minnesota Project,” to help the National University of Laos build its professional health-related schools.

Other Faculty Connections:

  • Catherine Solheim, CEHD, works with SNU in the area of family social science.
  • The School of Nursing has a faculty exchange with nursing faculty at SNU.
  • The Global Teacher Educator Program through CEHD hosts a cohort of students from Seoul National University of Education annually.
  • CSE has several faculty-to-faculty collaborations within various institutions in South Korea.
  • The Global Medical Education and Research (GMER) Program has a partner site for student global health experiences at Seoul National University (SNU) College of Medicine.

Institutional Partners

Seoul National University

Seoul National University is a national research university as is considered to be the most prestigious in the country. The University of Minnesota led the "Minnesota Project" to advise and assist in rebuilding and modernizing Seoul National University after the Korean War.

Korea University

Korea University is a private research university in Seoul, and is widely regarded as one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education.

Seoul National University of Education

Seoul National University of Education provides training for future public elementary school teachers in South Korea.


KAIST (formerly the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) is a national research university, established by the Korean government in 1971 as the nation's first public, research-oriented science and engineering institution.

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Pohang University of Science and Technology is a private research university dedicated to research and education in science and technology.

UMN Partners and Related Units

UMN Units with Partnerships and Projects in South Korea

  • College of Education and Human Development
  • College of Science and Engineering
  • Medical School
  • School of Nursing

Related Units

  • The Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies on the Twin Cities campus offers courses in the study of the cultures, media, literatures, and languages from Asia and the Middle East — including Korean.
  • Established in 1965, the East Asian Library is among the twenty largest East Asian collections in America. The library currently holds over 160,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language materials.


Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals recipients:

  • Bon Ho Koo, South Korea — Ph.D., Economics (1967)
  • Hyeoun Ae Park, Korea — M.S., Nursing (1983); Biometry and Health Information Systems (M.S., 1986, Ph.D. 1987)
  • Imho Bae, South Korea — Ph.D. Social Work (1991)
  • Michael Byungnam Lee, Korea — Ph.D., Industrial Relations (1998)
  • Yong-Lin Moon, South Korea — Ph.D., Educational Psychology (1987)

International Alumni Network

The University of Minnesota Alumni Association maintains an alumni network in Korea.

Student Mobility

Korean Students at UMN

509 students (2019-20)*

UMN Students in Korea

61 students (2018-19)+

UMN students can choose from several learning abroad programs in Korea, including an academic year exchange and several short-term programs. The Carlson School of Management offers a student exchange with Sogang University.

*Source: ISSS Annual Report (Twin Cities only)
+Systemwide, source: Learning Abroad Center

Community Engagement