was born as "Bosung College"
in 1905, during the final turbulent years of Korea's
Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910). As Russia and Japan fought a bitter
war for control of the peninsula, Korea's brightest minds urgently
searched for strategies to preserve the nation's independence.
Lee Yong-Ik, Treasurer of the Royal Household and a renowned
intellectual, established Bosung College under the banner, "Education
Saves the Country." Lee believed that mass education in
Western technology and Korean culture would strengthen the nation
against imperial encroachment.
Lee's heroic efforts did not prevent
Japan from formally annexing the Korean peninsula in 1910, just
a few short years after its victory in the Russo-Japanese War
of 1905. But Lee's educational experiment continued, speaking
a remarkable revolution in Korean education. During the occupation
period from 1910-1945, other schools were launched. Together
with Bosung, these early colleges formed the nucleus of a national
education system that today boasts one of the highest national
literacy rates and one of the highest rates of university attendance
of any country.
The school's early faculty and administrators remained
committed to the goal of a free and independent nation. After
the 1910 annexation, Lee Yong-Ik left Korea to organize an independence
movement overseas. His successor, Sohn Byung-Hee, was a leader
of an underground nationalist movement known by the occupation
authorities for his involvement in the March 1, 1919 independence
movement, commemorated as a national holiday today.
The global economic
crash of 1929 posed the next great threat to the school. Kim
Sung-Soo, owner and publisher of the Dong-A llbo daily
newspaper, intervened to save the college from financial ruin,
contributing much of his personal wealth to keep the school
afloat. After becoming President of Bosung College in 1932,
Kim embarked on a mission to revolutionize the quality the curricula,
traveling to Europe and the United States to study the best
colleges and universities of the day. Kim's 30th Anniversary
Foundation Committee secured critical funds for investment in
the College's future. In 1934, he constructed the main administrative
building on a large new campus in Seoul's Anam district. The
building continues to serve as the architectural centerpiece
of the University's Main Campus today. In 1935, the launched
the two-year construction of an expansive, modern library. Kim's
tenure laid many indispensable cornerstones for a national university.
After Korea regained independence
at the end of World WarⅡ, Bosung College changed
its name to Korea University. In the same year, the colleges
of Law, Business Administrations and Humanities were launched.
Scores of new departments and graduate schools were added over
the next 55 years, including one of the nation's top-ranked
medical schools and the prestigious Graduate School of Biotechnology.
the latter half of the 20th Century, successive generations
of administrators, faculty and students have remained faithful
to the innovative principles of the school's founders. As Korea
University added new colleges and research institutes, it continued
to study the best models of the day and to ask how those models
could be made to work even better. The University's students
remained committed to the ideals of national independence and
democratic government that had meant so much to earlier generations.
Few episodes in the nation's history illustrate this point better
than the "April 19 Revolution" that toppled an entrenched,
10-year dictatorship in 1960. This peaceful, nation-wide revolt
was triggered by protests organized by Korea University students
on April 18. The protests unified opposition groups around the
country and ignited nationwide demonstrations the following
day. The "April 19 Revolution" is remembered today
as the first step in a long process of democratization that
culminated in free elections and major reforms in 1988.
success of the University's mission will require more hard work
and new innovations in the 21st Century. Highlights of the University's
PLAN 2000 include continued development of outstanding curricula
humanities, social science and professional education. Programs
in natural science, critical to the future health of the nation's
economy, will be reinforced. Cultural and linguistic studies,
international exchange programs, and overseas internships are
being expanded to better prepare students for success in a highly
competitive international environment. New faculty programs
are being introduced with the aim of archieving an optimum balance
between teaching research. Innovative Korean studies programs,
already one of the University's strongest assets, are being
refined to secure the University's reputation as the leading
center of Korean studies in the world. All of these goals will
be furthered by strategic investments in infrastructure, with
emphasis on aggressive development of information networks.
University students today clearly have their eyes set on the
future. The Society they have inherited from past generations
is a young and vibrant democracy with a strong economy and a
rich history. The campuses on which they live and study are
alive with groundbreakings and new development. But the lessons
of the past are not forgotten. And their dreams of the future
reflect a mature optimism born hard-fought victories.