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five students smile and pose for a photo
In fall 2019, Korean capstone students engaged in team-building activities.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Korean Language Flagship Center, the first Korean language and culture education center in the U.S., received another National Security Education Program (NSEP) grant to support the program through 2024. The funding, which includes the grant and additional student support, is worth approximately $4 million.

NSEP was established within the U.S. Department of Defense to support and develop expertise in languages and cultures critical to U.S. national security and international competitiveness.

The first flagship grants were awarded to universities in 2002 for Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Russian; UH Mānoa was selected for Korean. Since then, the center has been a leader in Korean language education, dedicated to training students with high proficiency in Korean to become the next generation of global Korean specialists.

In spring 2007, at the request of NSEP, UH Mānoa’s non-degree program was transitioned to the Korean Language Flagship Center. The center immediately developed the flagship MA degree program in 2007 and the flagship BA degree program in 2008, in cooperation with the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. The Korean flagship undergraduate program consists of coursework, followed by a one-year overseas capstone component. The center also offers various study abroad scholarships in addition to ROTC flagship scholarships.

The Korean Language Flagship Center cultivated more than 200 Korean specialists as of fall 2019. Due to COVID-19, it swiftly and safely relocated program participants back to Hawaiʻi in early March 2020. Faculty and staff implemented a domestic immersion program for students to complete their capstone experience that will keep them on track to successfully finish the program in June 2020 with professional proficiency in Korean.

By Karin Mackenzie

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