Craze for Hallyu Raises Understanding of Korea
KIM So Hye
KF Visiting Professor
University of Hong Kong
Greetings from Hong Kong! My name is Kim So Hye, and I am a Korea Foundation Visiting Professor at the
University of Hong Kong (HKU), where I teach as part of the Korean studies program at the School of Modern
Languages and Cultures. As a prestigious institution with a history spanning over a century, HKU is uniquely
situated on Hong Kong Island and blends British, Chinese, and other influences due to its establishment during
the colonial era.
The Korean studies program offers a range of courses grounded in interdisciplinary research that are taught by
two professors and five full-time language lecturers. Given the growing popularity of Hallyu (Korean Wave),
our students are not only passionate about learning the Korean language but also interested in the nation’s
rich history and culture.
I arrived in Hong Kong approximately two months ago and began teaching at HKU this semester. In Hong Kong, the
academic year usually begins in September, but this year, a massive typhoon—the biggest in decades—hit the
city on the first day of the school year to force a temporary closure of the university. During the following
week, unprecedented rainfall set a record for precipitation in Hong Kong's weather history, prompting another
shutdown. Despite these weather disruptions, our students showed tremendous dedication in actively
participating in their classes.
What impresses me most about our students is their immense enthusiasm for Korean culture. For example,
students who were initially unable to register for “Introduction to Korean Studies,” a course designed for
first-year students considering to major in Korean studies, reached out to me and expressed their fervor for
Hallyu. Such enthusiasm is truly inspiring for me as an educator, especially in Hong Kong, which maintains
close connections with Korea both geographically and culturally.
Last week, in my course on Korean cinema, I covered joint film productions between Hong Kong and Korea during
the 1960s and found it fascinating to explore the dynamic intersection between the two cinematic industries
with my students. Adding an element of serendipity, our class was held at Run Run Shaw Tower, a building
donated to HKU by Run Run Shaw (1907–2014), the founder of film production company Shaw Brothers and a
cinematic tycoon who left an indelible mark on Hong Kong's film industry during the 1960s and 70s.
Through the diversity of courses in the Korean studies program, our students not only develop enthusiasm for
Korean culture but also gain a deeper understanding of Korean society. I am delighted to be part of their
educational journey, collaborating with the esteemed faculty at the HKU’s Korean Studies Department. I eagerly
look forward to contributing to their scholastic growth beyond their initial fascination with the Korean Wave.
The University of Hong Kong
This is a bust of Sir Run Run Shaw, founder of the Shaw Brothers Studio.