Changing Attitudes toward Korean Language Education in Japan

Robert J. Fouser, Ph.D.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
10,000 won for non-members and 5,000 won for students (with student ID); free for members



In this lecture, Bob Fouser will discuss the evolution of Korean as a heritage language and as a foreign language in Japan from the late 19th century to the present. In the first section, he will provide a historical overview of the origins of the resident Korean, or zainichi, community in Japan during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945) and during postwar political and social upheavals.

In the second section, Dr Fouser will look at the development of postwar ethnic Korean institutions that provided heritage language instruction to Korean communities in Japan: the pro-North Korean Chongryun, the pro-South Korean Mindan. The Chongryun developed an extensive system of schools from kindergarten to university that provide instruction in Korean only.

In the third section, he will focus on the history of Korean as foreign language education in Japan in high schools, universities, and, from the 1990s, as a “hobby language.”  Bob will conclude by arguing that the gradual assimilation of resident Koreans into Japanese society and the rise of the Korean wave, or Hallyu, as a mainstream cultural product has caused heritage language education to be subsumed into the newly popularized field of Korean as a foreign language.

Dr. Fouser will also refer to his experience founding and managing the Korean language general education program at Kagoshima University in 2006.


Robert J. Fouser holds a B.A. in Japanese language and literature, and M.A. in applied linguistics, both from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in applied linguistics from Trinity College Dublin. He studied Korean language intensively at Seoul National University in the 1980s. During his time in Japan, he taught foreign language education at Kyoto University and developed the Korean language program in Kagoshima University. From 2008 to 2014, he taught Korean as a second/foreign language education at Seoul National University.

He also is the translator of Understanding Korean Literature (1997), co-author of Hanok: The Korean House 2015), and the author of threebooks in Korean Mirae Simin ui jogeon [Conditions for Citizenship in the Future: A Manual of Democracy for Koreans] (2016),Seochon Hollik [Seochon-holic] (2016), Oegugeo Jeonpadam [The Spread of Foreign Languages] (2018). He also writes regular columns for media outlets in Korea.


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