Academy of Korean Studies (한국학중앙연구원, AKS) is a South Korean research and educational institute with the purpose of establishing profound research on Korean culture. It was established on June 22, 1978 by Ministry of Education & Science Technology of South Korea (교육과학기술부). The Academy has dedicated to interpreting and analyzing traditional Korean culture, defining the academic identity of Korean studies, and educating scholars.
The Academy of Korean Studies was established to revitalize the field of Korean Studies by conducting in-depth research and offering education on related subjects. Activities by AKS range from conducting research on Korean culture from both humanities and social science perspectives to educating and training researchers and higher education professionals, collecting, researching, translating and publishing Korean classics, and publishing and disseminating research results in the Korean Studies field. Its activity areas also include compiling and distributing major reference works such as the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture and the Digital Encyclopedia of Korean Local Culture, digitalizing and disseminating academic information in the Korean Studies field, engaging in cooperation and exchange activities with academic institutions in Korea and overseas and conducting programs and projects aimed at improving the international community’s understanding of Korean culture.
The Academy of Korean Studies was established to revitalize the field of Korean Studies by conducting in-depth research and offering education on related subjects.
Activities by AKS range from conducting research on Korean culture from both humanities and social science perspectives to educating and training researchers and higher education professionals, collecting, researching, translating and publishing Korean classics, and publishing and disseminating research results in the Korean Studies field. Its activity areas also include compiling and distributing major reference works such as the Encyclopedia of Korean Culture and the Digital Encyclopedia of Korean Local Culture, digitalizing and disseminating academic information in the Korean Studies field, engaging in cooperation and exchange activities with academic institutions in Korea and overseas and conducting programs and projects aimed at improving the international community’s understanding of Korean culture.
Korea, sustaining its centuries-long agricultural society, has successfully morphed into one of the leading industrial nations from the mark of the 1970s. Although the innovation got into gear after the epoch of industrialization, reestablishment of Korea’s identities and histories was desperately needed in order to revitalize the national spirit lost throughout the tragic histories. For this very reason, the Academy of Korean Studies has been established in 1978.
As history repeats itself, constructing the future by learning from the past undoubtedly led us with a preliminary yet essential step into a cultural renaissance, including that of arts and academics. From the history of many civilizations, Korea faces a transforming era of the fourth industrial revolution.
As many as human resources are replaced with robots and AIs, and much as the following knowledge is required in the current revolutionized industries, revolution in the humanities field that fills the needs of numerously diverse human interests and desires is absolutely necessary.
This is the very assignment with which the institute must deal. In order to find out Korea’s identity, researches on not just ancient political systems or social classes, but traditional family and its genealogy, are also inevitable. By means of academic approaches and delving into social science and humanities, the institute will prepare for the imminent revolutionary waves.
Support for Korean Studies Research
AKS provides support for in-depth research into Korean culture on a regular basis. Research projects on Korean culture, open to Korean and international academics and researchers, are generally headed by a member of AKS’ faculty team. Over the thirty years between 1978 and 2013, AKS has funded projects consisting of 2,606 research tasks in 1,511 subject categories and enlisting 5,157 total participants.
Promoting Research Ethics
In recent years, there has been in academic communities worldwide a growing concern about ethical standards in research. AKS is active in addressing issues related to research ethics. We regularly host seminars on research ethics for our research staff, and distribute research ethics guidelines to the staff and students, in an effort to instill ethical awareness in all members of the AKS community.
Central Management of Research Funding
At AKS, all research funds, whether they are allocated to projects by it, the National Research Foundation of Korea or any other entities, are managed centrally. Researchers at AKS are informed and educated about policies and practices relating to how research funds are spent and allocated, so as to prevent and minimize any mishaps or misconduct. AKS has set procedures to ensure transparency, equitability and integrity in the management of research funds, and regularly monitor the status of compliance.
Korean Studies Publications
Consistent publication of books and journals is another important means for the Academy of Korean Studies to spread and update recent scholarly works on Korean Studies. Since its inception until 2012, AKS has released some 1,700 books. There are three journals published by the AKS: the Korean Studies Quarterly (Jeongsin munhwa yeongu, in Korean), the Review of Korean Studies (biannual in English), and Jangseogak (biannual in Korean).
The genealogical records of Joseon’s royal house used to be managed by an agency known as “Iwangjik.” In 1918, a new library was built for use by Iwangjik, inside Changdeokgung Palace, and a wooden tablet carved with the name “Jangseogak” was hung at the façade of this library. Since then, ‘Jangseogak’ became a proper noun designating the library of the Yi Royal House of Joseon.
Managing the Book Collection of the Royal House following the Annexation of Joseon by Japan
In 1908, Emperor Gojong decided to build a new library to house some 100,000 volumes of books, held at Gyujanggak and other institutions, which included annals of past kings and other royal house-related records, declaring them “Imperial House Book Collection.” However, Korea was officially annexed to Japan one year later, in 1910, and this project never saw the light of day.
Management of the Royal House Book Collection by Iwangjik
In February 1911, a new government agency called “Iwangjik” was created, and the Library Department of this agency was charged with the responsibility of managing the Imperial House Book Collection. In June of the same year, the Library Department of Iwangjik set up a library named “Iwangjik Jangseogak,” and in 1915, had another building constructed inside Changdeokgung. All books held by the institution were relocated to this four-story building, located southeast of Nakseonjae. The library came to be referred to as “Jangseogak” from 1918, when a wooden tablet bearing this name was hung on the front of this building.
Managing Jangseogak Collection after the End of Japanese Rule
In November 1945, the US Military Government Office re-organized Iwangjik, renaming it “Former Royal Palace Administration Office” and putting it in charge of the Jangseogak collection. In June 1955, the responsibility over Jangseogak was transferred to the Changgyeongwon Garden Management Office. Subsequently, with the establishment of the Cultural Properties Administration in October 1961, the new government agency took over the charge of managing the Jangseogak collection. In 1969, a new office responsible for managing the Jangseogak Archives was created under the Cultural Properties Administration. In 1981, in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 10,588 reorganizing the Cultural Properties Administration, the Jangseogak Archives Office was closed by the Cultural Properties Committee, and its ancient book collection was moved to the Academy of Korean Studies where it remains today.
The new Jangseogak building
Constructed by the need to provide a new venue for the systematic classification, research and more efficient use of the Jangseogak collection of old documents, the new building of the Jangseogak Archives opened on July 5, 2011, as a new house of around 150,000 documents from the Joseon royal court and prominent scholar families.