In the 1950s, when Korea was suffering from the aftermath of the Korean War, the Asiatic Research Institute of Korea University (then the Asiatic Research Center) was established, with the mission of facilitating reciprocal understanding and promoting cultural progress among members of the human race. On June 17, 1957 the institute was founded as the first university-affiliated research institution in Korea, conducting comprehensive, East Asia-related research covering society, culture, history, politics, and economy. Moreover, while universities in Korea then confined their mission to producing elites, ARI took the initiative in laying intellectual foundations from a macro view. The establishment of ARI thus called attention to the need for university-affiliated research institutes, and its organization and management set the model for future institutes in Korea.
Based on human and material infrastructure built over the last half century, ARI has continued to play a leading role in Northeast Asian studies. In particular, by balancing approaches of social science and humanities, it has accumulated outstanding results. At present, ARI continues to pursue the goal of developing into a world-class research institute for Northeast Asian studies in which to carry out both research and education.
Since its establishment in 1957 as the first university-affiliated research institute in Korea, ARI has built human and material infrastructure to deal with diverse critical issues in relation to Northeast Asia. This foundation has allowed the institute to play a leading role in Northeast Asian regional studies. While most Korean regional research institutes have adopted the approaches of social science exclusively, ARI has conducted balanced research both in humanities and social sciences, thus presenting outstanding outcomes both to academia and the public. Upon being selected as a research institute of the Humanities Korea Project for regional studies in 2008, the institute has enlarged its body of researchers and restructured the organization so as to operate with greater efficiency and transparency.
In order to overcome the limitations engendered from the current divide between research areas as well as academic disciplines, ARI takes the whole Northeast Asian region as a research area and is carrying out comprehensive, interdisciplinary research presenting new paradigms in Northeast Asian regional studies.
ARI is engaged in accumulating, categorizing, and publishing a wide range of resources relating to Northeast Asian studies. To advance this task, the institute consolidated the ARI Library and the East Asian Digital Archive into an enlarged system, named the Center for Northeast Asian Archive. In addition, ARI is building a Collaborative Information System through which to provide ARI’s resources to scholars and the public while encouraging this audience to actively participate in enriching its contents. ARI is also collaborating with other Korean and foreign research institutes in the field so as to make such infrastructure more stable and efficient.
ARI produces internationally competitive scholars specializing in Northeast Asian studies, scholars who are equipped with knowledge as well as research skills within the humanities and social sciences. This takes place through, for example, supporting the international research trips of ARI researchers and conducting joint research projects with foreign research institutes associated with ARI and outstanding foreign specialists in the field.
To contribute to building domestic and international research communities, ARI is strengthening its network, in part, by regularly co-organizing international conferences with other leading institutions and also by running researcher-exchange programs.
ARI is also attempting to share its results with the public by opening up access to the public on the website, running civic education programs and performing public lectures.
ARI has drawn up the following three-phase plan in order to successfully and efficiently achieve its goal of developing into a world-class research institute:
The first phrase is for ARI to supplement and reinforce the existing research infrastructure. Firstly, by institutionalizing the future employment of tenure-track research professors and sound competition among its researchers, the institute intends to establish a stable research environment. Secondly, the Center for Northeast Asian Archive will be established in order to provide a firm information-oriented foundation. It will systematically put into order the enormous amount of rare, specialized, and basic sources accumulated to date, as well as enthusiastically garner new Northeast Asia-related materials. Finally, it will reinforce research infrastructure to facilitate interactions among scholars, to train specialists in regional studies, and to provide public services.
At this stage, on the basis of the previously established infrastructure and research environments, ARI will emerge as a top-ranking research institute in the Northeast Asian region. It will play an important role in establishing a “Northeast Asian Research Network” through promoting interactions among scholars as well as exchanges of information and resources. In addition, the institute will create a joint program to educate students as well as produce specialists in Northeast Asian studies.
At this final stage ARI will rise as a world-class research and educational institute for Northeast Asian studies. It is expected that the institute will develop its distinctive theories and innovative methods and present them to scholars all around the world. Simultaneously, ARI will greatly contribute to forming discourses in relation to Northeast Asian studies by virtue of active scholarly exchanges at the international level. It will also run an interdisciplinary and comprehensive educational program for Northeast Asian regional studies within the institute to produce scholars in the field as well as continuing to provide various public services. The institute thus will emerge as a leading comprehensive regional research and educational institution at the intentional stage.