Korean Studies Center

About KSC

The Center for Korean Studies (KSC) is housed in the School of Sciences and Humanities (SSH) of Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan. The Center aims to promote Korean Studies in Kazakhstan and to contribute to a broader scholarship of Korean Studies in the Central Asian region. It was established through the seed program for Korean Studies (2018-2021), sponsored by the Academy of Korean Studies in South Korea. The Center provides up-to-date information and knowledge of Korean affairs across multiple disciplines, including politics, economics, sociology, and cultural and linguistic studies. Located in the capital of Kazakhstan, the Center is actively engaging in local activities for effective dissemination of research outcomes by faculty members of the Center. The Center is also a member of the Central Asia Korean Studies Association, and cooperates with other Korean Studies centers across the post-Soviet area and in Central Asian countries.



There has been increased interest in Korea among Kazakh people through K-pop songs, Korean dramas and movies. Given that, it is very meaningful to have an academic institution for study about Korea in Nur-Sultan. The Center for Korean Studies is actively engaging with those who are interested in Korea to develop their interests into tangible contributions and to promote serious academic research. By providing comprehensive courses not only for the study of the Korean language but also social science courses focused on Korea, and a wide variety of parallel programs and activities, the KSC contributes to disseminating knowledge about Korea and to the dynamic growth of the network of Korean Studies in Kazakhstan and the Central Asian Countries. Furthermore the KSC will provide practical support for those who seek education opportunities in Korea and will serve as an important stepping stone for students to study in Korea.

Dr. Hoyoun Koh (Political Science and International Relations) joined the faculty of Nazarbayev University in Fall 2016 after completing his Ph.D. in Government & Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is currently leading the Korean Studies Center at Nazarbayev University. He specializes in conflict studies, experimental research, and East Asia. He teaches international relations, bargaining theory, foreign policy analysis, and Korean politics and foreign relations. He is currently living in Nur-Sultan with his lovely family.

Dr. Inkyung Kim (Economics) received a Ph.D. degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. His area of research includes empirical industrial organization and applied econometrics. His current works focus on the Korean movie theater industry, conducting performance comparison between franchised and company-owned units and examining price and non-price effects of competition and chain-affiliation in that industry. He earned a B.A. in Economics from Seoul National University and worked at the Korea Development Bank for over five years as a financial analyst. He is also a CFA charter holder.

Dr. Chunho Park (Political Science and International Relations) is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Nazarbayev University. He joined NU in 2018 after earning his Ph.D. in Political Science at Michigan State University. Prior to NU, he was Assistant Professor (fixed-term) in the Department of Political Science at MSU for a year. His research and teaching interests focus on comparative political economy, comparative political institutions, electoral politics, and quantitative methods. He is leading the research on political participation within the Center.

Dr. Marilyn Plumlee (Writing Center) joined NU in 2018. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Hawai`i. She has taught a wide variety of linguistics courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at universities in the U.S., South Korea and Egypt, focusing on second language acquisition, linguistic pragmatics and phenomena of multilingualism and language contact. From 2000-2012 she was a faculty member at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul (South Korea), and director of the International Summer Session in Korean Studies from 2003-2012. From 2012-2018 she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the American University in Cairo (Egypt) and director of the MA TESOL program from 2015-2018. She is currently researching emerging trends in the application of Kazakhstan’s language policy of transition to Kazakh-Russian-English trilingualism.

Ms. Youn Chu Cho (Languages, Linguistics and Literature) is a Korea Foundation Visiting Professor of Department of Languages, Linguistics and Literatures at Nazarbayev University. Prior to NU, she was a faculty member in the Department of International Studies at Busan University of Foreign Studies (South Korea) and other universities such as Anhui National University (China) and Petra University (Indonesia). She has been teaching Korean as a second language, TOPIK, Korean modern culture, and Korean phonics. Her research interests focus on curriculum development, comparative/ contrastive linguistics and cultures. She has earned M.A. in Applied Linguistics and M.P. in Translation Studies at Auckland University, and completed Doctoral course work in Korean Education as a foreign language and she is writing on the dissertation about developing the curriculum of linguistic integration between North and South Korean languages.

Dr. Zhanibek Arynov (Graduate School of Public Policy) received his doctoral degree in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews, UK. His research interests include Central Asian geopolitics and security, EU-Central Asia relations, international identity, image and perception studies. Prior to joining the GSPP, Zhanibek Arynov served as a Senior Expert of the Program of Eurasian Studies at the Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP), a think-tank based in Nur-Sultan (Astana), Kazakhstan.

Dr. Kyungmin Baek is Assistant Professor of Information Sociology at Soongsil University, Seoul, Korea. Prior to his appointment at Soongsil University, he was Assistant Professor of Sociology at Nazarbayev University. His primary research investigates institutional changes in developmental states, including Korea and Post-Soviet Transition States. He has also investigated how workplaces in Asian countries adopt and implement antidiscrimination policies and the impact of these policies on the demographic composition of the workforce. He has published multiple articles in international peer-reviewed journals including Journal of Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Asian Perspective, and Law and Social Inquiry. He can be reached at

Korean Studies Seminar Series

The Korean Studies seminar series introduces students and scholars to recent research and projects by Korean Studies scholars around the world. In every seminar, the Center invites leading scholars in various fields of Korean Studies and provides opportunities to learn about Korea. The series usually takes places once per semester (open to the public).


Courses of Korean Studies

The School of Sciences and Humanities offers regular credit courses on various topics of Korean Studies across multiple disciplines, including the Departments of Political Science and International Relations, Economics, and Linguistics, Languages and Literature. For details of each course, please contact the respective departments.

  • PLS195 Asian Community
  • PLS356 International Politics of the Korean Peninsula
  • ECON317 East Asian Economic Development
  • KOR101 Basic Korean Language I
  • KOR102 Basic Korean Language II
  • KOR201 Intermediate Korean Language I
  • KOR202 Intermediate Korean Language II


K-Talks @ NU

K-Talks@NU is an open mini-lecture series. In addition to the regular courses or the seminar series, the K-talk series is designed to increase awareness of Korean Studies by offering easy access to topics related to Korean Studies. The diverse topics range from culture to current issues in Korea. Participants in the K-Talk events can meet and talk with the invited speakers with less formality and have a chance to socialize with people who share interests and questions about Korea.



As a new research center of Korean Studies, the KSC organizes an annual conference where Korean Studies scholars in the region present their research and exchange ideas to enhance the collective knowledge as well as to encourage students of Korean Studies.

The Center is the hosting organization of the 8th Annual Conference of Central Asia Korean Studies, to be held on the NU campus in June 2020. For inquiries about the conference, please contact the Central Asia Korean Studies Association at

The NU Korean Studies Center is currently investigating four research topics: the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula; political participation and activism in South Korea; industrial organization and economic development of South Korea; and Korean diaspora identity in Central Asia.


The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

The North Korean nuclear issue is one of the key problems in global proliferation and nuclear disarmament. In this project, we investigate the political process and social background of Kazakhstan’s denuclearization in order to define conditions for successful completion of nuclear reversal. Specifically, we look into the respective roles of domestic political actors, social advocacy networks, and the general public. The final goal is twofold: first, to develop a refined model of denuclearization, compatible with general theories of international relations, and, second, to provide a practical roadmap for the North Korean denuclearization based on Kazakhstan’s experience of nuclear renouncement and nuclear diplomacy.


Political participation and civil society

Citizens in South Korea have engaged in various activities to influence the government's policy-making process since democratization. As part of the research project, we are investigating how various modes of political participation and social movements have been contributing, negatively as well as positively, to the democratic consolidation in South Korea. First, we look in the process of how activism having sought for democratization in civil society has evolved into institutionalized parties for the last three decades; and, second, we are working on the project that studies how social media influences the process of forming political opinion and citizens’ attitudes toward democratic politics.


Industrial organization and economic development

One of the most salient features in retail and service industries in the past few decades is the rapid spread of chain establishments. As chain firms have been constantly replacing independent, stand-alone establishments, there is also a growing concern regarding the retail sector becoming more concentrated over time. Despite its importance, however, there is little empirical evidence on the implication of chain affiliation. In this project, we empirically study the effect of chain affiliation on product variety and price in different industries in South Korea. Using longitudinal data allows us to navigate and find the effect of chain establishments with detailed implications and predictions. The project also aims to provide evidenced policy suggestions for government regulations and consumer benefits.


Revisiting Korean diaspora identity in Central Asia

The Korean diaspora in the post-Soviet region, also known as ‘Koryo Saram,’ has a unique history that distinguishes the group from other diaspora of Korean ethnics in the world. The historical and traumatic experience of the Soviet Korean diaspora has been studied in such contexts. However, relatively less studies are done for the young generations of the Korean diaspora in the region. In this project, we investigate what can be said about the Korean diaspora after the end of Cold War and the globalization. In specifically, we address the question of identity formation under various conditions like cultural diversification and globalization, economic and political transitions, and demographic and educational complication.

Association of Korean Studies Professors in Central Asia

Academy of Korean Studies

Korea Foundation

Phone: +7 717 270 6612, 9078
Korean Studies Center
53 Kabanbay Batyr Avenue, #8.417
School of Sciences and Humanities
Nur-Sultan City, 020000
Republic of Kazakhstan

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