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 Korea-Based USC MSW Program Celebrates 20 Years

Korea 20AnniversaryIn one of the largest hotels in Seoul, over 150 Koreans and Americans gathered for a ceremony to celebrate 20 years of success. Alumni, faculty, and other dignitaries spoke to the extent that the program has contributed to the field of social work in Korea.

Mr. Kee Yoon, a social worker who runs facilities for youth and for older adults in both Korea and Japan, and whose daughter received her MSW through our program, talked about his views. He stated, “Social work in Korea is much more advanced than in Japan, in large part because of your program, which has infused a different way of thinking about social work into the country. Your program doesn’t just provide lecture, you teach critical thinking, you encourage discussion, you require demonstrating practice skills. It is excellent.”

During the ceremony, Dean Anna Scheyett gave the keynote address about community-based strategies to prevent suicide, a critical issue in Korea, and Oyong Kwan, founder of the Korean National Alliance for Mental Illness and a graduate of the program, translated for her. Dr. Myung Soo Lee followed with a presentation about suicide prevention approaches and services in Korea.

Other dignitaries in attendance included Mr. Jaykun Yoo, a former Korean congressman; Mr. Sung Chul Cho, the current president of the Korean Association of Social Workers (KASW); Mr. Sung Kyun Choi, former president of the KASW and member of the first cohort of graduates from the program; and Dr. Oye Sung Hyun, president of the Korean Council of Social Work Education.

The committee responsible for the ceremony raised enough money for the celebration and to fly the founders of the program, former COSW Dean Frank Raymond and former COSW faculty member Paul Kim, over for the event.

The evening concluded with a performance from Professor Insoo Park, one of Korea’s premier opera singers, and a dinner and auction.

In December, the program’s seventh cohort will fly to Columbia for graduation. Each cohort raises money all year long so that they can all make the trip. Several members of this cohort are pictured here with Dr. Scheyett (top row, second from the right) and PhD candidate Candice Morgan (top row, second from the left), who taught in Korea this summer.

Including the students in the seventh cohort, the Korean MSW program has 175 graduates. Gil Choi, director of the program, said, “Our graduates are involved in all aspects of social work practice in Korea, and we have produced much of the leadership in the field. We have created a solid foundation to continue to build upon.”

Dr. Scheyett said, “It was incredibly heartening to see everyone so enthused about this program. The Korean social work community is eager to maintain a connection with the University of South Carolina, and they are very interested in the future of the program.”



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