Skip to Main Content

Korean Studies

Provides selected research resources in the area of Korean Studies, with a particular focus on social sciences and humanities resources.

The Korean Studies Collection

Korean Studies Collection at the University of Michigan Library                                                                                         


The Korean Studies Collection at the Asia Library has been developed to support the university’s instructional and research needs in Korean studies, and to promote the learning and understanding of Korean culture and history. The strengths of the Korean collection are in modern history, socio- economic conditions, language & literature, political science, and art history. We’ve expanded the collection to encompass primary research materials in anthropology, communication, economics, education, film, language, religion, sports, and popular culture, including K-pop and Korean Wave. Materials are mainly in instructional and research level monographs, periodicals, reprints, maps, microforms, and audio-visual media, with an emphasis on reference works and government documents. 

As of September 2023, the collection comprises over 90,000 print holdings in Korean, major online e-journals, databases, and ebooks, and over 4,300 titles of DVDs. Also the library has an extensive collection of North Korean materials, such as monographs, textbooks, Online Daily Rodong Sinmun, and DVDs.  

The collection is constantly expanding to meet the instructional and research needs of the Korean studies community. With the strong commitment and support from the University and the Library, the Korean Studies collection will continue to help facilitate groundbreaking scholarship in Korean Studies and to strive to meet the needs from faculty members and students at a wide range of departments in University of Michigan and beyond in the Digital Age.

Korean Studies at Michigan

The University’s involvement with East Asian countries can be traced back 130 years to the tenure of Dr. James Burrill Angell, third president of the University. Recognized for his expertise in international affairs, President Angell was called upon to serve as the Ambassador to China and lived in Beijing from 1880 to 1881. Under his great leadership and vision, the University played a major role in expanding opportunities for students from the Pacific-Rim countries.

The establishment of the Center for Japanese Studies in 1947 and the Center for Chinese Studies in 1961 has further developed teaching and research on East Asia. Michigan eventually became a major center for Asian education with the creation of the centers for the study of Asian languages and cultures. 

Korea-related studies at the University have a relatively short history of 20 years compared to other East Asian Studies at the University. Korean language courses were first offered in 1990 and the Korean Studies Program (KSP) was officially founded in 1995 at the International Institute with generous financial support from the Korea Foundation. Integral to the program’s success were those faculty members who taught and conducted researches on Korean politics, modern history, economic development, religion, film, and language. The KSP was upgraded to the Center for Korean Studies(CKS) in 2007 and The Nam Center for Korean Studies was inaugurated in 2011. The Nam Center supports academic conferences, cultural events such as art exhibitions and film festivals, development of new courses, visiting scholars programs, and lecture series.

History of the Korean Studies Collection

Established in 1948 at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, the Asia Library has been providing one of the nation's foremost collections of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language resources to students, faculty, and researchers.

The history of the Korean studies collection can be traced back to 1982 when a number of the “Korean Studies Association” and local Korean community leaders realized the lack of Korea-related materials in the university, and launched the “Donating one book per person” campaign. During the campaign, they requested donations not only from individuals, but also

from the Korean Publishers Association and the Korean Consulate General in Chicago. Starting from just 100 volumes, the collection has steadily increased through the years, thanks to local community leaders. In addition to local support, the Korean collection has received magnanimous donations from Prof. Andrew C. Nahm at Western Michigan University (2,400 volumes of books and journals in 1996) and Prof. Keum Jang-Tae at Seoul National University (1,500 books and journals in 2001), which propelled the rapid growth.

To satisfy the instructional and research needs, the Korean collection began to gather books and other materials on a large scale in 2000. It launched a three-year collection development plan in 2005 to systemically expand its holdings, including comprehensive reference materials, and primary resources in humanities/social sciences. In particular, one of the methods to acquire out-of-print publications and rare books was to seek donations from the university alumni or any scholars who were looking for a distinguished home for their personal collection of books.

As of September 2023, the collection comprises over 90,000 print holdings in Korean, major online e-journals, databases, and ebooks, and over 4,300 titles of DVDs.

Korean Collections Consortium of North America (KCCNA)

The Korean Collection began to collect books and other materials on Korea on a large scale in 2000 to satisfy the instructional and research needs of the rapidly developing Korean Studies on campus.

One epoch-making development is to join the Korean Collections Consortium of North America (KCCNA) as the 10th member in 2003. The Consortium is a cooperative collection development program, funded by the Korea Foundation which is the primary government organization that supports overseas Korean Studies. Each member library is committed to develop in-depth collections on assigned subject areas and makes them available through ILL in an effort to expand the breadth and depth of overall Korean Studies collections in North America.

Michigan is responsible for further developing the following subject areas; Historiography, Democratization, Reunification questions, Labor relations, Auto industry, Publications on Korea and Korean published in Japan, Publications on Korea and Korean published in Detroit and Mid West area.

The Korean collection has received annual grants of $15,000-$30,000 over the past 20 years. The membership of the Consortium not only ensured financial support, but also provided many collaboration opportunities with other peer institutions nationally and internationally.

Current Status

Korean Language Learning Collection

The Korean Language Learning Collection has been developed in collaboration with the Korean

Language Program (KLP) faculty members in an effort to provide a large volume of Korean materials of varying reading levels to those students who take Korean language classes. This collection is located at 3 North (3rd fl. Hatcher Graduate Library North) and the Oka Tadoku Room which is located within the Asia Library Reading Room.

This collection has a wide variety of materials, including illustrated picture books, novels, biographies, and comics from the Reading Level 1 to 5. Users can get a list of this collection from the Library Catalog Search.

The Korean Language Learning collection is also available online at the UM-Kyobo Ebook site. It's easy to use and fun to read!


The internet and information technology have opened up exciting new possibilities for research on Korean Studies. To meet a growing demand for electronic resources, several full-text databases containing a broad coverage of primary resources were provided to the users in 2003. Starting from three major Korean full text journal article databases provided by Nuri Media, Korean Studies Inc., and Dongbang Media, the e-resource collection has expanded to major newspaper archives and scholarly e-books.

Currently extensive electronic resources are available to users, including major Korean online full-text articles, journals, e-books, news archives, quantitative and qualitative data, and databases, such as DBpia, Korean Studies Information Service System (KISS), Scholar (Hakchisa-Kyobo), E-article, and RISS International, Chosun Daily Newspaper Archive, Nodong Sinmun, Moazine, Kyobo E-Books, and Bookrail E-Books.  

Online full-text articles are now represented in the “Library Article Search”, Michigan Library’s article discovery tool. “Library Article Search” searches full text content from a wide variety of English as well as Korean sources, and returns a list of relevancy-ranked results. By using “Library Article Search”, Korean researchers can search across multiple databases in any language simultaneously. 

UM-Kyobo Ebooks

Korean ebooks are available at the UM-Kyobo Ebook site. This is a relatively new collection started from January 2021 to meet increased users’ demand for Korean scholarly ebooks. This site contains about 3000 titles of ebooks and provides an easy to use book purchase request service. We are planning to provide a more extensive ebook collection and to improve the discoverability of these resources in the Library Catalog Search.   

Purchase Requests

The Korean Studies Collection also provides a new purchase request service for the printed books and e-books published in Korea. “Books on Korea” provides special service to the U-M library users to search a book on its site and send a purchase request directly to the Korean Studies Librarian. It’s simple and fast! This site is connected to the Kyobo Book Center (교보 문고) and the users actually search a book in the Kyobo Book Center site which is the best portal for millions of Korean books.

Related links

Treasures from Korean Collection