The Korean Language Flagship Center (KLFC) at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa (UHM) is the first Korean language center in the United States dedicated to cultivating Korea specialists with professional-level proficiency in Korean. The KLFC’s goal is to prepare American students to be capable of functioning in Korean as professionals in their chosen academic or professional fields.
KLFC was initially established as the Korean Flagship Program at UHM in 2002 as a post-baccalaureate non-degree program. In cooperation with the UHM’s Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL), the KFP transitioned into the KLFC in 2007 offering a Master of Arts degree in “Korean for Professionals.” The KLFC launched a Bachelor of Arts degree in “Korean for Professionals” program in 2008 and the Pre-College Honors Program in 2009.
The KLFC is part of The Language Flagship funded by the Defense Language National Security Education Office (DLNSEO).
Korean Language Flagship Center
The KLFC offers four programs for learners at various ages and at various levels of education. In addition to the two degree programs (M.A. in Korean for Professionals and B.A. in Korean for Professionals), the KLFC offers two non-degree programs. First, the Certificate in Korean for Professionals program is open to both graduate and undergraduate students, including incoming freshmen. It includes 15 credits of coursework at the UHM, followed by a one-year overseas component. Second, the Pre-College Honors Program is a Pre-Flagship program for high school students who want to prepare for the university Flagship programs. The KLFC’s overseas component is housed at Korea University (KU) in Seoul, Korea.
Faculty & Staff
The KLFC includes the following faculty members: Director, SLS Advisor, Recruitment Advisor, Program Officer, Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Graduate Program Coordinator, and several instructors and GAs. In addition, the Korean section of the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures (EALL) has three more professors in Korean literature and in Korean linguistics.
Sang Yee CheonDirector, KLFC
Lydia ChungCoordinator, KLFC
Ho-min SohnSenior Consultant, KLFC
DongKwan KongMA Program Academic Coordinator, KLFC
Sumi ChangBA Program Academic Coordinator, KLFC
Dianne JuhnGraduate Assistant, KLFC
Sang Yee Cheon
Moore Hall 352
Director, Korean Language Flagship Center
Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Her primary research interests include Korean Phonology and Phonetics, Second Language Acquisition, Content-Based Instruction, Teaching Language and Culture of Korea through Korean Film. She is a recipient of the Board of Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching at UHM in 2009.
Program Coordinator, KLFC
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Senior Consultant, KLFC
Professor Emeritus, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
His primary research interests include Syntax, General Linguistics, and Sociolinguistics.
Moore Hall 420
MA Program Academic Coordinator, KLFC
Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
His teaching and research interests include acquisition, pedagogical theories, assessment of Korean as a second language, and Task-Based Language Teaching in particular.
Moore Hall 354
BA Program Academic Coordinator, KLFC
Instructor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Drawing from her background in Political Science, Educational Psychology, and ESL, Sumi has taught an array of proficiency level courses at UHM. She is a recipient of 2016 College of LLL Excellence in Teaching Award. Her teaching and research interests include sociolinguistics and SLA.
Graduate Assistant, KLFC
Lecturer, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
Frequently asked questions
To be a Flagship Certified Graduate, students must have completed the Korean Flagship domestic program, Korean Flagship overseas program (including the internship), and achieved an ILR level 3/ACTFL Superior in Korean at the end of the program testing in Speaking and at least 2+/Advanced High in Listening and Reading.
Flagship Students study at the Korean Flagship Overseas Program located at the Korean Language Center at Korea University. Students will begin the Overseas program in July taking their language classes. Additionally, students will take their direct enrollment courses in the fall and spring, work with their language partners, attend cultural activities and field trips, and participate in a year-long internship.
No. Our program has a flexible model and students sometimes join us later in their studies. You do, however, have to be advanced in all four Korean skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in order to go abroad with Flagship, and this typically takes 1-5 years of study of Korean in a high quality, intensive program.
Yes, Flagship students are eligible for merit and need-based funding to help meet the costs of intensive summer and year-long study overseas. Flagship students also are highly competitive for a range of other national scholarships such as the Critical Language Scholarships, Boren Scholarships, Gilman Scholarships, and FLAS. Flagship faculty and staff work closely with students to make good financial plans and to help them pursue funding for their studies.
All Flagship students are required to meet with their language tutors every week to practice their Korean. As a Flagship student, you are also required to participate in the majority of KLFC events (some are mandatory) and all assessments. Depending on proficiency levels, Flagship students may be advised to participate in a summer overseas or domestic program. Participation in a one-year capstone program at Korea University is mandatory for all students.
Yes, the Korean Language Flagship Undergraduate program is a degree program. All students in the program must declare Korean as one of their majors. We highly encourage all of our students to double major and we welcome applicants from all other disciplines such as SLS, Linguistics, Business, Education, Engineering, Sciences, Communications, Economics, and Political Science.
Yes, you can still apply for the Korean Language Flagship programs. If you speak and read Korean fluently and are already at or above the superior level of proficiency, this program may not be a good fit for you. However, if your level is in the Intermediate to Advanced range of proficiency, you are welcome to apply.
For the BA Program: You must be an undergraduate student in good standing, with a GPA of at least 3.0.
For the MA Program: You must have received an undergraduate degree in any field of study.
You must have applied for admission to UHM to be eligible for the Korean Language Flagship Undergraduate Program.
We expect a commitment of between 2 and 5 years. The goal is to reach superior proficiency in Korean at the end of the program. If you are a junior wanting to graduate in one year, this program may not be a good fit for you. You may want to consider the MA program if you are still interested in pursuing a Korean Flagship degree.
Yes, the KLFC offers an MA in Korean for Professionals program. This program is open to all applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree and have an OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) score of Intermediate Mid or above. The MA program is a two year program. More information can be found under the MA in Korean for Professionals page.
For the B.A. program, there is no proficiency requirement. You may be at any level of Korean, including a complete beginner.
For the M.A. program, students must have a minimum proficiency of Intermediate-mid. We will conduct a 30-minute Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) with all applicants.
Yes, you are still eligible to apply. However, during the capstone program, you must use your US passport when traveling to and from Korea for the program.
From the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Korea website (https://kr.usembassy.gov/)
All male citizens of the Republic of Korea (ROK), including dual nationals, have military service responsibilities in accordance with the Korean Constitution and the Military Service Law.
Korea’s Military Manpower Administration is responsible for implementation and enforcement of regulations related to military service responsibilities. The following details related to military service have been provided by Korean officials:
- Males with multiple citizenships must choose their nationality by March 31 of the year they turn 18. Those who fail to do so are subject to military service obligations.
- Male ROK nationals who were born in the ROK but later acquire a foreign citizenship automatically lose their ROK citizenship and are no longer subject to Korean military service, whether or not they notify their loss of nationality to the relevant Korean authorities. However, if these individuals did not abide by military service procedures prior to naturalizing, such as obtaining the necessary overseas travel permits, they may be subject to fines, penalties, and/or incarceration upon return to the ROK.
- All male ROK nationals between the ages 25-37, including dual nationals, must obtain overseas travel permits from the MMA if they have not completed their military service and wish to travel overseas. These permits allow applicants to postpone their military service duty up until the age of 37. Those who lived overseas before age 25, must apply for these permits by January 15 of the year they turn 25. Applications may be made through a Korean embassy or consulate.
- There are different categories under which dual nationals qualify for an overseas travel permit, with classification determined by factors including parents’ citizenship or residency status, time spent abroad, and time spent in Korea.
- In cases where an applicant obtained a travel permit based on their parents’ overseas residency status and the parents have now returned to the ROK, the permit can be cancelled and the applicant subject to military service.
- An overseas travel permit can be cancelled and an applicant subject to military service if an applicant lives in the ROK for at least six months in a period of one year, or has engaged in for-profit activities in the ROK for a total of 60 days or more during a one year period.
For more complete information, please refer to the Military Manpower Administration website www.mma.go.kr (English available). The MMA Overseas Travel Procedure Guidebook and your local consulate may also provide useful information for male dual nationals.