Institute for Corean-American Studies



Young-Key Kim-Renaud
Biographic Sketch

Professor Kim-Renaud, Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at The George Washington University, is a theoretical linguist with broad interest in the humanities and Asian affairs. She directs the Korean language and culture program at GW, and she teaches all levels of Korean language and literature courses, and a course in Asian Humanities. She is a faculty member of GWís Linguistics Program. She is the initiator and co-convener of the Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium series in the Korean Humanities at GW. She is a past President of the International Circle of Korean Linguistics. She was a visiting lecturer at Harvard University (1986-87). She received three Fulbright awards (Korea, 1986, Jordan, 1994, and Korea, 1997-98). She is currently serving as the Korea Book Review Editor for the Journal of Asian Studies. Before joining GW in 1983, she worked as Assistant Program Director for Linguistics at the U.S. National Science Foundation. Her extensive publications include five books: Korean Alphabet: Its History and Structure (1997), Theoretical Issues in Korean Linguistics (1994), King Sejong the Great: The Light of 15th-Century Korea (1992/97), Studies in Korean Linguistics (1986), and Korean Consonantal Phonology (1975/95). Her current research interest includes cross-cultural communications, Korean cultural history and aesthetics, Korean phonology and writing system, language and society, language and politics.

Dr. Kim-Renaud combines language teaching and linguistic research, finding them mutually beneficial. Her dissertation on Korean phonology has been pivotal in numerous phonological articles and dissertations that have followed. She has claimed that while many phonological processes in Korean are assimilatory, which is rather common in world languages, other phonological phenomena are governed by Korean specific tendencies: the tendency for an intervocalic consonant to weaken; the tendency for a pre-boundary consonant to be unreleased; the strong nature of the utterance initial position.

Another recurrent theme in Kim-Renaudís work has been the non-abrupt nature of historical change. Semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic reasons as well as phonetic causes of linguistic change are discussed in studying coexisting forms in language as well as historical change. Her current research areas in linguistics include the relationship between spoken and written Korean, and the Korean honorific system and its change over time.

Kim-Renaud has also been involved in literary translations, and this experience has directed her attention to the relation between language and culture. She is keenly interested in language change reflecting social and cultural change, in particular as a mirror of the rapidly changing values, customs and class structure.

Kim-Renaud has edited a volume presenting a comprehensive overview of contemporary theoretical studies in all aspects of Korean linguistics. Her edited book on the Korean writing system is the first comprehensive scholarly treatment of Han'gul published in English, with diverse and leading scholars in Korean linguistics and history. As a backdrop to explain the creative and philosophical environment behind the invention of what has been called "one of the great intellectual achievements of humankind," she has also edited a volume on the culture and society of the fifteenth-century Korea, the sage King Sejong's era, for the general audience as well as for Korean studies specialists.

Kim-Renaudís interest in second language acquisition has grown over the years, as she has been engaged in teaching foreign languages now for more than 20 years. Mistakes as well as novel sentences by the students reveal a great deal about linguistic structure, both in universal and language specific sense. She believes that this is also a constant check on the existing theories, which must be continually modified. Because of the particular nature of the Korean language and Korean studies instruction in the United States, she has been actively engaged in the research on the history and governance of Korean language instruction in America.

As a Korea specialist, Kim-Renaud has also done research on East Asian Humanities topics including the Korean educational tradition and also on the history and current social and political status of the Korean peninsula and of the immigrant Koreans in the United States. The book entitled Women and Creativity in Korea, which she edited, is currently under review for possible publication.

Kim-Renaud has four main on-going projects in linguistics: (1) Morphology and Lexicon in Korean Writing; (2) Unreleasing of Syllable-final Consonants as Boundary-marking; (3) Korean honorifics and its change; (4) Language and Identity.

Kim-Renaud is an organizer, fund-raiser, and leader of numerous cultural activities, conferences, academic panel discussions, and consultant on Asia-related affairs. Recently (1999), she helped GW win a million-dollar grant from the Korea Foundation, which was matched by the same amount by GW. As a consequence, GW has recently created and hired a highly qualified professor for a newly endowed position in Korean Studies.

Kim-Renaud raised funds for operation of the Korean program at George Washington University from public and private sectors by organizing music (1986, 1992), martial arts and ballet (1988) performances and the showing of "Sop'yonje," a special feature film (1993) at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Theatre in D.C. Most of the proceeds from these events went into creating a Korean Language and Culture Student Prize Fund and a Korean studies scholarship fund at GW. She has also received grants for various other cultural and academic activities at The George Washington University.

Other cultural activities which she organized include the 1990 United States College Korean Film Festival, which toured 22universities throughout the nation, and an exhibition introducing cultural and scientific achievements of one of Korea's golden eras.

In addition to cultural activities, Kim-Renaud organized and chaired a conference for the Asia Pacific Island American Awareness Program of the National Education Association in Washington, DC (1978) and organized the following: 1) A lecture series for the Smithsonian Institution's Resident Associate Program (1988); 2) A panel on Korean linguistics, entitled, "Radical Changes in the Korean Language," at the Association for Asian Studies meeting (1990); 3) The Eighth International Conference on Korean Linguistics (1992); and 4) A special symposium on the Korean Writing System (1992). She has also been the initiator and co-convenor of GW's highly successful annual Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium series in the Korean Humanities (1995 - ). In 1998, she invited world-famous scholars to a special international conference, titled "Sparks of Creativity: Women in the Korean Humanities." The 1999 Colloquium was entitled "Creation and Re-Creation: Modern Korean Fiction and its Translation." The 2000 Colloquium concentrated on "Christianity in Korea" and the 2001 one was on "Music in Korea."

Young-Key is frequently consulted by various Korea related programs and media. For example, she has been interviewed and quoted in such news media as New York Times, Korea Times, Korea's Economy, Mid-Atlantic Bulletin of Korean Studies, and NPR, VOA, Smithsonian Radio-WGMS in Washington and KBS in Seoul. In addition, she spoke at the Asian Real Estate Association of Washington, DC, Seminar (1989). She has also given lectures at various universities and other organizations, including the following: Yale University (1989), Harvard University (1989), University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee (1994), The George Washington University (many times), The State Department's Area Studies Program (1989, 1990, 1991); The University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (1991); The Korean Association of University Women (1991);The Fulbright Training Program in Korea (1993);The Asia Society (1993); The Junior League of Washington (1995), and the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch (1997, 1998).




ICAS Web Site Links for Young-Key Kim-Renaud:

Bulletin: April 12, 2002.





This page last updated 11/2/2005 jdb



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