Academic Goals of Yonsei Sociology

Sociology is the scientific examination of social existence, social interactions, and social transformations. Its purpose is to explicate how people’s conduct is influenced by or influences social structures and cultural traditions. Sociology is an extensive and diverse discipline that deals with subject matter as broad as social life itself, from the family and state to social class and from gender and race to social networks, culture, and identity.


Sociology integrates theoretical and empirical modes of inquiry. Sociology prioritises a theoretical perspective of the society we inhabit, yet this viewpoint remains anchored to reality via continued empirical research and analysis. Sociological inquiry aims to explicate a diverse array of social phenomena by investigating specific and practical problems in various spheres of society.


Therefore, sociology strives for diversity. Another feature of sociology is diversity, exemplified by individuals with varied characteristics and roles interacting within society. Diversity also entails democratic and egalitarian approaches to understanding society. Sociology stresses interdisciplinary collaboration with other academic fields to provide multiple solutions to social problems through critical analysis and creative thought on social phenomena and issues.


Sociology places importance on open-ended discussions in search of improved understanding. Yonsei Sociology highly regards communicative and collaborative conversations between professors and students and among students themselves. Our undergraduate and graduate students are taught systematic observation to acquire the necessary tools and methodologies to better understand a range of social phenomena. Through this process, we aim to establish a culture of creative dialogue by addressing the inherent issues in our education system, which promotes a unidirectional transfer of knowledge from educators to students and enforces a restricted control over information by a select few. While a singular optimal answer is elusive for sociological inquiries, we can uncover more favourable resolutions.

The Beginning of Yonsei Sociology

The origins of Yonsei sociology can be traced back to 1918 when Han-kyung Won, the third Yonhee Principal, taught the inaugural sociology class in Korea. Building on this foundation, Yonsei Sociology developed through lectures delivered by Nam-woon Paik and Kyung-duk Ha until the establishment of Yonsei University Department of Sociology in 1972.


The origins of Yonsei sociology can be traced back to 1918 when Han-kyung Won, the third Yonhee Principal, taught the inaugural sociology class in Korea. Over the last fifty years, the department has made significant strides in its development. Since its inception, the sociology department has flourished and expanded to include 11 full-time professors. Over six hundred students have been awarded master’s and doctorate degrees by the department. These achievements are a testament to the commitment and devotion of the scholars who have tirelessly contributed to the department’s success over the course of its fifty-year history.


In 1973, full-time professorships were simultaneously awarded to Professors Byong Je Jon and Kye Choon Ahn. During the spring and fall semester of 1975, two further professors, Bok Song and Yong-Shin Park, were appointed. Professor Jae-sik Chong began working at the department as faculty in 1980 and the following year, Professor Hae-joang Cho also joined the faculty. In the spring semester of 1987, full-time professorships were granted to Professors Yong-Hak Kim and Seok-Choon Lew. In 1990, Professor Jae-sik Chong returned to Boston University, and two years later, Professor Ho-Ki Kim joined the faculty. During the fall semester of 1995, Professor Dong-No Kim became a full-time professor, increasing the number of faculty members to nine.


In the early twenty-first century, there were extensive faculty recruitments, resulting in the appointment of Professor Hyun Mee Kim as a full-time professor in the year 2000. In spring 2001, the sociology department welcomed Professor Wang-Bae Kim. Subsequently, Professor Jun Han and Professor Chan-Ung Park were appointed as faculty members in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The department expanded in 2005, with two new additions in the form of Professor Jaeyoun Won during spring and Professor Yoosik Youm during the fall semester. After Professors Hae-joang Cho and Hyunmi Kim departed for the Anthropology Department in 2008, Professor Jeonghan Kang joined the faculty. In the latter part of the 2010s, Youngmi Kim, Dohoon Lee, Seong-soo Choi, and Juyeon Park joined the department as members in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2023 respectively.


Yonsei Sociology launched the Special Professor Exchange Program in the second semester of 2000 to invite esteemed sociologists from other societies. These scholars bring exceptional research and teaching qualifications to the department. For instance, Youngjoo Cha has been working as an associate professor in the Sociology Department at Indiana University-Bloomington since 2019, and has now joined Yonsei Sociology. Meanwhile, the following Professors have retired and are serving as professors emeritus in 2021: Byong Je Jon, Kye Choon Ahn, Bok Song, Yong-Shin Park, Yong-Hak Kim, and Seok-Choon Lew.


From 1972 to 1978, a total of thirty entrants per year enrolled in the undergraduate sociology programme. In the academic year 1979-1980, the number of sociology major students rose to sixty, open to all liberal arts students. For 1981, only students who entered the sociology or psychology departments were eligible and the number increased to ninety. Subsequently, the Graduate Quota System resulted in 104 students enrolling in sociology each year between 1982 and 1984. However, enrolment gradually decreased to 88 between 1985 and 1987, and further declined to 80 from 1988 to 1989. Since 1990, there has been a cap of 70 sociology majors per year. Sociology was open to majors in both liberal arts and social sciences from 2000 to 2004; however, the department only admitted social sciences undergraduates after 2005 when it became affiliated with the College of Social Sciences instead of the College of Liberal Arts. During the period from 2005 to 2021, there were 1,025 sociology graduates over a span of 17 years, which averaged approximately 60 graduates per year.


The sociology department founded its graduate programme in 1976. Junho Kim, emeritus professor at Kangwon National University, became the first master’s graduate. The first doctoral graduate, Haeng-Cheol Shin, is an emeritus professor at Jeju National University. As of 2021, the department has awarded 105 Ph.D. degrees and 512 master’s degrees.

Research and Publications

The Department of Sociology released the Yonsei Journal of Sociology from 1977 until 1994. Subsequently, the Institute for Social Development Studies, which was founded under the department’s sponsorship in 1992, published the Journal of Social Development Studies (1995-2004) and the Journal of Contemporary Society and Culture (2007-2010).


The faculty members have published in highly ranked academic journals, such as the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Demography, and Social Forces. The works display objectivity through exclusion of subjective evaluations, clear comprehensibility, and logical structure with causal connections between statements. Conventional structure is maintained with consistent author and institution formatting, factual and unambiguous titles, and occasional freer wording for interest. The language used is formal and free from biased or emotive terms, with consistent technical terms and no use of contractions or colloquial words. Precise vocabulary accurately conveys subject-specific meanings while precise grammatical constructions, free of errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation, promote clarity and objectivity. According to Pure, the renowned research information management system from Elsevier, Yonsei sociologists have published 109 papers in globally recognised academic journals and received 39 media mentions over the last thirty years.


Additionally, the sociology department has been a recipient of the Brain Korea 21 grant from the Korea Research Foundation since 2006. The department has awarded graduate students scholarships and stipends, guiding them to present their work at international conferences and publish in academic journals. The language used is clear, objective, and value-neutral, with grammatical accuracy and logical structure. Abbreviations are explained upon first use, and technical terms are used consistently. The department has also cultivated academic partnerships, including esteemed institutions such as Harvard University, Princeton University, UPenn, Indiana University-Bloomington, Freie Universität Berlin, University of Tokyo, Peking University, and Australian National University.

The Culture of the Sociology Department

The Sociology Department prides itself on communicating and collaborating effectively. It hosts special events for undergraduates and postgraduates, such as spring field trips, athletic competitions, and autumn hiking trips. The latter has been a tradition of the Yonsei Sociology Department since 1986. These social events provide distinctive occasions for students to connect with peers and faculty members, and to cultivate an enriched intellectual community.