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I had the opportunity to attend a Penn Club of Seoul event at the Marriott Hotel in Seoul on Monday, May 23rd.

To my delight, I was greeted by a dazzling ice sculpture of Benjamin Franklin, the aroma of catered food and nearly 400 Penn alumni and current students. Oh, and our beloved president, Amy Gutmann.

Gutmann came to announce a groundbreaking partnership with Seoul National University, one of the most prestigious universities in Korea, as well as two alumni gifts to the Penn Korean Studies Program amounting to $7.5 million.

The program will be renamed as the James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies to honor the alumnus — a 1959 Wharton and 1961 School of Arts and Sciences graduate — who gave $6 million to the program.

These gifts and the newfound agreement with SNU mark a much-needed step toward furthering the global growth of Penn as an institution and the nation of Korea.

Though Korea was but a war-torn and economically unstable nation just 40 years ago, today it has transformed into one of the world’s largest economies and democratic powers in Asia.

Korea’s global realm of influence cannot be denied and both the expansion of the Korean Studies Program and the SNU partnership will help Penn students have a competitive edge in this increasingly globalized society.

As a proud Korean-American and Penn undergraduate, I applaud Gutmann, the University and the two alumni who have paved the way for a brighter future for Korea and Penn.

Lily Kim is a rising College senior and president of the Korean Student Association. Her email is

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