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History and Mission


THE KOREA SOCIETY is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization with individual and corporate members that is dedicated solely to the promotion of greater awareness, understanding, and cooperation between the people of the United States and Korea. In pursuit of its mission, the Society arranges programs that facilitate discussion, exchanges and research on topics of vital interest to both countries in the areas of public policy, business, education, intercultural relations and the arts. Funding for these programs is derived from contributions, endowments, grants, membership dues and program fees. From its base in New York City, the Society serves audiences across the country through its own outreach efforts and by forging strategic alliances with counterpart organizations in other cities throughout the United States as well as in Korea.

The Korea Society traces its roots to 1957 when a group of prominent Americans, under the leadership of General James A. Van Fleet, who commanded the U.S. armed forces in the final phase of the Korean War, established the first nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to the promotion of friendly relations between the people of the United States and Korea "through mutual understanding and appreciation of their respective cultures, aims, ideals, arts, sciences and industries." As it exists today, The Korea Society is the successor to several interconnected organizations pursuing aspects of these objectives which were established through the joint efforts of Americans and Koreans over the ensuing decades, most notably, the New York-based U.S.-Korea Society and the Washington, DC-based U.S.-Korea Foundation. In June 1993, these two organizations were merged to form The Korea Society.

Today the leadership of The Korea Society is in the hands of Thomas J. Byrne, who serves as president, and Thomas C. Hubbard, a former U.S. ambassador to Korea, who serves in the capacity of chairman of the board. They are supported by a board of directors drawn from the fields of business, the professions, academia and public affairs and an advisory council whose members are leading public figures in Korea and the U.S.

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