CHENG YU TUNG EAST ASIAN LIBRARY
From Chaho to Establishing Korean Studies in Canada
The Story of Dr. Chai Shin-Yu
The University of Toronto’s Letter of Appointment to Dr. Chai Shin-Yu reveals an immigration success story and the beginning of a new program in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. After an extensive journey from Korea to the U.S. to Canada, Dr. Chai Shin-Yu was appointed to teach EAS 270Y: Introduction to Korean Civilization, the first Korean Studies course taught at the Department of East Asian Studies. It was also the first Korean Studies course offered at a Canadian university.
The Letter of Appointment sent from the University of Toronto to Dr. Chai Shin-Yu. Courtesy of the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, Dr. Chai Shin-Yu Collection.
Accession Code: KCHA-UOT-CO-0001
The Establishment of Korean Studies at the University of Toronto
As indicated in the letter, Dr. Yu’s offer of appointment was conditional upon a donation of a sum of money to the University of Toronto to provide for his salary. After Dr. Yu was appointed to the university, he went to great lengths to ensure that the Korean Studies program would continue despite financial uncertainty. With the assistance of the Canadian Ambassador to Korea, John Styles, who set up an arrangement with the Korean Research Foundation, Dr. Yu travelled to Korea to discuss the development of a Korean Studies program with the trustees of the foundation. This resulted in an agreement that Korean Studies would be officially recognized as a program in the Department of East Asian Studies at the university with the Korean Research Foundation and the University of Toronto sharing equally in the financing.
Dr. Chai Shin-Yu’s Journey to North America
Dr. Chai Shin-Yu left Korea during the war and moved to the U.S. where he was a minister before accepting an opportunity to study in Canada. This had a profound impact on his life as it led to him being offered the opportunity to teach the first Korean Studies course at the University of Toronto. The letter giving Dr. Chai Shin-Yu the offer to teach this course also had a significant effect on Korean Studies as a whole because the class was the starting point for the establishment of Korean Studies at the University of Toronto and the first such course in Canada.
The Significance of Dr. Chai Shin-Yu’s Appointment to the University of Toronto
Before moving to Canada, Dr. Chai Shin-Yu was studying theology and working in summer camps in the United States, but after moving to Canada, his Master’s and Ph.D. education in Oriental Studies offered him the opportunity to be hired as a professor. During the time period he was hired, Canadian politics was marked by a push towards multiculturalism and this therefore would have contributed to the university wanting to diversify their faculty. In contrast, U.S. politics during this time period were marred by political scandal and therefore multiculturalism was not a main focus. The fact that multiculturalism was a main focus in Canada, but was not in the United States, is exemplified in the difference in positions that Dr. Chai Shin-Yu occupied in both of these countries.
Melanie Kane Mclees is a current University of Toronto iSchool Student with a B.A. in English, Media Studies and Political Science. She is an aspiring author and her various volunteer positions offer many opportunities to gather interesting anecdotes from the fascinating people she meets which she hopes to incorporate in a book one day. She enjoys live theatre, the symphony and exploring museums throughout her travels in Canada and overseas.