Kim Ch'on-hung legacy lives on with first scholarship recipient

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: May 4, 2009

HONOLULU - On the evening of April 24th, members of the Kim Ch‘ōn-hūng family joined Halla Huhm Foundation president, donors, UH Mānoa's Center for Korean Studies faculty, University of Hawaiʻi Foundation representatives and students to celebrate the first recipient of the Kim Ch‘ōn-hūng Memorial Fund's endowed scholarship. The awarding of this scholarship at this time is deeply symbolic as this year marks the 100th anniversary of Kim Ch‘ōn-hūng's birth. This year‘s recipient is enthnomusicology graduate student Nathan Nass.

The Kim Memorial Fund was created in October 2008 with the collective support of the Halla Huhm Foundation, members of the Kim Ch‘ōn-hūng family and other donors, whom together contributed more than $35,000. The purpose of the fund is to assist students pursuing a degree at any campus in the University of Hawaiʻi System with a focus on Korean dance or music and to facilitate special projects relating to Korean dance or music that will foster learning or understanding these performing arts among students and/or the larger Hawaiʻi community. This is the first UH endowment to specifically support the study of Korean dance and music.

The fund celebrates the life and performing arts of Kim Ch‘ōn-hūng (1909 - 2007), an extraordinary Korean dancer and musician whose impact on Hawaiʻi began in the 1960s and continues today. One of Korea‘s foremost court dance and music students, performers, and teachers, Kim lived through political and personal trials and tribulations to perpetuate the art forms he loved. His contributions to Korean culture, which include dancing before Korea‘s last king in Ch‘angdōk Palace and playing music for an elaborate ceremony to relocate the tomb of Korea‘s last queen, were formally recognized many times, and twice by the Korean government when he was designated a National Living Treasure for his expertise in important performing art forms of Korea.

Following the Japanese occupation of Korea and the division of the country into North and South Korea, Kim visited and performed with a touring company in the U.S. and Hawaiʻi in the 1960s. An invitation to teach at Honolulu‘s Halla Huhm Korean Dance Studio led to an ongoing relationship with both the local community and the University of Hawaiʻi. Kim returned to teach and perform on many occasions, and remained active in performing and teaching in Korea, as well as in recording, for subsequent generations, the art forms he had learned.


Halla Huhm Foundation - In 1994 the Halla Huhm Foundation was founded as a not-for-profit organization to promote the study of Korean art and dance in Hawaiʻi . Toward that end, the Foundation has assisted the Halla Pai Huhm dance studio in purchasing costumes for studio performances and in providing for performances and workshops in Hawaiʻi by Korean artists such as Kim Ch'un-heung, Kim Myo Seon, and Samulnori. The Foundation was established through a generous donation from Young Mi Han, the niece of Halla Huhm, and is headed by Mary Jo Freshley.

Center for Korean Studies - Established in 1972, the Center for Korean Studies coordinates and develops resources for the study of Korea at the University of Hawaiʻi. The Center seeks to promote interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches to Korean studies by drawing on its faculty members in disciplines as diverse as communication, dance, economics, ethnomusicology, education, geography, history, language, linguistics, literature, political science, sociology, and urban and regional planning.

The University of Hawaiʻi Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawaiʻi System. Our mission is to unite our donors‘ passions with the University of Hawaiʻi's aspirations to benefit the people of Hawaiʻi and beyond. We do this by raising private philanthropic support, managing private investments and nurturing donor and alumni relationships. Please visit www.uhf.