Inku K Marshall


Emeritus Associate Teaching Professor


Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
General profile


I studied German Language and Literature for my BA degree at Seoul National University in Korea. I was particularly interested in modern German literature and "existential" philosophy. After my graduation in Korea, I went to Germany in order to study further. I gained my Ph.D. summa cum laude from the University of Hamburg, in Germany. My major was Comparative Education and my minors were German Modern Literature and Linguistics. Afterwards, I was a research fellow for two years at the UNESCO Institute for Education in Hamburg and was co-author of a book on curriculum for German secondary schools. At this time (1974), I also began to teach at Luneburg Teachers College, a position I held for ten years. During this period I began to read and research cultural anthropology and history to understand the roots of human cultural heritage and the development of world history. I was especially interested in the work of Arnold Toynbee and Karl Jaspers. In this context, I developed a particular interest in Korean cultural history and the origin of the Korean Language.
From 1979, I taught Korean language and culture at the Department of Asian Studies at Bochum University in Germany. While I was teaching there, I participated in writing a textbook for German students learning Korean.
Since coming to America in 1986, I have devoted myself to the development of teaching methods for Korean as a foreign language as well as creating teaching materials of Korean language and culture for non-Korean peoples.
Korea, despite its long history that stretches back more than 5000 years, is a country that remains relatively unexplored by scholars. Its rich history has accumulated a culture and language unique from other neighboring countries. Recently, these traits of Korean culture continue to reveal its many hidden treasures.
The Korean alphabet, "Hangul," consists of only 24 letters; developed consciously and systematically in the 15th century (promulgated in 1446), it is regarded by many as the world's most scientific and easy to learn writing system, being completely phonetically based. The Korean alphabet is the only writing system in the world created with a clear purpose. The original name of the Korean alphabet Hoon Min Jung Eum means “Teaching the People the Right Sounds.” This name was directly given by King Sejong the Great who initiated the creation of this writing system after recognizing the need for a unique and independent writing system.
Culturally, Korea has been the bridge between China and Japan. My interest is to propagate the study of the Korean language and culture as a gateway to understanding the character of Korean culture and tradition, and its similarities and differences with the cultures of these neighbors. China and Japan cannot be fully understood without a study of Korea because throughout the long history that these two countries have shared, Korea was the channel where these two cultures met.
With its central position in North East Asia, its links with the United States, and the potentially volatile question of Korean unification, involving all the Pacific powers, Korea holds a central place in contemporary geopolitics. As the eyes of the world shift to Asia, particularly North East Asia, naturally, the issue of the only divided country in the world will draw global attention. Any serious study of such issues needs to be based on a firm grasp of the Korean language and culture.


  • Ph.D. (1974) University of Hamburg, Germany, Comparative Education
  • B.A. (1965) Seoul National University, Korea, German Language and Literature


  • German ()
  • Korean ()