Hangtae Cho

Senior Lecturer, Asian Languages and Literatures

Hangtae Cho at his desk.

A beloved teacher for 20 years, Hangtae Cho has grown the U’s Korean program from a cohort of 10 to a cohort of 500, spanning six colleges, and made it the most successful program for nonheritage learners in the United States. Cho pioneered the teaching of nonheritage learners through his work on a textbook and workbook series for beginning and intermediate learners—which are now used by the majority of Korean programs in U.S. colleges—and through service on the board of directors for major Korean language education associations.

Through the Korea Foundation Korean Studies e-School, centered at the University of Michigan, he has “put Minnesota on the map nationally as a center for undergraduate education in North Korean topics,” says a colleague.

 My teaching eschews an approach that draws distinct boundaries between the two Korean nations for a more nuanced, less biased approach to the living culture on the peninsula.--Hangtae Cho

“He taught uncommon characteristics of the divided nations that were incredibly distinctive,” says a former student. “This had a profound impact on me and other students.”

Cho uses strategies that encourage self-reflection and self-critique in the classroom. He does it, says a colleague, with just the right mix of “control/direction and freedom/fun, so that the students learn quickly and happily.” His students speak with one voice when they say he treats each of them as a unique learner, inside and outside the classroom.

One student summed up a Cho class as “one of the few that leave you truly enlightened about the world.”