Seoul National University

Seoul National University
Latin: Universitas Nationalis Seulensis[1]
Motto Veritas lux mea (Latin)
Motto in English
The truth is my light
Established 1946
Type National
President Sung Nak-In
Academic staff
5,361[2] (2013)
Students 28,011[2] (2013)
Undergraduates 16,712[2]
Postgraduates 11,299[2]
Location Gwanak, Seoul, South Korea
Campus Urban, 4.2 km2 (1037 acres)
7.9 km2 (1,960 acres), including the arboreta and other campuses.
Colors blue      
Nickname Template:If empty
Mascot Crane
Seoul National University Logotype
Seoul National University
Revised Romanization Seoul Daehakgyo
McCune–Reischauer Sŏul Taehakkyo
Note: The word 首尔大学 (traditional: 首爾大學) is frequently used in many Chinese contexts, as in Chinese Wikipedia. This is, however, not a traditional hanja name, because the Chinese characters used in the word do not represent the Korean sound of the word, but rather the Chinese. Thus it is merely a Chinese transliteration, rendered as Shǒuěr Dàxué in pinyin. Other names such as 汉城国立大学 have been used historically.

Seoul National University (Acronym: SNU; Korean, 서울대학교, Seoul Daehakgyo, colloquially Seouldae) is a national research university located in Seoul, the capital of Korea. The origin of Seoul National University may be dated to 1895 when King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty established a national law academy which later became part of the university.

In its current form, the university was founded in 1946, thus it is the oldest national university of the country. It located on three campuses: the main campus in Gwanak and two additional campuses in Daehangno and Suwon. The university comprises sixteen colleges, one graduate school, and nine professional schools. The student body consists of nearly 17,000 undergraduate and 11,000 graduate students. Since its founding, Seoul National University is widely considered to be the most prestigious university in the country.[3] According to data compiled by KEDI, the university spends more on its students per capita than any other university in the country that enrolls at least 10,000.[4]

Seoul National University holds a memorandum of understanding with over 700 academic institutions in 40 countries,[5] the World Bank,[6] and the country's first ever general academic exchange program with the University of Pennsylvania.[7] The Graduate School of Business offers dual master's degrees with Duke University, ESSEC Business School, and the Peking University, double-degrees at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Yale School of Management,[8] and MBA-, MS-, and PhD-candidate exchange programs with universities in ten countries on four continents.[9] The university's international faculty headcount is 242 or 4% of the total.[10] Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and Fields Medal recipient Hironaka Heisuke are on the faculty roster.[11]



Seoul National University originates from various education institutions which were established by King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty. Several of them were integrated into various colleges when later Seoul National University was founded.

To modernize the country, Gojong initiated the establishment of modern higher education institutions. By means of the issue of a royal order, the law academy Beopkwan Yangseongso has been founded in 1895. It produced 209 graduates including the later envoy Yi Jun. Hanseong Sabeomhakgyo (established in 1895), a training school for teachers and Euihakkyo (1899), a medical school, are also considered the origins of respected colleges.

After the proclamation of the Empire of Korea in 1897, Gojong, meanwhile emperor, was motivated to create more modern education institutions. In 1899, a medical school was established. This school changed its name several times to Daehan Euiwon Gyoyukbu and Gyeongseong Euihak Jeonmunhakgyo (Gyeongseong Medical College) and finally became College of Medicine of Seoul National University. In 1901, a department for nursing was established, which was the forerunner of the later College of Nursing.

During the Japanese rule, Keijō Imperial University was established as one of Japan's nine imperial universities. After World War II and the independence of Korea, the name of the university was changed from Keijō Teikoku Daigaku (京城帝国大学) to Gyeongseong Daehak (경성대학, 京城大學, Gyeongseong University). The Kanji letters, that were used in the name, were pronounced in the Korean reading and the attribute "imperial" was removed.


Seoul National University was founded on August 27, 1946 by merging ten institutions of higher education around the Seoul area. The schools which have been merged were:

  • Gyeongseong University (Gyeongseong Daehakgyo, 경성대학)
  • Gyeongseong College of Education (Gyeongseong Sabeomhakgyo, 경성사범학교)
  • Gyeongseong Women's College of Education (Gyeongseong Yeoja Sabeomhakgyo, 경성여자사범학교)
  • Gyeongseong Law College (Gyeongseong Beophak Jeonmunhakgyo, 경성법학전문학교)
  • Gyeongseong Industrial College (Gyeongseong Gongeop Jeonmunhakgyo, 경성공업전문학교)
  • Gyeongseong Mining College (Gyeongseong Gwangsan Jeonmunhakgyo, 경성광산전문학교)
  • Gyeongseong Medical College (Gyeongseong Euihak Jeonmunhakgyo, 경성의학전문학교)
  • Suwon Agriculture College (Suwon Nongnim Jeonmunhakgyo, 수원농림전문학교)
  • Gyeongseong College of Economics (Gyeongseong Gyeongje Jeonmunhakgyo, 경성경제전문학교)
  • Gyeongseong Dentistry College (Gyeongseong Chigwa Euihak Jeonmunhakgyo, 경성치과의학전문학교)

The first president was Harry Bidwell Ansted.[12] For over a year and a half, there was a protest movement by students and professors against the law of the U.S. military government in Korea merging colleges. Finally, 320 professors were fired and more than 4950 students left the school. The university's second president was Lee Choon-ho (이춘호, 李春昊), who served beginning in October 1947.

The College of Law was founded by merging the law department of Kyŏngsŏng University with Kyŏngsŏng Law College. The university absorbed Seoul College of Pharmacy in September 1950, as the College of Pharmacy. This had previously been a private institution.[13]

During the Korean War, the university was occupied by North Korea and Seoul National University Hospital Massacre occurred,[14] then temporarily merged with other universities in South Korea, located in Busan.


Originally, the main campus (which embraced the College of Humanities and Sciences and College of Law) was in Dongsung-dong, Jongno. After the construction of a new main campus in Gwanak in February 1975, most colleges of the university relocated to the new Gwanak Campus between 1975 and 1979. Part of the former main campus in Jongno is still used by the College of Medicine, the College of Dentistry and the College of Nursing and is now called Yongon Campus.

In 2012 lawmakers reported that the ruling Saenuri Party, ahead of the December presidential elections, seriously proposed a plan to relocate the university to the newly established special autonomous Sejong City.[15] The move came as part of an overall effort to decentralize the capital's governmental apparatus. Originally the national government had approached the university in 2009 to host the building of a satellite campus.[16][17] It was reported the following year that the university had considered withdrawing from the Sejong plan.[18]


File:Sha gate 2009.jpg
The main gate of Seoul National University, known by its nickname, the Sha () gate. The shape of the gate is formed by the characters ,,, the initial letters of its full Korean name (Gungnip Seoul Daehakgyo).


Admissions to Seoul National University is extremely competitive. From 1981 to 1987, when an applicant could apply only to one university at a time, more than 80% of the top 0.5% scorers in the annual government-administered scholastic achievement test applied to SNU and many of them were unsuccessful. Students are admitted by major instead of into a general freshman pool. Currently, its freshmen belong to the top 2.5% of all Korean students who take the National University Entrance Examination.[19]

Academic structure

Sixteen colleges of the university offer 83 undergraduate degree programs.[20] For master and doctoral programs there is one graduate school with 99 programs from five fields of studies. The interdisciplinary programs are the ones invented and operated by more than two departments.[21] In addition to that, there are nine professional graduate schools.[22]


Seoul National University is made up of two Seoul-based and one Suwon-based campuses: the Gwanak Campus is situated in the neighborhood of Daehak-dong (former Sillim-dong), Gwanak-gu; and the Yongon Campus is north of the Han River in Daehangno, Jongno District; and the new Campus Suwon, in Iui-dong, Yeongtong-gu.

The main campus in Gwanak-gu was established in 1975 by the SNU Comprehensive Plan. At present, there are about 200 buildings, over half of which have been constructed since 1990. The school’s medical, dental and nursing schools, as well as the main branch of Seoul National University Hospital, are on the former site of Gyeongseong University’s medical department at the Yongon Campus. In 2003, the Colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Veterinary Medicine were relocated from Suwon to Gwanak. In 2009, the Graduate School of Convergence Science Technology (GSCST), which consists of three departments (Nano convergence, Digital information convergence, Intellectual convergence), was established in the new Suwon Campus.


Gwanak Campus, the main campus, is located in the southern part of Seoul. It is served by its own subway station on Line 2. Yeongeon Campus, the medical campus, is on Daehangno (University Street), northeast Seoul. The defunct Suwon Campus, the agricultural campus, also known as the Sangnok Campus (Evergreen Campus), used to be located in Suwon, about 40 km south of Seoul. The agricultural campus moved to Gwanak in Autumn 2004, but some research facilities still remain in Suwon.

New plans

In February 2010 Seoul National initiated a memorandum with the city of Siheung to establish a global campus. Signed with the city's mayor and governor of Gyeonggi for administrative assistance, the university acquired 826 thousand square meters (204 acres) of property in the west-coast economic zone, near the Songdo International Business District, Pyeongtaek harbor, international airport, seaport.[23]

The land acquisition will increase the university's size by 58% over its current 1.4 million square meters (350 acres) to 2.2 million square meters (550 acres) and headcount by an expected 10,000 people or 33% of its current figure.[24] Along with lecture halls and additional liberal arts and graduate courses, the initiative will add a medical complex including a research hospital and training center, research center for dentistry and clinical pharmacology, dormitories, apartments, an international middle and high school, and other facilities. Planning to open the international campus in 2014, the university intends to share the initiative with other regional national institutions.[25]


File:Snu library night.JPG
Passageway through the Central Library building


Seoul National University Library is located behind the university administrative building in the 62nd block of the Gwanak Campus. In 2009, the library’s collection of books, including all the annexes, was 4 million volumes. The chief librarian, Dr. Kim Jong-seo, professor of religious studies in the College of Humanities, took office in 2009.

The Central Library has constructed a digital library, which in addition to the regular library collection provides access to university publications, ancient texts, and theses. Included here are images of pamphlets, lecture slides, and insects. The digital library offers access to video of university exhibitions, scientific events, symposia, and seminars.

The library was opened in 1946 as the Seoul National University Central Library, inheriting its facilities and books from Kyungsung University. In 1949, the name of the library was changed to the Seoul National University Library Annex. When the main branch of the library was relocated to the Gwanak Campus in January 1975, it was renamed the Seoul National University Library, and then renamed again in 1992 the Seoul National University Central Library.

In 1966, provisions were made to systematize the library's collections. The original library was organized into 12 annexes for each of the university’s colleges: engineering, education, physics, art, law, theology, pharmacology, music, medicine, dentistry, administration, and agricultural sciences. Two years later, in 1968, libraries for newspapers and the liberal arts were added to bring the number of annexes to 14. However as the main branch was moved to the Gwanak Campus, the education, physics, legal, theological, administrative, newspaper, liberal arts, and pharmacological libraries were combined in a single building.

The following year the art and music libraries were added to the main branch, while the dentistry and medical libraries were amalgamated into one. With the integration of the engineering library into the main branch in 1979, only the agricultural and medical libraries remained as separate annexes. A new law library was established in 1983 with funds from alumni, and in 1992 the Kyujanggak Royal Library was subdivided from the main library as an independent organization and is now known as the Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies.

With the transfer of the College of Agricultural Sciences from the Suwon to Gwanak Campus, the Agricultural Library was also moved in 2005. As of 2006 there were seven remaining library annexes for management, the social sciences, agriculture, law, medicine, dentistry, and international studies.

The library has received contributions from seven university libraries (Columbia, Harvard, Hong Kong, Leiden, Michigan, Stockholm, Toronto), three universities (Ohio State, Princeton, and UCLA), three major libraries (Fung Ping Shan Library, Library of Congress, New York Public Library), four institutions (German Research Association, Pro Helvetia Switzerland, Smithsonian Institution, and World Bank), two government agencies (US Information Service and US Operation Mission), the government of Australia, and from private Korean and non-Korean donors.

The university library will undergo renovation and addition in 2014. The project is expected to solve the chronic problem of the lack of space for book storage and study. The budget-plan is spearheaded through a fund-raising campaign via Friends of SNU.[26]

File:Joseon Wangjo Sillok and its case in museum.jpg
Historical document in the Kyujanggak Archives


The Kyujanggak, also known as Gyujanggak, was the royal library of the Joseon Dynasty. It was founded in 1776 by order of King Jeongjo of Joseon, at which time it was located on the grounds of Changdeokgung Palace. Today known as Kyujanggak Royal Library or Kyujanggak Archives are maintained by Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies at the Seoul National University. It functions as a key repository of Korean historical records and a centre for research and publication of an annual journal titled Kyujanggak.[27]


Seoul National University Museum is located at the Gwanak Campus. It opened alongside the university in 1946 under the name, "The Seoul National University Museum Annex." The original 2-story Dongsung-dong building, which was erected in 1941, had served as the Kyungsung Imperial University Museum until it was transferred intact to SNU. When the museum was moved to the sixth floor of the Central Library, in 1975, it was renamed the Seoul National University Museum. The museum was then moved to newly constructed facilities, next to the Dongwon Building, in 1993, which it has occupied to this day. Dr. Park Nak-gyu is the director.

File:SNU Museum of Art.jpg
The new building of the Museum of Art

Museum of Art

Seoul National University Museum of Art (SNUMoA) was established in 1995, with contributions from the Samsung Cultural Foundation, after a proposal from Dr. Lee Jong-sang, a professor of Oriental Art. The building designed by the Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas, with construction entrusted to the Samsung Group. This 4450m2 structure sits three stories above and below ground. Its major distinguishing feature is the forward area which almost appears to be floating in the air. Construction was undertaken from 2003 to 2005, just off the Gwanak Campus’ main gate while the opening took place on the June 8, 2006. Dr. Jung Hung-min assumed the directorship of the gallery in 2006.

More than 1,300 dorm rooms stand newly renovated at Gwanaksa since September 2010.


The dormitory of Seoul National University is named Gwanaksa. Dormitories for undergraduate and graduate students as well as families are located here. It was founded August 1975, with five Gwanaksa buildings and one welfare building, which housed 970 male students. The female dormitory was founded in February 1983. By June 2007, there were one administration building, two welfare buildings, 12 undergraduate dormitory buildings, six graduate students’ dormitory buildings, which in total housed 3,680 students. Unlike other schools, there is no curfew hour.

The Yeongeonsa located in Yeongeon campus, which is medical school of Seoul National University. The Yeongeonsa can house 533 undergraduate students, and 17 household of family dormitory.

File:SNU 75.jpg
Editorial building of the students' newspaper


The first edition of the paper was launched while seeking refuge from the ravages of the Korean War, on February 4, 1952. In 1953 it was moved to Dongsung-dong in Seoul, where from 1958 even editions for high school were published. Financial difficulties in 1960 led the paper to cease printing for a time. It was relocated to the Gwanak Campus in 1975 where it has been in continuous publication until the present day. At the time of its first launch the paper was sold for 500 won a copy, sometimes twice a week. Now, however, it is distributed for free every Monday. The school paper is not available during schools breaks or exams.

Reputation and rankings

File:Seoul national university 60th anniversary emblem.png
Official poster of the 60th anniversary in 2006


A KEDI study found that the university's name-value translates into wages that are on average about 12 percent higher than that of other Korean universities.[28] SNU graduates dominate South Korea's academics, government, politics and business. Approximately one in four Korean university presidents studied for their undergraduate degree at Seoul National.[29] Between 2003 and 2009, more students who graduated from science high schools and received presidential scholarships matriculated at Seoul National University than at eight other leading universities combined.[30] The concentration of SNU graduates in legal, official, and political circles is particularly high. Two-thirds of South Korean judges are SNU graduates, although the country's judicial appointment system is based solely on open competitive examinations. In government, slightly more than half of South Korea's elite career foreign service corps, recruited on the basis of a competitive higher diplomatic service exam, are from SNU. Similarly, among the high-ranking government officials who were recruited by an equally competitive higher civil service exam, SNU graduates take up more than 40 percent. On the political side, four out of seven presidential candidates in 2002 were SNU graduates.

International rankings

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QS World University Rankings (2014/15) considered it 31st in the world and 3rd in Asia,[38] whilst it was 4th in the independent regional QS Asian University Rankings (2013).[39] The university was 4th in Asia and 50th in the world by the 2014-15 Times Higher Education World University Rankings[40] when its World Reputation Rankings considered it to be 26th globally.[41] Moreover, ARWU (2013) regarded SNU to be among 101st-150th worldwide and the best in the country.[42]

The institute was ranked 20th in publications by a 2008 analysis of data from the Science Citation Index,[45] and the following year ranked 8th in the world in clinical trials.[46] In 2009, the Ecole des Mines de Paris - MINES Paris Tech reported that Seoul National is ranked 5th in the world in terms of the number of alumni holding CEO positions in Fortune 500 enterprises.[47] Seoul National University also had the third highest number of students who went on to earn Ph.Ds in American institutions in 2006.[48]

Notable alumni & faculty

The List of Seoul National University people includes global leaders such as BAN Ki-moon (B.A. '70), UN Secretary-General, LEE Jong-wook (M.D. '76), former Director-General of the World Health Organization, and SONG Sang-Hyun, President of International Criminal Court (ICC). It also includes a majority of key members of modern Korean history. Dr. No-Hee Park, Dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry also attended for his undergraduate work and his DDS degree.

In media

The campus was used as a filming location for Seoul Broadcasting System's 2008 drama Star's Lover. It was used as the university of Kim Chul Soo's, played by Yoo Ji-tae, employment, his lectures and Lee Ma-ri's, played by Choi Ji-woo, visit to the school. Locations used included the gallery, Kyujanggak, and museum roads. This is the first time the university has allowed its campus to be used as a filming location.[49]

See also

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Notes and references

  1. ^ "Website of Roman Law Study Group" (in Korean). College of Law, Seoul National University. Retrieved July 28, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Seoul National University Facts". Seoul National University. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Best Investment to SNU Students". 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  5. ^ "SNU in the World: International partnerships". Website. Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  6. ^ Oh, Jung-eun (9 May 2013). "SNU and World Bank Sign MOU – A Cooperation Between Two Giants". Seoul National University. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Academic Exchange Agreement Concluded with the University of Pennsylvania". Website. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  8. ^ "Media Coverage April 25, 2012". Website. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  9. ^ "Partner Schools for Exchange Student Program". Website. Retrieved 2011-04-22. 
  10. ^ "Faculty listing as of 1 April 2010". Website. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  11. ^ Choi, Naeun (2008-11-10). "Nobel Prize Winner Paul Crutzen Appointed as SNU Professor". Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  12. ^ List of SNU Presidents
  13. ^ "History of the College of Pharmacy". SNU College of Pharmacy website. Retrieved July 24, 2005. 
  14. ^ "서울대병원, 6.25전쟁 참전 용사들을 위한 추모제 가져". Seoul National University Hospital. 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  15. ^ "Ruling party pushes to move top university out of Seoul to Sejong". Yonhap News. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "Seoul Nat`l Univ. Asked to Build 2nd Campus in Sejong City". Donga Ilbo. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "Sejong City Now Slated as Education, Science Hub". Chosun Ilbo. 24 November 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  18. ^ Kang, Shin-who (27 June 2010). "University campuses in Sejong City unlikely". Korea Times. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Kim, Yea-rim (2011-03-16). "Siheung is on the Road to Becoming Korea's Investment Mecca". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  24. ^ Chung, Young-jin (2010-02-12). "Plans under way for new SNU branch in Siheung". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  25. ^ Yoo, Min-seok (2011-01-25). "SNU To Share Siheung International Campus with Regional Universities". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  26. ^ 서울대 도서관 40년만에 새로 고친다 (in 한국어). 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  27. ^ "History: Kyujanggak". Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  28. ^ Han, Dongsook; Bae, Kwangbin; Sohn, Hosung (2012). "Estimating the university prestige effect in South Korea's labor market". KEDI Journal of Education Policy (Korean Education Development Institute) 9 (2): 383–396. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  29. ^ Shin, Ha-young (20 December 2013). "나는 총장이다대학의 별 총장…서울대 출신 24.3% 최다 (Nearly 1 in 4 Korean University Presidents are SNU Alumni)". E Daily. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  30. ^ Kang, Shin-who (30 May 2010). "Science High Schools Dominate Scholarhsip". Korea Times. Korea Times. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  31. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities: Global". Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  32. ^ "World University Rankings 2014-2015". Times Higher Education. 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  33. ^ "QS World University Rankings (2014/15)". QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities: Global". Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Asia University Rankings". Times Higher Education. 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  36. ^ "QS World University Rankings (extracting Asian universities from the list for counting this position)". QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  37. ^ "QS Asian University Rankings". QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 
  38. ^ "QS World University Rankings (2014/15)". 
  39. ^ "QS Asian University Rankings: Overall in 2013". Quacquarelli Symonds. 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  40. ^ "The World University Rankings 2013-2014". Times Higher Education. 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  41. ^ "THE World Reputation Rankings 2012-13". 
  42. ^ "ARWUU 2012". Shanghai Jiaotong University. 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  43. ^ "QS World University Rankings: Seoul National University Rankings". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  44. ^
  45. ^ "Facts". 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  46. ^ "Seoul National University College of Medicine: World Ranking". Seoul National University. Retrieved 2013-07-09. 
  47. ^ Won, Pia (2009-07-16). "SNU Ranked World's Top 5th in Producing Global CEOs". Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  48. ^ Graduates of Chinese Universities Take the Lead in Earning American Ph.Ds -
  49. ^ "A Star's Lover". Korean TV Drama. Korea Tourism Organization. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 

Further reading

  • Seoul National University, "서울대학교 40년사"(The 40 years history of Seoul National University), 1986.

External links

Coordinates: 37°28′N 126°57′E / 37.46°N 126.95°E / 37.46; 126.95 (Seoul National University){{#coordinates:37.46|126.95|region:KR_type:edu|||||| |primary |name=Seoul National University }}

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