Join us in congratulating our newly selected Undergraduate Fellows for 2017–2018! We are excited to have these five students join us in fostering an active spirit of undergraduate participation in the Korean studies community at Penn.

Name: Hyunsun (Sun) Ahn
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Majors: Political Science (Concentration: International Relations) and Economics; Minor: Linguistics
Year: Class of 2020

Hyunsun is a political science and economics major, and linguistics minor. In addition to being a Kim Program Undergraduate Fellow, she is an intern for The Think Tanks and Civil Society Program at the Lauder Institute, President of the Asian Law and Politics Society, and international mentor for the College of Arts and Sciences. As an international student from South Korea, Hyunsun participated in a wide array of activities in Korea. She was an intern for the People Legal Foundation, translator for the Korean Ethnicity Problem Research Center, and writer for the Joongang Daily Newspaper.

She grew up listening to her grandparents’ stories about their lives before the separation between North and South Korea, and under Japanese occupation. They inspired and continue to motivate her to study more about Korea. She is particularly fascinated by Korea’s diplomatic relations with other countries, and its historical political and economic growth. As an Undergraduate Fellow, she hopes to further inform the Penn community about Korea and make its culture and history more approachable for the public.


Name: Alison (Alley) McFarland
Hometown: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Major: International Relations and East Asian Languages and Civilization (Concentration: Chinese) Minor: French
Year: Class of 2018

Alison first became interested in Korea through her study of China. This included exposure to Korean history, culture, and cuisine during her time spent living in China as well as through her studies at Penn. However, these experiences have all been conveyed through the eyes of China. As a sophomore, Alison began studying Korean to increase her understanding of Korea as well as to expand her knowledge of East Asia. Although initially attracted to the Korean language as a way to complement her Mandarin skills, Alison quickly became interested in the cultural aspects that are embedded in the language as well as the cultural points mentioned in textbooks. The Korean Undergraduate Fellowship presents Alison with the opportunity to increase her understanding of Korea and to broaden her perspective on East Asia as a way to support her major in East Asian Languages and Civilizations.


Name: McKay Nicole Novak
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Major: Economics (Wharton), concentration in Multinational Management
Year: Class of 2018

McKay has always loved learning languages. After learning Spanish for thirteen years, and Chinese for seven years, she wanted a new challenge and decided upon the language of Korean for her next linguistic venture. After learning this language for a little less than a year, her curiosity had expanded beyond the language itself and settled on the culture and people of Korea as a whole. It is for this reason McKay chose to spend the fall of her junior year in Seoul studying at Yonsei University. 

McKay’s time at Yonsei allowed her to propel her broken knowledge of Korean into a better, more well-rounded tool to communicate with, and better understand Korean people through intensive language courses. Beyond her linguistic experiences, she will forever be grateful for the four months spent discovering more about the Korean language, people, and culture, and is extremely appreciative for the opportunity to witness the unique strength of the Korean people during this tumultuous political time. Due to her positive experiences, McKay hopes to live and work abroad in Seoul after taking a year post-graduation to further develop her Korean language abilities to a level of proficiency in both business and general speech. However, McKay first looks forward to continuing the study of both language and Korean Studies when returning to Penn for her senior year. McKay believes serving as an Undergraduate Fellow within the James Joo-Jin Kim Program can facilitate her desire to increase her knowledge and awareness of Korean studies while making a positive contribution within the Kim Program and the general Penn community.


Name: Scarlett Park
Hometown: Busan, South Korea/Las Vegas, Nevada
Major: Political Science, Minor: International Development
Year: Class of 2018

Scarlett is interested in the changing dynamics of U.S. policy and military strategy as they relate to the international realm. With the rising role of the Korean Peninsula, her goal as an Undergraduate Fellow is to become familiar with the historical and cultural background necessary in order to better understand the nature of development and conflict within the region. With this context largely unavailable in current Western political and academic discourse, Scarlett hopes to gain the knowledge by taking courses, interacting with other fellows, and engaging with the various members of the Korean Studies community.

During the past few years, Scarlett has focused on experiencing the different levels and facets of American policymaking. In her last year at Penn, she hopes to engage both students and educators to include Korea’s culture and history in the conversation— emphasizing the need for a future cohort of diplomats and policymakers who are familiar with the region’s context beyond the Korean War. In the future, Scarlett hopes to utilize her experiences and time as an Undergraduate Fellow to enter U.S. civil service and serve the American public, as well as peacekeeping interests abroad


Name: Hector I. Sanchez
Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico
Majors: International Relations, East Asian Area Studies
Year: Class of 2019

Hector first became interested in Korea as a result of the Peninsula's ever-growing relevance to global affairs. As a student of international relations, the Korean case illustrates a wide array of concepts critical to modern international affairs, from nuclearization to soft power, and many others in-between. Furthermore, after a couple of courses in Korean Studies, Hector developed an interest in Korea's pre-20th-century history. He is fascinated by Sino-Korean relations and their intellectual legacy, particularly the history of Confucianism in Korea, and the political processes that have surrounded it. As a Kim Program fellow, Hector is thrilled to engage the Korean Studies community at Penn and explore its diverse disciplinary backgrounds and ideas.