Lifelong Mentor of Positive Psychology Donates to KU
“From lecturing to action, realizing positive psychology through this donation was extremely rewarding.”
Professor Han comforted people living with emotional pain using “Mind Evaluation.”
Retiring after 30 years in the Department of Psychology, Professor Han donates 100 million won to help young students.
▲ Professor Emeritus Seong Yeul Han (left) and KU President Jaeho Yeom posing with the certificate of donation.
Professor Emeritus Seong Yeul Han of the Department of Psychology, recognized as Korea’s top expert in positive psychology, donated 100 million won to Korea University in order to help educate young students.
Korea University (President Jaeho Yeom) held a donation ceremony with Professor Emeritus Han on March 2, 2017 in Korea University’s Main Hall. At the ceremony, Dr. Han donated 100 million won as a development fund for the Department of Psychology.
The donation was made in February, 2017 as Professor Han expressed his will to contribute to the development of KU’s Department of Psychology, where he taught as a faculty member for 30 years. “I was accepted into KU’s Department of Psychology in 1970 and began teaching at my alma mater in 1987. My life as a scholar at KU was delightful, full-heartedly teaching and studying the discipline of my choice. My contribution to KU is nothing compared to all my blessings. Back when I was a student, there were four faculty members in our department, but now we’ve grown into a department with 15 outstanding scholars. It is reassuring to leave the department in such great hands,” he said. When asked about the meaning of his contribution, he said, “Positive Psychology, which was my major, is a discipline that studies how people can live happy lives. One way of living a fuller life is through appreciation. The monetary value of my donation may differ depending on how you look at it, but the pleasure and happiness from the act of appreciation, by repaying back a bit of what I’ve received thus far, is immeasurable. After making the donation, I realized that my words to my students were true, donating did bring happiness.”
Professor Han hopes the fund will be used for everyone, both the students and the faculty, in order to improve the education environment of the Sung, Young Shin Department of Psychology and to provide funding for the Department’s scholarship grant. He retired from his position as a KU professor on February 28th and was conferred to the title of Professor Emeritus.
KU President Jaeho Yeom expressed his gratitude. “When Professor Han first introduced cultural psychology, bridging psychology, which takes a personal approach, and culture, which takes a social approach, it was an academically shocking concept at the time. Dr. Han will be missed dearly, as a close friend and a mentor starting back from when I was a newly appointed faculty member. However, I am confident that his contribution to Korea’s study of psychology will continue on, and I look forward to seeing future publications and lectures from him. He is actually an expert in gerontology, but chose to put the young students of KU before his own retirement plan.”
Professor Young Shin Sung, who attended the ceremony, praised Professor Han’s contribution in cultural psychology, which he first introduced to Korea and was instrumental in its development. “KU’s Department of Psychology evolved into Korea’s one and only place to receive a balanced education in the various subfields of psychology from clinical and counseling psychology and behavioral cognitive neuroscience to cultural and social psychology while he was with us,” she said thanking him.
The Department of Psychology is a one-of-a-kind program in Korea, offering a balanced opportunity to approach the study from the perspectives of humanities and social sciences by developing various fields such as clinical and counseling psychology, behavioral cognitive neuroscience, and cultural and social psychology. Psychology majors have bright job prospects, while jobs in many other fields are at risk of disappearing, since the field can be applied to industries, public administration, politics, economy and other in which their expertise is in need.
Professor Han graduated from KU’s Department of Psychology and received his doctoral degree from The University of Chicago. Up until February of 2017, he had been teaching at his alma mater. He pointed out that psychology was consumed with studying ways to erase negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression, and emphasized the importance of finding “True Happiness” by studying the positive attitudes of emotionally mature people. He stressed that psychologists must communicate with people rather than emphasizing theory. Based on this belief, he advocated the importance of “Healthy Mind” at numerous corporations, universities, and chapels.
Professor Han has held numerous titles including: Director, Korea Association for Suicide Prevention; Vice President, Korean Healing & Counseling Institute; President, The Korea Social and Personality Psychological Association; and President, Korean Psychological Association of Culture and Social Issues. He is currently involved in various organizations on the frontline of dealing with “Problems of the Mind” as the President of the Korea Association of Drama Therapy and the Chairman of Lifeline Seoul and an Expert Member of the Somang Correctional Institution. His authored publications include Psychology of Shinmyung (co-author, 2009) and Psychologist’s Mind for Rent (2014). His translated publications include Adaptation to Life (2005), Vital Involvement in Old Age (2000) and Men in Midlife Crisis (2000).