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Professor honored for pioneering academic contributions

Dr. David Nemeth, UT professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, has received the second annual Kevin O’Donnell Distinguished Friend of Korea Award.

The Friend of Korea Award is dedicated to enhancing cultural awareness and friendship between Americans and Koreans and was founded in 2002 by former Peace Corps volunteers who served in Korea between 1966 and 1981.

Nemeth

Nemeth spent two years on Jeju Island off the southern coast of South Korea with the Peace Corps in 1972. After returning to the United States, he pursued researching, publishing and teaching about Korea.

“I formed a mystical attachment to Jeju Island and a fictive kinship with its inhabitants during my Peace Corps years of service,” Nemeth said. “In addition, I found a moral compass there.

“After Peace Corps, my in-depth studies of Jeju Island, highlighted by many return visits, became a rewarding intellectual obsession that I vigorously pursued while earning my PhD at UCLA.”

Nemeth’s research focuses on cultural geographic studies in Korea, which include diverse yet related explorations into Neo-Confucianism, geomancy, economic-growth ideology and agricultural ecology.

In 1987, Nemeth published a book titled “The Architecture of Ideology: Neo-Confucian Imprinting on Cheju Island, Korea,” which has since been translated into Korean.

“This award in general draws international scholarly and public attention to the profound significance of Korean civilization on the world stage, past, present and future,” Nemeth said. “More specifically, my award celebrates the uniqueness and worth of Jeju Island’s remarkable landscape and culture within Korea.”