The Department of Asian History teaches the history of various regions and their traditions, as well as the history and culture of Korea in its Asian context. The subjects of research include the histories of China, Japan, North Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the history of interaction between eastern and western civilizations. The department, the first of its kind in Korea as an independent department of Asian history, aims at improving the standards of research in the field of Asian history, and at serving as the focal point for various outside projects. The nature of work in the field of Asian history is such that it requires fieldwork done in diverse regions of Asia, and specialists from the various Asian countries are regularly invited for lectures. The study of Asian history allows one to come into contact directly with the basic historical material of various Asian regions and nationalities, a highly worthwhile and interesting endeavor in itself. Moreover, it allows one to understand in a systematic way the flow of world history through acquaintance with the historical experiences of various peoples in a large historical arena. Majors in the discipline are therefore expected to show a keen intellectual curiosity and an earnest diligence in the pursuit of academic excellence. With the rise in the stature and importance of Asia, experts on Asian history are in wide demand in academia and in the fields of diplomacy and trade.
The department issues an annual publication, SNU Papers on Asian History, in order to encourage student research output. Starting in the 1980s the department has sponsored the "Dept. of Asian History Colloquium" year round in order to facilitate the exchange of opinions and information among those majoring in Asian history. At the colloquia professors and graduate students read papers and discuss the latest research trends from overseas. The department makes every effort to aid students in creating the optimal environment needed for research, and also trains them to be competent in classical and modern Chinese and Japanese. Student majoring in Asian history are required to take a certain number of courses in the department in order to graduate. The department undertakes field trips to historical sites every year. In order to acknowledge outstanding research efforts on the part of students, it awards prizes to the best undergraduate and master's degree theses. From the quality and range of undergraduate and graduate degree theses, it can be seen that these efforts have steadily borne fruit.
Many students go on to teach Asia history in universities around the country, and many of the scholars who play a leading role in the sub-committees of the Asian History Association are also graduates of the department. They are also actively engaged in joint research projects and take prominent responsibility for organizing academic conferences. Judging from the high motivation of the graduates in academia much can be expected from them in the future. Those alumni who have chosen to seek alternative careers are active in wide range of fields, including other academic disciplines, journalism, government service and business and industry. The department is renowned in academic circles both at home and abroad for the high standard of research conducted by both the faculty and graduates. Numerous books and articles written by its members have been translated into several foreign languages, and continue to exercise considerable influence on the study of Asian history in other countries.