In the wake of the recently passed free trade agreement between Korea and the United StatesGeorgia State University is seeking new ways to develop its relationships with the country.

One of five countries specially courted by Georgia State through its strategic plan, the university created the Korean-American Business Center earlier this year out of its Center for Research in Information Systems in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business.

The center plans to sponsor a series of discussions and business seminars in the fall for business professionals and interested students. The center will enable Southeastern companies to develop business connections with Korean companies and will provide a basic introduction to Korean culture, the center’s executive director, J.P. Shim, told GlobalAtlanta.

Dr. Shim was hired as a professor of Computer Information Systems (CIS) by Georgia State last fall, previously serving on faculty at Mississippi State University for 27 years, where he founded the school’s International Business Strategy Program.

Dr. Shim also has close ties to Korea, growing up in Daegu and Seoul before immigrating to the United States more than 35 years ago. At Georgia State, he now serves on the Robinson College of Business MBA Steering Committee and the Korean Advisory Group at GSU.

South Korea is one of five countries with which Georgia State seeking to develop increased international ties, including BrazilChinaSouth Africa and Turkey, as well.

Last May, a delegation of Georgia State officials, including President Mark Becker and Robinson College Dean H. Fenwick Huss, met with a reception of Korean alumni to recognize them for their achievements in international business.

Dr. Shim described this meeting as an opportunity to promote the university and recruit additional students for Georgia State’s CIS program, which ranks in the top 10 in the United States.

Dr. Shim also said that it’s important that Americans develop connections with Korea, especially in Atlanta, which is home to up to 100,000 people of Korean origin, according to some estimates.

“It’s good for GSU … to build up a strong program between the university and Korea,” Dr. Shim said. “That’s why the Robinson College of Business and I are interested in [creating] the Korean Center.”

He said the South Korean city of Incheon is currently working with 10 major American universities to establish campuses in the city’s Songdo area.  Georgia State has entered into preliminary discussions to determine to what extent it will offer classes there, but it expects to offer a masters degree in CIS by next year with opportunity to develop additional programs in coming years.

For the seminars next fall, Dr. Shim expects to attract executives from Korean-based businesses with substantial investments in Georgia such as Kia Motors, which operates a large automotive plant in West Point capable of producing up to 300,000 vehicles a year.

Dr. Shim added, however, that the center is still seeking out appropriate speakers.

The discussions will focus on differences between Korean and American culture, which can be particularly important in business negotiations, Dr. Shim said.

“Korean culture is very collective-oriented, but America is very individualistic,” he continued. “So I think understanding [these] differences and management styles is important to doing business internationally.”

To introduce Georgia State students to a bit of Korean culture, Dr. Shim led more than 20 students on a sponsored tour of South Korea in May, which he said he plans to continue again next year. 

For more information on the center, see