UMass Boston Gerontology Contingent Follows Research Projects to South Korea

(L-R) Bon Kim, assistant professor Kyungmin Kim, associate professor Kathrin Boerner, and Yijung Kim at Seoul National University.

A small contingent of UMass Boston Gerontology professors and students were simply following their work wherever it led. In this case, it took them nearly 7,000 miles to South Korea.

The group included associate professor Kathrin Boerner and assistant professor Kyungmin Kim, as well as PhD candidates Yijung Kim and Bon Kim. They spent two weeks recently in Seoul, working on a series of projects related to South Korea’s aging population and making presentations organized around their visit.

Two particular points of research interest: The lives of Korean baby boomers and the relationship between the country’s senior children and their surviving parents. Both had connected the UMass Boston group to their host in Seoul, Dr. Gyounghae Han.

Han, a professor at Seoul National University, had met with Boerner and others in the United State last year to discuss the possibility of studying Korean senior children and their parents. That research was intended to parallel a study currently being conducted in greater Boston by Boerner and Kyungmin Kim.

The trip to Korea became an extension of the planning process. Han also organized a day-long conference around the visit, featuring Boerner, Kyungmin Kim and both students among the speakers.

During the visit, Kyungmin Kim also gave a guest lecture to an undergraduate Introduction to Gerontology class taught by Han. “This was great because I took that course from Dr. Han in 1999, when I first learned about gerontology,” she said.

Han has also developed extensive data on Korean baby boomers that brought her in contact with the two UMass Boston students on the trip, both of whom conducted research based on the information.

Yijung Kim was the first author of “Aging Together: Self-Perceptions of Aging and Family Experiences among Korean Baby Boomer Couples,” published earlier this year in The Gerontologist.

Bon Kim is the first author of a manuscript currently under review on the health behavior profiles of Korean baby boomers.

Yijung Kim and Bon Kim both met with Han in Seoul to talk about their work and discuss the possibility of other related research projects.

During their trip to Korea, Boerner and Yijung Kim also traveled briefly to Hallym University in Chuncheon, a two-hour train ride from Seoul. They visited as guests of assistant professor Jiyoung Lyu, a UMass Boston alumna, and Boerner spoke to students and faculty there on end of life issues.

“We were busy throughout the entire trip and we came back with a lot of new connections or closer connection for future work together,” said Boerner. “In terms of the different purposes of the trip, it hit all of them so that was great.”

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