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Columbia Spectator Staff

A fan of Korean p'ansori ballad singing and a lover of New York City, Professor JaHyun Kim Haboush was remembered by colleagues and friends last week as an outstanding Korean scholar and a dedicated Columbian. Haboush, King Sejong professor of Korean studies, died on Jan. 30 after a battle with breast cancer. She is survived by her husband, Bill Haboush. "Professor JaHyun Kim Haboush was elegant in every respect, from personal style to matters of intellect and expression," adjunct professor of anthropology Laurel Kendall, who had known Haboush since they were both graduate students, said in an email. Haboush, a member of the East Asian Languages and Cultures faculty, specialized in Korea's cultural history from the 16th to 19th centuries. She received her M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1970 and her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1978, going on to teach at Rutgers University and the University of Illinois before her return to Columbia as a professor in 2000. "She came to Columbia and really brought great energy and prominence to the Korean program," said associate professor of Korean studies Charles Armstrong, who holds Haboush's former position. Haboush had published numerous books and was still working on new material, all while teaching a full course load. "She passed away at the peak of her career, at the peak of her productivity," Armstrong said. "She was a very valuable colleague and one of the leading scholars on Korean studies in the nation and the world." Jisoo Kim, a professor at George Washington University and Haboush's former student, remembered that she had an interesting method of getting her students to think more deeply during seminar discussions. "When her students would say something, she would pull her face and make a frown or face. If she did that it meant we said something wrong or dumb and we had to reshape our thoughts," Kim said, explaining that it was Haboush's way of getting her students to make compelling arguments. According to colleagues, Haboush brought an original curiosity to her field—one that extended beyond the academic realm. "She had a deep love of Korea, reflected not only in her work but in her exquisite taste in Korean art and her enthusiasm for p'ansori ballad singing," Kendall said, recalling a performance by the singer Chan Park at a party in Haboush's apartment. Kendall also remembered Haboush's knowledge of the city, calling her "the most thoroughly cultured New Yorker that I have ever known." Chun-fang Yu, Sheng Yen Professor of Chinese Buddhism, worked with Haboush on several projects and said that she was passionate about New York's theater, fashion, and music. "We spent much time going to the opera, movies, and explored the cultural riches of New York on weekends and during vacations," Yu said in an email. Kendall added that Haboush was known for working well with colleagues. "I was her junior and always felt in awe of her but also felt that she was cheering me on," Kendall said. "She was a good friend with a warm and rich sense of humor." "The Department mourns her deeply," Haboush's EALAC faculty listing now reads.

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