Established in 1952, Chonnam National University is South Korea’s first national university.
Its main campus is located in Gwangju, a city in the South East perhaps best known for its history of art and political activism and, in more recent times, entrepreneurial spirit.
Chonnam National University students took part in several demonstrations between the 1950s and the country’s first free democratic elections in 1987. Having drawn comparisons with Tiananmen Square, the best-known is 1980’s student-led uprising against the military dictatorship outside the university’s gates.
Hundreds of people were killed as paratroopers opened fire, but, with the government’s response largely seen as excessive, public support for democracy increased. Many students had marched alongside their lecturers to protest against a military coup. Some see Gwangju and CNU as symbols of democracy and human rights to this day.
In 2006, a merger with Yeosu University saw an integrated institution formed, with Yeosu’s becoming a satellite campus to the south east of the main campus of CNU, which grew to 40 departments in 17 colleges. Yeosu, in the far South, is a coastal city that consists of the Yeosu peninsula and more than 300 islands
In recent years, CNU has steadily increased its focus on internationalisation, building new facilities and creating scholarship programmes aimed at overseas students, forming partnerships with African universities in particular and encouraging language learning.
The design of Chonnam National University's official emblem was the result of a campus wide competition held in 1955. The winning entry was submitted by Mr. Suh Sang-hak, a junior in the Department of Korean Literature.