The acquisition of the Fulbright Building by KAEC in 1999 epitomized the Fulbright Program’s growth in Korea. With the establishment of the Fulbright Commission in 1960, the Commission, and hence the Program, were originally housed inside the cultural affairs office of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. The location of the Commission inside the Embassy reflected the fact that the Fulbright Program was initially almost completely funded by the U.S. government. However, as the program grew with the support of both the U.S. and Korean governments, it changed homes multiple times. The Fulbright Program’s current home in Korea, the Fulbright Building in Seoul’s Mapo district, represents the maturation of the program and its development into a fully binational, widely supported exchange of scholars, students, and professionals.
Support for the Fulbright Program in Korea also comes from the Korea Fulbright Alumni Association (KFAA). The KFAA played a critical role in recruiting over 200 alumni donors to contribute approximately 250,000,000 KRW for the Fulbright Building’s purchase in 1999. The building’s official opening ceremony took place in January 2000, with U.S. Ambassador to Korea Stephen Bosworth in attendance as well as KFAA members and other distinguished guests. Since its opening, the Fulbright Building has served as a hub for the Fulbright community in Korea, with its six floors housing office, residential, and academic testing service spaces.
The Fulbright Building also houses items, photos, and artwork from the Fulbright Program’s history in Korea, including a bronze bust of Senator J. William Fulbright commissioned in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the global Fulbright Program and what would have been Senator Fulbright’s 100th birthday. The support of KFAA members was once again instrumental in the acquisition of this artwork in memory of Senator Fulbright.