University of Pittsburgh

Change Agents

Portrait of Byong Kwon

Byong Hyon Kwon circa 1968

Pitt Magazine’s Winter 2018 issue features the story of Byong Hyon Kwon (GSPIA ’68), a Pitt alumnus and former South Korean diplomat who now runs Future Forest, an environmental nonprofit organization helping to green up China.

Kwon was part of the first modern wave of South Korean students to pursue an education at the University of Pittsburgh. Many followed. Today, South Korea has a large and organized Pitt alumni base. Its members include leaders in education, technology, government, the private sector, nursing, and public health. They have shaped the University, too, drawing on partnerships with Seoul National University, the Korea Foundation, and others; supporting academic exchange programs; and backing the establishment of Pitt’s Korean Heritage Room. These alumni are part of the colossal effort that turned the world’s second-poorest nation into the 11th largest economy—in just three and a half decades.

Writer Ervin Dyer traveled to South Korea to meet just some of Pitt’s notable South Korean alumni and hear their extraordinary stories. Read below about these architects of modern South Korea who came to Pitt between the 1960s and early ’90s and harnessed their educations for lives of impact: