In 2008 Sue-Yeon Park was named a National Heritage Fellow. The National Heritage Fellowship is a lifetime honor presented to master folk and traditional artists by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Fellowship is the highest honor in that field offered in the United States. She is the first Korean-American artist to receive this honor as a Korean musician and dancer in recognition of her work which has been bringing traditional Korean arts to American audiences for nearly three decades.
She trained herself in a broad range of folk dance and singing, and specialized in Salpuri (Shaman Ritual Dance) and Seungmu (Buddhist Monk’s Dance). Salpuri and Seungmu are two distinctive pieces that represent the aesthetics of Korean dance. She trained under Master Yi Mae Bang, the only one who holds two titles of Important Intangible Cultural Asset in Korea. She obtained the prestigious title of yisuja that designates her mastery level of Master Yi’s performance lineage of Salpuri and Seungmu in 2004 and 2009 respectively.
She has been an instrumental leader and teacher and has been serving as the Artistic Director for KTPAA since its inception. She has produced KTPAA’s annual concerts at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space and Merkin Hall, and has brought KTPAA to the Smithsonian Institution, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, International Festival Chihuahua, Mexico, and Montana Folk Festival, all by invitation.
Additionally, she is an instructor for Camp Friendship, an organization which serves Korean-born children adopted by Americans. With the Camp Friendship, she launched a summer program that offers Korean arts classes at Jindo National Gukak Center in Korea. She also has been the instructor for The Rutgers University Korean Student’s Percussion Ensemble for 20 years and has made the team the leader of college students’ Korean arts group.
Due to her devotion to the Korean arts, she has received numerous awards including the New York Governor’s “Award of Excellence” in May 2004, “Best Artist of the Year” Award from the Foundation for Korean Arts and Culture in Korea, and the “Award of Recognition and Appreciation” from Asian American Cultural Center at Rutgers University.