Thomas Chan-Soo Kang Room (S050), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, MA 02138
Kim Koo Forum on Korea Current Affairs
Suk-Young Kim Professor of Theater and Performance Studies; Director of the Center for Performance Studies, UCLA
Suk-Young Kim's research interests cover a wide range of academic disciplines, such as East Asian Performance and Visual Culture, Gender and Nationalism, Korean Cultural Studies, Russian Literature and Slavic Folklore. Her publications have appeared in English, German, Korean, Polish and Russian while her research has been acknowledged by the International Federation for Theatre Research's New Scholar's Prize (2004), the American Society for Theater Research Fellowship (2006), the Library of Congress Kluge Fellowship (2006-7) and the Academy of Korean Studies Research Grant (2008, 2010, 2015-2020), among others. Her first book, Illusive Utopia:Theater, Film, and Everyday Performance in North Korea (University of Michigan Press, 2010), the winner of the 2013 James Palais Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, explores how state-produced propaganda performances intersect with everyday life practice in North Korea. Her second book, DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border (Columbia University Press, 2014), focuses on various types of inter-Korean border crossers who traverse one of the most heavily guarded areas in the world to redefine Korean citizenship as based on emotional affiliations rather than constitutional delineations. In 2015, DMZ Crossing was recognized with the Association for Theater in Higher Education Outstanding Book Award. In collaboration with Kim Yong, she also co-authored Long Road Home (Columbia University Press, 2009), which investigates transnational human rights and the efficacy of oral history through the testimony of a North Korean labor camp survivor.
Sponsored by the 2014-15 ACLS/SSRC/NEH International and Area Studies Fellowship, she recently published K-pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance (Stanford University Press, 2018). This project traces the rapid rise of Korean popular music (K-pop) in relation to the equally meteoric rise of digital consumerism — a phenomenon mostly championed by the widespread development of high-speed Internet and the distribution of mobile gadgets — and situates their tenacious partnership in the historical context of Korea from the early 1990s to the present day. She is currently working on several book-length projects: Media and Technology in North Korea, Korean Language Theater in Kazakhstan and Russian Theatrical Costumes and the Vestige of Empire.
Kim served on the editorial board of the Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia and is currently at work as a senior editor for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. She also sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Korean Studies and serves on the advisory committee for the Hong Kong University Book Series Crossings: Asian Cinema and Media Culture.
Kim previously taught at Dartmouth College and UC Santa Barbara. She received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Theatre and Drama with a Certificate in Gender Studies from Northwestern University in 2005 and her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2001.
Chaired by Alexander Zahlten, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
Abstract North Korea might be known as the world’s most secluded society, but it has witnessed the rapid rise of media technologies in the new millennium. While the North Korean state is anxiously trying to catch up with the world standard of communication technology, it is also faced with the need to block free influx of outside information by allowing only intranet to its people. In a country where smuggling foreign media still can be punished by public execution, how do North Koreans manage to access outside information? This project explores how the expansion of new media technology complicates the country’s seemingly monolithic facade mired in entangled networks of technology and surveillance, intellectual property and copyrights, and the way for millennials to live creatively with censorship.
Film Screening & Discussion with the Director; jointly sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center, the Kim Koo Forum at the Korea Institute, and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
Miki Dezaki Film Director
Miki Dezaki is a recent graduate (March 2018) of the Graduate Program in Global Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo. He worked for the Japan Exchange Teaching Program for five years in Yamanashi and Okinawa before becoming a Buddhist monk in Thailand for one year. He is also known as "Medamasensei" on Youtube, where he has made comedy videos and videos on social issues in Japan. His most notable video is "Racism in Japan," which led to numerous online attacks by Japanese neo-nationalists who attempted to deny the existence of racism and discrimination against Zainichi Koreans (Koreans with permanent residency in Japan) and Burakumin (historical outcasts still discriminated today). "Shusenjo" is his directorial debut.
Participants: Carter Eckert, Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Harvard University James Robson, James C. Kralik and Yunli Lou Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations; Victor and William Fung Director, Harvard University Asia Center Karen Thornber, Harry Tuchman Levin Professor in Literature; Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
About the Movie: The "comfort women" issue is perhaps Japan’s most contentious present-day diplomatic quandary. Inside Japan, the issue is dividing the country across clear ideological lines. Supporters and detractors of "comfort women" are caught in a relentless battle over empirical evidence, the validity of oral testimony, the number of victims, the meaning of sexual slavery, and the definition of coercive recruitment. Credibility, legitimacy and influence serve as the rallying cry for all those involved in the battle. In addition, this largely domestic battleground has been shifted to the international arena, commanding the participation of various state and non-state actors and institutions from all over the world. This film delves deep into the most contentious debates and uncovers the hidden intentions of the supporters and detractors of comfort women. Most importantly it finds answers to some of the biggest questions for Japanese and Koreans: Were comfort women prostitutes or sex slaves? Were they coercively recruited? And, does Japan have a legal responsibility to apologize to the former comfort women?
Harvard Buddhist Studies Forum; co-sponsored by the Korea Institute
Seunghye Lee Curator of Buddhist Art, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
Seunghye Lee holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago with a specialty in Chinese and Korean Buddhist art. Currently, she is Curator at Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, where she co-curated the exhibition “Exquisite and Precious: The Splendor of Korean Art” in 2015 and edited its catalogue. She has also held a position at the Academy of Buddhist Studies, Dongguk University, where she participated in a nation-wide survey of Buddhist manuscripts and xylographs in temple collections. Her research focuses on the relationship between Buddhist art and practices of worship in China and Korea from the tenth to the twentieth centuries. Her major publications include an annotated English translation with introduction of Go Yuseop’s A Study of Korean Pagodas: Joseon tappa ui yeon’gu (Seoul: Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, 2017); “Hall of Underground Palace of the Tianfeng Pagoda: Changing Form, Function, and Meaning of Reliquary Space in Southern Song China” (Chicago: Art Media Resources, 2019) and “Aspirations for Pure Land Embodied in a Modern Buddhist Temple, Anyang’am” (Acta Koreana 22, no. 1, 2019). She is working on a monograph on the consecration of Korean Buddhist images, while continuing her research on modern Korean Buddhism and Buddhist art.
Abstract Korean Buddhist temples rarely dedicate shrines to tutelary deities or enshrine visual representations of them in worship halls. The Temple God (1885), hung in the main hall of Hŭngch’ŏnsa in today’s Seoul, is a rare example. In this painting, the main deity sits at the center, solemnly facing front. Its iconographical features demonstrate visual affinities with cultic images of Guan Yu, the legendary Chinese marshal who was deified and worshipped as Kwanwang or “King Kwan” in late Chosŏn Korea. Intriguing visual similarities between this Buddhist deity and Guan Yu have not been examined thoroughly in previous studies of late Chosŏn Buddhist paintings. The cult of the Chinese god, which enjoyed unparalleled support from the royal court and commoners during King Kojong’s reign, seems to have been a major factor behind this unlikely iconographical borrowing. By closely analyzing the Temple God against the religious and visual culture of the late nineteenth century, this talk sheds new light on the religious syncretism reflected in the painting and implications behind the royal patronage of the Guan Yu cult in a time of political chaos and upheaval.... Read more about Prayers for Divine Protection: The Temple God (1885) of Hŭngch’ŏnsa and the Cult of Guan Yu
Thomas Chan-Soo Kang Room (S050), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, MA 02138
Hanmee Na Kim Assistant Professor of History, Wheaton College
Hanmee Na Kim is an Assistant Professor of History at Wheaton College. Her research interests include Americanism in Korea, Korea-U.S. diplomatic/cultural/intellectual interactions (1866-1945), and Korean students in the U.S. (1884-1960). Her work is published in Positions: Asia Critique, and she is currently working on a book manuscript on the development of Americanism in Korea. She received her Ph.D. in Modern Korean History from UCLA.
Chaired by Carter Eckert, Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Harvard University
Abstract: From 1882 to 1943, the United States officially and consistently maintained its policy of non-interference in Korea and emphasized that it remained disinterested. And yet, a significant group of Korean elites during this period continually articulated, believed in, and strategically used the idea that America was a supporter of Korean sovereignty. This talk explores how and why this tendency materialized by examining the nature of early Korea-U.S. relations (1882-1905) as well as the activities and discourse of Korean students in the U.S. during the colonial period. Through this exploration, the talk asserts that there developed a Korean version of America during this period—an “America” that was intricately linked with Korean dynamics, interests, and issues and less concerned with the actual political characteristics of the U.S. This discussion offers a way to historically trace, in part, the development of Americanism in Korea.
Belfer Case Study Room (S020), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, MA 02138
Film Screening & Discussion with the Director; organized by the Harvard Korean Association and co-sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the Korea Institute at Harvard University
Joseph Hoo Juhn Film Director
About the Documentary Born in 1926 to Korean indentured servant parents in Cuba, Jeronimo joins the Cuban revolution and crosses paths with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, before turning to his Korean roots and identity.
On December 28, 2015, I went to Cuba for one week of backpacking. To my surprise, the first Cuban I met was a middle-aged Asian lady, who was waiting for me at the airport to transport me to a hostel I booked only several days before. As we hit the road, I got curious and asked about her ethnic background. She told me that she was a fourth generation Korean Cuban. Right then and there I knew that this trip was meant for something much larger than cigar-smoking and mojito-drinking.
Having always been interested in the notion of Korean Diaspora – Koreans outside of Korea forming their own communities while retaining their identity – I was intrigued and excitedly asked many questions. Welcoming such curiosity, the lady, Patricia Lim, invited me to her family's place for the next day, to meet with her mother, son, brother and other extended family members. Needless to say, this visit was the beginning of a life-changing experience.
Patricia's mother, Cristina, then 87, sat me down and brought out dozens of photo albums, sharing with me an epic tale of the family’s history. Cristina's husband, Jeronimo Lim, who had passed away 10 years earlier, was a revolutionary fighter in the Cuban revolution. He went to law school with Fidel Castro and later worked with Che Guevara in the new Cuban government. Yes, 'unbelievable' is the right word.
As I was listening to these adventures, I became overwhelmed with such a sense of conviction that this story had to be shared with the world – particularly those in Korea and Korean communities around the world.
So, I decided to make a feature-length documentary about the Lim family and Koreans in Cuba at large. In August 2016, returned to Cuba for two weeks with a wonderful film crew of five. We met with over one-hundred Korean Cubans and interviewed over thirty of them to hear their accounts of history. It was a trip that changed my life for certain and I can't wait to share the untold stories of Koreans in Cuba with the public.
I believe that this film is of historic importance. I am doing this without any outside help so any help you could provide, I am much grateful for. I ask you to join me on this journey to discover one of the most magical, dramatic and painful – yet beautiful – chapters of modern Korean history. Indeed, a story as powerful as this one is needed in a time like this.