Past Events

  • 2018 Dec 06

    Between Freedom and Death: Female Taxi Drivers as Cross-Gender Labor in Authoritarian South Korea

    4:30pm to 6:00pm


    Porte Seminar Room (S250), 2nd Floor, CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street

    Korea Colloquium
    12/6 KC Poster  

    2  3  4
    Todd Henry
    Associate Professor, Department of History, University of California at San Diego

    Todd Henry (Ph.D., UCLA, 2006; Associate Professor) is a specialist of modern Korea with a focus on the period of Japanese rule (1905-1945) and its postcolonial afterlives. A social and cultural historian interested in global forces that (re)produce lived spaces, he examines cross-border processes that link South Korea, North Korea, Japan, and the US in the creation of “Hot War” militarisms, the transpacific practice of medical science, and the embodied experiences of hetero-patriarchal capitalism. Dr. Henry’s first book, Assimilating Seoul (UC Press, 2014), addressed the violent but contested role of public spaces in colonial Korea. He has also written several related articles on questions of place, race, and nation in colonizing and decolonizing movements on the peninsula. Currently, Dr. Henry is completing his second book, entitled The Profit of Queerness. This study of authoritarian development in Cold War South Korea (1948-1993) examines the ideological functions and subcultural dynamics of queerness as they relate to middlebrow journalism and sexual science, anti-communist modes of kinship and citizenship, and globalized discourses and practices of the “sexual revolution.” A sample of this new work appears in his edited volume, Queer Korea (Duke UP, 2019).  A third book will explore how the pre-WWII history of imperialism and militarism in the Asia-Pacific region informed articulations of virile masculinity and practices of gay sex tourism in postwar Japan and across its former empire.  Dr. Henry has received two Fulbright grants (Kyoto University, 2004-2005; Hanyang and Ewha Womans Universities, 2013), two fellowships from the Korea Foundation (Seoul National University, 2003-2004; Harvard University, 2008-2009), and one fellowship from the Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies (Seoul National University, 2019). At UCSD, he is an affiliate faculty member of Critical Gender Studies and Science Studies. From 2013 until 2018, Dr. Henry served as the inaugural director of Transnational Korean Studies, the recipient of a $600,000 grant from the Academy of Korean Studies as a Core University Program for Korean Studies.

    Chaired by Carter Eckert, Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Harvard University

    This paper analyzes media representations of cross-gender labor with a focus on female taxi drivers. Through the everyday lives of these women, I examine what such non-normative working practices reveal about the gendered and sexualized dynamics of South Korea’s authoritarian development, a topic yet to receive adequate attention. I propose that city streets functioned as an empowering but dangerous stage where female taxi drivers explored new forms of wage labor and human intimacies. Because these practices challenged hetero-patriarchal and bourgeois prescriptions of reproduction and housewifery, state-censored publications decried them as “eccentric,” while media entrepreneurs sought to profit from their sensationalization. In highlighting urban space as an eroticized contact zone, the paper brings into a dialogue two fields that rarely speak to one another: Korean Studies and Queer Studies. In terms of the former, female taxi drivers demonstrate that gender variance and non-normative sexuality were generative products of rapid industrialization. I argue that this occupation offered working-class women a limited degree of freedom from hetero-patriarchal pressures. Even as their journeys into public space empowered them, repeated exposure – accentuated by alarming reports alleging infringement on male privilege – subjected them to violent assault and even death. Finally, I connect the necropolitical underside of female taxi driving to the everyday struggles of queer and migrant people of color, whose precarious lives ethnic studies scholars have deployed as a critique of liberal humanism and multi-cultural assimilation. Through these comparative insights, I emphasize the informal bonds that Korean cabwomen formed in response to popular scrutiny and misogynistic harassment. I suggest how their gynocentric associations aimed to protect themselves from a male-dominated state and society upon which they could not rely for sustenance nor survival.

    Generously supported by the Min Young-Chul Memorial Fund at the Korea Institute. 

  • 2018 Dec 05

    "Engaging North Korea: What are the Current Signposts Telling Us?"

    12:15pm to 2:00pm


    Thomas Chan-Soo Kang Room (S050), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street

    Asia Beyond the Headlines series; co-sponsored by the Harvard Korea Institute's SBS Foundation Research Fund, Harvard Asia Center, and Korea Working Group at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center
    NK poster
    Ambassador Joseph Yun
    Senior Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace & Former U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy

    Robert Carlin
    Visiting Scholar, Stanford University & Former CIA Korea Analyst

    Bonnie Glaser
    Director, China Power Project, Center for Science & International Studies

    Chaired by John Park, Director, Korea Working Group; Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School

  • 2018 Nov 27

    The Honorable Caroline Kennedy - Reflections on My Time as Ambassador

    4:30pm to 5:30pm


    Tsai Auditorium (S010), Japan Friends of Harvard Concourse, CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street

    14th Tsai Lecture; co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard-Yenching Institute, Korea Institute, the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and Tsai Lecture Fund, Harvard University Asia Center

    The Honorable Caroline Kennedy
    Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan

    Caroline Kennedy was the first woman to serve as United States Ambassador to Japan. Her tenure from November 2013 to January 2017 was marked by the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the historic visits of President Barak Obama to Hiroshima and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Pearl Harbor. As Ambassador, Kennedy supported economic empowerment of women and worked to increase student exchanges between the United States and Japan. She strengthened cultural ties between countries through the International Poetry Exchange Project (IPEP), a program she co-founded that brought together high school students from New York City, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines with the goal of promoting cross-cultural dialogues through the exchange of poetry.

    Kennedy is an attorney and the author/editor of eleven books on such subjects as law, civics, and poetry. From 2002 to 2013, Kennedy played a leading role in New York City school reform efforts, heading the Office of Strategic Partnerships and serving as Vice Chairwoman of the Fund for Public Schools. She currently serves as Honorary President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and is Co-Chair of the Senior Advisory Committee of the Harvard Institute of Politics. She is also a Director of the Boeing Company and a Trustee of the US-Japan Foundation and the Asia Society.

    Ticketed event. Admission is by ticket only. Ticketing to the event in the Tsai Auditorium is closed.

    Event can be viewed via live simulcast in the Belfer Case Study Room (S020), CGIS South Building

  • 2018 Oct 22

    Destination: World/Powered by Pechakucha

    4:00pm to 6:00pm


    Belfer Case Study Room (S020), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street

    Worldwide Week at Harvard 2018; co-sponsored by Harvard’s Asia Center, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard China Fund, Korea Institute, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and Weatherhead Center for International Affairs 

    10/22 PechaKucha Poster

    Kicking off Worldwide Week at Harvard 2018, student tales from beyond the comfort zone. Harvard College undergraduates share their inspirational stories about global engagement, intellectual exploration and personal discovery made possible through experiences abroad.

  • 2018 Oct 17

    "How Can One Say the Unprecedented in Pre-Modern East Asia: Su Dongpo and Ink Bamboo"

    4:00pm to 6:00pm


    Belfer Case Study Room (S020), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street

    Reischauer Lecture Series; co-sponsored by Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University Asia Center, Korea Institute, Mittal South Asia Institute, and Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
    Reischauer Lectures

    Stephen Owen
    James Bryant Conant...

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  • 2018 Oct 11

    Kim Chi-ha and the Politics of Death in South Korean Democratization

    4:30pm to 6:00pm


    Thomas Chan-Soo Kang Room (S050), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street

    Korea Colloquium
    Youngju Ryu
    Associate Professor of Modern Korean Literature, University of Michigan

    Youngju Ryu is Associate Professor of Korean Literature at the University of Michigan. Her first book, Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung...

    Read more about Kim Chi-ha and the Politics of Death in South Korean Democratization
  • 2018 Oct 09

    Political Origins of Cybersecurity Capacity: Lessons from Japan and East Asia

    12:30pm to 2:00pm


    Bowie-Vernon Room (K262), CGIS Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge Street

    Weatherhead Center Program on U.S.-Japan Relations Presentation; co-sponsored by the Kim Koo Forum on Korea Current Affairs at the Harvard Korea Institute

    Ben Bartlett
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University

    Dr. Bartlett holds a B.A. in Computer Science from Earlham College, an M.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a recipient of fellowships and grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Waseda University, and the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. His working papers have addressed measurement of power and capabilities in cyberspace; Japan’s industrial policy and cybersecurity; and territorial conflict and disputes. During the 2018-19 academic year, Dr. Bartlett will conduct research on Japan's cyber security promotion efforts in Southeast Asia.

    Chaired by Susan Pharr, Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of Japanese Politics, and Director, WCFIA Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University

    The Korea Institute acknowledges the generous support of the Kim Koo Foundation.

  • 2018 Oct 04

    The Korean Peninsula in Flux: South Korea’s ‘Candlelight Revolution’ and Its Impact

    4:30pm to 6:00pm


    Belfer Case Study Room (S020), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street

    Kim Koo Forum on Korea Current Affairs
    10/4 KKF
    Paik Nak-chung
    Professor Emeritus of English, Seoul National University

    Paik Nak-chung, literary critic, editor, and Professor Emeritus of English at Seoul National University, has authored...

    Read more about The Korean Peninsula in Flux: South Korea’s ‘Candlelight Revolution’ and Its Impact