Kim Koo Forum on Korea Current Affairs

  • 2020 Mar 05

    Millennial North Korea: Cell Phones, Forbidden Media, and Living Creatively under Surveillance

    4:30pm to 6:30pm


    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

    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.

    The Korea Institute acknowledges the generous support of the Kim Koo Foundation.... Read more about Millennial North Korea: Cell Phones, Forbidden Media, and Living Creatively under Surveillance

  • 2020 May 04

    Manchurian Modern: the Root of the Korean Developmental State

    4:30pm to 6:30pm


    Porte Seminar Room (S250), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, MA 02138

    Kim Koo Forum on Korea Current Affairs

    Suk-Jung Han
    President, Dong-A University

    In his graduate studies at the University of Chicago, Suk-Jung Han opened up the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo, long sealed in Korean and Chinese anti-colonial nationalism. He detachedly applied state theories to its state formation and emphasized its state effect in his dissertation, “State effect of Manchukuo, 1932-1936”. Since then, the implication of Manchukuo has become his long interest. He published a book in Korean, Manchukuk kŏnkuk ŭi Chaehaesŏk (reinterpreting making of Manchukuo) (1999, revised in 2007) and translated Prof. Duara’s Sovereignty and Authenticity; Manchukuo and East Asian Modern (2003) into Korean in 2008. He recently wrote Manchu Motŏn (Manchurian Modern) (2016) on the influence of Manchukuo to Korean developmental state.

    In Korea, he organized the Manchurian Studies Association in 1999. It is a rare interdisciplinary forum, focusing on Manchurian studies, composed of scholars in the fields of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and Russian pre-modern and modern history, literature, geography, political science, and sociology. Its journal, Manchu yonku has attained the accreditation of Korea Research Foundation (KCI class) and is given its financial support.

    For the last two decades, he has been invited to talks on Manchurian issue at various schools (Harvard, University of Chicago, Bonn University, and those in Korea, Japan). After publishing his recent book, he was invited to book reviews eight times in Korea. And he has collected the relevant data at several institutes (the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto for two years, Heilongjiang Provincial Library, Asia Research Institute of Singapore National University, etc.). He once taught classes on modern Korea (the State and Society in Contemporary Korea, Resistance Literature, etc.) at the University of California, Irvine as a Fulbright scholar.    

    He has taught historical sociology at Dong-A University for over 30 years. He has been in administration as Dean of Social Sciences, Vice President, Provost, and President (2016-). In the late 1970s, he was the only person who worked for ‘three enfant terrible’ trading companies (Yulsan, Chese, and Taepong Trading Co.), whose dramatic rise and fall inspired some novels and TV dramas. He subsequently became a journalist for Hankuk ilbo (Korea Daily) and witnessed the historic upheaval after ex-president Park Chung Hee’s assassination (called, the ‘Spring of Seoul’ in 1980), which briefly decompressed his regime but was finally settled down by Gen. Chun Doo Hwan’s military coup.

    In his 40s, he participated in amateur boxing match twice in Pusan, hiding his age. In his 50s, he legitimately joined the national professional boxing match, held once and for all for people in their 40s and 50s.  

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

    Manchukuo, long sealed in the Chinese and Korean nationalist discourse, actually is the black box for the South Korean developmental state. Japanese empire was a kind of cultural order in which modern institutes and ideas, including the expertise of state-making, were diffused. Manchukuo was the vital link in a series of state-making in the empire from the late 19th century. It was the proto type of other colonial states and the future South Korean state.

    Colonialism surely was painful calamity for the colonized. However, it might be the moment for their adaptation of modernity to overtake even ex-rulers. Economic development and mobilization in Manchukuo style of the Southern regime would become the base for its Cold War race with the Northern regime and potentially with Japan in some realms in some future.

    The Korea Institute acknowledges the generous support of the Kim Koo Foundation.... Read more about Manchurian Modern: the Root of the Korean Developmental State