Korea Colloquium

2019 Nov 14

A Sublime Disaster: The Sewŏl Ferry Incident and the Politics of the Living Dead

4:30pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

Thomas Chan-Soo Kang Room (S050), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, MA 02138

Korea Colloquium
11.14 Korea Colloquium Poster

Hyun Ok Park
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, York University

With archival and ethnographic research, her research investigates global capitalism, empire, transnational migration and disaspora, democracy, and comparative-historical method. She is the author of Two Dreams in One Bed: Empire, Social Life, and the Origins of the North Korean Revolution in Manchuria (Duke University Press, 2005), and The Capitalist Unconscious: From Korean Unification to Transnational Korea (Columbia University Press, 2015). Park is currently completing a book manuscript, “A Sublime Disaster,” which approaches the movement to uncover the truth of the Sewŏl incident as the culmination of  two imperative but unexplored strands of 21st-century popular politics in South Korea: the candlelight protests and the politics of life. Hyun Ok Park has been a member of the Institute for Advanced for Advanced Study in Princeton, as well as a recipient of fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Academy of Korean Studies, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She is Director of the Korean studies institute, Korean Office for Research and Education (KORE), at York University, which is supported by the Core University Program for Korean Studies of the Academy of Korean Studies.

Chaired by Nicholas Harkness, Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University

Abstract
The poignant expressions — “We are all the Sewŏl ferry” and “We are all sunken deep under the sea” — reveal the Sewŏl ferry’s sinking in 2014 as a metonym of the collective death under South Korea’s crisis-ridden democracy. This talk focuses on the five-year-long occupy struggle to uncover the truth of the disaster in Kwanghwamun Square in Seoul downtown, especially the Yellow Ribbon Workshop and its autonomy from the 416 United that oversaw the occupy site. Although the 416 United credits the workshop with maintaining the participation of individual citizens in the struggle, the workshop remains a mystery to all. I conceptualize the workshop's hand-making and free-sharing of yellow ribbons—the symbol of the disaster—as play that creates equal social relations, breaks the dictatorship of consumption, and organizes life into a festival. While deploying these modern prescriptions to revolutionize the everyday life, workshop participants also take on a rhizomatic character, such as indiscipline, non-cumulative relationship, and cellular participation, without being bound to the 416 United and its goal of regime change. I contrast this play with the dark tourism, and consider it an alternative to the healing industries and culture that have proliferated under neoliberal capitalism.

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

2019 Oct 03

Transcending the Frontier: Aesthetic Encounters Between North and South Korea in the Twilight of the Cold War

4:30pm to 6:30pm

Location: 

Thomas Chan-Soo Kang Room (S050), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, MA 02138

Korea Colloquium
10.3 KC Poster

Douglas Gabriel
Soon Young Kim Postdoctoral Fellow, Korea Institute, Harvard University

Douglas Gabriel is the 2019–20 Soon Young Kim Postdoctoral Fellow at the Korea Institute, Harvard University. He received his...

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2019 Apr 11

Engineering the Moral Heart: Science and Literature in Postwar North Korea

4:30pm to 6:30pm

Location: 

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

Korea Colloquium
4/11 KC

Dafna Zur
Assistant Professor, Korean Literature and Culture, Stanford University; Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Dafna Zur teaches courses on Korean literature,...

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2019 Mar 07

From March First to April 19th: Enacting Memories of Anticolonial Resistance in Cold War South Korea

4:30pm to 6:30pm

Location: 

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

Special Korea Colloquium (100th Anniversary of March 1st Movement)
3.7 Korea Colloquium

Charles R. Kim
Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Korean Studies, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Charles Kim is...

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2018 Dec 06

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

4:30pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

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

Korea Colloquium
12/6 KC Poster  

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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

Abstract:
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 Oct 11

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

4:30pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

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

Korea Colloquium
10/11
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...

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2018 Apr 19

Songs for the ‘Great Leaders’: Ideology and Political Agitation in the Music of North Korea

4:30pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

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

Korea Colloquium
KC Keith Howard Event Poster
Keith Howard
Professor Emeritus, SOAS, University of London, and Fellow, National Humanities Center, North Carolina

Professor Keith Howard is the Kent R. Mullikin Fellow at the National Humanities...

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2018 Apr 12

"Rethinking World Literature through the Relations between Russian and East Asian Literatures"

4:30pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

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

Korea Colloquium; co-sponsored by Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
4/12 KC Poster
Heekyoung Cho
Associate Professor, Department of Asian Languages & Literature, University of Washington

Heekyoung Cho is Associate Professor in the...

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2017 Oct 19

"Flat Titles and Friendly 'Hoesik': Contemporary Office Culture Reforms in South Korea"

4:30pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

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

Korea Colloquium
Oct.19 Korea Colloquium Poster
Michael Prentice
Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Korea Institute, Harvard University

Michael Prentice is a linguistic anthropologist who focuses on language, management, and...

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