Spring + Summer 2015 seminars at SOAS

SOAS CKS banner

Timetable:

16/01/15 Pop Nostalgia, Pop Canonization and Korean Music Reality Shows
Dr Haekyung Um (University of Liverpool)
23/01/15 North Korea Faces the World: A Story of Nuclear Weapons, Economic Reform, and Normalization​
Dr Ramon Pachero Pardo (King’s College London)
30/01/15 Rhee Syngman in the first decade of the twentieth-century
Justin Youngchan Choi (SOAS, University of London)
06/02/15 Actualising Musical Tradition: Performance-as-Research on the Korean flute, taegŭm
Dr Hyelim Kim (SOAS, University of London)
17/02/15 “Life in the Dolphin Pool” An Illustration of life in North Korea
Andrea Rose
27/02/15 North Korean artists and Africa
Dr Polly Savage, Dept of History of Art and Archaeology SOAS
06/03/15 Recent Achievements on the Study of Prehistoric Crop Cultivation in the Korean Peninsula.
Dr Shinya Shoda, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
20/03/15 Art, National Identity, and the Korean Diaspora
Prof. Suh Kyung-sik (Tokyo Keizai University, Japan)
24/04/15 Korean Studies after the Sewol Ferry Disaster
Various Speakes
01/05/15 Producing Political Landscape on the Korean Peninsula: Divided Visions, United Vista
Dr Robert Winstanley-Chesters (University of Cambridge) and Ms Sherri Ter Molen (Wayne State University)
15/05/15 Queer Lives as Cautionary Tales: Female Same-Sex Marriage in the Hetero-Patriarchal Imagination of Postwar South Korea
Dr Todd Henry (UC San Diego)
19/05/15 “A Little More Dictatorship”: Balancing Anti-communism and Human Rights in South Korea
with Dr Sarah Snyder

Details

16 Jan: Pop Nostalgia, Pop Canonization and Korean Music Reality Shows

Dr Haekyung Um (University of Liverpool)
Time: 5:15 PM
Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Abstract

Since 2009 TV music reality shows, such as I Am a Singer (Nanŭn Kasuda) and Eternal Classics: Singing Out the Legend (Pulhu ŭi Myŏnggok: Chŏnsŏrŭl Noraehada), have become hugely popular in South Korea. These programmes feature young artists’ cover performances of various Korean popular genres of the recent past, including trot, folk songs, pop ballads and dance music.

This presentation will discuss the process of selection, appropriation and reinterpretation of twentieth century Korean popular music by the 21st century music industries and their consumers. Pop nostalgia in these cover competitions is not limited to just the older audiences whose musical memories are closely linked to their own youth and identity. For younger audiences the original songs are historical musical texts from which new interpretations and appropriations can be made. There is a sense of reverence for the original songs, which are called ‘eternal classics’ or ‘popular musical heritage’, illustrating the process of pop canonization. In this way, a creative interpretation of the original songs becomes an elaboration and transformation of Korean pop heritage and its associated musical identity, which, in turn, has implications for the Korean creative industries and their strategies for growth and commercial success.

Biography

Dr. Haekyung Um is a Lecturer of Music and member of the Institute of Popular Music at the University of Liverpool. She specialises in contemporary Asian performing arts focusing on the politics of performance, cultural identity and policy, transnationalism and cosmopolitanism. Her publications include: Diasporas and Interculturalism in Asian Performing Arts (RoutledgeCurzon), Rediscovering Traditional Korean Performing Arts (KAMS) and Korean Musical Drama: P’ansori: The Making of Tradition in Modernity (Ashgate). She has also published on Korean hip-hop, South Asian music in Britain, and Chinese Korean Dance Drama. She has directed a collaborative research project on K-pop fandom and reception in Europe.

23 Jan: North Korea Faces the World: A Story of Nuclear Weapons, Economic Reform, and Normalization​

Dr Ramon Pachero Pardo (King’s College London)
Time: 5:45 PM
Venue: Brunei GalleryRoom: B102

Abstract

The Kim Jong Un government has continued to develop the nuclear weapons and proliferation programmes that marked much of his father’s time in power. There is no indication that Pyongyang will be giving up these programmes any time soon. Concurrently, North Korea seems to have embarked on an economic reform process which includes attracting both investment and tourists. This has been accompanied by a diplomatic opening up involving the establishment of new embassies and engagement with selected international institutions. How can these seemingly contradictory processes of military build-up and proliferation on the one hand and reform and normalization on the other work together? What are the goals that the North Korean regime is seeking to obtain with them? These issues will be discussed in detail in this talk.

Biography

Ramon Pacheco Pardo is Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of European & International Studies at King’s College London. He is also an Associate at LSE IDEAS and the Lau China Institute. His areas of research include East Asia’s international relations and political economy and EU-East Asia relations. Dr Pacheco Pardo has been a visiting researcher at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Korea University. His most recent book is North Korea-US Relations under Kim Jong Il: The Quest for Normalization? (Routledge, 2014).

30 Jan: Rhee Syngman in the first decade of the twentieth-century

Justin Youngchan Choi (SOAS, University of London)
Time: 5:15 PM
Venue: Brunei GalleryRoom: B102

Abstract

Following his release from prison in 1904, Rhee’s personal trajectory was notable for a number of reasons. From his private audience with the President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt, as a secret royal envoy just before the Portsmouth Treaty in 1905, to earning the first doctoral qualification in Korean history in 1910 under Woodrow Wilson, he swiftly gained a significant profile on the international stage.

Contentious issues surrounding the changes his political view underwent in the six years he spent in the United States have invited many interpretations, ranging from Marxian denunciation, to secular-nationalist repudiation of his church-state conflation, to more recent liberal-conservative efforts to re-evaluate his legacy. My contribution to the debate will be narrowly focused on two texts, The Spirit of Independence (1910) and The Neutrality as Influenced by the United States (1912). Both works have attracted a sizeable body of commentaries, largely in efforts to positively re-evaluate their place in modern Korean intellectual history. But how should we make sense of his writings in such a way as to situate them faithfully within their animating spirit and original concerns? In this talk, I highlight some of the theoretical issues which Rhee was at pains to stress, namely the problem of equality and law.

Biography

Justin Youngchan Choi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korean Studies at SOAS, University of London.

27 Feb: North Korean artists and Africa

Dr Polly Savage, Dept of History of Art and Archaeology SOAS
Time: 5:15 PM
Venue: Brunei GalleryRoom: B102

Abstract

Since the 1980s, North Korean artists have been commissioned to produce public monuments for at least fifteen African states. Ranging from bronze statues, official residences and cultural centres to memorial sites, these monuments are being designed and built by the Mansudae Overseas Project (MOP), the export division of the DPRK’s official art studios, and have generated the state an estimated US$180 million since 2002. This talk traces the history of these monuments, and explores the implications of visualising African state narratives through a North Korean lens.

Biography

Polly Savage’s research focuses on art and curatorial policy in Lusophone Africa during the Cold War period, with an emphasis on international solidarity networks. She is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS, Associate Lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, and editor of ‘Making Art in Africa 1960-2010’, published by Lund Humphries in November 2014.

20 Mar: Art, National Identity, and the Korean Diaspora

Prof. Suh Kyung-sik (Tokyo Keizai University, Japan)
Time: 5:15 PM
Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Abstract

My talk discusses how artistic representations look different when viewed through the eyes of the diaspora. As a second-generation zainichi Korean (ethnic Korean born in Japan), as one of the over six million Koreans who make up the Korean diaspora in the world, I have been interested in approaching the question of art and national identity from outside the conventional framework. My recently published work on Korean art has demonstrated how the diaspora’s viewpoint renders the ideas of “Koreans” (or “uri”) and “Korean art” no longer coherent and transparent. My talk further discusses this question of deconstructing national identity as it is represented in art and cultural products. By bringing the diaspora’s viewpoint to the fore, my talk critically analyses various artistic works produced in Korea.

Discussant: Dr Kristin Surak (Senior Lecturer in Japanese Politics, SOAS, University of London)

Biography

Professor Suh Kyung-sik is an ethnic Korean born in Japan, a second-generation zainichi Korean. He is an award-winning writer and leading public intellectual in Japan, currently teaching at Tokyo Keizai University. Professor Suh has published numerous essays and political critiques that address a wide variety of subjects, including democracy and human rights in Japan and South Korea, social anxiety in post-Fukushima Japan, Korean diaspora art, language and identity in zainichi Korean literary creations, and memories of the Holocaust. In 1995 Professor Suh won the Japan Essayist Club Prize. In 2000, his My Journey to Primo Levi (1999), a collection of his essays on the Italian Jewish Holocaust survivor, was awarded the Marco Polo Prize by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Japan. Many of his works have also been translated and published in South Korea, and his essays frequently appear in the Hankyoreh Newspaper, one of the major liberal newspapers in South Korea.

In 2012 Professor Suh received the Kim Dae Jung Academic Award for Outstanding Achievements and Scholarly Contributions to Democracy, Human Rights and Peace. He is the third recipient of this award outside South Korea, following American scholar Bruce Cumings and Japanese historian Wada Haruki. Professor Suh is currently working on a new project that scrutinizes Japan’s “lost 25 years” and the looming specter of new fascism in contemporary Japan.

1 May: Producing Political Landscape on the Korean Peninsula: Divided Visions, United Vista

Dr Robert Winstanley-Chesters (University of Cambridge) and Ms Sherri Ter Molen (Wayne State University)
Time: 5:15 PM
Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Abstract

Myths of national construction and accompanying visual representations are often deeply connected to political narrative. The Korean peninsula may be unlike other political space due to the ruptured relations and sovereignty on its territory since World War II: North and South Korea. Nevertheless, both nations construct inverse ideologies with the common tools of the pen and lens, and both produce highly coded, politically-charged national, visual and narrative mythologies rooted in their physical landscape.

Following geographers Denis Cosgrove and Noel Castree in recognising landscape and environment as vital to the construction of symbolic national/political space(s) and adopting rhetorical and methodological strategies derived from communication studies’ approach to visual culture, this paper focuses on the “Saemaul” movement, a political project of the 1970s aimed at upgrading rural infrastructure and landscape in South Korea, which was both enacted by and connected to President Park Chung-hee. At the same time, Kim Il Sung and North Korea, manifested a charismatic political urgency on its own landscape through the “Ch’ollima” movement.

Comparing and connecting both of these acutely political projects, this paper seeks to examine the relationships between the visual productions of the Saemaul and Ch’ollima campaigns as well as the literary, rhetorical and narrative strategies embedded within the campaigns’ visual outputs. Critically and particularly, this paper examines strategies and representations of forestry management either side of the DMZ, juxtaposing these representations within the opposed states and revealing processes through which physical landscapes and their representations function to both divide and unite the Korean peninsula.

Biography

Dr Robert Winstanley-Chesters is a post-doctoral fellow on the University of Cambridge’s Beyond the Korean War project and visiting research fellow in the University of Leeds’s School of Geography. He obtained his doctorate from Leeds with the thesis, “Ideology and the Production of Landscape in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Rowman and Littlefield’s Lexington Press publishing a monograph form as “Environment, Politics and Ideology in North Korea: Landscape as Political Project” in November 2014. His interests include historical forest geographies, colonial mineralogical landscapes/inheritances and animal/creaturely geographies of the Korean Peninsula. He is also the director of research for Sino-NK.

Ms Sherri L. Ter Molen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University in Detroit and an adjunct instructor in the College of Communication at DePaul University in Chicago. Her work has appeared in publications such as Korea 2013: Politics, Economy and Society, and her dissertation project is an ethnographic study of the identity negotiations of non-Korean members of Korean Meetup groups in the United States. She was named the 2014 Korean American Communication Association Outstanding Graduate Student, and she serves as the outreach coordinator for Sino-NK and the public relations manager for Engage Korea.

15 May: Queer Lives as Cautionary Tales: Female Same-Sex Marriage in the Hetero-Patriarchal Imag

ination of Postwar South Korea
Dr Todd Henry (UC San Diego)
Time: 5:15 PM
Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Abstract

Over the last few years, LGBT-identified subpopulations in Asia have begun to experiment with globally-circulating demands for same-sex marriage. Although no country in the region has yet to legally sanction these arrangements, lost in contemporary debates, at least in South Korea, is that such couplings are neither totally new nor simply imported from an allegedly more “progressive” West. To be sure, the largely unknown histories presented in this talk, culled from understudied tabloid sources, typically paired a female-dressed “wife” and a male-dressed “husband,” rather than cisgendered couples that today represent the homo-normative face of same-sex marriage. Moreover, the current media tends to highlight celebrity men rather than the lower-class female couples who once dominated the sensationalistic pages of South Korea’s pulp press. And although few of these women sought formal recognition like many of their male contemporaries, recurring stories about the former demonstrate that Asian countries like South Korea possess a long-standing tradition of same-sex marriage, one that calls into question urban and academic myths of the country’s purported hyper-conservatism. While providing the empirical origins of such unlikely practices, this talk will focus on its ideological and social valences within the lowbrow culture of South Korea’s authoritarian developmentalism. On the one hand, Henry reveals a hetero-normative system that sought to accommodate the life practices of queer bodies (i.e., matrimony and child rearing) by making them visible and thus intelligible. On the other hand, the tabloid press worked to contain the potentially subversive nature of these household arrangements, which lowbrow journalists aggressively marketed to their predominately male readers as titillating perverse, scandalously criminal, and ultimately unsustainable. In this way, Henry demonstrates how the otherwise conservative institution of family provided queer women a structure of survival through which they could also challenge its filial and patrilineal underpinnings.

Biography

Todd A. Henry (Ph.D., UCLA, 2006; Assistant Professor) is a specialist of modern Korea with a focus on the period of Japanese rule (1910-45). He is also interested in social and cultural formations linking post-Asia-Pacific War South Korea, North Korea, and Japan (1945-present) within the geopolitical contexts of American militarism and the Cold War. Dr. Henry has completed a book on public spaces and colonial power in Seoul, and is currently working on a comparative and transnational study of contemporary queer Korea (1945-1995) with a focus on sexualized labour, colonial/military occupation, and the entertainment industry. Dr. Henry has received two Fulbright grants (Kyoto University, 2004-5; Hanyang and Ewha Women’s Universities, 2013) and two fellowships from the Korea Foundation (Seoul National University, 2003-4; Harvard University, 2008-9). At UCSD, he is an affiliate faculty member of the Program in Critical Gender Studies (link is external) (CGS) and the acting director of the Program in Transnational Korean Studies, the recipient of a five-year (2013-18) $600,000 grant from the Academy of Korean Studies as a Core University Program for Korean Studies (CUPKS).

19 May: “A Little More Dictatorship”: Balancing Anti-communism and Human Rights in South Korea

with Dr Sarah Snyder
Time: 1pm
Room: G51, SOAS Main Building (Russell Square)

Sarah B. Snyder is a historian of U.S. foreign relations and specializes in the history of the Cold War, human rights activism, and U.S. human rights policy. Her book, Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network, (Cambridge University Press), analyzes the development of a transnational network devoted to human rights advocacy and its contributions to the end of the Cold War. The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations awarded it the 2012 Stuart Bernath Book Prize by for best first book by an author and the 2012 Myrna F. Bernath Book Award for the best book written by a woman in the field in the previous two years.

Her second book, Dictators, Diplomats, and Dissidents: United States Human Rights Policy in the long 1960s (under contract with Columbia University Press) explores the development of U.S. human rights policy during the long 1960s. In addition to authoring several chapters in edited collections, she has also published articles in Diplomatic History, Cold War History, Human Rights Quarterly, Diplomacy & Statecraft, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, and Journal of American Studies.

She previously served as a Lecturer at University College London, a Cassius Marcellus Clay Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Yale University, the Pierre Keller Post -Doctoral Fellow in Transatlantic Relations at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies also at Yale, and as a professorial lecturer at Georgetown University. She received her Ph.D. from Georgetown, a M.A. from University College London, and a B.A. with honors from Brown University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.