Young-a Park, Ph.D.

park_yYoung-a Park is Assistant Professor in the Asian Studies Program.

Contact Information

She can be reached at (808) 956-9125, or through her email:

Educational Background

  • B.A. Anthropology, Seoul National University,  1993,
  • M.A. Anthropology, Seoul National University, 1995
  • Ph.D. Anthropology, Harvard University 2006.


Professor Park’s book manuscript entitledUnexpected Alliances: Independent Film Networks, the State, and Film Industry in Post-Authoritarian South Korea was revised with a generous grant from the Academy of Korean Studies and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, South Korea and is currently under contract with Stanford University Press. The main question that she tackles in her book is the following: Why has the South Korean film industry been so successful in recent years? South Korean films, for the past 10 years, have drawn over 50% of the Korean domestic box-office, noticeably surpassing Hollywood films in popularity. This represents one of the highest rates of consumption of domestic films in the world. In Unexpected Alliances, she investigates the cultural and institutional roots of the Korean film industry’s phenomenal success in the context of Korea’s political transition from authoritarian rule to Kim Dae Jung’s administration in the late 1990s. Her book is an anthropological investigation of the unprecedented interplay among the post-authoritarian state, independent filmmakers with their activist legacies, and Korean audiences in the making of Korean media nationalism, which, she argues, is at the root of Korean films’ recent success.

In addition to her Korean film industry research, she is conducting a new line of research on North Korean refugees in South Korea. She plans to explore North Korean refugees’ strategies in obtaining cultural membership in South Korea and the formation of new transnational migrant identities.


  • ASAN 320K Asian Nation Studies: Korea
  • ASAN 491K Globalization and East Asia
  • ASAN 491K Korean Society and Culture through Film
  • ASAN 600K Asian Studies Seminar: Korea
  • ASAN 750K Proseminar: Korean Studies

Selected Publications

  • Unexpected Alliances: The post-authoritarian State, Independent Film Networks, and the Film Industry in South Korea (under contract, Stanford University Press).
  • “New Activist Cultural Production: Independent Filmmakers, the Post-authoritarian State, and New Capital Flows in South Korea,” Gi-Wook Shin and Paul Chang, eds., Korean Social Movements: From Democracy to Civil Society, 2011, Routledge.
  • Translated Laura Bohannan’s “Shakespeare in the Bush” to Korean, in Encountering Self at Unfamiliar Places: Cultural Anthropology Anthology, edited by Kyung-koo Han, 1998, Seoul: Iljogak.