News & Events

Webinar: Apr 7, 2021, Korea Vision Dialogue II – Comfort Women: History, Justice, Atonement

Flyer CKS Comfort Women 2021 Comprehensive

The Center for Korean Studies at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa presents

Please register in advance:

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Military forced numerous young women to become sexual slaves for soldiers. They were called "comfort women." Bringing justice and atonement to this issue is a global effort, but it is often met with frustrating elements like the Ramseyer article. In light of recent controversies, the Center for Korean Studies is hosting the webinar "Comfort Women: History, Justice, Atonement."

  • NA-YOUNG LEE is Professor of Sociology at Chung-Ang University in Seoul. She has published widely on the comfort women issue, U.S. military bases in South Korea, migration and women, and space and gender.
  • ALEXIS DUDDEN is Professor of History at the University of Connecticut. Her research areas include Japan-Korea relations, history of empire, memory politics, and trauma and reconciliation.
  • TAE-UNG BAIK is Director of the Center for Korean Studies and Professor of Law at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. His main research area is international human rights. Currently, he is Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
  • DAVID Y. SUH is an attorney with Yoshida & Suh. He is a graduate of the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's William S. Richardson School of Law. Currently, he is the Vice President of the United Korean Association of Hawai'i, which serves the large Korean community in Hawai'i.
  • C. HARRISON KIM is Associate Professor of History at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. His research and teaching focus on socialism, labor, industrialism, everyday life, and urbanism in the context of East Asia and, in particular, North Korea.
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News: KOREAN STUDIES 2021 Special Section Preview

Transnational Agency and Fluidity of Identity in Korean Migration

A conversation with guest editors Sunhee Koo and Jihye Kim on the forthcoming Korean Studies Special Section "Unsettling Korean Migration"

Sunhee Koo, left, of the University of Auckland; Jihye Kim, right, of the University of Central Lancashire.
Sunhee Koo, left, of the University of Auckland; Jihye Kim, right, of the University of Central Lancashire.

The forthcoming 2021 volume of Korean Studies has the Special Section "Unsettling Korean Migration: Multiple Trajectories and Experiences," guest-edited by Sunhee Koo and Jihye Kim. The journal editor Cheehyung Harrison Kim spoke with them about their ethnographic project on Korean migration, which is once again a topic of critical public dialogue in light of the recent racist violence against Asians in the United States. Sunhee Koo, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Auckland, and Jihye Kim, Lecturer in Korean Studies at the University of Central Lancashire, shared their thoughts on how the project came to be and what migration research further teaches us about identity formation and human agency.

Thank you both for speaking with me. Professor Koo: what compelled you two to put together a journal project on migration and diasporic practices?

We wanted to bring attention to the plurality and complexity found in the migration waves the Koreans have ridden on, which produced a myriad of experiences and ideas related to "Koreanness." The range of social and cultural negotiations performed by Korean migrants manifests into not only who they are and what they want to become but also-and more importantly-individual agencies that constitute what "Koreanness" is today. Creating an interdisciplinary collection on migration related to Korea and Koreans was challenging, since the only thread that brought us together is "migration." This Special Section might be perceived as missing some uniformity. However, we hope that the discursiveness of these articles points to the diversity that we need to recognize as Koreanists .

Professor Kim: What do you mean by “unsettling” migration? Are there existing notions you are trying to dismantle or move beyond from?

We are approaching migration as an endless act and an in-process journey, regardless of how long-ago migration may have taken place. Exploring the negotiations in the construction of diasporic identities, "Unsettling Korean Migration" showcases the emergent plurality of Korean identity manifested and embodied in individual migrants and each migrant group. In this sense, the very title picks up on two important characteristics of migration-fluidity and flexibility. These characteristics are also crucial in identity formation, which can never be separate from the journey of migration as the journey constantly prompts people to think about their being and belonging. At the same time, "Unsettling Korean Migration" shows how the lives of Korean migrants are marked by malleability and creativity in the process of movement, crossing borders, and settling.

Professor Koo: Your piece is on Koreans living in Japan. What are some key takeaways for the readers?

One key notion in my article is transnational agency, which enables the migrants to form a bridge between home and diaspora by embedding themselves in both national and transnational socio-cultural fields of their choice-as Zainichi Korean artists have done by associating themselves with South Korean national cultures. While their adaptation and transplantation of South Korea's IICP (Important Intangible Cultural Properties) system in Japan reflect the Zainichi Korean communities' grappling with postcolonial anxiety and diasporic identity, I intend to point out how Korean national culture is just as much transnational as it is historical and social. It has become individually re-signified and reinterpreted through transnationalism and globalization, even if its transnational aspects remain nuanced, especially back home, and are often overshadowed by nationalist discourses.

Professor Kim: You write about Koreans in Argentina. Could you tell us about their diasporic experience?

Korean migration to Argentina began in the 1960s as a part of South Korea's migration wave to Western countries in the second half of the twentieth century. This migration may have been motivated by a longing for the West, equated with modernity and industrial advancement, and its promise of social and cultural mobility. Much more economically advanced and developed than South Korea back then, Argentina was one of the favorable destinations for Korean migrants, like many European migrants; and the Korean community in Argentina grew and became stable until the turn of the millennium. The socioeconomic environment of the host society, particularly the economic decline in the last few decades, has had a critical influence on the more recent movement and settlement of Korean Argentines, to the extent that many of them have strengthened their links with Korean communities in the United States and with the home country, as many have re-migrated either to the United States or South Korea. In these social and historical contexts, Korean Argentines have established and reestablished their identities and lives-and played a part in the Korean diaspora-by embedding themselves in and connecting with their home and host countries.

Professor Koo: Why do you think migration continues to be an important topic of research?

We are living in the "age of diasporas," as Zygmunt Bauman has pointed out. The migrant experience with tension and dynamics related to separation and connection, leaving and returning, and loss and longing will endlessly compel us to reconfigure our being and belonging in the coming decades. The outbreak of COVID-19 last year has shown us how our transnational communities has faced sudden difficulties of disconnection and uncertainty of moving and returning. Today's transnational migration is often thought to be without the problems of previous diasporas thanks to technological advancements, but the challenges the migrants face presently with geopolitical borders and border crossing are perhaps more intense than ever before. The age of diasporas continues to present us with endless topics and issues that we need to address in the coming decades, in order to understand who we are and how we live at local and global levels.

Professor Kim: What effects do you think global Korean migration have on South Korea and North Korea?

Since the 1990s, growing international mobility and transnational connectivity have brought about significant changes in South Korea, creating a culturally and ethnically more diverse and plural environment, with hybrid identities, mindsets, and lifestyles. Korean migration has made these changes even more active, as it fosters a variety of identities and agencies among those who live in, and between, multiple homes and residency statuses. Korean migration also reveals social and experiential plurality, both at home and in the diaspora, which mutually reinforces the ethnic complexity of Koreans. In the case of North Korea, although changes have been slower than South Korea, North Korean migrants, too, have certainly maintained connections between home and diaspora. In fact, North Korean migrants have played a crucial role in linking North Korea with the countries they have transited through or settled down, contributing to a better understanding of North Korea and a better communication for North Korea with the outside world.

The Spring 2021 volume of Korean Studies is to be published in May.

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Webinar: Mar. 31, 2021, The 12th Critical Issues Forum: “Millennial North Korea: New Media Technologies and Living Creatively with Surveillance” by Prof. Suk-Young Kim, UCLA

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The Center for Korean Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is delighted to present,

The 12th Critical Issues Forum titled "Millennial North Korea: New Media Technologies and Living Creatively with Surveillance" by Professor Suk-Young Kim, UCLA via online webinar.

Date: March 31, 2021, 1:00-2:30pm;

"North Korea might be known as the world's most secluded society, but during the new millennium it too has witnessed the rapid rise of new media technologies. While the North Korean state is anxiously trying to catch up with the world standard when it comes to communication technology, it is also faced with the need to block the open influx of outside information by designing its own "intranet" for its people. In a country where the smuggling of foreign media is still punishable by public execution, how do North Koreans manage to access outside information? This project asks how millennials in North Korea manage to live creatively under the threat of censorship and relatively freely under the constant watch of state surveillance by taking a deep dive into how intellectual property and copyright are creatively reconstituted in North Korea."

Dr. Kim is Professor of Theater and Performance Studies at UCLA where she also directs Center for Performance Studies. She is the author of Illusive Utopia :Theater, Film, and Everyday Performance in North Korea (Michigan, 2010), DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border (Columbia, 2014), and most recently, K-pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance (Stanford, 2018). Her scholarship has been recognized by the James Palais Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, the Association for Theater in Higher Education Outstanding Book Award, and ACLS/SSRC/NEH International and Area Studies Fellowship.

The Forum on Critical Issues in Korean Studies is free and open to the public. For further information, including information regarding access for the handicapped, telephone the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956-7041. This presentation is supported by the Kim Chŏn-hŭng Fund.

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Webinar: Feb. 19, 2021, Korea Vision Dialogue #1 – The Korean Peace Process: With Lee In-young, Minister of Unification, ROK

The Center for Korean Studies Presents KOREA VISION DIALOGUE SERIES #1 Friday, February 19, 2021, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm The U.S. President Joe Biden, in his first telephone conversation with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, on February 3, 2021, emphasized his commitment to strengthening the United States-Republic of Korea alliance, calling it as "the linchpin for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia." The two leaders agreed to closely coordinate on matters related to North Korea. South Korea has been pursuing active engagements as its key policy and strategy to deal with North Korea. The Center for Korean Studies is ...

Announcement: Korea Foundation Fellowship for Postdoctoral Research in North America

The Center for Korean Studies at the University of Hawaii welcomes affiliation requests from individuals applying for the Korea Foundation Fellowship for Postdoctoral Research program. This program is designed to support rising scholars with a recent Ph.D. in the humanities, social sciences, arts or culture on a Korea-related topic.   Once a fellowship is awarded by Korea Foundation, the fellows will have access to the research facilities of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the Center. These scholars, in turn, are expected to actively participate in the Center's various academic events while they continue conducting academic research including the ...

News: CKS Received a Gift of $493,711 from the Bong Youn Choy Family Trust

Bong Youn Choy   David Choy & Cora Snow The Center for Korean Studies has received a gift of $493,711 from The Bong Youn Choy Family Trust. Late Bong Youn Choy, born on May 25, 1914 in Korea, was a professor of political science in Korea, Seattle, Washington, and University of California at Berkeley. He was an accomplished author of four Korean history books including "Korea A History" and "Koreans in America." He came to America to study on April 29, 1938. Many of Dr. Choy's efforts were aimed towards the unification of Korea. Dr. Choy retired in 1976 and ...

Nov. 12, 2020 CKS Webinar: Is Permanent Peace Possible in Korea?

The Center for Korean Studies, UHM presents a webinar entitled: "Is Permanent Peace Possible in Korea?" in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of Korean War (6.25) on November 12, 2020. The events review the history, international relations, the feasibility of the end of war declaration and peace treaty, and the challenges on the road to peace and unification of the two Koreas. When: Thursday, November 12, 2020 1:00 - 3:30 pm Opening: 1:00pm Tae-Ung Baik, Director, Center for Korean Studies, UHM Greeting Remarks: 1:05pm-1:20pm Choon-goo Kim, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu Chae-Won Park, ...

News: “Oral History: Dr. Byong Won Lee” Published by NGC

A new book, "Oral History: Dr. Byong Won Lee" was just published by the National Gugak Center (NGC), Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea. The oral history features Dr. Lee's life and musical activities. It is published in Korean, and the NGC will make the digital copy available soon. Dr. Yong-Ho Choe wrote: "I have thought all along that we had a living treasure among us.  He is finally being recognized. Congratulations, BW!"

Two UHM Ph.D. Graduates Got Teaching Jobs in Korea

Recent UHM graduate students, Dr. Yongshin Kim (political science) and Dr. Yuki Asahina (sociology) got tenure track assistant professor positions at the Department of Chinese Studies, Inha University and at the Department of Japanese Studies, Hanguk University of Foreign Studies respectively this fall. Dr. Yongshin Kim joins the Department of China Studies at Inha University, South Korea in Fall 2020 as a tenure-track assistant professor. He was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Political Science from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 2017, and previously a non-tenure track assistant professor of Chinese political economy in the Division of International Studies ...

CKS Receives the AKS Strategic Research Institute Program Grants for Next 10 years

On July 8, 2020, the Academy of Korean Studies announced that the Center for Korean Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa was selected the recipient of the grant, 2020 Strategic Research Institute Program for Korean Studies. The Center will receive a total of one billion Korean Won (approximately $820,000) for next 10 years. The grant was newly created by AKS this year, and the Center was selected with a proposal titled “Sustainable Values for Korean Studies in the Americas: Korean Diaspora and the Prospects for Peace, Prosperity, and Unity of the Korean Peninsula.” The Management Committee that consists ...

CKS Scholarships Support Korean Studies Students for AY 2020-2021

The Center for Korean Studies awarded $44,800 as CKS Scholarships to support graduate and undergraduate students in Korea-related studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa for the 2020‒2021 academic year. Descriptions of all the scholarships administered by the Center and instructions for applying for them can be found on the Center for Korean Studies Web site. The recipients of the 2020 – 2021 academic year awards are listed below. CKS Scholarship - $2,500 each Kamilah Druex, BA, Korean Chihiro Mase, BA, Korean Bonnie Fox, PhD, Korean Meghan Delaney, PhD, Korean Keith Scott, PhD, Sociology Sulim Kim, PhD, History Wonkeun Lee, PhD, History ...

News: Governor David Ige proclaimed June 25, 2020 as “Korean War Remembrance Day”

On June 8, 2020, Governor David Ige proclaimed June 25, 2020 as " Korean War Remembrance Day" in Hawai‘i  in observance of the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War honoring the Korean War veterans and their families for their brave and selfless sacrifice. The Proclamation states: WHEREAS, the Korean War began on June 25, 1950 and officially ended on July 27, 1953 with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement which drew the Military Demarcation Line and created the Demilitarized Zone that separated North and South Korea; and WHEREAS, with the United States-Republic of Korea alliance formed ...
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