Korea Research Centre of Western Australia

About us

Established with support from the Academy of Korean Studies, the Korea Research Centre of WA is a hub for Korean Studies teaching and research in the Perth metropolitan area and Western Australia, aiming to train future scholars in Korean Studies through a strong focus on facilitating postgraduate and postdoctoral research opportunities, as well as research-led teaching.

In addition, the Centre seeks to foster collaboration among researchers engaged in Korea-related research in West Australian higher education institutions, and connect them with key stakeholders in the WA business community, state government and non-profit organisations with Australia-Korea interests.

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Current projects

The Centre focuses on three core research themes, which examine Korean society and culture: Emotions, Bodies and Identity. Each theme makes up a strategic research cluster helmed by a leading scholar, and includes postgraduates and postdoctoral fellows from UWA and other universities in WA, building on existing and established research excellence in these areas, with hopes of increasing high quality Korea-related research in the State.

Centre activities

  • Perth Metropolitan Korea Research Seminar Series: A program of seminar talks and workshops to consolidate and build on the existing research excellence in Western Australia across all universities in the state, as well as with collaboration partners (including the Australia Korea Business Council of WA).
  • Korea Research Collaboratory: Targeted collaborations between leading scholars to work on specific thematic areas under the Centre’s key themes of The Body, Emotions and Identity. Each one of the Collaboratories will result in a collaborative publication, and research exchanges with leading scholars around Australia and the immediate region (also in collaboration with the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies and the ARC Centre for History of Emotions).
  • The Emerging Experts in Korean Studies program: A program that involves scholarship and mentoring to encourage the fostering of new and emerging Koreanists in WA and beyond to undertake Master of Research, Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy studies in Korean Studies. The program also includes MPhil/MRes and PhD scholarships, as well as Postgraduate and Early Career Training Workshops, Fellowships, and Postgraduate and Fieldwork bursaries. 
  • Targeted education and training: This undertaking will include the development of a suite of short course offerings in a broad range of topics designed to attract a broader student base outside the traditional student body.
  • Industry and key stakeholder engagement in Korea-related research, consultancy and training: A research and training program that will leverage joint-funded grants, consultancy, and other opportunities.


News and Events


South Korea's Webtooniverse and the Digital Comic Revolution

In this talk, Associate Professor Brian Yecies will introduce the meteoric rise of Korea’s online and mobile webtoon industry and explore how this new digital entertainment medium is transforming Korea and the world’s creative industries. In particular, he will trace some of webtoons’ dynamic links to cross-media storytelling, styles and technologies, as well as the production, localization and reception of innovative smartphone apps and platforms. While the “Korean Wave” of popular culture has enjoyed striking global success since the 2000s, limited attention – at both popular and scholarly levels – has been paid to the complex relationships between webtoon artists, platforms, agencies, policymakers, fan-translators, and readers – all elements of what he calls the “Webtooniverse”. Through a brief sketch of his ongoing research, he will explain why the South Korean webtoon industry is important to amateur and professional content creators across the globe, and how their work in this diverse platform environment is contributing to the digital economy.

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2021 KRC Postgraduate eWorkshop

The eWorkshop is designed to provide a forum for those enrolled in a research degree course such as PhD, MPhil or MRes in Korean Studies to present their research, and receive feedback and mentoring from established international scholars in the field of Korean Studies. Postgraduate students are invited to submit proposals for presentations that draw on their dissertation. PhD students should have passed their confirmation of candidature at the time of applying. COVID-19 has resulted in traditional face-to-face conference formats migrating online, a transition that has made online presentation skills integral to academia. As such, one aim of this year’s workshop is to provide presenters with an opportunity to develop their online presentation skills. To do so, an eWorkshop format will be utilised.

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2021 Korea Research Collaboratory: Emotions

Attachment and connection in Korea's past and present Terms such as han (한), jeong (정) and perceived practices such as injeong juui (인정주의), yeongo juui (연고주의) and inmaek (인맥)have been claimed (by some) as distinctly Korean experiences of attachment and connection that have created a dynamic sense of self that is relational, interdependent, and interconnected. Most often these terms have been studied in psychological, therapeutic, pastoral and sociological contexts. With this collaboratory, we wish to broaden the analysis of such concepts and their lived experiences to analysis within the arts, literature, media, historical and contemporary social practice, by focussing particularly on their expressive forms. We aim to explore how such experiences of attachment and connections are expressed in a range of practices, textual, material, visual, social, in Korea's past and present. Participants may wish to consider: • The nature of expressive practices purposed for specific contexts, and how they change over time • How gender shapes expressive practices • Expressive practices in educational contexts/settings • How religious and spiritual practices shape expressive practices • How film, television, and other modes of popular culture articulate experiences of attachment and connection • How expressive practices can both represent and enact experiences of attachment and connection Collectively we hope to investigate changes and continuity in expressive forms over time and their implications for experience of attachment and connection.

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Asian Studies Seminar Series, "Between theodicy and ressentiment: “Han” in minjung theology"

Following calls in recent critical debates in English-language Korean studies to reevaluate the cultural concept of han (often translated as “resentment”), this presentation argues for its reconsideration from the vantage point of minjung theology, a theological perspective that emerged in South Korea in the 1970s, which has been dubbed the Korean-version of “liberation theology.” Like its Latin American counterpart, minjung theology understood itself in explicitly political terms, seeking to reinvigorate debates around the question of theodicy—the problem of suffering vis-à-vis the existence of a divine being or order. In connecting the concept of han to theodicy, minjung theology, this presentation argues, offers an opening towards a redirection from han’s dominant understanding within academic discourse and public culture as a special and unique racial essence of Korean people. Moreover, by putting minjung theology in conversation with contemporary political theory, in particular the work of Wendy Brown and Lauren Berlant, this presentation hopes to bring minjung theology to the attention of critical theory. Dr Sam Han is Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, UWA. The seminar will be held on Friday 9 October, 11am-12:00pm, This seminar will be conducted online with Zoom. To join click https://uwa.zoom.us/j/85214715324?pwd=TjJ2WnpFbUNyTW5qT3lmMWY3bXpxQT09 Password: 599753

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Korean Movie "#Alive" - ABC Interview with KRC Director Associate Professor Joanna Elfving-Hwang

(Commences at approximately 16:00 minute mark) - #Alive - a South Korean film about an airborne zombie cannibal plague - is a global hit on Netflix - breaking into the service's top 10 films within days of its release. Why is this film about zombies, isolation, and our reliance on technology for human connection hitting a nerve right now? We have a few hunches. With Joanna Elfving-Hwang, associate professor of Korean Studies at University of Western Australia.

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Korea Research Centre of Western Australia