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.


Our researchers


Our researchers

Associate Professor Joanna Elfving-Hwang

Jo Elfving-Hwang is Director of the Korea Research Centre of Western Australia and Associate Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on the body in Korean culture and society, and she leads the Centre’s thematic initiative focusing on “Bodies”. Her previous work has examined how beauty work and cosmetic surgery in Korea relate to embodied and material expressions of performing social class and status [link to:https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1357034x12440828], race [link to:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10304312.2016.1141864] and celebrity beauty work as a form of somatic entrepreneurship [link to:https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/doi/10.4324/9781315776774-12]. Recently Jo’s work has examined social meanings attached to beauty work as the body ages [link to:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10357823.2020.1736513?journalCode=casr20] and how middle aged men relate to technologies of the body in every day corporate contexts [link to:https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/551333]. Her monograph drawing on the findings of project is titled Beauty Matters: the Body in Korean Culture and Society.

Prior to joining the University of Western Australia in 2012, Jo was the Director of Korean Studies at Frankfurt University in Germany, having worked in a number of academic roles in the UK. She is currently a Board Member of the Australia Korea Business Council of WA and the Vice President of the Korean Studies Association of Australasia.

Dr Sam Han


Sam Han isan interdisciplinary social scientist, working primarily in the areas of social/cultural/critical theory, new media studies and religion (as well as their various overlaps and nodal points).He is currently Senior Lecturer of Anthropology and Sociology and Deputy Director of the Korea Research Centre of Western Australiaat the University of Western Australia. He is the author of several books, most recently (Inter) Facing Death: Life in Global Uncertainty(Routledge, 2020). He is at work on two book projects: 1. On tragedy: on the importance of the concept for social science 2. Styling the self: ethics and aesthetics in an era of bare life.

 Associate Professor Farida Fozdar


Farida Fozdar is Associate Professor in Anthropology and Sociology at The University of Western Australia, and teaches social research methods and units on migration and cultural awareness. Her research focuses on race relations and migrant settlement, citizenship and issues to do with refugees and asylum seekers. She has published over one hundred articles and books exploring issues of inclusion and exclusion in relation to nationalism, postnationalism and cosmopolitanism, as well as mixed race. She was guest speaker at the Catholic University of Daegu on the topic of interculturality in Australia and Korea, and has published on that topic. Serving as Deputy Head (Research) of the School of Social Sciences for several years, she is currently chair of the university’s Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Working Group, and has recently become one of UWA ‘Grand Challenges Champions’. Farida also supervises PhD students in areas related to her work.

Dr Nicola Fraschini


Nicola Fraschini obtained his PhD in Korean language and culture education from Korea University, and taught Korean language at Sogang University Korean Language Education Centre before joining UWA. He is currently Korean Studies major coordinator and researchers emotions and motivations in Korean language learning. At the KRC he supports the organisation of pedagogically oriented projects.

 Professor Susan Broomhall


Susan Broomhall was a Foundation Chief Investigator in the Korea Research Centre. She was previously an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. Her research explores emotions, material culture, gender and early modern global history, including European and intra-Asian contact with Korea in the period, and is author and editor of 23 books. In this vein, she is investigating Joseon women's emotional expression in letters, historical emotional engagement and ideas of belonging expressed through Joseon-era ceramics and heritage sites; Dutch and Jesuit encounters with Joseon Korea; and Koreans in Tokugawa Japan.


Our Students

Our students

Shu Zhu (PhD student)


Shu Zhu’s PhD project is a comparative study of how older Chinese and Korean migrants living in Perth, Western Australia experience their ageing bodies in the context of beauty work. Focusing on their lived experiences of ‘doing beauty’ and engaging with everyday beauty practices, this project will contribute to the current body of knowledge by providing a general understanding of how ageing bodies are perceived and experienced, particularly how beauty work and aesthetic care of self intersect with notions of wellbeing and positive ageing in later life in migrant contexts for older migrants of Korean and Chinese cultural backgrounds.   

Theo Mendez (Honours/MPhil Student)


Theo Mendez’s Honours project is an analysis of attitudes regarding Asia among young adults in Australia, focusing on their interactions with Asia through the ‘Asia literacy’ school curriculum and through popular culture. The research draws on interview data from three focus groups run with 14 participants who graduated from Australian high schools between 2016-2018. Thematic analysis of these interviews has produced two key findings. The first is that orientalist attitudes still play a key role in Australia’s relationship with Asia. Second, participants’ rigid understandings of cultural hybridity and authenticity refute the idea that increased Asian representation in popular culture precipitates greater cosmopolitanism. Together, these findings point to the conclusion that the underlying role of Asia in shaping Australian national identity has not fundamentally changed, despite shifts in popular culture consumption and school curricula. This highlights the need for transformative changes in education that aim to build genuine intercultural understanding among the next generation of Australians.

King Sein (Honours Student)


King Sein studied  Political Science and International Relations, and Korean Studies at the University of Western Australia. He is now undertaking Honours in Asian Studies at UWA. His research project aims to discover and see how South Korea’s soft power through cultural exports (such as Korean music, Korean dramas, Korean cuisine etc.) increases the awareness and presence of Asian Australian identity in Australian society. 


Our project staff


Our project staff

Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr Jae-Eun Noh



Jae-Eun Noh is Research Associate of the Korea Research Centre. Her research has explored development practices from human rights perspectives and contextualisation of development discourses. Jae-Eun’s recent publications examined global citizenship, non-profit fundraising, corporate accountability, international field work, and helping professionals’ health and wellbeing. Her research and publications are influenced by 5 years of experience in development NGOs in Korea and Bangladesh.

Jae-Eun is currently engaged in a project to explore the role of emotions in Korean aid and development and its implications for policy and practice.

Teaching Fellow Caleb Kelso-Marsh


Caleb is an Associate Lecturer in the Korea Research Centre of Western Australia. In the Centre, Caleb is involved in helping develop the University of Western Australia’s Korean Studies coursework offerings and is particularly interested in online teaching pedagogies.

Concurrently, Caleb is also completing a PhD in Korean Studies at the University of Western Australia. For his PhD, Caleb is researching film noir in Korea. His research focuses on transnational flows of genre in Korean cinema, specifically those from Hollywood, Japan, and Hong Kong, as well as how Korean filmmakers engage with and impact global cinematic forms.

In 2019, Caleb was the sole Australian recipient of a Korea Foundation Korean Language Training Fellowship. For this he undertook intensive Korean language study at Sogang University, Seoul.

Centre Manager Younghye Seo Whitney


Younghye is Centre Manager of the Korea Research Centre of Western Australia. In the Centre, Younghye assists the project team with the development and maintaining of the Centre’s website and social media content; organising and coordinating Centre activities such as workshops, seminar series, and conferences; and engaging with Centre-related external projects and activities.

Younghye is also teaching Korean at the University of Western Australia and working on her PhD through the Australian National University. Her doctoral research project focuses on the role played by transnational intellectual networks in South Korea’s pro-democracy movement during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Through a social network analysis approach to primary source materials, Younghye is endeavouring to rediscover an intricate network of actors that operated between Korea and Japan during this period.


News and Events


KRC Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dr Jae-Eun Noh published her new article “Review of human rights-based approaches to development: Empirical evidence from developing countries”

This scoping review was conducted to collate empirical research on HRBA programmes in developing countries, focusing on the patterns in current understandings and the operationalisation and contribution of HRBAs. Overall, development practices in the name of HRBAs varied considerably. The analysis highlighted the role of theories, the influence of contexts and development players, tensions between conflicting rights, and added values of HRBAs.

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New publication by Dr Jae-Eun Noh's joint article “Mindfulness for Developing Communities of Practice for Educators in Schools”

The objectives of the present study were to explore the experiences and perceived effects of cultivating mindfulness on the personal and professional lives of educators. The findings provided some evidence showing how mindfulness meditation can reduce a sense of isolation and promote a sense of connectedness among heterogenous school members and how processes of communal mindfulness practice can contribute to evolving a community of practice at schools.

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Colonial Noir: Korean Colonial Cinema as a Site of Collaboration or Resistance?

This presentation will consider how a series of early Japanese crime films engaged with Hollywood conventions, resulting in a body of Japanese films that are reminiscent of film noir yet predate the inception of film noir in Hollywood. Subsequently, these Japanese proto-noir films came to influence colonial Korean productions. Such Japanese and Korean proto-noir films are significant in that they both decentralise the study of film noir while accounting for the influence of Hollywood, a process that ultimately has implications for how colonialism and modernity in East Asia is understood.

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New Publication by Dr Nicola Fraschini and Dr Yu Tao

KRC Researcher, Dr Nicola Fraschini and senior lecturer, UWA Dr Yu Tao published their new article "Emotions in online language learning: exploratory findings from an ab initio Korean course” This paper reports the empirical findings of an exploratory investigation conducted in a fully synchronous online learning environment for ab initio Korean. Through an Achievement Emotions Questionnaire administered to 117 students in an Australian university, this study measures learners’ pride as well as their enjoyment and anxiety during four teaching weeks. In addition, this paper examines how learner emotions correlate with academic achievement as well as crucial learner and teacher variables.

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New publication by Associate Professor Jo Elfving-Hwang

The KRC Director, Associate Professor Jo Elfving-Hwang published her new book chapter: The body, cosmetic surgery and the discourse of “westernization of Korean bodies” This chapter discusses some of the key meanings attached to aesthetic surgical practice and other biomedical technologies of the body that influence attitudes and uptake of cosmetic surgery practices in South Korea. Taking body as a lens through which to illustrate how individuals relate to and experience their subjectivities through the body, it seeks to question the notion that the high uptake of cosmetic surgery can be explained in reference to nebulous concepts such as collectivism, or desires for Westernizing the body, as key motivations in decision-making.

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KRC and UWA Defence and Security Institute Dialogue

Last Thursday, we co-hosted a fantastic public online event reflecting on the 60th anniversary of Australia-ROK diplomatic relations. his was followed by an invitation-only roundtable discussion. At the public online session, we were honoured to have opening remarks by the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Australia, His Excellency Jeong-Sik Kang and Ambassador of Australia to the Republic of Korea, Her Excellency Catherine Raper. During the invitation-only session, we were honoured to have presentations by the honourable David Johnston, Australian Defence Export Advocate, Australian Defence and Professor Stephen Smith, Chair, UWA Defence and Security Institute. Thank you to all the speakers and participants. We are looking forward to seeing you again!

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Scholarship Opportunity-Deadline Extension

*DEADLINE EXTENDED* The Korea Research Centre at UWA (Perth, Australia) is calling for applications for fully funded PhD scholarships in Korean Studies. These scholarships include full fee scholarship and A$30,000 per annum living allowance (tax free) for 3.5 years, as well as a possibility to apply for further conference travel and research allowance support from the University’s HDR support funds (up to $5,000 over the period of the candidature). This scholarship is open to both domestic and international applicants.

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New Publication by Dr Nicola Fraschini

Researcher, KRC, Dr Nicola Fraschini published his new article "'Anxiety in language teachers: Exploring the variety of perceptions with Q methodology” This paper uses Q methodology to investigate Korean as a second language teachers' shared experiences related to anxiety in the language teaching profession, foregrounding different ways that language teachers interact with their professional environment, and exploring holistically participants' subjectivities.

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Emotions presented and experienced in Korean aid by Dr Jae-Eun Noh

In this talk, Dr Jae-Eun Noh will explore how Korean aid discourse present and re-produce emotions in the public sphere, by analysing aid policy documents and public statements of civil society. Interviews with development practitioners show their experienced emotions while delivering Korean aid and the implications for development practices. The preliminary findings highlight a need for more attention to emotions as a social construct and contextual influences on them.

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KRC in the Media

Associate Lecturer, KRC, Caleb Kelso-Marsh providing comments to the Nikkei Asia magazine on 'How South Korea became the home of 'noir' film' In this article Caleb notes, "If you look at noir filmmaking around the world, the Koreans are producing more than any other country and also leading the way in the terms of the most groundbreaking examples." He explains the political turmoil and corruption of South Korea between the 1960s to 1990s when many of today's directors came of age helped them perfect noir cinema. At the time, the country was still emerging as a democracy after decades of authoritarian dictatorship and cinema became an integral form of political activism... A lot of the repression and violence these directors experienced or saw is reflected in their films.

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Korea Research Centre Postgraduate Scholarship in Korean Studies

The Korea Research Centre of Western Australia in the School of Sciences at the University of Western Australia is delighted to announce that the Centre PhD Scholarship scheme is now open. KRC aims to provide strategic leadership for the development of research and pedagogical innovation on Korea on the west coast of Australia, and it was established with the financial support of UWA and a five-year Korean Studies Core Program grant by the Academy of Korean Studies (Republic of Korea Ministry of Education). Research proposals are invited on topics that clearly align with the research interests and expertise of staff at the KRC, and proposals must demonstrate academic merit, potential and relevance to enhancing Korea-focused social sciences research.

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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