Korea Research Centre of Western Australia
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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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.
- 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
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.
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
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
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.Read more
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!Read more
Korea Research Centre and UWA Defence and Security Institute Dialogue
This one day event has been organised in collaboration with UWA’s Korea Research Centre and the UWA Defence and Security Institute to reflect on the past 60 years of diplomatic engagements in order to enhance strategic understanding of the importance of ROK-Australia relations, and to provoke dialogue around missed and future possibilities of this important relationship.Read more
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.Read more
Ambassador of Korea visits UWA
We were honoured to welcome His Excellency Mr Jeong-Sik Kang, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Australia and Mrs Yoon Sun Huh to the UWA Campus on 12 May 2021. The Ambassador and Mrs Huh met with the Korea Research Centre staff and students.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
Shincheonji and Covid-19: Observations on Biopolitical Mediatization in South Korea
This presentation is an attempt to gather some initial notes towards analysing the mediatization of Protestant Christianity during COVID-19. It aims to build upon previous work on “biopolitical mediatization” in order to explore how the relationship between religion, media and the state has been recast by the pandemic in South Korea.Read more
Homophobic COVID-19 Surveillance on South Korean Social Media
In this talk, media scholar Dr Jin Lee will explore how homophobic COVID-19 discourses have shaped a network of surveillance against LGBTQ+ people on South Korean social media, and how LGBTQ+ Influencers have coped with the surveillance.Read more
Micro-credential Course - Korea and its Neighbours
This unit provides an overview of Korea's relations with other nations. It outlines the impact of historical events such as the Japanese colonial occupation, the Korean War, national division and South Korea's ongoing engagement with its key neighbours and allies.Read more
Micro-credential Course - Foundations of Korean Law and Society
This unit provides an overview of the Korean legal systems. It outlines the history and development of the Korean legal systems, and key issues in South Korean criminal and civil procedure law, and provides a brief overview of the North Korean legal system.Read more
Micro-credential Course - Australia-Korea Relations
This unit provides an overview of the relationship between Australia and Korea. It outlines the history of Australia-Republic of Korea (South Korea) relations, the geopolitical, cultural and economic significance of this relationship, as well as an overview of Australia's engagement with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).Read more
New publication by Dr Jae-Eun Noh
Postdoctoral Research Associate, KRC, Dr Jae-Eun Noh published her new article “Korean Migrants’ Transnational Activism in Australia: Collective Meaning Making around Human Rights”Read more
New publication by Dr Sung-Young Kim
KRC Research Associate, Dr Sung-Young Kim, Macquarie University, has published a research article “States can take the lead fixing Australia’s energy strategy through green hydrogen”Read more
2021 Korea Research Collaboratory - Beyond han: New interpretations of Korean emotions
On 4 and 5 February we will be holding a Collaboratory where we aim to explore how experiences of attachment and connections are expressed in a range of practices, textual, material, visual, social, in Korea’s past and present.Read more
New publication by Caleb Kelso-Marsh
Associate Lecturer, KRC, Caleb Kelso-Marsh published his new book chapter: ‘East Asian Noir: Transnational Film Noir in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong’ in Renegotiating Film Genres in East Asian Cinemas and Beyond.Read more
New publication by Dr Nicola Fraschini
Researcher, KRC, Dr Nicola Fraschini published his new article "'Because Korean is cool’ Adolescent learners’ vision, motivation, and the study of the Korean language”Read more
New Publication by Dr Sam Han
Deputy Director, KRC, Dr Sam Han launched his new book “(Inter) Facing Death – Life in Global Uncertainty”Read more
New publication by Associate Professor Jo Elfving-Hwang
Director, KRC, Associate Professor Jo Elfving-Hwang published her new article: "Man Made Beautiful: The Social Role of Grooming and Body Work in Performing Middle-aged Corporate Masculinity in South Korea"Read more
Australia-Korea Hydrogen Futures Roundtable 2020
The Australia-Korea Hydrogen Futures Roundtable 2020 was held on Tuesday 24 November was attended by more than 100 people. Thank you to all who participated.Read more
Australia-Korea Hydrogen Futures Roundtable 2020
Tuesday 24 November 2020 12pm-3pm - The Australia Korea Business Council of Western Australia (AKBCWA) , the University of Western Australia’s Korea Research Centre (KRC), and the City of Perth are delighted to invite you to the Australia-Korea Hydrogen Futures Roundtable 2020.Read more
2021 KRC Postgraduate eWorkshop-Submission deadline extension
We have extended the submission day to Friday, 27 November 2020. Please see attached flyer!Read more
South Korea's Webtooniverse and the Digital Comic Revolution
Hi all. The start time for today's (27 Oct) seminar is 2pm in Western Australia (AWST) and 5pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). Apologies for not factoring daylight savings in!! Looking forward to seeing you all at the correct time!Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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: 599753Read more
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.Read more
UWA to launch first Korea Research Centre in WA
UWA will establish the first Korea Research Centre in the State, providing a dedicated hub for Korean studies and research.Read more