The Melbourne Metropolitan Korean Studies Seminar Series 2022


Monash University Korean Studies Research Hub (MUKSRH) Presents:

Forthcoming Event 2022:

Seminar 7 - Continuity or Change: South Korea's North Korean Policies in the Democratic Era

Speaker: Mr. Dylan Stent (Doctoral Student at Victoria University of Wellington)

Date: 3rd October 2 pm (AEDT)

Venue: Hybrid (Zoom link & room details to be sent out on the 2nd October, Sunday

South Korea’s approach to unification policy is commonly described as oscillating greatly from administration to administration since the introduction of a democratic system in 1988. However, I argue that there has been much more continuity than is generally expected. Using an historical institutionalist approach, I identify multiple necessary and facilitating conditions (including democratisation, ideological cleavages in South Korean politics, the end of the Cold War, and status competition with North Korea) as relevant and impactful to understanding why South Korean leaders selected a particular approach to inter-Korean affairs.
Dylan Stent is a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington where his study focuses on South Korea’s North Korean policies since democratisation in 1988. Dylan received his Master of Global Affairs and Policy from Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies and has published work in academic and popular publications including articles in Asian Survey, The Diplomat, and NK News. His study focuses on national security, identity, inter-Korean diplomacy, and nationalism on the Korean Peninsula.

Seminar 6 - Co-writes, covers, and collaborations: Globalisation in K-pop songwriting

Speaker: Dr Sarah Keith (Senior Lecturer in Media and Music, MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY)

Date: 20th September 5 pm (AEST, hybrid)  New VENUE: LTB_G03. (Learning and teaching building Clayton campus [next to bus loop]).

Collaboration is increasingly commonplace in songwriting worldwide, ranging from covers, to guest artists, to the use of multinational songwriting teams. K-pop is among the first music industries to explore collaborative and internationalized approaches to songwriting, although the reasons for doing so have evolved considerably over the past decades. This project traces the evolution of K-pop as a global music, identifying key aspects of and stages in international songwriting, using chart data from the 1990s-present and interviews with industry personnel.
Dr Sarah Keith is Senior Lecturer in Media and Music at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Her research areas include popular music studies, East Asian popular culture, and the music industries. Recent research has explored K-pop fandom and multicultural understanding in Australia, supported by a grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia–Korea Foundation; and digital disruption in the music industries.

Seminar 5 - The Crash Landing of Crash Landing on You: Amalgamating Korean Cinema's Blockbuster Tendencies with Television

Dr. Ji-yoon An (Korea Foundation Visiting Assistant Professor in Korean Studies at Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Singapore.)

Date: Friday 19th August, 12pm (AEST)


K-drama has enjoyed unprecedented global recognition in recent years. With the global success of Netflix’s shows such as Squid Game (2021), Hellbound (2021), and Sweet Home (2020), many scholars and journalists alike have commented on how K-drama is moving away from its prototypical sub-genre, the “Cinderella” story (The Economic Times). During its decades of success across Asia since the first hallyu wave in the 90s, the definitive genre of K-drama has indeed been the romance “rom-com” genre, with its customary Cinderella arc between one poor and one rich lover. However, with global streaming platforms joining the Korean broadcasting landscape since 2016, it is certainly true that the kinds of shows being produced have diversified. For example, a political period horror-thriller featuring zombies, like Kingdom (2019), would not have found a spot on a domestic outlet. These global platforms have influenced not only the genres being produced, but the scale, budget, and cinematic style of their productions.

Such diversification has sparked questions about the future of K-drama. Has K-drama finally moved on from its romances and their defining characteristics, such as accidental “skinship” moments, intertwined “meant-to-be” back stories, and its cliff-hanger ending scenes? However, such an observation may be hasty when considering that “conventional” K-dramas have not been absent. One such example would be Crash Landing on You (2019-20). Although not as record-breaking as Squid Game, it too garnered a huge support from both within and outside Korea. Through an analysis of Crash Landing, this paper will reveal how the conventional K-rom-com has been upgrading its characteristics to suit the post-feminist generation. Moreover, I argue that it has incorporated both narrative and aesthetic tendencies of the Korean blockbuster film in an attempt to expand and develop the K-drama for the global era. Much like the changes underwent by the Korean film industry at the turn of the millennium, Crash Landing utilizes Hollywood-style “spectacle” with a Korean “specialness” to “glocalise” K-drama (Jinhee Choi 2010, Yecies and Shim 2016).


Ji-yoon An is currently a Korea Foundation Visiting Assistant Professor in Korean Studies at Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Singapore. An received her Ph.D. in East Asian Studies from the University of Cambridge, UK, where her doctorate dissertation examined family representations in contemporary Korean cinema. Prior to her current position at NTU, An was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Korean Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany, for three years. During this time, she was also invited as Acting Professor in Korean Social Sciences at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, for one year.

Seminar 4 - Korean Language and Gender

Professor. Minju Kim (Professor of Korean Department of Modern Languages and Literatures Claremont McKenna College)

Date: Monday 8th August, 11am (AEST)


Using the theoretical framework of Language and Gender, the presentation examined three topics about gender and the Korean language: naming genders, performing genders, and linguistic evidences of changing Korean society. As gender inequality is a global phenomenon, the inequalities in the linguistic representations of the genders in Korean are similar to those in different languages: disparities between genders in family terms, male words preceding female words in word pairs, and women being encoded as part of men. These inequalities are not just lingering residues of an old sexist tradition, but ongoing phenomena. For instance, terms for young women have increasingly obtained sexual meanings; both Korean akassi ‘young woman’ and Chinese xiǎo jiě ‘young woman’ are following this pattern. The presentation also examines how Korean women and men perform their genders using linguistic resources, for instance, aegyo (acting cute). Lastly, scholars of Language and Gender argue that there exists a traditional dichotomy, pairing formal, hierarchical, assertive, and professional language with men and informal, egalitarian, softer, and private language with women. At the same time, Korean society and its linguistic ideology are overall changing in a more casual and egalitarian direction. Consequently, linguistic traits that were traditionally associated with women are becoming more popular among men in Korea.


Minju Kim is Professor of Korean at Claremont McKenna College. Her research focuses on discourse-functional linguistics including discourse analysis, grammaticalization, language and gender, and corpus linguistics. Her recent publications appeared in the Journal of Pragmatics, Discourse Studies, Pragmatics, Linguistics and Studies in Language. She also authored Grammaticalization in Korean (2011).

Seminar 3 - Promises of the Fatherland: Escape to North Korea

Dr. Markus Bell (Research Officer UN International Organisation for Migration & Research Fellow La Trobe University)

Date: Wednesday 18th May, 4pm (AEST)


Between 1959 and the early 1980s, 93,000 people migrated from Japan to North Korea. They went seeking a better life in Kim Il-sung’s Korean People’s Republic; they went seeking a place to call home. But the promises of the Fatherland would prove hollow. Recently, some 300 men and women have escaped North Korea and returned to Japan. In this special talk, Dr. Markus Bell reveals why so many left Japan for North Korea, what happened to them in their new home, and what this hidden history can teach us about forced migration in the world today.


Dr. Markus Bell is an anthropologist specializing in refugees and labour migration, with over a decade of experience working with displaced people and migrant workers in the Asia Pacific region. He has taught at the Australian National University, University of Sheffield, and Goethe University, Frankfurt. He earned his PhD from ANU in 2016 and is currently a Research Fellow at La Trobe University, Melbourne. His new book, Outsiders, Memories of Migration to and from North Korea is available from Amazon. Tweets @mpsbell

Seminar 2 - K-pop Fandom in Mexico: Transnational Performances of Race and Gender

Dr. Joyhanna Yoo Garza (Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology Harvard University)

Date: Thursday 28th April, 11am (AEST)


Racialized performances within a mediatized transnational frame, are frequently prone to circulation in contexts not original to their production, as well as uptake from disparate, perhaps even unintended, publics. Such performances warrant an analysis that explores the tensions and uneven processes inherent to such exchange. Within the now-globalized genre of K-pop, the subgenre of K-pop dance cover features groups which recreate the dance choreography of K-pop bands. These dance cover groups frequently engage in cross-gender and cross-racial performance.  In this talk, I examine the racialized gendered performances of such K-pop fans in the Mexican context who also participate in digital K-pop fandoms. More specifically, I show how they use linguistic and embodied forms which index Korean hegemonic femininity and how such performances are taken up amid converging interpretive frames.

Rather than read such practices as determined by the consumerist influence of K-pop, I argue that their performances constitute socioculturally-specific contestations of personhood and power.  Based on face-to-face and digital ethnography of K-pop fans in Mexico, I present a multimodal semiotic analysis of fans’ mediatized performances. In so doing, I elucidate how such performers tap into transnational, multilingual fandom networks to perform appropriate fan identities and to assert their own queer, aspirational cosmopolitan desires through digital recognition.


Joyhanna Yoo Garza is a sociocultural linguist who examines language, race, and gender from an ethnographic lens, particularly in mediatized contexts. She is currently a College Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard and completed her PhD in Linguistics at UC Santa Barbara. Her research takes a semiotic approach to the study of language with a focus on transnational Korean popular culture and its consumption in Mexico and the US. Joy has a secondary research interest in Asian American racialization in contexts of higher education and is especially passionate about student-centered teaching, mentorship, and student advocacy.

Seminar 1 - English Fever, Language Capital, American Dreams

Dr Jinhyun Cho (Macquarie University)

Date: Friday 25th March, 3-4pm (AEST)


The presentation examines how English has developed to serve as language capital in Korean society from a historical viewpoint, based on the Bourdieusian theory of capital. The historical analysis spans from the arrival of English in Korea in 1882 to the post-independence period (1945-1960), during which the seed for the ongoing phenomenon of “English fever” was planted in Korean society. The evolution of English as a valued language capital in Korea is inseparable from the cultural, economic and political influences of the United States throughout the local history. The imagined superiority of the United States has justified English as a powerful tool for many Koreans in pursuing dreams attached to class mobility, distinction, female emancipation and political ambitions. By challenging the notion of English as a global language, the presentation seeks to emphasize the importance of examining particular local conditions that have contributed to the emergence of distinctive language ideologies in the local context.


Dr. Jinhyun Cho is a senior lecturer in the Translation and Interpreting Program of the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Her research interests are primarily in the field of sociolinguistics with a focus on intersections between interpreting, language ideologies, language policies, and intercultural communication. Jinhyun serves on the editorial board of Multilingua and has authored two monographs: English language ideologies in Korea: interpreting the past and present and Intercultural communication in interpreting: power and choices.