The 12th Korean Studies Association of Australasia 2021 Biennial Conference

Monash University Korean Studies hosted the 12th Korean Studies Association of Australasia 2021 Biennial Conference and the 6th 2021 KSAA Postgraduate Workshop featuring presentations on a broad range of topics relating to Korean politics, economy, history, language and culture both within the Korean peninsula and abroad, giving participants a snapshot of the latest research.

Monash University Korean Studies hosted the 12th Korean Studies Association of Australasia 2021 Biennial Conference and the 6th 2021 KSAA Postgraduate Workshop Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Republic of Korea. This workshop and conference were made possible by generous funding from the Academy of Korean Studies, the Australia Korea Foundation (part of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), Australia Korea Business Council, Korean Studies Association of Australasia, and Monash University School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics. While Covid-19 disruptions forced these events to be rescheduled from 2021 to 2022, the rise of online communication throughout the pandemic meant these events were able to be held successfully in a hybrid online/offline format, welcoming a number of interstate and international speakers and participants.

Group picture of researchers

The 6th 2021 KSAA Postgraduate Workshop

This event offered a unique space for postgraduate Korean Studies students to closely engage with established academics across a number of key practical areas. The workshop opened on Wednesday 2 February with a welcome reception held at Mannix College and the main workshop, covering a range of topics central to the postgraduate student, was held on Thursday 3 February. These topics included publication, the writing process of a PhD and academic job hunting. The workshop also offered collaborative spaces, with the opportunity for participants to introduce a useful tool or resource to their fellow peers and to engage in a mentoring session where participants engaged directly with academics either one-on-one or with one other student in a unique opportunity to receive highly personalised advice.

Postgrad Workshop group photoPair of researchers

speaker talking at workshopWorkshop dinner

The 12th Korean Studies Association of Australasia 2021 Biennial Conference

The main conference opened Thursday 3 February with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony held in the West Wing Courtyard of Mannix College in an acknowledgement of the people of the Kulin Nations as the traditional custodians of the land on which the conference was held. Associate Professor Kevin Foster (Monash University) made opening remarks as the Head of School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics.

Smoke Ceremony Smoke ceremony in progress

The conference itself was held at the Monash University Sport conference facilities, with the opening ceremony featuring remarks from key diplomatic figures in Korea-Australia relations and business; Sewon Kim (Counselor, Republic of Korea Embassy in Canberra), Lucy Marshall (First Secretary, Australian Embassy in Seoul) and Liz Griffin (Director of AKBC).

Counsellor Sewon Kim, Korean Embassy to AustraliaLucy Marshall (First Secretary, Australian Embassy in Seoul)

Room watching Liz Griffin presentx

This conference was held over two days, featuring 9 sessions, 3 panels, a keynote speech each day. In the first keynote presentation – and first presentation of the conference – Sophie Hee Jung Choi (NSW School of Languages; President of Korean Language Teachers Association NSW) presented on the history and future of Korean language education in the Australian pre-tertiary school context. Her presentation was a fitting opening, eloquently demonstrating a picture of hard work and persistence in overcoming challenges faced in the Korean language education space in Australia.

Sessions covered a broad range of topics related to Korean politics, economy, history, language and culture both within the Korean peninsula and abroad (Politics and North Korea, Political science, Modern Korean history, South Korean society, Business and Economics, Premodern historical connections, Migration, Korean language and culture in Australasia, and Korean popular culture goes global). Each session, consisting of three to four presentations followed by question time, gave participants a unique snapshot into some of the latest research being conducted each space.

Various speakers presenting their research

The three panels (Korean heritage language education, research and roles of ‘actors’, The next 60 years of Australia-ROK relations: Imagining spaces of further collaboration, and Charting new waves: Exploring the possibilities of Auckland, New Zealand as a site for Korean studies scholarship) gave interesting and diverse perspectives on these important and upcoming issues.

Jo Elfving-Hwang presenting remoteDaniel May

Adjunct Professor Kenneth Wells (The University of Canterbury) presented the second and final keynote, discussing An Axis of Understanding: The Australasian Academic Engagement with Korea. His engaging presentation reminded participants of the progress that has been made in the academic studies of Korea over the past few decades, and laid out challenges and hopes for the future.

Each evening of the main conference featured a cultural aspect after the day’s presentations had concluded: the first evening featuring a Traditional Korean Musical Performance (문화 패 소리) and the second dinner of fusion Korean cuisine.

Traditional Music Performance

Post conference tour

Following the conclusion of official conference proceedings, MUKSRH hosted a post-conference tour to Phillip Island and Churchill Island. Participants were invited to spend the day relaxing with their colleagues, first taking an historical walking tour of Churchill Island followed by lunch at the island’s local restaurant. The tour then moved to Phillip Island, where participants relaxed at the beach and local pubs before heading back to Melbourne. The post conference tour was an excellent opportunity for conference members to spend time together in an informal space, building collaborations and relationships.

Phillip island tour sceneryThis conference was supported by the 2021 Korean Studies Grant Program of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2021-C-013).