KRC Seminar Series

"Digitalization of beauty in South Korea and its ethnic implications"

by Dr Sojeong Park (Seoul National University

Tuesday 20 February 2024

While attempts have been made to digitize beauty for market purposes, the sociocultural implications of digitalization of beauty have not been sufficiently discussed. This study aims to explore digitalized beauty as one aspect of ‘ethno-mediascape’ based on South Korean cases. In Korea, digital imaging technology has developed rapidly over the past few decades, in a close relationship with beauty. As people photoshop images, take purikura, use camera filter applications, and render selfies into avatars in metaverse platforms, they have become increasingly accustomed to transforming their facial traits. As ethnic and racial identities are closely intertwined with one’s visuality, the beautified digital images bring about a discussion on the ethnic self-expression of Koreans. While the beauty norms embodied in these images are criticized for following Western standards of beauty, this study seeks a decolonial perspective on this cultural phenomenon by framing it as a somatechnic practice of one’s ethnic identity and thus illuminating the interaction of digital technology and (de)racialized visuality.

"The Korean Wave and Keeping Cultures Open: Towards a Cultural Security Approach"

by Assistant Professor Liew Kai Khiun (Hong Kong Metropolitan University) 

Friday 15 December 2023

This seminar discusses the development in the globalisation of South Korea popular culture, otherwise known as the Korean Wave, or Hallyu in the 2020s within the framework of cultural security. Departing from its association with either heritage conservation practices or reactive cultural protectionism from within often nation-states, this discussion positions cultural security as protecting the global circuits of cultural flows in which Hallyu circulates within. Through Hallyu, a vibrant global popular culture of creative productions, fan communities and resources as well as cultural travel and tourism. Given the de-globalising trends of rising geo-political tensions, the taken-for-granted momentum of cultural circulations and individual access comes into question. Instead of preservation and insulation, cultural security here comes from a rights-based approach of in the freedoms of cultural access and the safe and dignified preconditions for participation the global cultural flows. In this respect, Hallyu’s cultural security should not just be limited to the domain of the South Korean industry and the foreign policy of the South Korean government. Rather it should encompass a more multilateral and transnational involvement from grassroot community bodies to international organisations in sustaining the momentum of global cultural flows, flows that has given opportunities for even smaller nations like South Korea to make waves.  

"Transnational Activism for Justice for the 'Comfort Women': Japanese, Korean and Indonesian Experiences"

by Professor Kate McGregor (The University of Melbourne) 

Thursday 12 October 2023

In this seminar, Professor Kate McGregor discusses her new book Systemic Silencing: Activism, Memory, and Sexual Violence in Indonesia (UW Press, 2023), an in-depth empirical history of the system of enforced military prostitution during the Japanese occupation of the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) and the complicated development of transnational activism to achieve recognition and compensation for survivors. This book is the first major study of Indonesian transnational human rights activism and the Indonesian so-called ‘comfort women’. By adopting a comparative frame to analyse Japanese, Korean and Indonesian activism on this issue, with some attention also to Filipino and Dutch activism, it examines how, when and why this issue finally opened up in each country in the 1990s. Through this comparative analysis, the book assesses why Indonesian activism and critical framings of this issue developed more slowly in Indonesia.

"Historically Hot: Japanese and Korean Masculinities in Popular Media"

by Prof Laura Miller (The University of Missouri St. Louis) and Assoc Prof Jo Elfving-Hwang (Curtin University) 

Friday 25 August 2023

Prof Laura Miller: Who was considered to be a beautiful man in Japan’s ancient period? What did an attractive Heian period courtier look like? When contemporary popular culture producers set out to create manga, anime, film and TV series set in historical eras, they often find that the male beauty standards of long ago are quite different from contemporary reader and viewer expectations. I will introduce a few examples of historical figures who are represented by actors or drawn characters who reflect today's beauty ideology rather than those of the periods they are portraying. Although some efforts are made to depict the costumes or hairstyles of the period, the desire to cater to current beauty norms dominates these productions.   

Assoc Prof Jo Elfving-Hwang: This talk reflects on Laura Miller’s paper and work on how representations of Japanese historical figures have been updated to cater for contemporary global audiences and present an overview of the same in the context of contemporary Korean popular culture, and in TV series in particular. This talk will focus on representations of male beauty in Korean historical TV dramas, focusing specifically on how the context of sageuk (historical TV dramas) are utilised to communicate recognisable and appealing images of “Koreanness” for both international and domestic audiences in ways that combine recognisable K-pop stage aesthetics with stylised Joseon (and occasionally fantastical earlier period) costuming for contemporary viewers.

"Junian Tetrad: Hangeul as a form of 'banal nationalism'" 

by Dr Eldin Milak (Curtin University) 

Tuesday 2 May 2023

In this talk, Dr Eldin Milak maps out the trajectory by which Hangeul has come to function as a symbol of banal nationalism in the landscapes of Seoul. Building on the discussion of the historical rise of Hangeul through the writings of one of the founding figures in Korean linguistics, Ju Si-gyeong, he positions Hangeul within the national development project of South Korea, theorizing it as one of the four central elements of the nation-state, alongside ‘language’, ‘people’, and ‘land’. Dr Milak labels this fourfold construct as the ‘Junian Tetrad’ (a reworking of the ‘Herderian Triad’) and explore how it manifests in the public signage and semiotic landscapes of the Jongno and Yongsan Districts in Seoul. Triangulating the landscape data with a discursive analysis of the script policies enforced in the two Districts, he exemplifies how script can serve as a form of banal nationalism by reifying the nation-state construct through the ubiquitous and mundane practice of sign-making in public spaces. 

"Australian-Korean multicultural family members' emotions about their family language policy" by Dr Nicola Fraschini and Dr Adrian Lundberg (Malmo University, Sweden)

April 8, 2022

This presentation investigates the emotional reactions of members of multilingual families in relation to their family language policy (FLP) using Q methodology. The purpose is to foreground possible emotional differences that family members experience regarding FLPs, and to show the complexity of the web of emotions triggered by the adoption of these policies. Research in the field of language acquisition demonstrated the relevance of emotions in the process of learning an additional language. Therefore, it is important to understand how different emotions are interconnected and represent individual reactions to FLPs, as emotions ultimately affect the wellbeing of multilingual families. In this project, a pictorial Q set using seventeen face emojis to represent emotions is used to meet existing methodological challenges in research with children with limited literacy. Fifteen participants, parents and children of six Australian-Korean multicultural families, sorted the set of emojis depending on their feeling about their FLP. Results provide insights into the variety of emotional reactions to FLPs, and the different emotional reactions that members of the same family have regarding their family language practices. 

"Brilliant are the Flowers: Envoy Poetry and the Rhetoric of Empire" by Dr Sixiang Wang (UCLA) 

Friday 22 April 2022

In the two centuries of peace, the Chosŏn dynasty of Korea (1392–1910) enjoyed with the Ming empire in China (1368–1644), it exercised enormous agency in shaping the very terms of imperial rule. This agency, however, has often been obscured by the very rhetoric adopted by Chosŏn's own diplomats in the process. This talk explores the rhetorical strategies of Korean diplomacy, in particular in its envoy poetry, to argue that Chosŏn Korea crafted with Ming envoys central aspects of Ming imperial ideology. These included a shared insistence on Korea's membership in a civilized ecumene, recognition of independent Korean links to the classical past, and a repudiation of the specter of imperial irredentism. Chosŏn-Ming relations, far from a ready-made system derived from timeless Confucian principles or a coherent Ming vision of world order, emerged in part from these rhetorical negotiations in diplomatic poetry. 

"Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea" by Dr Markus Bell (La Trobe University)
Thursday 18 November 2021His newly released book, Markus Bell explores the hidden histories of the men, women, and children who traveled from Japan in the 1960s to the world’s most secretive state—North Korea. Through vivid ethnographic details and interviews with North Korean escapees, Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea reveals the driving forces that propelled thousands of ordinary people to risk it all in Kim Il-Sung’s “Worker’s Paradise”, only to escape back to Japan half a century later.
For more details, please click on the following link: 
“Colonial Noir: Korean Colonial Cinema as a Site of Collaboration or Resistance?” by Caleb Kelso-Marsh (KRC) 
Friday 3 September 2021 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.
For more details, please click on the following link:

"The Longevity Revolution in the Digital Era: The Korean Experience" by Dr Moon Choi (KAIST)
Monday 23 August 2021 In this talk, Dr Moon Choi will give an overview of demographic changes and cohort differences in the context of South Korea and discuss how these demographic changes and trajectories will affect the society. She will introduce several cases of gerontechnology developed and deployed by collaboration between startups and the government and explain the social and political contexts of these initiatives. Then, she will present the recent research findings of Aging & Technology Policy Lab, covering the topics such as safety vs. privacy issues, advanced vs. appropriate technology, and etc..
For more details, please click on the following link: 

"Emotions in online language learning: Exploratory findings from an ab initio Korean course" by Dr Nicola Fraschini & Dr Yu Tao (UWA/KRC)
Friday 13 August 2021In this talk, Dr Nicola Fraschini and Dr Yu Tao will report their findings of an exploratory investigation into language learner emotions. The study was 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, the presenters will discuss how learner emotions correlate with academic achievement as well as crucial learner and teacher variables.
For more details, please click on the following link: 

"Emotions presented and experienced in Korean aid"by Dr Jae-Eun Noh (KRC)
Friday 14 May 2021 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.
For more details, please click on the following link: 

"Shincheonji and Covid-19: Observations on Biopolitical Mediatization in South Korea" by Dr Sam Han (UWA/KRC)
Wednesday 14 April 2021 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.
This lecture is part of the seminar series RELIGION, CRISIS AND DISASTER
For more details, please click on the following link: 

"Homophobic COVID-19 Surveillance on South Korean Social Media" by Dr Jin Lee (Curtin University)
Tuesday 30 March 2021In 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. In particular, she will trace how news, started from a Christian-affiliated news outlet, has circulated feelings of anger and fear, targeted at LGBTQ+ people in particular, in tandem with attention economies. Then by visiting a few famous LGBTQ+ YouTubers’ strategies and practices to cope with surveillance, she will show how queer politics has been depoliticized in the pandemic. This talk will shed light on key issues around the COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea, where social minorities are doubly burdened across the offline and online spaces, on the contrary to the story of South Korea’s successful management of COVID-19. 
For more details, please click on the following link:

"South Korea's Webtooniverse andthe Digital Comic Revolution" by Associate Professor Brian Yecies (University of Wollongong)
Tuesday 27 October 2020In 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 successsince 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.
For more details, please click on the following link: