Associate Prof Jo Elfving-Hwang

Associate Professor 

Joanna (Jo) Elfving-Hwang, PhD, SFHEA

My research interests focus on aspects of contemporary South Korean society and sociology of the body in particular. I have had significant success in winning research funding relative to opportunity with the total of over A$2,500,000 research funding since 2007, including a major $1.06 million grant from the Academy of Korean Studies (ROK) and a €3 million the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Germany (joint application with 12 other colleagues). I have also secured funding from Korea Foundation for cultural and educational events, as well as sponsorship from Office of Multicultural Affairs, Australia Korea Business Council and the Perth Conference Centre. I have given more than 40 invited academic guest lectures since 2008, including 17 outside Australia and frequently gives interviews to major media outlets in Australia and abroad (such as BBC, Der Spiegel, CNN, ABC Radio National, RTRFM, Radio Channel 2 (Switzerland), Geo Magazine (Germany), Sonntag (Germany), KBS television (South Korea), SBS (South Korea)).

My current collaborative research projects focus on Korean popular culture, various aspects of Australia-Korea relations (including DFAT-funded policy research into Korean language education in WA), and sociology of the body in Korea. I am currently working on a monograph tentatively titled Cosmetic Matters: The Body, Cosmetic Surgery and Beauty in Korea.

I currently work across multiple positions as an Associate Professor of Korean Society and Culture at Curtin University; Deputy Head of School (Social Sciences, School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry); Dean Global, Korea (Office of the DVC Global), and Director of the Korea Research Centre (KRC). I have years of strategic leadership experience both in managing and developing academic programs, learned associations, business engagement and academic service roles. My research outputs include internationally high-impact publications in the field of cultural sociology and Korean Studies, and the significant interest in my research is evidenced by frequent media engagement in major global news outlets, service to the academic community in the form of peer reviewing and organising conferences, and significant success in winning competitive research funding.


I have 25 years of experience in the field of Korean Studies, and have played an important role in developing academic networks in Australia, Germany and the UK. I have worked in major Universities in this area (Sheffield University, Leeds University, Frankfurt University and UWA) in significant leadership positions, and in developing internationalisation of the curriculum within the institutions that I have worked at. I have served as the President, Vice President and Treasurer of the Korean Studies Association of Australasia (KSAA) over the past decade, Director of the Korea Research Centre of WA,  Vice President of the Korean Cultural Committee of WA, and a member of the Australia Korea Business Council’s Education Subcommittee.


Through my various roles I am active in advocating University engagement with Korean businesses, as well as through organising a number of events and activities to engage with the local business and education community. In 2021 I was honoured to have been listed among one of the 60 Australians whom the Australia Korea Foundation (DFAT) deemed to have made a significant contribution to enhancing Australia-Korea relations.


PhD                 The University of Sheffield, Korean Literature and Critical Theory, 2006

BA (Hons)      The University of Sheffield, Korean Studies (First Class), 2000

SFHEA            Higher Education Academy, Senior Fellowship, 2019


2024-present Deputy Head of School (Social Sciences), School of Media, Arts, Communication and Social Inquiry, Curtin University 

2022-present Associate Professor of Korean Society and Culture, School of Media, Arts, Communication and Social Inquiry, Curtin University 

2022-present Dean Global, Korea, Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Global, Global Curtin

2020-present Director, Korea Research & Engagement Centre,  Curtin University (externally funded with $1.06 million grant)

2022-2024    Major Coordinator of Korean Studies program, MCASI, Curtin University

Sept 2022-Jan 2023 Acting Director of Graduate Research, MCASI, Curtin University

2012-2019    Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, Asian Studies, University of Western Australia

2017-2020    Deputy Head of School (Teaching & Learning Portfolio), School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia

2014-2015    Graduate Research Coordinator & Deputy Head of School, School of Social Sciences

2010-2012    Director of Korean Studies and Jun. Professor (W1) of Korean Society and Culture Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt University), Germany

2008-2010    Academic Developer and Researcher, Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Centre for Promoting Learner Autonomy, Sheffield Hallam University, UK (with special focus on curriculum design and student-centred T&L approaches)

2007-2008    Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, Leeds University, UK

2003-2010    Lecturer in Korean Studies (sessional), School of East Asian Studies, The University of Sheffield, UK

Peer reviewed journal articles:

Zhu, S. & Elfving-Hwang, J. (2024) “My wife made me”: motivations for body and beauty work among older Korean and Chinese migrant adults in Australia, Journal of Women & Aging, DOI: 10.1080/08952841.2024.2307180

Park, H., Elfving-Hwang, J., Whitney, Y. (2022), ‘Why aid diplomacy eventually pays off : Lessons from Australia’s Demonstration Sheep Farm Project in 1970s South Korea‘, Melbourne Asia Review: (online)

Mackie, V., Baudinette, T., Chakraborty, M. N., Chan, D., Elfving-Hwang, J., Pendleton, M., & Suganuma, K. (2021). Remembering Romit Dasgupta. Portal: journal of multidisciplinary international studies, 17(1/2).

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2021). Man Made Beautiful: The Social Role of Grooming and Body Work in Performing Middle-aged Corporate Masculinity in South Korea. Men and Masculinities. (SSCI indexed journal)

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2020), ‘Media, Cosmetic Surgery and Aspirational Beauty Aesthetics of the Ageing Body in South Korea’ for a special edition of Asian Studies Review (‘Beauty and Whitening in Asia’), eds. D. Henley, N. Porath and A. Hardon 45(2): 1-15.

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2017), ‘The Aesthetics of Authenticity: Corporate Masculinities in Contemporary South Korean Television Dramas,’ Asia Pacific Perspectives 15 (2): 55-79.

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2016), ‘Out, Down and Out? Beauty Work and Agency among Elderly Korean Women’, Journal of Aging Studies 38 (2): 6-15 (SSCI indexed, one of the leading journals in ageing studies).

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna and Jane Park (2016), ‘Australian Media, Korean Cosmetic Surgery and the Question of Race‘, Continuum 30(4):  397-407 (SSCI indexed) DOI:10.1080/10304312.2016.1141864.

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2015), ‘Disaster Narratives in Contemporary South Korean Cultural Imaginary‘, Korea Journal 55(3), 8-29 (SSCI indexed)

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2013), ‘South Korean Cultural Diplomacy and Brokering ‘K-Culture’ outside Asia‘, Korean Histories 4(1), 14-26.

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2013), ‘Cosmetic Surgery and Embodying the Moral Self in South Korean Popular Makeover Culture," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 11(24), 1-11.

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna and Ruth Holliday (2012), 'Gender, Globalization and Aesthetic Surgery in South Korea', Body and Society 18(2), 58-81. This article was nominated as an article of ‘key importance to the field of sociology’ in 2014 ( and has been on list of most-read articles of the journal since its publication in 2012.

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2006), 'The Improper Desire for Knowledge: De-gendering Curiosity in Contemporary Korean Women’s Literature', The British Association of Korean Studies Papers, Vol. 10, pp. 107-118. 

Book chapters

Fraschini, N., Elfving-Hwang, J. and Tao, Y. (2023) ‘Korean Language Education in Western Australia: Development and Challenges’ in Enabling Learning: Language Teaching for Australian Universities, eds John Kinder and Nicola Fraschini (ANU Press)

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2022). Pretty Tough: Reading Visual Aesthetics of K-Pop Masculinities. Hallyu! The Korean Wave (Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London),

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2021). The Body, Cosmetic Surgery and the Discourse of Westernization of Korean Bodies. In M. Craig (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Politics of Beauty (1 ed.). Routledge.

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2020). Competency as an Embodied Social Practice: Clothing, Presentation of Self and Corporate Masculinity in South Korea. In J. Hoegaerds, & K. Aarvik (Eds.), Making It Like Man: Men, Masculinities and the Modern Career, pp. 137-151 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter).

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2018). ‘K-pop Idols, Artificial Beauty and Affective Fan Relationships in South Korea’, in Handbook of Celebrity Studies, ed. Anthony Elliot (London and New York: Routledge), pp. 191-201 (Peer reviewed, Invited contribution)

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2011).  ‘Cross-border representations in North and South Korean Cold War Literatures’, in Global Cold War Literatures: Western, Eastern and Postcolonial Perspectives, ed. Andrew Hammond (London and New York: Routledge), pp. 44-57. (Invited contribution)

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2008). 'The Improper Desire for Knowledge: De-gendering Curiosity in Contemporary Korean Women’s Literature', in Korea: The Past and the Present, eds. James Hoare and Susan Pares (Dorset: Global Oriental), pp. 446-454 (ISBN 1-901903-54-0) (Invited contribution)

Elfving-Hwang Joanna, Kenisha Garnett and Ivan Moore (2009). ‘Learner Autonomy and Professional Development: Enabling Learning and Teaching Innovations through Engaging with a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning’ (as lead author,), in Improving Student Learning: For the Twenty-First Century Learner, ed. Chris Rust (Oxford: Oxford Brookes University) (ISBN: 1 873576 79 3), 116-27.

Policy Reports


Elfving-Hwang, J., Milak, E. & Zhu, S. eds. (2023), 70 Years after the Korean War: Australia-Republic of Korea Relations and Prospect for Peace in the Indo-Pacific, Korea Research Centre Paper Series 2(1) (Bentley: Korea Research and Engagement Centre).

Elfving-Hwang, J., Street, L. and Ammali, S. (2023) International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), Report on the National Symposium on the future of Australia-Korea school partnerships, IEAA, pp. 10-12.

Dean, P. & Elfving-Hwang J. (eds). (2021), ROK-Australia Defence and Security Ties: Prospects and Reflections on the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations [Special Issue], Black Swan Strategy Paper 1(1) (Perth: UWA Defence and Security Institute). Available online:

Elfving-Hwang, J. & Dean, P. (eds.) (2021), Toward Deeper Engagement: Prospects and Reflections on the 60th Anniversary of ROK-Australia Diplomatic Relations [Special Issue], Korea Research Centre Paper Series 1(1) (Perth: Korea Research Centre).

Elfving-Hwang, J. (2021), ‘Reflecting on 60 years of Academic Korea Expertise in Australia: (Missed) Opportunities and Challenges Ahead’, in Toward Deeper Engagement: Prospects and Reflections on the 60th Anniversary of ROK-Australia Diplomatic Relations [Special Issue], Korea Research Centre Paper Series 1(1) (Perth: Korea Research Centre), pp. 20-23.

Book reviews and Short articles

Elfving-Hwang, J., Mendez, T., Monden, M. (November 3, 2021), ‘Where is Asia in ‘Fortress Australia’?’ Asian Currents: 

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna, ‘K-pop fans are creative, dedicated and social - we should take them seriously’(July 2, 2019), The Conversation,

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna ‘Darf man seinen Kindern eine Schonheitsoperation zum Abitur schenken?’ GEO Magazine (Germany), January 4, 2016,

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna, and Ruth Holliday, ‘Gender, Globalization and Aesthetic Surgery in South Korea', discussion paper published on This paper has been viewed more than 35,000 times, and is currently trending in the most viewed 1% articles on

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna and Jane Park, 'Does Everyone Just Want to Be White?', Asian Currents (April 2014), pp. 33-34. Available online:

Elfving-Hwang (2013), Joanna ‘Transnational Sport: Gender, Media, and Global Korea’ by Rachael Miyung Joo, Pacific Affairs 86(4), 930-93 (Book Review)

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2012), ‘Crisis of Gender and the Nation in Korean Literature and Cinema’ by Kelly Y. Jeong, Journal of Asian Studies, 71(4), 1160-62 (Book Review)

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2010), ‘Who Ate Up All the Shinga?’ by Park Wan-Suh, _List, Books from Korea, Vol. 7, p. 34. (Book Review)

Elfving-Hwang, Joanna (2008), ‘There Petal Silently Falls’ by Ch’oe Yun, Acta Koreana, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 261-265. (Book Review)