I am a historian of modern Korea specializing on the labor, gender, and intellectual history of the post-WWII period in South Korea. I grew up in Seoul, Korea, and received B.A. and M.A. degrees from the Korean History Department at Seoul National University before coming to the U.S. My Ph.D. training in history was at the UW with the late Professor James B. Palais as my main adviser. After earning my Ph.D. degree in 2003, I worked in the History Department at the University of Utah for four years, teaching Asian and Korean history courses. I came back to the UW in 2007 to become the first holder of a new professorship that was established in honor of Professor Palais. Until my retirement in 2018, I taught Korean history, both premodern and modern, and Asian labor history, and served as one of the core faculty members in the Korean Studies Program and the Center for Korea Studies, both housed in the Jackson School.
My dissertation research was on South Korean nation-building history during the Park Chung Hee era (1961-1979) seen through a case study of state-business-labor relations at a premier shipyard, Korea Shipbuilding and Engineering Corporation (KSEC), in Pusan, South Korea. That research was published in 2009 as Building Ships, Building a Nation: Korea's Democratic Unionism under Park Chung Hee by the University of Washington Press, and won the 2011 James B. Palais book prize of the Association for Asian Studies. The prize is for the best English-language book in Korean Studies from all disciplines. The book has been translated into Korean and published in 2014 in Korea by Humanitas.
My second book, Women in the Sky: Gender and Labor in the Making of Modern Korea (Cornell University Press, 2021), won the 2022 John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian history since 1800, administered by the American Historical Association, and the 2023 James B. Palais Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies.
- HSTAS/ JSIS A 212 History of Korean Civilization
- HSTAS 481 History of Pre-modern Korea
- HSTAS 482 History of Modern Korea
- HSTAS 581 Modern Korean History (field course)
- HSTAS 582, 583 Seminar in Korean History
- JSIS A 484/584 Special Topics East Asia: The Park Chung Hee Period
- JSIS A 585 Seminar: Modern Korea