SOAS University of London

Centre of Korean Studies

Clash or Coalition? Queer Korean Activism and Academic Research

JaeWook Ryu (Lancaster University); Hsien Chew (Proud Voices Asia); Julie Lee (UC Berkeley); Marion Gilbert (INALCO); Minwoo Jung (University of Southern California)

Date: 21 October 2016Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 21 October 2016Time: 8:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Panel Discussion


The concept for this event is to allow both activist and academic researchers (as well as individuals actively engaging in both) to meet and initially present their work. Invitees will then discuss as a roundtable the conflicts, positive developments, and questions that arise when activism and academia meet ‘queer’ in the Korean context. It will also seek to address how activism and academia deal with ‘queer’ and its origins in the English language, the west, as well as queer theory’s western foundations. The audience will then be invited to ask questions and contribute to this dialogue.


17:00 - 17:15 Introductions

17:15 - 17:35 JaeWook Ryu: KimJho, GwangSoo: film making and queer movement in Korea

17:35 - 17:55 Julie Lee: Queer Kinship in Korean Division Literature

17:55 - 18:15 Marion Gilbert: Female Homosexuality in South Korea an empirical study of the boundaries of categorising

18:15 - 18:35 Hsien Chew: Singing from the same (hymn) sheet? Asian queer choral activism and Korean exceptionalism

18:35 - 18:55 Minwoo Jung: Mobilizing international human rights discourses, mobilizing morals in South Korean LGBTQ Activism 

19:00 - 19:55 Roundtable Discussion and Q&A

19:55 - 20:00 Closing Remarks

Participant Biographies

JaeWook Ryu is a current PhD student conducting film studies research at Lancaster University. JaeWook received three bachelor degrees in information systems, communication and advertisement and completed his Masters degree  in film studies at Dongguk University. He acquired an MBA degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Now, he is looking  into the politics of Korean queer cinema and is interested in various Korean transformational contents adopting webtoons, which means web-based cartoons in Korea.

Julie Lee is a undergraduate student and research fellow studying English and Korean literature at the University of California, Berkeley. In early 2016, she was a workshops committee co-chair and film coordinator for the Queer and Asian Conference (QACON) and a participant of the Korean Literature Translation Workshop. Her essay "Utopian Potentialities of Queer Smoke in Bruce Nugent's 'Smoke, Lilies and Jade'" was published in The Folio. Born in Daegu, she speaks California English and Busan satori.

Marion Gilbert has two bachelor degrees in Korean Studies (National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations, Paris) and in Human and Social Sciences (University of Paris Descartes, Paris). She has completed a Masters degree in Korean Studies at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and her thesis is about power relations that go through sexual minorities in Seoul. She studied at Kyung-Hee University (Seoul, South Korea) and Kim Il-sung University (Pyongyang, North Korea) as an exchange student. She also joined the translation workshop organized by the Korean Literature Translation Institute at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations, Paris in 2014. She translated Yangǔi mirae by Hwang Jeong-eun and, in 2015, Ǒnǔ sǒnǔlhan haoǔi pinjipt’ǒli by Hae Yisoo. She is interested in gender studies, social relations in the Three Koreas and in subtitling movies and documentaries. 

Hsien Chew is the founder of Proud Voices Asia, the network of LGBT  choirs in Asia, which aims to bring queer choruses in the region together for mutual support and information exchange. A graduate of Oxford University and SOAS, and a practising medical doctor, he started the group in 2012 as a hobby which now encompasses nearly 30 choirs in nine countries. In 2015, Proud Voices Asia and G-Major Chorus from Taiwan organised 'Hand in Hand', the first Asian LGBT choir festival, in Taipei. Hsien is interested in LGBT community choral music and performance as queer activism, and the experience of two Korean choirs - G-Voice and Unnie Choir - illustrates how this may be modified by local legal and cultural constraints. The next Hand in Hand festival will take place in Seoul in 2017. 

Minwoo Jung is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at the University of Southern California. He received his B.A. in Sociology from Seoul National University, where he was valedictorian of the department. Before coming to USC, he was a research fellow at the Korean Oral History Research Center in Seoul. His research interests include culture, political sociology, gender/sexuality, and globalization. His previous research examined the uneven effects of neoliberal shifts in housing and family policies on young adults living in South Korea. His dissertation project focuses on how different state regimes shape and respond to newly emerging public identities based on sexuality and gender difference. His ethnographic research in three Asian countries uses an innovative comparative research design to link cultural questions and international topics in citizenship and political change. 

Organiser: Centre of Korean Studies/Queer Asia

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