SOAS University of London

School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Haewon Lee

BA (HUFS, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies), MA (SOAS)
  • Research


Haewon Lee
Haewon Lee
Email address:
Thesis title:
Alternative Ways for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in a Globalised World : A multinational project on Vietnamese Lên Đồng ritual performance and the involvement of UNESCO
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


Haewon Lee is a PhD researcher in Southeast Asia Studies at SOAS, University of London, where she also graduated with a master degree in Social Anthropology in 2017. Her research is broadly concerned with intangible cultural heritage (ICH), which includes ritual practices and performing arts in Southeast Asian countries. Her MA dissertation and previous other works mainly focus on the meaning of gender in the folk religions of Vietnam, specifically Mother goddess worship. Her inquiries into the ritual practices of mediumship in Vietnam extended her concerns into a multi-national project to safeguard ICH. Her doctoral thesis examines Vietnamese Lên đồng and Korean Kut as the main cases of mediumship and considers various tugging rituals and games in four countries (South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines) as case studies in relation to UNESCO inscription.

Currently, she is conducting fieldwork in Vietnam and working at the Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies (VICAS) as a visiting researcher. Previously, she worked as a research assistant in numerous cultural institutes, including the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute in Seoul, and the Asia Culture Centre in Gwangju, where she was responsible for four projects. Before coming to SOAS, she studied Anthropology and the Vietnamese language at the Vietnamese National University (VNU), each in the campuses in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City. Haewon earned BAs in Vietnamese and Media Communication from the HUFS, in Seoul, Korea.

PhD Research

The key focus of my research is the collaboration between the group concerned with the preservation of Korean shamanism or Kut, and the group concerned with the preservation of Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of the Three Realms and their associated ritual practices, collectively called Lên Đồng. Since the overall nature of this study is a critical evaluation and analysis of the multi-national ICH-safeguarding project supported by UNESCO, the proceedings of all activities surrounding Korean Kut and Vietnamese Lên đồng for the past 11 years and the analysis of the impact of UNESCO on these projects are part of my research object. In critically reviewing the UNESCO ICH cases, my research examines the feasibility of “the multinational project” as an alternative way of safeguarding ICH.


  • Journal of Museum and Anthropology Issue: 2-2018
  • Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia Issue 23


  • Folklore Fellows’ Summer School 2020
  • 14th Singapore Graduate Forum on Southeast Asian Studies


  • Visiting scholar in VICAS


  • Unesco multinational nomination
  • Intangible cultural heritage
  • Conservation/safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage
  • Ritual performance
  • Vietnam
  • Southeast Asia