Researcher Spotlight: Russell Burge

July 4th, 2017

Russell Burge
Junior Researcher 2016-17

Can you provide a small bio that outlines your hometown and education background?
I grew up in Escondido, California and majored in Art History at UCLA. After a brief stint working in the art world in New York City I came to Incheon to teach English, which is how I became interested in Korean language and history. After two years working in South Korea I completed a masters at Harvard’s Regional Studies East Asia program, and am currently a PhD candidate in the History Department at Stanford University.

Can you briefly tell us about your research?
I look at city growth and social change during the 1960s and 1970s, a time in which South Korea underwent rapid development, shifting from a rural to urban society. My focus is on the history of Seoul, which was the largest center of rural-urban migration and quadrupled in size during these decades. This is an important area to study because we see some of the most contentious questions in South Korea today – such as the relationship between development and inequality, and the relationship of the government to urban voters and urban protest – emerge for the first time in a big way. My dissertation looks at these questions from two main angles: the rise of shantytowns and the political struggles around their existence, and the development of the Gangnam region.


Researcher Spotlight: Katelyn Hemmeke

January 21st, 2017

PC: Andrew Le from http://www.drewle.com/

Can you provide a small bio that outlines your hometown, education background, and a fun fact?
I grew up in Hamilton, Michigan, a rural town on the west side of the state. I earned my BA in English, Spanish and French from Hope College and my MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Fun fact: I once met G-Dragon’s dad.

Can you describe your research? How are you usingpersonal narratives as a method of empowerment?
My research focuses on Korean transnational adoptees and their experiences with birth family search and reunion. The birth family search process is quite difficult and most people aren’t able to find their birth families; a recent article in the Korea Herald stated that from 2012-2015, only 14.7% of the nearly 5,000 adoptees who searched during those three years were able to reunite with their birth families, and that’s one of the highest statistics I’ve read regarding birth family search success rates. I’m interested in seeing if I can pinpoint anything about the birth family search process that might shed light on ways to improve post-adoption services and increase adoptees’ chances of finding their birth families. As a literature scholar, I’m also interested in discourse analysis and the ways adoptees utilize their personal narratives as acts of personal empowerment and/or political resistance. Adoption discourse has long been constructed and controlled by adoption agencies and adoptive parents, with the voices of adoptees and birth families kept in silence. It’s pretty fascinating to analyze the ways that adoption agencies and adoptive parents use language to perpetuate these kinds of power structures — and the ways that adoptees use language to push back.

What inspired you to choose this research?
I’m a Korean-American adoptee myself, so I obviously feel personally invested in anything having to do with adoption issues. There’s not much research out there regarding birth family search and reunion, particularly the latter. The media tends to display a very one-dimensional image of birth family reunion — a sentimental moment in which the long-lost birth mother and adoptee tearfully embrace, and after that, they live happily ever after. However, it’s much more complicated than that due to the language and cultural barriers that often stand between transnational adoptees and birth families, and the story doesn’t end with that single moment of reunion. The adoptee and family have to continue navigating their relationships — with each other, with the rest of their family members — and all the trauma they’ve suffered from their separation doesn’t magically disappear just because they’ve reunited. No one really talks about how hard and complicated all of that can be, which is why I hope to shed some light in adoptees’ own words through their personal narratives.

This picture is from my last few days as an ETA. My students always worked so hard and showed me so much love — I’m so lucky to have had the chance to spend two years with them!” –Katelyn Hemmeke

How does it feel returning to Korea after being an ETA? Can you describe a little about your experience as an ETA?
I love being back in Korea. This isn’t my first time back since my ETA days — I came back once for my students’ graduation and another time to study Korean through the CLS Program — but it’s wonderful to be back for a longer period of time. It’s fun to revisit some of my favorite places, but it’s also mind-boggling to see how quickly things keep changing here.

I also loved being an ETA and have so many great memories from those two years. It was so fulfilling to work with fellow ETAs on projects like Infusion, YDAC, and FEIP. And teaching my Korean students is one of the most rewarding things I’ll ever do. I still keep in touch with a lot of them, and they continue to inspire me with their utter brilliance, unfailing work ethic, and genuine warmth.

What do you hope to do with this research? What are some of your future goals?
The big dream is to publish a book. I may go on for a Ph.D someday, but for now I think I’d like to work in editing or publishing, as well as continue to write essays and creative nonfiction.

What do you do in your spare time in Korea?
I’m taking intensive Korean language classes at Ewha, so that occupies a lot of my time. I love exploring Korea — there’s so much to do and see just in Seoul, but intercity travel is one of my favorite aspects of living in Korea because it’s so easy and cheap. I also try to stay pretty active among the adoptee organizations by going to their events and volunteering whenever opportunities arise. Most of the time, though, you can find me in a café somewhere reading, writing, or studying.

Do you have any advice for ETAs or those interested in conducting research in Korea?
Keep your ear to the ground for events and lectures happening around the city that are relevant to your research interests. Even events that aren’t directly related to your research interests are still worth attending, because you never know who you might meet there. Happy to talk to anyone interested in contacting me!

What’s your favorite part about living in Seoul?
There’s always something going on — maybe too much! There’s never enough time to attend all of the cool events happening here.

 

Katelyn Hemmeke is a current Junior Researcher with Fulbright Korea and also earned a grant as a Fulbright Korea ETA between  2012-2014.


Researcher Spotlight: Joyce Kim

October 21st, 2016

Joyce Kim, Junior Researcher 2015-2016
Education: B.A. University of Pennsylvania
Hometown: Allen, TX

Can you tell FKAR about your research? Does it relate with North Korean Defectors?
My research ended up going into two different strands:

Design Thinking Applied to NKD Education Programs
There are many government-assisted and NGO-run programs to facilitate the challenging resettlement process for defectors. However, the majority of these programs are designed without the end user (defector youth) in mind. Many of these programs also have alternative motivations that are religious and political. Among these programs, Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) is one of the few non-partisan, non-ethnic and non-religious groups that seek to help North Korean defectors. Embodying their non-affiliated status is their motto of “people over politics”, which emphasizes their orientation towards the North Korean people versus other NGOs’ approaches. LiNK seeks to provide continuous guidance and assistance to resettling North Koreans in a holistic fashion. Because of LiNK”s unique characteristics within the landscape of North Korea-related NGOs and government organizations, it makes for a compelling case study in answering this question: How do we create effective resettlement education programs for North Korean defector youth?

Using ethnographic methods and design research, I use LiNK as a case study to understand how education programs can be created for unique populations such as resettling North Korean defector youth. I argue that LiNK’s focus on defectors as individuals with potential versus a politicized minority group within South Korea are a best-practice perspective. The implications of this project include the utility of design research methods in targeting the needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations. The findings of this case study offer a unique approach to addressing the needs of North Korean defectors – an important policy issue in South Korea.


Political Resocialization of NKD Millennials
With a population of nearly 30,000 individuals, North Korean defectors are a unique population in South Korea. Currently, the ROK government spends $105 million annually to aid with defector resettlement. Yet, existing literature has pointed to the many difficulties defectors have adjusting to South Korea society. Defectors struggle with educational attainment, economic advancement, and mental health issues. Furthermore, the stark contrasts between the political systems of their past and present environments affect defectors’ self-conceptualization of citizenship in relation to the South Korean sense of nationalism. However, a small number of defectors have attained global prominence by sharing their personal accounts of human rights violations and by sending information into North Korea. Media coverage of these prominent defectors strongly influences public perception of defectors at-large. Through analyzing the results of twenty-one qualitative interviews with North Korean defector millennials, I argue that the pervasive coverage and activities of these globally prominent defectors promotes a homogeneous narrative of defectors amongst South Koreans. Such a narrative adversely affects the defector resettlement process. Further implications of the diversity of views in defectors’ resocialized political identities include the shifting landscape of South Korea’s national identity.

Why did you choose this research topic? What inspired you?
My paternal grandparents are from North Korea, so that’s where the interest originated. I wrote my college admissions essay on North Korean human rights and also wrote my undergraduate thesis on how South Korea’s education system perpetuates discrimination against North Korean defectors. Coming to South Korea to directly engage with the NKD community seemed like a natural next step.

That answers our second question about why you choose Korea.
Yes, my academic background (political science major, Korean studies minor) relates to my research topic and coming to Korea. I also thought as a Korean-American it would be neat to reconnect with my heritage. This year was the first time I was back in almost ten years.

Where do you hope to go from here? Where do you want to do your research and everything you’ve learned?
It’s really important that my research has some practical application. The education project is being adapted to how LiNK designs its education programs. As for the political resocialization program, assigned from the academic paper, I’m also planning to share my results through online articles (e.g. NK News- one of the largest independent news sources on NK)

In the short time, I’ll be doing a nonprofit fellowship next year in San Francisco.  I then want to go to grad school in international education. I plan to apply skills from this year and next year to become a professor who also applies her research to the relevant communities.

What do you like doing in your free time?
I enjoy traveling and exploring. I also like photography, biking, music festivals, contemporary art, body combat, and of course, reading.


Matt D'Arcy: Resident Rocket Scientist

June 7th, 2015


Meet our Junior Researcher and resident rocket scientist, Matt D’Arcy. He is currently working with the Space Systems Research Laboratory (SSRL) of Korea Aerospace University (KAU) to build a 3U CubeSat (a small satellite that is 30x10x10 cm) to launch into orbit and take pictures of the Earth.

Matt, who says he was interested in space from a young age thanks to his grandfather’s work on major U.S. space projects (including the Apollo missions and the Mars Viking Lander), came to Korea after earning his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Drexel University. His plan was to conduct mission operations of the satellite in orbit, but he soon discovered that due to the unique build-from-scratch approach of the lab and the enormity of the project, the launch would be significantly delayed.

Matt says he quickly found that his mechanical engineering background and research experience had not prepared him for the electronics and computer programming-heavy work that awaited him. Not one to back down from a challenge, he spent the first few months of his grant year powering through several textbooks and tutorials to attain working proficiency in several computer programming languages and expand his practical knowledge of electronics. Matt says that tackling the steep learning curve that awaited him was both the most challenging and the most rewarding part of the year.

I had to learn entirely new skill-sets, but I had the time to sit down and learn them well, down to the nitty-gritty, as I did not have other courses or work pressures in my day-to-day.

Since then, Matt has become more involved in many aspects of the design and building process, but has found perhaps his most notable contribution in an entirely different area: project management. Matt says he faced an internal and cultural conflict with the work culture in the lab – namely, 20+ hour days and/or 6-day-long stints. During the series of all-nighters incurred for the construction process of the test model in particular, he worried that staff exhaustion could potentially harm the final product due to the extremely detail-oriented nature of the work. After careful discussions, Matt helped create a shift in work structure and new guidelines for the next construction process, introduced new team management software, and also reorganized much of the clean room and lab and helped institute policies for disposing of needles and other waste.

In the time he carves out away from the lab, Matt enjoys spending time with friends, exploring the Hongdae-Sinchon area he calls home, and hiking and biking in the spring weather. We wish Matt all the best in finishing up his project and his grant year!


Aimee Lee: Bringing Worldwide Recognition to the Art of Hanji 

June 7th, 2015

Aimee Lee, a Fulbright Korea alumnus, was recently recognized for her work with hanji in the Korea Times. A graduate of Oberlin College, Lee’s interest in hanji, otherwise known as traditional handmade Korean paper, grew during a Chinese Art History course in college.

Motivated by her interest to learn and pursue Korean traditional art – which is widely unrecognized in comparison to Japanese and Chinese art – Lee learned the process of making hanji from Jang Seong-woo, a Korean traditional paper making artisan, in 2009. Since then, Lee has used her Fulbright research, experience, and skills to spread awareness of the hanji tradition and to open the Anne F. Eiben Hanji Studio. Her studio, the first and only Korean paper making studio in North America, is located at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland.

Lee has also written the first English book on hanji, titled Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking (The Legacy Press, 2012).

To read more about Aimee Lee’s accomplishments, check out the original article on the Korea Times website.


Infusion Literary Magazine

May 22nd, 2015

Infusion
Infusion is a literary magazine that strives to capture the diversity of the Fulbright Korea experience and to support artists in the creation of work which honestly engages with their grant year and their craft.

The Infusion staff would like to invite current grantees and alumni to take advantage of the opportunity to be published in the Spring 2015 issue of Infusion, which will appear online and in a print edition. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at midnight (Korean Time Zone).

Submissions should be emailed to infusion.submissions@gmail.com. Please contact the Editor-in-Chief at fulbright.infusion@gmail.com with ideas, questions, or concerns. Read the current volume of Infusion here.