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Michigan Korean Studies Summer Institute

Theme: Democracy and Gender
Dates: June 23-June 28, 2024
Location: Ann Arbor Campus

Program Overview

The Nam Center for Korean Studies at the University of Michigan is pleased to announce the second Michigan Korean Studies Summer Institute (MiKSSI), to be held in Ann Arbor from June 23-28, 2024. PhD students in any discipline whose research concerns Korea are encouraged to apply. This one-week residential intensive program will focus on collaborative learning, collective thinking, and interdisciplinary agenda-setting around a key critical issue central to Korean Studies.

This year’s theme is Democracy and Gender. In the decades since South Korea’s transition to civilian rule, the country has experienced spectacular gains, as well as moments of significant retreat, in democratic institution-building. While slogans such as “Economic Democratization” adopted by the Park Geun-hye camp in 2012 and “Equality of Opportunity, Fairness of Process, Justice in Outcome” adopted by the Moon Jae-in camp in 2017 imply that political democratization should be considered fait accompli in twenty-first century Korea, the task of building a lasting political infrastructure for deepening democracy remains elusive still. Within this continuing struggle, gender has emerged as one of the most bitterly contested arenas for debating the accomplishments and limits of South Korean democratization, as well as for engaging in collective action for change.

As part of this summer’s institute, a series of interdisciplinary seminars will explore the Cold War and post-Cold War history of Korean democratization through the lens of gender; reexamine the nexus of gender and class within global and comparative contexts; and diagnose the current state of democracy and representational politics in South Korea with gender as the focal point. Experts in the history of Korean democratization, women and labor history, and comparative authoritarianisms will serve as seminar leaders. Portions of the institute’s program may be conducted in Korean.

This summer, the two scholars who will be joining the Summer Institute as the lead faculty instructors in residence are:

Namhee Lee is Professor of Modern Korean History in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and Director of the Center for Korean Studies at UCLA. She is the author of The Making of Minjung: Democracy and the Politics of Representation in South Korea (Cornell 2007) and Memory Construction and the Politics of Time in Neoliberal South Korea (Duke 2022), and coeditor of The South Korean Democratization Movement: A Sourcebook.

Suzy Kim is a historian and author of the prize-winning book, Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950 (Cornell 2013). Her work has appeared in positions: asia critiqueAsia-Pacific JournalCross-CurrentsComparative Studies in Society and HistoryGender & History, and the Journal of Korean Studies. Her latest book Among Women across Worlds: North Korea in the Global Cold War (Cornell 2023) was completed with the support of the Fulbright Program and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is senior editor of positions: asia critique, and serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Korean Studies and Yŏsŏng kwa yŏksa [Women and History], the journal of the Korean Association of Women’s History. As a public scholar, she has been an advocate for social justice and peace in Korea with Amnesty International USA, Truth Foundation, and Women Cross DMZ.

This year, we are fortunate to be joined in residence also by a prominent human rights activist whose work over the last four decades has focused on rehabilitation of and reparation for victims of South Korea’s successive authoritarian regimes. Song Soyeon was an organizer with Minkahyup Human Rights Group (민주화실천가족운동협의회) where she played an instrumental role in bringing public attention to human rights issues attending prisoners of conscience, victims of fabricated North Korean spy cases, and other victims of the National Security Law. She has served as the Secretary-General of National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea, and currently supports the Truth Foundation (진실의 힘) based in Seoul as a member of the board of directors.

Additional Seminar Leader

Ji Yeon (Jean) Hong is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies. Her research focuses on the political economy of authoritarianism, with particular attention to East Asia. She has various ongoing research projects related to the legacy of the authoritarian past, the long-term impact of political violence, and the determinants of elite behavior and government policies under authoritarianism. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor (2014-2020) and Associate Professor (2020-2022) at the Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

About the Summer Institute from the 2023 cohort

“The institute reminded me of the value of interdisciplinary thinking and how much I stood to learn about even familiar topics by thinking alongside people with perspectives and experiences different from my own. I walked away feeling encouraged to expand my scholarly network and to reach out to scholars outside of my immediate circle.”

“The seminars not only helped me to critically engage with the existing scholarship on Korea, but also encouraged me to imagine ways in which to expand the horizons of Korean Studies outside the geographical boundaries.”

“It was truly amazing to have the opportunity to meet in person with the professors. Their invaluable advice on my research has left a lasting impact. The seminars were deeply thought-provoking too. I am also extremely grateful for the numerous opportunities to connect with fellow graduate students in Korean studies and beyond.”

“I really valued the lunches and social gatherings with speakers and fellow attendees. I also really liked how students were from various points in their PhD trajectory, from students to advanced candidates.”


All applications should be submitted using this form.

Interested students should prepare and submit the following documents, in addition to one confidential letter of recommendation from a faculty member from the institution where the student is currently enrolled, preferably the applicant’s advisor:

  1. A Letter of Intent of no more than two pages describing current scholarly interests and how participation in the Summer Institute would contribute to the applicant’s academic plans. The statement should include information about courses taken in relevant fields if any.
  2. A current curriculum vitae
  3. A sample of recent writing

Letters of recommendation should be submitted by the advisor in pdf format to with “SUMMER INSTITUTE - Letter of Recommendation” in the subject line.

The final deadline for all submissions is April 1, 2024 at 11:59 pm.

Admissions decisions will be announced within the month of April.

Tuition & Financial Aid

Tuition is waived for all participants in the institute. Lodging will be provided to participants, as well as a modest stipend for meals and incidental expenses, with the generous support of the Academy of Korean Studies.

Students are encouraged to seek funding from their home institutions for transportation to Ann Arbor.

Past Summer Institutes

MiKSSI 2023 | The Global Korean War

The Summer Institute is supported by the Strategic Research Institute Program for Korean Studies of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the Korean Studies Promotion Service at the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2021-SRI- 2200001)