The Battle for Normal and the Queering of Korea

CHONG EUN AHN's picture

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May 14, 2021
Washington, United States
Subject Fields: 
Korean History / Studies, Race / Ethnic Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

The Korean Studies seed grant team invites you to the CWU’s second Korean Studies Speaker Series on May 14th, 7pm-9pm( This year, we are hosting Dr. Michael Hurt, a photographer and academic based in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The talk will discuss the battlegrounds in the realms of sexual, racial, and other identities in contemporary Korea. 


Lecture Abstract:

The battle to define cultural normalcy rages hot in contemporary Korea, with one of its fiercest battlegrounds being the realm of sexual and myriad other identities. The battlegrounds are most strongly and obviously delineated by age, with the folks in the 2018 Queer Culture Festival being generally in their 30s and below and marked by a diverse assortment of political interests, ethnicities, and personalities. A similar assemblage of various interests and positionalities appeared in Seoul in 2020 in the form of a BLM solidarity march in a country and culture that has long been conspicuously devoid of actual Black people. This talk is an exploration of how this has been made socially and culturally possible in a new, hypermodern Korea in which gender and race have become rendered into meaningful, albeit malleable categories of ethical consideration. 


About the Speaker:

Dr. Michael W. Hurt is a photographer and professor living in Seoul. He majored in History and American Civilization at Brown University and received his doctorate from UC Berkeley’s Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies. He started Korea's first street fashion blog in 2006 and published the first English language book about Korean Fashion in 2009. He researches youth, street fashion, and digital subcultures in Seoul. He lectures on Cultural Theory and Art History at the Korea National University of the Arts. His present research focuses on using the camera to access and document emergent digital subcultures in Korea, including the political economy of the "pay model" on Korean Instagram.

Contact Info: 

Chong Eun Ahn, 

Associate Professor in History 

Director of Korean Studies Seed Grant 

Central Washington University 

Contact Email: