Digital Humanities

Intellectual Statement

Situated at the intersection of Korean Studies, Ethnomusicology, Gender Studies, and Digital Humanities, my work primarily investigates Korean Popular Culture, focusing on K-pop’s global reception and interpretation. As a Ph.D. candidate, I strive to leverage digital tools and methodologies to deconstruct the traditional narratives surrounding the Korean Wave (Hallyu) and challenge the ongoing exoticization of Korean Popular Culture.

Through my experience in the Certificate program in Digital Humanities at UCLA, I saw two strengths in the field that would benefit the growth of Korean Studies.

First, Digital Humanities, as I see them, blend perfectly into the interdisciplinary vision of Korean Studies. Through the innovative lens of Digital Humanities, I examine the rich data derived from fan communities, social media platforms, and digital archives to map out power dynamics within the global K-pop fandom. This approach allows me to analyze how digital interactions contribute to the construction of perceived authenticity in K-pop, thus affording a unique understanding of how cultural values and identities are negotiated in a digital landscape.

Second, by taking classes with fellow undergraduate students, I realized that Digital Humanities offered a very popular curriculum. It provides an opportunity for students majoring in humanities to master digital literacy while getting precious skills in data science (in the broad sense). Students are increasingly eager to work tech jobs, while those fields are looking for more and more diverse backgrounds that are not limited to STEM majors. One of the identified weaknesses of Korean Studies that prevents students from choosing it as a major is the fear of not being able to be successful in the job market after graduating. I argue that we need to diversify the curriculum in the Korean Studies departments to incorporate more digital humanities classes.

So far, I have worked on three different projects. In each of them, and given my background in Area Studies, I always try to combine a qualitative and a quantitative approach to a similar dataset. My first project interrogates how fans of BTS inside and outside of Korea interpreted the group’s speech at the United Nations in September 2018. My second project, developed during a class, was an attempt to develop an app to study Korean through Korean Popular Culture. The last project, part of a chapter of my Ph.D. thesis, aims to map the authenticity of the production of K-pop songs by looking at the metadata of the song credits on one side and the fans’ interpretations of it on the other.

In the future, I aspire to refine and expand these research methods to investigate broader phenomena within cultural studies. Moreover, I intend to share my insights and methodologies with other scholars and students through pedagogical engagements, workshops, and publications, further contributing to the advancement of Digital Humanities.

BTS x UNICEF “Love Myself” Campaign:
same message, different interpretation from K-pop fandoms

Under preparation for Publication
(October 2018 – Ongoing)

Deok_UP: Learn Korean through Korean Popular Culture

Project developed for DH250 (UX/UI Design) in Fall 2020
(September 2020 – Ongoing)

Mapping the authenticity of K-pop – the reality of production network vs. fandom interpretation

Chapter 3 of Ph. D. Thesis
The project was first developed through the DH Incubator Program at Seoul National University.
(May 2022 – Ongoing)