Na Sil Heo, “Good Housing for Good ‘Married Life’: Privacy, Transnational Anti-Communism, and Postwar Housing in South Korea,” The Journal of Asian Studies (2022): 1‒16.

Abstract: This article examines postwar housing in South Korea as a transnational project in the Cold War milieu. Privacy (p’ŭraibŏshi) became a central architectural concern in South Korea after the Korean War (1950–53), as Korean architects negotiated their understanding of good, modern housing in the midst of deepening interactions with American architectural knowledge. A call for the construction of independent children’s rooms was linked to the belief that good housing should also ensure the sexual privacy of the married couple. This article argues that architects construed privacy to be a value that was attached to liberal democracies and that reflected postwar fantasies and desires for a democratic living in contradistinction to its North Korean counterpart. In this way, housing became a site of transnational anti-communism, as architects and aspiring homeowners invested much energy in the ideological and material construction of privacy as a salient feature of modern housing.


John G. Grisafi, “A Marginal Religion and COVID-19 in South Korea: Shincheonji, Public Discourse, and the Shaping of Religion,” Nova Religio 25.1 (August 2021): 40‒63.

Abstract: In the spring of 2020, South Korea became the second most infected country in the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid spread of the virus was attributed to a Christian religious group known as Shincheonji. The association of this already controversial religion with the spread of the virus quickly led to public condemnation of the group. The public response to the group’s association with the virus was, in part, built on an existing foundation of distrust and suspicion. In this paper, I examine the details of Shincheonji’s association with the coronavirus and the public reaction to it. I show the political work done by classificatory language pertaining to religion, specifically as it influences perceptions of the legitimacy of marginal religions and how the public should treat them. I also examine how public discourses on what religion should or should not do shape the definitions and boundaries of religion and associated categories.


Hwansoo Kim, “Two Incarnations, One Person: The Complexity of Kim Iryŏp’s Life,” The Journal of Korean Studies 26.1 (2021): 5170.

Abstract: Kim Iryŏp (Kim Wŏnju, 1896‒1971) was a pioneering feminist and prolific writer who left lay life to become a Buddhist nun. The bifurcation of her life between the secular and religious has generated two separate narratives, with Korean feminist studies focusing on Iryŏp as a revolutionary thinker and Buddhist studies centering on Iryŏp as an influential Buddhist nun. When divided this way, the biography of each career reads more simply. However, by including two significant but unexplored pieces of her history that traverse the two halves of her narrative, Iryŏp emerges as a more complex figure. The first is her forty-five-year relationship with the Buddhist monk Paek Sŏng’uk (1897‒1981). The second is how she extended some of her early feminism into monastic life but said little about the marginalization of nuns in Buddhism’s highly patriarchal system. In both her relationship with Paek and her feminism, Iryŏp drew on the Buddhist teaching of nonself, in which the “big I” is beyond gender. Thus, Iryŏp repositions herself as having attained big I, while Paek remained stuck in “small I.” Yet, while she finds equality with monks through an androgynous big I, none of her writings contest Korean Buddhism’s androcentric institutional structure.