Saeyoung Park


Ph.D., M.A., B.A. Johns Hopkins University


I feel quite lucky to work on East Asia, an area that is home to some of the largest economies in the world, and a region that will continue to shape global debates in the 21st century. I teach the history of East Asia, but my research focuses primarily on China and Korea. Broadly speaking, I am a cultural historian that works on political issues. Following a more Geertzian definition of culture, that sometimes means that I might be interested in questions such as: How are the social and intellectual boundaries of the concept of addiction related to the historical range of drug policy options in Korea? How can we read that particular test case in order to help us fully engage with related problems today?

My research and graduate training interests span about five centuries of East Asian history. As evidence of my broader interests, I also have masters-level training in the anthropology of Japan as well as in African religions. Currently, my writing centers on the history of addiction, especially as it intersects with international relations, policy-making, and the formation of national citizens in Korea. Generally, my curiosity about the historical dimensions of identity politics in East Asia is a thread that weaves through almost all of my work. My first project on war and memory has resulted in a book manuscript, Politics of the Past: The Imjin War in Korea, which is currently under revision.

My work has been made possible through the generous support of several international foundations and organizations including the Korea Foundation, Asiatic Research Institute, the Academy of Korean Studies, and the Library of Congress, among others.