CWU News

Speaker discusses cultural battleground in contemporary Korea on May 14

Michael W. Hurt, a photographer and professor living in Seoul, will speak about the battle to define cultural normalcy in contemporary Korea at 7 p.m. Friday, May 14 via a Zoom webinar.

His talk, “The Battle for Normal and the Queering of Korea,” is free and open to the public, but requires advance registration here.

One of the fiercest cultural battlegrounds in Korea today is in the realm of sexual and myriad other identities. It is also strongly delineated by age, as seen in the 2018 Queer Culture Festival whose main participants were age 30 or below and represented a diversity of political interests, ethnicities, and personalities.

A 2020 BLM solidarity march in Seoul highlighted a similar assemblage of interests, in a country and culture that has long been devoid of Black people.

Hurts’ talk will be an exploration of how this has been made socially and culturally possible in a new, hypermodern Korea in which gender and race have led to meaningful, albeit malleable, categories of ethical considerations.

Hurt studied 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 lectures on Cultural Theory and Art History at the Korea National University of the Arts and researches youth, street fashion, and digital subcultures in Seoul. His present work 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.

Hurt’s work and more information can be found on Instagram or his website.

The talk is sponsored by the Korean Studies Grant (Academy of Korean Studies’ Seed Program for Korean Studies) and co-sponsored by CWU’s Asian Studies Program; Departments of World Languages and Culture, History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Geography; Office of International Studies and Programs; and Korean Student Association.