Korean Studies Colloquium, U of Washington on Nov 4

I’m giving a Korean studies colloquium talk at the Center for Korean Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle next week. My talk at NYU was announced over the Alliance of Scholars Concerned about Korea (ASCK) list, and I think that’s how the folks at the University of Washington heard about my work. Although it’s very last minute — and even though I’m working on a different talk at UBC on November 9 — this will be an opportunity to improve my arguments on the “space of custody,” incorporating the wonderful feedback I received from all the smart critical folks at Rutgers and NYU.


Thursday, November 4, 2010, 3:30pm

Beyond Good Intentions and Evil Regimes: North Koreans in Korean/American Missionary Custody
The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington
Denny Hall 314 (email uwcks@uw.edu for more information)

Since the early 1990s, tens of thousands of North Koreans have left their famine-stricken homes in search of food and livelihood. Living without legal status in northeast China, the majority of these undocumented North Koreans are women, many of whom are trafficked into sex work or forced marriages. In this bleak situation, South Korean and Korean American evangelical Christian missionaries and religious NGOs carry out significant humanitarian advocacy work, dealing with state authorities and trafficking brokers, operating safe houses, and making travel arrangements for those seeking asylum. But with no systems for transparency or accountability in place, there is also concern for how the missionary networks regulate and discipline the expectations and experiences of North Korean border crossers in their custody. Drawing on interviews and ethnographic research on Korean/American evangelical missions, Dr. Han I will discuss how the missionary networks raise questions about intention, power, and the politics of custody.