Professor Park received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, where he was a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Anthropology and the College. He earned his B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology from Seoul National University, South Korea. Professor Park’s research and teaching interests are broadly concerned with the global circulation of commodities, industrial production and distribution of food, and nationalism in contemporary Northeast Asia. Based on his ethnographic research in a kimchi company in China, his book project Manufacturing “Korea” in China examines transborder mobilities and nationalist worldviews across South Korea and China. As a visual anthropologist, he combines photography, ethnographic film, and media analysis to explore the aesthetic configuration of cultures and nations, such as in his photographic article on Anthropology and Photography and his documentary Chejian (post-production). His research has been supported by Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Paulson Institute, and University of Chicago Center in Beijing. Professor Park is also participating in the collaborative project “Logistics in the Making of Mobile Worlds,” funded by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.
University of Chicago: Ph.D., Anthropology 2021
University of Chicago: M.A., Anthropology 2014
Seoul National University: M.A., Anthropology 2011
Seoul National University: B.A., Anthropology 2009
Areas of Expertise (10)
Commodity Supply Chains
- The Association for Asian Studies : Member
- American Anthropological Association : Member
- American Ethnological Society : Member
- Society for Economic Anthropology : Member
Research Grants (2)
Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research $19920
How could sales of Made-in-China kimchi in South Korea increase even though most Korean consumers supposedly fear and reject the product? Moreover, how have Chinese producers of kimchi and their Korean trading partners managed the stigma of ‘Made in China’ while protecting and growing their businesses? Stimulated by the puzzling growth of Made-in-China kimchi despite widespread consumer suspicions and disavowal of Chinese food imports, this ethnographic research will examine the transnational network of brokers–spanning China and South Korea–that manufactures, imports, and sells Made-in-China kimchi. Through 17 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Qingdao, China with follow-up work in South Korea, this project will focus on how traders and manufacturers interact and communicate with each other to translate Korean kimchi’s (ideal) qualities into the material form of Made-in-China kimchi, and to broker connections with various people along the supply chain. By analyzing the processes in which sociocultural differences, transnational commodity chains, and kimchi itself are co-constituted in and between China and South Korea, this research will contribute to understanding how a mundane and mass-produced food like kimchi connects as well as creates distinctions between production and consumption, and between nation-states; and how transnational commodity chains unfold as they reflect and reinforce social hierarchies, economic inequalities, and discrimination.
Neubauer Collegium Faculty Research Project
Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago $100000
Once a part of military science, logistics—that is, the management of moving people, things, and information—has transformed into a more general condition of globalized mobility politics. On the one hand, innovation in commodity chain logistics has “revolutionized” how goods are produced, distributed, and consumed as well as how labor, land, and infrastructures are organized to support an increasingly on-demand global economy. On the other hand, logistical failures or interruptions—for example, in the mismanagement of refugee processing and detention at the U.S. southern border, the malfunctioning of Amazon’s web services for businesses, or the shortage of masks and ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic—have sparked various political, economic, and public health “crises.” Such crises bring public attention to the importance of logistics in shaping global flows and economic interdependence, as well as inequality and precarity that logistical expansion and interruption reproduce. This research project seeks to use logistics as a lens through which to innovate new theories and methodological approaches for understanding the entangled nature of contemporary mobile worlds. The research team will do this by comparing cases for managing global circulation across three distinct kinds of flows—that is, of people, data, and things. Rather than just following “the flows” of global circulation, the project offers logistics as a means for getting at the hidden pragmatic designs and coordinating agencies that make the regional and transnational patterns of mobility and immobility intelligible in the first place. A focus on logistics demands closer attention not just to what happens when people, goods, or information arrive at their destination but how they get there via distinct yet often overlapping, hidden pathways of mediation. By investigating the pervasive but often obscured work of logistics in the organization of various global flows in people, things, and data, this project will not only open up the black box of technopolitical knowledge and practices that constitute “logistics” for new comparative research. It will also stimulate new theoretical agendas and methodological innovations by gathering researchers of diverse expertise and regional affiliation for collaborative experiments in and beyond the academic setting. Alongside workshops, study group meetings, and collaborative art exhibitions, the research team will host several experimental “field schools”
Political and Economic Issues in Contemporary Asia
Fall 2022, Loyola Marymount University
Food in Asia, Asia in Food
Fall 2022, Loyola Marymount University
Reading from Cutouts: The Aesthetics of Alienation in the Photos of Chinese Factory WorkersAnthropology and Photography Vol. 15
This essay explores the tensions, oppression, and alienation in factory workers’ relationship with their company and commodities registered in photographic aesthetics. Comparing product, portrait, and ID photos I took at a Chinese kimchi factory, I analyze how aesthetic dispositions in those photos were differentiated in the processes of preparation, review, editing, and publication. On the one hand, commodities are photographed to celebrate their virtues and value with the significant investment of time, resources, and attention to every detail. Their relationship with workers, who spend 14 hours a day making kimchi, is effectively effaced while the products are rendered appealing and relatable to potential consumers. On the other hand, workers are photographed to be identified as bodies with a few basic physical traits, representing them as replaceable bodies for factory production lines. While workers put a lot of care and attention into their appearance, attempting to register their aspirations and unique individuality in their images, the characteristic aesthetics were repressed or cropped out in the process of editing and printing for the sake of “objectivity” and efficiency. Therefore, the aesthetic, compositional, and material distinction between product photos and workers’ ID photos reifies factory workers’ alienation from the commodities and their (unsuccessful) challenges to the formation of photographic subjectivity and conventions.
"THAAD Scandal and “Koreas” in the Chinese Market"In Mun Young Cho ed., Understanding People (min) in China, Seoul: Cum Libro.
The contribution to the edited volume on everyday life in contemporary China explores how dynamics in international relations affect business practices and consumption in China, reshaping people’s imaginaries of “Korea” and “China.” The chapter narrates how Korean (both South Korean and Korean-Chinese) entrepreneurs perceived and responded to the unfolding of anti-Korean sentiments and nationwide boycotts of “Korean” products, which were triggered by the implementation of American missile systems (THAAD) in South Korea. In this essay, I discuss how the postnational aspirations of Korean entrepreneurs, who want to reach both “Korean” and “Chinese” markets, are challenged by the territorial nationalist imaginaries of geopolitics, which were historically shaped by the Cold War and amplified through South Korean and Chinese media.
A Bowl of Nostalgia or Discrimination? Korean-Style Chinese Food in Chicago's KoreatownThe Chicago Foodcultura Clarion, Issue 2
In this essay, I introduce the history of Chinese diaspora (hwagyo) behind Korean-style Chinese restaurants in Chicago.
Jarring Expectation"Unboxing Fulfillment: A Field Guide to Logistical Worlds #Roadsides,” Allegra Laboratory, Mar 31, 2020
The contribution to the online article in collaboration with Julie Chu, Philana Woo, Kenzell Huggins, Harini Kumar, and Jack Mullee navigates the aspirations of manufacturers and consumers through a jar of Korean kimchi on Amazon.