Assistant Professor of Korean


Ph.D., East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Korean Literature), Columbia University, 2017
M.Phil., East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Korean Literature), Columbia University, 2014
M.A., East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Korean Literature), Columbia University, 2012
M.F.A., Creative Writing, Columbia University, School of the Arts, 2008
B.A., Philosophy, Swarthmore College, 2002

Research Interests

Modern and contemporary Korean literature, intellectual history, film, media and popular culture, with particular emphasis on everyday life, visuality, (post) colonialism, race and affect.


Born in Seoul, Jae Won Chung grew up in Philadelphia and studied Philosophy and English literature at Swarthmore College for his bachelors. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies in Korean literature, he studied creative writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and worked as a teacher and a literary translator in Seoul. His doctoral dissertation, Picturing Everyday Life: Politics and Aesthetics of Saenghwal in Postwar South Korea, 1953-1959 looked at the discourse of “everyday life” as a crucial site of post-colonial and Cold War contestations, revealing a range of nuanced and complex ontological, aesthetic, affective negotiations under way in how everyday life was imagined, represented, and understood. By analyzing works of fiction writers, intellectuals, photographers, essayists, filmmakers, rural leaders, and U.S. and South Korean governmental actors, he brought into focus what he calls a “postwar crisis of modernity,” which was shaped by the lingering legacy of Japanese imperialization and an ongoing negotiation with South Korea’s semi-sovereign position vis-à-vis the United States. In addition to revising the dissertation for publication, he is developing his second project organized around the evolving interplay between literary representations of the apocalyptic and the mundane in the modern construction of subjectivity from the colonial-era to the present.