Korea’s Great Transformation and Hagen Koo’s Sociological Journey

Hagen KooIn the past half cen­tu­ry, South Korea has trans­formed itself from a poor agri­cul­tur­al coun­try into a high­ly indus­tri­al­ized and glob­al­ized soci­ety.

Through­out this trans­for­ma­tion, Hagen Koo, pro­fes­sor of soci­ol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai’i at Mānoa, has been study­ing and writ­ing about the remark­able social changes Korea has expe­ri­enced.

Now, on the eve of his retire­ment, Pro­fes­sor Koo will offer a lec­ture reflect­ing on his past research endeav­ors and the trends of soci­o­log­i­cal the­o­ries that have influ­enced his work.

He will speak May 11, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. in the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies audi­to­ri­um.

Hagen KooHagen Koo is a grad­u­ate of Seoul Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty and received his Ph.D. in soci­ol­o­gy at North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty in 1974. His asso­ci­a­tion with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i start­ed the fol­low­ing year. Then a fac­ul­ty mem­ber at Mem­phis State Uni­ver­si­ty, he par­tic­i­pat­ed in the sec­ond major con­fer­ence staged by the recent­ly cre­at­ed UH Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies, a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary con­fer­ence on South Korea. Koo sub­se­quent­ly spent the 1978‒1979 aca­d­e­m­ic year at Mānoa as a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor in the Soci­ol­o­gy Depart­ment, and in 1981 he joined the UH fac­ul­ty.

The author of numer­ous arti­cles and chap­ters in his field, he has also pro­duced notable books. His Kore­an Work­ers: The Cul­ture and Pol­i­tics of Class For­ma­tion (Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2001) won the Amer­i­can Soci­o­log­i­cal Association’s award for the most dis­tin­guished book pub­lished on Asia dur­ing 2001‒2003. The book has been trans­lat­ed into Kore­an, Chi­nese, Japan­ese, and Thai.

Oth­er works include the edit­ed vol­umes State and Soci­ety in Con­tem­po­rary Korea (Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1993) and (with Kim Keong-il and Kim Jun) Mod­ern Kore­an Labor: A Source­book (Acad­e­my of Kore­an Stud­ies Press, 2015).

Koo describes his cur­rent research as being focused on the nature of eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and neolib­er­al glob­al­iza­tion in East Asia. In par­tic­u­lar, he is inter­est­ed in the ways struc­tur­al changes gen­er­ate new forms of class inequal­i­ty and insti­tu­tion­al changes in East Asian soci­eties.

He is cur­rent­ly work­ing on a book ten­ta­tive­ly titled Cos­mopoli­tan Anx­i­ety: South Korea’s Glob­al­ized Mid­dle Class in which he is explor­ing “the ways the South Kore­an mid­dle class has changed sig­nif­i­cant­ly as a con­se­quence of neolib­er­al globalization—from a rel­a­tive­ly homo­ge­neous and upward­ly mobile class to an inter­nal­ly polar­ized, anx­i­ety rid­den, and polit­i­cal­ly unpre­dictable class.”

Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies events are free and open to all. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing infor­ma­tion regard­ing access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone the Cen­ter at (808) 956‑7041. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i is an equal opportunity/affirmative action Insti­tu­tion.