International Institute of Korean Studies

Research Projects


    IKSU staff are involved in a number of research projects, investigating issues of contemporary Korean society, the economy, politics as well as the language and culture of South Korea.

Research projects at IKSU involve partnerships with academics and policy analysts worldwide. Research collaborations provide the foundation of IKSU as evidenced in the global conference on Korean Security held in Preston to mark the establishment of the International Institute of Korean Studies. Diverse research projects are carried out by academic staff as well as doctoral students within the Institute.


Professor Hazel Smith

This collaborative project investigates the role of ‘Korea as the nexus of East Asian peace and security: the policy imperatives’. It incorporates a broad understanding of security, including human security, in the conference discussions. The core question is ‘Why is the Korean conflict proving so intractable and what fresh approaches are required?’ Project participants are from Australia, Austria, China, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, UK and the USA. Project modalities include a major conference in Preston and the production of papers for the North Korean Review.

Noticeboard in Pyongyang


Dr Hae-Sung Jeon

Despite the recent advancements in our understanding of speech rhythm, Korean rhythm remains largely a puzzle. Korean has been considered a rhythmically unclassifiable language. Korean is also a challenge to phonological theories, such as metrical phonology which relies heavily on the presence of word stress to explain how rhythm is created. The main objective of the project is to study alternative approaches to Korean rhythm so as to provide a better understanding of how rhythm is manifested and perceived in Korean and link the results to a general theory on the function of rhythm across languages. The central part of the project consists of behavioural experiments with native Korean speakers, investigating their perception of rhythm. Specifically, we investigate prosodic characteristics perceptually relevant for speech processing and for the creation of abstract rhythmic patterns. The intellectual merit of the project lies in the comprehensive approach taken, integrating concepts from metrical phonology with methods and insights from phonetics and experimental psychology on the perception of rhythm and timing. Our approach should lead to a better understanding of rhythm not only in Korean but more widely within linguistics; it will also connect research from linguistics to more general concerns about rhythm and its role in human cognition.


Professor Hazel Smith

The aim is to provide an empirically supported analysis of how and why the economy and society of North Korea has been transformed in the post-Cold war era, while the government has hardly changed its political trajectory. The key questions at the heart of this investigation are ‘how and why has the radical dissonance between everyday life and government pronouncements and policy come about and what are the implications for the future of North Korea?’ The project challenges the media mythology that the DPRK is an unknown quantity and aim to shift the debate on the tired and unhelpful stereotyping that characterises so much of the analysis of North Korean politics, economics and society. North Korea can be compared fairly straightforwardly to other Asian societies, societies in transition from communism to capitalism, and other poor societies. The book shows that the DPRK can be understood through conventional approaches to knowledge, using conventional or ‘positivist’ notions of social science that seek to assess factual data through a logical evaluation process. The further premise is that North Korea can be understood best through situating the contemporary social and political environment in a historical and cultural context. This historical framing is crucial in explaining the commonalities with South Korea as well as the major differences between the two countries.