Dr Sarah Son
BA, MA, PhD
School of East Asian Studies
Lecturer in Korean Studies
Full contact details
School of East Asian Studies
1 Upper Hanover Street
Dr Sarah Son joined SEAS in 2019. She completed her PhD on identity and inter-Korean relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 2014, before spending five years working in South Korea in the non-profit sector on North Korean human rights issues.
Her work there included human rights research and monitoring; reporting and media engagement; consulting with the United Nations, foreign missions and advocacy organisations; and project management of human rights documentation training for NGOs both in and outside Korea.
Her current research involves methods of monitoring and recording human rights abuses in North Korea through interviews with North Korean escapees to South Korea. Alongside this work, she is investigating the potential use of the data gathered on human rights abuses in current and future efforts to pursue accountability for violations.
Concurrently, Dr. Son is conducting research on pop culture, identity and international relations in East Asia, including through a recent study on a globally popular television drama depicting North-South Korean relations.
Dr. Son also writes and supervises research on themes including migration and diaspora, contemporary social movements, nation branding, identity, security and peace-building, with a focus on both the Korean Peninsula and East Asia more broadly.
Within Sheffield’s School of East Asian Studies, Dr. Son teaches on the Korean Studies undergraduate programme and the East Asian Studies postgraduate programme.
- BA (Bond University)
- MA (SOAS, University of London)
- PhD (SOAS, University of London)
- Research interests
Dr. Son’s research background is in the role of identity in international relations, particularly as it affects the inter-Korean divide – both at the state level and at the level of social interactions between North and South Koreans.
Her research is interdisciplinary at times, drawing on aspects of anthropology, sociology and history to understand the role of social relationships in the complex politics of the region.
Her past research has looked at questions of identity in the policy practice of North and South Korea regarding a number of issues, including North Korean escapees, international human rights norms and multiculturalism policy.
As a result of her professional work in the NGO sector on North Korean human rights issues, her current research concentrates on methods of monitoring and recording human rights abuses in North Korea, and the potential applications of such research to the pursuit of accountability for human rights violations in the North.
Concurrently, Dr. Son also conducts research at the intersection of pop culture and international relations, exploring the role of pop culture products in shaping emotions, attitudes and policies in East Asia.
Dr. Son also writes and supervises research on themes including migration and diaspora, contemporary social movements, nation branding, identity, security and peace-building, with a focus on the Korean Peninsula and East Asia more broadly.
- Propaganda, Survival, and Living to Tell the Truth: An Analysis of North Korean Refugee Memoirs. Springer International Publishing. View this article in WRRO
- K-drama narrates the national: Korean identities in Crash Landing on You. Asian Perspective, 46(3), 501-521.
- Preparing for transitional justice in North Korea. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 76(2), 121-129.
- Watching North Korea from the sky: remote sensing and documenting human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Political Geography, 92.
- Chasing justice : victim engagement with accountability for human rights abuses in North Korea. Asian Studies Review. View this article in WRRO
- National identity and social integration in international marriages between anglophone women and Korean men. Asian Survey, 59(4), 630-652. View this article in WRRO
- Identity and Social Reconciliation in a Postconflict Korea: What Role for the Church?. International Bulletin of Mission Research, 42(2), 143-151. View this article in WRRO
- Finding unity: Christian reflections on overcoming the inter-korean division. International Bulletin of Mission Research, 42(2), 102-104.
- North Korea’s human rights insecurity : state image management in the post-UN COI era. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 5(1), 138-149. View this article in WRRO
- South Korea’s North Korean image problem : human rights under the spotlight. Asian Studies Review, 42(4), 662-681. View this article in WRRO
- Identity, security and the nation : understanding the South Korean response to North Korean defectors. Asian Ethnicity, 17(2), 171-184. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Unity, division and ideational security on the Korean peninsula: Challenges to overcoming the Korean conflict. North Korean Review.
- Screening the Inter-Korean Conflict: The Politics of Crash Landing on You In Lim S (Ed.), South Korean Popular Culture in the Global Context Beyond the Fandom London: Routledge.
- South Korean national identity and inter-Korean relations since 1945, Routledge Handbook of Contemporary South Korea (pp. 241-257).
- Teaching activities
I have always had love of learning, and a large part of this has been down to those who have taught me various subjects across my academic career with clear passion and enthusiasm for their subject matter.
These are qualities I work to emulate in my own teaching, while incorporating a range of activities that give students opportunities to learn and practice key skills they can apply in their careers as graduates.
My modules encourage students to develop confidence and independence in their learning, while gaining an understanding of the issues that face the region from a range of perspectives.
- Professional activities
Recent non-academic publications:
North Korea human rights activists in South Korea struggle under Moon Jae-in, for NK Pro, 7 July 2021.
South Korea and Japan’s COVID-19 Image War, for East Asia Forum, 4 June 2020.
Two North Korean defectors just got elected to South Korea’s National Assembly – but are already fighting for their credibility, for The Conversation, 29 May 2020.
- Crash Landing on You: Korean drama crosses the north-south divide, for The Conversation, February 25, 2020
- North Korea: how public execution sites are being mapped with Google Earth satellite images, for The Conversation, August 28, 2019
- North Korea’s Missing Dead, for The Diplomat, June 26, 2019
- A very distant hope for North Koreans, for policyforum.net, February 26, 2019