Deokhyo Choi

Dr Deokhyo Choi

Lecturer in Korean Studies

BA (Rikkyo University), MA (University of Tokyo), Ph.D. (Cornell University)

Contact details
Tel: 0114 222 8422
Room: C04

Personal Website (in Korean)


I am an ethnic Korean-born in Japan (third-generation zainichi Korean) and specialize in the history of modern Korea and Japan. Before joining the University of Sheffield in July 2018, I worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cambridge (2013-2016) and the Research Institute of Korean Studies, Korea University (2017-2018). I also taught at Underwood International College, Yonsei University, from 2016 to 2018.

Throughout my journey in academia, I have been very fortunate to directly witness crucial historic events on the Korean peninsula and within Japan-Korea relations. As a college exchange student at Yonsei University in 1997-1998, I watched the unfolding of one of the most dramatic political events in post-liberation Korean history, as Kim Dae-Jung, a long-time democratic fighter and survivor of state terrorism, was elected President in the middle of South Korea’s unprecedented economic crisis. In 2000, a sense of hope and buoyancy borne out of the first North-South Korean summit meeting could be felt everywhere among zainichi Korean communities, and this inspired me to write about how Korea was divided for my MA thesis. In 2002, I was deeply puzzled to see unexpected social repercussions in Japan in the wake of the Prime Minister’s first visit to Pyongyang and started to consider how my historical research could engage with contemporary issues in Korea-Japan relations.

After a decade of sojourn in the US and the UK, I returned to East Asia and lived in Seoul from 2016 to 2018. I could again witness (and become part of) iconic moments of hope and history making in South Korea, where the series of citizens’ massive street protests in the piercing cold of the winter led to the “Candlelight Revolution” and the ousting of the corrupt President. I could also learn firsthand what everyday life in the “post-Cold War powder keg” looked like while observing the political landscape of the Korean peninsula rapidly transforming from the nuclear (war) crisis to the North-South rapprochement and a remarkable détente between Washington and Pyongyang in June 2018. My firsthand experience of these events profoundly nurtured my sense of the dynamics of historical change.


My research interest includes:

  • Comparative History of Empire and Decolonization
  • Memories of War and Colonialism
  • Global Cold War and East Asia
  • Korea-Japan Relations
  • Korean minority question in Japan

I am currently working on my first monograph that explores transnational linkages of politics, social movements, and the so-called “zainichi Korean question” between U.S.-occupied Japan and Korea. My work illuminates the significance of an ethnic minority question in international relations.

In the future, I am planning to develop two research projects. I will analyze ongoing political disputes between South Korea and Japan over historical memories of war and colonialism, particularly disputes over “comfort women” issues. I am also interested in a comparative study of decolonization and Cold War state violence in South Korea and Taiwan.

Awards and Research Grants

2020: BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants, The British Academy
2019: Korean Studies Grant, The Academy of Korean Studies
2018: Outstanding Teaching Award, Korea University
2017: Pony Chung Fellowship for Young Korean Studies Scholars, Pony Chung Foundation
2015: International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) Best Dissertation Prize in the Humanities
2014: Twentieth-Century Japan Research Award, The University of Maryland
2013: Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)
2012: Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) Global Scholars Grant
2011: Korea Foundation Fellowship for Graduate Studies
2010: Korea Foundation Fellowship for Graduate Studies
2009: Prize for one of the best articles in the Korean Scholarship Foundation Journal
2008: Peace Studies Program Fellowship, Cornell University
2007: Robert J. Smith Fellowship in Japanese Studies, Cornell University
2005: Research Fellowship for Young Scientists, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)
2004: Matsushita International Foundation Fellowship
2003: Toyota Foundation Fellowship


I teach on the following modules

EAS1042 Understanding Korea 2
EAS365 The Two Koreas and their Neighbours

Teaching Philosophy

History is a “dialogue between the events of the past and progressively emerging future ends,” in the words of historian E.H. Carr, and my teaching aims to provide a critical way of understanding the past and envisioning the future in East Asia. Through a critical inquiry into the history of modern Korea and Korea-Japan relations, I work toward having students engage in the dialogue of history with key questions such as how to understand colonial experiences, what to learn from memories of wars, and how to envision multiple reconciliations in East Asia. Whether we are discussing issues about the “gray zone” of colonial collaboration and resistance or the legacies of the Japanese empire and the two catastrophic wars (World War II and the Korean War), I encourage students to view problems as neither peculiar nor unique to modern Korea and Korea-Japan relations.


Journal Articles

Choi, D. (2017) “Fighting the Korean War in Pacifist Japan: Korean and Japanese Leftist Solidarity and American Cold War Containment,” Critical Asian Studies, 49, 4, pp.546-568.

Choi, D. (2017) “Writing the ‘Empire’ Back into the History of Postwar Japan,” International Journal of Korean History, 22, 1, pp.1-10.

Choi, D. (2009) “Between Release and Compulsory Deportation: A Study on GHQ/SCAP’s Treatment of Korean ‘Illegal Entrants’ and the Control of Koreans in Japan during the Korean War” [崔 徳孝,釈放と強制送還のあいだ―朝鮮戦争勃発前後GHQ/SCAPによる朝鮮人〈不法入国者〉の処遇と在日朝鮮人管理の実践に関する一考察], Korean Scholarship Foundation Journal, 27, pp.83-96. (prize awarded)

Choi, D. (2004) “Wartime Mobilization and Zainichi Koreans,” Quadrante 6 (Institute for Foreign Affairs, The Tokyo University of Foreign Studies), pp.175-193.

Book Chapters

Choi, D. (2019) “Human Migrations and Social Interactions between the Empire’s Metropole and Colony at the Time of Decolonization: A Comparative Analysis of Japan and Europe,” [崔徳孝,帝国後の人の移動と旧宗主国・植民地間の相互作用―日本とヨーロッパの事例の比較から], Repatriation, Expatriation, and Remaining, edited by Araragi Shinzō (Nayoya University Press, 2019) [forthcoming].

Choi, D. (2017) “Defining Colonial ‘War Crimes’: Korean Debates on Collaboration, War Reparations, and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East,” in Debating Collaboration and Complicity in War Crimes Trials in Asia, 1945-1956, edited by Kerstin von Lingen (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), pp.41-58.

Choi, D. (2014) “‘Mindful of the Enslavement’: The Cairo Declaration, Korean Independence, and the Ambiguity of the Liberation of Koreans in Defeated Japan,” in The Significance and Effects of the Cairo Declaration, edited by Wu Se-hwa, Lu Fang-shang and Lin Yung-lo (Taipei: Chengchi University Press, pp.173-194.

Choi, D. (2005) “The Korean War and Koreans in Japan: Focusing on the Issue of Sending Volunteer Soldiers” [崔徳孝,朝鮮戦争と在日朝鮮人―義勇兵派遣の問題を中心に], Contemporary History of Korean and Japan: Envisaging Regional Coexistence in East Asia, edited by Dōjidaishi gakkai (Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Hyōronsha), pp.3-29.

Choi, D. (2005) “The formation of a ‘Counterrevolutionary’ Order and Koreans in Japan” [崔徳孝,「反革命」秩序の形成と在日朝鮮人] Unending Colonialism: Gender, Ethnicity/Nation, Race, Class, edited by Toshio Nakano (Tokyo: Seikyūsha), pp.95-114.

Choi, D. (2002) “The Legacy of Colonial System and Genocide” [崔徳孝,植民地体制の遺産と民間人虐殺] in Controversies over ‘Understandings of History,’ edited by Tetsuya Takahashi (Tokyo: Sakuhinsha), pp.170-171.

Other Publications

Choi, D. (2017) “The South Korean Interim Legislative Assembly and the Anti-Traitor Act in U.S.-Occupied Korea” [崔徳孝,米軍政下南朝鮮における〈親日派〉処罰法の制定の試みとその挫折], Annual Bulletin of the Global Exchange Organization for Research and Education, Gakushuin University, 3, pp.18-29.

Choi, D. (2004) “Koreans Living in the Former-Metropole and ‘Nation’” [최덕효, ‘구종주국’에 사는 조선인과 ‘민족’] Tangdae pip’yŏng 27, pp.199-207.

Choi, D. (2003) “Problematizing Colonial Responsibility” [崔徳孝,植民地支配の責任を問うために], War and Sexuality 19, pp.32-39.

Theses / Dissertations

Choi, D. (2013) Crucible of the Post-Empire: Decolonization, Race, and Cold War Politics in U.S.-Japan-Korea Relations, 1945-1952. Cornell University. (awarded the International Convention of Asia Scholars [ICAS] Best Dissertation Prize in the Humanities)