Investigating "Security Roads": Southeast Asia and South Korea's Nascent Construction Industry

Colloquium | November 5 | 12-2 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 John P. DiMoia, Seoul National University

 Center for Korean Studies (CKS)

Talk Abstract:

This talk considers South Korea’s relationship to Southeast Asia through the pair of Thailand and South Vietnam, looking at the “new” relationships formed in the aftermath of the Korean War. With diplomatic ties restored in the mid to late 1950s, the ROK began to make inquiries while pursuing infrastructure projects, often connecting with the same pool of international contractors who had previously assisted with post-Korean War recovery. Hyundai attempted to intervene in the Thai northeast in the early 1960s with the building of Thai airfields. For Vietnam, the context would subsequently become famous as the site for numerous Korean projects, with the first civic actions dating to late 1964. This talk takes up the conjoined questions of technical aid / learning, recognizing here a shared economic community, with common defense interests. The learning experience, especially that taking place in Thailand, is often neglected as a basis for South Korea’s skill acquisition and the formation of its early developmental impulses.

About the Speaker:

John P. DiMoia is Associate Professor of Korean History at Seoul National University (SNU). where his research / classes focus on (1) the broader history of technology (esp. in Korea, EA, 18th century-present), (2) the history of medicine (tropical, global, 18th century-present), and (3) Modern Korea (mid-19th century-present). He holds a Ph.D. in the History of Science (HOS) from Princeton University (2007), and has previously taught in Japan (Kanagawa University), Singapore (NUS), and the United States.

He is working on two new projects: the first of these is a book on energy issues in NE Asia and the Korean peninsula, centering in particular on the decision by South Korea to develop control over its built environments in the late 1960s, and tentatively titled “Korea’s Nuclear Century.”

The second, an edited volume, "Engineering Asia," a project jointly co-edited with Associate Profs. Hiromi Mizuno (University of Minnesota)and Aaron S Moore (Arizona State), linking NE (Japan, S Korea) and SE Asia (Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam) after 1945 in terms of construction and infrastructure has just been published by Bloomsbury (August 2018).

In addition to the first book, he has published essays and reviews in Cross-Currents (UC Press), EASTS (Duke), Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (UC Press), Technology & Culture (JHU) and Theory, Culture and Society (Sage), among others.