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Hayana Kim (she/her)

PhD Candidate in Theatre and Drama

Hayana Kim (she/her)

What I am really proud of is that I overcame my own fears and pushed myself to try myself out regardless.”

Hayana Kim is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama (IPTD). Her dissertation, entitled “Embodying Democracies: The Gwangju Uprising and the Politics of Mourning in South Korea,” focuses on contemporary South Korean women’s artistic and activist performances in service of democracy. Her work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Social Science Research Council, American Council of Learned Societies, Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, The Graduate School, and the School of Communication. She is the recipient of the IFTR’s Helsinki Prize (2021), ATHE/AAP’s Emerging Scholar Award (2020), and ATHE/PSFG’s Emerging Scholar Award (2017). Three publications based on her research have appeared in Asian Theatre Journal and in edited collections published with the Cambridge University Press (in English) and the Chonnam National University (in Korean).

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?
My research examines a cultural history of advancing democracy in South Korea. It draws on lots of archival research and ethnographic fieldwork as I offer illustrations of various aesthetic and social performances. Examples include street protests, memorial rites in a graveyard, theatre productions on stage, and live TV public hearings.

What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns of your career?
Every turn during my time at Northwestern has been memorable. Examples abound: the moment when I passed my quals, when I taught my own class for the first time, when I got my first dissertation fellowship, when I embarked on my field research in Korea, when I submitted the very first draft of my dissertation chapter. These moments that have accrued in time led me to be who I am today. Every step was a challenge but was so worthwhile. These moments teach me how a little progress each day and each year adds up to big results.

Tell us what inspired your research and/or work.
Too many things to name: my interlocutors in Korea, my brilliant friends and colleagues who support me not only intellectually but also emotionally, and my adviser who shows unwavering support for me even when I have doubts about myself.

What is a mistake you have learned from in your career?
It took me years to learn that writing is essentially a process of revision. I used to waste a lot of time trying to come up with the perfect sentence in my first draft. This is not the case anymore. I let myself write haphazardly and move forward from there, believing in the magic of revision. And it works!

How do you unwind after a long day?
I take a hot shower. It feels so good, almost euphoric to me. I even get immensely grateful for whoever invented water pipes and found ways to provide hot water whenever we need it. For me hot water is a miracle of civilization. I get more dazzled by hot water than by, for example, an iPhone or Space X. A hot shower is the best!

What are you most proud of in your career to date?
I got multiple fellowships and grants. I also got multiple awards. My first peer review journal article came out just a few months ago. As much as I am proud of these tangible accomplishments, I am also proud, more than anything, that I worked really hard. There were lots of moments when I thought I could never get any of these. They felt simply unattainable, so I was tempted not to try in the first place. So, what I am really proud of is that I overcame my own fears and pushed myself to try myself out regardless. This, I think, is the most invaluable habit of mind that I got to develop during my time at Northwestern.

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