In 2016, the Centre for Chinese Studies’ “Initiating Korean Studies Programme in Africa” was selected as one of the “Seed Programs for Korean Studies” by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS). The AKS supports one of the Centre’s initiatives, Building Asian literacy in Africa, through various programmes from 2016 to 2019. This support will enable the Centre to significantly expand its research capacity on Korea and Korea-Africa relations and contribute to facilitating deeper understanding between Korea and Africa.

Lecture Series l Korean Pop Culture


  • Documentary     Us & Them: Korean Indie Rock in a K-pop world (2014)
  • Date       Tuesday, 20 February 2018
  • Time       16:00 – 17:00
  • Venue    Library Auditorium
  • Title of lecture      Recent images of North Korea in South Korean popular culture
  • Speaker  Professor Stephen J Epstein, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • Date         Wednesday, 21 February 2018
  • Time         12:30 – 13:30
  • Venue      Room 648, Arts and Social Sciences Building, Stellenbosch University

In recent years, South Korea has experienced significant changes in popular discourse about the North. Until the advent of the Sunshine Policy, Southern portraits of North Koreans had been largely monochromatic, treating counterparts across the 38th Parallel as evil Communists or brainwashed automatons. From the turn of the millennium, though, previously unimaginable depictions of North Korea and North Koreans emerged. In this talk, Stephen Epstein will discuss such striking recent trends in South Korean popular culture as films that feature North Korean spies as sympathetically treated protagonists and television shows that feature North Korean defectors in order to illuminate how South Korea collectively imagines its estranged sibling, a nation that regularly commands the world’s attention.

Bio of speaker: Associate Professor Stephen J Epstein is the Director of the Asian Languages & Cultures Programme at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, and served as the 2013-14 President of the New Zealand Asian Studies Society. He has published widely on contemporary Korean society, literature and popular culture and translated numerous pieces of Korean and Indonesian fiction. He has also co-produced two documentaries on the Korean indie music scene, Us & Them: Korean Indie Rock in a K-pop world (2014) and Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community (2002).

2018 AKS Postgraduate Scholarship

________400x400The Academy of Korean Studies supports postgraduate students in the writing stages of a Master’s thesis (or an honour’s thesis based on exceptionally outstanding academic achievement and potential) on issues relating to Korea . The fund is available to candidates for the 2018 academic year. The submission deadline for applicants is 3 November 2017 for funding in 2018.


  • Candidates must be at least in the third year or the final year of their Honour’s degrees when they apply for the Scholarship.
  • They must already have been admitted to their studies at Stellenbosch University.
  • Their thesis topic must be aligned to Korea or the Korea-Africa relationship.

How to apply

The following (in English) must be submitted:

  • Cover letter (max. 1 page)
  • CV (max. 1 page including name and contact information of one reference)
  • Research Proposal (max. 2 pages)
  • Academic transcripts (BA and Honours degrees)


Centre for Chinese Studies (

Seminar Series l Afrasian Women’s Solidarity: Korean ‘comfort women’ and Congolese survivors of sexual violence in armed conflict


  • Title          Afrasian Women’s Solidarity: Korean ‘comfort women’ and Congolese survivors of sexual violence in armed conflict
  • Speaker  Yonson Ahn,  Professor & Director of Korean Studies, Goethe-University of Frankfurt
  • Date         Thursday, 14 September 2017
  • Time        12:30 – 13:30
  • Venue     Room 648, Arts and Social Sciences Building, Stellenbosch University

This study investigates issues of transregional women’s activism in dealing with sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in armed conflicts by victims/survivors and advocacy members in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Korea (ROK). This study will show a micro and civil level of African-Asian encounters and interactions. Since 2012, solidarity through correspondences have been formed and visits have been made, and have been maintained between eastern Congolese and South Korean victims/survivors of sexual violence during times of armed conflicts. The Korean group is the “comfort women” survivors who were forced into sexual servitude for the Japanese forces during WWII, and the Congolese counterparts are victims of sexual violence perpetrated by armed groups operating in eastern Congo since the mid 1990s.

The following questions are explored in this study:
· What made the interactions and solidarity between the DRC and ROK victims/survivors across regions possible?
· Does this transregional activism, in dealing with sexual and gender-based violence in conflict, reveal power dynamics, especially between the donor and the recipient countries?
· What are some of the challenges of transregional women’s activism?

Finally, this paper will look for a possibility of building sustainable transregional women’s activism

AFRASO Lecture by Yejoo Kim l The Two Koreas and Africa in the 21st Century


At the end of May 2016, South Korean President Park Geun-hye paid her first official state visit to Africa, visiting Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. While South Korea’s relationship with Africa today is largely understood in terms of resource diplomacy, a rivalry with North Korea persists – highlighted during President Park’s recent visit. This talk discusses how the two Koreas have made inroads in Africa, while simultaneously fending off each other. Despite competition for influence, both Koreas have faced challenges in their attempts to export their respective ideologies and developmental models to the continent. North Korea’s Juche, once successful in dissemination to allies in the Third World, is now the quaint preserve of the deeply isolated “Hermit Kingdom”. Similarly, South Korea’s export of its developmental model to Africa is merely one tree in a forest – with competition (rather than cooperation) with China and other emerging countries that also wish to boost their partnerships with African states.


CCS Research fellow Dr Yejoo Kim gives a lecture at the Department of Korean Studies, Goethe University Frankfurt & AFRASO (Africa’s Asian Options) on 14 June 2017.  [Click Here For More Information]

Seminar Series l ‘Soft, Hard or Smart? North Korea’s Relation with Power’

  • Speaker     Dr Virginie Grzelczyk (Aston University, UK)
  • Date            19 May 2017
  • Time           13:00-14:00
  • Venues      JS Gericke Library Auditorium

Click  here for more information.

North Korea is notable for its political and economic isolation, yet the Korea Central News Agency’s daily editions are filled with articles outlining nations’ admiration for Pyongyang and its leader. What is the nature of these relationships? Do they matter in our understanding and appraisal of North Korea’s foreign policy? Could North Korea be trying to establish itself as an exemplary toward other developing countries? Could it be that Pyongyang is now actively promoting soft power as an integral part of, not only its survival, but its development strategy too? While scholarship on North Korea tends to focus on Pyongyang’s ‘high profile’ relations with China and Russia or with nations seeking weapons of mass destruction and thus engaging into ‘rogue collusion’, very little attention has indeed been paid to how the DPRK engages in peaceful diplomacy with the outside world. This presentation will examine the notion of hard, soft, sticky and smart power by focusing on current DPRK rhetoric and developing partnerships with both states and non-state actors. It suggests that the DPRK has started to pursue a strategy of diplomatic diversification, suggesting a more sophisticated understanding of power which has been overlooked in much work on the country.