Javier Cha

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Medieval City of Rhodes

I’m an assistant professor of East Asian Studies in the College of Liberal Studies at Seoul National University. Prior to moving to South Korea, I worked in the Netherlands and Hong Kong.

My academic training is in the intellectual history of medieval and early modern Korea. My PhD research at Harvard University explained the social, philosophical, and geopolitical factors that contributed to Korea’s adoption of the Confucian tradition. A more detailed outline of my indulgence in Korea’s distant past is available here.

I am also a committed practitioner of experimenting with computational methods in historical research. My current project in digital history involves the discovery of unidentified assemblages using the agnatic and affinal data of 60,000 individuals and the automated classification of 200 million characters of early modern Korean writing. In addition to data analysis, I plan to conduct anthropological history (in the Annales tradition) in a way that captures local knowledge using high-resolution photographs, audio, and drone footage.

On the contemporary side, I am a committed observer of South Korea’s ICT sector and ongoing digital revolution. I am fascinated by South Korea’s spectacular and unexpected transformation from a low-wage manufacturing economy to a major player in consumer electronics, telecommunication, and R&D. However, I recognize that not every aspect of South Korea in the 21st century is rosy. I am deeply concerned about issues such as income inequality, population aging, automation of labor, and dependence on large conglomerates. I provide a historian’s perspective to South Korea’s hopeful and worrisome prospects, through which I try to gain some insights into life after Fordism and fossil-fuel economy.

In graduate school, I spent a lot of time (too much time) reading popular psychology. For those visitors who are familiar with MBTI and Enneagram, I am an ENFP 4w5. No, I don’t believe in zodiac signs.

I travel a lot. Few things in life I find more delightful than encountering new cultures and, especially, trying new types of cuisine. I am a frequent flyer of Asiana Airlines with Diamond Plus status, and, in 2017, I was selected as one of 21 Star Alliance Mileage  Millionaire Competition winners.

My Instagram mostly consists of useless food porn and some decent travel photos: @javiercha.


Banteay Srei, Cambodia

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