Hea Sue Kim

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Irvine, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10427

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Kim, Hea Sue (California, Irvine, U. of) "Making the “Korean Space Age”: Ecology of Outer Space Research in Naro island, South Korea"

This project is an ethnography of what South Korean president Moon called the ‘Korean Space Age.’ It examines how the Korean space agency’s physical presence on Naro island off the southwestern coast”also a significant site for the practice of shamanistic traditions”introduces new relations between scientists and shamans as they both constitute and mediate human connections to outer space. Naro, having been relatively marginal to South Korea’s rapid modernization and industrialization, is a fishing community and home to some nationally recognized shamans. With the space program underway, conflict over the use of ocean and the land are bringing different notions of outer space ‘ whether it refers to the space outside of Earth or the realms of the ancestors and gods ‘ into relief. Most notably, pollution from rocket launches is leading to political protests by fishermen and spiritual remediation by shamans. This research asks how scientific authority and infrastructure disrupts, and partakes in, placemaking as it shapes socialities and cosmologies in Naro island. At stake are which epistemological and cosmological frameworks ‘ scientific, shamanistic, or others ‘ structure human interaction with outer space, who benefits from access to outer space, and the meanings of national modernity and technoscientific progress.