Yookyeong Im

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Harvard U.

Grant number

Gr. 9860

Approve Date

May 1, 2019

Project Title

Im, Yookyeong (Harvard U.) "Order and Emancipation: Judicial Activism in South Korean Queer Movements"

This research examines the relation between law and sexuality in South Korea by studying how they mutually affect each other in contemporary queer movements. Many queer activists recognize that legal protection is not a panacea. Nevertheless, legal agendas have increasingly become central in queer politics in the past decade. This phenomenon is part of the broader societal trend in Korea and many other regions that law emerged as the most powerful language of politics. In a unique context where contesting desires for institutional protection and fluid emancipation coexist, the proposed study investigates how certain ideas and practices of the ‘law’ inform changing ideals of queer emancipation. It also examines how queer movement’s specific engagements with law affect legal ideologies in South Korea. By addressing these questions, this project aims to illuminate the question of order in Korean politics. Toward this end, I will conduct fifteen months of ethnographic research mainly in Seoul, where most queer rights organizations are located. Collected data will cover public discourses, political performances such as street protests and court hearings, the process of legal knowledge production regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and activists’ educational practice such as workshops and lectures.