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Standing Faculty

Eugene Y. Park

Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History
Director, James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies


Eugene ParkProfessor Eugene Y. Park specializes in the sociopolitical history of Korea, especially from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century. He is currently working on his third monograph, Fallen Royals: The Kaesŏng Wang in Chosŏn Korea, 1392–1910 (title tentative), which examines positions occupied by the descendants of Koryŏ dynasty in Chosŏn politics and society. Besides analyzing the 1394 massacre of hundreds, if not thousands, of former royals by the Chosŏn government from various angles, Park traces the plight of survivors and their descendants as they assumed roles as state-appointed ritual heirs of the Koryŏ royal house, scholar-officials, local aristocrats, physicians, soldiers, and merchants. More than just a study of dynastic change in late medieval Eurasia and its repercussion in the early modern era, this book will also narrate a story of human interest.     

In more general terms, much of Park’s research concerns the continuities and breaks of Korea’s experience across the conventionally recognized divide of the Open Port period. He is especially interested in the institutions that organized and gave meaning to early modern society and how they changed during the encounter with Western imperialism. He has published two monographs, A Family of No Prominence: The Descendants of Pak Tŏkhwa and the Birth of Modern Korea (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014) and Between Dreams and Reality: The Military Examination in Late Chosŏn Korea, 1600–1894 (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007). Park has also published a dozen refereed articles and edited volume chapters, including “Old Status Trappings in a New World: The ‘Middle People’ (Chungin) and Genealogies in Modern Korea” (Journal of Family History, 2013) and “Status and ‘Defunct’ Offices in Early Modern Korea: The Case of Five Guards Generals (Owijang), 1864–1910” (Journal of Social History, 2008). Overall fascinated by origins, connections, and representations, he also has a longstanding interest in genetics, primatology, genealogy, and portraiture.

Park was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in southern California. After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles as a History major (1991), he studied at Harvard University where he received his M.A. in Regional Studies East Asia (1993) and Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations (1999). He taught at the University of California, Irvine from 2000 to 2009 before joining the University of Pennsylvania faculty in 2009 and serving as the director of James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies. He has received grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Program, Korea Foundation, Seoul National University Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies, and Yale University Council on East Asian Studies. Each year, he also teaches as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Seoul National University’s International Summer Institute.

Courses Taught (As Schedule Allows)

For current course listings, consult the Course Directory.

  • HIST 005 East Asia: Past and Present
  • HIST 098 Introduction to Korean Civilization
  • HIST 121 Modern Korea
  • HIST 206 Korea’s Military Tradition
  • HIST 230 Genes and Human History
  • HIST 630 Readings in Korean History

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Between Dreams and Reality: The Military Examination in Late Chosŏn Korea, 1600–1894 A Family of No Prominence