Alexander Martin

Alex Martin's research area of interest is military structure and service in early nineteenth-century Korea. His dissertation will examine attitudes toward the military as an institution from the start of King Sunjo's reign to the ascendence of King Kojong, approximately 1800 to 1863. Recent research focused on the production of an eighteenth-century military manual, the Illustrated Compendium of Martial Arts (Muye tobo t’ongji), and what this document says about late Chosŏn Korea’s perception of the military.


Prior to beginning at Penn, he studied at the University of Washington where he received a Masters degree in International Studies in 2013. His focus there was modern Korea. Research included examining how North and South Korea diverge in their representation of historical figures and the impact such divergence could have on potential unification. He also examined Sino-North Korean relations, particularly China’s investments in its northeast along the border with the DPRK.  While at the University of Washington he received two FLAS awards for Korean language and the Long Fellowship for Korean studies.

Before returning to academia Alex studied and taught martial arts and yoga for over ten years with the intention of opening a martial arts school. During this time he spent two years living and teaching in Korea. Originally from Chicago, he has lived in Gwangju, South Korea, Los Angeles, London, and Seattle.

Office Hours
MW 2:00PM-3:30PM

BA Columbia College Chicago (2002)

MAIS University of Washingtion (2013)

PhD University of Pennsylvania (2019)

Research Interests

19th Century Korea, Military history, Diffusion of ideas and technology