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Sagrada Familia, Barcelona 2016

An interdisciplinary thinker of media history/ecology, technological cultures, and urbanism in Asian and global context. A keen observer, an idealist, and a dedicated advocate of public arts, humanities, and social sciences.


I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an Emerging Voices Fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)

My research explores the history and politics of "smart" urban environments that are reconfiguring the discourses and material practices around our everyday built environment. While these digital developments are often presented as the "solution to the problems," my research investigates how and why those problems are considered "problematic" in the first place, how those problems are historically and socioculturally composed, what long terms concerns about security, economy, health, and well-being are integrated in the problems that are supposedly "new," and asks if/how those solutions adequately address the said problems. For instance, while "security" is often invoked as the central design principle of the smart cities, "insecurity" is constantly required in their operation, which is evident at various levels: including the media portrayal of the cities imagined as crime-ridden and dangerous place; the technologies developed to detect and visualize "anomalies"; the citizens who internalize the responsibilities to protect and defend themselves from risks. Blending these multiple contexts of technology, I argue that the smart city is not simply an idea or a prototype of the technology that sharply ruptures the present. Instead, it is an emergence out of multiple histories and problematizations that are contingently interweaved at a given time and space in multiple and diffused forms.    

I earned my Ph.D. in Communication and Media from the Institute of Communications Research (ICR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). I received a Ph.D. Scholarship from the Ilju Academy and Culture Foundation (South Korea), a Dissertation Completion Fellowship from UIUC, and an Honorable Mention from the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)-Urban Communication Foundation (UCF)'s Annual Research Grant

Prior to my doctoral work, I completed both my M.A. and B.A. in Communication from Seoul National University. I am a former visiting research fellow at the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo and a former research associate at the Research Unit in Public Cultures at the University of Melbourne.   

Selected Texts

See also Publications

Current Projects

See also Research

  • Remapping Songdo: A Genealogy of Smart City and Its Media is a book project based on my fieldwork in Songdo, known as South Korea's first "smart" city. I trace the long history of Songdo from the vantage point of South Korean urban and media history in the twentieth century.        

  • Viral Urbanism and COVID-19 focuses on the array of data-driven "smart" health surveillance technologies that are used to contain the spread of the virus, particularly attending to the different perceptions, uses, and responses around contact tracing technologies across different cultures (South Korea and the US).