Dr. Seung-hwan Shin is a visiting assistant professor in the department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (EALL). Professor Shin holds a Ph.D. in English/Film Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and has served as part-time faculty at Pitt for the past six years. Recently we sat down with Dr. Shin to learn a little more about his passion for Korean studies and film.
What led you to the University of Pittsburgh, and what are you most looking forward to in your new visiting professor position?
I have taught at Pitt for more than six years. I truly love teaching at Pitt. Students are smart, and I enjoy watching my students gain new perspectives and understanding of Korean society. I am looking forward to having more opportunities to engage with more students and colleagues.
What first inspired you to study film?
I entered the University of Pittsburgh as a literature student in 2003 from Seoul, South Korea. My undergraduate major was Comparative Literature. I wanted to Study Literary Theory but switched to Cinema once I discovered my inspiration for film from South Korean cinema directors. They deeply inspired me to investigate my own feelings toward film’s societal implications.
What classes are you teaching?
In the fall, I taught two courses: World of Korea and Fourth Year Korean advanced language course. In World of Korea-Past and Present, I discussed Korean culture, history, and media. In Fourth Year Korean I did not simply teach linguistics. I taught in a manner for my students to gain understanding of Korean history and culture. Therefore, my students had the opportunity to read newspaper articles and novels, as well as watch Korean films and write reviews on local Korean restaurants.
What is a distinct feature of Korean culture that you hope students will gain from your teaching ?
I would like to focus on Korean culture in general by discussing hallyu, the global musical lyrics of K-Pop (Korean Pop).The literal translation of hallyu in Korean is “the Korean way.” In many countries consumers of K-Pop have very little knowledge of Korean culture or consumerism. What consumers of K-Pop want to see in hallyu is not something about South Korea. The global lyrics of hallyu relate more to significant changes in many societies in relation to pop culture and how they perceive the world currently. Consumers are more open to new categories and new trends so there are many reasons why people all over the world consume K-Pop.
The main focus of your research places film as gateway into society’s political and historical portrayals and their implications. Can you share any research you are working on now ?
I am currently analyzing the director’s cinema who inspired me long ago and expand my interest into other areas such as North Korean cinema. I helped to organize the North Korean Film Festival. By focusing on North Korean cinema, I hope we can begin to change the direction of conversation and add vibrancy with more balance perspective of North Korean society.
Any hobbies you would like to share?
My current hobby is raising my new born baby boy. It is challenging but at the end of day I can smile knowing that I have a gorgeous son. It is definitely a positive new chapter in my life.
Thank you Dr. Shin for chatting with us!