Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Asst Prof Lee Sang Joon

Assistant Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information

Asst Prof Lee Sang Joon

Sangjoon Lee is a historian of Asian cinema whose interests span the Cultural Cold War, International Film Festivals in Asia, South Korean cinema and popular culture, and the Asian film industries. Sangjoon Lee joined the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in January 2015 as Assistant Professor specializing in Asian Cinema. Sangjoon holds a PhD from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in Cinema Studies in 2011 and an MA in Cinema and Media Studies from University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2005. Prior to joining NTU, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures and Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the Department of Film and Theatre at Dankook University, South Korea. Sangjoon was a visiting assistant professor at the Australian National University in 2018. At NTU, Sangjoon teaches classes on film festivals, South Korean cinema, Chinese-language cinemas, film industries in Asia, and Hollywood.
Research Interests
Sangjoon’s first book Cinema and the Cultural Cold War: US Cultural Diplomacy and the Origins of the Asian Cinema Network (Cornell University Press, 2020) explores the ways in which postwar Asian cinema was shaped by transnational collaborations and competitions between newly independent and colonial states at the height of Cold War politics. Sangjoon elucidates how motion picture executives, creative personnel, policymakers, and intellectuals in East and Southeast Asia aspired to industrialize their Hollywood-inspired system in order to expand the market and raise the competitiveness of their cultural products. Sangjoon’s two edited volumes examine South Korea’s cinema and pop culture. In 2015, he co-edited Hallyu 2.0: The Korean Wave in the Age of Social Media (University of Michigan Press) with Markus Nornes that investigates the impact of social media and other communication technologies on the global dissemination of the Korean Wave. In 2019, Sangjoon published his second edited volume Rediscovering Korean Cinema (University of Michigan Press) which is the first comprehensive volume examining the state, stakes, and future direction of Korean cinema studies. This collection of thirty-five essays by a wide range of academic specialists situates current scholarship on Korean cinema within the ongoing theoretical debates in contemporary global film studies. Sangjoon has also guest-edited three special issues - Reorienting Asian Cinema in the Age of the Chinese Film Market (Screen, 2019), “The Chinese Film Industry: Emerging Debates” (Journal of Chinese Cinemas, 2019), and “Transmedia and East Asian Cinema” (Asian Cinema, 2020). Sangjoon is the recipient of the Jay Leyda Award for Academic Excellence (2011) and the David H. Culbert Prize for the Best Article in Film and Media History by an Established Scholar (2019). His works have been translated into Korean, Japanese, and Italian.

Future Projects

Sangjoon is currently working on two books – 1) his second book that will explore how South Korean cinema during the Cold War was influenced by the regional and trans-regional network with diasporic Sinophone cinemas of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, and 2) his third edited volume Asian Cinema and the Cultural Cold War which will be the first attempt to resuscitate the forgotten history of Asia, and reveal an important piece in the larger history of the cultural, political, and institutional linkages between the US, Europe, and Asia during the Cold War.
Current Projects
  • 'U.S. Propaganda and the Cultural Cold War in Asia
  • Border Crossings in Celluloid Asia: South Korea’s Encounter with Sinophone Cinemas in Southeast Asia
  • Constructing the Cold War Film Festival: The Asia Foundation, FPA, and the Cultural Cold War in Asia
Selected Publications
  • Sangjoon Lee. (2019). The South Korean film industry and the Chinese film market. Screen (Oxford), 60(2), 332-341.
  • Lee Sang Joon. (2018). From The Committee for a Free Asia to The Asia Foundation: CIA, Cinema, and the Cultural Cold War in Asia. Korean Studies, , 49-84.
  • Sangjoon Lee. (2017). Destination Hong Kong: The Geopolitics of South Korean Espionage Films in the 1960s. The Journal of Korean Studies, 22(2), 343-364.
  • sangjoon lee. (2017). The Asia Foundation’s Motion Picture Project and the Cultural Cold War in Asia. Film History, 29(2), 108-137.
  • Sangjoon Lee. (2016). Creating an anti-communist motion picture producers’ network in Asia: the Asia Foundation, Asia Pictures, and the Korean Motion Picture Cultural Association. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, .

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