Hong Yung Lee Book Award in Korean Studies

The Center for Korean Studies (CKS) at UC Berkeley is pleased to announce the establishment of the Hong Yung Lee Book Award in Korean Studies. Inaugurated in 2022 to honor the late Professor Hong Yung Lee, the Award acknowledges books (and authors) that make significant contributions to the field of Korean Studies. The competition is flexible in regards to academic discipline, and encompasses not only the conventional areas of Korean Studies (i.e., humanities, arts and media, and social sciences) but also Korean Studies texts that engage the Korean diaspora and/or comparative approaches. $10,000 will be awarded each year to the author(s) whose nonfiction English-language academic monograph demonstrates outstanding scholarly merit, research prowess, and methodological innovation. This book award was launched with the generous support of Whakyung Choi Lee.

Submission Deadlines and Details

2024 Competition Deadline: January 15, 2024

Eligibility: Korean Studies Books published in 2022 and 2023

Who Can Submit: Publishers or Authors

How to Submit: Send a digital version of the book (if available) by email to anjinsoo@berkeley.edu and/or a physical copy to the following address for consideration:

Hong Yung Lee Book Award in Korean Studies
c/o Jinsoo An
Center for Korean Studies
University of California, Berkeley
1995 University Avenue, Room 510R
Berkeley, CA 94704-2318

Review Process: All submissions will undergo a preliminary review by the Koreanist faculty at UC Berkeley. Subsequently, the Center for Korean Studies will form an independent external review committee composed of representatives from the field of Korean Studies outside UC Berkeley to review and assess the finalists’ books and select the winner.

The result will be announced in the fall of 2024, followed by an award ceremony featuring a special lecture by the awardee(s)’s and an invited scholar respondent’s presentation at the Center for Korean Studies at UC Berkeley.

Inquiries may be directed to: anjinsoo@berkeley.edu

Sonia Ryang

Language and Truth in North Korea
University of Hawai'i Press, 2021
Professor Sonia Ryang (Rice University)

In this innovative and persuasive volume, Sonia Ryang offers new ways to think about North Korea and how truth emerges over decades from within a dominant discourse. It explores four discrete yet mutually related domains of discourse: North Korea’s literary purge of the 1950s–1960s; its state-initiated linguistic reforms of the 1960s–1980s; stories from a people’s chronicle, more than one hundred volumes in length, documenting interactions with the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung; and the multivolume memoirs of the Great Leader himself, published in the 1990s. These texts are heterogeneous in terms of authorship, style, purpose, and genre, and many have never before been explored in Anglophone studies of North Korea. All have contributed to consolidating a North Korean regime of truth, bringing into existence a set of assumptions and shared understandings that have been regarded as true over the last half century.

Basing her work on a study of these linguistic and discursive domains, Ryang explores the ways in which power, truth, and self are indissolubly connected by function as well as efficacy and how language plays a key role in sustaining their validity. The Kim Il Sung era, from 1945 to Kim’s death in 1994, forms the basis of the book, but the way truth emerged and was sustained during these decades provide important insight into how we can comprehend North Korea today. Rather than view the country as an ideological entity in order to expose its falsehood, so to speak, thinking critically about what it sees as true yields a far more productive outcome for scholarly analysis as well as general understanding.

Language and Truth in North Korea will find a ready audience among those interested in North Korea from a wide variety of disciplines, including the social sciences, history, philosophy, and theology.

Prior Award Winners


Language and Truth in North Korea
University of Hawai’i Press, 2021
Professor Sonia Ryang (Rice University)


Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea: Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday
Columbia University Press, 2021
Professor Ksenia Chizhova (Princeton University)

About Prof. Hong Yung Lee

The late Prof. Hong Yung Lee (1939-2017) taught political science at Yale University and UC Berkeley. As Chair of the Center for Korean Studies in the formative years from the 1990s into the 2000s, he had a profound impact on the development of Korean Studies at UC Berkeley. He was also the first tenured Korean faculty member in the social sciences hired by the university. A scholar of comparative studies of East Asian politics and culture, Prof. Lee wrote numerous landmark articles about Korea in the English, Korean, and Chinese languages in addition to ground-breaking monographs about Chinese politics such as The Politics of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and From Revolutionary Cadres to Party Technocrats in Socialist China. A more detailed remembrance of Prof. Lee's life and work can be found here.