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Journal Article

Between Engagement and Isolation: Population Genetics and Transnational Nationalism in South Korea


Hyun,  Jaehwan
Department Artifacts Action and Knowledge, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Max Planck Society;

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Hyun, J. (2020). Between Engagement and Isolation: Population Genetics and Transnational Nationalism in South Korea. Han'guk-kwahaksa-hakhoe-chi = Journal of the Korean History of Science Society, 42(2), 357-380. doi:10.36092/KJHS.2020.42.2.357.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-8B36-0
This paper examines the rise and fall of genetic research on the Korean population from the 1960s to the 1980s. The research program, which was mainly undertaken by Korean geneticists who worked at or graduated from the Department of Zoology, Seoul National University, was inherently nationalist in sentiment. Engaging with the recent literature in Cold War scientific collaboration in population genetics, this paper focuses on the role of transnational exchange in the shaping of this nationalist science in South Korea. It argues that the dynamics of opportunistic collaboration of the Korean geneticists with foreign researchers over three decades was one of the crucial factors in the emergence and eclipse of the research program. This study will contribute to the previous literature by illuminating the marginal nature of Korean geneticists’ collaboration and their ambivalent attitudes towards collaboration, and suggesting the needs to pay more attention to the multidimensional aspects of trans-national exchange during that period.