How Sunah Lee’s Research Portfolio Reflects a Commitment to Social Justice

Written by Alyssa Diaz

Sunah Lee, a doctoral candidate and graduate assistant at the School of Communication, is conducting research that has a profound impact on current social issues. Her research illuminates relevant facets of South Korean culture by examining feminist movements, media privatization and gender portrayal in the media.

Lee’s study covers a wide range of subjects, including an in-depth examination of the feminist hashtag movement in South Korea, which demonstrates how digital activism is upending long-standing gender stereotypes. Her analysis of the #Women_Short Cut Campaign exposes the prejudices against women who contradict stereotypes, which was especially pronounced during the 2020 Olympics. Her examination of the privatization of a semi-public TV news channel in South Korea also indicates political pressures on media, emphasizing the critical role labor unions play in preserving journalistic independence.

“My professional background in the South Korean TV industry has shaped my research agenda,” said Lee. “I understand how individual journalists struggle as much as they want to thrive. I hope my research contributes to the betterment of the media industry as a whole,” she added.

“I hope my exploration of feminist movements and gender depictions in mass media facilitates and sparks conversations on how every aspect of women’s bodies and appearance has been influenced and shaped by stereotypes and prejudice,” said Lee.

Lee’s academic achievements extend beyond her research. She presented her work at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in 2021 and, this year, will be presenting at the same conference for the third time. At the 2024 conference, she will present virtually in Gold Coast, Australia. Additionally, Lee will be at the Inaugural Conference of the Korean American Communication Association.

In the future, Lee hopes to explore gender issues in journalism more thoroughly in an effort to highlight the perspectives of female journalists. In order to improve the present body of work dominated by Western academics, she aims to broaden the focus of journalism study, with a special emphasis on Korean media.