In 1989 I first visited South Korea on an exchange program for university students organised by the Korean Student Christian Federation and the Australian Student Christian Movement. I returned to Korea as an international student in January 1992 and studied Korean language at Yonsei University and Ewha Womans University.

In 1997 I returned to South Korea as a PhD student, observed first hand the General Strike in winter of that year and in 1998 studied at Seoul National University and at the Labor Academy at Sungkonghoe University.

I received my PhD in East Asian Studies from the ANU in 2004 with a thesis entitled The Labour and Literature of Korean Factory Girls. In 2004-5 I was postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Japanese and Korean Studies at the University of Sydney and in 2006-7 I was Visiting Assistant Professor in the History Department at the University of Minnesota. I came to the ANU in June 2007.

I go to Korea every winter and am on the editorial board of the journal of the Korean Association of Women's History and am an international corresponding member of the Korean Association for Feminist Literature.

I was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Korean Studies, Columbia University 2013-14 and 2017. In 2018 I was a National Library of Australia Fellow working on my new biographical history Red Glamour: Korea's Early Communist Women.

Research Interest

I have broad interests in labour history, gender studies, literary translation and biography. My next book Red Glamour: Korea's Early Communist Women, co-authored with Professor Jiseung Roh, is contracted with Columbia University Press and Humanitas for simultaneous release in English and in Korean. 

My book Factory Girl Literature: Sexuality, Violence and Representation in Industrializing Korea was published by University of California Press in 2012. The book is about the factory girls who generated Korea’s industrial revolution while at the same time cherished ambitions to be writers, novelists and poets. In July 2017 Factory Girl Literature translated by Professors Kim Won and Jiseung Roh was published in Korea by Humanitas Press. It spent 20 straight weeks on the history bestseller list and was nominated for the President's summer reading list by South Korea's leading book and newspaper editors.

Earlier collective book projects include Gender and Labour in Korea and Japan: Sexing Class, co-edited with Elyssa Faison, Routledge 2009 and Red Love Across the Pacific, co-edited with Paula Rabinowitz and Heather Bowen-Struyk, Palgrave 2015.