I am a historian and lecturer specializing in Korean dress and textile history in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Born and raised in South Korea, I received my Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctorate from Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea. My doctoral dissertation was on the “Dress History of the Balhae Dynasty (698-926).”
From 1993 to 1998, I served as a full-time lecturer for the Department of Fashion Design at Jeonju Kijeon College. I was also an adjunct faculty member for the Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Fashion Design at Seoul National University from 1996 to 2000 and consulted as a costume historian for museum exhibitions at the War Memorial of Korea in 1998, the Seoul National University Museum, and the National Folk Museum in 2000.
In 2000 I moved to the United States to join my husband and start a family. After nearly a decade of raising my children, I resumed my career in 2013 with a series of lectures co-hosted by the Korean Cultural Center and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, including my lecture, “The History and Philosophy of Korean Costume: Design, Structure, Rank, and Fashion.” The lectures were presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Looking East: Rubens’ Encounter with Asia” (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013).
I was re-connected to my field thanks to many phenomenal leaders and institutions inviting me to share Korean costume and textile history. To name a few: Deborah Nadoolman Landis (David C. Copley Center for Costume Design in UCLA), Mei Mei Rado (then in Bard Graduate Center and now in Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Kyunghee Pyun and Yuniya Kawamura (Fashion Institute of Technology in New York), Rachel Kinnard (Chapman University), Catherine Cerny (Textile Arts Council of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco), and Hyonjeong Kim Han (then in Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and now in Denver Art Museum).
In the U.S., Korean dress, fashion, and textile history have been little explored compared to those from other Asian countries. But interest in these subjects has been growing exponentially among the young generations with the rise of Korean popular culture in the twenty-first century digital era. Today Korean culture has moved beyond the national boundary. It is time for primary sources to be opened for global researchers to reconsider, re-examine, and re-evaluate their meanings in the broader scope of history. In this regard, I am excited to join the Tracing Patterns Foundation team as a research associate and look forward to contributing my knowledge and network to this inspiring organization.
See more of my activities at www.kimminjee.com.