Hyeok Hweon Kang

Hyeok Hweon Kang

Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures
PhD, Harvard University
research interests:
  • early modern Korea and East Asia
  • history of science and technology
  • material culture
  • global history

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    MSC 1111-107-115
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Professor Kang is a historian of early modern Korea, with research and teaching interests in the history of science, the history of technology, and global material culture.

Kang’s current book project examines the rise of “vernacular engineering” in early modern Korea, emphasizing how artisans and practitioners developed a multimedia system of material design and production. Portions of this work have received the Turriano ICOHTEC Prize from the International Committee for the History of Technology, the Joan Cahalin Robinson Prize from the Society for the History of Technology, and the ICAS Book Prize (English—Best Dissertation in the Humanities) from the International Convention of Asia Scholars. The project has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew F. Mellon Foundation, Korea Foundation, and the American Historical Association. His work has appeared in Isis, History & Technology, Journal of World History, The Military Revolution and Revolutions in Military Affairs, and the Journal of Cultural Analytics.

Kang's digital humanities projects include a network analysis of international criminals in seventeenth-century Nagasaki and 3D modeling and fabrication of historical Korean artifacts ranging from land mines to steam engines. With Michelle Suh, he also co-designed the search engine and research platform Silloker, which provides exploratory data analysis on five centuries of historical data from Chosŏn Korean (1392-1910).

Prior to joining the WashU faculty in 2021, he was a D. Kim Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of the History of Science and Technology, Johns Hopkins University. He received his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University.

Selected Publications

Peer Reviewed Articles and Book Chapters

“Kingpins at Court: Contraband Diplomacy between Korea, Japan, and Tsushima, 1607–1671,” The Journal of Asian Studies (accepted, forthcoming in 2023).

With Michelle Suh, “Korean Chronicles under a Macroscope: Towards a Digital Infrastructure in Premodern Korean Studies,” Korean Studies (accepted, forthcoming in 2023).

“How Network Analysis Uncovers International Networks of Smuggling History: Criminals in Nagasaki, Japan circa 1667,” Journal of Cultural Analytics 8, no. 1 (Feb. 2023): 1–20.

“Reverse Engineering as History and Method: The Portuguese Espingarda in Chosŏn Korea,” History & Technology 38, no. 2-3 (2023): 144-66.

“Cooking Niter, Prototyping Nature: Saltpeter and Artisanal Experiment in Korea, 1592–1635,” Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society 113, no. 1 (March 2022): 1–21.

“Difference in an Age of Parity: Technology and Global Military History,” in The Military Revolution and Revolutions in Military Affairs, ed. Mark C. Fissel (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2022), 29–64.

“Nature of Narye: Sound, Spectacle, and the Politics of Performance in Fifteenth-Century Korea, 1392–1592,” in Routledge Handbook of Asian Music: Cultural Intersections, ed. Tong Soon Lee (London: Routledge, 2021), 150–173.

With Tonio Andrade and Kirsten Cooper, “A Korean Military Revolution? Parallel Military Innovations in East Asia and Europe,” Journal of World History 25, no. 1 (March 2014): 51–84.

“Big Heads and Buddhist Demons: The Korean Musketry Revolution and the Northern Expeditions of 1654 and 1658,” Journal of Chinese Military History 2, no. 2 (2013): 127–189.

Courses Taught

“Korean Civilization: (Undergraduate Lecture)

"Kitchen, Studio, Factory: Making in East Asia” (Undergraduate Seminar)

“Nature, Technology, and Medicine in Korea” (Undergraduate Research Seminar)