Main content start
Student Spotlight

6th Annual Korean Studies Writing Prize Awarded

Professors Gi-Wook Shin and Jun Uchida standing with Michael Lee who has received the prize certificate

Michael Minyoung Lee has won the 6th annual Korea Program Prize for Writing in Korean Studies for his paper entitled "North Korean Food Shortages, 1945-1946." Michael graduated from the Center for East Asian Studies M.A. program in 2017.  Professor Yong Suk Lee, Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said about Michael's paper: "Michael Lee's paper sheds light on a relatively less known historical fact regarding famine in Soviet occupied northern Korea after World War 2. He presents multiple evidence from different perspectives and his writing is clear."

In Michael's own words, he was not quite sure what he would find when he began researching his topic: "I initially stumbled upon this topic while reading about Korea trusteeship negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the initial aftermath of WWII. Relations between the two superpowers had not yet become quite adversarial, and at one point, the Soviet Union made food aid to northern Korea a precondition for further negotiations. I wasn't sure if this was a ploy to stall talks or if the Soviets genuinely needed this aid. Through research, I discovered that conditions in the north were very severe, compounded by famine in the Soviet Union. This paper firmly establishes that starvation existed in northern Korea under Soviet occupation, and this runs contrary to the misconception that the Soviet occupation ran more smoothly than the U.S.'s in the south."

Sponsored by the Korea Program and the Center for East Asian Studies, the writing prize recognizes and rewards outstanding examples of writing by Stanford students in an essay, term paper or thesis produced during the current academic year in any discipline within the area of Korean studies, broadly defined. The competition is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Past Recipients:
5th Annual Prize (2016)

4th Annual Prize (2015)

3rd Annual Prize (2014)

2nd Annual Prize (2013)

1st Annual Prize (2012)