SAM_0084My research framework centers on the intersection of urban sociology, sociology of consumption and global political economy, with a particular focus on ethnic and immigrant communities in major U.S cities. I examine how urban spaces are shaped and reshaped by economic and political changes, and transnational flows of people and culture in an era of global competition.


My book project, “Transclave: Branding Korea and Marketing Ethnicity in New York City,” based on my dissertationinvestigates how Korea’s nation branding strategy, entrepreneurs in Koreatown, and local consumers in New York City have together shaped the development of Manhattan’s Koreatown as a new type of ethnic enclave. This “transclave,” is a transnational space for Seoul-style consumption. My project presents multi-layered research based on archival research, participant observation, and in-depth interviews with 125 individuals, including three consumer groups (Korean nationals, Korean Americans and non-Koreans), business owners, and officials working in Korean organizations in both Seoul and New York City.

SAM_2152My dissertation is embargoed for 2+ years, but the dissertation abstract is available at CUNY Academic Works and ProQuest. If you are interested in the abstract, click this link: Abstract

Or check out my article in City & Community to get an idea about my research.



Manhattan’s Koreatown as a Transclave: the emergence of the new ethnic enclave in a global city (in City&Community) Here! 

This article critically challenges scholarship on ethnic enclaves, from Chicago School scholars to the ethnic enclave debates of 1980s and ‘90s, and introduces a new type of ethnic enclave in an era of globalization: the “transclave.” By using Manhattan’s Koreatown as a case study, I define transclave as a commercialized ethnic space that exists exclusively for consumption, leisure, and entertainment, differentiating itself from traditional ethnic enclaves that offer housing and jobs for newer immigrants. Instead, transclaves are spaces where transnational consumer culture and brands from sending nations are transferred to, negotiated with, and anchored in a geographic space in a global city, and shape the landscape of that space.

“Nation Branding or Marketization?: K-Classic and Korean Classical Musicians in an Era of Globalization.” (with Dr. Meebae Lee) (in The International Journal of Cultural PolicyHere! 

While many people may believe that Korean classical musicians’ success is the result of endless hours of practice and special musical instruction for talented children from a young age, this paper explores the systematic investment in classical music by the Korean government and large corporations. This paper aims to understand classical music as a nation branding tool in two ways. First, we trace Korea’s cultural policies since the early 1960 and locate the government’s investments in classical music in its cultural agendas. Second, by taking a critical approach to nation branding that highlights the role of the market and marketization, we investigate how and why classical musicians have collaborated with the Korean government in order to promote national pride domestically and a positive image of the nation internationally in an era of global competition. We highlight the government’s new agenda, “K-Classic,” which has support from various actors, including private corporations.

I also co-authored an article, Consuming Gangnam Style: A Comparison on Nation-Branding in Koreatown, LA/ NY” with Angie Y. Chung (equal co-author) and Injeong Hwang, which compares and contrast two Koreatowns in New York (Manhattan) and Los Angeles; this article was published in 2016. Here!

Book Chapters

Hallyu and Korean America: Transnational Connections through Cultural Consumption.” Companion to Korean American Studies. Edited by Rachael Joo and Shelley Lee. Brill Publishers. Netherland. 2018: 207-230.   


  • Kim, Jinwon, “New trend, old racism: how k-pop perpetuates American ethnoracial hierarchies” (Research in progress)
  • Kim, Jinwon, and Meebae Lee, “Branding locality globally in Korea: classical music festivals in an era of K-Classic,” and “Gender disparity: how classical musicians are marketed in the neoliberal market.” (Research in progress: data collection)
  • Kim, Jinwon. “Selling the Soul of Seoul: urban branding policies in the post-crisis era, 1998-2016.”