Doctoral Student

BA, Political Science; Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Duke University

MA, International Relations, University of Chicago


My research focuses on the sociocultural and political implications of the developmental state in Asia. Broadly, I am interested in how social change shapes the everyday lived experiences and grievances of different groups and materialize into different phenomena of the present. My specific empirical interests cover a wide spectrum, ranging from the rise of populist leaders in Asia to the rise of South Korean popular culture. 

My previous research has focused on cultivating a sociological explanation of Jokowi’s rise in Indonesia by foregrounding the relationship between urbanization and electoral politics. Extending this disciplinary vision, my current research turns to South Korea and the many social problems it faces. Through my various projects in progress, I strive to document the patterned intersections of gender and generational identity to make sense of contemporary South Korean society. In particular, I seek to examine the relationship between South Korea’s demographic crisis and the rise of cultural industries such as K-pop by paying attention to Korean women’ life histories amidst South Korea’s gender conflict and socio-political polarization.


Lee, So Yoon. 2021. “An Urban Explanation of Jokowi’s Rise: Implications for Politics and Governance in Post-Suharto Indonesia.” Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 40 (2): 293-314.