Jean Paik

Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow

20232024 Forum on Revolution

Jean Paik


CAS, 2024

Jean Paik is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences from Valencia, California. She is studying English with a concentration in 20th and 21st-century literature. Her research interests include the intersections of race, gender, and labor, labor movements, and Asian American literature. For her work in the Wolf Humanities Fellowship and the English thesis program, Jean is interested in examining the literary works of late 20th-century Korean women factory workers in free trade zones, and the materials that were written about them. At Penn, Jean is involved in the Asian American Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board and 34th Street Magazine. She enjoys reading, trying new desserts, and going to the beach in her free time.

Free(dom) Zones: The Gendered Labor and Revolts of Korean Women Factory Workers

Export processing zones were particular sites of global labor exchange, manufacturing, and resistance in late twentieth-century South Korea. Established in the 1970s-80s, these free export zones primarily employed women workers who were subject to highly precarious and exploitative labor conditions. In response to the encroachment of neoliberal economic policies and militarism in Korea, these women led several militant labor struggles at factory sites across the country. My research seeks to center the role of revolutionary women workers in movements for social and political transformation. This project will examine the writings, documentaries, and oral histories of women factory workers alongside external documents from the foreign corporations that employed them, to understand how these different accounts positioned Korean women workers in the sphere of global capitalism.