Dr. Paul S. CHA

Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of Korean Studies
Acting Programme Director (2023-24 Semester 1)
Email: pcha@hku.hk


I am a specialist of modern Korean history. My research interests include the transnational flow of religions and the construction of national identities; the intersection of religion and the Cold War; and the work of international faith-based organizations in the Korean Peninsula. My first book examines how Western missionaries and Korean Christians negotiated their dual identities as members of a supposedly universal religion and of distinct political states during Korea’s colonial period (1910-1945). An inability to balance these two identities at times produced conflict. However, the language of religious community produced surprisingly long lasting, albeit unequal, relations between these two groups. This book, Balancing Communities: Nation, State, and Protestant Christianity in Korea is forthcoming in 2022 with the University of Hawai‘i Press.

Currently I am working on a book that examines how the Korean Peninsula became the nexus of a global religious Cold War after the outbreak of the Korean War. Even before the conflict commenced, missionaries had believed that the county’s supposedly uneducated and unsophisticated population was susceptible to the deceptive promises of communism. The humanitarian crisis precipitated by the war heightened fears that widespread poverty would drive Koreans to join communist organizations. In response, faith-based humanitarian aid organizations flocked to South Korea to provide relief and rehabilitation.

Prior to joining the University of Hong Kong, I was an assistant professor of history at Samford University, Alabama.

PhD     Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California—Los Angeles
MA      Social Sciences, University of Chicago
BA      History and Asian Studies, Colgate University

Selected Publications

Balancing Communities: Nation, State, and Protestant Christianity in Korea. University of Hawai‘i Press, 2022.


“The Murder Death of Pang Hwa-il: Erasing American Violence, Producing Christian Allies During the Korean War.” Church History 92, no. 3 (2023): 626-642.

“On the Frontlines of a Religious Cold War: The Korean War and Transforming Protestantism in Korea.” Journal of Religious History 46, no. 2 (June 2022): 346-367.

“‘People Like You and Me’: The Korean War, Humanitarian Aid, and Creating Compassion.” Journal of Korean Studies 26, no. 1 (Spring 2021): 95-116. DOI: 10.1215/07311613-8747733

“To Capture Minds and Wills”: Establishing Christian Radio Broadcasting in Cold War South Korea.” Korea Journal 60, no. 4 (Winter 2020): 143-168.  DOI: 10.25024/kj.2020.60.4.143.

“Accounting for North Korea: Korean Reunification, the CCIA, and the Korean Christians Federation.” Journal of Korean Religions 10, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 123-152. DOI: 10.1353/jkr.2019.0004

“Unequal Partners, Contested Relations: American Missionaries and Korean Christians, 1884-1907.” The Journal of Korean Studies 17, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 5-37.  DOI: 10.1353/jks.2012.0006.

“Establishing the Rules of Engagement: American Protestant Missionaries, the U.S. Legation, and the Chosŏn State.” International Journal of Korean History 17, no. (Spring 2012): 67-107

Courses Taught at SMLC
KORE1021 Introduction to Korean Culture and Society
KORE2024 Korean Studies 1
KORE 2025    Korean Studies II
KORE2026 Topics in Korean Culture and Society
KORE2035 Society and Thoughts in Korea
KORE2043 Korean political system and culture in transformation
KORE 2044    The Korean War: Origins, Aftermath, Reconstruction, and Remembrance
KORE 3032    Directed Readings in Korean Studies
KORE 3034    Korean Studies Internship
KORE 3042    Advanced Seminar in Korean Studies
KORE4008 Korean Studies independent research project (capstone experience)
KORE 4009    Korean Studies Research Seminar (Capstone)

Tel. (852) 3917 2116
Office: 5.09 Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU