ASU communication professor participates in U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program


Catherine Sebold

“An honor and a dream come true.” 

That’s how Associate Professor YoungJu Shin of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication described her experience in a yearlong scholars program that provided her the opportunity to discuss effective communication with U.S. and Korean diplomats, policymakers and journalists.

Shin, a health and intercultural communication scholar, was one of 11 people selected in a national competition to the U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program. The program's goal is to mentor the next generation of Korea specialists in the United States who will make long-term contributions to the U.S.-Korea relationship.

“As the only communication scholar in the program and one of a few Korean citizens, I feel I was able to provide unique insight on how various media outlets report news about U.S.-Korea relations,” Shin said. “Message framing is the result of different agendas and perspectives, and I was able to compare and contrast stories put forth by the media.”

The scholars program is an initiative by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Korea Chair and the University of Southern California’s Korean Studies Institute. 

Shin, second from left, with the scholars, met with U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris in the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

Over the past year, Shin traveled to Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Seoul to interact with such dignitaries as South Korean Ambassador Cho Yoon-je and U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris.

She was also a guest panelist at Seoul National University and spoke about narratives focusing on South Korean and other Asian women who were forced to serve as “comfort women” (Japanese military sex slaves) during World War II. 

“It’s heartbreaking to hear about this topic,” Shin said. “However, through recent documentaries and films, these individuals have told their stories to allow a wider audience to know about their horrifying and unforgettable experience. They claimed they are the living evidence of the Japanese military's unethical practice toward human rights.”

“Participating in this program was such a meaningful experience for me,” Shin said. “This will have a profound impact on my research and teaching. I hope to continue to engage and investigate civil dialogues on issues pertaining to narratives and storytelling in both the U.S. and South Korea.”