Lauri Paltemaa

Centre for East Asian Studies CEAS

The Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS) is the only academic research centre in Finland that focuses on contemporary East Asia from the perspective of social sciences in both research and teaching. CEAS was established in 2006 but the minor programme in East Asian Studies has been offered since 1998.

CEAS has research and teaching expertise especially in politics, sociology and contemporary history of the region with a focus on China, South Korea, North Korea and Japan. CEAS offers three different study programmes (minor, master's and doctoral level) and also coordinates the Finnish University Network for Asian Studies (Asianet).

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News and Events

Applying for Master's Degree Programme in East Asian Studies

The application period for the 2021-2023 EAST programme will start on 7 January 2021 at 08:00 and end on 20 January 2021 at 15:00hrs (Finnish time).

For news and updates on the EAST programme period please follow us on our social media channels.

NEW: The Nordic Asia Podcast

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a podcast series co-hosted by Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) in Copenhagen and Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Turku. Experts join us in every episode to share their insights about timely topics within Asian Studies.

Check out the latest episodes of the Nordic Asia Podcast here:

CEAS podcast spotify       CEAS_NAPodcast_Apple


Statement by AKSE and EAJS on Racism in COVID19 Times

Concerned East Asian Studies Scholars on Racism in COVID19 Times :

Statement adopted by the councils of AKSE (Association for Korean Studies in Europe) and EAJS (European Association for Japanese Studies):

"Since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, Europe has witnessed a growing number of incidences of anti-Asian violence. East Asians are being physically assaulted on European streets, yelled at, subjected to verbal attacks and to a variety of discriminatory treatments including abrupt cancellation of rental contracts and denial of essential services, medical treatment included.

In Germany, the South Korean Embassy had to warn its citizens of the growing danger of anti-Korean racist violence and urge caution outside. Recently, a South Korean student couple in Berlin, having been assaulted, were told by the police that they should not ‘defame’ the perpetrators by referring to them as‘racists.’ In Italy, there are reports of vandalized Chinese shops in the cities of Brescia and Varese. In Britain, in a high-profile incident, a Thai tax consultant was physically assaulted on a street in broad daylight by a gang of ruffians yelling ‘Corona!’ at him. Every new day brings fresh news about violent incidents, verbal assaults, and victims traumatized by the experience of violent racial exclusion. The victims come from a variety of national and ethnic backgrounds comprising most East, South-East, and South Asian societies.

Of course, the anti-Asian violence of the recent months did not emerge out of the blue. For most non -Europeans living in Europe, quotidian lives involve regular battles with an array of problems ranging from denigrating stereotypes and social exclusion to outright verbal or physical violence. It was against this backdrop that COVID19 pandemic and the responses of the European decision- and opinion-makers to it further exacerbated the situation, paving a way towards making Europe’s resident Asians into one more object of xenophobic baiting.

We know very well that the root causes of racism are complex, and the same applies to the anti-Asian racist wave which the current pandemic triggered. We are also aware that patterns of racist exclusion are at work in other continents as well, also in East Asia – the virus is always conceived of as the virus of other ethno-national groups, not of ours. Yet, there is an identifiable connection between the explicitly or implicitly xenophobic discourses produced and disseminated by the politicians and mass media, and the rise in violent xenophobia on the streets. While hardly any country in the world can escape blame for making mistakes while countering the COVID19 pandemic, singling out a particular East Asian country as supposedly ‘fully responsible’ for the current disaster is a recipe for social disasters. The racist bullies on the streets do not distinguish between the governments and the people whom they govern, nor do they distinguish between the migrants from different Asian societies. While media’s duty to critically analyse the COVID19 response by any government, domestic and foreign, is to be fully acknowledged, responsible journalists should be able to draw a line between legitimate critique and xenophobic agitation. Regrettably, in these critical hours, European media repeatedly fail in this crucial task. Referring to COVID19 as ‘Chinese virus’ serves as excitement to xenophobia. Routine references to the supposed ‘authoritarianism’ of Asian societies (despite the fact that a number of them, typically South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, are full-fledged parliamentary democracies) in European media mislead the public while holding alive the prejudices and paternalistic attitudes dating back to the age of imperialism and colonialism.

We, representatives of Europe-based experts in East Asian Studies, urge Europe’s decision- and opinion-makers, politicians, journalists and educators included, to be aware about their duty to ensure personal safety and equal treatment to all minorities, including the minorities of Asian origins, inhabiting the European continent, and refrain from any utterances or statements which may serve, explicitly or implicitly, as incitement to racial hatred and xenophobic violence. Furthermore, we urge them to spare no efforts in educating our European co-citizens about the importance of minorities’ rights and unprejudiced perceptions of diverse ethno-national groups, thus not conniving at but developing an antidote to the rampant racial exclusion and violence we are unfortunately witnessing now."


25th May 2020

Second revised edition of "Lohikäärme, tiikeri ja krysanteemi" is now out!

The second revised edition of "Lohikäärme, tiikeri ja krysanteemi - - Johdatus Itä-Aasian yhteiskuntiin", the Finnish texbook for studying contemporary East Asia, is now out!

You can purchase the electronic and printed version of the book from Utu-shop.


LOHIKÄÄRME, TIIKERI JA KRYSANTEEMI – Johdatus Itä-Aasian yhteiskuntiin

Kirjoittajat: Silja Keva (toim.), Annamari Konttinen, Kristian Kurki, Lauri Paltemaa ja Sungju Park-Kang

Lohikäärme, tiikeri ja krysanteemi tarjoaa johdatuksen Kiinan, Etelä-Korean, Pohjois-Korean ja Japanin historiaan ja näiden tämän hetken polttavimpiin yhteiskunnallisiin ja taloudellisiin haasteisiin. Kirjassa käsitellään mm. nopeasti ikääntyvän väestön vaikutuksia Japaniin, Kiinan politiikan ja hallinnon erityispiirteitä, ja Koreoiden tilannetta. Lisäksi kirjassa valotetaan tämän yhden maailman dynaamisimman alueen keskinäisen yhteistyön ongelmakohtia, joita historialliset jännitteet edelleen vaikeuttavat.

Kirja sopii kaikille kansainvälisistä aiheista ja Itä-Aasiasta kiinnostuneille ja Itä-Aasian opintoja aloittaville opiskelijoille.

Kirjoittajat toimivat tutkijoina ja opettajina Turun yliopiston Itä-Aasian tutkimus- ja koulutuskeskuksessa, joka on Suomen ainoa Itä-Aasian nyky-yhteiskuntia yhteiskuntatieteellisestä näkökulmasta tutkiva akateeminen yksikkö.

Kirja on jo myynnissä e-kirjana Turun yliopiston UTUShopissa 10€ hintaan.

UTUShopissa on myös myynnissä painettu teos 15€ hintaan.

Intensive Course: China’s New Rule or No Rules for World Order , 23 Nov

Course provider: Docent Markku Salomaa

Content: The course deals with current hot issues in China and China's foreign relations.and consist of seven 45 minutes lectures on the following topics:

Lecture 1: Chinese “Kung Flu” Virus Wakes Up Nation-States (09:15 – 10:00)
Lecture 2: Trade War Risk leads to a Hegemony War Danger (10:15 – 11:00)
Lecture 3: Chinese Human Rights Problems in Xinjiang (11:15-12:00)

Lunch Break (12:00 – 12:45)

Lecture 4: China’s Unity Crisis with Hong Kong and Taiwan (12:45 – 13:30)
Lecture 5: “King Kong” Geopolitics in the South China Sea (13:45 – 14:30)
Lecture 6: Arms Race in Asia in the Perspective of Nationalism (14:45 – 15:30)
Lecture 7: Space War strategy in China’s space program? (15:45 – 16:30)

Join the course by listening all or some of the lectures and doing the course assignment (essay).

Detailed course description can be found at Moodle:

ZOOM talk with Barbara Wall: Hell Joseon and the Webtoon Sin kwa hamkke, 16 Nov 2020

16-18hrs (EET), 15-17hrs (CET)

Dr. Barbara Wall is Assistant professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen.

For Zoom details please contact sabine.burghart[a]

ZOOM talk with Anders Uhlin, 19 Nov 2020

Anders Uhlin: “Civil Society Elites: New Perspectives on Civil Society in Cambodia and Indonesia”

19.11., 12:00-14:00 (Turku, Helsinki time)/11:00-13:00 (Lund/Stockholm time))

Abstract: In this guest lecture, I will report from an ongoing research project that explores how and why certain individuals reach leading positions within civil society and what kind of resources they use, gain and lose when they interact with and sometimes move to the state, political, and economic fields, in increasingly authoritarian Cambodia and post-authoritarian Indonesia. To many civil society researchers and practitioners, the notion of a “civil society elite” is a contradiction. I will attempt to demonstrate how an elite perspective can shed new light on internal and external civil society dynamics, highlighting power inequalities within and beyond civil society. Combining two fields of research – civil society studies and elite studies – the project identifies different types of elite formation within civil society and traces interactions and integration with elite groups from political society, economic society, and the state. The project explores how such processes play out in the context of generally shrinking (Cambodia) and relatively expanding (Indonesia) political space for civil society, and analyses the role of foreign funding in processes of elitization. In the lecture, I will elaborate on an analytical framework based in field theory and describe how the project has employed this framework to execute case studies of civil society activists, organizations, and networks operating in the fields of agriculture, youth, natural resources and environment, human rights, and anti-corruption, on national and local levels in Cambodia and Indonesia. I will report preliminary findings that challenge a view of civil society entities as relatively isolated from the state, political and economic society, by revealing power relations that link them.

Anders Uhlin is professor of Political Science at Lund University. His main research interests are in the fields of civil society, transnational activism, global governance, and democratization. His most recent monograph analyses the role of civil society actors in a possible democratization of international organizations and other forms of global governance arrangements. More specifically, it is about civil society engagement with the Asian Development Bank and ASEAN: Civil Society and Regional Governance: The Asian Development Bank and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

To receive a Zoom link by email prior to the event, please contact Kamila Szczepanska (

ZOOM lecture by Aoi Horiuchi: Civil Society Assessment of the Impact of the COVID-19 on Democracy and the Response to COVID-19 Pandemic in Japan – from the SDG 16+ and human rights-based approach, 12 Nov 2020

Aoi Horiuchi: “Civil Society Assessment of the Impact of the COVID-19 on Democracy and the Response to COVID-19 Pandemic in Japan – from the SDG 16+ and human rights-based approach (HRBA)”

Time: 12.11, at 9:00-11:00 (Turku/Helsinki time)/16:00-18:00 (Japan time)

To receive a Zoom link by email prior to the event, please contact Kamila Szczepanska (

Aoi Horiuchi is an advocacy coordinator of Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) since 2012. He is involved in the coordination of official periodical dialogues between NGOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan, where participants discuss Japan's ODA, especially support for NGOs. He also conducts advocacy work on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and is an active member of Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs (SDGs Japan). 

Abstract: Civil society organizations in Japan have responded to COVID-19 both domestically and internationally. They monitored how the government of Japan effectively handled the situation since January 2020, as it is obvious that COVID-19 affected human rights situation and implementation of SDGs. During the presentation, selected SDGs, such as Goal 3 (Health), Goal 5 (Gender) and Goal 16 (Peace and Justice), will be discussed. Goal 16 will be referred as SDG16+, as this is a cross-cutting goal which is an enabler and accelerator of all SDGs, and requires nexus and mainstreaming approach, which are gender, conflict and climate sensitive, and human right-based.

ZOOM talk with So Young Choi: Resilient Peripheralization through Authoritarian Communication Against Energy Democracy in South Korea, 11 Nov 2020

To understand anti-democratic barriers to accomplishing energy democracy, I examine how and why a centralized energy system can maintain itself based on an ethnographic analysis of the local protest of Miryang against the Korea Electric Power Corporation’s construction of a 765,000-volt transmission line. Explaining the element of authoritarian communication in South Korean environmental politics, I highlight the active roles of citizens to contest socio-environmental inequalities as a precondition to building a sustainable energy democracy.

Su Young Choi is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Stetson University. She examines media and communication in the context of social movement by employing qualitative methods like ethnography, in-depth interviews, and textual and discourse analysis. She is interested in understanding the relationship between cultural transformation and socio-environmental inequality and injustice.

Asian Studies Days: Research and Education during the Pandemic, 6 Nov 2020

Time: 9:30-14:00

Restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have disrupted well-established education and research practices in Asia and elsewhere. International research and education projects have moved online, and scholars in Asian studies have been forced to find alternatives to on-site fieldwork. How have students and scholars adapted to the new situation and what kinds of new practices are emerging? Can we find a silver lining in the pandemic, and how to grasp it? What might the new research methods mean for the production of knowledge in the future.

The programme will be available on this page

ZOOM Lecture by Takeshi Komino: COVID-19 and disaster management challenges in Japan/Asia, 22 Oct 2020

Takeshi Komino: “COVID-19 and disaster management challenges in Japan/Asia”


Time: 22.10., 10:00-12:00hrs (Turku/Helsinki time)

To receive a Zoom link by email prior to the event, please contact Kamila Szczepanska (


Takeshi Komino is General Secretary of CWS Japan, and Co-chairperson of Japan Platform. Also serves as Secretary General and a member of Executive Committee for Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN), joint secretariat of Japan CSO Coalition for DRR (JCC-DRR), and the chairperson of Japan Quality and Accountability Network (JQAN).  He graduated from Doshisha University, and holds Development Studies M.A. from Brandeis University.

Abstract: Climate change is causing rapid increase in disaster risks, and the world is facing the era of ‘new normal’ with complex mixture of various risks cascading one another.  The webinar aims to cover the recent disaster trends, the evolution of disaster risk reduction frameworks, specific challenges in the region, and how COVID-19 has impacted the way we approach disaster risk management in Japan and wider Asian region.  Furthermore, it will cover the linkages of localization and disaster management, and how knowledge management/sharing and innovation would play a key role in addressing this ‘new normal’.  Last, the webinar will also highlight some of Japan’s recent endeavours in tackling the current increase in disaster risks.

ZOOM seminar with Prof. Liu Jun: Shifting Dynamics of Contention in the Digital Age: Mobile Communication and Politics in China, 29 Oct. 2020

Prof. Liu Jun: Shifting Dynamics of Contention in the Digital Age: Mobile Communication and Politics in China

29.10.2020 (Thu), 12-2pm (Finnish time)

Students N.B.: this is a Lecture Passport event.

For Zoom link please contact

Welcome all!

ZOOM talk with Liora Sarfati "Landscapes of Mass Cooperation in Seoul: from the Sewŏl Disaster to the Corona crisis", 12 May 2020

ZOOM-talk by Liora Sarfati (Tel Aviv University) on "Landscapes of Mass Cooperation in Seoul: from the Sewŏl Disaster to the Corona crisis". 

Time: May 12, 2020 10:00 AM (Finnish time)

Special thanks to Barbara Wall / Korean Studies of the University of Copenhagen for organising the virtual event. 

ZOOM details have been sent out via the emailing list. 

ZOOM talk with Owen Miller, "North Korea's 'miracle' economy after the Korean War", 30 April 2020

30 April 2020, 10:15-11:45 (Finland time). A learning diary on the event can be included in the CEAS Lecture Passport. For more details contact CEAS Sabine Burghart

"North Korea's 'miracle' economy after the Korean War", Owen Miller, organized by Korean Studies (Barbara Wall) of the University of Copenhagen.

This talk will look at the decade after the end of the Korean War in 1953, when North Korea was recovering from the devastation of war and attempting to build a modern, heavy-industry-centred economy. This period is usually understood as one of rapid economic growth, industrialisation and urbanisation, but it was also inevitably a period of huge social change in the northern half of the Korean peninsula. During the period 1953-1967 North Korea is thought to have achieved average annual growth of 16.6%, leading some, such as the British economist Joan Robinson, to write of a ‘Korean Miracle’. The rapid social change of the postwar period was exemplified most obviously by the explosion of the working class, as approximately two million people (out of a population of 10 million) moved from the countryside to the cities, taking the urbanisation rate from 17.7% to 40% in only seven years.

In this lecture I will explain the main factors that led to North Korea’s rapid growth in the 1950s and early 1960s, including aid from fraternal countries, economic planning, agricultural collectivisation, and large-scale labour mobilisation. I will also look at some of the major social changes that came to North Korea in the 1950s with the rapid proletarianisation of the population, examining such questions as how new industrial workers were made and remade and how gender roles changed as a result. Part of the lecture will illustrate some of these issues by using my own recent research on class formation at the Hŭngnam Fertiliser Complex, one of North Korea’s most important industrial sites since the colonial period and a key focus of the economic reconstruction programme in the 1950s. In the context of this workplace I will examine how the state and factory authorities attempted to impose discipline on new workers and how productivity campaigns were used to instil new attitudes to life and work under harsh working conditions.

WEBINAR for admitted EAST students, 24 April 2020

CEAS hosts a WEBINAR for accepted EAST students on Friday, 24 April at 3pm. Invitations have already been sent out to our prospective students. 

Congratulations to our new students! We can't wait to welcome you all here in Turku!

ZOOM talk with CedarBough T. Saeji, "Making Icons: The Rise of the K-pop Adjacent Industries", 14 April 2020

14 April 2020, 14:15-15:00 (Finland time). A learning diary on the event can be included in the CEAS Lecture Passport. For more details contact CEAS Sabine Burghart

"Making Icons: The Rise of the K-pop Adjacent Industries", CedarBough T. Saeji, organized by Korean Studies (Barbara Wall) of the University of Copenhagen.

Korean popular music (K-pop) is a musical industry centered on artistic products of idol stars. In tandem with K-pop's success, but beyond those leading entertainment agencies and singers, an entire industry that parasitically feeds off K-pop while also symbiotically amplifying it has emerged. The K-pop industry is now supporting and supported by a multitude of lime-light eschewing and lime-light seeking people who are making a living through various K-pop dependent activities—a secondary yet autonomous industry. New participants in this adjacent/dependent industry support K-pop fandom, and may become secondary stars or in rare cases, penetrate the ranks of the idols. The very publicness of their activities gestures not at a subculture but at a side culture, generating a fascinating and contradictory transcultural practice and dialogue. In this talk I explore the specific issue of the K-pop adjacent industries that are dependent on the same sources of finances—fans and the Korean government—that the industry relies on. I conducted in-person and online interviews with performers, educators, and artists; (1) performers whose desire to be noticed collectively encourages creativity—a weakness of the hegemonic K-pop insiders, (2) educators that deepen fan engagement with K-pop through dance classes, tourism experiences, and educational programs, and (3) artists who produce new unofficial merchandise. In this talk I argue that these industries have become an integral part of interacting with and understanding K-pop today, introducing and enabling personal encounters with K-pop and Korea, and contributing to the growth of the industry.


In these extraordinary times, we want to create new synergies and opportunities for our students. It has never been easier to meet CedarBough T. Saeji, one of the leading international experts on K-pop, traditional music and performance, who is based in the US. 

2020 St Petersburg University Int'l Summer School Modern & Classical Studies of Korea APPLY NOW!

Saint Petersburg University (SPbU), our partner university, organizes an international summer school on modern and classical Korean studies again this year. The school is being organized by the Faculty of Asian and African Studies, the Faculty of Sociology and the Faculty of International Relations with the support of the Academy of Korean Studies.

Dates : 7-9 September 2020

Venue: St Petersburg State University, Faculty of Sociology, St Petersburg

Eligibility : students (BA, MA, PhD levels) majoring in Korean Studies or learning Korean at one of SPbU's partner universities

Working language : English

Major topics : history, language and literature, socio-cultural aspects of the development of Korean society and interaction of Korea and Russia, Korea in the system of international relations and Korea related collections in museums of St Petersburg.

Format: lectures, seminars, workshops, excursions and student activities

Credits : 2-5

Study methods : attendance in all classes, active classroom participation, readings and written assignments.

Terms & conditions : successful applicants will be provided with accommodation (4 nights, 6-9 Sept), round-trip economy class tickets (arrival: 6 Sept, departure : 10 Sept), meals during event, visa support.

How to apply : send (1) short motivation letter, (2) copy of study transcripts, (3) CV and (4) copy of passport (required for invitation letter) by email to Sabine Burghart until 30 March 2020. 

Visiting lecture: Whither Japan? Assessing Abe’s Legacy, Jeff Kingston, 11 Mar 2020

11 March (Wed), 10-12hrs, Pub4

Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, is author of Japan (Polity, 2019) and Nationalism in Asia: A History Since 1945 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016) and editor of Press Freedom in Japan (2017), Asian Nationalism Reconsidered (Routledge, 2015); Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan (Routledge, 2014) and Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan: Response and Recovery after Japan’s 3/11 (Routledge, 2012). He writes regularly for several international dailies.

Research Seminar, 5 Mar: Researching South Korea's global Saemaul Undong programme in Tanzania

Presentation by Sabine Burghart on 5 March 2020 (Thu), 12-14hrs, Pub409

South Korea’s development from an aid recipient to the world’s 12th largest economy and an OECD-DAC member has drawn interest from developing countries, including Tanzania. The South Korean government’s emphasis on a shared development experience, reciprocal gains and non-hierarchical partnerships is largely in line with the constructive discourse of South-South development cooperation. In official aid documents, South Korea emphasises a request-based approach that, at least in theory, guides its cooperation with aid recipients. Notions of self-reliance and self-help efforts imply a certain respect for independent, not pre-determined development choices in partner countries. By emphasizing a new way of providing foreign aid South Korea’s official ODA rhetoric attempts to distinguish itself from the “mainstream”, i.e. traditional (Western) donors.

Japanese speech event for UTU students, 28 Feb 2020

CEAS invites all UTU Japanese language students to participate in the 2020 Japanese Speech event on 28 February.

This event will be held for students of Turku University (including exchange students) at all levels from beginners to (upper-)intermediate and advanced, and is a great opportunity of showing your achievements in Japanese language learning and listening to your fellow students' speeches. The deadline for registration is 7 February (24:00hrs).

Please find more details here.

Research Seminar, 13 Feb: Multiculturalism in a "Homogeneous" Society: Going Beyond Policies

Presentation by Yoko Demelius on 13 Feb 2020, 12-14hrs, Pub368

Research Seminar, 6 Feb: Coping with Peripheralization in the Sea of Japan Rim: Geopolitical Economy of Anticipation

Presentation by Outi Luova on 6 Feb 2020, 12-14hrs, Pub368

Academy of Finland Research Project "Security in China"

We are delighted about the Academy of Finland's decision to fund the Security in China research consortium led by CEAS Professor Lauri Paltemaa and Professor Juha A. Vuori form the University of Tampere. More information on the project webpages:
Security in China (in English)
Turvallisuus Kiinassa (in Finnish)