Dr Hee-seung Irene Lee

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Professional Teaching Fellow


After moving to New Zealand in 2002, Irene began studying at the University of Auckland, first, as an undergraduate majored in Media Studies and English. She completed her PhD in the department of Film,Television and Media Studies and taught in diverse courses such as Media Studies, Film Studies, Reading Contemporary films, Hollywood and its Others in Media Studies before she moved to Asian Studies in 2014. Currently Irene is (co)convening Asian 200/303 Asian Identities and Korean 205/305 Korea through TV Drama and Film in the School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics and has been teaching as a guest lecturer in various courses.

Research | Current

Dr Lee completed her PhD in the department of Film,Television and Media Studies at the University of Auckland and is preparing a monograph based on her PhD project on psychoanalytic approach to screen adaptation. Irene's research interests include critical theories, psychoanalysis, screen adaptation, contemporary South Korean cinema, Korean popular culture and East Asian cinema. She has published her works on contemporary Korean cinema in academic journals and edited volumes and is writing a monograph on Korean auteur cinema in dialogues with global cinemas (under contract with Amsterdam University Press).


Recent Publications

  • 2021  (Forthcoming) Journal Article 
     ‘In Search of a Slow Korean Dream: Cinema of Zhang Lu,’  Korean Studies (Hawaii University Press)

  • 2020  Book Chapter 
    Remembering to Reset: Representations of the Colonial Era in Recent Korean Films’ in Popular Culture and the Transformation of Japan-Korea Relations. Edited by Rumi Sakamoto and Stephen Epstein (Routledge) 



  • 2020  Aug.   Queer Across the Oceans in Adaptation: Brokeback Mountain and The Handmaiden, Korean Screen Culture Virtual Symposium 2020 (University of Tubingen, Germany)

  • 2019  July   From Melancholy to Burning: Lee Chang-dong’s Cinema of Melancholy,  Film and Philosophy Conference at University of Brighton UK

  • 2019 Oct. “Father, don’t you see I’m burning?:Lee Chang-dong’s cinema of Melancholy, CLL Research Seminar at University of Auckland

  • 2018  July   In Search of a Slow Korean Dream: Zhang Lu’s transnational cinema of inaction, Asian Studies Association of Australia 2018 Conference at University of Sydney

  • 2018  May  Desire of a Sacred Vampire and Questions of Embodiment in Park Chan-wook’s Thirst, The 7th Korea Screen Culture Conference at University of Helsinki, Finland

  • 2017 Aug. Remember to Reset: Representation of the Colonial Era in Recent Korean Films, International Conference: Popular Culture, War Memory, and Reconciliation between South Korea and Japan at University of Auckland

  • 2017 Jun.  Unbearable Pain in Others: Kim Ki-duk’s Bad Guy (2002) and Pieta (2012), The 6th Korea Screen Culture Conference at University of Hamburg, Germany

  • 2017 May  Unbearable Pain in Others: Kim Ki-duk’s Bad Guy(2002) and Pieta (2012), Media and Communication & Asian Studies Joint Seminar at University of Auckland

  • 2016  Jun.  The Ethics of Becoming a Subject // Reading of Hong Sang-soo’s Right Now, Wrong Then, The 5th Korea Screen Culture Conference at King’s College, London         

  • 2015  Nov.  Melancholic Screen for Korea’s Lost Memory: Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine and Poetry, Film and History: the Korean Example Conference at SOAS, University of London 

  • 2014  Nov.  Reading the Traces of Melancholia in Modern Korean Popular Culture, The International Society for Korean Studies Conference at University of Auckland

  • 2013 Dec.  Lacan’s conception of the Unconscious through the concept of Infinitesimal Calculus, Australian Centre of Psychoanalysis in Melbourne 

  • 2013 Apr.  A Freudian Lens to Incest on the Korean Screen : Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy,  School of Asian Studies Seminar series at University of Auckland

  • 2011 Apr.  The Scene of Writing in Madness: Schreber to Barton Fink, with Dr. Cherie Lacey FTVMS Department Seminar at University of Auckland 

  • 2010 Oct.  Das Ding(The Thing) that Speaks of Itself in Stanley Kubrick’ Adaptation of Stephen’s King’s The Shining, FTVMS department at University of Auckland 

  • 2009 Oct.  Anxiety Aroused by the Destructive Mother: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Hitchcock’s Adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, FTVMS department at University of Auckland

  • 2009 Sep.  Desire and Its Interpretation: Lacan’s Reading of Hamlet, Seminar Series of Centre for Lacanian Analysis LACAN 101 at Auckland University of Technology

  • 2009  Jul.   The Real of a Text: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Film Adaptation, The 2nd Film-Philosophy Conference at Dundee University, Scotland

  • 2009  Feb.  Psychoanalysing Jouissance in Psychoanalysing Culture, The 2nd Annual Conference of Center for Lacanian Analysis at University of Auckland

  • 2008  Oct.  The Real of a Text: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Film Adaptation of Literature, FTVMS department at University of Auckland

Teaching | Current

KOREAN 205/305 Korea through TV Drama and Film

ASIAN 200/303 Asian Identities


2019          Lecturer of the Year at Massey University, Albany Campus
2017          CUPKS Research Fund from Academy of Korean Studies
2016          CUPKS Research and Teaching Fund from Academy of Korean Studies 
2015 – 16  Korean Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship 
2014 – 17  Honorary Research Fellowship in Asian Studies, University of Auckland
2008 – 12  University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship 

Areas of expertise

* Contemporary Korean films and TV dramas
* East Asian popular culture
* Globalization and transnationalism in media culture
* Art-house cinema
* Film adaptation of literature
* Hollywood Films
* Critical theory
* Psychoanalytic theory
* Film theory

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Irene Lee, H.-S. (2017). The ethics of becoming a subject // A reading of Hong Sang-soo’s Right Now, Wrong Then (2015). Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 9 (2), 141-154. 10.1080/17564905.2017.1368146
  • Lee, H.-S. I. (2016). ‘My name is Oh Dae-su’: a mirrored image of Oedipus in Park Chan-wook's Oldboy. Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 8 (2), 127-139. 10.1080/17564905.2016.1143307
  • Lee, H. S. I. (2012). Transmediation of the real: A psychoanalytic approach to film adaptation of literary texts The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland. Related URL.


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 4, Room 439
New Zealand

Web links