Yoonkyung Lee

Korea Foundation Chair of Korean Studies
Professor, Department of Sociology
Headshot of Yoonkyung Lee

Areas of interest

  • Labor protest
  • Social movements
  • Inequality
  • Neoliberalism
  • Contentious politics


Main Bio

Yoonkyung Lee is a political sociologist specializing in labour politics, social movements, political representation, and the political economy of neoliberalism with a regional focus on East Asia. She earned her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University and was associate professor in Sociology and Asian and Asian-American Studies at State University of New York-Binghamton (2006-2016) before joining the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto in 2016. She has also been the director of the Center for the Study of Korea (2019-2022).

Yoonkyung Lee is the author of Militants or Partisans: Labor Unions and Democratic Politics in Korea and Taiwan (Stanford University Press, 2011) and Between the Streets and the Assembly: Social Movements, Political Parties, and Democracy in Korea (University of Hawaii Press, 2022). Her recent publications include “Cold War Undercurrents: The Extreme Right Variants in East Asian Democracies” (Politics and Society, 2021), “Seoul as a Site of Labor Resistance: The Spatial Representation of Inequality and injustice” (European Journal of Korean Studies, 2021), and “Neoliberal Methods of Labor Repression: Privatized Violence and Dispossessive Litigation in Korea” (Journal of Contemporary Asia, 2019).

Select publications

  • Lee Y. Between the Streets and the Assembly: Social Movements, Political Parties, and Democracy in South Korea (University of Hawaii Press, 2022). 
  • Lee Y. Cold War Undercurrents: The Extreme-Right Variants in East Asia. Politics & Society. 2021;49(3):403-430. doi:10.1177/00323292211033080.
  • Lee, Yoonkyung. (2021). Cold War Undercurrents: The Extreme-Right Variants in East Asia. Politics & Society. 49. 403-430. 10.1177/00323292211033080.
  • Lee, Yoonkyung. (2021). Introduction to “Right-Wing Activism in Asia: Cold War Legacies, Geopolitics, and Democratic Erosion”. Politics & Society. 49. 303-310. 10.1177/00323292211033081.
  • Lee, Yoonkyung. (2019). Neo-Liberal Methods of Labour Repression: Privatised Violence and Dispossessive Litigation in Korea. Journal of Contemporary Asia. 51. 1-18. 10.1080/00472336.2019.1663552.
  • Lee, Yoonkyung. (2018). Youth Culture in the Digital Space and Contentious Streets of Korea. Smartland Korea: Mobile Communication, Culture, and Society. By Dal Yong Jin. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2017. ix, 227 pp. ISBN: 9780472053377 (paper). Igniting the Internet: Youth and Activism in Postauthoritarian South Korea. By Jiyeon Kang. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2016. xi, 241 pp. ISBN: 9780824856564 (cloth).. The Journal of Asian Studies. 77. 1-4. 10.1017/S0021911817001796.


Theories of Social Movements
Research Practicum
Comparative Political Sociology
Social Movements
Transnational Asia