My name is Wonhee Cho (조원희/趙元熙 Ph. D. History, Yale 2014), and I am a historian of the Mongol empire (13th to 14th century). Since fall 2020, I have been working as an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Korean Studies (Global Korean Studies major), at the Academy of Korean Studies (韓國學中央研究院 韓國學大學院)
As a historian of the Mongol empire, I am particularly interested in religion, comparative empire studies, and digital humanities. My current book project, Empire and Religion: Politics of Difference and Negotiation in the Mongol Empire (1206-1368), examines the different religions of the Mongol empire in China – Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, and Islam (among others) – and how they interacted with the imperial government.
My academic interest in the Mongols and other nomads, and their interactions with other peoples is closely related to my life, since I constantly moved around different places and adapted to different cultures. Born in South Korea, I lived in Australia when I was three to nine years old, and some people say they can still hear my Australian accent. As an undergraduate I studied at Seoul National University as an English Language and Literature major (B.A.), joined the Asian History Department M.A. program, a program where I studied Chinese (classical and modern), Japanese and Persian.
In 2014, I completed my six-year long Ph. D. Studies at Yale University. I often forget to mention that during the six-year period at Yale I spent a whole year at Beijing University as a visiting research student. Before coming back to Korea, I was a member of the Mongol empire project 2014 to 2017 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where I translated and tagged data of more than 65 individuals from the Yuanshi biographies. This translation work consists of 141,610 English words and 9,633 Chinese characters. I also spent half a year as a post-doc at NYU Shanghai where I was able to conduct my own research and also organize a panel for the Center for Global Asia Annual Conference: Ports and Port Cities in Indian Ocean Connections. Prior to joining my current position, I worked at the Jangseogak Archives of the AKS as a project manager / researcher for 3 years.
Recently, my home institution (Academy of Korean Studies) published a profile of me (in Korean), and is available here.