Palais Prize

James B. Palais Book Prize

The James B. Palais Prize of the Association for Asian Studies was initiated by the Palais Prize committee headed by AAS President Robert Buswell in 2008-09. The Palais Prize is given annually to an outstanding scholar of Korean studies from any discipline or country specialization to recognize distinguished scholarly work on Korea.


The Palais Prize carries a $1,000 cash award.

Guidelines for Submission

  • There are no citizenship or residence requirements for nominees.
  • Authors need not be AAS members.
  • Any original, scholarly, nonfiction work with a copyright date of 2019 or 2020 is eligible.
  • Reference works, exhibition catalogs, translations, textbooks, collections of previously published essays, poetry, fiction, travel books, memoirs or autobiographies are not eligible.
  • Publishers must complete the book nomination form. Each press may nominate a maximum of six books for the Palais Prize.
  • Only publishers may nominate books.
  • Upon receipt of a completed nomination form, publishers will be provided with addresses for prize committee members. A copy of each entry, clearly labeled “James B. Palais Prize,” must be sent to each member of the committee.


Nominations must be received by July 15, 2021 to be eligible for the 2022 awards.

Palais Prize Committee

Yoon Sun Yang (Chair)
Boston University

Monica Kim
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Myungji Yang
University of Hawaii, Manoa

2021 Award

Winner and Citation

Cover of Monica Kim, The Interrogation Rooms of the Korea War: The Untold History

Monica Kim, The Interrogation Rooms of the Korea War: The Untold History. Princeton University Press, 2019.

Monica Kim’s superb book offers a major reinterpretation of the Korean War. Employing newly released records from American intelligence sources and transnational institutions, Kim’s compelling analysis of the war from the bottom-up exposes psychological battles over prisoners’ minds, showing the productive capacity of the interrogation room to establish the new liberal principles over which war would be waged. In recounting the intimate history of psychological and physical violence across interrogation regimes, Kim spells out how themes of sovereignty and legitimacy were represented by prisoners’ choices about the location of their future lives. Kim’s multi-dimensional investigation illuminates the origins of South Korea’s national security state and American counter-intelligence officials’ collaboration with zealous Korean anti-communist youth groups while also tracing the ironies of Japanese American interrogators in Korea, themselves former prisoners of internment camps during the Second World War. Her stunning conclusion is that in the era of decolonization, the liberal empire sought to successfully manage Korea’s colonial legacies. Resistance, by contrast, embodied alternative avenues of political legitimacy, symbolized by prisoners’ determined efforts to establish an archive of their own through everyday material objects. The award committee is delighted to confer the James B. Palais prize to Monica Kim, for her critical and marvelous interrogation of the ongoing Korean conflict.