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 2020 or 2021 is eligible for the 2023 Palais Prize.
  • 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 June 30, 2022 to be eligible for the 2023 awards.

Palais Prize Committee

Monica Kim
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Heonik Kwon
University of Cambridge

Myungji Yang
University of Hawai’i, Mānoa

2022 Awards

Winner and Citation

Heonik KwonAfter the Korean War: An Intimate History (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

In After the Korean War, Heonik Kwon challenges us to reexamine the foundational elements of modern political subjecthood as forged on the global stage of politics in the twentieth century. In place of the artificial frame of cold war geopolitics that separates “traditional” kinship communities from the “modern” political sphere, Kwon pushes for a radical expansion of our concept of the political by showing how the Korean war operated through the communal, the intimate, and the embedded relations between people and continues to do so to this day. A pathbreaking work of cultural anthropology, Kwon’s book traverses fiction, film, memoirs, memorials, ancestral stones, and his own intimate ethnographic interviews with war survivors on the one hand and cuts across a stunning range of theoretical and philosophical debates on the other. Kwon’s theorization sheds new light on kinship as a vital plane of political and moral action in civic society that is not completely captured by the state nor the figure of the modern individual subject. A book of urgent importance in its moving explorations, After the Korean War profoundly transforms our understanding of the implications and reverberations of the Korean War’s violence at all scales of society.

Honorable Mention

Hwisang Cho, The Power of the Brush: Epistolary Practices in Chosŏn Korea (University of Washington Press, 2020)

Past Awards

James B. Palais Book Prize

2010 Sem Vermeersch, The Power of the Buddhas: The Politics of Buddhism during the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392)

2011 Hwasook Nam, Building Ships, Building a Nation: Korea’s Democratic Unionism under Park Chung Hee

2012 Eleana J. Kim, Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging

2013 Suk-Young Kim, Illusive Utopia: Theater, Film and Everyday Performance in North Korea

2014 Theodore Hughes, Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea: Freedom’s Frontier

2015 Suzy Kim, Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution: 1945-1950

2016 Steven Chung, Split Screen Korea: Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema

2017 Jisoo Kim, The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Choson Korea

2018 Youngju  Ryu, Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung Hee’s Korea

2019 Eunjung Kim, Curative Violence: Rehabilitating Disability, Gender, and Sexuality in Modern Korea

2020 Yoon Sun Yang, From Domestic Women to Sensitive Young Men: Translating the Individual in Early Colonial Korea

2021 Monica Kim, The Interrogation Rooms of the Korea War: The Untold History