Sung Ji Park

PhD student

Thesis: Art, War and Propaganda: Visual Rhetoric of the Empire of Japan during the Asia-Pacific War, 1931-1945

Supervisor: Dr Wenny Teo

Extenal Advisor: Dr Irena Hayter (University of Leeds)

Japan’s imperial project stood encircled and embattled. In the north, protesters in Manchuria stood against Japan’s colonial rule. America’s anti-Japanese crusaders put Japan at a disadvantage in international politics in the east. To the south and west, British colonialism posed a threat to Japan’s pan-Asian ideals. Yet Japanese artists, intellectuals, and government officials held high hopes that photography would transform this situation to secure a victory in the face of overwhelming odds, whether economic, political, and cultural. They believed that photography could be a propaganda magic wand. My PhD, ‘Art, War and Propaganda: Visual Rhetoric of the Empire of Japan during the Fifteen Years War, 1931-1945,’ is the first English-language study investigating this political use of photography from an art-historical perspective. Drawing upon propaganda theory and history, this study, based on the research of primary sources, addresses Japan’s wartime photography with a global emphasis. For instance, this study shows that Pictorialism was used to control anti-colonial activists in Manchukuo; that Japan’s first photography policy was formulated to influence America’s eastern strategy; and that the media made a hero of Subhas Chandra Bose to justify Japan’s mission for emancipating Asians from British colonialism. These elements are situated within the history of Japanese photography, from pictorialist (geijutsu shashin), to modernist (shinkō shashin) to journalistic photography (hōdō shashin), to explore how artists and critics shaped the medium in response to era-defining events, including the 1923 earthquake, the withdrawal from the League of Nations, and the Attack on Pearl Harbor. In general, this study contributes to the literature on the Second World War, fascism, and Japan’s wartime visual culture.


  • PhD Student, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2018 – present)
  • MA History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2017 – 2018)
    • Thesis: The Portrayal of Male Prostitution and Sex Work as Affective Labour in
      Documentary Film: A Case Study of Wiktor Grodecki’s Not Angels But Angels
      and Body Without Soul and Rodrigue Jean’s Men for Sale
  • MA Art Theory, Hongik University (2014-2017)
    • Thesis: How Art is Made, the Nuances of Artistic Labour : a Case Study of Marcel Duchamp and Robert Morris
  • BA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and Design (University of the Arts London) (2009 – 2012)

Research Interests

  • Art and politics
  • Warfare
  • Photography
  • Soft power


  • Hongik Scholarship, Hongik University (2015)
  • BAJS (British Association for Japanese Studies), John Crump Studentship (2022)
  • BAJS (British Association for Japanese Studies), John Crump Studentship (2023)


  • Teaching Assistance, BA1 Foundation 2, Courtauld Institute of Art (2023)
  • Teaching Assistance, British and American art in the cultural field, 1950-2016, Hongik University (2016)
  • Teaching Assistance, Urban Space and Cultural Studies, Hongik University (2015)
  • Teaching Assistance, Modernism and its Visual Mechanisms: Art, Technology and Culture in a Global Context, 1850-1950, Hongik University (2015)

Conference Papers

  • ‘FRONT no. 8-9 (1943), Japan’s War Pictorial Propaganda: Selling Japan as Meishu to Asian colonies during the Pacific War’. ‘Faces of War’ International War Studies Conference. London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research. 21 March 2020.
  • ‘The Barbizon-esque Rural Imagery in 1930s Manchuria: Fuchikami Hakuyō’s Art Photography and the Cult of Millet in Modern Japan’ ‘Dialogues: Modern and Contemporary Approaches to Politics and Place’. The Courtauld annual postgraduate symposium. 4-5 May 2020.
  • ‘Mutō Tomio’s Media Control of Photography in Wartime Japan: The Guidance of the Arts, Registration Photography and the Manipulation of Photographic Visibility’. ‘Identity and Power’ International Conference. London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research. 1-2 August 2020.
  • ‘Colonial Discourse in 1930s Manchurian Pictorial Photography: The Barbizon-esque Rural Landscape as the Erasure of Colonial Violence’. ‘Violence and Society’ International Conference. London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research. 22 August 2020.
  • ‘Running a Graphic War: The CID/CIB’s Hōdō shashin for Propaganda War’. The Courtauld annual postgraduate symposium. 22-21 June 2021.
  • ‘Politicising Photojournalism: Ina Nobuo’s Photography Criticism and Natori Yōnosuke’s Hōdō shashin’. The British Association for Japanese Studies Conference. 7-9 September 2022.


  • Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Lunchtime Talks at The Courtauld Gallery (2022-23)
  • ‘Western Realism as War Spectavle in Early Meiji Japan’. 德藝社 Courtauld Chinese Art & Culture Society. 20 February 2019.


  • ‘Printmaking as Artistic Self-Expressions: 1950s Japaense Creative Prints,’ immediations, no. 19 (2022) (review)
  • ‘Jae Ko: Mnemic Stroing, Forming, Evoking,’ published in conjuction with the exhibition Jae Ko – Gi (氣 Vital Force) organised by and presented by Opera Gallery London, 22 March 2023 – 9 May 2023. (exhibition catalogue essay)