Do Own (Donna) Kim

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of Illinois ChicagoPh.D., Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern CaliforniaKorea Foundation for Advanced Studies (KFAS) Fellowship Alum

Hi, I am Donna (she/her), an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Chicago's Department of Communication. My research interests are at the intersection of technology studies, cultural studies, and computer-mediated communication (CMC)/human-machine communication (HMC). I study everyday, playful digital cultures and mediated social interactions. I focus on boundary-crossing practices in human-technology assemblages: being together across diverse "real", "online", "virtual", or "imaginary" places, and among the mundane and the weird, the "normal" and the Other. What does it mean to be human in mediated communication environments? How do we want to be together?

I am currently working on my first book project, Virtually Real: Virtual Influencers and Politics of Humanlike Artificial Technologies, to tackle these questions. Virtually Real examines the cultural implications of "humanlike" artificial technologies' increasing social integration in our everyday cultures through the case of virtual influencers (CGI human social media influencers), uniquely drawing on fieldwork that incorporates English, Korean, and Japanese language-based examples and participants. I critically trace various (hidden) people, things, and structures in the phenomenon to explore how these "humanlike" artificial social actors become meaningfully (or as some would say, virtually) "real," however with unresolved ambiguities around issues of power and accountability.

Digital communication research requires depth and breadth. I specialize in qualitative research, but also have experience with quantitative and mixed-methodological research, including interdisciplinary collaborative research. My academic journal articles and book chapters have been published in internationally renowned outlets, such as New Media & Society, International Journal of Communication, Mass Communication and Society, Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, and Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies. These publications have specified my questions on boundary-crossings through topics such as mediated places, video games, gender/sexuality, and Korean digital cultures. Please contact me for PDFs. 

I received my Ph.D. degree in Communication from the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (2022). My B.A. degrees in Media & Communication and English Language & Literature are from Korea University (2015), and I was at Nagoya University for a year as part of an exchange program in 2013-14. I have lived in five different countries including South Korea, China, Canada, USA, and Japan, and speak three languages (Korean, English, Japanese). My cross-cultural experiences, together with my internship at Korea's top advertisement/PR company Cheil Worldwide were what inspired me to pursue digital communication research.