This article seeks to interrogate the tensions present with the descriptive phrase kwahak kisul (science and technology), often used to represent the growth of South Korean scientific and technical expertise in the mid-1960s, by tracing the material practice of postwar South Korean science and technology back to Japanese imperial formations (late 1920s) and forward to Cold War American institutions of higher learning. Focusing specifically on one community, a group of physical chemists studying at the University of Utah for a period of roughly two decades (mid-1950s through early to mid-1970s), the article argues that these Koreans came to the United States after the Korean War for the opportunity to further their studies and in doing so dramatically transformed their science and very possibly their personal identities as well. The major actor motivating this activity, the physical chemist Lee Tae-kyu, provided the focus for the creation of this informal research group, and the article therefore tracks his career from 1930s Kyoto to Utah and, finally, back to Seoul.

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