Six students win 2021 Digital Humanities Award for big data project on Korean War archives

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By Rhema Hokama

The Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) cluster at SUTD is pleased to announce the Digital Humanities Award winners for the 2021 calendar year. The annual prize was awarded to undergraduate students Chua Yi Ling, Lim Jun Wei, Jerome Heng, Mah Qing Long Hannah Jean, Princeton Poh, and Anantharajan Vivekbala for their project “Approaching Large Textual Archives as Big Data.”


The HASS cluster has awarded the 2021 Digital Humanities Award to six students for their project “Approaching Large Textual Archives as Big Data.” Front row, left to right: Mah Qing Long Hannah Jean, and Chua Yi Ling. Back row, left to right: Anantharajan Vivekbala, Lim Jun Wei, and Princeton Poh. Insert: Jerome Heng.


The students’ project used big data computing methods to analyze a corpus of telegrams sent among Communist allies during the Korean War, which are publicly available via the Wilson Center Digital Archive. The students conducted a time-based analysis of the archive, exploring cross-sections of the data by time periods in order to note how the telegrams reveal shifts in sentiment and word associations. In doing so, the students’ goal was to track the ways in which attitudes and relationships between the three Communist players of China, Korea and the Soviet Union developed as the Korean War progressed.

“It is an honor to be receiving this award,” Jun Wei said. “The group poured in a lot of effort into this project, so it really means a lot to us that the HASS faculty enjoyed our work,” he added.

Jerome concurred and said that the prize inspired him and his team members to continue their work in HASS and the digital humanities.

“We appreciate the recognition that the HASS department has for our work, and we will definitely keep up our efforts in future,” Jerome said.


Crossing the 38th Parallel. United Nations forces withdraw from Pyongyang, 1950. Source: US National Archives and Records Administration. Public Domain.


The students conducted research toward the project in Dr. Pang Yang Huei’s course the East Asian Nexus, an elective class offered in the HASS cluster. Dr. Pang received a PhD in History and International Relations at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and is the author of Strait Rituals: China, Taiwan, and the United States in the Taiwan Strait Crises, 1954­–1958 (Hong Kong University Press, 2019). “Approaching Large Textual Archives as Big Data” was nominated for the Digital Humanities Award by Dr. Pang, and chosen by the digital humanities faculty in a blind vote.

“We received a number of superb student project nominations this year,” said Dr. Alastair Gornall, a co-director of the digital humanities minor program at SUTD. “The range of research projects and computing innovation speaks to SUTD students’ creativity and innovation.”

The students complete digital humanities projects as part of their work toward the minor program in the Digital Humanities, a new minor degree program offered by HASS. All SUTD undergraduate students complete a foundational computing class as part of their first-year or Freshmore core course requirements. Students who opt to enroll in the Digital Humanities minor have the opportunity to apply their computing knowledge and skillset in a range of course offerings. These include classes on the Chinese lyric, the ethics of AI, environmental humanities, equitable tech and digital infrastructures, comparative religion and philosophy, and literature classes on Global Shakespeare and performance.

“We’re excited to offer such a broad range of digital humanities course offerings through our new minor program,” said Prof. Sun Sun Lim, Professor of Communications and Head of HASS.

“HASS electives allow SUTD students to connect their pillar knowledge with HASS-powered insights in creative and productive ways, and this year’s digital humanities projects exemplify that,” Prof. Lim noted.

“HASS’s digital humanities program is unique in that all of our students come into the minor having already completed rigorous coursework in computing and programming,” added Dr. Setsuko Yokoyama, a co-director of the digital humanities minor program.

“HASS’s interdisciplinary focus allows students to explore their interests widely across fields from anthropology to history to literature. SUTD and HASS are uniquely positioned to offer more than what most traditional digital humanities programs are able to offer,” Dr. Yokoyama said.

Congratulations to our student winners and nominees, and a hearty thank you to our faculty for their guidance and support!


Find out more about the Digital Humanities at HASS and explore the complete minor course offerings here. Browse past Digital Humanities minor projects here.


2021 Digital Humanities Prize Honorable Mentions

  • Ng Ming Bing and Faheem Zuhairi, “The Origins of the Boxer Uprising” (Dr. Pang Yang Huei / Modern China)
  • Gerald Lim and Hazel Hee, “Rojak Poems: Making poems feel more personal” (Dr. Rhema Hokama / Lyric Poetry)
  • Cornelia Ho Xin Ning, Samuel Sim Wei Xuan, Ang Sok Teng Cassie, and Teo Yew Xuan, “Who might be the actual author of ‘A Visit of St. Nicholas’?” (Dr. Rhema Hokama / Lyric Poetry)
  • Nigel Ng Yan Hong, Matthew Wong, Dennis Madhavan, and Chow Jia Yi, “The Present and Future Art of Creating Fake News” (Dr. Sayan Bhattacharyya / Form and Content in Arts, Science, and Society)
  • Leong En Yi, Yeh Swee Khim, and Cornelius Yap Yu Lin, “Relationship between Form and Function” (Dr. Sayan Bhattacharyya / Form and Content in Arts, Science, and Society)
  • Anaqi Pek, “An exploration in parasocial relationships in today’s internet culture” (Dr. Sayan Bhattacharyya / Cultures and Histories of the Digital)
  • Jodi Tan Kai Yu and Pan Zishan, “TempleAPP” (Dr. Zhao Zhenxing / Chinese Lyrical Poetry)
  • Xiong Maihe, “Artificial Intelligence Chinese Poetry Writing” (Dr. Zhao Zhenxing / The Chinese Lyrical Tradition: Arts, Literature, and Landscape Design)
  • Cornelia Ho Xin Ning, “The Visual Representation of Chinese Poetry” (Dr. Zhao Zhenxing / The Chinese Lyrical Tradition: Arts, Literature, and Landscape Design)
  • Sean Michael Lim Zihan, “dialektikós (app prototype)” (Dr. Paolo Di Leo / Being in the World: from Homer to Heidegger to AI)
  • Mah Qing Long Hannah Jean, “Laozi’s Kingdom (A Telegram Bot)” (Dr. Alastair Gornall / Sages through the Ages: Readings in Early Indian and Chinese Religion and Philosophy)