SunHa Ahn

Research title: Digital Interactions as a Therapeutic Source for Social Identity Construction among Youths (16-24 ages) Living with HIV in South Africa.

Research Summary

My research focuses on the potential therapeutic role of personalised digital use and online relationships in anti-stigma (or social identity development) among African Young People Living with HIV. It premises that a micro-level theory, denoted as symbolic interactionism, focuses on the relationships among individuals within a certain society. These ways of communication feed into the digital world as well in which the characteristics of the anonymity, publicity (or disclosure) and accessibility are pervasive.

The social stigma surrounding HIV infection within African societies is the notorious barrier for youths who are eager to disclose their health status and to seek for support related to HIV. Although there are a lot of challenges to reduce new HIV infections in terms of socio-economic inequalities, overarchingly, one of the aims in this study is to identify how African youths' online participation could help create a new social identity. In this course, the sustainable ways of digital health intervention would be expected to suggest. 

Research Interests: 
Digital Health Interventions, Social Inequality in Health, Qualitative Research, Symbolic Interactionism, Anti-Social Stigma, Social Change by Digital Power. 


1. Scenario Planning for 2 Koreas in the Korean Peninsula 2019- 2029, 2019, Book
2. Global Agribusiness Annual Report: Sugar and Bio-Ethanol Industries, 2017, Policy Report, Korea Rural Economic Institute.
3. The Cases Study of Urban Agriculture in Singapore, 2016, Policy Report, Korea Rural Economic Institute. 
4. Overview of Agriculture Policy in Myanmar and its Outlooks, 2016, Policy Report, Korea Rural Economic Institute. 
5. The Abstract and its Implications of the Philippines’ National Budget, 2016, Policy Report, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
6. The Repercussions and Overall Prospects after the Myanmar General Elections. 2015, Policy Report, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
7. The Results and its Significance of Myanmar Population and Housing Census for Myanmar’s Future and Political and Economic Transition Process, 2015, Policy Report, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
8. The Backgrounds and Prospects of the New Notification of the Minimum Wages Act in Myanmar, 2015, Policy Report, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. 
9. Vietnam's Economic Transition and its Implication on North Korea, 2015, Policy Report, Korea Development Institute and Ministry of Economy and Finance of South Korea.
10.  Korean DMZ World Ecological Peace Park Accompanying with People, 2014, Policy Report, Korea Development Institute and Ministry of Economy and Finance of South Korea.
11. Joint Consulting Project; Policy Instruction for Green Growth (Case studies: Bangladesh, Indonesia, and South Korea), 2013, Policy Report, Korea Development Institute, Ministry of Economy and Finance of South Korea, and World Bank.


  • A Special seminar at the Seoul National University and the University of Daegu, South Korea respectively: Policy experiences sharing strategy (web-based) of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, South Korea for the cooperation with oversea public servants & International organisations.
  • A Special seminar at the MBA School of the University of Yeungnam, South Korea: Communication Skills for CEOs.
  • A Mentorship seminar at the Catholic University of Korea & the Secondary School called Sinsu Middle School respectively: How to build my career.  

Additional Information

Current Affiliations & Activities of Committee

I have worked in both fields of media communication for roughly 7 years and later development policy research for around 5 years as a broadcaster and a researcher respectively. As a policy researcher affiliated under the Korean government institutes, my main research topics concentrated on development challenges in the least-developed countries economically, socially, and environmentally, suggesting governance services and relevant digital platforms based upon Korean development experiences. In this course, I have experienced working with multi-stakeholders and international organisations, and overseas governments.

My academic backgrounds include international relationships and economics in BA (the Catholic University of Korea), development policy in MA (Korea Development Institute School), and political communication in MA (University of Leeds, UK). I hope my PhD journey would be the essence of what I have learned and experienced, in turn, being able to contribute to making a better world for the marginalised who was treated as the voiceless.