Estibaliz Saenz (PhD Candidate)

Thesis title: A Look at Life Success and Suicide: Critical Reflections from South Korean Young Adults

Year of study: 2

  • Korean Studies
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details



50 George Square

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Estibaliz Saenz is a PhD Candidate in Korean Studies. She obtained an MSc in Korean Studies from the University of Edinburgh, graduating in November 2020. Estibaliz's doctoral studies are focused on suicide and societal pressure on success among South Korean youth. Her interests include Korean culture and society, suicidology, mental health and social justice. 


Sep 2020 (ongoing) PhD Korean Studies, University of Edinburgh

MSc Korean Studies, University of Edinburgh, 2019-2020

MA (Hons) Health, Science and Society, University of Edinburgh, 2015-2019


Responsibilities & affiliations

PhD reading group co-ordinator: Korea and Its Neighbours, University of Edinburgh 

Korea and Its Neighbours Reading Group – LLC PhD Reading Groups (



Postgraduate teaching

Lecturing topic Urban Culture and Society: Gender, LGBT+, disability, generation. Course (2021): Unwritten Korea: Understanding Korea Society and Culture through Contemporary Arts and Films

Research summary

My interest in suicidology in South Korea was mainly developed in my last undergraduate years and reinforced during the underlying stages of my master's degree in Korean Studies. During my MSc in Korean Studies, I had two primary focuses: culture and society. 

Current research interests

In an attempt to further understand suicide among the Korean population, my current study employs a novel methodological approach, one that explores suicide through Korean young adult’s suicide ideation and utilises a qualitative method for data analysis. Specifically, the study analyses the impacts of pressure and expectations of life success and the impact of life success on suicide ideation in-depth. The use of photovoice qualitative research will be used as a way to gain a more in-depth understanding of the participants’ experiences (related to what led up to their ideation, what occurred in the aftermath of their ideation, and how the ideation have been integrated into their present-day life).

Past project grants

Seed Program for Korean Studies through the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS-2019-INC-2230005).


Co-organiser East Asia on the Move: Shifting Dynamics, Early Career Researchers and Graduate Students Conference 2021, University of Edinburgh, UK. 


Presenter at the Scottish Centre for Korean Studies, University of Edinburgh East Asia on the Move: Shifting Dynamics, Early Career Researchers and Graduate Students Conference, 2021. Presentation Tittle: A Look at Success and Suicide: Critical Reflections from South Korean Young Adults.