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The 1728 Musin Rebellion

Politics and Plotting in Eighteenth-Century Korea

Andrew David Jackson

The 1728 Musin Rebellion: Politics and Plotting in Eighteenth-Century Korea provides the first comprehensive account in English of the Musin Rebellion, an attempt to overthrow King Yŏngjo (1694–1776; r. 1724–1776), and the largest rebellion of eighteenth-century Korea. The rebellion proved unsuccessful, but during three weeks of fighting the government lost control of over a dozen county seats and the rebels drew popular support from the inhabitants of three southern provinces. The revolt profoundly unsettled the early years of Yŏngjo's reign and had considerable influence on the subsequent course of factionalism. In this keenly reasoned study, Andrew David Jackson investigates the causes, development, suppression, legacy, and significance of the bloody Musin Rebellion.

The Musin Rebellion had its roots in the factional conflicts surrounding Yŏngjo's troubled succession to the throne. Jackson analyzes an aspect of the conflict previously neglected by researchers, namely how the rebels managed to create an armed rebellion. He argues that the rebellion should be understood in the context of other attempts on power by factional members that occurred over a hundred-year period leading up to 1728. By exploring the political and military context of the event, the book demonstrates that the Musin Rebellion was not driven by systemic breakdown, regionalism, or ideology, but was a failed attempt by political players to take control of the court. Central to the eruption of violence in 1728 was the intervention of key rebel plotters, several of whom were serving officials with access to state military resources. The book provides an in-depth view of factional politics in the Chosŏn court, and the final section deals with the rebel legacy, bringing to the fore issues about managing, forming, and directing the historical memory of the rebellion.

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An Affair with Korea

by Vincent S. R. Brandt

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An Asian Frontier

American Anthropology and Korea, 1882–1945

Robert Oppenheim

In the nineteenth century the predominant focus of American anthropology centered on the native peoples of North America, and most anthropologists would argue that Korea during this period was hardly a cultural area of great anthropological interest. However, this perspective underestimates Korea as a significant object of concern for American anthropology during the period from 1882 to 1945—otherwise a turbulent, transitional period in Korea’s history. An Asian Frontier focuses on the dialogue between the American anthropological tradition and Korea, from Korea’s first treaty with the United States to the end of World War II, with the goal of rereading anthropology’s history and theoretical development through its Pacific frontier.
               Drawing on notebooks and personal correspondence as well as the publications of anthropologists of the day, Robert Oppenheim shows how and why Korea became an important object of study—with, for instance, more published about Korea in the pages of American Anthropologist before 1900 than would be seen for decades after. Oppenheim chronicles the actions of American collectors, Korean mediators, and metropolitan curators who first created Korean anthropological exhibitions for the public. He moves on to examine anthropologists—such as Aleš Hrdlicka, Walter Hough, Stewart Culin, Frederick Starr, and Frank Hamilton Cushing—who fit Korea into frameworks of evolution, culture, and race even as they engaged questions of imperialism that were raised by Japan’s colonization of the country. In tracing the development of American anthropology’s understanding of Korea, Oppenheim discloses the legacy present in our ongoing understanding of Korea and of anthropology’s past.

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Building a Heaven on Earth

Religion, Activism, and Protest in Japanese Occupied Korea

Albert L. Park

Why and how did Korean religious groups respond to growing rural poverty, social dislocation, and the corrosion of culture caused by forces of modernization under strict Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945)? Questions about religion’s relationship and response to capitalism, industrialization, urbanization, and secularization lie at the heart of understanding the intersection between colonialism, religion, and modernity in Korea. Yet, getting answers to these questions has been a challenge because of narrow historical investigations that fail to study religious processes in relation to political, economic, social, and cultural developments. In Building a Heaven on Earth, Albert L. Park studies the progressive drives by religious groups to contest standard conceptions of modernity and forge a heavenly kingdom on the Korean peninsula to relieve people from fierce ruptures in their everyday lives. The results of his study will reconfigure the debates on colonial modernity, the origins of faith-based social activism in Korea, and the role of religion in a modern world.

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Building Ships, Building a Nation

Korea's Democratic Unionism under Park Chung Hee

by Hwasook Nam

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Burnt by the Sun

The Koreans of the Russian Far East

Jon K. Chang

Burnt by the Sun examines the history of the first Korean diaspora in a Western society during the highly tense geopolitical atmosphere of the Soviet Union in the late 1930s. Author Jon K. Chang demonstrates that the Koreans of the Russian Far East were continually viewed as a problematic and maligned nationality (ethnic community) during the Tsarist and Soviet periods. He argues that Tsarist influences and the various forms of Russian nationalism(s) and worldviews blinded the Stalinist regime from seeing the Koreans as loyal Soviet citizens. Instead, these influences portrayed them as a colonizing element (labor force) with unknown and unknowable political loyalties.

One of the major findings of Chang’s research was the depth that the Soviet state was able to influence, penetrate, and control the Koreans through not only state propaganda and media, but also their selection and placement of Soviet Korean leaders, informants, and secret police within the populace. From his interviews with relatives of former Korean OGPU/NKVD (the predecessor to the KGB) officers, he learned of Korean NKVD who helped deport their own community. Given these facts, one would think the Koreans should have been considered a loyal Soviet people. But this was not the case, mainly due to how the Russian empire and, later, the Soviet state linked political loyalty with race or ethnic community.

During his six years of fieldwork in Central Asia and Russia, Chang interviewed approximately sixty elderly Koreans who lived in the Russian Far East prior to their deportation in 1937. This oral history along with digital technology allowed him to piece together Soviet Korean life as well as their experiences working with and living beside Siberian natives, Chinese, Russians, and the Central Asian peoples. Chang also discovered that some two thousand Soviet Koreans remained on North Sakhalin island after the Korean deportation was carried out, working on Japanese-Soviet joint ventures extracting coal, gas, petroleum, timber, and other resources. This showed that Soviet socialism was not ideologically pure and was certainly swayed by Japanese capitalism and the monetary benefits of projects that paid the Stalinist regime hard currency for its resources.

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A Chinese Traveler in Medieval Korea

Xu Jing’s Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryŏ

Translated, annotated, and with an introduction by Sem Vermeersch

"The king and ministers, superior and inferior, move with ritual and refinement. When the king goes on an inspection tour, everyone has the correct ceremonial attributes and the divine flag [troops] gallop in front while armored soldiers block the road. The soldiers of the Six Divisions all hold their attributes. Although it is not completely in uniformity with classic rites, compared with other barbarians it is splendid to behold. This is why Confucius thought it would not be a shame to reside here. And is not moreover Kija's country a close relative of the hallowed dynasty?"

So observed the Song envoy Xu Jing in the official report of his 1123 visit to Korea—a rare eyewitness account of Koryŏ (918–1392) society in its prime. Officially, the purpose of Xu Jing's visit was to condole the new king, Injong, on the death of his father and present him with a letter of investiture; unofficially, he was tasked with persuading Injong to align with Song China against the newly emergent Jin dynasty. Although famous for its celadon and Buddhist paintings, the Koryŏ period is still very much terra incognita in world history because of the lack of translated source materials. The present work, the first fully annotated, complete translation of a key source text on Koryŏ, fills this gap.

Xu Jing spent a little more than a month in the Koryŏ capital, Kaesŏng, but he was a meticulous chronicler, compiling a veritable handbook on Koryŏ that is full of fascinating details found nowhere else on daily life, history, customs and manners, buildings, the military, food, among others. However, Xu Jing was not unbiased in his observations and supplemented his work with unreliable information from earlier chronicles—a fact often ignored in previous studies of the Illustrated Account. In a substantial introduction to his translation, Sem Vermeersch not only places this important work in its historical context, but also reveals both the sources used by the author and the merits and limits of his observations, allowing historians of medieval Korea to make fuller use of this singular primary source.

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Collaborative Regional Development in Northeast Asia

Towards a Sustainable Regional and Sub-regional Future

Edited by Won Bae Kim, Yue-manYeung, and Sang-Chuel Choe

Against the background of accelerating globalization and growing economic interdependence in Northeast Asia over the past two decades, including the recent global economic crisis, this book sets out to examine the status and prospect of cross-border cooperation. It has synthesized diverse strands of discussion and different country perspectives to highlight the challenges and opportunities of collaborative regional development in Northeast Asia. Distinct from previous studies, this book attempts to capture international, national, and local viewpoints in regional development. Practical experience across countries has been analyzed and consolidated to form the basis of a policy agenda for cross-border cooperation. Combining an intimate knowledge of the region and different disciplinary perspectives, this book offers a wealth of information, statistical and illustrative materials, and analyses across topics and countries of the region. Editors include Won Bae Kim, Research Advisor of the Gyeonggi Research Institute and former Senior Fellow at the Korean Research Institute for Human Settlements, Yue-man Yeung, Emeritus Professor of Geography and Honorary Fellow of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Sang- Chuel Choe, former Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Regional Development in South Korea and Professor Emeritus of Seoul National University.

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Colonial Rule and Social Change in Korea 1910-1945

edited by Yong-Chool Ha, Hong Yung Lee, and Clark W. Sorensen

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Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions

Yu Hyongwon and the Late Choson Dynasty

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