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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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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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Crisis in North Korea

Andrei N. Lankov

North Korea remains the most mysterious of all Communist countries. The acute shortage of available sources has made it a difficult subject of scholarship. Through his access to Soviet archival material made available only a decade ago, contemporary North Korean press accounts, and personal interviews, Andrei Lankov presents for the first time a detailed look at one of the turning points in North Korean history: the country’s unsuccessful attempts to de-Stalinize in the mid-1950s. He demonstrates that, contrary to common perception, North Korea was not a realm of undisturbed Stalinism; Kim Il Sung had to deal with a reformist opposition that was weak but present nevertheless. Lankov traces the impact of Soviet reforms on North Korea, placing them in the context of contemporaneous political crises in Poland and Hungary. He documents the dissent among various social groups (intellectuals, students, party cadres) and their attempts to oust Kim in the unsuccessful "August plot" of 1956. His reconstruction of the Peng-Mikoyan visit of that year—the most dramatic Sino-Soviet intervention into Pyongyang politics—shows how it helped bring an end to purges of the opposition. The purges, however, resumed in less than a year as Kim skillfully began to distance himself from both Moscow and Beijing. The final chapters of this fascinating and revealing study deal with events of the late 1950s that eventually led to Kim’s version of "national Stalinism." Lankov unearths data that, for the first time, allows us to estimate the scale and character of North Korea’s Great Purge.

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