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Toward a Culture of Reconciliation
The Tonghak and Chondogyo Movements and the Twilight of Korean Independence
Tonghak, or Eastern Learning, was the first major new religion in modern Korean history. Founded in 1860, it combined aspects of a variety of Korean religious traditions. Because of its appeal to the poor and marginalized, it became best known for its prominent role in the largest peasant rebellion in Korean history in 1894, which set the stage for a wider regional conflict, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895. Although the rebellion failed, it caused immense changes in Korean society and played a part in the war that ended in Japan's victory and its eventual rise as an imperial power. It was in this context of social change and an increasingly perilous international situation that Tonghak rebuilt itself, emerging as Ch’ŏndogyo (Teaching of the Heavenly Way) in 1906. During the years before Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910, Ch’ŏndogyo continued to evolve by engaging with new currents in social and political thought, strengthening its institutions, and using new communication technologies to spread its religious and political message. The story of Tonghak and Ch’ŏndogyo is an example of how new religions interact with their surrounding societies and how they consolidate and institutionalize themselves as they become more established.
In the half century after 1945, South Korea went from an impoverished, largely rural nation ruled by a succession of authoritarian regimes to a prosperous, democratic industrial society. No less impressive was the country's transformation from a nation where a majority of the population had no formal education to one with some of the world's highest rates of literacy, high school graduates, and university students. Drawing on their premodern and colonial heritages as well as American education concepts, South Koreans have been largely successful in creating a schooling system that is comprehensive, uniform in standard, and universal. The key to understanding this educational transformation is South Korean society's striking, nearly universal preoccupation with schooling-what Korean's themselves call their "education fever."
This volume explains how Koreans' concern for achieving as much formal education as possible appeared immediately before 1945 and quickly embraced every sector of society. Through interviews with teachers, officials, parents, and students and an examination of a wide range of written materials in both Korean and English, Michael Seth explores the reasons for this social demand for education and how it has shaped nearly every aspect of South Korean society. He also looks at the many problems of the Korean educational system: the focus on entrance examinations, which has tended to reduce education to test preparation; the overheated competition to enter prestige schools; the enormous financial burden placed on families for costly private tutoring; the inflexibility created by an emphasis on uniformity of standards; and the misuse of education by successive governments for political purposes.
Military Rule in Medieval Korea
Generals and Scholars is the first work in English to examine fully military rule during the Koryo. Although it lasted for only a century, the period was one of dynamic change--a time of institutional development, social transformation, and the reassertion of the civil service examination and Confucian ideology coupled with the flowering of Son (Zen) Buddhism. (When confronted with fundamental matters of rule, however, Ch'oe leaders frequently opted for the status quo and in the end aligned with many traditional civil elites to preserve their power.) The traditional tension between civilians and the military was eased as both came to accept the primacy and necessity of civilian values. Koryo generals, unlike those in Japan, learned they could govern more readily by relying on civil leaders administering a strong central government than on a call to arms. Institutional innovations from this period survived well into the next and Son Buddhism continued to flourish throughout the country.
From "Land of the Morning Calm" to States in Conflict
Contemporary North and South Korea are nations of radical contrasts: one a bellicose totalitarian state with a failing economy; the other a peaceful democracy with a strong economy. Yet their people share a common history that extends back more than 3,000 years. In this comprehensive new history of Korea from the prehistoric era to the present day, Jinwung Kim recounts the rich and fascinating story of the political, social, cultural, economic, and diplomatic developments in Korea's long march to the present. He provides a detailed account of the origins of the Korean people and language and the founding of the first walled-town states, along with the advanced civilization that existed in the ancient land of "Unified Silla." Clarifying the often complex history of the Three Kingdoms Period, Kim chronicles the five-century long history of the Choson dynasty, which left a deep impression on Korean culture. From the beginning, China has loomed large in the history of Korea, from the earliest times when the tribes that would eventually make up the Korean nation roamed the vast plains of Manchuria and against whom Korea would soon define itself. Japan, too, has played an important role in Korean history, particularly in the 20th century; Kim tells this story as well, including the conflicts that led to the current divided state. The first detailed overview of Korean history in nearly a quarter century, this volume will enlighten a new generation of students eager to understand this contested region of Asia.
Korean science is closely related to traditional Chinese technology, but Jeon Sang-woon's A History of Science and Technology in Koreafollows a different course of development. Building on Chinese foundations, Korean scientists, engineers and technicians developed technologies that were adapted to the natural elements, seasons and climate of the Korean peninsula. the writer develops this thesis by considering the creative legacy of Korean practitioners in a number of different areas: astronomy and meteorology ("the sciences of the heavens"), metal, glass and gunpowder ("the sciences of earth and fire"), printing, geography and carography. He concludes with a comparison of science and technology in Korea and Japan, and with a discussion of important scientists active in the Choson Period. The book is filled with new information and arguments, and frequently with deep insights. Much of what the author says will be useful for professional scholars in the history of science and technology and for general historians as well, as it provides topics for academic debate and fruitful research subjects for young scholars. the lavish illustrations support the writer's thesis and are themselves part of Korea's rich artistic heritage.
Theater, Film, and Everyday Performance in North Korea
North Korea is not just a security or human rights problem (although it is those things) but a real society. This book gets us closer to understanding North Korea beyond the usual headlines, and does so in a richly detailed, well-researched, and theoretically contextualized way. ---Charles K. Armstrong, Director, Center for Korean Research, Columbia University "One of this book's strengths is how it deals at the same time with historical, geographical, political, artistic, and cultural materials. Film and theatre are not the only arts Kim studies---she also offers an excellent analysis of paintings, fashion, and what she calls 'everyday performance.' Her analysis is brilliant, her insights amazing, and her discoveries and conclusions always illuminating." ---Patrice Pavis, University of Kent, Canterbury No nation stages massive parades and collective performances on the scale of North Korea. Even amid a series of intense political/economic crises and international conflicts, the financially troubled country continues to invest massive amounts of resources to sponsor unflinching displays of patriotism, glorifying its leaders and revolutionary history through state rituals that can involve hundreds of thousands of performers. Author Suk-Young Kim explores how sixty years of state-sponsored propaganda performances---including public spectacles, theater, film, and other visual media such as posters---shape everyday practice such as education, the mobilization of labor, the gendering of social interactions, the organization of national space, tourism, and transnational human rights. Equal parts fascinating and disturbing, Illusive Utopia shows how the country's visual culture and performing arts set the course for the illusionary formation of a distinctive national identity and state legitimacy, illuminating deep-rooted cultural explanations as to why socialism has survived in North Korea despite the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and China's continuing march toward economic prosperity. With over fifty striking color illustrations, Illusive Utopia captures the spectacular illusion within a country where the arts are not only a means of entertainment but also a forceful institution used to regulate, educate, and mobilize the population. Suk-Young Kim is Associate Professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and coauthor with Kim Yong of Long Road Home: A Testimony of a North Korean Camp Survivor.
The Making of a Korean National Cinema
Korean cinema was virtually unavailable to the West during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), and no film made before 1943 has been recovered even though Korea had an active film-making industry that produced at least 240 films. For a period of forty years, after Korea was liberated from colonialism, a time where Western imports were scarce, Korean cinema became an innovative force reflecting a society whose social and cultural norms were becoming less conservative. Im Kwon-Taek: The Making of a Korean National Cinema is a colleciton of essays written about Im Kwon-Taek, better know as the father of New Korean Cinema, that takes a critical look at the situations of filmmakers in South Korea. Written by leading Koreanists and scholars of Korean film in the United States, Im Kwon-Taek is the first scholarly treatment of Korean cinema. It establishes Im Kwon-Taek as the only major Korean director whose life’s work covers the entire history of South Korea’s military rule (1961-1992). It demonstrates Im’s struggles with Korean cinema’s historical contradictions and also shows how Im rose above political discord. The book includes an interview with Im, a chronology of Korean cinema and Korean history showing major dynastic periods and historical and political events, and a complete filmography. Im Kwon-Taek is timely and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Korean cinema. These essays situate Im Kwon-Taek within Korean filmmaking, placing him in industrial, creative, and social contexts, and closely examine some of his finest films. Im Kwon-Taek will interest students and scholars of film studies, Korean studies, religious studies, postcolonial studies, and Asian studies.