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history, identity, and culture
Through the use of storytelling, linguistic analysis, and journal entries from turn-of-the-century missionaries and traveling Russians in addition to many varieties of unconventional primary sources, the contributors creatively explore unfamiliar terrain while examining the culture, identity, and regional distinctiveness of the northern region and its people.
Korean Peasant Households and Their Adaptations to Rapid Industrialization
Clark Sorensen presents a description of the economic and ecological organization of rural Korean domestic groups and an analysis of their adaptation to the changes brought about by Korea's rapid industrialization.
The Ilchinhoe and the Japanese Colonization of Korea, 1896–1910
An empire invites local collaborators in the making and sustenance of its colonies. Between 1896 and 1910, Japan's project to colonize Korea was deeply intertwined with the movements of reform-minded Koreans to solve the crisis of the Choson dynasty (1392-1910). Among those reformers, it was the Ilchinhoe (Advance in Unity Society)-a unique group of reformers from various social origins-that most ardently embraced Japan's discourse of "civilizing Korea" and saw Japan's colonization as an opportunity to advance its own "populist agendas." The Ilchinhoe members called themselves "representatives of the people" and mobilized vibrant popular movements that claimed to protect the people's freedom, property, and lives. Neither modernist nor traditionalist, they were willing to sacrifice the sovereignty of the Korean monarchy if that would ensure the rights and equality of the people.
Both the Japanese colonizers and the Korean elites disliked the Ilchinhoe for its aggressive activism, which sought to control local tax administration and reverse the existing power relations between the people and government officials. Ultimately, the Ilchinhoe members faced visceral moral condemnation from their fellow Koreans when their language and actions resulted in nothing but assist the emergence of the Japanese colonial empire in Korea. In Populist Collaborators, Yumi Moon examines the vexed position of these Korean reformers in the final years of the Choson dynasty, and highlights the global significance of their case for revisiting the politics of local collaboration in the history of a colonial empire.
Following its introduction to Korea in the late 19th century, Protestantism grew rapidly both in numbers of followers and its influence, and remained a dominating social and political force throughout the 20th century. Park charts this stunning growth and examines the shifting political associations of Korean Protestantism
Early Masters of Modern Korean Fiction
A Ready Made Life is the first volume of early modern Korean fiction to appear in English in the U.S. Written between 1921 and 1943, the sixteen stories are an excellent introduction to the riches of modern Korean fiction. They reveal a variety of settings, voices, styles, and thematic concerns, and the best of them, masterpieces written mainly in the mid-1930s, display an impressive artistic maturity. Included among these authors are Hwang Sun-won, modern Korea's greatest short story writer; Kim Tong-in, regarded by many as the author who best captures the essence of the Korean identity; Ch'ae Man-shik, a master of irony; Yi Sang, a prominent modernist; Kim Yu-jong, whose stories are marked by a unique blend of earthy humor and compassion; Yi Kwang-su and Kim Tong-ni, modernizers of the language of twentieth-century Korean fiction; and Yi Ki-yúng, Yi T'ae-jun, and Pak T'ae-won, three writers who migrated to North Korea shortly after Liberation in 1945 and whose works were subsequently banned in South Korea until democratization in the late 1980s. One way of reading the stories, all of which were written during the Japanese occupation, is that beneath their often oppressive and gloomy surface lies an anticolonial subtext. They can also be read as a collective record of a people whose life choices were severely restricted, not just by colonization, but by education (either too little or too much, as the title story shows) and by a highly structured society that had little tolerance for those who overstepped its boundaries. Life was unremittingly onerous for many Koreans during this period, whatever their social background. In the stories, educated city folk fare little better than farmers and laborers. A Ready-Made Life will provide scholars and students with crucial access to the literature of Korea's colonial period. A generous opening essay discusses the collection in the context of modern Korean literary history, and short introductions precede each story. Here is a richly diverse testament to a modern literature that is poised to assume a long overdue place in world literature.
The Culture and Politics of Dissidence
The minjung (people's) movement stood at the forefront of the June 1987 nationwide tide that swept away the military in South Korea and opened up space for relatively democratic politics, a more responsible economy, and new directions in culture. This volume is the first in English to grapple specifically with the nature of a national development that lies at the center of the last three decades of tumult and change in South Korea.
A Primer for Korean Modernization and Democratic Reform
Syngman Rhee (Yi Sûng-man, 1875-1965) is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in modern Korean history. He emerged as the dominant leader in Korea's nationalist struggle against Japan and served as the first president of the Republic of Korea from 1948 through 1960. Rhee's political career as founder and president, however, was not without controversy. While some hailed him as "the George Washington of Korea," others regarded Rhee as "a little Chiang Kai-shek." This first English translation of Rhee's magnum opus, The Spirit of Independence (Tongnip chôngsin), provides readers with an essential key to understanding the breadth and depth of Rhee's thought at a critical juncture in his life and his country's history.
Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema
Shin Sang-ok (1926–2006) was arguably the most important Korean filmmaker of the postwar era. Over seven decades, he directed or produced nearly 200 films, including A Flower in Hell (1958) and Pulgasari (1985), and his career took him from late-colonial Korea to postwar South and North Korea to Hollywood. Notoriously crossing over to the North in 1978, Shin made a series of popular films under Kim Jong-il before seeking asylum in 1986 and resuming his career in South Korea and Hollywood.
In Split Screen Korea, Steven Chung illuminates the story of postwar Korean film and popular culture through the first in-depth account in English of Shin’s remarkable career. Shin’s films were shaped by national division and Cold War politics, but Split Screen Korea finds surprising aesthetic and political continuities across not only distinct phases in modern South Korean history but also between South and North Korea. These are unveiled most dramatically in analysis of the films Shin made on opposite sides of the DMZ. Chung explains how a filmmaking sensibility rooted in the South Korean market and the global style of Hollywood could have been viable in the North.
Combining close readings of a broad range of films with research on the industrial and political conditions of Korean film production, Split Screen Korea shows how cinematic styles, popular culture, and intellectual discourse bridged the divisions of postwar Korea, raising new questions about the implications of political partition.